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Friday, June 29, 2018

Courthouse Creek Cider’s new Scott's Addition tasting room opens Saturday.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 9:32 PM

Go ahead and add another stop to your Scott’s Addition booze tour. Locally-crafted cider flowed Thursday night, and after a second soft opening on Friday, Courthouse Creek Cider’s new urban tasting room will open to the public at at noon on Saturday.

“We wanted something that was going to be an extension of the farm,” says Eric Cioffi, who co-owns the Goochland County farm cidery with his wife, Liza. “We don’t do a heavy amount of distribution, and we prefer more intimate, direct contact with the consumer.”

Located at 3300 W. Broad St. in the former Sea Dream Leather building, the tasting room will always have “at least five ciders on tap for flights.” Cioffi says that will typically include at least two traditional, or “just apple” ciders, a hopped variance and an infusion of some sort. There will also be a “cherry on top,” which, much like a shandy or a radler, will feature a fruit juice poured over a traditional cider. Small-batch, seasonal ciders will also make their way from the farm to the cheerful-looking purple building. Locally-made Mountain House Honey is available for purchase at the tasting room, along with goose, duck and chicken eggs from the Cioffi family’s farm. Freshly-grown produce may also be for sale throughout the growing season.

One of the ciders currently on tap (and available by the bottle) is the Samurai Sour. This pale pink Asian-pear-and-apple cider infused with coriander, hibiscus and sea salt is funky and not too sweet, and the flavor is reminiscent of a gose combined with kombucha. Cioffi recommends pairing it with spicy or fatty foods. For something a little more classic there’s the much dryer, sparkling, bottle-conditioned Rustico.

Virginia is now home to more than 20 cideries, and Cioffi says producers and consumers alike are still learning and defining cider’s role in the world of craft beverages. Whether it’s sweet, sour, fruity or dry, it seems there’s a cider for just about every occasion.

“The beauty of cider, and what makes it distinct and something different from beer and wine, is that it can act like both,” Cioffi says. “You can dry-hop a cider and have it be reminiscent of an IPA, or you can drop in some grape skins and have it really act like a very dry white wine sparkler. That’s the beauty, in my mind, of cider.”

Courthouse Creek Cider RVA

3300 W. Broad St.

Tuesdays through Thursdays 4 - 9 p.m.

Fridays 4 - 10 p.m.

Saturdays noon - 10 p.m.

Sundays noon - 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Hot Diggity Donuts opens in Manchester Thursday morning

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 3:53 PM

They’re hand-rolled, irregular in shape, and not too sweet. The stars of the show at Hot Diggity Donuts are different from other doughnuts in town, and they’ll be available first thing tomorrow (Thursday, June 28) morning.

Available in six flavors, each doughnut starts with a sourdough that’s made two days in advance. Head baker George Bagby, who named the sourdough starter Catarina, rolls and cuts the fragrant dough into discs, then forms each doughnut by hand, punching the hole with his fingers. Once they’ve had a chance to rise, they’re fried in sunflower oil and adorned with toppings while still hot. There’s the classic vanilla glaze, plus more unusual flavors like sesame chai and rhubarb agave.

There’s more to the menu than doughnuts, though. You’ll also find griddled bagel sandwiches, entree salads, desserts, Blanchard’s coffee and booze — yep, a sizable selection of beer and wine, plus 14 cocktails and four shooters. Culinary director Daniel Scherotter says he’d recommend pairing the white Russian with the vanilla glaze doughnut, or putting the black Manhattan and maple bourbon doughnut together.

The space, located on Hull Street near Brewer’s Cafe and Croaker’s Spot, is reminiscent of the beauty school dropout scene in the movie “Grease.” Pink abounds without being overwhelming — even the grout between the tiles is pink — and black fabric covers the two dozen round-top bar stools pushed up to the counter and wooden tables. A neon “treat yo’self” sign (a nod to Tom and Donna on “Parks and Recreation”) hangs over the kitchen entry, reminding guests that at a doughnut lounge, it’s all about indulgence.

Hot Diggity Donuts

1213 Hull St.

Mondays through Wednesdays 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., 5 - 10 p.m.

Thursdays and Fridays 7 a.m. - 2 p.m., 5 p.m. - midnight

Saturdays 8 a.m. - midnight

Sundays 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Ellwood Thompson’s Bans Plastic Straws

Latest move part of sustainability overhaul that includes bag-share program.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Starting today, plastic straws will no longer be welcome at Ellwood Thompson's, the independent organic market near Carytown.

The health food store is banning single-use plastic straws, noting in a release that they are "one of the most pervasive forms of plastic waste, and incredibly destructive to our oceans and environment. Too many, completely unnecessary for beverage consumption, end up in our oceans. They are especially harmful to marine animals and fish due to their small size and lightweight."

According to Colin Beirne, marketing director with the company, the ban is part of a sustainability overhaul that also recently introduced a bag share program encouraging customers to use reusable bags (borrow a bag, return a bag).

The store is replacing plastic straws with compostable straws made from non-toxic, agricultural by-products and annually renewable plant-based materials, which require less energy to produce. Ellwood Thompson's will be partnering with N.O.P.E. (Natural Organic Process Enterprise) to make sure their biodegradable products "are handled correctly and end up in a compost facility for environmentally beneficial use," according to the release.

In addition to compostable straws, Ellwood’s shoppers can purchase reusable stainless steel straws -- or hey, you could just drink that smoothie straight, no straw.

The new compostable straws.
  • The new compostable straws.

"As far as single-use plastic straws, we are trying to spread the word about the pollution in our oceans in Richmond," explains Beirne. "We are seeing this topic discussed on the worldwide stage and feel that change needs to happen here in Richmond. We hope this initiative will start the conversation within our community."

He adds that the store is also launching a compostables bin program this week in concert with introducing compostable straws.

"Most of our packaging is compostable and breaks down in industrial compost bins," he adds. "Shoppers will now have the option to place compostable items in this bin (it doesn’t incorporate food scraps because that is too difficult, public facing). We compost food scraps in the back of house."

Friday, June 15, 2018

Between the Buns

Burger Week RVA is back, starting Monday.

Posted on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 6:10 PM

We meat again. RVA Burger Week is back, and it runs Monday, June 18, through Sunday, June 24. All week, 30 Richmond-area restaurants will offer $5 deals on burgers, and a passport is available for download here for you to keep track of them all.

Each restaurant will offer at least one special burger, like the Reuben burger at New York Deli, featuring house-made corned beef on a burger patty, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing. There's also the French dip burger at Wood and Iron, with thinly-shaved steak atop a chuck-and-brisket burger, sauteed onions, melted white American cheese, house-made queso, au jus and lettuce, tomato and onion.

The following restaurants are participating in this year’s Burger Week, and check out the RVA Burger Week website for a full list of the $5 specials available, along with addresses and business hours.

3 Monkeys Bar & Grill

Bar Louie

Beauvine Burger Concept

Brew

Burgerworks

The Camel

Carolina Ale House

Carytown Burgers and Fries

Citizen Burger Bar

City Beach

Diamond Billiards

The Flyin’ Pig

F.W. Sullivan’s

The Graduate

The Grill

Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint

Kickback Jack’s

Kreggers Tap and Table

Liberty Public House

The Local Eatery and Pub

Luther Burger

Matchbox

McCormack’s Big Whisky Grill

Metro Bar and Grill

New York Deli

The Savory Grain

Star-lite Dining and Lounge

Strawberry Street Cafe

Weezie’s Kitchen

Wood and Iron

Hold the Cheese, Please

NuVegan Cafe prepares to open on West Grace Street.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 12:30 PM

Is life without cheese even a life worth living? According to Jason Jackson, franchise owner of soon-to-open NuVegan Cafe Richmond, the answer is an emphatic yes. After three years as a vegetarian, Jackson gave up all animal products last year, and he can’t wait to bring NuVegan’s plant-based menu to Richmond.

“It’s not just for vegans,” Jackson says. “It’s for everybody.”

The original NuVegan Cafe opened in Washington in 2016 when Woodland’s Vegan Bistro was re-branded. Jackson’s is the first franchise, and he says it’s about time a concept like this makes its way to town.

“Richmond has a vegan culture, but a lot of people don’t have anywhere to eat as far as full meals,” he says. “It’s been a long time coming and we’re finally here.”

When Jackson first embarked on a lifestyle free of all animal products, he says his focus was primarily on vegetables and legumes. Friends and family were concerned that he wouldn’t get enough protein in his diet, and he says he ate a lot of black bean burgers in the beginning. But he’s since discovered — and is eager to share — a whole new world of vegan options and meat substitutes that go beyond a pile of vegetables or some beans pressed together into a patty.

Jackson admits that every now and then he still gets a hankering for a burger, and it took him three years to go from vegetarian to vegan because eggs and cheese were his kryptonite. But so much of the cafe’s menu centers on creative replacements for meat- and cheese-based dishes, and he says people may be surprised at how satisfying a vegan steak-and-cheese sub, crabless crabcakes and dairy-free macaroni and cheese can be.

The fast-casual menu, which covers lunch and dinner, features about a dozen sandwiches, including a tofu avocado club and a grilled quesadilla with meat-free chicken or steak. Entrees include lasagna and barbecue tofu with rice, which you can pair with any combination of more than 30 hot and cold sides. Everything is served in a cafeteria-style line, so go ahead and pile your plate with ginger collards, Asian noodles, carrot soufflé, red curry tofu, grilled squash and brown rice. There’s even a brunch menu on Sundays. It’s hard to imagine a brunch selection without eggs or hollandaise sauce, but you can get things like a tofu scramble and a breakfast burrito, and standbys like pancakes, waffles and french toast.

You won’t find any booze on the menu, but the drink menu includes made-to-order fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies and milkshakes made with soy, rice, almond or hemp milk. The grand opening is set for Saturday, June 30, so herbivores and carnivores who want to try something new rejoice.

NuVegan Cafe Richmond

417 W. Grace St.

ilovenuvegan.com

Mondays - Thursdays 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Fridays - Saturdays 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Sundays 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Friday, June 8, 2018

And the Winners Are...

Virginia Craft Beer Cup results, Negroni Week, plus other food and drink news

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 4:00 AM

The Virginia Craft Beer Cup was last week, and unsurprisingly, Richmond was well-represented. Held by the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, the annual competition was at the WestRock building downtown. More than 100 Virginia breweries submitted beers for the blind taste test.

Henrico County’s Final Gravity Brewing Co. took home both gold and silver in the India pale ale category, and Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery placed first with spiced beer and second in strong American ale. Other local winners include Stone Brewing, Vasen Brewing, Ardent Craft Ales, Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Strangeways Brewing and Trapezium Brewing in Petersburg.

You can find a list of winners here.

Gin and Generosity If you follow any local restaurants and bars on social media, you may have seen some recent posts about Negroni Week and thought to yourself, “An entire week dedicated to one cocktail? OK, Richmond.”

But as it turns out, bars across the globe are celebrating this three-ingredient cocktail -- gin, Campari and sweet vermouth -- by offering specials and donating to charity.

It’s sponsored by Imbibe Magazine, and since the first Negroni Week in 2013 the effort has grown to include more than 7,700 venues worldwide and has raised almost $1.5 million for charitable causes.

More than a dozen Richmond-area businesses are participating. Can Can Brasserie will donate $1 from every Negroni sale to the Richmond Wildlife Center, and Max’s on Broad has chosen the Richmond Animal League as its beneficiary.

For information and a list of local participating restaurants, check out the official Negroni Week website.

Make Mine iThaiz

In this week’s restaurant review, Style writer Phaedra Hise visits iThaiz, the strip mall joint at 1108 Courthouse Road in Chesterfield County.

Owner and chef Petsuda “Pai” Netsan works alongside her father, Charlie Netsan, a seasoned chef who’s cooked in Thailand and Richmond. They make all the sauces and complex dishes from scratch, and the menu features a lot more than Americanized classics like pad thai and pad see ew.

Hise describes the crispy duck with fried basil and fried egg as the best Thai dish she’s ever tasted, and raves about the nuba num tok salad, which is piled with beef and fresh mint.

Read the review here.

Eastward Expansion

One of our Richmond-based booze purveyors just took the leap into a second location. Buskey Cider, which has been brewing and pouring creative ciders in Scott’s Addition since 2016, is opening a satellite taproom on the Eastern Shore. It held a soft opening at its new Cape Charles tasting room at the end of May, and the official opening date is set for Saturday, June 16.

Short Pump Shenanigans

Speaking of expansion: Trying to keep track of every opening and closing in Richmond proper, much less in the surrounding counties, is enough to make your head spin. But we can’t help but notice that as our lovely city continues to thrive in the food-and-booze realm, more spots we love are expanding into the suburbs. A few:

Carytown Cupcakes, the beloved bakery at 3111 W. Cary St., soon will open a location inside Short Pump Town Center, next to the Pandora store.

The Pit and the Peel, which has been serving up juices, smoothies, salads and snacks since its first location opened near Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015, will open its fourth location in Short Pump Town Center next to Athleta.

Also on the docket for the area is Bartaco, a Connecticut-based taco-and-tequila chain with two other locations in Virginia. Bartaco is the final piece to the restaurant puzzle in the GreenGate shopping center, which is less than a mile from Short Pump Town Center.

Pay It Forward

No matter how hard I try to keep reusable grocery bags in my car, there’s only about a 50 percent chance that I’ll make it into the store with them. I must not be alone, because beloved local market Ellwood Thompson’s has launched an effort to address exactly that. The new bag-share program allows customers to take a bag when they’ve neglected to bring their own, or leave a bag when they have an extra and feel like paying it forward to the next forgetful shopper.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Lion Comes to Town

An interview with David Walker of Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 at 4:48 PM

Saison is gearing up for a beer dinner with David Walker. Recognize the name?

Walker, known as “the lion,” is a co-founder of Firestone Walker Brewing Co., along with his brother-in-law Andrew Firestone, one-time owner of Firestone Winery. Firestone Walker is a cult-followed California-based brewery known for beers like Parabola, an imperial stout and the highly praised 805, a session blonde ale with its own website and stand-alone brand, separate from other Firestone Walker products.

For the June 11 pairing dinner, Saison chef and owner Adam Hall will prepare dishes like caramelized alliums with crème frâiche, caviar and crisps, and binchotan-grilled quail with molasses and hazelnut. The six-course meal will also feature brews from Firestone Walker like the classic lager, Parabola, UnderCurrants (an American wild ale with black currants) and Bretta Rosé (a Berliner Weisse). We caught up with Walker to see what the lion loves about his beer and what he is looking forward to on his inaugural visit to Richmond.

Spoiler alert: This isn’t his first visit to our fair city.

Style: Why do they call you "the lion"? (I've heard about the flowing locks…)

Walker: It’s a British thing and I am a Brit … my partner Adam Firestone is the Bear and that’s a California thing.

Firestone Walker beer is described as having Old World and New California influences. That sounds complicated (and delicious) — is there a way you can describe your beer in simpler terms?

We love balance, we love the blending and we love the dynamic barrels play in this.

Did you always want to be in beer? If not, where else would you be?

I love the tangible impact of beer and brewing; steam coming from the building, steel, glass, the smell of malt being steeped, smiling faces as beers slip down….hard to imagine a better place to be.

You've been in business for 22 years, what have you learned? What could you have skipped?

Patience and the power of doing something carefully are powerful forces in success.

Your biggest growth has happened in the last eight-ish years — why? Has the partnership with Duvel Moortgat been a catalyst for more growth?

805 has caught the imagination of California, a place the size of a country. Keeping that thirst quenched is a challenge. The Moortgat family are fourth generation brewers who are respectful and curious as to the beer revolution going on in the U.S. They have afforded us the ability to build a brewery in our home that can chase the 805 but at the same time allow us the opportunity to invent and continue our search for the perfect beer.

You’re big in California — why do you think your beer resonates so well at home?

The sweetest beer to brew and drink is closest to the brewhouse. It’s a universal brewing truth so it’s no surprise California is our largest customer.

We love Firestone Walker in Richmond. Why the heck is this the first time you are visiting? Maybe you want to build a brewery over here?

I have been before a few times … but never with an introduction like this. Looking forward to it.

So you’re familiar with Richmond?

The legendary charm…

As an aside, I interviewed Matt Brynildson [Firestone Walker’s head brewer] a year ago for a Beer Advocate article. He was headed home from work and pulled off on the side of the road to talk with me. It was a very memorable and energetic exchange. He has a real vibe to him. What's it like to work with him?

A privilege.

Tickets cost $100 per person, and you can reserve your spot by either visiting or calling the restaurant.

Friday, June 1, 2018

VA Craft Beer Cup, pizza on the patio, and other food news

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 4:07 PM

Remember that time Richmond was named the No. 1 beer destination in the country? We do, too. And in a few days, we’ll get to see how RVA’s brews hold up against some of the other breweries around the Commonwealth.

On Monday, June 4, the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild will host the seventh annual Virginia Craft Beer Cup right here in town.

Last year more than 100 breweries competed, and Richmond was well represented. Hardywood Park Craft Brewery took home a silver in the pale bitter European beer category, and Ardent Craft Ales won silver for its Defenestrator in the category of international lager and strong European beer. Other local winners included Strangeways Brewing, Castleburg Brewery and Taproom, Legend Brewing Company and Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery.

We’ll announce this year’s Richmond winners as soon as we’ve got ‘em!

The Lion comes to town

He’s British, he’s known as the Lion, he’s apparently one of the nicest guys in the industry, and he’s coming to Richmond. David Walker, who co-owns California-based Firestone Walker Brewing Co. along with his brother-in-law, Adam “the Bear” Firestone, will team with local chef Adam Hall to hold a six-course beer pairing dinner at Saison on Monday, June 11.

Tickets cost $100 per person, and you can reserve your spot by either visiting or calling the restaurant. The all-inclusive dinner will feature six of Firestone Walker’s beers: a lager, Cuvee No. 2, Parabola, Sour Opal, Under Currants and Bretta Rose.

Gin with a splash of politics

We don’t often talk about political races in the Bite, but we also don’t often see business owners in the food and drink world run for office. You may have seen the news earlier this week that Republican Rep. Tom Garrett will not seek re-election in the coming midterms. Garrett announced that he struggles as an alcoholic, and will instead seek treatment.

The first Virginia Republican to publicly announce his candidacy following Garrett’s withdrawal is distillery owner Denver Riggleman. A former Air Force intelligence officer, Riggleman owns Silverback Distillery in Nelson County, which produces vodka, gin, rye whiskey and moonshine. It’s about an hour and a half from here, and if you haven’t made your way out there yet, go ahead and add it to your day-trip list.

Pizza on the patio

Last week, our photographer popped by Pizza and Beer of Richmond at Cary and Robinson streets. He snapped a quick picture of the not-yet-crowded patio and posted it on Instagram along with a caption announcing that the new restaurant was officially open for business. Y’all have some love for pizza and beer, apparently, because by the end of the weekend the post had more than 750 likes.

I chatted with the market director and indulged in a couple pizzas myself, and I have to say, I get the hype. It’s owned by Eat Restaurant Partners, whose other businesses include Fat Dragon, Foo Dog and Boulevard Burger and Brew, so we could already tell you that the team behind this place knows what’s up. The menu is extensive without being overwhelming, the draft list features a rotating selection of local, regional and national brews, and the creative take on pizzas includes toppings like fried eggs — yep, over-medium eggs with perfectly runny yolks.

Read more next week in Short Order.

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