Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where I'm Coming From - Richmond Edition

Last Friday we and a few others celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary at Lemaire. A very memorable evening. Before Lemaire's renovation a birthday celebration had gone decidedly sour. On this night they were spot on. Chuck, our waiter extrodinaire, took care of our party of eight and made everyone feel special. Highlights included a wonderfully priced 2006 Grgich Hills Cabernet from Napa, Jumbo Scallops with White Beans and Ham Hock Broth, Ahi Tuna Martini, Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Cakes, and Grilled Beef Tenderloin. Thank you, Lemaire!

Breakfast at The Black Sheep. The Bay and Barn Breakfast Sandwich. Scrambled eggs mixed with crabmeat, country ham, green onion, and Swiss cheese on griddled Texas toast. We had not eaten here in a coon's age. We need to get our asses back soon for more scrumptiousness.

Barn and Bay
Bay and Barn at The Black Sheep

Last week a girlfriend and I went to Tastebuds American Bistro. While walking between my house and sitting down to dinner I lost an earring. This week Tastebuds contacted us to say they had found my earring! And get this. I had not told them I had lost it. This particular piece of jewelry was special. Hubby had given me the earrings on my 21st birthday. To reunite the pair was particularly sweet. And what a great excuse to have dinner. We enjoyed a black bean encrusted chipotle cheese cake that was stunning! And paired extremely well with the Millsreef Merlot/Malbec. The only possible improvement, according to hubby, would be to throw some crab into the mix. He also enjoyed the Pan Roasted Salmon while I had the Duck Spring Rolls. We always have a good time here.

Black Bean Chipotle Cheese Cake
Black Bean and Chipotle Cheese Cake
Pan Roasted Salmon
Duck Spring Rolls
Duck Spring Rolls
I have finally joined the Twitter universe (@pjpink101). Still trying to figure things out. I started following Arcadia and mid-week they were offering a free Braveheart Beef Carpaccio. Wow! Twitter was already paying off. We went, enjoyed the carpaccio and went on to dine on rockfish and roasted onion soup. Very lovely. And the wine list is impressive because of the pricing. They feature a $20 list and a $30 list (they have a few higher-priced reserve items, too). We ordered an Alexander Valley Cab from the $20 list. This price is just a buck higher than retail. All of you restaurants charging exorbitant prices, listen up! Why would I want to patronize you if Arcadia has great food and much more wine reasonable prices? Speaking with the owner, who visited each table to check on the meal, he said because of his wine prices, most tables order a bottle and he has a constant turnover of wine.

Purple Rice Crusted Rockfish with Spinach Absinthe Cream
Last night after visiting the opening of Simply Photography 8 at Art Works, we headed over to Aziza's on Main for wood-fired oven pizza. We always like the Pepperoni and Peppers Pizza. It reminds us of the pizza we had in Florence, Italy. Yum. We also ordered a White Pizza and replaced the fontina with mozzarella and topped it with prosciutto. So. So. Good.

Prosciutto Pizza
White Pizza with Prosciutto

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Favorite Dish from The Belvidere at Broad

White Bean Hummus by pjpink

White Bean Hummus a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Organic White Bean Hummus Plate - Served with red peppers, feta cheese, kalamata olives and house made pita.

A heavenly dish!

The Belvidere at Broad

The Scribbler with Glass

The Scribbler with Glass by pjpink

The Scribbler with Glass a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
We had this Cabernet/Shiraz blend at Fleming's last week. Lots of in-your-face flavor.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Bear of an Evening

I had bear last night. Let me correct myself. I cooked bear and ate bear last night.

Here's the story. A while ago one of our friends expressed an interest in finding some bear meat and asked if we would try it with him and his sweetie. We were willing, but, apparently, the cost proved exorbitant. Nothing more was said.

Hubby and I visit my parents for Christmas and guess what? A hunter had shot a bear on my father's farm and given him some bear meat. The "bear invasion" where my folks live was the talk of the entire county over the holidays. Now, my mother does not cook (or at least not much) and even if she did cook, no way would she even think about consuming bear. Thus, hubby and I were the lucky recipients of the much-talked-about meat.

The plot was then hatched. Have our unsuspecting couple over for dinner with enticements of pheasant (my father goes pheasant hunting on occasion and my mother does not cook pheasant, either). We set the date and now a slight case of panic ensues. How do I cook this hunk of meat?? What else do I serve with it? Maybe I should have a backup dish just in case?

We tossed out a few ideas and did a bit of research on the internet. Grilling had some drawbacks. Bear was supposed to be tough and it needed to be thoroughly cooked due to potential trichinosis (did you know that bear is part of the porcine family?). The hunting and cook what you shot websites were less than stellar in information, recipes, etc. I asked another hunter friend of mine and he found a bear burgundy recipe. This seemed acceptable. We then decided to prepare the bear two different ways. We looked to Indian cuisine and found a Rogan Josh recipe made with lamb and substituted bear instead.

The prep work began the Sunday before the dinner on Saturday. The bear had to thaw. On Thursday I prepared a white wine marinade with carrots, onions, and herbs (most of the internet advice stated that bear needed to be marinated at least a couple of days). The meat itself was a very dark red, almost purple. It reminded me of ostrich in some ways. I trimmed as much of the fat off as I could before marinating.

On Friday, I took half of the bear, dried it off, and cut it into chunks. I then placed it in a marinade of ginger root, garlic, and plain yogurt.

Saturday - the big day. The bear meat left in the white wine marinade was removed, dried off, and cut up into bite-sized pieces. I placed the meat in a heavy enamel pot, topped it with carrots and onions, and covered it with beef stock and red wine. The top was placed on the pot and into a 325 degree oven for about 3 hours. For the Rogan Josh I sauteed onions, added various spices (cardamon, coriander, cumin, chili powder, bay leaves), sauteed the bear, and added chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Usually, this dish calls for braising on top of the stove. I covered the pot and placed it in the oven, instead to cook for more than 2 hours.

While all of that was hopefully making the bear tender, I worked on a pumpkin and shrimp bisque and a back-up dish: chicken with green olives and capers.

Our unsuspecting guests arrived. We planned it so all was hidden and we shooed them into the dining room for a bit of cheese and wine. I served the soup. A bit twangy due to the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc I used, but decent. Hubby would have liked more shrimp in the dish.

After the soup we presented the chicken first and also wild rice. Puzzled faces appeared. This did not look like pheasant. We then presented the bear along with the story of our acquiring the meat.

The long slow cooking did the trick. The bear was tender and looked a lot like beef with a venison, slightly gamey flavor. Both dishes were tasty. We enjoyed a 2007 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel with the meal. Given the vast differences in cooking preparations, this wine served us well.

Bear Burgundy
Bear Burgundy
Bear Rogan Josh
Bear Rogan Josh
For dessert, our guests brought a pear, cranberry, and maple pie. Yummy!

So wow! We had bear. It was good. I'm not sure I would pay top dollar price for it, but if someone handed me some bear meat, I would not turn it down.

And our friend could cross another item off of his bucket list.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Steak Frites at Stronghill Dining Co

Steak Frites by pjpink

Steak Frites a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Stronghill features small plates. The Steak Frites was plenty big with a nice plump sirloin and herbed fries. Pimento cheese can be served either on the side or atop the beef.

And kudos to our waiter. We ordered Manhattans and he let us enjoy our cocktails before he took our dinner order. I was much pleased.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Bacon Cheeseburger at OMG Cafe

Bacon Cheeseburger by pjpink

Bacon Cheeseburger a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
A great tasting burger with cheese, bacon, and sauteed onions. Served up with a side of onion rings. OMG delicious.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Philippine Cafe

Growing up, my hubby had school friends who were Filipino. He regularly consumed pancit (a rice noodle dish) and lumpia (egg rolls). As he lost touch with his friends, he lost the source of this cuisine.

Yesterday he found it again as we lunched at Philippine Cafe on Courthouse Road. We went to lunch late and walked into an empty, neatly decorated establishment. We were warmly greeted and were invited to sit anywhere. We chose a cozy booth.

Philippine Cafe

We ordered Pancit Bihon - rice noodles with chicken and pork and Egg Rolls with ground meat and veggies.

We consumed a generous portion of egg rolls served with duck sauce. A good balance of meat to vegetables. Very satisfying.


The pancit was not as dry as my hubby remembered, but still a nice flavor. The portions, again, were generous. While we wanted to scarf the entire dish on the spot, we refrained and took some home. We reheated it the next day and discovered it was even better. The flavors had infused the noodles and the reheating made the noodles drier. My hubby was transported back to his childhood.