We had the pleasure of snagging the last bag of Jubilee Seafood Eastern Shore oysters this past weekend. Nice salinity, sweet, and big. Grab some if you get a chance at the Old Beach Farmer's Market or call them to order.
We had the pleasure of snagging the last bag of Jubilee Seafood Eastern Shore oysters this past weekend. Nice salinity, sweet, and big. Grab some if you get a chance at the Old Beach Farmer's Market or call them to order.
That title was a tongue twister!
For a couple years now we've primarily buying our crabs from Jubilee Seafood Company out of Knotts Island, NC. They have a booth setup at the Old Beach Farmers Market in Virginia Beach on Saturdays and I'm always at the market on the weekend because Jasper would kill me if we didn't go. That's his social time and he even makes me go to Back Bay Brewing and buy him a beer sometimes. He never drinks it, he doesn't even like beer, so I end up having to drink it for him.
Anyways, back to the crabs. Jubilee has a beautiful crabs, they're usually selling jimmies, but they can do females sometimes too. The prices aren't bad either, on average you can get a bushel of #1s for $130. That's a great deal.
In addition to crabs they sell oysters, shrimp and clams...here let me just cut and paste they weekly letter with the prices:
Hard crab **Please pre-order by Thursday
Jumbo size - $40 dozen or a bushel for $180
# 1 size hard crabs for $25 a dozen or a bushel for $130
# 2 size hard crabs are $20 dozen or a bushel for$70
# 3 female hard crabs $15 dozen or bushel for $65
Littleneck clams - from the Eastern Shore
**Please pre-order by Thursday - we recycle clam/oyster bags.
$35 for a bag of 100 clams
$18 for bag of 50 clams
$10 for bag of 25 clams
Seaside Oysters - from the Eastern Shore **Pre-order by Thursday- we recycle clam/oyster bags
$50 for a bag of 100 oysters
$30 for bag of 50 oysters
$18 for bag of 25 oysters
Live Soft shell crabs** size & costs will vary- haven't seen many in the last few weeks
East Coast Shrimp $14.00 lb
The prices are comparable to what you'd find at the grocery or cheaper but you're also buying from fine folks that locally put the work into bringing a fresh product to the table. Jubilee has their own boats and have been doing this work for over 30 years.
Next time you're in the area and want some crabs (while in season of course) check out Jubilee Seafood Company. You'll be happy you did. Here are more photos from our recent Blue Crab dinner with delicious Jubilee jimmies.
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.
A traditional Sicilian winter dish is the Blood Orange Salad. The fruit primarily grown in Italy but is also grown in Spain and the United States among other places in the world. The blood orange has a dark red pulp that is sweet and has many health benefits. Blood orange salad is usually made with shaved fennel bulb but I went with ground fennel seed that is bright and highly compliments the tuna and citrus. Start with the tuna first and let the flavors blend, the orange salad is ready to go as soon as it is plated. Plating consists of arugula that has been used in Italy since the ancient times. This makes approximately two servings.
Serve chilled to room temperature. This would be good with a vinaigrette too!
Go back to Genova Tonno!
This past January's Merroir Terroir at Terrapin was a good one. Local oysterman Chris Ludford and Terrapin's sommelier Daniel Kieser were at the helm of the event with a nice line-up of West Coast oysters and bonus appearance of a local favorite.
We arrived just in time to sit and catch the beginning of the event. We were lucky enough to be sandwiched in-between friends and aquintances—Rex and Lisa Hamaker to our left and the Jo Ann and Buzzy Hoffheimer to our right. Chris talked a bit about oysters and some techniques in enjoying the experience. Looking at the oyster being served, the color of the shell can give you an idea of the environment it was raised in, the size and shape are good indicators of what region they came from, etc..
When it came to tasting you want to smell the oyster, sip it's liquor and then slurp it in. You can pick up the different textures of the oyster when you chew it. Some parts are strong then others, some sweeter. He also talked a little bit about umami. Umami has been classified as one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It was founded in Japan, hence the name, and was only officially recognized in the 1980s. It is savory and can be found naturally in tomatoes, aged cheese and dry cured hams among other things. Oysters are packed with it!
As we listened to Chris the plates of oysters started to appear from the kitchen. We didn't know what we were going to be having, so it was a pleasant surprise to see what was going to be our launching point.
The first oyster we were having was one of our favorites, the Kusshi. These are from the West Coast and have small, deep bowls. The oysters form these types of shells due to tumbling that breaks off the edges. This prompts the oyster to grow a deeper and thicker shell. Blonde, lavender to dark hues color the scalloped shells. The batch we had were very varied from one to the next. Chris suggested that they might have mixed up several batches from the farming area which caused the differences. Variation in color is due to bottom sediment make-up. Daniel poured a 2012 Domaine Pichot Vouvray Le Peu de la Moriette Demi-Sec from Loire, France with this oyster. The pairing was perfect! Sipping a little bit of the white with a little bit of the oyster in my mouth blended well and highly complimented the flavors of both. Great finish and lingering aftertaste was very pleasant.
Second, we were poured Sokol Blosser Evolution 18th Edition, a white blend from Oregon. On our plates were the Rolls Royce of oysters – the Kumamoto! These were raised in Humboldt Bay, CA and had salt up front with a sweet, butterly flesh. The bite was crisp and fruity—think green grapes or light melon. I've only had these a couple of times so this was a treat. They are small but pack a punch, I could imagine eating a bag of these by myself. The wine was bright and paired well with the initial saltiness of the oyster liquor; I think the Evolution would definitely be good with spicy food.
Our third course was another variety of Kusshi known as a Shigoku (which means something along the lines of “outstanding” in Japanese), this particular oyster is being marketed under the name “Fat Bastard.” What separates these from other Kusshi oysters is that they are tumbled by the tides themselves. The oysters are put in bags that are suspended by floats so they never touch the bottom. Twice a day when the tides change the oysters are tumbled. I expected the shells to be bright without coloration, but they were lined with thick, dark stripes. Regardless of what the shell looked like (which was pretty!) they oysters were delicious! Shelby said it was her favorite oyster of the night. Meaty with a strong melon finish. We had a 2012 Côte Bonneville Cabernet Franc Rosé from the DuBrul Vinyard in the Yakima Valley, the arid desert region of Central Washington hold ideal growing conditions for certain grapes. It was citrusy, a little strong for the oyster I thought; still a good bottle though.
We actually got a fourth course and we made our way back to the East Coast with Chris' own Pleasure House Oysters! Salty liquor, juicy, these were bred especially for Terrapin restaurant. Smaller and easier to eat, these were started in 2013. The standard Pleasure House Oyster is huge, the idea behind farming these a little smaller was that it would be a lot less oyster to handle from one shell. The big ones are called chokers for a reason. Daniel poured a 2012 Bollini Pinot Grigio from Trentino, Italy. It went well with the five Lynnhaven mollusks Chris generously gave us. It was my lucky night too, one of the patrons at the end of the bar had a pea crab in her oyster I got to eat. About eating it herself, she said something along the lines of "maybe next time."
While we enjoyed out oysters and wine Chris described some of the recent conditions of the Lynnhaven. In 2013, Lynnhaven Inlet didn't have as much rain which in turn increased the salinity of the water. These conditions directly affect the flavor of an oyster. The tide has a huge influence on how an oyster tastes too. Tide creates flow, the flow of the water provides food for the oysters. Like most of what we eat, the animal's diet can be detected in its flesh. He said we should consider the oyster when we purchase animals to eat. Try to know where they came from and how they've been handled. The Pleasure House Oysters we ate that night were only touched 15 times before we ate them.
Oh, another nice thing about Merroir Terroir that night is that it was Shelby's Birthday. They brought out a little Valhrona Cocoa Chocolate Pudding with Sea Salt and Olive Oil. Next to the pudding was a single candle that glowed warmly at the low-lit bar. A great way to cap off the evening of great oysters, wine and company.
After having something similar in an area restaurant I wanted to try my hand at a butter/wine sauce for clams. It came out great and the sauce is delicious with crusty bread. Here's what you need:
Pepper to taste (the clam liquor will be salty enough)
To get the cup of clam liquor you need for this, you'll get from the clams you cook. It's easy:
To make the sauce:
Tip: To cut back on salt, use a bacon or ham that isn't as salty.
Known as the Party of the Year--the 2014 Oyster Crush Charity Fundraiser by Cape Henry Rotary at The Yacht Club at Marina Shores. The date is Sunday, September 21, 2014, 1:00-6:00 PM. There will be Virginian Eastern Shore Oysters (served roasted or on the half shell), Smartmouth beer, Rodman's BBQ and live music by The DeLoreans.
I was at the party last year and it was a ton of fun. All the oysters you can eat, all the beer you can drink and 80s music & dancing if you that's your thing. $50 a ticket, go here to purchase them. Check the photos from last year's celebration.
After splurging this weekend we have tried to eat a little lighter during the week. Last night was skillet seared salmon with seasoned broccoli. It was tasty!
I made sure the salmon fillets were thoroughly thawed and heated up the iron skillet very hot on the outside grill. The salmon was only seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic. Cooking was done within 10 minutes. We microwaved broccoli and dinner was done.
I've been craving Blue Crabs ever since our anniversary dinner in May when I had some soft shells at Terrapin. Afterwards, I couldn't wait to cook some at home. Problem was, we had to wait till they were in season. They are now! I finally made it out to a couple of shops to grab a few dozen to steam.
Unfortunately, though this year's haul looks like it'll be a bad one again. At least that's what I heard from the area's watermen. It's a shame, I remember being a kid and easily filling up a bucket near the house and taking them home for dinner. The day I was looking, I found a couple of spots that had them in stock.
I first checked G Mart in Virginia Beach, VA. G Mart is one of our groceries that carries hard to find Asian and Latino items. I love these places and I remembered that when Blue Crabs are in season they'll carry them for a decent price. When I walked in headed to the back where they keep the seafood I found what I was looking for--apparently so did everyone else. There was a line to pick live crabs out of a large metal bin. They were priced at $3.99 a pound which was great, but they were all female crabs. I always feel bad eating the females because I figured they should be out in the water making baby crabs. I noticed none of them had egg sacs and they were a decent size. While I was checking them out a man from the back dumped more in the bin. I left to check out another place.
Bonney & Sons Seafood in Sandbridge has been around for a while and probably not a place I would have visited when I was younger because it was far from where I lived. Walking into the shop I noticed a couple of old dogs hanging out, obviously comfortable, knowing they belonged there. The staff was running around filling orders, steaming crabs, and checking the trucks behind the shop that delivered fresh seafood. It was very busy with people coming and going picking up orders of shrimp, fish and crabs.
They have a tank with crabs skittering around running water. There was a huge crab in there that had to be 10 inches from point to point--the biggest I've ever seen. Along the back wall were bushels you could choose from: #1 Jimmies Jumbo and regular and #2s too. The #1 Jimmies (jumbo) were going for $120 a half bushel! I thought about getting them, but that would have been a ton of money to fill a craving. The lowest they had were #2s for about $74 a half bushel. I decided to grab some of them but when they checked the back they were all out of bushels and halfs. Really? They didn't have any available in the large either. By the dozen the crabs were going for $30+ and I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
I want to state that I believe they are worth every penny you pay, but I was feeling how light my wallet would feel walking out of there I decided against it.
I ended up going back to G Mart and picking up about 6 dozen crabs at a pretty good price. I took them home and started cooking them. I usually use come cheap beer and Old Bay seasoning, cooking them about 24 minutes in a large, covered pan. While they were cooking I got a pot ready for a shrimp boil and cooked about 1 1/2 lbs of shrimp we could peel. As a bonus, my mother brought over some egg rolls she made! We just about ate everything and the ones we had left over, Shelby and I ate for dinner the next day.
Another She-Crab Soup Classic has come and gone with Mannino's Italian Bistro holding onto it's spot at the top. I'll admit I had them marked in first place too after tasting at each table--it's so delicious. Shelby and I pretty much voted the same way with Passion and Rockafeller's taking second and third respectively.
There were a bunch of good soups we sampled at the competition, making it hard to pick what we thought were the best at the event. I basically look for the lump crab, crab roe, a little Old Bay, and I like sherry in mine too.
Here are the 2014 East Coast She-Crab Soup Winners:
1st Place - Mannino's Italian Bistro
2nd Place - Westminster Canterbury
3rd Place - Passion The Restaurant
1st Place - Mannino's Italian Bistro
2nd Place - 328 Tequila Lounge
3rd Place - Passion The Restaurant
Check out the photos HERE!
The 6th East Coast She-Crab Soup Classic is tomorrow at the 24th Street Park. Over 15 of the area's best restaurants will compete to be named the one with the best She-Crab soup in Hampton Roads. Last year Mannino's Italian Bistro won both the Critic's and People's Choice awards. Read my review from the last one here on AltDaily. There will be lines, but the soup makes up for it.
Here who is competing this year:
328 Tequila Lounge
Lucky Oyster Seafood Grill
Lynnhaven Fish House
Mahi Mah's Seafood
Mannino’s Italian Bistro
McCormick & Schmick’s
Murphy’s Irish Pub
Passion the Restaurant
Roger Brown's Restaurant and Sports Bar
The gates open at noon and the event ends at 3:00 PM. When you enter the park you'll make your way around the tables and get a sample of she-crab soup. Use your score sheet to mark your favorites and turn it in when you're done. Votes will be tabulated the winners will be named at the end of the event! When you're done, go grab a beer at one of the local watering holes. You can even make the Back Bay Brewing Co. grand opening on Norfolk Ave. down the way!
Check out the photos from last year's event here.
See you there!
We made it to January's Merroir Terroir at Terrapin. If you'll remember Merroir Terroir is the oyster and wine pairing dinner the restaurant hosts. Once again, Chris Ludford was our captain on our journey to enjoy our favorite bivalve—the oyster. Terrapin's Brian Williams perfectly paired our wines to compliment the oyster selection for the night.
Chris started off by talking a little bit the oysters we'd be having that night. Of course, we would be enjoying some of his delicious Pleasure House oysters and a couple of new ones—new for us at least. He also explained how oysters were, until recently, primarily eaten cooked. It wasn't unitl after the 70's and 80's that a shift in the market came about with more people opting to eat them raw. Cooked is still the preferred serving for the majority but fresh on the half-shell is appreciated more now than ever before.
Erika came around and help set our places and assisted in the direction of the servers. We were seated at her space, so she made sure things moved along smoothly. After everyone was in place, Brian started pouring the first wine.
Our first pairing consisted of a L'Oiseau D'or Muscadet with a Grand Pearl oyster from the Eastern Shore. The Muscadet was a natural pairing with the oyster—light, crisp and a great finish. The bayside oyster marketed with the trademark name Grand Pearl has a salty liquor and a light, thin shell.
The second course paired Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc and a nice James River Oyster. The oyster had a dark flesh. The lower salinity contributes highly to fooling your mouth into thinking you're eating something sweet, but it's the lack of salt letting the oyster come through. It's a very opaque, winter oyster. The fat (glycogen) is high to protect the oyster in the cold water. The Pinot Blanc went well with the James River Oyster, it's high acidity and clean finish showcased the oyster.
Our last pairing had a bonus treat. We were given two oysters: Keeling's Pride and Pleasure House. We've had the Pleasure House Oyster from Chris' farm before—love them. Big, juicy, very satisfying to eat. The Keeling's Pride were new to us, these are an old oyster that grow wild in the Lynnhaven. Somewhat rare but hopefully making a comeback, it was a treat to eat them. Keeling's Pride Oysters are meaty, salty with a sweet connective muscle. The Pleasure House Oyster is huge, sweet and a little sandy. Brian poured a bubbly, something he wouldn't normally do, but the dry Crémant drew out the flavors of the oysters. A little bit about the Cote Mas Crémant De Limoux, though it is French and like a champagne, it is not made in the Champagne region and cannot be designated as “champagne.”
Once again, we had a great time at the Merroir Terroir dinner. Terrapin never disappoints. I do have to give an honorable mention to the Charcuterie plate one of the diners had in lieu of oysters. It looked delicious and something I need to try in the future.
View all the photos from our dinner here.
In the Hampton Roads area we recently finished up a couple of restaurant week events for Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Newport News still has one going on till February 2nd and Portsmouth will be running theirs in April. Unfortunately, we only made it out for Virginia Beach's because of bad weather and a head cold that popped up during Norfolk restaurant week. I meant to have this written up last week but I've been pulled in a few different directions. Better late than never tough right?
Virginia Beach Restaurant Week (VBRW) basically works this way: participating restaurants offer a lunch and/or a dinner at a discounted rate. Most of the time the dishes they serve showcase what the eatery has to offer and it also affords people the chance to try out different places without breaking the bank. Shelby and I tried four places in Virginia Beach, I'll give you a little rundown on what we had.
As soon as Shelby and I got off of work we started checking out the restaurant week menus. It was hard to choose one place to eat but we finally settled on Croakers Neighborhood Grill. We've heard good things about the Virginia Beach local's spot and the menu looked good. Croakers is located on Shore Dr., if you're not familiar with Virginia Beach, Shore Dr. runs the length of the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk.
When we pulled up the parking lot was packed. After a couple of run-arounds we got a spot and went inside. It reminded me of the classic Virginia Beach aesthetic—beachy, colorful, and the feeling its been around for a while. The hostess immediately seated us and the server came out and gave us info on the restaurant week menu. Croakers gave you the option of having a drink or cocktail instead of your third course dessert. We both opted for drinks, Shelby got a chocolate martini and I got a beer.
The appetizers being offered were Fried Calamari, Oysters Rockefeller, and Breaded Popcorn Shrimp. I chose the Rockefeller and Shelby got the calamari. The calamari had a great batter on them. Probably a beer batter with a little bit of Chesapeake Bay seasoning at the end. You get the whole squid; I love the tentacles. The oysters were good but I've been eating so many Oysters Rockefeller lately, I've been spoiled (I'm talking about Croc's.)
Entrees were Blackened Chicken, a NY Strip or something called St. Charles. Here's the description:
“Chef's choice of fish pan sauteed and topped with fresh mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions and shrimp which have been simmered in our special sherry, lemon and butter sauce – delicious”
Sounded good, we both ordered it. I was glad I did, normally this is a $20+ dinner but they put together a little something for restaurant week and it was so good. Out of everything I tried during VBRW, this was my favorite. They used talapia the night we went and it was cooked perfectly. I'm actually going to write more about this dish later, so I'll stop now. Definitely worth a try.
The second thing we tried was the lunch menu at Braise the next day. Braise recently opened in the city by the locally known chef Bobby Huber of Bobbywood fame. Braise was offering a $10 lunch with a few options to choose from. We went with one of our friends—Alisa—who had never been before.
I was really excited about was that Chef Huber's popular Oyster Stew was on the special menu. Shelby and Alisa both got the Braised Short Ribs with Cheddar Grits and Fried Spinach. They offered starters before the aforementioned dishes: Emily's Famous Lumpia or a Wedge Salad. I had the wedge salad while Shelby and Alisa, again, chose the same thing. Emily's Famous Lumpia.
Let me back up a bit. When we arrived it was packed! We lucked out because we were able to grab the only available table. We settled in and eventually our server arrived, it took awhile because the volume of customers in the restaurant. We looked at our menus, were given water, and then we ordered. We got our food eventually but my water glass wasn't refilled. I'm only mentioning it because that is my one major pet peeve when I eat out. I hate not having water, it really bothered me. I ended up drinking Shelby's since she didn’t want it.
I loved my salad. I love lettuce, so this would be easy to make me happy. The wedge had crumbled bleu cheese and dressing poured over it. A nice balsamic was dashing around the plate with some grapes and tomatoes. Mixed in with the cheese and dressing was nice, chewy bacon. Good stuff.
I didn't try the lumpia but Shelby and Alisa both seem to enjoy them. The entrees took long time to get out, and as I mentioned, I had no water. When the food came out, they forgot one of our entrees. I was worried it would take a while to get the missing plate out, but he was back quickly with it.
The oyster stew was very good. Tasty with perfectly cooked oysters and mildly seasoned. I like being able to taste the oysters without them having to compete with the rest of the soup. Potatoes and more bacon were in the bowl too, can't go wrong with that combo. The Braised Short Rib was good and the portion was small, but I guess I shouldn't complain about a $10 lunch right?
We've been to Sonoma before and liked the service. The food was good, but I thought a little overpriced and my entree could have used a little seasoning. I was looking forward to trying again though.
We went for the lunch menu and we had another of Shelby's friends, Crystal, with us this time. It was later in the week and the lunch crowd was manageable. The soup of the day was the first course and we had a choice of Chipotle Pork Taco, Blackened Crabcake Sandwich, and Seared Mahi. Shelby and Crystal went with the crabcake and I picked the tacos for variety.
The soup of the day was French Onion, which is one of my favorites. It was delicious and the cheesy baguette was great for soaking up all the broth. The Crabcake Sandwich was pretty good, not overloaded with filler, but definitely not lumpcrab. The tacos weren't too exciting and but they were good.
The last place we tried was Chick's at the Lynnhaven Inlet. A local staple, if you live in Virginia Beach you know about this place. I'll have to admit though, I've never been. I didn't realize how big this place is, on the outside it doesn't seem like much. They have a several bars services the different sections of the restaurant. We were seated on the deck which was enclosed for the season. Casual and relaxed, easy place to roll into for a drink or to grab a bite to eat. I'll probably write a little more about the place later.
Luckily we had Marleigh and Chayce with us that day and we met with my step-father, John and my sister Diane. After we were seated I walked around a bit to check out the joint. I bumped into Gerald from Hoffman Beverage who was there with one of his people who was pushing Monster drinks at the bar.
The lunch menu offered some pretty good choices: Open with a salad, She-Crab Soup or ½ Dozen Oysters (steamed or raw) and an entree choice of Fresh Catch Sandwich, Blackened Mahi Tacos, or Everything Greek Salmon Salad.
Chayce and I ordered the oysters, his steamed, mine raw on the half shell. Shelby got the She-Crab soup. She had the Greek Salmon salad and I thought I'd try the tacos here too. Chayce got the fish sandwich which turned out to be flounder that day. It was huge and looked great. My tacos, again, weren't anything I got excited over and Shelby said I might not want to order tacos anymore. Her Greek salad was huge too and out of everything we had that week, she said that was her favorite. The She-Crab was very good too. I'd like to go back again and try some of the other menu items, they have a lot to choose from.
All in all restaurant week was fun, like I mentioned earlier, it's a great way to get out and try some places you might not normally head to. The prices were good and the overall experience was a good one. Can't wait till next year's event.
Shelby noticed a friend of hers, Angelique, hit a new restaurant in Virginia Beach called Metropolitan Oyster Exchange and she asked if I knew anything about it. I had no idea it was opening up; not that I know everything but I do try to keep up with the ins-and-outs of local food scene. I did a quick search and didn't find a whole lot about them. I did see that Patrick Evans-Hylton wrote a good article them in December on HamptonRoads.com.
I decided I'd shoot them a message and see if I could visit and check them out, maybe take some photos. Jason Etheredge, the General Manager, responded with an invite for me and Shelby to come by and participate in their soft opening the next day. Of course we accepted.
We headed out after work, parked and appeared to be the first ones in for the night. 6:00 PM sharp, I'm serious about food. We were greeted inside by our hostess Loralen and then Jason came over to introduce himself. He had Loralen work us into their seating system even though we were the first to arrive. They were trying to work out kinks in the process. We were asked to visit the bar while a table was set for us. I could see everyone in the restaurant running around, prepping for the evening, Jerry Bryan also came over to say “Hi.”
Jerry is the owner of the Metro and Coastal Grill off Great Neck Rd. He was very excited about getting people in the place and told us to make ourselves at home. Nice guy. Looking about the place I spied a Lab puppy named Connor being cute, super soft and fluffy. Who doesn't love puppies? We met Lou Lou behind the bar, she is the mixologist who was training the other bartenders, Matt and Matt (same names, that's great), how to make the house's signature drinks.
There was a raw bar and a guy named Mike was back there shucking oysters for the half-shell trays. The oysters for that night all came from the waters off the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Jerry told us earlier he'll be importing oysters from the West Coast too, sounds like they'll have a good variety available.
While we were looking around, more people started to show up. Since it was a soft opening, most of the these were friends and acquaintances. The day before it was family night. The food being served was going to be the chefs going through a special menu and putting it out for the wait staff to serve. So whatever they made in the kitchen is what we would be eating. Sounded exciting!
The interior design was very nice, great lighting and signage throughout. The atmosphere was very relaxed, as intended by Jerry, he wanted a place that people could walk into and grab a great bite to eat. No reservations and sharing is encouraged. Casual. The floor was open and it was nice seeing the staff and patrons interact.
About the drinks. Lou Lou started us off with a classic cocktail "The Last Word". Her ambition for the Metro—the area in fact—includes making Chartreuse a staple in local drinks. Her Prohibition era drinks and modern concoctions are impressive; she makes her own syrups and mixers. Check out what she put together for us:
As for the food, amazing. Jason said the menu was being tweaked but if what we had foreshadows the regular offerings, then there are going to be a lot of happy diners in our town. Here's what we had:
During our dinner someone walked up to our table and asked if we were George and Shelby; turns out it was Tricia Bryan. Jerry and Tricia Bryan are neighbors with Angelique, who called the restaurant to tell Tricia we would be in that night (thanks Angelique!) We chatted a bit and I asked about the name of the Metro. Tricia told us that Jerry has been working with his executive chef Maureen “Mo” Cucchiaro for 24 years and when Metro was ramped up, Jerry wanted to tribute all of Mo's hard work over the years, so when he was figuring out a name he came up with M.O.E—Metropolitan Oyster Exchange. Of course it sounds swanky too.
We loved the food, feel, and service (Jefri took care of us) at Metro. A must try if you're ever in the area.
Metropolitan Oyster Exchange
972 Laskin Rd
I was invited to attend Barley's Angels' 1st Annual Christmas party being held at the new Beach Brewing Company location. Rules were you had to bring a beer and a dish. At our house we have a habit of hording beer and wine. It's easy to do when you go to tastings every week and grab a bottle for "later." So I had a few good beers I could take with me and decided I'd take my bottle of Bitter Valentine from Williamsburg AleWerks. The food choice was easy enough, I went with my go-to potluck dish--Spicy Thai Basil Fried Rice. It usually is a crowd pleaser and I thought the beer would go well with it.
I cooked the fried rice before the event so I was running a little bit late. It's funny, because Shelby was looking at me sitting in front of my computer before I started cooking and asked what I needed for the rice. I told her I was going to run to the store and get what I need but I'll be on time. She said "I've been married long enough to you to know better." She was right of course.
I got everything packed up and headed to the brewery. When I pulled up I was able to see that pretty much everyone was there already so I slipped in. I saw Lesley Summers, Barley's Angels - Coastal Virginia Organizer. She grabbed the fried rice and I went to put the beer in the cooler. This was cool.
The cooler was filled with plenty of beers I've never had before and I was excited at the thought of trying a bunch of them. The beers were going to be opened and we had little cups to get a swig of each. Great idea. There was plenty of food too. Lots of dips, my favorite being a lobster dip brought by Elizabeth Erschens - Owner, Homebrew USA, if I remember correctly. There were cheese balls too. I love cheese balls, I'd pick the whole thing up and put it on a cracker if I could.
After scoping out the area I saw Justin MacDonald, brewer/owner of Beach Brewing Company. He wanted to show me around the new brewery, so we headed to the back where the equipment was. The place was huge; the new construction and large stainless steel brewing equipment made it a very impressive sight. We were joined by some other enthusiasts and brewer types while Justin explained how he was getting everything in place and will most likely brewing by Christmas of this year. He said output will quadruple when all is said and done.
After the tour we headed back inside to mingle and I bumped into a few familar faces. Here's one:
I snapped of photos and the women did a gift exchange. Looked like everyone was enjoying themselves and drinking some good beer. I was able to salvage about a small bowl of leftover fried rice that I took home with me.
Thanks again to Lesley of Barley's Angels and Justin MacDonald of Beach Brewing Company for letting me hang out.
See the rest of the photos here.
First, I would like to thank Rex Sr., Lisa and Rex Jr. Hamaker of Taste Tidewater Tours for inviting me to the event. We had a great time!
Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads (BFBL) in conjunction with Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Lynnhaven River Now (LRN) hosted an oyster habitat tour through Lynnhaven Inlet. There were two boat runs, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, taking approximately 50 passengers around Broad Bay Island. Between boat trips there was a reception where we were given information about the history of Lynnhaven oysters, the science behind increasing the population, and how oysters help our waterways.
The Back Deck was our rendezvous point for our group; we lucked out with beautiful weather, sunny and warm. We check in with Rachel Burns from BFBL who gave us our wristbands and drink tickets. At the pier we saw our ride and most of the patrons already on the boat. We jumped on and said our hellos and recognized some faces. I was happy to see Cappy Sinclair on board, also with BFBL, who was getting the wine uncorked and ready to pour once we were underway. We were introduced to Karen Forget of LRN, we also met Chris Moore and Kate Wilson of CBF; they would guide us on our tour.
Our ship’s captain—Jimmy Sollner—took the helm of the Bea Hayman Clark and talked to us a little bit about the boat, safety procedures and how we are all responsible for clean water and what grows in it. Ready and secure we left the pier, Karen began to point out a few things in the inlet. The first small island we passed (Fish Island I believe) was stacked with old concrete from the first Lesner bridge tore down in the 1950s. She showed us oyster castles that are used to help them cluster and grow. Along the bulkheads that protected people’s yards along the channel you could see little oysters glistening in the sun. Some people who have property on the water volunteer to help grow oysters with cages submerged just a few feet from their backyard.
We made our way down the north side of Broad Bay and passed by First Landing State Park—formerly Seashore State Park if you haven’t been here in a while. We saw several other spots where preservation efforts have taken place. Seeing the park from the water, people walking/jogging along the trails was very interesting. We made our way to the southern side of Broad Bay and headed back to our point of departure.
Back on land the event reception was ready and the next group to go out on the boat were there waiting for us to return. We were served rockfish bites, a buttery clam chowder, huge shrimp, and oysters. More information was given about the Chesapeake Bay and the tributaries that flow to it. CBF, LNR, and BFBL gave examples of the effort they go through to increase the health of the oyster population, and the Bay in general, for everyone to enjoy.
Chris Ludford from Pleasure House Oysters was on deck with some help from Cam Chalmers of Lynnhaven Oyster Company shucking oysters. Chris had a little talk with us about the oysters and showed off some monsters he pulled out of the water just hours earlier. These are the same oysters we had the pleasure of eating—so good, a little salty and meaty. There was a line for these things while the reception was in play. I also need to mention that they had great local beers on tap and Virginian wine available. I had a couple pints of Young Veterans Brewing Co.'s award winning Pineapple Grenade Hefeweizen.
We mingled for a bit and started to make our way home when group two stepped on board the Bea Hayman Clark. It was a great day with good people and food. The day was a great learning experience chased with delicious food and drinks.
Please check out the photos of the inlet and the rest of the trip here.
We had a great night at Terrapin's Merroir Terroir event hosted at the bar. The restaurant has been hosting these exploratory dinners that allow guests to sample the affect “merroir” has the flavor of the clam. Climate, water, the beds the oysters mature in, all effect the flavor the bivalve. Brian Williams of Terrapin paired our oysters with a select wine that complimented the three different oysters we were served.
Merroir Terroir starts a little early before the dinner crowd shows up. At the bar, our places were set and the resident mixologist—Erika Caylor—helped Brian and staff get us ready. Our oysters were provided by Chris Ludford of Pleasure House Oysters. Chris is a local oyster farmer and firefighter; he’s been seeding and harvesting oysters since 2009. Before farming his own oysters he was a crabber, fisherman, and he sold other peoples oysters from stands around Virginia Beach.
After the seats became occupied, Chris began to give us some info about oysters and harvesting them. I learned that oyster harvesting starts around October here and ends April 30th. He talked about the different spots he liked to start his oysters and talked about the waterways in the area. He also told us a neat tidbit about oyster shells—oysters from the West Coast tend to have a scalloped shell while those on the East Coast do not. Before we started to eat the oysters he suggested we sniff, drink the liquor, then eat the oyster. Easy enough, let’s go!
While this was happening Brian poured our first wine, Domaine Jolly Petit Chablis 2011. He explained to us how the Chablis he served was from Portlandian soil, young and steely. The wine itself was unoaked to prevent it from overpowering the oysters. That brings us to the oysters: Kusshi oysters imported from the West Coast. They are small with thick shells, ours were tumbled and lost most of the frill outside of the shell. The thick, deep shells of the oysters held clean, sweet meat and a tasty liquor. West Coast oysters, at least the ones we ate, tended to be smaller than what we’re used to in the East.
The next wine we drank was a Louis Jadot Steel Chardonnay 2012, again this was unoaked and had fruitier notes. The sweetness of this wine was perfect for the salty Pleasure House Oysters, Chris’ own brand he breds in the Lynnhaven. In addition to the pronounced saltiness of the oyster, they were crisp, juicy, and had a little citrus. I like how that paired with the Chardonnay too. I loved the liquor in the huge shells on the plate. I think I heard the term “choker” used in reference of the size of these things.
Our last wine was a Lincourt Steel Chardonnay 2012. From the Sta Rita Hills in California, fermented in steel, fruit forward and low mineral. The oyster paired with this was the Kumamoto or “Kumis”. They were harvested from cold waters of the Puget Sound in Washington State. These were delicious—buttery, crisp, and nutty. I could have eaten a couple dozen of these myself. The shell on these were very scalloped, unlike the Kusshi we tried earlier and the color variation went from off-white to black.
After finishing our oysters Chris and Brian mingled with the patrons of the dinner and answered any questions we might have had. While Shelby and I got our things together I was already thinking about next month’s Merroir Terroir, hoping I’ll be able to make the event again.
Click here to more photos from the dinner.
I don't know what it is, but I've really been craving oysters lately. Patrick Evans-Hylton said I could be pregnant. Oh, thanks again Patrick for the offer to attend the Virginia Wine & Oyster Classic this past Saturday. It pained me to turn down those tickets!
Oysters! Shelby and I talked about it and we thought we should try to buy a couple from several different regions and do a little write up about it. I think it's going to happen, just need to put a plan together.
Check out this chart and page from Virginia Tourism page. Lays out the different regions and what you can expect from the oysters you eat from them.
We headed over to Phoebus, VA to watch Long Division play at Olde Towne Tavern. The tavern is tucked away in the old part of Hampton that in the right light would make you think you’ve stepped back in time a little bit. Very cool. Inside it was small, but still roomy if that makes sense. Good size bar, a couple of pool tables and seating throughout. We found a table and sat down.
Once we settled in we checked out the menus. Shelby had already looked online (she’s good about that) and was excited about getting the in-house chips. They served them in little tins and were pretty good. I put a little malt vinegar on mine. We ordered Crabcake Stuffed Mushrooms as an appetizer and those were very tasty. Good size and very moist. I’d order them again.
I ordered The Fishermans Platter—fried clams, fish, oysters, scallops and shrimp. Shelby ordered the pan seared scallops. The star of this mix was the fried shrimp. Fat, juicy and they almost melted in my mouth. They weren’t over breaded either. Next time I’m in that place, I might just order a big plate of these.
If you’re in the Hampton Roads area—Phoebus in particular—check out Olde Towne Tavern. It’s in a cool little town right on the water across from Fort Monroe. Check out Long Division’s music too, one of the best bands in the area.
Olde Towne Tavern - 31 E. Mellen St., Hampton, VA. 23663. 757-251-2636.
We tried Red Crab for the first time this past weekend and really enjoyed them. Virginia is pushing the Red Crab as an alternative to Blue Crab since the later has dropped in population. We prepared them the same way we would Blue Crabs but we also ate them with butter—I never do that with the Blue.
Overall worth trying and pretty tasty. We bought ours at Uncle Chuck’s Seafood and Produce in Virginia Beach, VA, at the VB Farmers Market.