Monday, September 26, 2016

Deliciousness at Shagbark

Let me just come right out and declare that we had a lovely meal at Shagbark. The decor, the staff (a few who used to work at our old Tastebuds stomping ground), the attention to local purveyors, the food all were spot on for our first visit.

The interior of Shagbark: An airy space with rustic touches. The communal table made from a shagbark hickory sports a centerpiece accented by wild game feathers.
We arrived at 5 PM for a cocktail on a Sunday. Since we had no reservations and this place has already garnered national attention we thought arriving early would be the best strategy. We were happy to be correct. After imbibing in a Shagbark Sour featuring Bowman Brothers bourbon and James River ostervit, we were escorted to a cozy table for two.

Cocktails at Shagbark
Our bartender carefully crafts our Shagbark Sours.
Many of you are probably asking about the name. When I mention the name to friend or acquaintance, immediately the reply is "Shag whaaat?!" The name comes from the Shagbarrk Hickory tree. The communal table at Shagbark is made from the bark of one of these trees.

Walter Bundy (owner and former executive chef at Lemaire) features a menu with plenty of both local and Southern charm that changes with the seasons; at times focusing on items from a micro-season. Some of the temptations include fried green tomatoes, country ham, onion bisque with crab, frogmore stew, and fresh figs.

Highlights of our dinner included pan roasted Carolina grouper with shrimp, corn, and tomatoes as well as chicken breast with fingerling potatoes and butter-milk dill dressing.

Pan Roasted Carolina Grouper
Pan roasted Carolina grouper: A meaty white fish with a delicious crispy edge and served with summer corn and succulent shrimp.
River Oak Chicken Breast with Fingerling Potatoes and Buttermilk-Dill Dressing
The chicken came from River Oak Farm . This breast was the best I've ever eaten outside of my Mom's fried chicken. Both tender and moist. The buttermilk-dill dressing seemed an unusual accompaniment for the chicken, but it made for a delightful taste experience that not only enhanced the breast, but brought even more life to the roasted potatoes. Yumminess in abundance!

A delightful experience that hubby and I need to repeat as often as we can.

Shagbark Bouquet

Sunday, September 18, 2016

How to Fall in Love with Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit Moonshine

So this is how I did it:

The Ruby Moon consists of Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit Moonshine, Aperol, Lillet Rose, and white grapefruit juice. Refreshing, not wimpy.

Belle Isle Ruby Red Grapefruit Moonshine

Kolache RVA

While Kolache RVA has a storefront in the Church Hill area, they also show some love for Southside by setting up a tent at the South of the James Market.

Apple and Cherry Kolaches

That's where I encountered the apple and cherry varieties. Kolaches are little bread pockets and can feature both savory and sweet offerings. The dough is slightly sweet so I prefer the fruit and cheese varieties, but Kolache RVA also carries pockets featuring Alamo BBQ or the soon-to-be-famous maple cream and sugared bacon,  No matter your preference RVA is definitely filled with delightful yumminess!

Mrs. Yoder's Donuts

Such sweet deliciousness at Mrs. Yoder's Donuts.

Mrs. Yoder's Donuts

Get Out of Town to Boxwood Estate Winery

On a hot August weekend hubby and I spent some time in Northern Virginia and became enamored with Boxwood Estate Winery.


Located just outside of Middleburg, Boxwood contains 19 acres of vines, and currently grows mostly red Bordeaux varietals. A rose has also been bottled, and soon a venture into Sauvignon Blanc will emerge.

All of the reds are surprisingly good. I still believe in the "taste it before you buy it" method when it comes to Virginia wines. This tasting impressed. The Topiary made my mouth the happiest, and I now have this wine in my rack at home.

The winery features a stainless steel tasting and indoor picnic room as well as a great space for outside relaxation (as long as temps are mild). The sleek contemporary design paired with old world style wines lends an overall sophistication to this gem of a winery.

Tasting Room

Boxwood Winery

Definitely worth a visit to check out some red deliciousness.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Trio Grill - An Indulgence in NOVA

In July we traveled up to Northern Virginia for a brief weekend respite from RVA. On Friday night we weighed a few options for dinner and had decided to take our chances in the Mosaic area when we drove by Trio Grill. In the span of a few seconds my thoughts were: I remember seeing/hearing something about the place - It's right here on Lee Highway? - Maybe we should try it. And then, "Hey Hubby! Can you turn the car around?"

We were early and thirsty and they had a table just for us. With a Trio Manhattan under our belts we indulged ourselves with a kick-ass wine, medium-rare steak, and over-the-top fries with duck fat hollandaise sauce. While the meal wasn't too adventurous, it was sumptuously delicious. Our waiter was personable and attentive, and it was a great beginning to our getaway weekend.

Conn Creek Anthology - A Mighty Fine Wine
Trio Grill received an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2016. Conn Creek Anthology was a real treat for us.
Steak with Onion
A perfectly cooked steak topped with a roasted shallot. Yum!
Fries with Duck Fat Hollandaise
The ultimate indulgence - fries with duck fat hollandaise

The menu should have something to please most palettes, and they have a nice patio when the temperatures become reasonable.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Peter Chang Scott's Addition

At last, a great Chinese restaurant in the city! And one that serves cocktails and dares to have a decent wine list. Thank you Peter Chang for bringing your culinary vision to Scott's Addition! I appreciate the duck dishes in particular. Take a gander at the Shredded Duck with Onion and Scallion.

Duck with Onion and Scallion

The duck slices are so tender, and the portions are generous enough to take home some leftovers for lunch the next day. Quack, Quack Good!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Brunch at Amuse is an Awesome Thing

Amuse is serving up a wonderful brunch. My current favorite dish is the Pork Chop Biscuit with Fried Eggs and Mushroom Gravy. Such a delight for the taste buds.

Pork Chop Biscuit with Fried Egg, Mushroom Gravy, and Asparagus

And don't forget to also see the Kehinde Wiley exhibit, A New Republic, before it leaves town. Big, bold, bright, beautiful!

Colonel Admiration

We in RVA are so lucky to have VMFA!

Friday, August 26, 2016

South of the James Market Goodies

The South of the James Market is still going strong, thank goodness, with a plethora of veteran producers as well as newcomers. Always fun to visit!

Check out these beauties:

Turnips, Carrots, and Beets

Swiss Chard

Orange Sunflowers

Take time on a Saturday morning to head on over to Forest Hill Park and grab some goodness.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hot Dogs, Anyone?

Check out the hot dog and slaw at Perly's!

Hot Dog and Slaw at Perly's

Delish! And don't forget - Perly's features cocktails and wine on tap!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Blast from 2016 Broad Appetit

Yes, Broad Appetit 2016 has come and gone, but I came across this photo of a Deviled Ham Slider from Pasture today and couldn't resist posting it.

Pasture Deviled Ham Slider

Sunday, April 03, 2016

My Favorite Things from Huynh's

Every time I eat at Huynh's these days I always order the same items. They are so good and satisfying, I seldom stray off course. When I do take another path, I end up having regrets.

First off I just gotta have the Jicama Root Shrimp Rolls. I love that they use jicama. The fresh crunch makes for a pleasant beginning.  Two plump rolls are served up with peanut sauce.

Jicama Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Next up, BBQ Pork and Crispy Spring Roll Noodle Salad. Thinly sliced grilled pork with a fried roll chopped up into bite-sized portions. The roll adds a bit of crunchy pizzazz to the noodle dish. And one mustn't forget the fish sauce. Yummy!

BBQ Pork and Crispy Spring Roll over Noodles

Tasty, delicious, and decently priced. If only they would stop rolling around the big cart to bus tables. The wheels travelling over the grooves in the tile can be distracting from a delicious noodle salad.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Old School Italian at Angela's

Angela's Ristorante is so old school I could not find an official website or Facebook page. Maybe it doesn't matter. On a Friday night the place filled quickly with regular patrons generating a neighborhood camaraderie that testifies to Angela's staying power.

The decor is a bit dated. It looks like it was established primarily as a pizza and pasta joint and then ventured out to other traditional Italian dishes. Our wonderfully capable and affable waitress told us that the kitchen had been expanded a few years ago.

Welcome to Angela's
Welcome to Angela's
The bar/hostess station contains all the basics and generous Manhattans were served to our table. We received menus and were immediately overwhelmed. Pages of offerings and a separate page of specials. We kept looking over the veal selections.

Angela's also features a small wine list. Generally, I find that traditional Italian places have a mediocre wine list with low-end Chiantis and Montepulciano's at sky-high prices. Not here. We had some decent choices from California at prices we could live with.

From some of the dishes served up at other tables we knew portions were large, so we did not order an appetizer. We finally decided upon the Veal Pizzaiola, which was served with a choice of pasta. I chose angel hair tossed with garlic and olive oil.

So here is the thing that really impressed me. Our waitress noticed we had only gotten through half of our Manhattans when we put in our order. She asked if we wanted to have the kitchen wait 5-10 minutes before cooking our meal. We immediately said yes! Such a delight to experience that attention to detail.

We finished our cocktails at a leisurely pace before dinner arrived.

And wow! did dinner arrive. The Veal Pizzaiola was huge. Tender cutlets smothered in a crushed tomato marinara with melted mozzarella. The side of pasta was a generous serving, too, and reeked of garlic in a good way. The dish was everything that I expected: over-the-top and yummy.

Veal Pizzaiola
A generous serving of Veal Pizzaiola
Italian comfort food with lovely service and delicious leftovers for another night. Being old school has its joys.

Angela's is located at 425 N. Ridge Rd. in the Tuckahoe Shopping Center.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lunch Time at Amuse

Always great to have lunch at Amuse.

Green Salad with Prosciutto and Comte Cheese
Green Salad with Prosciutto and Comte Cheese
Curry Fried Oysters
Curry Fried Oysters

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Valentine's Trip to NYC

Well, we left before Valentine's Day, but we went for a long weekend. Of course, it was one of the coldest weekends this Winter, so we tried to stay indoors as much as possible and enjoy some long, leisurely meals.

Happy Valentine's Day!
A NYC Valentine

Upon arrival we headed to Maysville for cocktails and dinner. After imbibing a Kentucky Redbird (a bourbon and fruity concoction), I then decided to move on to the Willett Pot Still, neat. Mmmm! The food highlight was the seared beef with radish and apple. The bartenders were friendly, especially since we arrived right as they opened. We ate in the dining room for our meal and the restaurant filled up quickly. Coordination of courses proved to be a bit bumpy leaving us with multiple plates jockeying for position.

Bourbons and Ryes
An awesome bar shelf
Kentucky Redbird Cocktail
Kentucky Redbird
Seared Beef with Radish and Apple
Seared beef with radish and apple. A wonderful dish from Maysville.

Walking back to the hotel we stumbled upon Eataly. Wow! a bit overwhelming. We couldn't resist ordering the Nutella Affogato.

Affogato in the Making
Decadent after dinner dessert/coffee from Eataly.

The next morning we headed to The Met. The museum is big and contains a wide variety of art and artifacts. We were particularly enchanted with the vibrancy of the Thomas Hart Benton paintings and delighted by the Oceanic exhibit.

Thomas Hart Benton - July Hay
Thomas Hart Benton - July Hay
Kwoma Crocodile
Crocodile Ceiling Panel
For lunch we visited the Petrie Court Cafe. Tasty food, lovely service, and a decent people-watching experience.

Malliol with Blue Hat
The blue hat is awesome
Tarrica Cabernet
A wonderful Cab from Paso Robles
French Dip Sandwich
Enjoying a French Dip sandwich at The Met

After lunch we saw armored knights and Dutch masters.

Knight on Horse
The armor collection is impressive
Govert Flinck - Bearded Man with a Velvet Cap
Govert Flinck - Bearded Man with a Velvet Cap
Back to our tiny hotel room for a rest before dining at Perry St. This was our dinner splurge. A five course tasting menu with wine pairings. Unfortunately, it was way too dark to take decent photos. The highlight was a Lobster Thermidor with mushrooms, Gruyere, and tarragon. A perfect melding of flavors paired with a white Burgundy. Luscious, decadent, delicious.

The following day we attempted to walk around the city and enjoy a few outdoor sites. The frozen fountain at Bryant Park was really cool (actually frozen). And we wandered around Rockefeller Plaza.

Frozen Fountain
The frozen fountain was fascinating
Billowing flags at Rockefeller Plaza. No wonder we were cold.
We ended up at Columbus Circle with half a mind to venture over toward the Hudson River to view the Intrepid when we realized the cold weather was winning. It was near noon and we needed a place for lunch. Robert came to our rescue. Located on the ninth floor of the Museum of Arts and Design, the place is colorful and modern with a spectacular view of Central Park and NYC. We settled in to enjoy drinks, wine, food, and restaurant patrons. An indulgent spot to warm our bones. The staff treated us very well, despite the lack of reservations.

Robert Restaurant
Bright colors and funky furniture at Robert
View from Robert
What a view!
Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine splurge
Watercress and Potato Soup
Potato and Watercress Soup. The right starter on a frigid day.

Steak Fries and Salad
Steak Frites

Fur coats and shorts - NYC style
Mirrored View
Diners at Robert
 After lunch we did wander over to see the Intrepid from the outside. In the late afternoon we headed to MoMA to take advantage of free admission night. Wow! What a freakin' zoo! Busy and chaotic. The line for the coat check was at least an hour long! It was tough to enjoy the art because we were constantly jostled by other Friday night freeloaders. I was pleased to see a couple of Klimt paintings. This was the highlight for me.

The Line for the Coat Check
Waiting to check coats. We carried ours.
Klimt Graces
Gustav Klimt - Hope II
As we left MoMA we ran into a cat head. We appreciate this kind of art, too.

Cat Head
Cat Head

After chaos we needed to relax a wee bit before dinner. A glass of sparkling at the Morrell Wine Bar did the trick.

And then we plunged right back into chaos visiting Don Antonio for pizza. Crowded, loud, and busy, but delicious wood-fired pies.

Hungry Crowd at Don Antonio
The crowd at Don Antonio.
Margherita Pizza with Sausage
Margherita with Sausage. Wood-fired Deliciousness.
The next morning we boarded the train for home. Fun trip despite the cold temps. Lots more still to do on future visits.

Through the Branches
NYC - Fun Times