Checked out Elation before heading home, capping off my day in Norfolk. They haven’t officially opened yet and can’t serve their own beer (thanks VA laws) but they are serving other beers brewed in the area. Beautiful space, probably going to be visiting this more often.
I get asked a lot about vegetarian and vegan options in the area. I usually have to tell them I’m not really sure because “I eat everything!” It’s true too, but the question nags at me and so I’ve talked to people here and there and found a few places I could suggest. Then one day it hit me - my buddy Katie would know!
Katie Abbott, MS, RDN, INHC (yeah, I know that’s some alphabet soup behind her name but she earned it!) is a registered dietitian and counselor who is super passionate about food and treating your body well. I should probably take notes…
Anyway, I approached her about giving me a list of places that good vegetarian/vegan options. She said could put together a list of restaurants that I could share on my page. Click the image below to go to her page and and sing up for her mailing list to get a copy. It’s 6 pages of spots to make it easier for you to find exactly the dish you’re looking for!
How did I not know about a taco festival happening in the area?! I'm slipping... When I got home later that night I checked it out - over 75 varieties of tacos were going to be served at the Waterside District. Heck yeah, I'm in!
I was able to get into the sold out event and was you could have guessed it was packed! There was a line around the park waiting to get in because it had met capacity. They were letting people in on shifts. I think there were people at the door who thought they could buy tickets, unfortunately they had to be turned away.
I found Rachel and Shon already full of tacos and sipping lagers. I chatted a minute but wanted to run around real quick to get some shots of the action. First thing I notice is that there lines everywhere! That combined with the heat produced some griping from the crowd. This being the first event they've thrown in the space, there will be some growing pains. I'm sure they'll make the appropriate adjustments next time they do this. Back to tacos.
There were a ton of tacos being slung by the restaurants that participated, just about any variety you could think of. My favorite was the al Pastor I found being made by a new outfit called Javi's. I mean there is something sexy about seeing meat on a spit slowly roasting. Reminds me of the donner kebabs we would get in Germany.
I bumped into a few friends while I was there and I would grab my drinks from the inside of Waterside to skip the lines outside. I'm not going to ramble here but check out the rest of the photos and catch it next year!
We were invited to watch a move our friend directed at the University Theater at ODU. It was great experience and we bumped into a bunch friends. After the movie we ended up heading over to Chow with our buddy Carmen. We met Carmen a while back at Whole Foods, she's at Tinto's Wine & Cheese now - which you should check out if you haven't been yet!
Chow was open a hour later than most places about the area which meant we could relax and grab a bite to eat, a drink (or two) and not worry about rushing out or keeping the shop open on our account.
After grabbing a spot to eat we tried to figure out what to drink. Since we had Carmen with us we decided we'd have her peruse the wine list and pick a bottle we could share. She suggested a Zin from the Frank Family Vineyards. The 2013 Napa Valley Zinfandel was super smooth, fruity, and dark, just the way we like them. Good call Carmen!
The next line of business was figuring out what to eat. Chow's menu is centered around "southern comfort" food and it's truly represented! We've had dinner here a few times before and it's always been good. Speaking of good, I decided wasn't going to be with my entree because all I had to eat that day was two apples and a Caesar salad (seriously!)
I went for the Chicken Fried Steak (below), Shelby got the Steak Frites (photo at the top of the page), and Carmen got the Vegetarian "Meatloaf". I didn't try Carmen's, though I should have, but Shelby's dish was basically a delicious steak on top of some Parm-Truffle Fries. The compound butter on top was melting making the whole sexy. Yeah I said sexy. You can look at a Insta story I made here, sorry for the vertical and low-res clip. The Chicken Fried Steak was great and I loved the Collards I picked as a side. The mac and cheese looked good but I would have liked for it be more cheesy!
All-in-all a great meal with great company, I need to get back and try some of the burgers there, they looked great. Head to Chow, try it for yourself!
New Year's Eve we usually hang out with family that are visiting from out of town - we'll make a nice dinner, we'll have some drinks, and end up watching some some network-ball-dropping-show. This year was different though, we ended up being free for the night. The kids are all older now, everyone is doing their thing, our out-of-town visitors left a day early, we had the opportunity to get out.
We had figured out what we were going to do NYE, we came up with a quick plan: hit Bottlecraft for a uKeg fill and a pour, check out Chartruese to see Ross and maybe get lucky and grab a seat for sushi, then go by The Birch and O'Connor Brewing's NYE parties.
After getting ready we hit Bottlecraft first. We didn't know if they had anything planned but when we arrived there was a band playing for a good crowd of people. Some of them were dressed up for the night and it looked liked people were having fun. Chase and Lara were there and so were his parents with their friends. I said Hi to everyone and grabbed a couple of drinks for Shelby and myself. I had the uKeg filled with a good one from Benchtop Brewing while we mingled.
I love my uKeg by the way, I got it for Christmas, pretty to look at and great for pouring.
We didn't stay too long because we wanted to bounce around and visit a few places. Finishing our drinks and saying our byes we headed to Norfolk to see our buddy Ross. Chartruese Bistro was doing a special sushi pop-up for NYE featuring Ross Riddle of Hashi Chow fame. He was in the kitchen with owner/chef Christopher Corrie for an RSVP event. It's a cozy spot and not a lot room to stand around in but we figured we'd swing by and say Hi to Ross since we were out and maybe if we got lucky get a seat.
We didn't get lucky but Shelby got a drink on the house which was very nice. Ross was very busy putting together orders so we didn't bug him much. Christie, showed up a little later and we got to hang out with her a bit. It wasn't looking like we were going to get lucky with a seat so we made out way over to The Birch. Malia hosts an annual, catered NYE party were everyone dresses up fancy and drinks lots of good beer. She graciously let us slip in to hang out a bit and offered something to eat.
Shout out to Ten Top catering! One the best sandwich shop in Norfolk.
We hung out there for a bit and realized that it was about quarter after 10:00. We wanted to pop a cork at home when the clock rang midnight so we had to sadly skip the stop to O'Connor Brewing. Wish we had though, the party looked crazy! On the way home we called in take-out from Jade Villa, a place we were turned on to by Ross. He says since it's always open into the wee hours of the morning the industry people would hit it up after their shifts for some authentic Chinese food. We got a few things: Pork Belly Hot Pot with Mustard Greens, Shrimp and Pork steamed dumplings, Chinese Broccoli, and Garlic Pork Spare Ribs. Wish I had a photo because it was all delicious! I was in a rush because I spilled some of my beer on the floor somehow (hey, I only had two drinks the whole night! I just need to get used to the uKeg spout) and get the sparkling wine ready.
We got settled in right in time to pop the cork, or plastic thingie on the bottle we had, and rand in the New Year with a toast. All in all a very fun night!
Happy New Year everyone! I hope it's a good one for ya!
Fortunately, hanging around in the food scene for years has allowed me to become familiar with a lot of talented people that work all aspects of the food/drink service industry. I'm not just interested in the plate in front of me, but I love knowing the people back of the house to the front who make it happen.
I love sitting at the bar too; finding a new beer or wine to enjoy and once in a while a fancy drink. You probably guessed from a quick glance of this post this is going to be about cocktails and you would be correct. I'm going to tell you how I got to drink a bunch of them one night and show you what they were.
My journey into an evening of cocktail sampling began one warm evening in Norfolk, VA. I drove Shelby down to a new Italian restaurant called Leone's so she could meet up with "The Ladies." After I creeped on them a little bit, taking photos, chatting, etc... I thought they should have their girl time so I left for the car. I needed to run some stuff to a chef I know down the way and I had time to burn. While I was walking down Granby St. I was spotted by another guy I know named Josh Seaburg. I wrote about him a couple of years ago when he was at another shop.
After spying me he messaged me and asked if I would be interested in trying out his new drink menu he created for Saltine, one of three new hot spots in the Hilton Norfolk The Main. Saltine, a seafood restaurant, has a beautiful bar on the ground level of the hotel that allows you to do some serious people watching - everyone coming into the large hotel lobby and people on the street.
Shelby told me, that her mother (Hi Nana!) told her, it is rude to turn down a drink so I accepted happily. After I ran my errand I made my way to Saltine, ready to be wow'ed. Josh has put in his dues and is serious about his drinks. He pays attention to detail and it's the small things that make the whole.
The menu, at the time, had not been tested by a layman as myself and I was ordered to give him feedback. Lucky me!
Attention! I'm just going to say right off the bat that the presentation of all the drinks was beautiful. Figured I'd add that caveat at the beginning so I didn't have to keep saying it throughout the post.
We started out with a White Julep - Wasmund’s peach-smoke bourbon mash, mint, simple syrup. This one packed a punch but was refreshing, loved all the ice.
Kuh-Shah-Suh (Josh explains the name is the phonetic spelling of the main ingredient Cachaça) This is made from pineapple infused Cachaça, lime, simple syrup, winter melon bitters, and garnished with dragon fruit. This was a neat, it even had a little heat on the end. While he was making it he gave the glass a spritz of green Chartreuse.
Western Medicine - Belle Isle Honey Habanero, lemon, and ginger syrup. It's garnished with candied ginger - when available. Shelby will love this one!
The Rosetta Toned was served in nice stemware and had a pleasant, sweet finish. It's made with Flor de Cana extra dry rum, lime, house strawberry cordial, Absinthe, and coriander. I'm a fan of rum!
The classic Piña Coloda, not much to say other than it was damn tasty and he didn't put it in his shirt pocket. Maybe next time!
(Shirt pocket reference here.)
The Vida Bandida - Vida Mezcal, dry Curacao, lime, Ignition Tincture, bitters. This was different, neat. Mezcal drinkers would like this, even if you don't like mezcal, try it anyway. Thug Life.
Cleaver Club is fun to watch being made. It is a mixture of Beefeater Gin, lemon, and nitro-raspberries. Josh busts out the nitro to prep the glass and it looks highly technical. The name of the drink, and the drink itself, pay homage to the classic cocktail The Clover Club.
The Audible Sigh was fancy and was garnished with fresh Passionfruit - Ketel One, passionfruit, lime, sparkling rosé, hibiscus/acai bitters. All the cool, trendy stuff in one drink, you might hear Josh give an audible sigh if you ask for him to make you one. It's worth the side-eye though, it's pretty tasty.
Bet you thought I would drink each one to the finish? Maybe I did...
I just wanted to give Josh a shout out for letting me try all these delicious cocktails and give him feedback on them. I think I'll be swinging by again tonight to revisit one or two of these. "The Ladies" are meeting there and I always crash a party.
The truck is actually a trailer with the smoker attached to it; looks pretty cool! The menu has lots to offer: ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sides (including the huge Supreme Potato), and much more! I got a sampler plate, a couple of beers and dug in.
Bonus: I saw a lot of friends and my fellow photographer buddy Amanda from Stellar Exposures. Check out the food!
I decided to take the day off for the Veterans Day holiday. I guess I didn't really need to but I thought it would be nice to have a long weekend and maybe get a few things done around the house.
After having my coffee I got hit with a huge craving for some kinda breakfast-y (sure that's a word) type food. I was going between pancakes somewhere or Handsome Biscuit - of course Handsome Biscuit won.
It took me 30 minutes to drive there from the house which was crazy. Traffic, road work and some non-driving people made it a painful ride. Handsome Biscuit had a line out of the door which is pretty much the norm but I was excited to be there. It's been a several months since I've been there.
I knew what I wanted, the Blue Blazer with the housemade Lupo and a side of hash browns smothered in Redeye gravy. I got to say hi friends while I waited in line and chat a little bit. When I got my take-out bag I was given a little surprise too, a delicious brownie cookie (thanks Brittney!)
So have another 30 minute drive getting home (what is going on with this traffic?), I reassemble my food then take photos of course. Then we eat our delicious brunch before I head out to rake leaves. Pretty good day so far.
I'll be at the Green Flash Industry Night shindig tonight, hope I see some of you there!
Saturdays for me are busy days. Shelby, the saint that she is, lets me lose to run around town so I can document what's happening. This usually means breweries.
I know my page is called I Heart Food but to be honest when it comes to regular events, it's usually the breweries that are releasing a beer, throwing a festival, or inviting a food truck or two that draws me to a location. In this post I'm going to do a quick rundown on a typical Saturday for me. This happened on February 27th, which seems like a while ago, but time just flies by! (Read, I'm always behind...)
First stop of the day was bottleBOX! This great little shop has been open almost a year, but it has been doing great! I've known the owners for a while, so it's nice to swing by to see how thing are going. Fannie and Melissa were opening and Fannie had a little surprise - the twins! Little Craig looks just like CJ, serious.
Coelacanth Brewing was the next stop. Kevin and company have done a great job since opening up. Their beers are are different and experiment in tweaking traditional styles. 905 Cafe & Grill were serving a pretty good She-Crab Soup. It was my first time trying any of their food, not bad! When I left the brewery I bumped into a group of Ghent Bar crawlers, love them or hate them, it was fun to watch them all bouncing around town.
I wanted to stop by O'Connor Brewing Co. real quick since I was in the area. The place was packed, as usual. I remember when they were in the spot on 25th St. It was tiny compared to the warehouse and it's hard to imagine them operating in such a small space now. Dan Pellegrino was on stage entertaining the crowd. The guy is super talented, check him out if you get the chance.
I didn't stay long at OBC because I wanted to hit one more spot before I headed home. I usually drive down Granby street or the surrounding area when I leave Norfolk, I like to see what's happening.
Wasserhund Brewing Co. was the last top while I was out that day. It was the Rascal Roggenbier release day! Rye and spice with a tiny bit of banana, not bad! I had a pour then headed home.
Well, I did make one more stop before home. I picked up some ribeye for Shelby and me. They cook fast and are delicious. I really needed something filling after running around all day.
I have been fortunate enough to be invited to join a panel of judges at my old Alma mater - Old Dominion University - to eat a lot of pizza. I'm talking 6-8 pizzas in four categories! I don't mean I'm actually going to eat 6-8 pizzas (maybe) but we'll have samples of each to determine what we thinks qualify and the king of pies! That rhymed!
I can't mention who the contestants are but when I follow up I'll give the skinny on who threw their hat in the ring.
Disclaimer: Your favorite pizza joint might be participating in the contest. Do not get upset, sometimes life is unfair.
I've written about the Hampton Roads food zine Southern Grit when the first issue was about to be released early last year. I highlighted Chris Fellini whom I've known from the Norfolk scene. When I talked to him about the birth of Southern Grit he said it would never have happened if it weren't for Joshua Fitzwater, known as "Fitz." Since then I've talked to Fitz myself and seen him work the magazine out in the wild. He's passionate about the publication and is pretty much running the whole operation: managing contributors, photography, writing, advertising, etc...
When I first chatted with him it was about Slice & Torte (check them out, seriously) and how much he needed people to know about the great things happening over there. He is passionate about those things he cares about and he's willing to tell anyone who will lend him a little bit of their time. One of the ways he wants to spread the word about what he thinks is the "thing" in the Hampton Roads area is through Southern Grit.
Southern Grit's mission is to talk about the area's food scene without the rose colored glasses on. From the few issues I've read some of the articles were written with the gloves off. One of their more infamous articles was "cease and disist" on the use of Edison bulbs in restaurants that hit a nerve. I'll be honest and say I didn't know it was satire at first but the writer (Chris Fellini) later came out and claimed it to be so. This is an example of how the publication is putting its finger on the pulse of Hampton Roads food culture. Another stir-up concerns the LeGrand Burger, claimed to be one of the best in Norfolk (I think it is, I don't care if it looks like a Big Mac) - Southern Grit is hitting it from all angles, the likes, dislikes, even the weight of the burger patties (makes me think of Grandpa Fred from Sixteen Candles telling Long Duck Dong "you don't spell it son, you eat it!).
I sent him some questions, similar to what I did with Fellini last year, to let people get to know him a little better. if you're already familiar with Fitz you'll know he loves Nouvelle, if you read below you'll understand why. Another thing about him is that he runs 757E Zine, a local culture rag. Running magazines has him looking at numbers, readership sweet spots and how his work compares to material with a larger circulation - Veer, Whurk, etc...
Please read on and look out for the new issue of Southern Grit that hits the presses this Friday. You'll find it on the street February 1, 2016!
All images courtesy of Fitz and Southern Grit.
GC: What is your experience in the restaurant industry? Why write a magazine about it?
JF: Recently I did a stint as Nouvelle’s dish bitch and then ended up working front of the house as a waiter and a really, really bad bartender for a bit. The idea to launch Southern Grit materialized from the food section of 757E Magazine (which later became Fuss Magazine). 757E’s food section set me down a path of getting to know chefs.
As a person who identifies as an artist, I started to really see some of the better chefs in Hampton Roads as artists in their own right, so I really wanted to make a food magazine. At the time however - guessing about a year ago now - I was worried about doing most of the writing for Southern Grit as I did for 757E. Chris Fellini had just written an article for 757E that I felt stood above the rest and so I approached him about starting a food magazine. He threw the name Pantry and Southern Grit at me. I lobbied hard for Southern Grit and we went with that.
GC: Your experience in the industry and recent life events seem to be key in your decision to start Southern Grit, what else influenced you?
JF: My background as a photographer (I took classes under Stephen M. Katz and Sam Hughes) plays a large roll. I initially went to college and ended up getting my first associate degree in Applied Arts - Studio Arts. I was in love with drawing and painting at the time. However, while pursing that, I had to take a photography class as an elective. Sam Hughes taught the class and while at the time he was probably the best wedding photographer in Hampton Roads he had a history with journalism photography. First under his creative influence, and then after taking a really pivotal photojournalism class under Stephen Katz (in my opinion the best photographer to work at the Virginia Pilot), I wound up getting involved in the student paper.
In under a year, I worked my way up to editor-in-chief and produced three editions of the student paper - until we got shut down for an article I co-wrote involving student funds. Looking back, this may have been the beginning of striving to be honest about what I write and shoot rather than being popular.
GC: What will Southern Grit try to provide to readers?
JF: An honest conversation about food and food related issues. Before Fellini and I launched Southern Grit, we had a huge conversation about writing honestly and not pandering. We didn’t want to be Veer or Wurk or Culture Snack. There simply is just too much of this, "Everything is great” mentality in those print publications.
I mean op-ed wise, Tom Robotham puts out some good work in Veer but by in large in all three of those publications when you read them it’s going to be a love fest from front to back. Don’t get me wrong though; there are tons of things in Hampton Roads to love. I was raised here. This is my home. Shit, earlier this year I turned down two design job offers out of state (plus some financial peace of mind) because this is where I want to live.
The problem is that when you scream from the rafters about how awesome something is just because it’s new, or because that particular restaurant, business, etc… is taking out an ad in your publication, you take away from those chefs or restaurants that are truly killing it.
GC: How far out of the area are you hoping the magazine will reach?
JF: We will endeavor to reach out of the area and more into the greater south as we grow. I eventually want to see Southern Grit be a retail magazine not a free one. That’s one of the reasons I decided not to go with newsprint, but rather a magazine quality glossy paper.
For the moment I want to continue to build our social media numbers and expand our print edition both by volume and by spots we distribute to. We very shortly are going to run an online campaign to take steps towards just that. With the growth we already have seen (particularly in regards to our social media numbers plus how fast our print magazines are gone once we put them out), I’m hoping this online campaign will be of interest to restaurants and business owners in Hampton Roads who wish to reach their demographics through an inventive and most importantly, pander free, publication. Our readers, of which I am so very grateful for write us and get what we are about. I think people are tired of reading advertising vehicles disguised as magazines.
In terms of food and art in the region, Hampton Roads is seriously expanding and developing a unique voice. I want Southern Grit to function in those circles. I like that Chefs message us, that industry workers message us. I believe they know we are doing this with passion and not to entice a full page ad.
GC: Are you doing the bulk of the editing and writing for the magazine?
JF: Due to Fellini's desire to Hunter S. Thompson it the fuck out of dodge, then come back, then turn around and set out to leave again, haha, yeah at this point I do.
Having worked at Nouvelle for a stint and mainly in light of getting to know many of the best Norfolk based chefs over the last year, I feel comfortable pulling a lot of the writing weight now. I do want to note, however, that after the first edition when Fellini left the state for a bit, Wade A. Hunter stepped forward and wrote a lot of really solid articles for Southern Grit, as well as aided with concepts and copy editing. I’m glad both of them still contribute articles to Southern Grit and that both of them are my friends. They both are really talented writers.
Also worth mentioning are the numerous other contributors that produced articles that break up the homogeneity. Honestly, the only thing I mind about writing so much of the content is that I can’t focus on that alone. In light of having to design, photograph, and now illustrate so much of the publication, I find myself spread thin sometimes. I’m not always the best multitasker either.
GC: How has the reception been when looking for supporters and advertisers?
JF: Selling advertising space sucks for someone who isn’t about sales. It takes a certain mindset and I am an artist, not a salesman. I am very grateful that O’Connor Brewing Co. and Streats both did a three-issue deal. We have also found support from other local businesses. Right now we are looking for an ad rep – so hit me up young and hungry sales person!
I seriously hope that in the future that this part of the business doesn’t rest with me. I’m hoping this new online campaign will be successful and take some of the worry out of it for me. In college I learned a lot of what I use for Southern Grit - how to paint with oils, sculpt, draw, use watercolors, shoot photos manually, write - but I’ll say that business, instead of philosophy, might have been a smarter minor!
In terms of support in a non-monetary way, it has been overwhelming. I’m very appreciative of the press you have given us, plus the press Joe Fitz at the Dominion Collective gave us. As well as all the advice and time Dave Hausman at Handsome Biscuit/ Toast/ Field Guide, Charles Burnell at Work Release, Jamie Sums at 80/20, and Jesse Scaccia at Alt Daily have all given to me. Rina Estero at Nouvelle Restaurant also took a real interest in Southern Grit and was very helpful in facilitating some of the recent social media growth. And again, it goes without saying that our readers seriously rule! It’s been awesome having people come up to me and talk about articles my contributors and I spent hours on end creating.
GC: Will Southern Grit primarily cover food and restaurants?
JF: I think concerning the broader Virginia reach, Whurk employs a younger perspective, one that Veer is sadly lacking. This makes Whurk a tad more relevant to what is truly current and interesting to readers. However, Veer will most likely continue dominate as a free, broad culture review publication. Politically Veer does outshine other free publications available in Hampton Roads and despite many of us around here seeing the dinosaur mentality it often exudes, it's not going anywhere. For me, personally, I've enjoyed delving deeper into documenting and writing about the chefs and restaurants that are creating so much talk and energy around food in the area. I’m going to focus on thoroughly exploring that subject instead of throwing my resources at several different creative fields in Hampton Rooads. In terms of serious eaters in this area as well, I think it's becoming obvious that people are expecting more in terms of a meal out considering how diners are growingly engaged in the food they choose and support with their dollars. I hope that ultimately how deep Southern Grit gets into issues surrounding food, plus the quality of the visual along with the honest, straight-forward way the contributors and I write about the subject will continue to grow the brand that Southern Grit is developing into.
GC: Do you have a target audience?
JF: Charles Burnell told me once always answer that question with “Millennials” hahaha. I do think we have a younger readership like Wurk, but we’re more focused on our end. I think in terms of target audience, more than anything we are (I know some including myself feel this phrase is played out but) we are a foodies’ publication.
For example, we are about to talk candidly in a four-page article about the Legrand Burger, which is both loved and hated by many folks in the business. Danielle Jones of the food media blog Slice and Torte told me, "The LeGrand Burger is an enhancement of everything you want from a classic burger." On the other hand, Sous Chef Jon Scheidt of Nouvelle Restaurant refuses to even call it a burger, stating, "It's JUST a patty melt", whereas Chris Conway of Nomarama Burger Club is quick to tell anyone that will listen, "This, [the LeGrand Burger] is the best burger in the area and I say this with complete confidence”. However, Fellini at the mag most infamously said of the LeGrand Burger that "It's just a glorified Big Mac”. So we are in the process of sculpting an article that goes into the history of the burger as the public knows it asking a question: is LeGrand’s burger true-to-form to a classic burger? Hell, we even weigh the patties of the damn thing and compare its weight to the Big Mac to delve into how similar it may or may not truly be. By and large, even the best of publications like, say, Distinction, which retails for 10 bills is (in this case has), just basically wrote a good but standard bio/breakdown of Steve Marsh and his restaurant. We are always trying to go about things from unique angles. I think this edition the great burger debate piece with LeGrand and a very interesting challenge piece we did with Saint Germain’s Chef Dave Hledik kind of shows why we stand out when it comes to writing about food locally.
Honestly you never know what we will say because we are totally being straight up - even if it isn’t in line with popular attitudes around here. When I meet with contributing writers I always try to press them to write true to the experience they had if they are reviewing something. We really do need to get away from this broad pander mentality.
GC: What is Southern Grit?
JF: You know one of the reasons I lobbied for this name was it kind of is an attitude. It’s an attitude/ presence that I see when I watch Steve Marsh, or Dave Hledik, or Nic Hagen cook. It’s a no-nonsense, passionate, do-not-compromise-at-all way of creating for them, I believe. A good example was watching Rina Estero pick out veggies from Brothers farm… pairing them with proteins, and then having that in mind when pushing herself to constantly evolve her menu. I see this kind of from the beginning, hands-in-everything approach when I'm making the mag.
Chris, Wade, and I brainstorm a theme, we then look at what’s going on locally and try to identify what is interesting; what is striving to distinguish itself as inventive in food. Then I go shoot a photo story of a subject related to what we identified to see if we’re on the right path with our thinking. Then I interview the people involved, write it, match typography to the photography, possibly illustrate it, and then finally tweak everything into a final spread. It’s a labor of love - my hands and creative vision are in most all of it. I think this, in some ways, parallels the lives of the best chefs in the area and this is why I have so much respect for what they do. I honestly don’t look at a plate of food the same way anymore. The truly great ones are a form of art to me now.
We attended the Distinction Bootlegger's Ball this past weekend and had a great time. Shelby and I both dressed up and won the costume contest!
I'll get more photos up later this week but here is how the tintype turned out and you can check out our outfits.
I was on Granby St. yesterday chatting with the owner of Brink Anchor (where Jack Quinn's used to be) and realized I was super hungry. Sometimes I get wrapped up in the idea of what it is I want to do and forget to do things like, say, eat. So I was starving after my visit with Phil and was trying to decide where to eat lunch. It's been a while since I've had a lunch option in Norfolk since I live in Virginia Beach and I'm at my regular job during the day (no, I don't blog for a living.) The decision wasn't hard to reach after remembering a photo I saw online this week. The image depicted a mountain of a sandwich - no more like a volcano with lava of peach chutney tumbling down stacked, curry braised pork. It was called the Shah Raan and I was going to rise to the challenge issued by Field Guide to "conquer" it.
I mentally prepared myself, image Sir Edmund Hillary getting that high knowing he was going to climb Mt. Everest. I was right down the street from this monster, all I had to do was find a parking spot. The Fates were with me because a car pulled out of a spot right in front of Field Guide and I quickly slid in and paid the meter. It was a beautiful day, overcast and cool, I love how it feels when it's like that.
I walked into Field Guide and was greeted by Jeremy behind the counter and saw an acquaintance Chris Revels seated at the bar. He was taking a break from mural painting a few blocks away. Jeremy mentioned it had been a while since I've been there, which is true, but I knew exactly what I wanted. I asked for the "big ass sandwich". He smiled knowingly and shouted to the kitchen, "Big Ass Sandwich!" I waved to Cristina and crew in the back and headed back to say hi.
My sandwich was being made as I stepped into the doorway to the kitchen. I watched from afar, a little giddy with the idea that I was going to eat it. I know it sounds cheesy, but I get excited about eating - especially good food and Field Guide is on point. Always. I chatted a little bit about the Shah Raan and Cristina (Waffletina)told me about some of her other projects she's working on. By the way, if anyone wants to rent a great space next to Toast in Norfolk, get in touch with her. The space could be used for about anything and the rent would be a great deal.
The Shah Raan sandwich was created by one of the line cooks in Field Guide's kitchen. I love the fact that the people in the back have the opportunity to put something together and then have it featured in the shop. David Hausmann, the creative mind behind Field Guide and several other projects in Norfolk, has been spot on when introducing new concepts to the area. Especially those dealing with food, I mean who doesn't like Handsome Biscuit? Back to the sandwich - the Shah Raan is made up of curry braised pork shoulder, sunflower pecan raita, and peach chutney. I'll be honest and say I have no idea what the name means, I think it was just something the guy came up with when they made it. It sounds exotic and the sandwich itself reflects that with Indian-style curry infused in the pork, just enough so you know it's there. The raita is lightly tossed with red cabbage and the peach chutney rounds out everything with a slightly pungent sweetness. What's really neat about this is the flavor profile is usually seen used with chicken or lamb, I think it pairs perfectly with pork though.
Please don't judge me, but I didn't even try to pick up my sandwich. I mentioned that I would probably use a fork and knife and Jeremy laughed and grabbed me my flatware and a bunch of napkins. I was going to need them. They call mustaches "flavor savers" for a reason!
I was working on my sandwich when Dave walked in. The guy is busy and was hitting his spots tying up loose ends. We chatted for a bit about some ideas he had about expansion, new shops and things he'd like to introduce to the area. Exciting stuff. I have to mention that Cristina put together a great dessert for me made with a almond shortbread recipe she loves. The recipe is actually from one of Dave's old restaurants The Boot, I'm sure a lot of you remember that place. 80/20 Burger Bar is in the old location now. The dessert was made with charred peaches, a delicious homemade cream that reminded me of Shelby's Dirty Cake, and a little bit of mint leaf. So good!
I was able to finish my whole sandwich. That thing was huge, so unlike Hillary who did manage to reach the summit of Mt. Everest I made it about halfway. I bowed out gracefully asking for a container to package my unfinished portions so I could share them with Shelby later at home. I was very satisfied with the whole experience and told myself to not wait so long before visiting Field Guide again. Oh, and thanks for the beer Jeremy.
Additionally, here are a few shots of the mural Chris was working on.
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 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.
There were two savory and one sweet crepe to order - we went with the Pasture-ize and the the Saison. The Pasture-ize was made with pasture raised sous vide chicken, fresh spring greens, pickles and sprint herb ailoi. The Saison was fresh spring greens, roasted benne sweet potatoes and sprint onions then dressed with whipped chevre and wild onion vinaigrette. Our creamy oyster mushroom soup was named Sedley's Finest.
There was a good crowd in Pendulum and it was nice to bump into friends and familiar faces. If you've missed Commune's pop-ups they'll be opening a restaurant in Virginia Beach with an expanded menu.