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Monday, November 26, 2018

Beer Nuts

Stone Brewing has teamed up with Nutista to create beer-inspired peanut butter.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 26, 2018 at 2:01 PM

We love collaborations here in Richmond. Nary a weekend goes by without two breweries, a food truck and a cidery, a bakery and a distillery or some such combination announcing an upcoming event featuring their latest joint efforts on the food-and-booze front. We recently learned that a (somewhat) local staple, the California-based-but-Richmond-beloved Stone Brewing, has teamed up with a nut butter company. Yep — beer-flavored peanut butter is a thing that exists, and you can get it in Richmond.

Nutista made its way onto the market last year with a lineup of products like the Mountie, which features raw cashews, sprouted almonds, dry-roasted peanuts and raw pecans. If you're thinking about a classic PB&J, this one is your best bet. Stone co-founder Greg Koch is one of the masterminds behind Nutista, so it was only a matter of time before "Hey, let's try combining these with beer" was a suggestion laid out on the table. With a base of blanched almonds and dry-roasted peanuts, the Stone Tangerine Express IPA nut butter also has dry malt extract, brewer's yeast, tangerine and pineapple. Saying it tastes like beer might be a stretch, but it's got that citrusy tang to it and it's definitely reminiscent of a brew.

There's also the Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout, with three barley malts, a light dry malt, Brazil Oberon coffee and Belizean cacao mixed in with blanched almonds, dry-roasted peanuts and pecans. The Xocoveza, featuring milk sugar, coconut sugar, pasilla peppers, cinnamon and brewer's yeast, is much thicker than some of the others, with distinct fall notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate and pepper. It packs a punch, so go slowly — warmed into a hot fudge, it just might complement a scoop of vanilla ice cream. In the Farking Wheaton Wootstout nut butter you'll get notes of coffee, cocoa and bourbon-soaked malt, plus malted rye, roasted barley and brewer's yeast in a base of raw pecans and dry-roasted peanuts.

The Monkey King is free of beer-related ingredients, but still entirely worth mentioning. Thin and almost soupy, it gets much of its flavor from bananas — an entire banana in each jar, according to co-owner Tristen Cross. Dry-roasted peanuts are the only nuts in this one, and it's enhanced by some chia seeds and Himalayan sea salt. Smear it on an apple, drizzle it over a brownie, or just eat it straight off a spoon.

Jars of Nutista are currently available at Stone Brewing on Williamsburg Avenue, and prices range from $12-14 for 8-ounce jars. Keep an eye on nutista.com for online-only special offers, like the Steakhouse One, an almond-and-peanut concoction with paprika, garlic, thyme, mustard, black pepper and cayenne. Cross says a chocolate-mint iteration will soon make its way onto the website for the holidays — she recommends heating that one up and using it as a sauce for brownies or churros.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Holiday Cheer

Whether it's ironic or not, dig out that tacky sweater for some holly jolly festivities.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2018 at 2:41 PM

Réveillon Dinner 
Brenner Pass 
Sunday, Dec. 23 

Réveillon is French for "awakening," reflected in a traditional late-night meal on Christmas Eve. This iteration won't take place after midnight Mass, but the indulgent holiday supper will include six courses created by chefs Brittanny Anderson and Olivia Wilson. Tickets cost $150 per person and available at brennerpassrva.com. 

Holiday Drag Brunch
Laura Lee's
Saturday, Dec. 22

This is exactly what it sounds like, and reservations are available now.

Latke Cook-Off
The Weinstein Jewish Community Center
Sunday, Dec. 18

Does your nonnie make the best latkes under the sun? Put her recipe to the test at this year's latke cook-off, held by Hadassah Richmond. The deadline to sign up is Friday, Dec.16., and tickets to sample the latkes are $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

Cookie Decorating Class
AR Workshop
Tuesday, Dec. 11

Decorating is the best part of making Christmas cookies, and at this workshop, all the pre-decorating work is done for you. Just show up and you'll get six cookies with the royal icing already made and ready for you in piping bags. Tickets are $75 per person.

Carytown Hanukkah Party
The Tottering Teacup
Saturday, Dec. 8

Celebrate one of the last nights of Hanukkah at the Tottering Teacup with latkes and doughnuts, plus dreidel games and an "ask the rabbi" booth.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Taste Unlimited Makes its Debut in Richmond

Hampton Roads-famous sandwich shop opens in former Westhampton movie spot.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2018 at 4:20 PM

It was standing room only during the lunch rush at Richmond’s first Taste Unlimited. The gourmet food store and cafe, which has a devoted following in the Hampton Roads area, quietly opened its doors a couple days ago, and an announcement on Facebook this morning brought diners out in droves.

The space is sleek, with about 15 two-and four-top tables in the dining area, plus a long, communal table in the middle. The retail area features giant cans of specialty nuts (if samples are available, go for the Chesapeake Bay crab peanuts), plastic containers of cheese straws and bottles of gourmet maple syrup.

A large cooler displays the usual suspects on the drink front: organic juices, jars of kombucha, cold-brew coffee in cans and sparkling water. For something a little different try a bottle of Tost, a fizzy white tea beverage with cranberry and ginger flavors. Next to the rows of cans and bottles are grab-and-go items like sandwiches, salads, brownies and cheese plates.

It’s the sandwich counter that has folks losing their minds, though. These sandwiches are beloved, and the signatures are named after Hampton Roads-area landmarks: Ghent, Princess Anne, Bayville Farms, etc. Favorites include the Northender, with honey-smoked turkey, bacon, havarti, avocado, lettuce, tomato and basil mayo on French bread. There’s also a build-your-own option, with nine breads, proteins like tuna salad, roasted chicken breast, prosciutto, citrus pork loin and garbanzo kofta, plus about a dozen cheeses. Whatever sandwich you get, ask for a side of the roasted pepper aioli. You won’t regret it.

On the dessert end there’s a selection of gelato (which will rotate seasonally), freshly-baked cookies, and double-chocolate brownies so dense you practically need to use both hands.

Taste Unlimited

5706 Grove Ave., Suite 100

362-0504

taste.online/locations/richmond

Every day 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Games and Grub

Bingo Beer Co. makes its debut with bar food, booze and old-school games.

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

It's part brewery, part restaurant, part arcade, all Richmond. Bingo Beer Co. just opened in Scott's Addition, and dream team Jason Alley and Michele Jones are behind it, along with partners Jay Bayer and Ted Ukrop. The new concept joins an ever-growing league of eateries with built-in entertainment, and Alley says that's no accident.

"Dining has shifted away from the whole idea that it's something you do before you do something else," he says. "Dining as entertainment is something that's really been a trend for a while now. What we're seeing is people want something to do that's going to occupy their time."

And there's no shortage of things to do exactly that. Inside the large warehouselike space, which used to be a bingo parlor, the lineup includes throwback games like Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and the Simpsons. There's also skeeball, ping pong, air hockey and half a dozen pinball machines, plus oversized Connect Four.

To go along with the games is a menu with what Alley describes as playful bar food, like "tot-chos," or tater tots piled with queso, sour cream and pico de gallo. Other small plates include Indian butter chicken nuggets, a mash-up of two favorites that results in a crispy, dense, heavily spiced bite with charred-scallion and butter dipping sauce that's reminiscent of an Indian masala. The pickle plate will rotate, and a recent selection included classic dill spears plus dragon fruit, mushrooms, eggplant, onions and deviled eggs, all pickled. Hearty sandwiches include the Definitely Not Affiliated With a Major Corporate Rib Shaped Sandwich, a grilled tempeh grinder, grilled cheese and fried oysters with chow-chow, a pickled relish.

And because you really can have it all, let's not forget that this place is also a full-production brewery. Six beers are flowing from the taps for now, with a few more in the making. The flagship is the Bingo lager, and Alley says it appeals to the beer obsessed and the casual drinker alike.

"If you're a beer nerd you'll get into it because it's a little more hop-forward than a traditional Budweiser," he says. "But if you just like cold beer that's delicious, it's that too."

Also on draft are several cocktails, which Alley says allows creativity without the wait. The Level Up is refreshing with a little kick, featuring house-made hopped cucumber-lemon-grass tonic, also available on its own as a nonalcoholic mocktail, with your choice of gin, vodka, rum or tequila. With grapefruit-infused vodka and club soda, Another Castle is simple and easy to drink.

"For those drinks you don't necessarily want to watch someone stirring and muddling for 20 minutes," he says. "All that work goes into it, but it has gone in before we open the doors for service."

Oh, and most of the game machines feature cup holders, making it easier to multitask. S

Bingo Beer Co.
2900 W. Broad St.
386-0290
Mondays - Fridays 4 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Saturdays - Sundays noon - 2 a.m.
bingorva.com

Monday, November 5, 2018

Suite Spot

Kelli Lemon’s new cafe fosters community conversation.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2018 at 2:55 PM

The line at the Urban Hang Suite looks longer than expected, even for a highly anticipated debut eatery from a well-liked local celebrity. It turns out that most of the visitors aren't actually in line. Instead, they're just hanging out, standing around chatting. Which is exactly what owner Kelli Lemon intends.

The words "connections, coffee, culture" painted on the front windows welcome visitors into Lemon's casual breakfast and lunch spot. Billed as a social cafe, Urban Hang Suite is currently open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, with plans for occasional after-hours events. The simple menu offers coffee, sandwiches and salads.

Lemon is well-known for her Coffee with Strangers podcast, in which she interviews interesting Richmonders about what they're doing around town. She is a visible figure in the city, recognized for her smiling enthusiasm and community support. On Wednesday, her crew returned the favor at Urban Hang Suite's opening.

"We served 200 people just for breakfast," Lemon says, stepping away from the order counter. "It's been amazing, way past my expectations."

Facing some last-minute snafus with food service, Lemon had pared down the opening menu to just a few sandwiches. Most restaurant owners would react with panic or anger, but Lemon is all smiles.

"We were up until 3 in the morning, and then back here at 5 a.m. to open for breakfast," she says. "Basically, I went home just to shower."

She glosses over the opening-day challenges, projecting confidence and flexibility. "It's all new," she says. "I need to see what people like and what direction it goes."

Urban Hang Suite's order counter is in the front room. A chalkboard menu on the back wall lists breakfast bagel sandwiches, lunch salads, sandwiches and several grain bowls. With no kitchen, the food is pre-made, with counter staff doing some assembly and additions. Lemon is applying for an ABC license and plans to serve local beers, Virginia wines and a few signature cocktails.

"Our goal is to transition to at least 80 percent local sourcing with our vendors," Lemon explains. Currently she offers Lamplighter coffee, and relies on Richmond-based food supplier Performance Food Group. (The writer is married to someone who works for the company.) "We want to cycle the money right back into the community," she says.

The action is through a curtained doorway into the back room. Banquette seating and small tables nestle together to encourage conversation. Eventually, Lemon plans to have DJs and live music on the small stage in a back corner.

Bright art and antiques create an eclectic but warm vibe, while '90s R&B music plays on multiple wall monitors. The music isn't at dance volume, but it's too loud to encourage laptop work. Which is fine for Lemon, as she wants to encourage conversation.

"I was listening yesterday, and one table was talking about what they were going to do over the weekend, another table was talking about college football, and another was talking about politics and the election," Lemon says. "You can't tell me those conversations didn't overlap or they didn't hear each other. This allows people to jump into the conversation, or maybe just listen and learn something new." S

Urban Hang Suite
304 E. Broad St.
Daily 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.

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