Monday, May 16, 2016

The Countdown to Wegmans Begins

Get your wallet out, folks.

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2016 at 11:48 AM

If you can just hang on a little bit longer — it’s hard, I know — the wait will be over. Finally. Wegmans announced today that its store at 12501 Stone Village Way in Midlothian at 7 a.m. on Sunday, May 22.

“It appears that Richmond-area shoppers are anxious for the new store to open,” said spokesman Jo Natale in a news release. “According to Wegmans, nearly 24,000 customers have gone on-line already to sign up in advance for a Wegmans Shoppers Club card.”

This will be the company’s 89th store, and clocks in at an impressive 115,000 square feet. Folks who’ve seen stores in Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia wax poetic about its produce section, bakery, extensive cheese shop, deli and charcuterie, meat and seafood, wine and beer shop, plus typical grocery items. The store offers pizza, subs, sushi prepared on-site, and a several salad and hot bars, as well as a Market Café, which serves as a coffee shop. Plus, there's a full-service family restaurant, the Pub by Wegmans, located within the store.

Are you excited yet?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Budweiser to Change Its Name to America — Until the November Election

This isn't cynical marketing at all. Really.

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2016 at 11:49 AM

‘Merica. No matter what anybody says, this country is always the greatest. And to demonstrate its patriotism and appeal to those who also are filled with national fervor, Budweiser has asked the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for approval to re-brand itself as “America” this summer in anticipation of the Rio 2016 Olympics in August. Budweiser is an official sponsor.

Yes. Budweiser wants to name itself after our very own country.

“The packaging will run from May 23 through election season in November,” Ad Age reports. And that seems to clearly indicate that Anheuser-Busch, now owned by InBev, wants to take advantage of the intense interest surrounding the presidential election as well.

You might be familiar a few of the other elements on the proposed label. You’ll find "E Pluribus Unum" from the seal of the United States — which actually reminds me more of the “Wizard of Oz” than anything else. There's also "from the redwood forest to the Gulf stream waters, this land was made for you and me" — which probably reminds everyone of long assemblies in elementary school. And not to be overlooked, the phrase "indivisible since 1776" — which seems a little factually askew to a Southerner.

Budweiser tweeted an image of the new label this morning.

Of course, the irony that Budwieser is owned by an enormous corporation based in Belgium is lost on no one.

Nonetheless, Anheuser-Busch InBev U.S. marketing vice-president Jorn Socquet doesn’t seem worried about irony or snark and, in a burst of honesty, is quoted by Ad Age saying: “You have this wave of patriotism that is going to go up and down throughout the summertime. And we found with Budweiser such a beautiful angle to play on that sentiment."

Friday, May 6, 2016

Preview: On the Set of "A Moveable Feast" at Merroir Restaurant

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 10:30 AM

“Mingle,” the assistant director tells us. “Pretend like you’re meeting each other for the first time!”

Apparently, we aren’t mingling aggressively enough for the crew of WGBH’s “A Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.” They take away the tables around us, and unexpectedly, while I tip a raw oyster back that’s still ever-so-slightly attached to its shell, a camera is in my face. It can’t be pretty.

I’m at Merroir restaurant, on the Middle Peninsula in Topping, and the PBS show is filming an episode for its fourth season. “A Moveable Feast” follows Australian chef Pete Evans while he travels throughout America to taste regional specialties.

He’d been out most of the day with Rappahannock Oyster Co.’s Ryan and Travis Croxton, learning about the farm’s oyster beds quietly submerged under still water just yards away from the restaurant and lending a hand to crank their cages out of the river.

Each episode of the show culminates with an outdoor dinner party. The scene is similar throughout the season: A long, rustic table is set up — here on the wooden pier that juts out in front of Merroir — and guests line each side. A well-known chef cooks the chosen ingredient — oysters, this time, prepared by Rappahannock’s executive chef Dylan Fultineer and Merroir’s Pete Woods — and the guests have at it.

One thing is certain: The crew wants to get you tipsy. We’re encouraged to order a glass of prosecco before filming starts, and once it begins, Rappahannock’s Paul Kirk makes a stingingly strong cocktail with James River Distillery’s Øster Vit, a Scandinavian-style aquavit steeped for a few hours in oyster shells to give it a briny tang.

While we “mingle,” endless platters of raw oysters, oysters grilled with brown sugar and barbecue sauce, and Merroir’s signature dish, angels on horseback — oysters roasted and adorned with thick slivers of Edward’s country ham — do a much better job of circulating than we do.

The drinking continues when we sit down, as Barboursville Vineyards’ Jason Tesauro hands magnums of viognier, bottles of red wine and Foggy Ridge’s cider down the table. We get loud and forget about the cameras. Several times, the crew is forced to hush the table.

Plates of Merroir’s stuffin’ muffins — oyster-filled circles of holiday-style stuffing — and wide bowls of an earthy lamb-and-oyster stew topped with slices of redolent Sub Rosa Bakery bread are placed in front of us.

The bread was brought by Evin Dogu and her brother, Evrim, and his wife, Reiko, who join the party. We can see, off in the distance, our tall, weathered host interviewing Fultineer. Evans joins us at the end of the meal to raise a toast and do a promo for the show. When he’s done, he disappears.

Black clouds come rolling in as dinner winds down, and Weather.com’s radar shows a big storm is heading our way. We can see the crew packing up equipment carefully but with urgency. “You can stay as long as you want,” we’re told, “but we need to leave.”

Down the road a ways, my husband and I park while hailstones bounce off our car. We wonder how it might feel to see ourselves on television — both of us have appeared on shows, but one featured the back of my head and the other had a bike in the foreground that blocked most of my husband. That conversation dries up as the hailstones gradually stop pounding down, and naturally, we find ourselves talking about the food for the rest of the ride home. S

Friday, April 22, 2016

Pickup-and-Pay Service Has Begun at B.J.'s Wholesale Club

You have to get out of your car, but that's about it.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 12:00 PM

When you enter a discount warehouse store with its towering shelves of enormous tantalizing products, you'd better put on a pair of sneakers and get ready to hike. You’ve got a lot of walking to do to buy that 3-gallon jar of Dijon mustard.

Except at B.J.’s Wholesale Club. The company announced, as reported by the website Consumerist, that effective immediately, customers will be able to shop for items on the shelves of their local store online.

A B.J.'s employee will collect them for you and an email will be sent when they’re ready for pickup inside the store. It isn’t quite as convenient as the curbside service offered by Kroger on Iron Bridge Road in Chesterfield, but there isn’t a $3.95 fee either.

Let’s all save our strength for spin class — where exercise belongs.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Coffee Comes to the West End

Shore Dog Cafe joins Kuba Kuba Dos and the Backyard Grill on Ridge Road.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 2:12 PM

The West End needed a coffee shop. And Gibbs Moody wanted to start a new company.

This former investment banker left San Francisco 12 years ago to move to Richmond and raise his family with wife Sharon. For the past few years, he's been looking for a company to buy, but as he passed the empty storefront at the Tuckahoe Shopping Center on Ridge Road, he began to think about what could go into it.

“When I was looking at other companies, I always found flaws,” he says.

Moody originally thought about putting an ice cream store in the space, but the idea didn’t excite him. One thing he did like, however, was a good cup of coffee. Moody had been a long-time customer of Lamplighter Roasting Co., and after a few conversations with co-owner Noelle Archibald, the idea of starting his own coffee shop began to take hold of his imagination.

And Shore Dog Cafe was born. “We wanted to bring our love of the Eastern Shore here,” Sharon, who is also co-owner of Fraîche, says about the name. The folks at Lamplighter designed the coffee bar and trained its baristas. The Moodys brought in milk from Homestead Creamery, Mountain View Farm cheese and New York’s Davidovich Bakery’s bagels for its breakfast and lunch menus.

“It’s not a traditional dark coffee bar,” says Moody. “We wanted a beachy sort of look.” Weathered wooden benches line the wall, and the space is filled with soft shades of grey and white mixed with a few stainless, industrial elements such as Tolix metal chairs around the tables and at the bar.

When it first opened, the kitchen at Shore Dog closed at 2:30 p.m. “Customers complained,” Moody says. The couple decided to extend the hours and add a few entrees, such as flatbread pizza and chicken satays, along with wine, beer, and tapas, to eat in or takeout.

“It’s still an evolving concept,” Moody says. “We’re too [much] of a well-kept secret.”

Friday, April 15, 2016

Even More Biscuits for the Fan

The Fancy Biscuit opens on West Cary Street.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 15, 2016 at 3:36 PM

At long last, the Fancy Biscuit has opened its doors. Shyndigz’s new baby took a while to gestate — more than a year.

Back in 2014, Shyndigz moved from Patterson Avenue to 1903 W. Cary St., morphing from a bakery with killer cakes to a full-blown dessert cafe that sells beer and wine along with its towering slabs of salted caramel chocolate cake and slices of double brownie pie.

"We turned away more business than we took," Bryon Jessee told Style about the move to the Fan two years ago. And business was so good at the new location, Jessee, along with his wife, Nicole, opened Shyndigz 2go & Market a short distance away at 1833 W. Cary St. to fill takeout orders and provide some space for diners waiting for a seat at the cafe proper.

The Fancy Biscuit, at 1831 W. Cary St., is the latest buttery wonder from the couple. The biscuits are loaded with unexpected ingredients such as fried chicken and blue cheese, bacon and arugula, or crunchy collards and a poached egg. You can grab a fork Wednesdays-Friday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Quickness RVA Expands Digitally and Geographically

More hungry people can take advantage of the bicycle delivery service.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 2:36 PM

Quickness RVA, powered by sweat and mad cycling skills, has expanded its delivery area and will add online ordering on Monday, April 18. This comes hard on the heels of the launch of Groupon’s digital ordering and delivery service, OrderUp.

The six-year-old local company will now send its riders beyond the Fan and downtown to the Barton Heights and Brookland Park neighborhoods as well. Manchester is the next delivery area up for consideration.

“Since we are a small local company, we are doing it in phases to make sure we can keep our reputation, starting with five to 10 restaurants for phase one,” says owner Frank Bucalo. “As soon as all our current restaurant partners — there are almost 30 — are rolling with online ordering capability, we hope to continue making relationships with more local restaurants.”

Quickness also works with Renew Richmond, a group that helps to establish organic community gardens, creates educational programs and provides produce from its gardens through its farm stands. Quickness is helping Renew Richmond make its fruits and vegetables even more accessible in areas of Richmond where finding fresh food can be difficult.

And Bucalo says the company wants to find ways to work with other small businesses to provide delivery service. “We recently paired with Photosynthesis Floral Designs over Valentine’s Day and delivered bouquets and floral arrangements by bicycle,” he says.

Once this network is solidified, Bucalo says that Quickness will be “basically like a local and ecofriendly Amazon Prime Now that will promote supporting small businesses.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Anheuser-Busch InBev Buys Virginia's Devils Backbone Brewing Co.

The world's largest brewer is investing in craft beer.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 12:47 PM

No one likes it when the little guy sells out. This is particularly true when it comes to the arts -- it’s annoying to watch a cruise line advertise itself to the strains of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” -- even though the never-mainstream musician probably now has a nice retirement fund from that commercial alone.

And given the fact that the U.S. economic market is based on capitalism, it’s a difficult to begrudge a small business for expanding or selling to a larger one.

Anheuser-Busch InBev announced today that it would buy Devils Backbone Brewing Company, based in Nelson County and Lexington. The craft brewery produces about 60,000 barrels a year and plans to increase that by another 35,000 in 2016.

AB InBev started its craft beer division, the High End, in 2011, and has a portfolio of beers that includes Goose Island, Blue Point, 10 Barrel, Elysian, Golden Road, Virtue Cider, Four Peaks and Breckenridge Brewery, plus Stella Artois and Shock Top.

Anheuser-Busch itself was acquired by the Belgian beer firm, InBev, in 2008, making it the largest beer-producing company in the world. In 2015, the combined Anheuser-Busch InBev then turned around and bought its closest competitor, SABMiller.

This mind-boggling behemoth that produces Budweiser, Corona, Beck’s, Peroni and others can offer small breweries both vast distribution and significant infusions of capital.

“While we are joining a creative group of craft breweries in the division, Devils Backbone will retain a high level of autonomy and continue its own authentic DNA within the High End framework,” brewery co-founder Steve Crandall said in a news release.

Devils Backbone’s owners will continue to run the company, their employees will keep their jobs and ingredients will stay the same. Beginning with its first craft brewery purchase, Goose Island, the High End has a reputation for a gentle, hands-off approach to the companies it acquires.

Of course, that can change -- the division underwent a reorganization in March. And that bears watching.

Nonetheless, although the decrease in competition means prices aren’t going to be lowered anytime soon -- and perhaps will go higher -- thinking from the pint-glass-half-full side, it also means that that your favorite beer will probably be available wherever you travel. And as more beer drinkers are exposed to more variety and become better educated, that paradoxically provides a buffer for other small producers which will acquire more of the curious, discerning patrons who keep them in business.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Helping the Heart with Cosmos

Cocktails and local chefs' specialties were highlights at the Richmond Heart Ball preview.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 2:26 PM

Sake Cosmopolitans and Smithfield pork were the order of the evening for the 24th annual Richmond Heart Ball’s VIP cocktail reception and auction preview, held last night at the Gateway Plaza to kick off next week’s main event.

Four local chefs accepted the challenge to create heart-healthy dishes using reception sponsor Smithfield’s “Lean Generation” pork. At tables scattered throughout the room, attendees noshed on colorful pork stir fry from Mama J’s Kitchen’s chef Velma Johnson, piquant pork and cabbage tacos from Emilio’s chef Chad Stambaugh, spicy pork lettuce wraps from chef Loretta Montano at Stella’s and rosy pink pork tenderloin with dragon fruit relish from chef Cory Sheldon of the Boathouse.

Mosaic Catering + Events also contributed selections of Asian meatballs and other goodies and oversees the Richmond Heart Ball's concept and event production.

A tower of pink, pre-made Cosmos, adorned with paper parasols and enlivened with sake, got almost as much traffic as the regular bar, with one attendee overheard saying, “I’ll drink one if you will.” Both did.

The preview also provided an opportunity for people to get a look at some of the silent auction’s glamorous prizes, from a string of South Sea pearls, to a Bermuda getaway, to “Fore for Two,” an opportunity to spend a day inside the PGA tour during its run at Country Club of Virginia in November. None of those grabs you? How about a diamond bracelet, a NASCAR package or an oyster weekend with friends?

Raising funds for research and prevention programs across the region is the primary goal of next Saturday’s sold-out Heart Ball, this year themed “Fortune of the Heart.”

Last year's gala, which transforms the space inside and out of the Science Museum of Virginia, hit $1 million raised, an event record.

Richmond Heart Ball, Saturday, April 16, 6 p.m. at the Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad St.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ukrop's Homestyle Foods Recalls 2,881 Pounds of Food

Trash those ham and cheese pinwheels, folks.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 4:03 PM

Time to practice your aim while chucking things from the fridge into the trash can. Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods is recalling turkey, pork, and beef that may contain glass, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

These include Ukrop’s Homestyle’s roasted turkey and colby jack pinwheels, black forest ham and provolone pinwheels, Angus roast beef and cheddar pinwheels, honey ham and honey turkey pinwheel trays, honey turkey and havarti pinwheel trays, and honey ham and swiss pinwheel trays made between April 1 and 2, with sell-by dates of April 4 and 5.

And it’s a lot of food that the company has to recall – about 2,881 pounds worth. Ukrop’s received a notice from Roland Foods on April 4 that its fire-roasted red pepper strips might be contaminated with glass fragments. I calculate that there’s been about a three-day delay in getting the news out to consumers.

Ukrop’s Homestyle hasn’t released a statement, and I hadn’t heard back from its spokesman before publication.

“There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products,” the announcement from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service says. “FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products.”

So, throw those pinwheels in any of their various forms out or make a beeline to the store to return them. And check back for any updates -- I’ll keep you posted.

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