Have you noticed the trend in pop up dining? These limited time dining opportunities are all over the River City. Traditionally they occur in galleries and event spaces, which take you outside the restaurant. Chefs get an opportunity to step outside their restaurant menus and flex their creative muscle. Sometimes they take the form of restaurant takeovers. And here in Richmond we even have a brick and mortar with a rotating theme. I have been fortunate to try out many of these opportunities and have shared some of them with you in the past. I have also been invited to participate in one of the newer additions to this dining phenomenon, The EAT Foundation. EAT is doing their part to break out of the pop up dining mold by providing the city pop up with a purpose.
Some local Richmond foodies in their own right run the EAT Foundation, so they have made a point to highlight great RVA chefs in great RVA locations. In just their first five local events they have featured such chefs as Brandon Bundy, Sunny Baweja, and Matthew Tlusty. Additionally, they have featured locations like the colonial Wilton House and Crossroads Art Center.
Like most pop up dining experiences they offer multiple courses and wine pairings (except for an outstanding event at Steam Bell Beer Works that featured beer pairings with Chef Baweja’s flavorful food). The major thing that sets EAT apart from other pop up opportunities around town is that they are a nonprofit foundation. It is important to the founders of EAT to give back to their community. They believe in the old adage, “give a man a fish you can feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and you can feed him for a lifetime.” Education is a key to healthy eating and as a teacher I am a fan on educating people about how to better their lives. Food deserts are in their sights by bringing food into these communities and by bringing members of those communities to the food.
Check out their website by hitting the button below and read about their projects and aspirations for what the foundation can do. See if there is a way you can get involved in improving our city. I hope to Celebrate with you at their next event.
In my opinion, you can fit all dessert into one of five categories: cake, candy, cookies, ice cream, and pie. It’s fun for me to ask people to rank those categories. My number one is, ice cream!
Ice cream has always played a supporting role in my life. My grandparents used to keep sundae cups from Friendly’s in their basement freezer. Oh how great Friendly’s used to be! Part of my growing up on Long Island, New York also consisted of learning about chocolate dipped cones and ice cream sandwiches from Carvel.
In high school, I worked at a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in Old Towne Alexandria. At the time, we were considered one of the highest volume scoop shops in the world. Staying open till 2am on Friday nights with lines around the block. This really gave me the opportunity to further develop my devotion for ice cream.
My love for frozen treats was peaked recently when I finally got to sink my teeth into Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches. I had seen them featured when perusing my Instagram (@fohrva). I picked up a selection from Libbie Market one my way to Sunday Funday. We tried three amazing flavors: Chocolate Espresso, Hardywood Raspberry Stout, and the delicious chocolate dipped-peanut butter cookie-banana ice cream “Fat Elvis.” I cut them up so we could each try all of them. I was a fan of all of them, but that Chocolate Espresso hit all of my buttons.
I strongly encourage you to get to the store and try all the flavors available, but get in there early, they do not sit in the freezer long.
After being away for a couple of months, I really look forward to certain comforts of home. Seeing my friends and laugh over wine, binge watching seasons of TV shows with my bare feet on my shag rug, and hitting all my favorite places for good eats. Now that I am back in town after nine weeks away, this is exactly what I have been doing.
As expected, I made my way to Helen’s. I still maintain that this is one of, if not the most, underrated restaurants in the River City. If you go right now, order the corn on the cob. In fact, go right now and order the corn on the cob. Grilled and seasoned with ancho chilies, fresh lime zest and whipped feta. I took one bite of this corn and swore my allegiance to it...and once again proposed marriage to Chef Clay (one of , if not the most, underrated chefs in the River City). I put a picture of the corn on my “food-stagram” (@fohrva) and my sister just dreamed of the corn from afar for over 24 hours. It was great sitting at the bar with my friend Christian as we gear up for another school year, chatting and noshing on some delicious pork tacos that were on special that night. The atmosphere at Helen’s was exactly as I remembered it.
Another night, during the ten days since I returned, I met my friend Rachel out for dinner at Stella’s. Often times my friends make me pick where we should eat, but Rachel always has her heart set on a place she has always wanted to try, or a place she has tried and wants to take me to. It’s very refreshing to have the pressure removed from me. Now, normally I can’t stop myself from ordering the pastichio at Stella’s because...well...if you don’t know, I can’t speak to you. Get your ass to Stella’s and order the pastichio. This time I switched it up and ordered the pastichiato...really branching out, I know. I also made Rachel try the grilled haloumi cause it is immaculate. It’s sweet with raisins and currents, but the haloumi is salty and soft, really a perfect combination.
I’ve just been reacquainting myself with the food of RVA. Additionally I went to Dot’s Back Inn for a STEAK sandwich, cappuccinos at Black Hand and Stir Crazy, sushi at Akida, and nachos at The Camel that were spectacular (I shared with no one!). All this good eating has made me click my heels and say, “there’s no place like home.”
I am so lucky to have friends that know; sometimes you just have to call me. I love to go out to eat, obviously, but my schedule sometimes gets the best of me and just need a little push from a friend to get me out the door. That’s why it was great when my friend Christina called me up and said, “Thursday, we’re going out.” I was particularly excited when she told me that before dinner we’d get to see an a cappella group practice and critique them. Made me wish I judged these kinds of events. It was like being on Pitch Perfect. They did a cover of “You Go Down Smooth” by my favorite band: Lake Street Dive. Very good!
Now, I recently started a companion Instagram account to go with my blog, and one of the first restaurants to follow me was Shoryuken Ramen. I had wanted to swing by there since they opened and just hadn’t gotten the chance yet. Here was my excuse! Christina and I walked in, had a seat at the bar and got ready for an evening of chitchat and amazing food.
Service is a big thing for me. I love good service more than I can say. One of the co-owners, Sarah Choi, came over and made introductions and asked how we were introduced to their place. I had told her my Instagram story and she was very excited, social media works! She then proceeded to break down the menu for us. She told us the chef’s preferred options for each dish. Sort of how he originally imagined the dish. Our bartender, Matt (great name), was also sweet as can be. He made some spot-on cocktail recommendations. We had the Balrog, which he says intimidates people because it has sake in it, but will not be intimidated. It was very smooth and perfectly crafted. We also had the Zangief, which is their version of the mule. Of course that second cocktail was gingery and right up my alley.
The food was amazing! We started with the perfectly fried, chicken steam buns. The sauce had a kick, the chicken was crisp, combined with the soft steam bun...Christina and I were all over those. We also ordered the fried dumplings, which Sarah rolls by hand every day! All dumplings should look and taste like this. The golden crisp texture and the amazing pork goodness inside were too much to handle. I ate more than my share. Christina said it was okay because she enjoyed the deviled eggs that Sarah sent over for us to try. Christina commented that they were tasty!
You’d think we wouldn’t have room for the actual ramen, but we’re not amateurs. Christina chose the pork bone broth, the Tonkotsu, with sea salt and pork. I chose the classic Shoryuken ramen, a chicken and dashi broth, also with sea salt and pork. I think this is my new ramen spot. These dishes were both fantastic. We kept ladling our broth and digging in with out chopsticks for more noodles and other goodies as we chatted about work, boys, and music. And there was a soft egg; you know I love a soft egg.
Three cheers for Shoryuken Ramen. Big thanks to Sarah and Matt for enhancing our meals. We’ll certainly be back. Christina texted me the next afternoon “just as good the second day” as she dug into her leftovers for lunch...about an hour later I dipped into mine...she was right!
I recently had the opportunity to go out with friends from work to have dinner and drinks at Can Can Brasseire. The three of us had a lovely time just carrying on and having cocktails, teasing our waiter...and my go to dinner order of Steak Frites was on point as always. This fun time reminded me of the most amazing lunch I had there earlier this fall.
You know those perfect Saturdays when the weather is beautiful, your company is beautiful and most important to me...the food is beautiful. Earlier this fall I had one of those Saturdays. You don’t want to trust it so you carry a sweater or a scarf with you just in case, but then you wish you hadn’t cause you are lugging this sweater around with you everywhere you go. My best friend, Sarah, and her mom came down from Alexandria on a whim, just for the day. We decided to walk around Maymont and even took a tour of the Dooley Mansion. I had never been inside, believe it or not. If you have not been to the Dooley Mansion you should definitely add that to your “RVA Must-Do”s.
I had heard about the “Swan Bed” but I had never actually seen it with my own eyes. It is quite the sight, though in my personal opinion it is slightly trumped by the vanity made from the ivory of a NARWAL! A creature so fantastical that some people in my tour group didn’t know that it was not a mythical beast.
After our tour we made way for Carytown, because that’s what you do on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. With little debate we decided to have lunch at Can Can. I ordered the Croque Madam, a very fancy ham and cheese sandwich that must be eaten with knife and fork. The sauce was so creamy and smooth improved only by the addition of a fried egg with a perfectly runny yolk. Like velvet!
Sarah had a lovely salad and a tasting of the onion soup. I love onion soup so I had a taste of that, so good with melty cheese and soft onions. Her mom was so excited that the quiche du jour was a classic Quiche Lorraine. She was just in heaven.
This amazing lunch, paired with a carafe of rosé, made for a perfect Saturday lunch that only could have been improved if we were actually in Paris.
Forks Over Hipsters is now on Instagram...@fohrva.
I finally made it back to The Underground Kitchen, and boy did I pick a good one. I have been to these dinner parties a couple of times before and was very excited to have another opportunity to enjoy: a six course meal, with wine pairings, prepared by a chef who has carte blanche to just “do them.” You could refer to this as “winning.”
A few years ago, a friend of mine who was living up in Fairfax wanted to get together and have lunch. He came up with the great idea of meeting up in Fredericksburg since it’s about midway between the two of us. I thought at the time, what on earth is there to do and eat in Fredericksburg? Enter Foode. Foode is a great causal dining restaurant where there are no frills, just amazing food. The chef, Joy Crump, does some amazing stuff (I had a burger with the best damned pimento cheese, bacon, cooked perfectly...just juicy and spicy and hitting all my favorite notes), which has gotten her recognition and even led to an appearance on Top Chef! How glorious it was that this chef from my own “foode” past was the guest chef at my return to the UGK.
If you know me, then you know I love being greeted at the door with a delicious cocktail and the pomegranate twist on a Moscow Mule met me and said “hello.” Cocktails perfected, you should try this, and I had two. I had the pleasure, once we took our seats, of being surrounded by some fantastic couples who didn’t know each other but had all come in from Williamsburg. We were probably the loudest section of the dining room, but we were having an amazing time talking about food, eating food, and drinking perfectly paired wines.
My favorite courses were two, four (all veggies, if you can believe it), five and six (dessert of course). The roasted bacon with grapes on crispy polenta was just ridiculous. Try to picture a savory grape, I’ll wait...me neither, but with the bacon fat and crisp corn meal polenta it was a taste I won’t soon forget! It was my favorite, till dessert came. The vegetable bowl was outstanding, creamy puree and sweet roasted beets. This is not something I would usually go for, but when you attend events like this you just have to keep an open mind and try everything. You can’t go wrong with course five, pork...grits...collards...cranberry...it was like a holiday meal with family. Dessert came in and stole the show. Diane, on my left, told me I looked like I may lick the plate, and would have had she not said anything. Moist apple cake with maple frosting and pistachios, look at that picture and let your mouth water, as you hate on me for having eaten it.
Another great UGK event, you should certainly check them out. And take a trip outside the RVA and check out Foode, you will not be disappointed. While on Forks Over Hipsters, read my other write-ups, glance my galleries, and don’t forget to follow on twitter @FOHRVA.
I was so saddened to have to say goodbye to The Magpie this week. So many good meals, and cocktails, meant so many good memories. My Maddie told me that she is particularly sad about this news because all of her life celebrations were spent dining on that corner in Carver. Of course I assured her that at the age of 17 she still has many more celebrations ahead of her, but I understand and validate her feelings.
For myself, I spent many of those occasions with Maddie; brunches, dinners, even a special birthday night when Magpie became La Urraca. Magpie was the first place I ever ate rabbit, I had cocktails with a rabbi there, my profile picture here on Forks Over Hipsters was taken at Magpie, so I empathize with those around town who believe a hole has been created not only in the Richmond dining scene, but in our hearts.
I support whatever comes next from Chef Owen Lane, and I hope it is not long before we see that next great creation here in the RVA. In the meantime, I encourage all my readers to check out the Bonfire Fund that was started to support Chef Lane and his family and they close Magpie and plan and prepare for their next adventure. Please check the link below and order a shirt, not only out of support, but because I think it could become an iconic piece of RVA memorabilia you are going to wish you had.
Camp is finally over, but before I head back to RVA I thought I would check out all I could eat in Portland. Follow my taste adventures on Twitter @FOHRVA.
See you back in the River City soon.
Working at a summer camp in Northern California all season long, but the downside is missing out on all the great food happenings in the RVA. I am particularly sad to be missing out on Burger Week 2015 because last year was a delicious celebration of creative burgers. Check out my small gallery from last year here:
And if you want to check out this year’s participants, the list is extensive and delectable:
Please write me with where you went and how it was...I’ll tweet your recommendations @fohrva.
I’ll see you at the table soon.
This past weekend I finally completed my Master’s degree and in honor of that blessed event, my sister came...and we ate! As soon as she got off the plane we were both famished and so, after narrowing down a few choices, we decided on En Su Boca for some tacos.
Now, I have been to En Su Boca a couple of times before (you know how I love a taco), but had not had the opportunity to write about it. Rachel and I tried a few things so I thought what a great opportunity. We started off with some margaritas and chips and salsa. Devin, or very friendly waitress, did not bring the habanero at first, but I asked her to bring the pain because both Rachel and I like spice. We also had some guacamole, which I will go on record as saying it was some of the best in town. Creamy with and cool like a good avocado should be. This was also a nice balance from the heat of the habanero.