Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Going, Going, Gone.

Set up your own grocery store at home with a few items from Martin's.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 11:40 AM

I’ve always wanted a grocery store conveyor belt system. Haven’t you? Attach one end to the counter and the other to dining room table and voila! A horizontal dumbwaiter for the 21st century.

You, too, can assemble a real conveyor belt in your house if you raise your hand and start the bidding at the Martin’s grocery-store equipment auction at 1220 Sycamore Square in Midlothian. They’re selling everything. Every single thing. From cutting boards to the store's take-a-number system to “miscellaneous deli gloves, sign holders, etc.”

The uses of the take-a-number system alone are mind-boggling.

Our copy editor, G.W. Pointdexter, already has called one of the Hobart meat slicers (models 1812, 1912 and 2612 are available), and I have my eye on Follet 8-head soda fountain and Grindmaster coffee bean grinder. Of course, I may have to keep them on the back porch until we can expand our kitchen, but you won’t mind if I grind my coffee outside in the morning, will you? You can have a free soda anytime you want!

“The 74,000-square-foot store on Midlothian Turnpike at Charter Colony Parkway in Chesterfield will replace a smaller store in the nearby Sycamore Square Shopping Center,” the Times-Dispatch reported last June. No recycling for Martin’s -- the new store will be entirely new, right down to its Henny Penny HC900 heated holding cabinet.

The auction action starts this Monday, March 16, at 9 a.m., and there’s online bidding, too. Follow this link to get in your early bids for the Conwin balloon inflater or Edhard jelly fillers. Just stay away from the coffee grinder. That’s mine.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Weekly Food Notes

Bello's Lounge, Sally Bell's Award + More

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 at 1:00 AM

Grocery fanfare: National media keeps poking around Richmond’s food scene. Last week it was The Wall Street Journal. In an article about small grocery stores — micro grocers — opening across the country, the Fan’s Harvest Grocery & Supply made a guest appearance at the end. WSJ writes: “[Harvest] staffers know most regulars by name and try to speak to everyone who comes in. Hunter Hopcroft encourages them to share recipes and suggest substitutions. ‘Our standard [greeting] is, ‘What are you making?’ Mr. Hopcroft says.”

Lounge act: A May opening is planned for Bello’s Lounge on East Franklin Street, Richmond BizSense reports. Ralph Dadzie, a native of Ghana, will offer African and Caribbean cuisine, with a relaxed, upscale vibe.

Award season: Sally Bell’s Kitchen has received one of only five James Beard Foundation 2015 America’s Classics Awards. The purveyor of much-loved potato salad and a Richmond cult favorite, the upside-down cupcake, opened in 1924 as Sarah Lee Kitchen, but was forced to change its name when the bigger Sara Lee Corp. came along in 1939. In 1985, Scott Jones, whose great-aunt, Sarah Cabell Jones, started the business with Elizabeth Lee Milton, took over daily operations along with his wife, Martha. The award is given annually by the James Beard Foundation to restaurants that are “distinguished by their timeless appeal,” and that “serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities.” Another much bigger entity, Virginia Commonwealth University, has asked Sally Bell’s to relocate from its West Grace Street spot by 2017.

Restaurant week: Henrico County has decided to get in on the act and will hold its own restaurant week April 11-19 to benefit the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls. Participating restaurants include American Tap Room, Tarrant’s West, Deep Run Roadhouse and the Wine Loft. The pricing is a little more complicated than the city’s restaurant week, so for details and the other restaurants taking part, click here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Truth About Girl Scout Cookies

What you get depends on where you live.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 12:21 PM

Did you know that Girl Scout cookies can be very different, depending upon where you live? According to the LA Times, that’s because two different bakers supply the Girl Scouts with their cookies. One company is ABC Bakers and the other is Little Brownie Bakers.

And even though ABC Bakers is technically located right here in Richmond, our Girl Scout cookies are supplied by Little Brownie Bakers, a company located in Louisville, Kentucky.

It’s complicated.

Starting in 1937, FFV/Interbake (its old factory is near the Redskins’ training grounds and has been converted into apartments) was the officially licensed manufacturer of Girl Scout cookies. It closed the plant and moved its headquarters in 2006 out to the far West End near West Broad Street. Interbake renamed the Girl Scout cookie division ABC Bakers.

ABC Bakers actually manufactures the cookies at its plant in North Sioux City, South Dakota.

Therefore, if eating local is a concern, it’s a moot point.

But what’s the bottom line? How are the versions different? According to the L.A. Times, samoas are called caramel delites in other locations. Our samoas, in comparison to its counterpart, have a “heavier caramel layer, darker chocolate coating [and] more toasted coconut.” Richmond’s thin mints are covered in a “richer, smoother chocolate coating, [with a] distinct peppermint taste,” compared to the crunchier (and frankly, more unattractive) ABC Bakers’ thin mints.

Of course, none of this addresses the issue of access to gluten-free Girl Scout cookies. We can’t get them here, even though Little Brownie Bakers makes gluten-free toffee-tastics that they describe as “rich, buttery cookies packed with golden toffee bits bursting with flavor.” Gluten-free varieties are in the experimental stage and you can order them online, if your Girl Scout organization is participating in both the pilot program and the digital order form program.

Ours isn’t.

However, Girl Scout cookies, no matter their differences, always live up to the eager anticipation that they engender each year. Right? To check out how the two different companies’ varieties stack up, follow this link to the illuminating L.A. Times article.

Addendum: I didn’t check any of the nutritional information. If that’s the kind of thing you like to do, re: tasty treats you can’t get very often, it’s your call.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Weekly Food Notes

Mint Gastropub Kickstarter, the Cultured Swine + More

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 2:15 PM

Bring it back? There’s a Kickstarter campaign to open the doors of “Food Network Star” contestant Malcolm Mitchell’s Mint Gastropub. Originally at Davis and Main streets, Mitchell briefly planned to open the restaurant within Haxall Point by F.W. Sullivan’s. That project fell through and Mitchell announced his restaurant instead would open in Petersburg in August. It closed after two weeks. Apparently this newest project has hit a few snags too. According to the restaurant’s Kickstarter page, “Chef Malcolm is raising funds for simple interior design and kitchen wares.” No word on a new opening date.

Barbecue, too: Michael Ng had a very busy weekend. In addition to helping open JKogi, a few doors down from there, the Cultured Swine served its first plate on Saturday. Owner Corey Johnson started a food cart in October that became a barbecue cult favorite; before smoking his first pork butt, he approached Ng about commissary space. That evolved into Johnson taking over the old Slideways space that never really got off the ground. You can expect things as varied as North Carolina pulled pork barbecue and Mexican-style tamales.

Cup runneth over: The big winner at the 2015 Governor’s Cup Wine Competition was Muse Vineyard’s 2009 Clio, a smooth, bold bourdeaux-style blend. All wines had to be 100-percent Virginia grown, and as in years past, red blends dominated the 30 gold medal winners.

Noodle mania: Spiral Noodle, an Asian fusion noodle bar, will open this spring in the old Yapple space in Carytown. Owner Jenny Lin will bring family recipes from Hong Kong to create a menu of rice, noodles, a variety of different broths, meat and vegetables.

Tough year: Restaurant owner Mo Roman has had his hands full lately. Last year, two business entities he owned were put into bankruptcy to stop foreclosure on two properties, the Pie building on Lombardy Street and another restaurant space up in Stafford. Last week, a third property evaded foreclosure in the same manner. Richmond BizSense reports that Roman was able to put a stop to a scheduled sale at auction of the building that held the former Bank restaurant and Vault nightclub on East Main Street by putting the LLC that owned the property into bankruptcy. Roman has not declared personal bankruptcy.

New life: Off the Hookah and Southern Railway Taphouse owner Hani Atallah, along with Roland West, plan to renovate the old Martini Kitchen and Bubble Bar space on West Main Street. The restaurant, not yet named, will focus on craft beer and open in the late spring or early summer.

Closed and opened: Brace yourself for the echo, but according to the Times-Dispatch, downtown’s Alcove Indian Restaurant closed and reopened as a different restaurant with American fare — also named Alcove.

Drink news: Powdered alcohol is out, at least in Virginia. Palcohol, a powder that can be mixed with water to create a cocktail, isn’t on the market, but the company plans to offer six different flavors. The General Assembly unanimously voted last week to make it illegal.

Correction: Food Notes originally implied that Mint Gastropub in Petersburg never opened. It was actually open for two weeks. It also wasn't clear in the original wording that restaurateur Mo Roman has not declared personal bankruptcy, although three LLC entities that he owned have been put into bankruptcy.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mrs. Yoder's Doughnuts are back!

Forced to leave the Westbury Pharmacy parking lot last year by the county, the doughnut truck will be open for business every Monday.

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 2:34 PM

Go ahead, rejoice. Mrs. Yoder’s doughnuts returned to Westbury Pharmacy today. And according to Facebook, they plan to be there every Monday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. from here on out.

The doughnut truck was forced to leave the pharmacy’s parking lot last year by Henrico County because of zoning issues but now has the necessary permits to stay.

Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen began operating four years ago when Jay and Judy Yoder moved to Dinwiddie County to start a new Mennonite community. The business has exploded since then, with lines on Saturday mornings at South of the James Market snaking through the crowd as diehard fans patiently wait for their large, lumpy, hand-dipped glazed doughnuts. The Yoders’ sourdough recipe gives them their distinct, addictive flavor and sets them apart from the rest of the doughnuts in Richmond.

“The busiest day has probably been 1,500 doughnuts. I have no idea how many people, because some people get half a dozen and a dozen doughnuts,” Judy Yoder told Style in 2012. “I was so surprised that people in Richmond would like our doughnuts, that they would stand in line for half an hour. And they keep coming back.”

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