Tuesday, July 15, 2014

South of the James Market

The South of the James Market is in full swing with all manner of veggies, posies, doggies, etc. It's still my favorite market and I'm still a huge fan. I have a few photos to prove it!


Turnips and Tatsoi

Silver Creek Peaches

Posey Basket

Squash and Company

Market Darling


So get out and meet your neighbors on Saturday morning at the South of the James Market in Forest Hill Park!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Heavenly Brunches at The Viceroy

The Viceroy knows how to wow the palate during brunch. In the past few months we went twice. Once for Easter and again on Father's Day. Both times the food was excellent. I also appreciate that The Viceroy opens at 10:30 AM for brunch. I prefer going a bit earlier and skipping the after-church crowd. And I have no qualms over ordering a cocktail (yes, think of a Manhattan-esque beverage) that early in the morning.

The other cool thing about brunch is pricing. I can enjoy all of Ryan Baldwin's exquisite dishes at reasonable prices. Brunch offerings range in price from $9 - $14 and features imaginative dishes that match the dinner menu.

Here is what we enjoyed (in no particular order) between the two visits.

A split of pink bubbly

A Splash of Pink Bubbly

Champagne Butter Poached Lobster and Avocado Omelet

Champangne Butter Poached Lobster with Avocado Omelet
The Lobster Omelet was perfect for Easter brunch
Torched Handmade Mozzarella Wrapped in Prosciutto with Fig Balsamic Sauce

Torched Handmade Mozzarella Wrapped in Prosciutto
This dish is always a favorite
Crab Sandwich with Fries

Crabmeat Sandwich and Fries

Duck Breast with Fried Egg and Hash Browns

Duck Breat with Egg and Hash Browns
Awesome special for the day
Smoked Pork Shoulder with Grits and Eggs

Smoked Pork Shoulder with Grits and Eggs
The pork could be pulled apart with a fork and the flavor was delightful
Plungerhead Zin

Plungerhead Zin
Great choice with the pork and duck

Oh so good! And there were other items on the menu that we also wanted to get. The only solution is to go back!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Crab and Filet Special at Tastebuds

Tastebuds American Bistro features awesome specials on Friday and Saturday nights. Check out this one...

Crab-Topped Filet with Potatoes and Asparagus

Yummy! We enjoyed this special at the beginning of June.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pomegranate in Carytown

In the early Spring we wandered into Pomegranate for dinner. On that Friday night they still had a table available.



Hubby wanted to try the gnocchi. Unfortunately, they had just switched to their new Spring menu and it was not available. Disappointing, but the only disappointment of the evening.

We toasted our incredible lack of gnocchi luck with a Milanese Manhattan and then ordered a bottle of The Possessor, a Tooth and Nail red blend from California. Loved the wine; loved the label.


 

To begin our meal we ordered Roasted Veal Marrow Bones with Watercress and Radish Salad. Kind of a Winter into Spring starter. The marrow bones were rich and full of flavor; the salad, light and zesty.



For entrees I chose a traditional Steak and Frites accompanied by grilled ramps. All very tasty and so nice to welcome in Spring with the ramps. The large portion meant leftovers for a future dinner at home.


Hubby had the Italian Sausage with Pickled Mustard Seed, Spinach, and Spaetzle. The portion looked deceivingly small, but turned out to be just right and delicious.


We enjoyed great food. We also experienced excellent service from the talented Ashley. Her cheerful demeanor and patience as we perused cocktail and wine lists and her timing ensured that we had a most incredible evening.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bond in the Bush at Can Can

The Bond in the Bush Martini at Can Can. Green Hat Gin, Stolichnaya Vodka, Lillet Blanc, Basil, and Cucumber. My hubby considers this a little bit of heaven.



Cheers!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rome!

At the end of March we visited Rome for 10 days with my folks. The Eternal City offers plenty to do for the traveler with over 900 churches, numerous ancient ruins, and other delights as one roams the cobbled streets. Most of the traditional sites are within walking distance. The subway does not cover the entire city, but trains arrive every five minutes. Just beware of pick pockets when it is crowded.

A few other pieces of advice.

Churches - While most of the churches look drab and in need of cleaning, the interiors are spectacular and range from Byzantine to Baroque decor. We visited about a dozen, some intentional, others by happenstance. We were not disappointed. Churches were free to visit. Some charge to visit their crypt and/or museum. Photos were allowed in most except during mass. If you want to see something fascinatingly creepy check out the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini on Via Vento. Pay the money to see the museum and crypt. The crypt is decorated with the bones of monks and features a pelvic room among others. No photos were allowed, but the macabre setting remained memorable.

Ruins - The Colosseum was spectacular and took us half a day to visit. The ticket also allowed us to see the Forum and Palatine Hill. Online we read that the ticket was good for three days. When we purchased our tickets, they were good for two. Allow more time to see the Forum and Palatine Hill. The area was vast and awe-inspiring. I could have spent more time wandering about. If you are short on funds, there are other sites that you can see for free. If you go to the the Colosseum on Sunday you'll experience a slightly surreal treat. The main road from the Colosseum to the Il Vittoriano Monument (aka The Wedding Cake) is closed to traffic and families, friends, and lovers stroll along the wide boulevard during the day.

The Vatican - We paid a lot to go on an early morning tour of the Vatican Museums before they opened to the general public. We got to see the Sistine Chapel with about 25 other visitors and could comfortably sit or stand to take in the masterpiece. Based on the subsequent reports, this was a good move. Later on one can be packed in like a sardine. The Vatican Museums were vast and we did not have enough time to cover the other parts. If you go, do not let the tour convince you to exit. Take your time.  The museum even sports cafes for lunch. Upon exiting, make sure you take time to make your way to the dome. Pay the extra two euros for the elevator because you will still climb an inordinate amount of curving stairs to the very top. This was the only dome where we could climb to the top (at least from the places we visited); worth seeing Rome from high above.

Food - Because we were a party of four and not two, we stuck to more of the touristy places and dined outside upon checked tablecloths a fair number of times. We only had one abysmal experience (near the Vatican) and we left before we ordered food. Pasta and pizzas were all good. My father loved the fresh tomatoes and I enjoyed the Roman artichokes. We did hit up one organic place on Via Urbana and we had lunch at a garden patio featuring a potato, white bean,  and octopus salad (very delicious). One of the checked table cloth places had a waiter that reminded us of Nathan Lane. He took a shine to our family and at the end of the meal plied us with limoncello and amaro free of charge. If you have time check out Campo de'Fiori, the morning food and flower market. They feature all kinds of produce with a few meat and cheese vendors for good measure. A feast for the tummy and the eyes.

I'll leave you with a few photos. If you want more, check out my flickr site.


I hope you enjoyed the brief glimpse. Ciao!




Saturday, March 22, 2014

River City Smokehouse Sandwich at Lunch

River City Smokehouse Sandwich by pjpink

River City Smokehouse Sandwich a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Lunch serves up a pile of BBQ for their River City Smokehouse Sandwich. Enjoy with a Guinness on draft.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork at Tastebuds American Bistro

Bacon-wrapped Pork by pjpink

Bacon-wrapped Pork a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Tastebuds American Bistro currently offers a Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Pickled Beet and Onion Relish, Herbed Mashed Potatoes, and Braised Savoy Cabbage. A delicious dish for this time of year.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fried Chicken Night at Saison

Yummy! Saison gets its fried chicken on every Sunday night. A quarter chicken (your choice of light or dark meat) and two sides (their choice, not yours) for $8. A truly tasty bargain. The chicken is moist and tender and arrives piping hot, so fingers beware! And, yes, eat it with your hands. Not a fried chicken fan? The regular menu is also available. The pork chop satisfies, too.

Saison also serves up a fantastic array of inventive cocktails and currently carry one of my favorite wines, Field Recordings Fiction.



Saison serves up a variety of cocktails in vintage glassware



The Boulevard features Rye, Cocchi Torino, Cynar, and Campari



On this night the sides were smokey mac and cheese and potato salad



The pork chop was a tasty alternative for non-fried chicken fans

 Go early or make reservations. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A Special Cocktail from Tastebuds American Bistro

Barrel-aged Rum, Byrrh, and Blood Orange Juice was the featured offering on Valentine's Day at Tastebuds American Bistro. Although they have a tiny bar, they serve up spirited craft cocktails for under $9. And they have the best cocktail cherries in RVA (no sickeningly sweet fake maraschinos for them).

Cheers!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Fried Chicken with Grits and Kimchi at Amuse

Traditional fried chicken with a hot little twist at Amuse. So good.

A Chef's Kitchen in Williamsburg

At last, a culinary reason to go to Williamsburg. A Chef's Kitchen is a complete delight and well worth a trip to the former Colonial Capitol. Owner and CIA-trained chef John Gonzales along with his CIA-trained assistant, Nick Allen, present an entertaining, informative, and delicious multi-course meal paired with wine. The venue hosts no more than 40 diners per night. The tables are configured like stadium seating in a movie theater facing a kitchen. John and Nick prepare the meal in front of the dining audience while passing along preparation tips and bits of food wisdom, as well as a bit of wry commentary about the world of food. Questions and photography are encouraged. The menu changes every month with a eye towards seasonal ingredients. When we dined in February we tasted a stellar line-up and were provided recipes to try at home.

Enjoy the photos and make plans well in advance. Weekend seatings fill up very quickly.





John Gonzales prepping waffle chips. After the meal a dining participant asked about how he balanced his work with home-life. He stated that his venture here which is now in its 10th year was less work and less stress than any other culinary position he had held. 


Nick Allen preparing to sear strip loins. Both he and John displayed a welcoming conversational manner. They enjoyed imparting their knowledge and displayed a quick wit for any hiccups in the cooking process.



Pierre Larousse Blanc de Blancs  sparkling was served as we arrived. All of the wines served paired well with the food and were inexpensive. A Chef's Kitchen contains a small wine shop and every wine is $10 a bottle.



First course - Roasted Apple, Parsnip, Sharp Cheddar, and Applejack Brandy Soup with Pasqua Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie. Great soup for a winter evening. The tiny apple chucks gave a sweet texture. Sharp cheddar was melted into the soup with diced chunks to garnish. I liked the melted cheddar. For cheddar lovers, the diced morsels would be welcomed. For non-cheddar lovers (like me), I would omit the diced cheese.



Second course - Mixed Baby Lettuces with Toasted Pistachios, Pineapple, and Creamy Watergate Lime Dressing and Skillet Baked Corn Bread. I really enjoyed the pineapple and nuts in the salad, a culinary deconstructed nod to the Watergate Salad of years' past, but the star of this dish was the cornbread. John touted the wonders of a cast iron skillet and the need for fresh corn meal. He mixed up the batter and cooked it for 15 minutes while we were eating the soup. Light and tasty, not too sweet. The recipe is flexible enough to add more sugar if one prefers a sweeter taste. Heavenly!



Third course - Flash Fried Chesapeake Flounder Filet with Fennel Slaw and Brown Butter Caper Sauce served with Pere et Fils Chardonnay-Viognier. I love capers. I love fennel. I am not a fish fan, although I have come to realize that the fish I do not like is the fish that is poorly cooked. This flounder knocked my socks off. It was so tasty, so moist, and not fishy. A delightful surprise for my evening. Afterwards I related my experience to Nick and he explained that the secret is not to overcook the fish. 



Course four - New York Striploin Steak with Roasted Bell Pepper-Oregano Onion Saute served with Colsanto Ruis Sangiovese-Merlot. Medium rare perfection and a generous portion of beef. A Chef's Kitchen uses certified Hereford beef which The Fresh Market carries.


Fifth course - Almond Frangipane Torte with Warm Apricot and Cherry Chutney a la Mode. A very sweet ending to a marvelous evening.

A truly enjoyable experience. In the fall they feature venison. It would be worth going back.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

White Bean Hummus

For this year's Super Bowl I fixed a White Bean Hummus that wowed me. Yes, freakin' awesome. I read through a couple of recipes, but ended up throwing some items together on my own.

15 oz. can white beans (I used cannellini beans), drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. minced shallot
1/2 dozen salted capers
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Serve with red and orange bell pepper strips and/or carrot sticks.

I also ate the hummus with some pita chips, but, honestly, I liked it better with the bell peppers. This particular fact amazed me more than anything else.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Rocky Ridge Reserve

Rocky Ridge Reserve by pjpink

Rocky Ridge Reserve a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
We attended the debut of Rocky Ridge Reserve from Blue Bee Cider. A perfect day for a cider tasting. Extremely dry cider aged in an old apple brandy barrel. Barely effervescent that makes for a great aperitif or a first course (I have a Tuscan white bean and arugula salad in mind).

Only 356 500 ml bottles are available. We snagged number 134.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Steamed Spicy Pork Dumplings at Haiku

Steamed Spicy Pork Dumplings by pjpink

Steamed Spicy Pork Dumplings a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
These pork dumplings from Haiku were perfect fare for a cold winter's night. The wrappers, delicate; the pork, tasty; the sauce, hot and spicy.

If only the heating unit for the restaurant had been able to keep up with the heat of the dumplings...