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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: New Brews, Out-of-Town Openings + More

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 11:04 AM

Stella’s has started serving Richmond’s favorite Greek fare in Charleston, South Carolina. Grandstaff & Stein announced that its new location in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, is open for business. And Sugar Shack Donuts soon will serve its irresistible wares this month in Cocoa, Florida — its 10th shop to date. grandstaffandstein.com/outerbanks and sugarshackdonuts.com

Champion Brewing Co. opened in the old Aurora space at 401 E. Grace St. In a few weeks, you’ll be able to stop by its pub area for a Southern-style taco, once Michele Jones and Jason Alley finish working feverishly to open Sur Taco and Sandwich. championbrewingcompany.com.

Self-serve . . . wine? Richmond BizSense reports that Richmond Wine Station will open in part of the Gather space at 2930 W. Broad St. How will it work? Think of a fro-yo shop, the report suggests: You get a glass and a card, and then walk around trying out different varieties of wine from the taps along the walls. Snacks also will be served and you can buy a bottle to take home.

And in news from the chains: Tara Thai has closed, BizSense also reports. It was around for 14 years — since the Short Pump Town Center first opened. No word as to what will occupy its space. There are two more chain closures in Short Pump: The Applebee’s spot soon will become Cava Mezze Grill, which first started in Washington, D.C., before expanding to five states. Plus, the TGI Fridays in the Downtown Short Pump shopping center will give way to the Florida chain, World of Beer, the Times-Dispatch reports. cavagrill.com and world of beer.com.

And remember, if your looking for something to do, Continental Divide will hold Lordy, Lordy: Puppies, Tacos & Tequila Because Adri Is 40 on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. with portions of the event proceeds going to Sanctuary Rescue. Because who doesn’t love puppies? eatdivide.com.

Also on Thursday, starting at 6:30 p.m., you can finally learn how to make dumplings while eating dumplings with Sarah and Seo Choi for $45 at Mise en Place. Secure your spot at dumplingworkshop.eventbrite.com.

Fill up on fat, salt and sugar from the food trucks at Break Your Resolution in Scott’s Addition on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 6-9 p.m. Then stop by all of your favorite breweries, cideries and meaderies. Punch cards will be available and will make you eligible for prizes after three visits to individual establishments. bluebeecider.com.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Gelati Celesti Announces Opening Date for Boulevard Store

Let the screaming begin.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 12:49 PM

Gelati Celesti will open its newest shop on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 1400 N. Boulevard.

This will be the ice cream store’s fourth location. It’s also Gelati Celesti’s largest shop and will boast both a roll-up garage door and a community table. Owner Steve Rosser tapped 37 Design Studios’s Peter Fraser to create the industrial-inflected interior. The two have worked together on other locations.

“We selected this location partly because of the incredible craft scene that is quickly defining the area that is quickly defining the area,” said Rosser in a news release. He plans to collaborate with the many breweries, cideries, distilleries and coffee roasters of Scott’s Addition.

The new shop will be open Sundays-Thursdays noon-10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays noon-11 p.m. gelatiicecream.com.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Dog and Pig Show to Close in February

Big plans are afoot.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 7:51 PM

It started as a secret supper club, but Isabel and James Eckrosh had bigger aspirations. Their tiny to-go spot, the Dog and Pig Show, opened six months later in Church Hill to critical acclaim. James’ shrimp and grits with bacon butter, kimchi garlic and roe soon became a Richmond favorite, along with sweet treats baked by Isabel.

Now the Eckroshes are planning something new. The couple announced on Instagram that their storefront would close on Feb. 12.

“We’ll still be producing some of our amazing items — just not in the way y’all may have become accustomed to,” the caption says underneath a photo of the two.

There aren’t any more details yet about the future, although the couple is expecting their first child in the middle of February, but we’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Weekly Food Notes

Puppy news, chef news + more.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 12:48 PM

More and more local restaurants are joining Quickness RVA, the bike delivery service, to combat the lack of distinction between local businesses and chains on bigger sites such as GrubHub. And small markets are signing up, too. You can get goods delivered from Little House Green Grocery, Trolley Market Convenience Store and Uptown Market & Deli. quicknessrva.com.

Years ago, Nota Bene began informally at owner Victoria Deroche’s house as a monthly pizza club. And now, one Sunday a month, you’ll have a chance to try some of the original members' creations and reminisce about the old days -- folks such as Julia Battaglini and Dave Martin of Secco Wine Bar and Ardent Craft Ales’ Tom Sullivan. (I’m assuming my invitation was lost in the mail.) Nota Bene’s first pizza night will be held on Sunday, Jan. 29 from 5-9 p.m. Reservations are recommended and you can find the rest of the schedule at notabenerva.com.

In other club news, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery is launching a beer club. Members will get to go to special events, receive limited releases and more. You can sign up at hardywood.com/beerclub.

We knew jobs would be lost when Relay Foods and Door to Door Organics merged, but Charlottesville’s Daily Progress reports that many of the farmers that Relay Foods used aren’t sure that they’ll be added as producers for the company. So far, none are listed on the site and Door to Door Organics is shipping its goods from a warehouse in Pennsylvania. doortodoororganics.com.

Boka Tavern on Broad Street is closed after less than a year, reports Richmond BizSense. Owner Patrick Harris is focusing on his other restaurants and catering business, with the hopes of a new concept in the space at a future date. bokatruck.com.

Although Vagabond’s logo is a rabbit with a hobo bindle, it still comes as a shock that critically acclaimed chef Owen Lane, formerly of the Magpie, will no longer offer his menu at the restaurant next to the National. The Times Dispatch reports that he’s moving to Memphis. vagabondrva.com.

Belmont Butchery will be closed through Jan. 31 for renovations, although they will be taking orders for Super Bowl Sunday during that time. Remodeling junkies can check out their progress on all the usual social media channels. belmontbutchery.com.

Happenings

Always had home-brewing aspirations? You can learn how tonight, Jan. 18, at Final Gravity Brewing Co. at 6118 Lakeside Ave. from 6-9 p.m. It’s $25 per person and you’ll not only learn the basics but you’ll pick up a few professional tips along the way, too. And who knows? Maybe it’s the start of a whole new career — many of the breweries around town were started by folks who originally fell in love with home brewing. finalgravitybrew.com.

You can get a little crazy with chili and talk to your local representatives at the nonpartisan General Assembly Wild Game Chili Cook-Off to be held Thursday, Jan. 19, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the lieutenant governor's office in Capitol Square. What might you expect? Bear, wild boar and kangaroo are just few of the exotic choices offered in the past. Today's your last day to make a reservation — visit virginiasportsmen.org/chili.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, from noon-10 p.m., you can help yourself to one of Buskey Cider’s brand new cans. You can pop open one at the Scott’s Addition tasting room or buy a few to take home with you. buskeycider.com.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Today in Ostentatious Kitchen Appliances: an $18,000 Coffee Maker

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 11:45 AM

In the beginning, there was the 23-karat-gold ice cream sundae. It debuted in 2008 at a tony New York City restaurant.

Imagine, the finest Tahitian vanilla ice cream drizzled with the world’s most expensive chocolates, topped with caviar, almonds wrapped in gold leaf, and bits of candied fruits from Paris that cost $1,000 per pound.

The price tag: A cool $1,000, which made it the Guinness Book of World Records’ most expensive dessert.

Me? I might rather buy a plane ticket to somewhere warm.

Now, this just in from Royal Paris – the Royal Coffee Maker, possibly the world’s most expensive coffee maker, a bespoke addition to the common kitchen, is now in painstaking production.

Imagine a siphon-brew system with a Baccarat crystal carafe cradled in 24-karat gold (or silver, for the less well-heeled). Parts like the gargoyle spigot, fish key, counter weight, oak leaves and finials are made by a craftsman using the lost wax method. It sits upon a semi-precious black obsidian, azurite or malachite base, with or without your engraved initials or company name. Or family crest.

Check it out at www.royalcoffeemaker.com.

The cost: $10,000 to $18,000.

Just thought you should know.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Rick Astley is Never Gonna Give It Up

The singer is coming to Richmond ... for the beer?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 2:50 PM

Richmond and singer Rick Astley have one thing in common.

Beer.

Who is Rick Astley, you say? In 2007, the singer burst out of 80’s one-hit-wonder obscurity when his music video, shot at the tender age of 21 in 1987, became an internet meme that you can still see pop up every once in a while. His signature dance move and red-haired pompadour ignited the imagination of a new generation.

The meme even spawned a verb -- rickrolling. People all over the internet planted fake links that took users to Astley’s “Never Gonna to Give You Up” video on YouTube. It now has nearly 275 million views. To be rickrolled was more annoying than hilarious for anyone who grew up in the 1980s, but the younger generation — i.e., my daughters — thought it was hilarious. Every single time.

Astley has been touring ever since and released an album, “50,” last year. He’ll be in Richmond at the National performing on Feb. 12. If you’re a fan, I’d jump on the tickets now — the show at the 9:30 Club happening a couple of days later is already sold out.

How does beer fit into all of this?

Astley, it seems, loves craft beer as much as Richmonders do. The singer and Danish beer maker Mikkeller Brewery are teaming up to produce “a fruity pilsner lager,” according to a profile in the Daily Mail Weekend. He hasn't decided on a name yet, but Astley says, “Mikeller beer is quite experimental and they’ve been sending me various bottles to sample.”

This news engenders another question, one posed by Style web manager Colby Rogers: Is it really just a coincidence that the beer-loving Rick Astley is coming to Richmond, a town overrun by breweries, to perform?

You decide.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Relay Foods Merger to Cost Jobs in Virginia

Relay Foods is now Door to Door Organics

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 1:28 PM

Last summer, Relay Foods announced that it was merging with a similar company based in Colorado, Door to Door Organics, that operates in 80 cities in 15 states. The two companies should bring in around $50 million annually, the Denver Post reports. And with the merger, “the combined company also announced that it landed $10 million in equity financing provided by the Arlon Group and Relay stockholders.”

This week brought news that the new venture would operate under Door to Door Organics’ name. And now, Richmond BizSense reports that Relay’s warehouses in Richmond and Charlottesville will close, costing “an unspecified number [of jobs] in Richmond and 48 in Charlottesville.” Door to Door says there are 25 people in Virginia who work for the company.

Relay Foods, based out of Charlottesville, began its online grocery business in Richmond in 2010, with the city and state kicking in $100,000 in grants to open its Scott’s Addition warehouse in 2014.

Why the merger? Well, Door to Door Organics offers doorstep delivery service — $5 for orders under $75 and free for orders over that threshold — while Relay Foods’ model was to provide strategic pickup spots around the city. This capability and the combined companies’ new size give it a better chance fending off mega threat Amazon when it decides to go all-in with its grocery business.

As of publication, Door to Door’s website says it isn’t offering service in Richmond, although you can still order from Relay through Jan. 15. On Jan. 16, service in the area will begin under the new name at doortodoororganics.com.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

10 Resolutions to Improve Your Kitchen Habits

It's time to turn on the stove again.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 1:34 PM

Toss the drudgery of weight loss, thrift and cleaned-out attics.

Instead, make kitchen resolutions that are way more fun and flavorful, too. Here are 10 of mine — some old, some new, all well worth the effort.

1. Stretch once a week. I know from phone calls and conversations that there are legions of borderline cookbook hoarders out there. I’m guilty, too. So challenge yourself to make a recipe from one neglected cookbook each week, or each month, if that suits you better. I followed a friend’s example last year and discovered the pleasures of oxtail stew, shrimp bisque made with saved shells, preserved lemons and the French 75 cocktail.

2. Pretend you’re famous. Years ago, I investigated the validity of prep times in recipes. The conclusion: They’re grossly inaccurate. That is, unless you prepare the recipes the way they’re intended. When I interviewed glossy magazine food editors and cookbook authors, they all said the same thing — the times are based on having ingredients at the ready, like TV chefs do. That may sound tedious, but give it a try. It’s a lovely and less stressful way to cook.

3. Never skip a weigh in. Fill a measuring cup with flour, and you’ll have 8 ounces by volume. But turn it onto a scale, and you might have 3.5 ounces, 4.2 ounces or 5.5 ounces of flour — or more or less, depending on whether it’s been sifted or fluffed or packed into the cup.

Weighing equals precision, the hallmark of baking, and there’s not a professional baker worth his or her Hobart mixer who measures dry ingredients in a cup. Weighing ensures the same results every time and even saves money because you’ll generally use less flour.

Switch to weighing all your dry ingredients, and you’ll also save time because you can measure directly in the mixing bowl, eliminating the need for washing measuring cups and spoons. Be sure to buy a scale that has a “tare” function, one that will zero-out the weight of the bowl and other ingredients as you add them.

4. Be kneady. Winter is the best time to bake bread, as Virginia’s humid summers can make it tricky, especially for beginners. Bread is easier to make than you might think, and there’s a Zen to the kneading and shaping. Then there’s the bonus aroma of just-baked bread, and the bread itself. For beginners, I suggest using the basic recipe in "The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg. It’s foolproof.

5. Buy whole spices and then toast or dry-roast them. This was a shazaam! moment for me. For maximum aroma and flavor, place whole spices in a skillet over medium-low heat and shake until the aroma is released. Then grind them by hand or with a spice or coffee grinder. The elevated flavors are astonishing.

6. Go global. It didn’t used to be this way, but these days you can find all the ingredients you’ll need for most any dish in markets small and large. Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean, Colombian, Caribbean, Korean, Japanese, Eastern European — it’s all right here. And public library shelves are stuffed with exotic cookbooks. So go ahead, do a little traveling with your taste buds.

7. Enter the stock market. I never toss beef bones, chicken backs or necks, the tops of celery, shrimp shells, odd pieces of onion and carrot and other vegetables. Instead, I freeze them in big zipper baggies. When the bags are bulging, it’s time to make stock. You can be a precision stock maker and follow one of the zillions of recipes out there, or use cookbook author Michael Ruhlman’s basic ratio of 3 parts water: 2 parts bones. The other stuff should be roughly 20 percent of the water and bones.

Ruhlman explains: “If you have 2 pounds of chicken bones and 3 pounds of water, you’d want to add roughly a pound of onion, carrot and celery.”

Feel free to alter the ratios based on what you have at hand. (See resolution No. 8.) And here’s my dirty little kitchen secret: Except for bones, I don’t strain my stock. Instead I use an immersion blender to create a thicker “stock” that gives my admittedly rustic soups a little more body. Consider adding a splash or so of dry vermouth, too.

8. Get loose. Be bold with this one. A good place to start is with the soup you’ll be making with that stock. Does a recipe call for pearled barley, and you only have farro? Use the farro. Alter the ratios if you have a lot of bones. If you want to make mac 'n' cheese, but have corkscrew pasta instead of elbows, use those. Riff with what’s in your spice cabinet and produce drawer. This will make you a better cook.

9. Throw a dinner party. I was so depressed this year when a big-name food savant predicted that the dinner party is dead. Please help me disprove this notion by hosting several dinner parties this year. They don’t need to be fancy. Almost every dinner party I’ve been to in the past 10 years has included time in the kitchen with the cook and a cocktail. What counts most is the gathering of friends.

If the dinner turns into a disaster, adopt my tried-and-true backup plan. Just order pizza. I’ve only had to invoke this once, when I dropped a chair on a fully-set table. The pizza arrived shortly thereafter, and the story lives on.

10. Give the good silver a daily workout. Treat yourself like company every day. I don’t coddle my good silver. We use it every day and it goes right into the dishwasher. Same with the china. Every day is a gift, so treat it like one!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: A New Name, A New Look + More

Posted By on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 12:39 PM

Where is my mind? It’s been far, far away in a distant land. And yet the food and dining scene keeps on spinning, no matter where I might land. Here’s a round-up of the bridge between 2016 and 2017 — otherwise known as this past week.

Olio, the wine/specialty grocer/takeout/eat-in/delivery spot at Meadow and Main streets, changed ownership in 2015. For 2017, owners Matt Fraker and Jason Ferrell decided to spruce up the interior, revamp the menu and give the place a new name — Branch & Vine. “Our loyal customers will absolutely be able to find options that are familiar,” Fraker said in a release. “My goal with the new menu was to simplify and freshen things up.” branchvine.com.

January is a slow month for the restaurant industry after the high-pitched excitement of the holidays, and in the tradition of New Year’s fresh starts, the Hard Shell will be closed for renovations this month. C’est le Vin is also taking advantage of the year’s less hectic period and will be closed until March for renovations. thehardshell.com and cestlevinrva.com.

Cirrus Vodka has joined Reservoir Distillery and James River Distillery with the opening of its own tasting room at 1603 Ownby Lane. You can check it out Thursdays and Fridays from 4-7 p.m., Saturdays from noon-7, and Sundays from noon-5. cirrusvodka.com.

For those of us who look for daily tips on fashion, makeup and trends — think Marie Claire, only a lot more entertaining —Refinery29’s newsletter is a must-read. And to underscore the impeccable taste of the site’s staff, Perly’s Restaurant & Delicatessen made its list of the best brunch spots in Virginia. facebook.com/perlysrichmond.

Richmond magazine has announced the nominees for the 2017 Elbys. The quick take: Heritage, L’Opossum, Metzger Bar & Butchery and the Roosevelt have been nominated for Restaurant of the Year, and Brittanny Anderson of Metzger Bar & Butchery, Shagbark’s Walter Bundy, David Shannon of L’Opossum and Heritage’s Joe Sparatta made the cut for Chef of the Year. The full list can be found at richmondmagazine.com.

Happenings: Max’s Positive Vibe Cafe will celebrate its 12th anniversary Jan. 14 from 6-10:30 p.m. with an all-star musical lineup for VibeFest ’17. positiveviberva.com.

Questlove — yes, that Questlove — will appear at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Jan. 15 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. He’ll talk about the creative connection between food and music — also the subject of his new book, “Something to Food About” — with Gwar member and chef Mike Derks, Richmond drummer and restaurateur Jason Alley, University of Richmond president, cellist and home cook Ronald Crutcher, plus singer and songwriter Natalie Prass. Tickets are $30-$60. fireflourandfork.com.

Also on Jan. 16, from 6-10 p.m., Whisk will hold Bubo Pop-Up, a six-course Mediterranean tasting dinner focusing on Virginia ingredients. Tickets are $45. whiskrva.com.

And it’s another all-star lineup — this time of the food and drink variety — for Ardent Craft Ales’ beer dinner to benefit Diversity Richmond on Jan. 16 from 6-8:30 p.m. You can expect five courses and beer pairings from Brittanny Anderson of Metzger Bar & Butchery, Lee Gregory of the Roosevelt and Southbound, Adam Hall of Saison, Lucy’s Restaurant’s Jason Lucy and Joe Sparatta of Heritage and Southbound. Tickets are $75. ardentcraftales.com.

CORRECTION: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' website was originally listed for the Questlove event. It's actually a rescheduled event for Fire, Flour & Fork.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Dinner Is Now Served at Plant Zero Cafe

New hours start Tuesday night.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 12:10 PM

The Style folks are fond of one restaurant in particular — Plant Zero Cafe. It keeps us caffeinated, it staves off hunger, the staff cheers us on, and best of all, it’s right across the street from our offices.

Now Plant Zero has decided to step it up: Starting Tuesday, Jan. 3 — tonight — it will break away from offering only breakfast and lunch, and launch new dinner hours beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Plant Zero is always packed — so why mess around with an already good thing?

“We’re ready to do it and do something more upscale,” owner Noah Yeager says. He’s been working with Lainie Myers, former sous chef at Graffiato, to develop the menu.

“We wanted to start with a whole new dinner menu,” he says. “But with the holidays and other things, we’re going with a modified version of our lunch menu and four specials.”

Those will include chicken Marbella and crab cakes. Gradually, over time, most of what diners can expect at dinner won’t be found on the menu earlier in the day.

“I’m excited and nervous," Yeager says, “ and well, we’ll see how it goes tonight.”

And that sounds about right for any big change in 2017.

Plant Zero Cafe

Mondays 8 a.m.–4 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursdays 8 a.m.–9 p.m.;

Fridays 8 a.m.–10 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m.–3 p.m. and 4:30-10 p.m.

3 E. Third St.

231-6500

plantzerocafe.com

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