The festival season began, as it always does, with the sonic boom created by the Greek Festival held last weekend. You need to make some choices, friends, because it’s here: Time to slap on the sunscreen and check out a few events. Now that Memorial Day weekend is behind us, don’t you want to eat and drink that bikini weight away?
The fancy pre-party to Broad Appétit will be held at Pasture on Saturday, June 6, from 6:30-10:30 p.m. It’s your chance to rub shoulders with culinary luminaries such as sort-of-homeboy Bryan Voltaggio of Family Meal, Los Angeles’ Chad Colby of Chi Spacca, and Nightingale 9 and Norma Jean’s Rob Newton from Brooklyn. Local ingredients are de rigueur, along with local beer, wine and spirits. Pasture, 416 E. Grace St., 780-0416. Tickets are $125 and can be purchased at broadappetit.com/off-broad-2015.html.
Barbecue Beer Bash for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
On Saturday, June 6, from 3-9 p.m., you can honor the firefighters who protect us at Center of the Universe Brewing Co., while sampling a few brews, barbecue and live music. A silent auction is planned to benefit the foundation and a portion of beer proceeds will be given as well. Center of the Universe Brewing Co., 11293 Air Park Road, Ashland. Call 368-0299 or visit cotubrewing.com.
Ashland Strawberry Faire
Pro tip: Stock up on whipped cream before you go. It’s impossible to attend this event without buying strawberries — and inevitably more berries than you need, but never more than you want. Besides strawberries, this bustling affair brings out nearly 300 vendors, including food trucks, kids’ activities, live music, a Miss and Mister Strawberry pageant and a pet pageant as well. Randolph-Macon College, 204 Henry St., Ashland. ashlandstrawberryfaire.com.
Southern Season’s What Can You Do With a Chicken?
For the omnivore, chicken is a weeknight staple. How, though, to disrupt the same cycle of chicken dishes that endlessly repeats for most of us? You can take a class with chef John Maxwell to bone up on your butchering skills and add a thing or two to your repertoire, such as sautéed chicken breast with cider beurre blanc. $45. Southern Season, 2250 Staples Mill Road. Call 592-3446 or visit southernseason.com to reserve your spot.
This mammoth festival gets bigger and bigger each year. Local chefs — 68 in all — try to outdo each other with $3 sample plates, and you can always get a sense of who’s going to win the To Dine For award by checking out the lines in front of each booth. Demos, “Iron Chef”-style competitions, local beer, Virginia wine and live music round out the event that takes place Sunday, June 7, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on West Broad between Henry and Adams streets. broadappetit.com.
Isley Brewing Co.’s Second Annual Luau
Hula dancing, a limbo contest and music with Bang Bash Punch and Bluz Catz will take over the brewery at this Hawaiian themed event. Sip a special brew or two and bring a furry friend along to sit by you on the patio. The action takes place Saturday, June 13, from noon to 10 p.m. Isley Brewing Co., 1715 Summit Ave. Call 716-2132 or visit isleybrewingcompany.com.
The Third Annual Richmond Bacon Festival
The smell of bacon can practically wake the dead — or a sleeping teenager — and the mere mention of everyone’s favorite pork product brings out the crowds. You can find both savory and sweet versions at this expanded festival — chocolate bacon pops, bacon sliders, bacon clam cakes and a bunch of other stuff you never knew would be even more delicious with bacon in it on Sunday, June 14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be plenty of beer and wine to wash it down and a little music to distract from all the chewing going on around you. 17th Street Farmers’ Market, 100 N. 17th St. enrichmond.org/event/3rd-annual-bacon-festival.
Farm Dinner at Manakintowne Specialty Growers
The season to eat out in an idyllic pastoral setting also has begun. Manakintowne Growers and Rappahannock chef Dylan Fultineer are pulling out all the stops with a a farm tour, tasting and dinner on June 11 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $150 For information, call 545-0565.
The third Boathouse is about to ready the mast at Short Pump Town Center under the Hyatt House Hotel at 11800 W. Broad St. Owner Kevin Healy is looking to open in about two weeks — hopefully a little earlier than that, he says.
Since last fall’s announcement, Healy joked that this Boathouse will be dry-docked — it won’t be perched on a large body of water like his other two restaurants. “People [asked] why I didn’t do another name, but I said, ‘Everyone is just going to say it’s that guy with the Boathouse.’”
Healy was approached in 2013 by Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer. A focus group had determined that two things were missing from the mall: seafood and Mexican cuisine. Healy had experience in both and in addition, had been a partner in Baker’s Crust for more than seven years before he purchased the first Boathouse restaurant and knew the customer base. There was a void in the area he felt his restaurant could fill.
Credit card sales at Healy’s other two restaurants yielded more information. He knew that a lot of his customers lived in the area where the new place would be located. “Do they only come [to the Boathouse] because we’re located on the water?” he says. “Maybe some people. But there’s got to be something about what we do that people in that specific Short Pump zip code like.”
Richmond native and Collegiate School-graduate Robert Nelson will move from the Sunday Park restaurant to take over the kitchen in Short Pump.
Although the menu will be very similar to the seafood-driven ones at the other two Boathouses, Healy says you won’t find pizza on the menu in Short Pump — you’ll find sushi instead. And the interior won't look anything like them either.
“My in-laws have a house in East Hampton and we’ve been going there for over 30 years. We drew some inspiration from a kind of New England look,” says Healy, “although it’s hard to put your finger on what that means.”
You’ll see subway tile, reclaimed wood and whitewashed tumbled brick. Seating will be plush — and unusually, most seats will have USB charging ports. Caffè Propaganda, a restaurant Healy enjoyed on a trip to Rome, and its airy, Old World vibe was also a strong influence on the design.
“There will be shiny things, old things and new things — it should be a very visually interesting and comfortable environment,” Healy says.
Pop-ups are a low-stakes way to get into the restaurant game, and for diners, it’s almost always a win/win. Chefs are out to impress and ticket holders are usually discerning eaters.
The latest is called A Southern Thing and will focus on all the things we have around here that we love the most. RVA Pop-Up Kitchens chef Gerald “T.J.” Hicks — executive sous chef at McCormack's Big Whisky Grill and previously of Lemaire and Six Burner — will offer a four-course dinner, plus paired wines from the Charlottesville area at Gallery 5. He’ll whip up some chilled sweet corn consommé, sorghum molasses-glazed barbecued spiced pork belly and other riffs on Southern classics.
The food, wine, art and music will all happen on June 18 from 7 to 11p.m. Sound like something you might like to do? You’d better hop to it. Tickets are limited to 50, and the cost is $55. Follow this link for ticket information and more details.
Gwar-B-Q tickets are now on sale. And the event has expanded to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary. For three days, from Aug. 14 to 16, Gwar has released its slaves from the pit to throw not one but two pre-parties, B4BQ, at the Broadberry and the National on Friday, Aug. 14. On Saturday, Aug. 15, rabid fans will throng Hadad’s Lake (7900 Osborne Turnpike), where they’ll find three stages barely containing the 20 bands on this year’s roster.
Old people like me (which also includes every member of Gwar) will be hit with frenzied nostalgia when the Descendents, the Cro-mags and the Dickies (the Dickies!) blast our poor aging ears with the hardcore we love. Actually, maybe we won’t notice after decades of shows and the hearing loss that’s resulted. Here’s a link to list of a few of the other bands that will take the stage.
Why is this on Style’s food page? Because Gwar-B-Q isn’t just about the music — it’s about the food, too. In the spirit of excess, the band has 30 food trucks scheduled to arrive to satiate any hungry Bohab, along with their own special Gwar-made offerings. (Protip: You might want to fuel up before the Spew-O-Lympics.) And you can pick up a bottle of Gwar-B-Q sauce and Gwar-B-Q hot sauce on your way out.
In addition, any survivors can refuel at GwarBar’s Brutal Brunch (217 W. Clay St.) on Sunday, Aug. 16.
To buy tickets, from $45 to $299, and get every single detail you need about the event, head over to gwar.net. Oderus commands you to from Valhalla.
People were particularly upset when they realized that Rusty Fallen's cream puffs would disappear with the restaurant.
However, take heart, Richmonders! Billy Fallen, Rusty's son, confirmed that his mother will continue to make cream puffs. They will reappear on the menu of Rancho T at 1 Morris St. after Rusty finishes a brief break from the oven.
"Growing up, I never thought they were special," Billy says. "It wasn't until we opened Aziza's and people went crazy over them."
Beyond the pots of colorful flowers, past the tiny Moroccan mosaic fountain and down the steps to the English basement of a red-brick row house on East Clay Street, Trey Wilkerson thinks about the evolution of the menu at his new restaurant, the Reachmonde. He calls the food Mediterranean and Southern soul-food fusion. “A lot of the ingredients cross over,” he says. “We're going to be doing things like osso buco, but with beef [instead of veal], and doing it over stoneground grits instead of polenta.”
Wilkerson grew up working in restaurants -- his grandparents owned the Back Porch in Ocracoke, North Carolina, and he says, his favorite job was working at Mel’s Café, the only soul food place in Charlottesville at the time.
Richmond’s growing dining scene attracted Wilkerson to the city. Charlottesville’s restaurant business is seasonal, and when the students go home in the summer, he says, it seems as if half of a restaurant’s customers leave, too. He found the Jackson Ward building on Craigslist. “We have absolutely amazing landlords,” says Wilkerson. Fifteen years ago, there was as much sky as there was roof, and since then, the space has been completely overhauled. Besides the little fountain outside that Wilkerson brought with him, there’s another, larger one in the back of the restaurant, built by a previous tenant.
Inside the warm yellow walls hung with bright paintings, Wilkerson says he wants to bring in more Mediterranean classics and Moroccan flavors. But for right now, he’s starting things out more simply. You’ll find dolmades and stuffed artichokes along with shrimp and grits or a Southern Cubano sandwich made with pork barbecue.
Wilkerson wants to put down restaurant roots before he begins more experimentation. “We were attracted to the diversity of the community,” he says. “We don’t want to only pull from people who don’t live here. We want the neighborhood in here.”
The Reachmonde is open for dinner each night and lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s located two blocks from the Hippodrome, near Mamma J’s Kitchen and Thai Corner at 219 E. Clay St.
More Scott’s Addition news: The King of Pops, everyone’s favorite maker of wildly flavored frozen treats, will add a retail side to its building-tasting-lab-pop-storage space at 3001 W. Clay St. “We got approval and permits from the city, and built a patio,” owner Paul Cassimus says in an email. “There will be outdoor seating and we’ll sell pops through a window.” You can grab a lemon-basil or chocolate-sea-salt popsicle starting at noon, Friday, May 22. richmond.kingofpops.net.
Checking in: Quirk Hotel may not have a kitchen yet or a name for its restaurant, but it does have a chef. The Washington Post reports that Ashby Inn chef David Dunlap will man the stove. Dunlap is planning dishes that are “globally influenced,” the Post says, and “expects to keep the menu relatively small at 10 to 15 items that will change at least weekly.”
Helping kids: Pasture, along with nonprofits a Case for Hope, Connecting Hearts and Faces of Virginia Families, will hold a foster care awareness event Tuesday, May 26, from 5-7 p.m. Foster children need suitcases — and invariably don’t have them — when they move to a different home. They’re asking you to bring travel toiletries, including small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes and anything else you might take with you on a trip, to Pasture to donate. You’ll find special appetizers and door prizes waiting. acaseforhope.org.
Market explosion: Yet another contender has entered the Richmond grocery-store ring. Germany’s discount grocery chain Lidl, which already intends to build a Henrico County store, is planning a second location across from Chesterfield Towne Center. Are there enough customers in the Richmond area making dinner nightly to sustain what looks akin to the late-’90s dot-com bubble, only with bread, milk and eggs?
Mabel on the move: Chris Fultz and Alex Graf of ZZQ Texas Craft Barbecue purchased a new smoker not too long ago, dubbing it “Mabel.” This summer, Mabel and ZZQ’s mouthwatering beef brisket will be at Ardent Craft Ales, starting June 5, every first and third Friday of the month. zzqrva.com.
It’s been in the works for a while, but the official announcement that Pizza Tonight found a permanent home came this morning. It comes with a cost, however. Aziza’s on Main is closing. The 2110 E. Main St. building will be renovated and a fall opening is planned.
Aziza’s opened in 2007, and two of its best known veterans are chefs Philip Denny and Caleb Shriver. Shriver went on to win Aziza's award for Style Weekly’s Best Restaurant in 2013 and to open the nationally recognized Dutch & Co. with his wife, Michelle Peake Shriver, and Philip Perrow in Church Hill.
Aziza’s owner Mary Gibrall Brooks says in a press release today: “After careful consideration, the Gibrall family has made the difficult decision to close Aziza's on Main. Mary Gibrall (Aziza), prided herself in her family-owned and operated businesses. We have come to a point in our journey where that may no longer be a realistic option and keeping with her example and tradition is very important to us.”
Pizza Tonight started as a monthly gathering of friends at owner Victoria DeRoche’s house, called Pizza Club. By 2010, DeRoche started to see pizza-making as a viable business, and after working with New Ventures New Visions, a nonprofit that helps women get businesses off the ground, De Roche purchased a mobile pizza oven and Pizza Tonight was born. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery was probably the most visible spot to see her in action, but DeRoche and her pizza oven also showed up at other food truck courts and plenty of events across town.
“After starting our business in 2010,” DeRoche says, “and becoming part of the dynamic RVA dining community by offering mobile, wood-fired catering, we are thrilled to take this next step and have a brick-and-mortar home for Pizza Tonight.”
It’s all about the setting. Slow Food RVA has held GRAZE events at Tuckahoe Plantation, on East Grace Street, and this coming Sunday, May 17, from noon to 5 p.m., at Origins Farm. This event’s focus is on slow meat — animals raised sustainably on pasture and humanely killed — and will be the organization’s focus for all of 2015. Slow meat is designed to bring “together producers, butchers, thought leaders and eaters of every ethos to address the conundrum of industrial animal husbandry and to celebrate the alternatives,” according to Slow Food’s national website.
A cavalcade of local chefs are participating: Comfort’s Alley and Travis Milton, Will Richardson of Shoryuken Ramen, Metzger Bar & Butchery’s Brittany Anderson, Longoven pop-up event’s Patrick Phelan and Andrew Manning and Andrea Huntjens of Sophistocated Soireés will whip up the food, and Ann Butler from Edible Education will provide activities for kids.
St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church’s Annual Lebanese Food Festival is a whopping 31 years old. And it’s a party.
Before the event begins, organizer Sarah Joseph Brown says, volunteers call themselves the “choir”: “Our instruments are the clanging of bowls, pans and ovens, along with shovels and hammers, as we set up and prepare for our event.”
The groundwork for the festival begins in February, and all of the 250 families who attend St. Anthony’s are involved in one way or another — whether it’s hands-on cooking or as one of the runners who refills the trays. Some families participating span three or even four generations. These volunteers keep things running smoothly and make the tabouli, falafel and shawarma possible during the three days of the festival.“Each of our 30,000 meat, cheese, and our spinach and feta pies are a labor of love,” Brown says, “handmade by the wonderful parish cooks who volunteer their time in our commercial kitchen.”
Lots of live music and some expert traditional dancing are a staple at every festival. “The dance groups begin learning our cultural dances at age 4,” she says.
Bulk and to-go food is available as well. The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16, and on Sunday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., on the church grounds next to Innsbrook at 4611 Sadler Road.
For more information call 270-7234 or visit stanthonymaronitechurch.org. And in the meantime, you can whip a batch of your own tabouli, from this recipe graciously provided by St. Anthony's.
St. Anthony’s Tabouli
2 cups cracked wheat (bulgur)
4 large diced tomatoes
2 bunches green onions finely chopped (or substitute an onion), about 1 cup
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 2 large lemons (about 6-8 tablespoons)
1 cup fresh mint leaves or 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dried mint, crushed
2 bunches fresh parsley leaves, chopped
6 leaves romaine lettuce
Rinse the bulgur. Drain it in a fine mesh strainer and squeeze out the excess water. Place in a large bowl and set aside. Finely chop the parsley, mint, green onions and tomatoes and add to the bowl. Pour the lemon juice over everything and mix thoroughly.
Place 1/2 cup serving on romaine lettuce leaf and serve. (Best served cold.)