Sunday, April 29, 2012

An Over the Top Evening

A couple of Fridays ago we dined at Osaka on Huguenot Road. I always enjoy their sushi as well as the yellow tail sashimi. This time I even tried the tobiko (flying fish roe) - out of this world. Osaka also offers lovely wines at fairly reasonable prices.

For this post, I want to rave about a dish from the chef's entree selections - Grand Marnier Shrimp. Jumbo shrimp, lightly battered and fried, glazed with Grand Marnier sauce. The shrimp are succulent and perfectly fried. The sauce is rich and decadent. The presentation is stunning. A feast for all of the senses.

Grand Marnier Shrimp

To top off our evening of overindulgence, we headed over to Shyndigz on Patterson for dessert. The Salted Chocolate Caramel Cake served with Vanilla Ice Cream. Oh baby! Yes, this takes decadence to a new level.

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel and Ice Cream

And while hubby ordered the traditional version as pictured, I ordered the Cake Shake version - a Vanilla Milkshake with the Salted Chocolate Caramel Cake mixed in. When I was growing up, we always had the traditional cake and ice cream for every birthday party. The Duncan Hines box mix of your choice with chocolate or vanilla ice cream (if you were really lucky, the ice cream was Bryer's). I always wanted a thin slice of cake and a few scoops of ice cream on top. Once the ice cream softened a bit, I mixed the two together into one big mushy, cakey mess. Joyous memories. As soon as I learned what the Cake Shake was - an over the top version of my childhood favorite - I had to try it. Yummy!

But beware: Over the top evenings can lead to beached whale sightings once dessert has finished.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More April Awesomeness in RVA

This April I did something I had never done before - go to a home baseball opener. I'm not a baseball fan, but The Flying Squirrels always gives one lots of distractions. First up was the No BS Brass Band. Yeah!

No BS Brass Band 4

We actually won with lots of hits and runs!


And then we had fireworks.


The night proved to be a bit chilly, but fun all the same. And yes, I really came for the fireworks.

On Friday the weather warmed up so we had mojitos at Havana 59. I enjoyed the Hennessy Mojito.

Hennessy Mojito

But beware, the wait staff will tell you that appetizers are half off for Happy Hour and then lets you order one. When you get your bill she says only certain appetizers are half off. Way to represent the profession.

Never fear. For dinner we went to one of our favorite spots: Aziza's on Main. Caleb Shriver fixed this most amazing appetizer: smoked trout with grilled asparagus and gribiche. Gribiche is an egg based sauce with mustard, spices, and pickles. This stuff was out of this world! I go nuts over smoked trout and the cold sauce was a perfect pairing. But wait for the kicker - I absolutely hate asparagus. My family did not eat this darling of spring (it did not grow in my grandparents' garden, so we did not eat it). In high school (when I would hardly even touch a salad), I had a teacher that made the entire class try asparagus. The worst part was, the stuff was canned. I gagged and almost threw it back up. That experience scarred me. Occasionally, hubby would get asparagus (the fresh variety) and sing its praises. Every time I tried it, the high school memories vividly appeared. Could not enjoy the green spears. On this night, I decided to be brave and have a taste. With the gribiche, it wasn't all that bad. I ate an entire spear and survived! The great chefs/cooks of this world make anything taste good. So hats off to Caleb. That man can prepare asparagus and he has a wonderful way with eggs (love his Perfect Egg, too!).

Smoked Trout and Asparagus

We also enjoyed a white pizza with cow mozzarella and pancetta. Aziza's pizza always reminds me of the pizza we consumed multiple times in Florence. Thin crust, wood-fired oven, fine ingredients, delicious.

Pancetta and Mozzarella Pizza

While in the neighborhood we got a preview of the G40 Street Art Summit. The murals near and around Have a Nice Day Cafe are very cool and adds even more character to the neighborhood.





On the Saturday of the Street Art Festival we decided to check out Thai Corner in Jackson Ward. We have always liked the Thai Cabin food cart and wanted to see how the lunch spot measured up. The Nur Nam Tok delighted the tastebuds. Grilled marinated beef with kaffir leaves, lime, chile, red onions, and roasted ground rice. On a scale of 1 to 5, my heat level was a 3. Whew!

Nur Nam Tok

We proceeded to enjoy other murals as we made our way to the Canal Walk and the old power plant.

Space Romance

Urban Animals

So much talent. And we had fun peering around buildings to see if we could spot more.

When we reached the festival we could see art in progress.





It was great to see RVA out in force supporting the artists.

On Sunday we headed over to the newly reopened Parkside Cafe for brunch. I indulged in a very sweet Cherry Shrub (non-alcoholic) and a wonderful Turkey, Avocado, and Bacon Sandwich. The avocado served as an alternative to mayo. Very good!

Cherry Shrub

Turkey Avocado and Bacon Sandwich

We also checked out the Tree Skirts at Maymont put together by VCU students. Whimsical entities in cotton and red bric-a-brac.




The Japanese Garden at Maymont turned 100 this year. I encourage you to visit this local treasure. The koi in the pond are huge. It was fun watching them draw lazy, languorous loops through the water.

Spring Reflection

As this second week of April proved - it's a great time to be living in Richmond. Go out and get your own RVA on!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I Will Miss Stronghill

Steak Frites by pjpink

Steak Frites a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
I always enjoyed their Steak Frites.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The First Week of April in Richmond

This year April has been a perfect month for residing in Richmond. Hubby and I have done quite a bit and eaten even more. I wanted to share some of our local adventures with you for the first week in April.

Right at the beginning of the month we attended the Homestyle Brunch at Six Burner hosted by Chef Philip Denny and The Marinara. I got to take photos! Check them out here. We had three flavors of sous vide fried chicken (Thai iced tea, tandoori spiced, and Korean spiced) along with greens and waffles and kimchi. All yummy.

The Virginia Historical Society invited all of Richmond to the inaugural Food Truck Court. Lots of excitement was generated and lots of people and lines. We ended up getting dessert first at Mister Softee (chocolate milkshake).

Mister Softee Food Truck
Mister Softee

We then wandered over to Caliente to enjoy burgers (half price on Tuesday nights).

With the burgers we enjoyed a Petite Syrah from Foppiano. We had heard earlier that day that old man Foppiano had recently passed away at the ripe old age of 101. We toasted the venerable vintner.

Avocado and Peppers Burger
Santa Fe Burger with Roasted Peppers and Avocado
Lot 96 Petite Sirah
Lot 96 Petite Sirah from Foppiano. 

On the the first Friday in April we went to the VMFA to view the silent ode to Communism - Battleship Potemkin. What really made this special was the band Goldrush. The super talented musicians performed live while the movie ran. So cool.

Battleship Potemkin

And afterwards we headed over to Carytown for a lovely dinner at Amour Wine Bistro. After taking a little bit of time figuring out the menu options and eventually getting a wine list to peruse (everyone wanted to suggest wines by the glass and I wanted to know what they had by the bottle and the price range), we decided on the 3 Course Prix Fixe Menu and a bottle of 2008 Chateau Lyonnat Bordeaux.

Chateau Lyonnat
A Lovely Bordeaux

The amuse bouche was a grilled ramp on crostini. Such a nice ode to early Spring.

Ramp Crostini
The Season for Ramps

We proceeded to enjoy a garlic and leek soup and grilled beef tenderloin. Dessert was chocolate creme brulee with caramel and sea salt. What a delight!

Chocolate Creme Brulee
Incredible Dessert!

The  South of the James Winter Market is still going strong and Ault's Family Farm had a fresh chicken waiting for us. Yeah! Spring onions, greens, and asparagus are now available. Of course, the pooches are also out in full force.

Time for Spring
Spring Onions
Onion Variety
Oh Joy!
Oh Joy!
For Easter we had brunch at the Empress and enjoyed a pitcher of mimosas.

The pulled pork and eggs were outstanding. The biscuits with the eggs benedict were most excellent. But I think it was just a wee bit early for the kitchen. One of my eggs was missing and the seasoned potatoes were almost not done. Breakfast potatoes need to be cooked until extremely tender. Maybe if we had wound up there after Easter on Parade we would have hit the kitchen in its stride?

Eggs Benedict
One-eyed Benedict
  In any case make sure to see the mural on the side of the building by Lelo. Bright and colorful.

Lelo Mural
Isn't this cool?
Easter on Parade is always fun. Bunnies, eggs, a yarn bomb, bonnets, dogs. And this year the Art 180 project. I'm glad that residents found front yard homes for these young artists' works after Easter.

Easter Egg

Bunny Ears

Knitted Rabbit

Easter Bonnet

White Rabbit

Peeps Bonnet

Art 180 What Do You Stand For 3

Art, entertainment, and FOOD! Go out and enjoy Richmond in April!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Don't Let the Picture Fool You

Shrimp Caesar by pjpink

Shrimp Caesar a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Last weekend we enjoyed the colorful wonder that defines Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. We signed up for the yearly membership.

We decided to eat lunch at the Robins Tea House. I've always loved the irises on the table and how they are incorporated in the carpet.

Hubby ordered the Shrimp Caesar Salad which was much better than expected. Unfortunately, the Muffaletta Panino was just okay. The spicy potato salad did not please at all. Half of the potatoes were to the edge of being crunchy (and don't tell me this is how the chef prefers them). Other than the heat of the spice, the potatoes had no flavor. One bite, bland; the next moment tongue on fire; but no real taste.

And the service was severely lacking.

The Tea House is such a lovely setting with infinite possibilities. What a shame.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Spertas komforton ĉe Bonvenu

Last Tuesday Bonvenu comforted us with good food and half price wine. We imbibed a Belmont Martini first - Ginger Vodka/Triple Sec/Fernet Branca/Grapefruit Juice/Lime Juice. The right balance of just a bit sweet and just a bit bitter. Very refreshing and nice to see that places are getting beyond the fruity, overly sweet cocktails.

While sipping we ordered the Soul Roll to split - a wonton wrapper stuffed with roasted pork, cabbage, and greens. Hubby really liked this. When he was growing up his family had friends who were Chinese and Filipino. Both would cook traditional dishes (based on ingredients they could obtain here in the South). The Soul Roll reminded him of his childhood experiences. And while the roll seemed a bit oily to me, any time food can evoke  cherished memories, it's okay in my book.

Soul Roll

For the wine we ordered the 2010 Octavia Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California. Lovely (and half price!).


For the main course, I stuck to the comfort theme and had the House Roasted Turkey Sandwich with Bacon, Havarti Cheese, and Greens. I could have my pick of sides and I went with the mashed potatoes. A goodly amount of turkey - yummy! The bacon, mild. The greens, fresh. The potatoes had nice tender chunks.

Roasted Turkey Sandwich

Hubby selected the Flat Iron Steak with Grilled Asparagus and Mashed Potatoes. He kept raving about how tender the steak was. Not everyone would consider this dish comfort food, but he does.

Flat Iron Steak

We skipped dessert, but decided to have coffee. And here is where the ultimate in comfort came into play. When our waiter served our coffee, he also served steamed cream. The cream was WARM!!! This is a shout of joy. When we were in Madrid several years ago, we were served coffee with a pot of warm cream. Ever since then, I will heat up my cream at home when having coffee. Bonvenu is the first place in the States where I've experienced warm cream served with coffee. A lovely and comforting ending to a wonderful meal. Dankas vin, Bonvenu!