Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Virginia Wine Expo Returns and Other Food News

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 9:59 AM

Wine about it

It may be called the Virginia Wine Expo, but there's more to it than just wine. (Not that we'd have any fight with an event devoted entirely to wine.) The event takes place over the first weekend in March, and a $55 ticket will give you general admission access to a three-hour walk-around grand tasting. Hundreds of Virginia wines, ciders and spirits, plus wine from Oregon, Australia and New Zealand, will be available for tasting. Don't worry, there will be artisanal food available to soak it all up. With an $80 VIP ticket you'll also get handpicked wines from "many of the most prestigious Virginia wineries around the state." Other sessions at the expo include Burger Blast (freshly-made slider-sized burgers by more than a dozen local chefs) and a Noodle and Dumpling Affair, a grazing event that's exactly what it sounds like. Tickets are available at virginiawineexpo.com.

Cider with a side of freedom

On March 21, Blue Bee Cidery will hold a five-course meal with cider pairings to raise awareness and funds for human trafficking victims. Local chef Brittanny Anderson of Brenner Pass, Chairlift and Metzger Bar & Butchery will prepare a five-course meal, and women representing seven Virginia cideries will provide and pour cider. Tickets, available at bluebeecidery.com, are $85 per person, and proceeds will benefit the Human Trafficking Institute.  

Local goes global

Last week, five breweries represented Virginia across the pond at Craft Beer Rising, the biggest beer festival in the United Kingdom. Champion Brewing Co., which originated in Charlottesville and has a downtown location in Richmond, and Goochland's Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery offered two of their best brews at the Virginia is for Craft Beer Lovers booth. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery also made an appearance at the festival, with beers served through the U.K.-based importer American Craft Beer Co.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Stone Brewing Files Lawsuit and Other Food News

Posted By on Tue, Feb 20, 2018 at 10:21 AM

David and Goliath

Last week, California-based craft beer-maker Stone Brewing, which has a brewery here in Richmond, filed a lawsuit against MillerCoors. Yes, that MillerCoors. According to Stone's news release, the suit alleges that the world's largest beer conglomerate has re-branded its Keystone beer as just "Stone."   

In the news release, Stone Brewing's chief executive says Keystone's re-branding is no accident.

"MillerCoors tried to register our name years ago and was rejected.  Now its marketing team is making 30-pack boxes stacked high with nothing but the word 'Stone' visible. Same for Keystone's social media, which almost uniformly has dropped the 'Key,'" he says. "We will not stand for this kind of overtly and aggressively deceptive advertising. Frankly, MillerCoors should be ashamed."

Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch stated on Twitter that it's "best we focus on brewing great beer," and thus won't be responding to questions about the lawsuit. MillerCoors did not respond to a request for comment.

Looking ahead

Remember last week when we mentioned that Don't Look Back will open a new location on Forest Hill Avenue this summer? Well when it rains it pours, because the taco spot with a cult following just posted a photo of the old bar sign of the defunct Triple bar in Scott's Addition. And yes, that means exactly what you hope it means — according to the restaurant's website, the Triple location will open this spring.

Movin' on up

Last week, the Answer Brewpub announced on Facebook that its head brewer Brandon Tolbert will soon venture out on his own to open (surprise!) a new brewery. We don't know much about the forthcoming Safety Team Brewing Co. at this point, but we'll keep you posted.   

Have a tip about the Richmond restaurant scene? Send it to shortorder@styleweekly.com.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Check Out The Richmond Semifinalists for 2018 James Beard Awards

Posted By on Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 12:20 PM

Many of our own have been nominated for some of the most prestigious food-and-drink awards in the country, the Oscars of the culinary world.

The James Beard Foundation announced its 2018 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists this morning, and Richmond made the list not once, not twice, but three times.

Sibling duo Evrim and Evin Dogu, co-owners of Sub Rosa Bakery, are both named as semifinalists for Outstanding Baker.

In the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category, Brittanny Anderson is up against 19 other chefs. Anderson has been known for her rustic Church Hill restaurant Metzger Bar & Butchery, but it’s the much-acclaimed Brenner Pass in Scott’s Addition that landed her on this year’s list.

Unsurprisingly, the third Richmonder on the list gives a nod to our beloved beer scene: An Bui owner of Mekong, the West Broad Street Vietnamese restaurant with dozens of beers on tap, is a semifinalist for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional.

Bui says he’s never been able to grow a beard. So when friends, family and food writers started reaching out on Thursday morning, congratulating him for his James Beard Foundation nomination, he was confused.

“I was like, what is going on, who is this James Beard guy?” he says. “Everyone says it’s a big deal. I’m just speechless. It still hasn’t hit me yet.”

The nominees will be announced in Philadelphia on Wednesday, March 14 during a live-streamed event, and the 2018 James Beard Award Gala will take place in Chicago on Monday, May 7.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Don’t Look Back Is Coming to Forest Hill Avenue This Summer and Other Food News

Posted By on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 10:21 AM

Taco lookout

When Don't Look Back updated its Facebook page last December, the news was cautiously optimistic—no "concrete answers" about whether the taco restaurant would reopen in its original Carytown spot, but a second location may be on the horizon. Lo and behold, a Feb. 2 Facebook post announced that Don't Look Back is coming to Forest Hill Avenue this summer. And there was much rejoicing.

According to owner Nate Gutierrez, the building is just a shell right now, but when all's said and done it'll be serving up the same tacos and margs (plus a few additional kid-friendly options). It's been a while since the doors closed in Carytown, so here's a refresher on the menu: tacos with fillings like shredded beef, chorizo, carnitas, potatoes, portobello mushrooms, shrimp and tofu, served on flour or corn tortillas, either gringo style with cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa, or traditional with cilantro, red onion and lime.  

As for the original restaurant?  

"The Carytown building is still tied up with banks and red tape," Gutierrez says. "It would have been nice to start rebuilding right away but it's out of our hands."  

Patience is a virtue

Fan dwellers, it's almost here — a brewery you can walk to without crossing Broad Street. Steam Bell Beer Works owners Brad and Brittany Cooper announced last spring that a brewery near Virginia Commonwealth University was on the horizon, and we've finally got an opening date. Canon & Draw Brewing Co. at 1529 W. Main St. will officially open its doors at noon on Saturday, March 10.

Also opening next month is the much-anticipated ZZQ. Chris Fultz and Alex Graf launched ZZQ Texas Craft Barbecue in 2013, and Richmonders have since fallen head over heels for the brisket, burnt ends and jalapeño mac and cheese it has been serving at catered events, pop-ups and breweries. In late 2016 the pitmasters announced their plans to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant at 3201 W. Mooore St. in Scott's Addition, and at long last we have a date: Saturday, March 3.

And the winner is. …

There's still time to buy your tickets to the Elby Awards, Richmond Magazine's annual recognition ceremony and dinner celebrating the folks behind our favorite food and drink in town. Tickets for the Feb. 18 event, held at the train shed at Main Street Station, are $120 and available at richmondmagazine.com. Categories include best new restaurant, chef of the year, front-of-the-house personality, brewery of the year, family-friendly restaurant and promoter of sustainability.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Nick’s International Market Reopens on Westwood Avenue

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Andrew Baker and his wife have been making the 75-mile trek from Newport News to Nick's International Market every few months for more than 50 years.

They don't intend to stop now that the shop has moved from Broad Street to Westwood Avenue.

Eschewing the interstate, they take back roads to and from Richmond, motivated by the promise of honey, cookies and cheese from their native Crete.

It was exactly those kinds of foodstuffs that inspired original owner Nick Mouris, also born on the island of Crete, to broaden his inventory in 1967 from produce to international foods.

Opened to the public on Jan. 18, the latest iteration of Nick's is both familiar and surprising, mainly because the new store is much roomier than the cramped quarters on Broad. For owner Manuel Mouris, Nick's son, it's the culmination of getting to start from scratch by gutting the space and building it out to best suit the market.

Like a proud papa, he shows off the spacious aisles, extended wine selection and impressive cheese array, but his most effusive praise is reserved for the back of the building. The equivalent of a warehouse, there's more space — storage, refrigerated and freezer — than the entirety of the former Nick's.

Pointing at two pallets of feta cheese, Mouris seems about to bust his buttons.

"That took us 15 minutes to unload," he humble brags. "It would've broken our backs and taken two hours at Broad Street because we were so jammed up with so little room."

While some knew and loved the original location of Nick's solely for the hearty and habit-forming subs that drew legions of daily regulars, folks like the Bakers are devoted to the store because its Mediterranean products are imported directly. Similarly, local restaurateurs wanting the real deal are also regular customers.

"This Kyknos tomato paste? It's so much thicker than regular tomato paste. It's a mainstay in Stella's cooking," Mouris explains, referring to Richmond's patron saint of Greek food, Stella Dikos and her eponymous restaurants.

A walk through the expansive aisles reveals one temptation after another: 3-liter cans of Hermes olive oil, gallon-size jars of Krinos pepperoncini, Greek fruit preserves, olive oil soaps, frozen spanikopita and tiropita made in Greece. One of Bon Appetit magazine's food trends for 2018 — tinned seafood — is well represented on an end cap loaded with the bounty of the sea in cans: cod, sardines, calamari, tuna and squid. Virginia shows up with Edwards hams, bacon and sausages, plus Old Mansion spices made in Petersburg.

In addition to roomier digs and an abundance of storage, part of the plan for the new location is to join the 21st century. As anyone who's ever made a purchase can attest, Nick's hasn't exactly been on the cutting edge of technology, but that's changing, thanks to operations manager and recent Virginia Commonwealth University graduate Elias Burrell, who worked part-time at Nick's as a student. Always fascinated by the grocery business, he saw an opportunity to put into practice what he learned in business school.

Part of that will be an update to the point-of-sale and inventory systems, but Burrell imagines an even wider audience for Nick's products than Virginia.

"There's a big opportunity in online sales, especially for the younger Greek generations. Also for restaurants," he says. "We think that pushing out of our comfort zone by integrating new technology is going to be great for business."

One thing that won't change is some shoppers' preference to browse a brick-and-mortar store rather than a website. The new location, just off Broad, offers a far more comfortable shopping experience with an expanded inventory, not to mention a parking lot. Take that, Broad Street.

And now it's time to acknowledge the elephant in the room, the new reality at Nick's: It's out of the sandwich-making business. But the good news is you can still get everything you need to make your own, sliced to order. And gregarious counterman Toney "Talk-to-Me" Wiley, who's been serving up the soups and sandwiches since 1998, now roams the shop, eager to assist customers.

Besides, if your sole interest in Nick's is those fabulous sandwiches, you're missing the point. Just ask a loyal customer of a half-century. It all boils down to one thing for the Greek-born Baker.

"I can find everything from home here." S

Nick's International Market, 2413 Westwood Ave. Mondays - Fridays 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturdays 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.

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