Saturday, March 30, 2013

Return to Accanto

Even though we are huge fans of Ryan Baldwin, we don't make it out to Accanto very often since we live in the city and this little gem of a bar/restaurant is located in the interior of the Short Pump area. In fact, we have to check Google maps to find it, or wander around lost with the natives cussing us out as we slow down and make u-turns. Strangers in a strange land indeed.

This past week we did find out way to Accanto enticed by their three course menu on Mondays and Tuesdays for $25.

While we came for the food, service is important as well. At first our waiter was a bit off the mark with our bread arriving, but no utensils. Once utensils were placed, the service did not miss a beat. I was particularly thrilled with the attentive wine service. Well done!

Everything we had was delicious. I wanted to share some of the highlights.

Grilled Calamari with White Beans
Grilled Calamari with Arugula, White Beans, and Parmesan: While I like fried calamari, I have shied away from the grilled version. I knew On this night, I decided to try it. The calamari was extremely tender with a subtle char. The beans were done (yeah!) and the light lemon added the perfect touch. Light and tasty.
Fried Oysters
Flash Fried Oysters with Mango and Coconut: Of course, my hubby could not resist the oysters. He liked the creative accompaniments. 
Charred Filet of Beef
Charred Filet of Beef with Yukon Gold and Queso Stuffed Baby Pepper Rellinos: Perfectly medium rare.  I also enjoyed the potato and cheese stuffed peppers. The peppers were roasted and peeled before being stuffed. I really like roasted peppers and the filling made it even better. Yummy!
White Chocolate Black Pepper Cheesecake
White Chocolate Black Pepper Cheesecake with Brandies Kumquats: Very sweet with a tiny jolt of pepper.  Inventive and satisfying.
Kudos to Ryan for his excellent cuisine. The folks residing in the very, very far west end are lucky to have such a wonderful spot for dinner and drink. And for you wine-imbibers, Accanto features half price wine on Wednesdays.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Stella's Filet

STELLA’S FILET by pjpink

STELLA’S FILET a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Oh-so-yum! One of the most fabulous dishes in RVA. Stella's Filet - grilled filet mignon (medium rare) topped with jumbo lump crab and a sherry dijon sauce. Only at Stella's!

Waypoint Grill in Williamsburg

I visit Williamsburg about once a year. I used to live there many years ago and the place lost most of its charm for me while I was there. One of the things that I did enjoy about the place was my introduction to the world of wine and food. Hubby and I took a wine appreciation class; we belonged to a wine tasting club; and we attended numerous wine dinners. The most memorable of those dinners were at the Williamsburg Inn with Chef Hans Schadler presiding over the event. This was where I discovered the pure joy of a perfect wine and food pairing. How a wine may taste one way before the tasting of the food and evolve into something else while eating. This was where I ate fish and raved about it. I had portobello mushrooms that actually tasted like steak. Seven courses with all of the formalness that was the Williamsburg Inn back in the day. And Chef Schadler could fix anything and I knew it would be delicious.

A little over a year ago. Chef Schadler returned to the Williamsburg area to open Waypoint Grill located in a fairly new shopping center. They were open for Saturday lunch and we made the trek to try it out. The setting is contemporary graced with tidewater-influenced art. Weekend lunch was a good time to dine. Not too busy, yet, the wait staff were attentive and competent. I very much appreciated the continued wine service throughout our meal.

Waypoint Grill

Yes, we splurged and had wine. An old friend: Alexander Valley Merlot. We have found this wine to be consistently good and drinkable over the years. Waypoint Grill has a lovely selection of whites, reds, and sparklings with prices ranging from $27 to $89 per bottle. The Alexander Valley was $39 which is about twice the retail price.

Alexander Valley Merlot

For lunch Waypoint Grill offered a short list of "Beginnings." The Simply Fried Shrimp caught my eye. The Simply Fried Oysters attracted my hubby. The menu should have listed them as Simply Perfect, because they were in both taste and presentation. Lightly breaded and succulent served with a remoulade-like sauce; crowned with perfectly fried onions. We could have ordered a second helping. Both were $9 each.

Fried Shrimp

Fried Oysters

Because I was having fried shrimp as a first course I ordered French Onion Soup Gratin ($6) as a second course. Traditionally made, and a large serving. A nice accompaniment to the Merlot we were enjoying.

French Onion Soup

Hubby could not resist trying the Oven Braised "Pot Roast" with fingerling potatoes and vegetables ($11). The beef was tasty and oh-so-tender.  Such a great dish for a winter's day and more than generous portions. For him he had the ultimate in surf and turf.

Pot Roast

We were too stuffed for dessert, but the apple cobbler/dumpling sounded divine. If you are headed to Williamsburg, take some time to seek out Waypoint Grill. Since they are in a little shopping center away from the main tourist attractions, the restaurant caters to locals. Not many places in the old colonial capitol care about the people who actually live there. The service was excellent; the food extraordinarily satisfying.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pizza Dough Demo

Last Saturday we attended a pizza dough demonstration at Little House Green Grocery. The dough master was Andrew Wisniewski of Tastebuds American Bistro. He reviewed the blooming of the yeast, use of bread flour due to gluten content, and the patient waiting a day or two to make the pizza. We then sampled a fresh pie from the portable oven.

Here is the photo sequence:










Each participant left with frozen Tastebuds dough to make their own pizza. We thawed it out and let it rise. While I could not make a perfectly round shape, I was able to feel the stretchiness of the gluten in the dough and could elongate the dough without creating holes. I made sauce with lots of garlic and basil and topped it with fresh mozzarella and Della Nonna sausage from Sausage Craft.

If you go to Tastebuds American Bistro Andrew will be happy to share his recipe, but be aware that his restaurant measures by weight instead of cups. The equivalents translation from professional setting to home kitchen may need some experimentation.

Thanks to both Tastebuds and Little House Green Grocery partnering to provide a delicious program!

Little House Green Grocery

Gearhart's Chocolates

Just imagine. It's Valentine's Day. I arrive home from a busy day at work. I check the mailbox; no mail. I look down and see a package addressed to me. This is unusual. I never receive packages. Could it be that my hubby sent a package? Highly unusual. And he planned it just so to arrive on February 14? No way.

I was right. So, who was thoughtful enough to send me a package to arrive and and delight me on Valentine's Day? Gearhart's Chocolates! It was a complimentary 8 piece sampler box. And, yes, I fell in love.


The artistic assortment included Earl Grey, Mint Julep, and Maple Pecan. All perfectly crafted and perfectly delicious.

Gearharts Chocolates

I adored the pattern on the Raspberry-Zin.

Gearharts Raspberry-Zin

With Easter just around the corner and then Mother's Day not far after that, consider an artful, decadent, and most-appreciated gift of Gearhart's. They can even deliver!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Brunch at The Blue Goat

The last time we attempted to eat brunch at The Blue Goat, the place was mobbed. This time, the bar was a bit busy, but the restaurant side of the house was sparse. We were surprised by the attendance and welcomed our wee bit of luck.

Brunch Time at Blue Goat

First up, Strawberry Fields Mimosas: muddled strawberries, mint, and sparkling wine. Refreshing and only $5 a glass.

Strawberry Fields Mimosa

The brunch menu offered a variety of options including salads, goat ravioli, BLTs, and pancakes. We both wanted eggs. Hubby ordered the Blue Goat Scramble ($7) with shallots, peppers, and mozzarella. A delicious combination and quite satisfying.

Blue Goat Scramble

I had to have the Goat Benny ($9): Serrano ham, tomato (well, no tomato for me), poached eggs, and hollandaise. The eggs were perfectly runny and melded into the sauce. The ham, delightfully salty. I loved the toasted slices of baguette instead of the traditional English muffin as the base.

Goat Benny

Both dishes came with a choice of one side. We both selected the Pommes Frites. Yes, they were very good.


We enjoyed the food and drink and the prices were reasonable.

Blue Goat

Rock on Blue Goat!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Pastrami and Swiss on Rye

Pastrami and Swiss on Rye by pjpink

Pastrami and Swiss on Rye a photo by pjpink on Flickr.

I don't get a chance to eat at Perly's very often. I took advantage of the Presidents Day holiday to enjoy at grilled Pastrami and Swiss on Rye at the bar. Mmmm!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

The New Roasty Swine

Back in February we enjoyed lunch at Camden's Dogtown Market. We were happy that they stayed open until 3 PM for lunch/brunch. We also appreciated the $5 mimosas in an assortment of flavors (fruit juice is good for the soul, right?).

The New Roasty Swine was the sandwich of choice: pork loin, caramelized onions, provolone, and red pepper chow-chow. Hearty and delicious.

The New Roasty Swine

If I lived in Manchester, I would definitely shop the market as well.

Camden's Dogtown Market

And attend the Free Friday Wine Tastings.

Free Friday Wine Tastings

Treat yourself to some good grub.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Tonight's Specials at Tastebuds American Bistro

Hubby and I enjoyed some lovely awesomeness at Tastebuds American Bistro last night. All of the dishes we consumed were part of the weekend specials. The specials are also available this evening. Go enjoy! Remember, you can make reservations on Open Table.

Here was our line up:

Blackberry Bourbon Smash
Blackberry Bourbon Smash - Larceny bourbon, blackberry cordial, lemon, and fresh sage.  A great start to the evening.  Andrew features a special cocktail and local draft beers every weekend.
Crab Fritters
Crab Fritters with Pequillo Pepper Remoulade. A wonderful balance of crab and hushpuppies.
Veal Schnitzel
Veal Schnitzel with Red Cabbage and Roasted Potatoes. We so enjoy the veal specials at Tastebuds. Last night's schnitzel was particularly tasty. The veal was so tender it melted in the mouth. The roasted potatoes were seasoned just right with salt and pepper (and all of the potatoes were done - sometimes restaurants overlook this important aspect when it comes to roasting potatoes). The red cabbage came out steaming hot and added a touch of winter sweetness to the meal.
Poached Pear
Poached Bosc Pear with Whipped Goat Cheese and Fig and Brandy Reduction. Admittedly, dinner was plentiful, but at times dessert can be irresistible. The poached pear was a nice light choice. The pear was still a bit firm, but all of the graininess had disappeared and the pear was not very sweet (which I appreciated). The sweetness came from the goat cheese and the fig and brandy reduction. An elegant end to a wonderful meal.

So happy this place decided to land in my neighborhood!