I was contacted to talk a little bit about the local beer scene on the area's public radio station WHRO. HearSay with Cathy Lewis does a weekly segment called the "Delicious Dish" where Patrick Evans-Hylton, a well-known regional chef and author, talks with Cathy about food happenings in the area. Next month is Virginia Craft Beer month so today's topic was craft beer (of course.)
Dîner en Blanc! Sounds fancy, well it kinda is and it’s coming to Hampton Roads! According to Dîner en Blanc the legend, it was first started by François Pasquier 25 years ago as a way of catching up with friends after he spent some time away from France. They decided to meet at the Bois de Boulogne and dress in white so they could easily find each other. It's now grown into a international business after Pasquier's son, Aymeric, held the first one in North America in his new hometown of Montreal. The rest is history.
First things first.
I am a Team Leader for the event which means I captain a bus and a table. I’ve been asking friends to join me and Shelby so we could all sit together and I thought I had the bus filled but it didn’t work out that way. So if you want to go, contact me and we’ll dine together – I want my bus filled!
Here are the facts, and I make it a point to tell people this up front:
- It costs $94.40 per couple (that includes a Dîner en Blanc membership fee of $8 and $4.40 tax)
- The location is secret
- You must wear all white, shoes don’t have to be but they prefer it
- It is formal. No shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, etc…
- You bring your own food you prepare beforehand
- You must bring your own table and chairs, they need to be white or covered with white
- The table must be between 27” to 34” square, no exceptions. It must have a table cloth
- No plastic utensils, plates, or cups. It’s gotta be the real thing
- Everyone will be take a motor coach to the event and will leave by motor coach when the event is over
- There is no after-party at our event.
Those are the rules! I want to be up front with people and let them know that parameters have been set and need to be met if you want to participate. No one is required to attend and no one is forcing anyone to spend their money to attend and buy all the stuff needed to meet the requirements. If you don’t like it, you just don’t go. Simple.
Will it be fun. Absolutely! This is going to be a very interesting experience, the fact that some work is put into attending makes it that much more satisfying once all is said and done. For those who signed up, the race is on to find a while outfit, tables, chairs, place settings and a 3-course meal to bring. Dîner en Blanc does offer packages that includes everything you need, including food, but that’s part of the fun too. Shelby was saying I better not get too complicated with the meal because I’ll get these big ideas in my head about what I’m going to cook and then it takes me a day to get a meal done.
Check out the links below, if you're interested message me! I can help you sign up. If you want to ride my coach, look for group leader Stevie Jordan during registration. You'll see me, George Culver, in her group. Select my bus and done!
The Virginian-Pilot's Lorraine Eaton and Jamesetta M. Walker has a nice write-up on the event.
Find a copy of the latest HR Growler, I have photos from breweries and events from around the Hampton Roads area. No food articles or recipes this time around, but my Grilled Cheese Bistro story should be in the next one!
Tupelo Honey Cafe has opened in Virginia Beach Town Center. What is Tupelo Honey Cafe? I'll be honest and say I've never heard of it before I received an email from someone representing them in the area. She asked if I would be interested in learning more about the Cafe and attend a soft opening and then a media session later that week. Of course I said “Yes!” because who doesn't like a free meal and I love soft openings; there is always a level of energy and excitement in the air at these things. Tupelo Honey Cafe officially opens 13 July 2015, today!
I did a little research and saw that Tupelo Honey started out in Asheville, NC and has expanded into 11 locations in operation. There are two more spots opening soon in Atlanta, GA and Franklin, TN. Tupelo Honey Cafe prepares its menu using classic Southern and/or Southern influenced style. So of course you're thinking okra, grits, fried chicken, greens, etc... They do have those on the menu, but there is a lot more.
First what is Tupelo Honey? Tupelo Honey comes from the White Tupelo is harvested in Florida and Georgia. It's said to be the purist honey you can buy and to harvest it takes a lot of work, read more about it in this great article at Garden & Gun.
The Virginia Beach Town Center location is pretty sweet. It's on the corner of Main St. and Constitution Dr. Lots of windows and a covered, outdoor seating area. The inside of the restaurant is spacious with walls dotted with local and regionally significant art. There is even a WW II era navy uniform on display.
The bar is large and currently has 20 taps setup. They will eventually be serving kegged cocktails and have an exclusive Virginia mead they'll help get shipped to the restaurant. During the soft opening there was a good selection of local brews on tap in the craft beer line-up; while waited for our seats I grabbed a Tupelo Honey Rye Ale made for Tupelo Honey Cafe by RJ Rockers Brewing Co. Not a bad beer, I enjoyed it. Shelby wanted to try a fancy drink and ordered the “Violet Beauregarde” Champange Cocktail. She loved it. I was able to get a little sip of it too and it was pretty tasty.
After we were seated our server, Tiffany, she went over the limited menu for the soft opening. We had a choice of one appetizer to share, individual entrees and then a shared dessert. From the “Southern Small Plates” section we had a few choices, wrestling with the decision between the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and the Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese. We settled on the crab cake. For entrees (with two sides) Shelby chose the broiled Jumbo Shrimp, there was a fried option too, Sauteed Greens and Goat Cheese Grits. I ordered Beef & Bacon Meatloaf with Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Mac-n-Cheese. We sipped our drinks waiting for our food to be brought out.
While we waited I looked around – there were plenty of servers and floor supervisors making sure things were running smoothly. We were at a window table which I requested, I need light for the photos. I didn't like that we sat directly beneath an air vent, I was being blasted by cold air and this proved troublesome for our hot food too.
Tiffany brought out a couple of hot biscuits with a blueberry preserve and some Tupelo honey! Mixing the preserve and honey on the biscuit the way to go. The honey wasn't too sweet and was floral, it was a perfect paired with the blueberry. The biscuit had a lightly crunchy exterior and a moist, light consistency on the inside. We were enjoying our biscuits still when the crab cake came out. The crab cake was good, but living in Virginia Beach where seafood is king, we've had a lot of crab cakes. I would say it's definitely worth a try. Flavor was good and there was a good amount of lump crab inside a breaded coat.
Our “supper plates” as they called them, were decent portions the shrimp were cooked nicely and the cherry pepper buerre blanc sauce was good. Shelby's goat cheese grits were very tasty and I would like to have them again next time we visit. The greens were sauteed perfect and served in a broth – lots of flavor! My meatloaf was covered in a chunky rosemary shallot gravy, it complimented the meatloaf that was flecked with bits of bacon throughout. Shelby and I both loved the Mac-n-Cheese. Some people might think you can mess that stuff up, but you can. Their Mac-n-Cheese had browned bits on the corners and you could taste the cheese consistently with every bite. Serious stuff. My shaved Brussels Sprout salad was good too. It was a cold, raw salad and would be perfect out of the cooler and put out on the picnic table.
After chatting with Tiffany about the food I mentioned that I was taking photos for the blog she had another server named Matt come to the table. He happened to be in town to help get the Virginia Beach store off to a running start. Matt was a wealth of information about Tupelo Honey Cafe, the people, food and future plans for the site. As he was explaining how things worked around there a sous chef named Caleb came to the table with a restaurant favorite NC Country Ham Wontons. The light, crispy wrappers held a delicious, creamy mixture of ham and cheese. They might have been my favorite bite of the night!
We finished our drinks and ordered another round. I got a Young Veterans Brewing Co. Jet Noise and Shelby tried another cocktail, the tart Honeysuckle & Lavender Flip. She loved this drink too and said they're perfect Summertime drinks.
After trying the wontons we got to meet the Chef du Cuisine, Chris McLeod. I spied him earlier running the line and getting the plates out in order. They brought out more food for us to try, this time some tacos! One plate had a spice encrusted chicken and other had crumbled meatloaf, similar to what I had in my entree. Thin slices of jalapeno, some cilantro and slaw topped the meat and fresh squeezed lime on top finished them off. There were good too, but I would have liked a thinner tortilla. The apple salsa on the chicken tacos was very nice and different.
While trying to work our way through the mountain of food we were accumulating, they brought out more! I'll give a quick run down:
Shrimp and Grits – A lot of flavor, loved how the grits were creamy and had goat cheese in them. There was a roasted red pepper sauce in the center of the bowl that was surrounded by some plump shrimp. We let a friend try some and he said he's had better, but I do think they're worth a try. Eat it hot!
Pan-Seared Scallops with Brown Butter French Green Beans and Spring Green Pea Risotto – The scallops were cooked nicely with great texture. My favorite part of this dish was the risotto. Creamy and seasoned perfectly.
Herbed Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Curry with Feta – Shelby loved this one. She loves lamb and meatballs, so this was the best of both worlds. Great sauce, very good over all.
You could probably guess that we didn't eat all of this. Luckily we bumped into some friends who were there and we were able to share a good bit of our food with them. Sharing was highly encouraged by Matt early on. We did want to try dessert and ordered a slice of Brown Butter Pecan Pie with Dark Chocolate Sauce and the Heavenly Banana Pudding.
The pecan pie was warm and gooey, the chocolate sauce was delicious, it was put together really well and I'd like to try it again when I wasn't so full. The banana pudding was good too, but the thought of eating another bite seemed like an impossible task. We boxed up what was left over and headed home.
After getting in the house I almost passed out on the couch from a food coma.
Tupelo Honey Cafe opens 13 July, 2015. Virginia Beach Town Center on the corner of Main St. and Constitution Dr.
Check it out, it's a nice little addition to our area and the food is good! We definitely plan on visiting again and trying out more of the menu. Here's the little blurb they sent me originally:
Originally opened in 2000 in downtown Asheville, Tupelo Honey Cafe has grown to become a beloved Southern staple serving fresh, made-from-scratch dishes. The Virginia Beach location of Tupelo Honey Cafe is located at 4501 Main St. in Town Center. Upon opening this July, lunch and dinner will be available Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch will also be served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Known for its incredible Southerncuisine and locally inspired décor, ten Tupelo Honey Cafe locations are currently open in the Southeast with three future openings planned for Virginia Beach, Virginia; Franklin, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia. Two nationally distributed Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbooks are available for purchase on the website and in stores. For more information, reservations and menus, visit tupelohoneycafe.com.
See all the photos from our visit HERE.
Last weekend Shelby mentioned grilling burgers for dinner but we ended up making this instead. It was super tasty but for the next few days I just wanted a burger!
Yesterday I came home later than usual and Shelby was in Norfolk, I figured I'd grab a bite to eat somewhere and get my burger fix. It had been a while since I visited Home Republic at the Oceanfront and they have one of my favorite burgers in the area called the Galaxy Burger.
The Galaxy Burger has thick applewood smoked bacon, grilled onions, hop infused cheddar cream and Galaxy Sauce. All of these things makes a great burger - check out the photo, I had it in a to-go box and it still looked great!
When I got to the restaurant I said my hellos and chatted with Keith and Jeremy in the kitchen briefly. I ordered a Juice "Sea" Fruit IPA that Home Republic brews in the shop and sat down for a bit. It's Shark Week and one of the televisions had some knucklehead swimming around on a shark-silhouetted board mounted with cameras baiting the sharks. Real smart...
I asked for my burger to be put in a to-go box because I planned on giving Shelby half of it (mmm...maybe a little less) but I ate about three-quarters of it and all the fries.
I finished my beer and headed out feeling satisfied and full. Grab a Galaxy if you're in town, it's a good one.
Our friends Cappy and Lauren wanted to meet-up at The Pub for dinner and a drink. Obviously I do not need a whole lot of convincing to grab a drink at Lynnhaven Pub and Shelby was up for it. Done deal.
Friday nights host "Charlotte Hour" out back where Charlotte, longtime Pub regular, pours some of her favorites till 8:00 PM. Decent line-up too, I always enjoy a pour of the latest "Enjoy By" when I can get it.
After the tasting we headed inside for bite. Lauren said she wanted to try the ribs The Pub has been smoking this year, we crossed our fingers hoping there were some left. They used to only make them on a Thursday and only about 8-10 racks, I don't know if this is true still but they usually sell out.
She was in luck, there were some left, they had some left so she ordered up a rack and Cappy had the brisket tacos. Shelby and I had beef brisket sandwiches, it's hard not to eat that stuff whenever we go (so good, you gotta try it.)
We had a round of drinks after we finished eating then gave Cappy and Lauren a ride home, it started to rain and they rode their bikes to meet us earlier. Luckily my car (Honda Element) is like a Transformer and I folded the seats up and we crammed their two bikes, Cappy and myself in the back.
We did all this and got home in time to watch and movie. Very nice night.
We spent our Independence Day chilling out at home but not after hitting the Old Beach Farmers Market at the Oceanfront. Blue crabs are in season so I was hoping I'd score some and, as you can see, I did! A dozen #1 jimmies and a few females. I grabbed some Hashi was while I was there and headed over to Back Bay Brewing to try the new TideWater Melon Wheat they were tapping. Very refreshing.
I'm still around, really, but things have been really busy. That, and my struggle with time management and short attention span - a MILLION things happening all the time!
I have a bunch of stuff I've been meaning to share, going back to our anniversary in May! A trip to the Midwest, festivals, etc... I'm working on it now.
Slowly. I'm getting there.
A few things coming up are new restaurants, beer joints, Hampton Roads first Dîner en Blanc, markets - all kinds of stuff.
This past week I was contacted by Jennie who is working on getting the word out about Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer. We've enjoyed it before, it's good stuff. We first bought it because the thistle on the label caught our eye. Shelby is half Scottish so she naturally to support her kin!Read More
We got back from Indiana last week with a couple stops in Chicago too. Shelby and I had a chance to run down some beers to bring back home!
I'll come back to this and add a little more info about the beers.
Drink the District is following up their highly successful Hampton Roads Beer Fest at the Zoo with "Red, White & Brew", also at the Virginia Zoo, 13 June 2015. This Americana-themed craft beer and wine tasting event will feature 35 craft breweries, 18 wineries, domestic party water trucks, apple pie eating contests, a DJ and a special appearance and performance by former contestant on The Voice, Sam James.
There will be two sessions: 2:30-5:30 PM and 7:00-10:00.
Children are not permitted to the event and people are not allowed to jump into any of the cages with the animals (leave the tigers alone!)
The last event sold out quick so make sure you buy your tickets now! If you use the following link you will get you a $10 discount with your online purchase!
You can also use the coupon code "iheartfood" for a $10 discount.
Check out photos from the last Hampton Roads Drink the District event:
The title is the fancy name Need Supply Co. gave my clams recipe they posted on their site. My daughter, who is a graphic designer at Need, asked if I would be interested in cooking something for her to document on their blog.
(Edit: It is now also featured on Food & Wine too!!!)
I'm was going to be cooking a lot that weekend anyways since it was Mother's Day and she said the clams would be good. The day before Mother's Day I went out to pick up all the groceries I would need for the clams dish and what I was making for Mother's Day - which was Beefteki if you wanted to know. So good! Anyways...
I want to mention that apparently clams are hard to come by these days, especially in the evening...when you really need them. I ran to four different stores before I found a standard, 50 count bag. It was at Whole Foods Virginia Beach and the bag was ripped open. The woman behind the counter was super nice and patient while I poured out the clams so I could count them. She re-bagged them for me and charged me by weight, excluding the iffy ones that had cracked open shells. She let me keep those too, I don't throw out clams with cracked shells if they're still alive.
How do I know if they're alive still?
Easy, gently poke the clam in the shell through the crack or missing piece. If it's alive, it will move. I sniff everything too, you'll know if it's dead doing that.
By the time I collected everything I needed to make the dish it was starting to get dark. We put off cooking till the next day so we would have have natural light for the photos. In the morning I got everything in order (mise en place!) and we took everything outside to cook (I cook outside on the grill side burner a lot.) While I cooked Marleigh took photos. I explained how they were made and went through the instructions with her. After they were done I made the Mother's Day meal and put everything out on the table. The secret bonus clams were a hit, they're always good and they're easy to make!
The next weekend Marleigh told me the post was up on Need Supply Co.'s page so I followed it and linked it on my social media blast. It's exciting to see the feedback and I wish I could see how it went for anyone who decided to try the recipe themselves. I always enjoy it when people send me a snap of their finished dish after using one of my recipes.
The recipe seemed popular on Instagram too, I have my own little thing going on here so seeing the number of "likes" there, more than I get on my feed at @ihearfoodvb.
Oh, thanks for the new name for my recipe too: Palourdes au beurre. I think I'll steal that.
One of the first recipes I ever used to make something was BBQ sauce. It was from a Betty Crocker cookbook my grandparents gave us in a care package while we were stationed in Ft. Bliss, TX. Being a young, enlisted couple we didn't get out much at all. Getting a box full of dry goods and a cookbook was great. My grandparents were once a young army family and they knew what would be useful for us, they were very practical. Oh, I gotta write about the time I was trying to use the book to make biscuits but I read the recipe wrong. We didn't eat biscuits that night.
Fast-forward to the present time and we're still cooking! It's actually been a while since I made BBQ sauce but it's the first that popped into my head when I was asked to submit a recipe to the latest HR Growler. The theme was "Summertime", grilling! Who doesn't love to cookout over the summer. Fire-up the grill, open a good beer and take in the experience.
I wanted my sauce to have a little heat and, of course, beer! I made four different recipes before settling on a delicious, balanced sauce that goes great with chicken and pork. Just about any beer will work, I liked the Blue Mountain Brewery A Hopwork Orange and the Enjoy By 4.20 by Stone Brewing Co., stouts would work well too. Try it out, mix it up, add or remove what you like.
I can't believe it's been 25 years. I'm very lucky to have Shelby in my life, through thick and thin she's been there and hasn't strangled me yet!
Love you baby.
The Birch's owner, Malia, tapped four Millstone ciders:
Farmgate #5, Cobbler, Hopvine, and Gingeroot
We've never tried anything from Millstone before, so the idea of buying a flight to sample a few of them was very exciting.
This is serious stuff - yes were excited.
I introduced myself to the Sherrers and chatted a bit about their operation, where they were from, and the fact that Shelby had just finished her first cider at home. Kyle offered me a glass of their Farmgate #6 batch he brought down in bottles. We got to compare the two Farmgate batches which was pretty cool. The ciders were dry, not too sweet and refreshing. I loved how the Hopgate smelled, it reminded me of a light spearmint.
Sara come over to our table and chatted with Shelby, going over some of the events they hold at the cidery. There is one coming up in the Fall that sounds like something we'll do, Shelby loves autumn and hanging out in an orchard drinking cider and mead sounds like a good time.
Swing by The Birch to try Millstone on tap. I know Grape and Gourmet sells bottles of their product too.
Marleigh is home this weekend for Mother's Day and she brought up 8 & Half pizza from Richmond! If you haven't had it, you need to the next time you're in Virginia's capitol city. The shop used to be an old bakery (form what I was told) and when you walk in it smells like sweet, roasted garlic. Love it.
Marleigh arrived home with three pizzas! We ate about two of them, I had three pieces even though I already had dinner at Lynnhaven Pub earlier. Brisket, a beautiful brisket sandwich from The Pub.
After eating some pizza we remembered we needed to drop off Marleigh's car for a service so we drove to the dealership and dropped the car off. On the way back home we saw a fox, she was fast and darted behind bushes and cars, avoiding my attempts to get a photo of her. We heard a bunch of yelling down the street while we were trying to find the fox, so we drove around the neighborhood and found a bunch of cars parked on the street.
Some kind of party was going on down the street and we saw a girl sitting on the corner looking creepy, it's been a while since I've seen anything like that happening around here. We headed home and ate more pizza and went to bed eventually, the Old Beach Farmers Market was in the morning and I needed to get up and try to make there before it closed. I have a bad habit of showing up right before it shuts down for the day.
Love making it out to the Old Beach Farmers Market in Virginia Beach, VA. It's only till noon and since I like sleeping in on Saturday it kinda cramps my style but it's worth it. Shady Goat Farm is there too...and they have baby goats! I've been creeping around the market for a while now and I've seen a several generations of goats come and go. Love them!
Hashi Food Truck has become a staple too. If you're in the area you need to try it! Seriously.
It's been a while but checking out today's event list I had to do a quick post about all the drinking that is going to happen on this fine day in May!
I'm sure mint juleps (blech) will be downed by many and not to mention all the fight parties tonight!
Be safe out there!
Nicole Sutliff, Director of Public Relations at West Elm, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. was in town for the RSVP Grand Opening party and offered to take us through the store before the event started later in the evening. We got to leisurely walk about the store and Nicole answered any questions we had about the product or the store itself. While we strolled along I thought about how nice it is to have a West Elm in our little town. The closest store we had was in Richmond and it closed a while ago. When that store was open, it was a regular stop for us when we visited Marleigh while she was attending VCU. It was always nice to browse around, actually sit on furniture or touch textiles; actually seeing something in front of you is totally different than a photo in a catalog. When we were shopping for a bed frame we could spend time sitting on different models to see which one was right for us. Again, the benefits of having this stuff in front of you.
While we were touring the store, new employees were applying finishing touches and construction for the grand opening. It was fun watching them get last minute instruction on how the night was going to work. West Elm Virginia Beach is also featuring local artists in the store. It was cool seeing our friend, Cassie Rangel of Twittering Bird and others who showed up to support her. Check out her prints, we've bought a few for the house and as gifts to others. The caterers showed up and got champagne and finger food ready, positioning themselves for easy access. When the doors opened there was a line waiting to get in, eventually the place was packed with curious, excited people.
I wanted to mention some of the other local artists that were featured during the opening:
They plan on bringing more local talent to feature in the store and tonight (April 30, 2015) they'll be launching their West Elm Local initiative which is kind of a pop-up shop in the store featuring local art and products. Should be fun and I heard Handsome Biscuit is catering it! Check it out!