Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Month of Eating

I am working on a project with Arthur Huang, an Oakland artist who chronicles eating patterns and has a Peroidic Table of  Eating. Below is the raw data of what I ate in November.

John Haddad

Meal Journal

November 2010

November 1


Oatmeal with raisins

Slice of cheddar cheese

Rosemary/olive oil veggie straws

Flank & Brisker Pho

Pork roll

Farfalle with homemade sage sausage and broccoli

(porcini broth, red pepper flakes)

2 mini Baby Ruth

November 2



Tortellini Soup with chicken broth, garlic, tomatoes and escarole


Grilled Calamari with white beans

Stella Artois Beer

Steak with mushrooms and French fries

Newcastle Brown Ale

November 3


Mini snickers bar

Tortellini Soup with chicken broth, garlic, tomatoes and escarole

Arugula Salad (picked from garden) with olives, feta & balsamic vinaigrette

Chili (Venison, Pork & Beef), Beans, Tomatoes

Slice of 4 cheese bread

Carrots with butter and dill

November 4


Bagel with Sausage and Egg

Veggie Chips

Chili over couscous

Arugula salad

Turkey meatballs


Roasted brussel sprout

November 5


Pho So 1

Pho with Flank and Bible Tripe

Friend or Pho

Short Ribs

Beef Pho

November 6


Sweet potato barley mushroom soup

French bread with herbed butter and fresh radishes

Moroccan squash stew

Baked Spaghetti with Feta and meat sauce

Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

November 7


Pita with lebneh and zataar

Baked spaghetti leftovers

Ham & Cheese Panini

March of Dimes Chef Auction

Swamp Thing

Snail risotto with prosciutto wrapped frog legs,

pernod parsley geleé, garlic chips

Molasses Duck Under glass and over caramel corn pudding with

applewood bacon glaze

Herb Crusted Basa with sesame slaw with truffle cream; Butternut

squash & Chorizo "risotto" with smoked tomato coulis

Trio of Cakes

Plantain cake with scallop and coconut chutney

Potato cake with grilled pork and fall chutney

Sweet Potato Cake with Duck and blackberry

Lamb Burger on wheat pita and goat cheese with mint drizzle

Cheese Grit Croquette with balsamic glaze

Cake Pops

chocolate cake coated with candy shell

November 8


Pita with lebneh and zataar


Sautéed vegetables (Kale, chard, carrots, celery) with curry

Salad with Honey Mustard vinaigrette

2 hobnobs

Tabouli salad


November 9


Pita with lebneh and zataar

Pho with flank and brisket

Spring roll

Pan seared pork chop with apple mustard glaze

Baked butternut squash with brown sugar


Cookie dough ice cream

November 10

Fried egg and porkchop on English muffin


Rice noodles

The Empress ( Restaurant Critic Meeting)


Potato rosti with roasted tomatoes

Bacon wrapped dates with gorgonzola

Smoked catfish with greens

Flank steak with parsnip gratin

November 11


Pita with lebneh and zataar

Spicy tuna rolls

Seaweed salad

Enchiladas with black beans and goat cheese

November 12


Zucchini bread

Jicama roll

Beef flank pho

Enchiladas with black beans and goat cheese


November 13


Egg casserole with mushrooms bacon and cheese

2 bloody mary’s

Hash brown casserole

Coppola’s Industrial Sandwich

mortedella, Genoa salami, Capicola ham, provolone cheese, hot & sweet peppers,

onions, lettuce, tomatoes and oil & vinegar.

Risotto Milanese



Red wine

November 14


Toast with cheddar cheese

Hot dog

Potato chips

Beef barley soup

2 Abita Turbo Dogs





Chocolate chip cookies

November 15


Pita with lebneh and zataar


Hot and sour soup

Spring roll




3 Stella Artois

November 16


Pita with lebneh and zataar

Chipotle Rice Bowl with Chicken

Diet Pepsi

November 17


Ham sandwich with mustard


Rotisserie chicken

Brown rice

November 18


English muffin with cheddar

Chicken sandwich with tomato and cheddar

Chicken with couscous

Spinach with pine nuts and garlic

November 19


Wonton soup

Spinach salad with chicken and balsamic vinaigrette

Bourbon and ginger ale

Ham biscuits

Peanut hummus

Green olives


Chocolate covered strawberry

November 20


Couscous with tomato sauce, cheese and fried egg

Star Hill Love Beer

Reuben Sandwich

French Onion Soup

Bourbon and Ginger ale

Sausage balls

Crab dip

Chicken with rice

Green beans


Red wine

Cheese cake

November 21



Lamb chili

Local cider

Spring roll

Pho with beef flank

Bourbon and ginger ale

Turkey chili


Blue Moon Beer

November 22


Pita with lebneh and zataar

Leftover Pho

Ham and cheese sandwich

Pasta with spinach, carrots and red pepper

Peppermint ice cream with chocolate cookies

November 23



Panera Chicken noodle soup

½ chicken salad sandwich


Diet Pepsi

Bourbon and water

Airport Chicken & Bacon wrap

Jack and Ginger

Bourbon and Ginger

November 24

(Austin TX)


Egg and potato burrito

Sausage and egg burrito

Iguana Bar- Chips & Salsa & Queso Dip

Stuffed pepper with beef and rice

3 margaritas


Mango margarita

Chips and salsa

County Line BBQ

5 meat platter

Brisket, smoked turkey, pork rib, beef rib, sausage

Potato salad, slaw

2 Shiner Bock Beers

November 25- Thanksgiving

(Austin TX)

Turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing with sausage,

gravy, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, green beans with

garlic and parmesan; cauliflower and squash with gruyere

pumpkin pie

Turkey sandwich

Shiner bock

November 26

(Austin TX)

Egg casserole with ham

Grapefruit and orange with coconut


Chips, salsa, queso

Green chili stew with chicken, onions, carrots

Chicken enchilada with mole

Fonda San Miguel


Chips and Salsa

Donaji- mescal, Gran Marnier, lime juice, orange juice

Duck enchiladas with creamy cilantro sauce


Tres Leche cake

3 Shiner Bocks

November 27

Coffee, scone

Steak and cheese sandwich

Potato salad

Diet coke

3 Pabst Blue Ribbons

Bourbon on rocks



Cheese Plate- Taleggio, Grayson blue, aged Gouda

Café 27

Rabbit and veal sausage over fingerling potatoes

Chicken marsala



November 28


Post Thanksgiving Brunch

3 Bloody Mary’s ( Zin Zang, Guinness, Orange Juice)

turkey, cornbread sausage stuffing, brussel sprouts, Mac & Cheese, home smoked bacon


2 glasses Vaqueras Cotes de Rhone

2 Blue Moon

November 29


Granola with yogurt

Turkey sandwich


Turkey tetrazzini


November 30

Boka Tacos

Mexican Beef Taco

Pork Asian Taco

Turkey enchiladas


Sunday, December 12, 2010

watermelon radish

I was sad to go to the last South of the James Market last weekend. There weren't as many vendors this late in the year, but Victory had some nice treats, including the beautiful watermelon radishes. A bit sweeter than typical radishes, these are heirloom daikon radishes from China. It's too late this year, but I may try to add them to my garden next year. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Pho-King Good

Imagine my delight when I got the chance to sample some of the best ( and worst) pho in Richmond.  I went to some old favorites but also found a new favorite bowl at Tay Do, on Rigsby Road behind Pho So 1.  There's nothing like a bowl of good broth.  You can read my take on Richmond pho in this week's Style Weekly .   It's  Broth that satsifies the soul

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Lion's Mane Mushrooms

Last night our Slow Food RVA board met at Pescado's China Street in Oregon Hill for a few drinks and appetizers.  Hung out at the bar and chatted for a little while with the owner Todd Manley. He showed me a fresh catch of the day, not from the sea but rather from the woods in Richmond. I had never eaten Lion's Mane Mushroom. It's pretty impressive looking, almost comical. It never ceases to amaze me what grows in nature.   It turned into a rich risotto special for the evening.  I had a sample that had been simply sauteed in a little butter and the flavor was nuanced and the texture almost like crab meat.  I

Friday, October 15, 2010

OystoberFest in Historic Ginter Park


Saturday, October 16, 2010: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

To Benefit St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church

Oysters, Beer, Brats, Bands and a Kids’ Zone

Fried, grilled and raw oysters are the main event, with brats and other grilled options available. Beer and other refreshments will be available.

Live music from Rockfish Willie, The Orderlies, Emma Hern and the Offenders, the Unknown Favorites, Master Fiddler Mark Campbell with the NorthSide Ramblers and more.

Kids’ Zone will include a moon-bounce, slides and more.

Prizes will be raffled all day, prizes include brand-new Apple ipad.

FREE TO ATTEND ($2 Donation suggested) Food, drinks, kids’ zone, raffles charged separately.

St. Thomas' Episcopal Church
3602 Hawthorne Avenue
Richmond, VA 23222

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dig In with Slow Food RVA

Dig In! Volunteer Work Day at Shalom Farms

September 25, 2010 10:00 am until 02:00 pm

Shalom Farms, Rock Castle Road off Route 600, Goochland, VA

Join Slow Food RVa members and volunteers for a morning of harvesting, weeding, gleaning, composting etc at Shalom Farms in beautiful Goochland County. Join us in contributing to Shalom Farms' mission of enhancing food security in the Richmond region. All produce harvested at the farm is donated to low-income urban neighborhood organizations via the Central Virginia Food Bank.

Begun in the fall of 2008, Shalom Farms is a nonprofit community farm project of the United Methodist Urban Ministries of Richmond, and is situated adjacent to Camp Westview on the James. For more information about Shalom Farms, visit their website at

Families with children ages 5 and up are welcome at this event, which runs from 10 am - 2 pm. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Sign up by emailing (subject line "Shalom Farms") or call Stacy @ 703.405.3763. Caravan details from city / directions to the farm will be provided upon registration.

Sprout Thinks Locally and Acts Deliciously

There's new growth in the Fan across from Crossroad's Coffee at Sprout, a restaurant with a mission. Sourcing 90 % of their food locally, Sprout offers a unique menu at a great price point and with a conscience.  Read my full review in the latest issue of Style Weekly.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Not Quite Ripe

I had the chance to visit Vietnam Garden's new location this month for a few meals. While the space is well done, the food was not as consistent.  And it has to be something special to pull me away from long-time favorite Mekong.  You can read my full review in this week's Style Weekly .

Showered with meals of love

Susannah's father passed away a month ago after a valiant 3 + year fight against cancer. We all knew the day was coming, but its hard to prepare for the actual event.   And to complicate things a little more, it happened the day after I started a new job after consulting for the past year or so.  Between adjusting to a new job, trying to help Susannah and the boys, and life in general, cooking was the last thing on our minds.  But it didn't matter.  For the past month, at least every other day, our friends have showered us with meals- some planned and expected, others clandestine drive bys.  Just yesterday morning I got a text that goodies were on the way, and not a 1/2 hour later, a platter of hot out of the oven chocolate and raspberry scones came from Gillian and Bob.  And that evening a tray of macaroni and cheese from Kristin and Steve.   Susannah has been managing the meals ministry at our church for the past few years, making sure that meals were lined up when babies arrived, friends were sick, and family members died. It was a blessing to be a recipient of that love for the past month and I thank all of our friends. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Picnic Memories

Years ago when I was living in Rome in 1990, I took a trip to the south of France with some friends. We were stranded in Aix en Provence during a train strike with nary a franc. We pooled our money for some provisions for an unforgettable picnic in the shadow of Mt Ste Victoire.

A short story that I wrote about it appears in this week's  Picnic Memories

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Historical Fiction

Here's my latest review in this week's Style Weekly !

At Hanover Tavern, the menu is only as good as its execution.

By John G. Haddad

One of the few surviving colonial-era taverns in the United States, Hanover Tavern has played host to George Washington, Lord Cornwallis and the Marquis de Lafayette. It’s also served as the home to the Barksdale Theatre since the 1950s, and is owned by the Hanover Tavern Foundation, which is committed to restoring the tavern and promoting its historic significance. Not many restaurants in the area can claim such longevity. But on two recent visits, it appears to suffer from the age-old historical problem of truth diverging from the written text — in this case, the menu.

My wife and I drive up scenic Route 301 on a cool summer night to Hanover Courthouse. At the tavern, we’re seated by a disinterested hostess in the cool and atmospheric basement next to the pub, in a room that drips with history. Our server is apologetic but it does little to salvage the mood while we wait 45 minutes for our appetizers. The meal begins auspiciously with fried green tomatoes ($6) that wear a heavy fried crust and come with a side of pimento cheese. I’m excited to try the three cheese spoon bread ($7), served with lavender honey. I grew up eating spoon bread, mostly from the recipe of my grandmother’s friend, Mrs. Mercer, in Staunton. At its best it’s a Southern soufflé, a bit like Yorkshire pudding. This version is more akin to runny grits or cornmeal queso. To make matters worse, the aromatic lavender honey clashes with the coarseness and flavor of the cornmeal and cheese. Our long wait is for naught.

A roasted red and golden beet salad ($8) strays from its menu description. Missing are the golden beets, and we must search to find a few morsels of red beets at the bottom of a pile of greens that conspicuously lacks the promised arugula. The dressing bears no resemblance to tarragon-orange vinaigrette.

Entrees don’t improve our evening. Shrimp and grits ($17) are uninspired. While the local grits from Ashland’s Byrd Mill have a nice flavor, they’re cold and congealed. The bevy of small shrimp on top tastes fishy and remains for the most part uneaten, and the sparse sprinkling of Cajun sausage lacks spiciness and does nothing for the dish. The best thing on the plate is a side of fried Brussels sprouts. Susannah’s gnocchi ($16) lean toward the heavy side, and we search for the sautéed seasonal vegetables that the menu describes, finding only asparagus and grape tomatoes swimming in a heavy red tomato sauce.

Of the three choices on the dessert menu ($6), we go with cheesecake and crème brûlée. The cheesecake is dense and sweet but lacks a distinct vanilla flavor. Beneath a crunchy facade the crème brûlée is tired and dry, again missing the promised vanilla.

On a return visit for lunch, we sit in a very different space. The veranda room is upstairs on the enclosed back porch. I sit and watch clouds flit by against a brilliant blue sky. And we wait again, for almost 30 minutes, for our order to be taken. She-crab soup ($4) and a Caesar salad ($6) are average, and the salad’s missing the advertised Parmesan crisps. The Reuben sandwich ($8), however, is outstanding, with tender and juicy house-made corned beef, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The club sandwich ($7) suffers from its small size, and the garlic aioli and sourdough bread are missing. Potato salad is dressed up with blue cheese and bacon but the unfortunate crunch comes from undercooked potatoes.

History is made up of a series of small events and details that are recorded and remembered. And this is precisely where the Hanover Tavern missteps. From absent ingredients and substitutions to long waits and indifferent service, this tavern must attend to details to sustain success and carry on its centuries-old tradition of hospitality.

Hanover Tavern & Pub ($-$$)

13181 Hanover Courthouse Road
Hanover 23069
Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Lunch or pub menu available between lunch and dinner service
handicapped accessible

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Prime Meats

A recent visit to New York found me in Brooklyn with an old friend, Dave, who has a bustling business, One Girl Cookies, in the Boerum Hill neighborhood.  After spending some time with their new baby ( 1 yo) and Dave's  sweet wife Dawn, we wandered down to Carroll Gardens for dinner at Prime Meats, the latest offering from Frank and Frank that was recently awarded 2 stars from the New York Times.

We put our names on the list and went down to Butttermilk Channel for a drink, another bustling Brooklyn eatery relying on local products.

When our cell phone rang a bit over an hour later, we were ready to eat.  We were seated at a communal table on the bar side, and enjoyed chatting with our neighbors who quickly ingratiated themselves by sliding over an almost full bottle of red wine they they could not finish ( It must have been # 2 or 3 judging by their jocularity).

According to Frank and Frank, " Prime Meats is a farm to table restaurant created in the spirit of the inns and dining rooms found in New York at the turn of the century. Prime Meats is influenced by Germanic alpine cuisine and the menu pays tribute to the American artisan movement; featuring local and fresh ingredients, prepared simply and honestly."

We started our meal with a few appetizers- a traditional German pretzel made with malt flour, yeast lye and salt, served with mustard.  It had a nice crispy outside and soft interior, much fresher than the usual street fare.

We contnued with roasted beef marrow, served with slices radish, gremolata ( a tangy conbo of lemon, capers and parsley),  a head of roasted garlic & toast.

Sürkrüt Garnie was outstanding - their version is sausages & meat slow cooked in house lacto-fermented sauerkraut and includes knackwurst, bratwurst, pork belly, calves tongue & potatoes.Although sauerkraut is a traditionally German and Eastern European dish, the French annexation of Alsace and Lorraine following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 brought this dish to the attention of French chefs and it has since been widely adopted in France.

Enjoying a German style beer

Sauerbraten is outstanding. They cook a Beef brisket that has been brined for 3 days in red wine, vinegar,apples, onions & spices (clove, cinnamon& juniper) then slow braised until fork tender. It is served
with pretzel  dumplings and braised red cabbage.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mac McCormack pours a bit of his heart and soul.

Man Cave

Almost everything about McCormack’s says testosterone.
by John G. Haddad

From the outside, McCormack’s Whisky Grill & Smokehouse looks innocuous. It’s a world apart from some of its more rambunctious neighbors on the popular Robinson Street pub crawl. Closer in feel to the Commercial Taphouse than to Buddy’s, Metro Grill or Star-Lite, it’s as serious about its whiskey as the Taphouse is about its beer.

Inside, you step into a calm experience, a perfect way to end a hectic weekend on a recent Sunday night. The lights are low, the wood paneling and slate wall accents are soothing, and if a drink is what you need to relax, you’ve come to the right place. The décor says men, with pictures of Elvis and posters from John Wayne films, but interestingly the other patrons are women. The server is friendly and talks about the high points of the 180-plus whiskey selection. If that’s not your thing, there is a full bar, but no beer on tap.

We start our meal with an Evan Williams single barrel on the rocks and a Rebel Yell with ginger, sampling a few starters from the small menu. An artichoke dip ($10.95) is dressed up a bit with smoky bacon, and green-bean fries ($6.95) are tasty in the thick batter but definitely not health food, served with a bold garlic aioli.

Entrees include sandwiches, burgers and steaks. The duck breast ($16.95), a nightly special, is tender, moist and adequately gamey. Its cherry demiglace reduction lacks subtlety but the sweetness of the sauce complements the duck’s flavor. Mac and cheese is creamy with white and yellow cheddar, blue cheese and parmesan, but what makes it stand out is a nutmeg-laced béchamel. Collard greens are overly sweet and vinegary and their consistency makes me wonder if they come straight out of a can. The meatloaf ($13.95) is a flavorful combination of beef, turkey and andouille sausage, juiced up with a rich brown gravy. Our children enjoy a cheeseburger ($8.50) that’s cooked to perfection, and while they like the steak-cut fries, I’m disappointed in their lack of crunch.

Desserts are fresh: A layered key lime pie brings a sweet pucker and is accompanied by a berry sorbet. Mexican chocolate cake is dense, not quite moist, accented with cinnamon and served with vanilla bean ice cream.

My second visit starts strangely at 5:30 on a Monday night. The bartender never shows up but my experience is better for the substitute: Mac McCormack, the owner. You won’t find a nicer guy in a Richmond bar. He spins yarns of his restaurant experience and his philosophy for the bar. It doesn’t have a phone. He wants it to be a neighborhood place you need to patronize. It doesn’t take credit cards — a stand against the man and a hopeful buffer against some of the more typical Robinson Street bargoers. McCormack earnestly wants a more sophisticated atmosphere for clients to revel in peace, drinking some of the best whiskey selections the city has to offer, and eating substantial food from his Buckhead’s-pedigreed chef.

Mac recommends a moderately priced, small-batch Sam Houston whiskey. Its rich and tangy flavors acquire spice from aging in heavily charred casks. My friend Peter drinks an Ardbeg scotch, redolent with smoke and peat.

The dinner special is exceptional. Squash and spinach enchiladas ($12.95) are studded with corn and topped with a complex and spicy tequila sauce. Sauteed snap peas and asparagus taste like spring. We also sample the house-smoked barbecue ($9.95) that’s cooked until tender and more savory than sweet. A side of baked beans is elevated to a higher plane with smoky bacon and a touch of brown sugar.

With more than 10 years logged at his Shockoe Bottom pub, Mac McCormack is a veteran of the local bar scene. His experience shows in his handcrafted new Fan venture, where in addition to whiskey, he pours a bit of his heart and soul.

McCormack’s Whisky Grill & Smokehouse
204 Robinson St.
Daily 5:30 p.m.-2 a.m.
Lunch hours coming soon
No phone or Web site
Cash only

Thursday, June 03, 2010

croaker's southside

I have been a big fan of Croaker's Spot for years and lamented the closing of the Jackson Ward location. Fear not. Croaker's has just swum across the river to Manchester in some newly restored digs. And they improved on their traffic flow- now takeout is available through a separate entrance.

Read about my impressions in Style Weekly

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weight of the state

I had the opportunity to go to a few sessions at yesterday's Weight of the State conference. A sobering affair on many levels. The basic take away as you might imagine is "heavy", pun intended. The overall obesity rate in the Commonwealth is on the rise and particularly troublesome among our youth. Some studies suggest that they are the first generation in a long time whose life expectancy will be shorter than their parents'.

For some of the conference presentations, you can visit the website at Weight of the State.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Comfort me with offal

Nearly 2 months ago, in a stroke of culinary hilarity, someone came up with the brilliant idea of mashing the tweets of former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl with the attitude and raunch of Anthony Bourdain. In addition to becoming a mainstay in the culinary twitterverse, "Ruth Bourdain" also maintains a blog, Comfort me with Offal at

Here are some recent tweets that caught my eye:

Down below cars creep down puddled streets. Up here brown sugar, butter, cream swirl into oats. Above a chimp is drinking my absinthe. WTF! 7:14 AM Mar 23rd via web

Mind fucking blown at Marea's Soft Seafood Cuddle Party: snuggled w/eggs, oysters, uni, roe in a giant sea urchin shell. Smell awful now.

Scavenging! Gnawing on a cold, charred Porterhouse bone. Last egg. Only 1/2 lid tangerine zest. Barely breakfast on this cool gray morning

Beautiful RT @andreareusing: Our @ruthbourdain breakfast: soft-boiled farm eggs, crisp toast, children hectoring, projectile vomiting.

@jbchang u know what else works great? Guy fieri's goatee. Best organic bristle brush you'll find. Even cleans beards of mussels. Seriously about 20 hours ago via Tweetie in reply to jbchang

Off to get mani-pedis & cupcakes w/Giada & Rachael. Then, jazzercise w/Alice Waters & Paula Deen. Could be the worst fucking day of my life.

Fuck. Cut myself slicing rhubarb, ruby drops falling from the knife. Outside a finch flies thru window into my mouth. Better than ortolan.

On the river, tiny sailboat drifting by. Batali struggling to do one pushup. Geese nibble my grass as I swat them w/a hot dog, beak by beak 5:03 AM Mar 20th via Tweetie

Breakfast at Balthazar: Quintuple espresso, croissants, conversation. Room abuzz with oversleeping eurodouches. Shit it's sunny! 4:09 PM Mar 17th via Tweetie

There's also an interview on GQ's website that is worth a read.
Click here for the full story

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Amuse (Bouche)

With the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts set to re-open this week, I am eager to try out what may become "the place" for the power lunch crowd. While there has been some debate about the pedigree of the chef chosen to run the restaurant, there's no denying that it is a stylish spot with a great view. While initially slated to be open just a few nights a week, its popularity may dictate otherwise.

Soft Shells

Tis the season for soft shell crabs. The molting season for blue crabs typically begins in late April and runs for several months. It's during this time of that blue crabs shed their hard external shell in preparation for growing. Just got an e-mail from Acacia that they have them in stock and learned a few new terms relative to the different stages of crab softshelledness:

Velvets: Pulled from the water only 30 mins after they shed
Shippers: Pulled from the water 4hrs after shed
Papers: Pulled from the water 6-8hrs after shed
Buckrams: Hard Crab

My favorite way to cook hardshells is pretty simple- dip them in beaten egg and dredge them in cornmeal or flour with some salt and pepper and pan sautee them until they get crispy. One of the sweetest treats from the sea !

Taste of Spring

The timing of one of my favorite Spring treats is dependent upon how the fish are swimming upstream. Shad spends much of its life in saltwater but swims up into freshwater rivers to spawn. The female shad, heavy with eggs, is a fisherman's dream catch. My friend Rob hooked me up a few weeks ago with some gorgeous shad roe, already cleaned.

My father-in-law was in town and has fond memories of shad roe and eggs as a breakfast treat down on the shores of the Nansemond River near Chuckatuck. I lightly dusted the fragile lobes of eggs in cornmeal, salt and pepper and sauteed them in bacon fat until they were golden brown.

Shad roe has a texture more like a rich liver than fish, with a light taste of the sea. Six Burner's Philip Denny featured shad roe with a lemony arugula salad a few weeks ago that was a perfect complement.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When it's just too hot in the kitchen

As Spring transitions into Summer, and our kitchens become the last place we want to spend time, there are a few newish options for Richmonders looking for take-out. Olio on Main Street, formerly the European Market, and Spoonfed in the near-west end in the former Stonewall Market space, both offer some nice options for take-out. Olio has a more diverse menu that includes sandwiches and salads, pizza and entrees, as well as some mid to high end gourmet items (high end being the $249.00 bottle of aged balsamic vinegar). Spoonfed offers more traditional cocktail party and dinner fare, including ham biscuits, shrimp and grits, and filet mignon.

For the full feed, check out this week's Style Weekly.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A complete meal

I am not sure how you weigh food vs service when you go out to eat. I like service that is friendly and informed, but not overly chatty or obtrusive. I find service in Richmond to be spotty at best. Too many dinners are overshadowed by less than stellar service. It's too bad, because many of these restaurants are turning out some great food.

Last month I had a few meals at Six Burner, and while their chef Philip Denny is one of Richmond's rising stars, the delivery was lacking. You can read my full review at Style Weekly.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Garden Days

I am so behind on my garden this year, but I promised myself that this would be the year that I figure out irrigation. It has always been my achilles heel and the garden yield has suffered. Foliage always outpaced my fruit because of the way I watered. Hope to get planting in the next day or two.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Maundy Thursday

It's Maundy Thursday, the night signifying the Last Supper. What would be your last supper ?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Egyptian Orange Cake

Years ago, when I was living in Charlottesville, one of my favorite haunts was the Rising Sun Bakery. And one of my favorite cakes to this day is a flourless Egyptian Orange Cake that I first had there. Years later my wife surprised me with it for my birthday and every year I try to make it at least once or twice. Last weekend I made it for my good friend Brandon's birthday and shared it with a group of foodie friends including @bpfox,@forknbottle and @impoliticeye.

The Recipe

2 oranges (juice or navel)
2 c sugar
6 eggs
8 oz blanched sliced almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c whipping cream
1 c chocolate chips

- Simmer whole oranges in water for 2 hours, until soft, not mushy
- After cooling, quarter and remove seeds
- Pre-heat oven to 325
- Mix/grind oranges and almonds in food processor for several minutes until a paste is formed. Add orange juice to moisten if necessary
- Add baking powder and pulse to mix
- Add sugar and eggs and mix for 15 seconds
- Scrape bowl and process another 15 seconds
- Grease and line 8 or 9" spring form pan with parchment/waxc paper at bottom
- Pour batter in pan and bake for about 1 hour- until firm and medium brown
- Let cool- cut around edges to remove
- Bring cream to boil over high heat, reduce to simmer and add chocolate chips.
- remove from heat and stir until smooth
- Pour ganache over top of cake

In an interesting twist, I was searching the internet and found that the original owner's daughter is trying to put together a recipe book to commemorate the bakery.

To see her blog, click here

Monday, February 22, 2010

Summer Dreaming

I had a chance to battle two snowstorms on recent visits to Summer Shack, a seafood joint on the Goochland/Richmond line, just West of Rt 288. While it's not haute cuisine, they do the fried seafood genre very well. Crabcakes, shrimp & grits, and oysters, and tuna tacos are also very good. It's a partnership of Bobby Dervishian, former co-owner of Patina Grill, and Stefan Crawford, formerly with the Border Chop House and chef at Mickey’s Crabhouse in Bethany Beach, Del., for 15 seasons.

Check out the full scoop.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Revising Warhol.....

From the Good Blog, and the Wall Street Journal

Researchers at Campbell's tested people's subconscious "neurological and bodily responses" ( using biometric research) to different images to guide the redesign of their label. Campbell's now knows, for example, that you feel more emotionally engaged with your soup when it looks warm and that you don't care about spoons.

I still don't like Campbells Soup

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Slow Food RVA Established

Over the past 8 months a small group of Richmonders have been working behind the scenes to launch a local chapter or "convivium" of Slow Food USA.

Slow Food is a non-profit, member-supported, volunteer-based organization started in Italy over 20 years ago to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the world we live in.

Local chapters (convivia) are the heart of the Slow Food movement. Organized by local volunteer leaders, they provide a forum for interested individuals across the community to taste, celebrate, and champion the food and food traditions important to their regions.

Chapters offer educational events and public awareness-raising activities to promote sustainability and biodiversity, and to connect farmers, cooks, educators, students—everyone who cares about their food, where it comes from, who produces it, and the environment which we all share.

The celebration of local, seasonal and sustainably produced wholesome food as a cornerstone of pleasure, culture and community underpins everything that Slow Food RVA will be about.

Visit us on our new website, follow us on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Enoteca Sogno has found a new home !

After several months of searching (soul and otherwise), Gary York has found a new space for Enoteca Sogno, on Richmond's northside in Bellevue. The former Belle B and Bella Arte space at 1223 Bellevue Ave offers some interesting architectural details and neighbors such as The Northside Grill and Nicola Flora.

Welcome Back Gary !

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Republic: Richmond's Bread & Circus

I know that there has been a lot of blogger gymnastics around the opening of The Republic in the former Cabo's space and issues around leases etc. I tried to keep my focus on what I'm paid to do- evaluate the food, atmosphere etc. While The Republic has engaged in some nifty marketing ploys- their offers of a tiered membership and lots of Republic shwag, in the end I think that there greatest success lies in the way they were able to maintain a smoking section. Lots of people still smoke, and many love to smoke while they drink. End of Story. They have a pretty good beer selection and decent bar fare. Rick Lyons has some experience under his belt in attracting a certain crowd. And he continues the streak with The Republic.

To read my full story, Check out this week's Style Weekly

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Frank Bruni 's Born Round

I woke up early today at 5:30 with the snow falling outside. It was quiet, and everyone else in the house was still asleep. I made a strong pot of french roast coffee and settled in to finish Frank Bruni's memoir Born Round.
An accomplished writer who had numerous posts with the New York Times including Metro, DC political, Rome Bureau and most interestingly to me- the food critic. He writes of his childhood raised by Italian mother who show her children love through their stomachs and the wonderful food she prepared. Bruni writes of his life-long struggle with his weight, especially as a political correspondent following Bush 2 on the campaign trail, a journey filled with all you can eat buffets and upwards of 7 meals a day. At first the ongoing chronicle of his waist size fluctuation was a bit tedious but I kept reading to get to the chapter of his life that most interested me - his account of being chosen to be the NYT food critic and a crazy life of aliases, disguises and weight-maintenance strategies. It was worth the wait. or is that weight ?

Friday, January 22, 2010

University of Richmond Cooks Up a Winning Formula

For the past 12 years, the University of Richmond has offered culinary classes through their School for Continuing Studies. UR's Center for Culinary Arts offers a wide range of programs from the comprehensive CAP Certificate, a 42 hour program that includes 4 core courses ranging from Tools of the Trade to Chef's Skills and Bakeshop Basics etc, 4 electives, and a Certified Executive Chef Review. They largely cater to a home-chef audience (about 90% of students) with industry folks making up the rest. Martin Gravely,local chef and food writer, runs the program with the assistance of Pastry Chef Tom Parfitt

Corporations also use the space for team-building events during business hours (one client was interestingly using the cooking theory "mise en place" to help their team understand the importance of being prepared in the office for a major project) and they also run a popular wine & dine program that is more demo than hands-on.
About 2000 people a year come through the center’s programs, with most classes in the evenings between 6-9 pm and some on the weekend.

I had the pleasure of visiting their newish working classroom kitchen off Gayton Road in the west end and saw firsthand their beautiful facility and shared a wonderful meal.

These are the highlights from lunch:

Homemade Panko-crusted Queso Blanco with charred cherry tomatoes, basil chiffonade, and a roasted tomato coulis (They use non-homogenized milk from Homestead Creamery for their cheese)

Seared scallops with beurre blanc and pancetta with a pretty beet garnish

Pepper crusted filet mignon with a Madeira jus, roasted brussel sprouts with a Dijon caraway vinaigrette and roasted shallots topped with a nest of fried potato strings

Lemon Meringue tart with ginger blueberry compote (they talked about this dish as being a great learning tool- allows students to learn several techniques- a sucre crust; tempering- adding eggs to lemon without curdling; meringue .....)

If you are a home chef looking to sharpen some of your kitchen skills, or with an organization looking for a great teambuilding activity, UR’s Center for Culinary Arts is a great option.

For more information visit them online at

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Missed Opportunity

Amici, one of Richmond's stalwart restaurant traditions, recently underwent a renovation to its space. It's warmer and more roomy, but I think they missed a great opportunity to update their menu as well. While I generally like Amici, their menu seems a bit tired. I understand that they have had 20 years of success with a tried and true product, but still I wanted more. You can read all about it in this week's Style Weekly.

Mangia Mangia

Sunday, January 03, 2010

What DC thinks about Richmond eats

Last week the Washington Post's Tom Sietsema critiqued some of Richmond's finer and well known eateries. It's nice to see Dale get a nice review- he's doing some of the best plates around.

For D.C.'s take on Richmond eats, click here

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Pig Holiday

Holidays are usually filled with pigging out, and the 2009 Christmas season was no exception. Pig Out took a more literal meaning as we indulged on many pork delicacies. A few days before Christmas, my brother Matt and I spent about 1/2 day in his kitchen making sausage.

We made three varieties:

Sage Breakfast links- a thin all pork sausage seasoned with sage and salt & pepper

Hot Italian Sausage- a fatter link seasoned with fennel, crushed red pepper, and Pernod (a French anise liquor)

Boerwors- a South African style sausage (thanks to some tips from Chris Mattera at Belmont Butchery) that was 1/2 pork and 1/2 venison and seasoned with coriander, nutmeg, and salt.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is a breakfast of Eggs Benedict- poached free range eggs, Canadian style bacon from Belmont Butchery, and asparagus, all topped with a rich lemony Hollandaise sauce ( as a kid I always thought it was Holiday sauce, because that was the one time of year we ate it.)

We had a few friends over for New Years Day to indulge in some traditional foods that we always eat for good luck or financial success. In addition to black-eyed peas and stewed tomatoes, I cooked a spicy cabbage dish. My favorite tradition dates from my time in Italy, eating cotecchino sausage, with lentils and sage. It's a rich sausage spiced with cinnamon and cloves.