Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Brunch at Secco

Start with a glass of Pederzano Lambrusco Secco, a dry sparkling red wine from Italy. Enjoy this festive bubbly while waiting for your brunch order.

Rave over the Biscuit Sandwich - a substantial biscuit with grilled pork belly and scrambled egg (make mine without the cheddar cheese).

Pork Belly and Egg Biscuit with Crispy Potatoes

A wonderful brunch option. Not enormous, but so satisfying. The biscuit held up to the meat and egg and did not crumble apart. I loved the pork belly. Fairly lean and very tasty.

Rave even more about the crispy potatoes. I really like potatoes and have had lots of good ones in RVA. These were outstanding. Truly crispy on the outside; soft and potato-ey on the inside. Served with a mustard/mayo sauce that sealed the deal on the spuds. If your brunch choice does not include these potatoes, order them as a side.

Choose an Armandiere Malbec from Cahors to imbibe with the biscuit.

Thank you Secco for a lovely and delicious brunch outing.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Trip to Country Style Donuts

I highly recommend the filled varieties from Country Style Donuts. The Glazed Custard and Glazed Lemon were my particular favorites amongst the 38 offerings.

Country Style Donuts
Open 24 Hours (Except Mondays)
Donut Varieties
A Variety of Options
A Dozen Donuts from Country Style
One dozen donuts filled with deliciousness
Happy Holidays from Country Style Donuts
Happy Holidays from Country Style Donuts

Since I don't get out this way much, these were a real treat!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Eat 33

A diner with stick-to-your-ribs offerings.

Chopped Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Corn

The Chopped Steak with grilled onions, gravy, mashed potatoes, and corn delighted on a cold day. Most folks walking in were regulars to Eat 33 and it's not hard to see why.  Open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Mighty Fine Evening at Brux'l Cafe

Last week we headed over to Brux'l Cafe for an early dinner. We discovered all of the tables were reserved (a good sign for the place), but found a couple of spots at the cozy bar. The entire staff seemed giddy with the spirit of Christmas and this rubbed off on the two of us during the evening.

Brux'l Cafe
Brux'l Cafe in the Fan - all decked out for the holidays
The joy of going early on a weeknight is that Brux'l has a decent happy hour with specials on wine, beer, and martinis. Sweet Bubbles (sparkling and violet syrup) came my way and hubby had the Famous Dirty martini. As we sipped our bartender, Jared, took us through the highlights of the menu.

Jared was a most excellent host and as the bar filled up, he continued to give personalized service to all. He helped to make our evening very special. What really made a difference was when we were choosing a wine for dinner. Brux'l Cafe carries a very limited but drinkable selection. All wines are available by the glass and bottles range in price from $32-40. We were torn between a Bordeaux and something from the South of France. Jared thought we might also enjoy the Spanish red. To help us with our selection he poured us a taste of all three. The Spanish option won out - an Arrocal Tempranillo.

Arrocal Ribera del Duero
Jared helped steer us in the right direction for wine
Jared also helped other bar patrons figure out which draft beer would be best for their evenings. Being able to taste and then choose - fantastic!

The rest of our experience was delightful. To begin I took advantage of the evening special and had fried frog legs. The legs came straight from the fryer with a crisp coating and with the legs being meaty - a real treat. As I ate with my fingers, Chef Meers came out of the kitchen to ask how they were. Yummy!

Frog Legs
The frog legs were very tasty
Hubby ordered the Croquette de Fromage - a fried ball of cheese and potato. For me, very rich. For him, swoon-worthy. He raved about this and really liked the bit of salad on the side.

Cheese Croquette
While the croquette may look small it packs a rich flavor punch

For an entree hubby ordered the Moules a la Provencale. Dozens of mussels swimming in white wine, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and cream. Served with a side of frites. Jared gave us more bread to take advantage of the sauce. Very satisfying.

I indulged in the L'Entrecote with Bearnaise sauce. A big ribeye topped with butter, parsley, and shallots and served with a side salad with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette. A huge portion and very tender with all the flavor one could hope for. I appreciated the fact that the sauce was served separately so I could enjoy my steak both with and without the Bearnaise.

L'Entrecote with Bearnaise
Very traditional meal, superbly prepared
As we enjoyed our meal Chef Meers would pop out of the kitchen occasionally to check on diners. He seemed so happy and his vibe was infectious. At the end of our meal I got up to retrieve out coats and he even helped me find our jackets. A delicious and magical evening. I can't wait to go back and try the truffle burger.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dressed and Pressed Biscuit at South of the James

The South of the James Market may have gone into winter mode, but a fair number of vendors are carrying the torch. The Dressed and Pressed food truck offers biscuits.

Sausage and Egg Biscuit

We tried the sausage and egg version. The biscuit was a little crumbly, but good. I was surprised to see link sausage which was tasty. The best part was the very flavorful egg. A generous size for $4. I also treated myself to an Alchemy mocha. Yummy!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tacos at En Su Boca

The first time I went to En Su Boca for lunch the place was a madhouse and nothing except the cocktails were up to snuff. After many, many months, I went back for lunch. The place was still busy and understaffed, so service was slow. But the tacos had more flavor and the portions seemed much more generous. I definitely enjoyed the Carnitas and the Carne Asada on this return trip.

En Su Boca Tacos

Since the tacos were only $3 a piece, lunch was inexpensive and filling.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Slap Yo Mama Silly Chicken Biscuit at Saison Market

Saison Market serves up the definitive breakfast (and now also for lunch) biscuit.

Saison Market Chicken Biscuit

Slap yo mama silly good!

Lucy's Brunch

Lucy's is a cute little spot in Jackson Ward. We had brunch there about a month ago and enjoyed Mimosas


and the Two Street Club.

Two Street Club

The club sandwich came with housemade mesa chips and pickles. Very satisfying. And I loved the bright and colorful bouquet gracing the table.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Vermilion in NYC

Vermilion brings together Latin and Indian flavors and has garnered high acclaim from all over the globe. The decor was sleek, airy, and contemporary with touches of red.


A Bogle Petite Sirah was greatly enjoyed.

Bogle Petite Sirah

And paired well with the Tandoori Skirt Steak - seared churrasco, Indian marinade, plantain chips, chorizo Swiss chard, and jicama citrus roll.

Tandoori Skirt Steak

Prices for NYC were fairly reasonable and the meal was delicious.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Schnipper's Quality Kitchen

Had a fun time munching down on a Schnipper's Classic Burger with bacon, cheese, caramelized onions, and arugula. A bit messy, but yummy.

Schnipper's Quality Kitchen
There are several Schnipper's in New York. This one was located in The New York Times building
Schnipper's Bacon Cheeseburger
And check out the toasted bun

It was a fun trip to NYC.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Visit to Singapore

Wow. I can't believe I actually visited Singapore and survived both the long flight times and the humidity. I'm so glad I put aside my objections. Singapore is vibrant, orderly, and architecturally intriguing. English is the official language. A good way for a Westerner to get a glimpse of Asia without totally going into culture shock. Based on the dozens of multi-story malls along Orchard Road, shopping and eating seem to be the major past times. But we also visited Little India and Chinatown as well. We loved the Botanic Gardens, especially the National Orchid Gardens. And the Gardens by the Bay, especially the Supertree Grove at night.

So, a few random observations before the photo show. Alcohol is EXPENSIVE in Singapore. A lot of restaurants do not even offer wine by the bottle. The wine by the glass prices would be bottle prices here in the US. And the US dollar to Singapore dollar ratio is not too far off the mark. So, we imbibed less, which was probably a good thing since the air is so humid one gets wringing wet after about a couple of hours. Our hotel did have a cool bar called Manhattan, however. They specialized in barrel-aged cocktails and had a glassed-in barrel room of concoctions waiting their turn. We indulged once, but at ~$21 a pop, we only went the one time.

Yes, it's that humid, even at night. Our friends who live in Singapore said it took them about 6 months to get acclimatized. Thus, the dilemma: do we eat outside at some lovely places along the river or the outdoor food stalls in Chinatown or do we head inside for air conditioning? We chose air conditioning. It was a way for us to recover before going back outside. Our hotel was kind enough to provide us two bottles of water each day and changed our towels twice a day since we usually took two showers every day. Since I am not a fan of heat and humidity and make a point of never going to the beach in the summer, I impressed myself at being able to survive. Shopping centers, the subway (MRT), and taxis all have excellent air conditioning, thank goodness.

The MRT is super easy to use and cheap. One-way fares are less that one Singaporean dollar. Taxis are fairly inexpensive, too. This is a good thing since owning a car is outrageously expensive. A Subaru costs upwards of $150,000 (yes, this is not a typo). We were also told that if one owned a car, the government required one to pay for the right to drive it for 10 years.

Singapore offers a huge variety of restaurants, from traditional Asian fare to familiar American fast food places to chain eateries that were new to us. It allows us as Americans to be adventurous one day and then return to our version of comfort food the next day. Reputable hotels and restaurants have good water and ice, so no real worries from that perspective. There is one fast food place in Singapore called Toast Box. They do toast with salted butter and jam (traditionally coconut jam), but what I became addicted to was the milk tea - extremely strong tea with sweetened condensed milk. OMG. They also have egg tarts. We need a Toast Box here.

Enough comments. Please enjoy some of my snaps.

Boats along the Singapore River
Bumboats along the Singapore River
Christmas Decorating Comes Early in Singapore
Christmas decorations were being put in in mid-Oct. These along Orchard Road are brought to you by Hitachi
Barrel-aged Manhattan
Barrel-Aged Manhattan at Manhattan
Chicken and Rice
We met some friends for lunch one day. They took us to a local food court and ordered all manner of items. This is chicken and rice. The rice is cooked in a concentrated chicken broth.
Rojak - A fruit salad with shrimp paste
Rojak contains fruit and cucumber and mixed with shrimp paste
Noodles with Shrimp
Noodles with Shrimp
Making Sugar Cane Juice
To drink we had sugar cane juice flavored with lemon juice
Malaysian Shaved Ice Dessert (Ice Kacang)
Malaysian Shaved Ice - Shaved ice with coconut milk, syrup, sweet beans, and "green twizzlers"
Traditional Milk Tea
Yummy milk tea at Toast Box
Nalli Chinnasami Chetty
Little India
Deepavali in Little India 21
While we were in Singapore, they celebrated the Deepavali holiday, a Hindu holiday (we know it as Diwali). This is a "bank holiday." Singapore has 10 holidays and honor Hindu, Muslim, Chinese, and Western cultures.
Deepavali in Little India 11
Foodstuffs for sale during Deepavali
This is what happens to the camera lens when walking out of the air conditioned hotel and entering the humidity of Singapore
This is what happens to a camera lens when you step outside from an air conditioned hotel
Burrata with Tomatoes and Rocket
We ate at La Forketta one evening and enjoyed a lovely burrata.
Red and Green Spikes
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Most of the graffiti that we saw in Singapore was on plants
Golden Arches
One of the many species of orchids in the National Orchid Gardens
Tiered Fountain
Also part of the National Orchid Gardens
Prawn Satay with Mango Salad
Prawn Satay with Mango Salad at Halia
Strolling Through Chinatown
Beijing Duck
Beijing Duck at Fatty Weng's
Sri Mariamman Temple 8
Hindu Temple
Maitreya Trinity
Buddha Tooth Temple
Sangria at Ku De Ta
Ku De Ta sits atop the Marina Bay Sands hotel and offers a lovely view of Singapore. We enjoyed some sangria.
Singapore View
Singapore Flyer and Gardens by the Bay
Cloud Forest Dome 1
Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay
Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay
Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay
Pollen Calamari
Calamari at Pollen Restaurant
Supertree Grove 24
Supertree Grove - A Spectacular Light Show
Marina Bay Sands at Night 2
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
Singapore Flyer at Night 1
Singapore at Night
Dim Sum at Asia Grand Restaurant in Singapore 5 - Chicken Feet
Letter on in the week we met up with friends again and had Dim Sum at Asia Grand. I tried Chicken Feet
Dim Sum at Asia Grand Restaurant in Singapore 7
Pork Crepes
Dim Sum at Asia Grand Restaurant in Singapore 15 - Bamboo or Razor Clams
Bamboo or Razor Clams
Dim Sum at Asia Grand Restaurant in Singapore 17
Herbed dessert jelly. Definitely herbal, slightly sweet with a bit of anise. This reminded me of Italian amaro, just non-alcoholic.
The Original Singapore Sling
An original Singapore Sling from the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel
Merlion 5
Merlion Fountain - The merlion is a mythical Singaporean creature
The Clifford Pier Restaurant
The Clifford Pier Restaurant
Pork Belly Buns
Pork Belly Buns at Clifford Pier
Singapore at Night 6
Night Time in Singapore
Last Look From Our Hotel Room
Last look at Singapore from our hotel room

Singapore was well worth the trip. And I recommend Singapore Air for any long-haul travel.