18 January 2012

another place for the list... the blue goat

mlk day was a great monday, because bob was actually not working on weekday!
and he had a hankering for a fancy lunch...
i love a fancy lunch!
so we hit up urbanspoon in an attempt to find something nice & new to us.

bob found the blue goat, located in the lovely libbie-grove area in richmond.
bob gets big props for this find because lunch was fabulous!
the restaurant is clean, trendy, well-decorated and comfortable...
like a farmhouse,
if the farm was in greenwich village!
it is clear that every detail was considered
so make sure to check out the bathrooms when you visit!

the blue goat has a very modern take on pub food
with its farm-to-table, nose-to-tail approach of creating a menu.
and, yes, they actually offer meals made from goat!

bob ordered the sausage sandwich.
we aren't talking johnsonville brats here people!
the blue goat serves a house-made smoked venison, pork & duck prosciutto sausage
with sauteed peppers and stout mustard!
what? yes! it was heavenly!

house-made, smoked venison, pork & duck prosciutto sausage
from the blue goat
image by bob stanier

i ordered the pizza of the day which was a deliciously simple blend
of fennel & basil olive oil, house made ricotta and fresh herbs.
i would definitely try any pizza of the day that they might offer.

pizza of the day: house-made ricotta and fresh herbs
from the blue goat
image by sarah c baron

with the great food, service and atmosphere,
we are stoked about returning to sample the family style dinner and brunch menus!
if you are up for a great beer & interesting food made from local ingredients in a comfortable setting,
then check out the blue goat.
maybe we will see you there because i am considering moving in!

13 January 2012

top five favorite places to eat in richmond!

one of the things we liked most about moving to richmond,
was that there are some pretty good options for eating.
we do like to dine out and have discovered some amazing restaurants,
most of which are within walking distance from our house!

here is a list of the top five places where i like to eat in town:

5. ginger thai
it is located on cary street in the carytown area of richmond.
the place is really small and a little pricey for the atmosphere,
but the food is tasty and spicy, if that is how you want it!

4. secco wine bar
is also in carytown.
it is yet another quaint little restaurant where you sit close to your neighbors.
the place is modern and clean with a unique small plate menu,
a great ever-changing beer selection and, of course, a large wine list.
we went for richmond restaurant week. it was great and i had beef cheeks for the first time! yum!
on another occasion, we stopped by in the afternoon with a hankering for cheese.
there was no cheese plate on the lunch menu, but they made one for us anyway!

3. garnett's cafe
is located in the quiet, residential fan neighborhood.
they have amazing sandwiches and soups.
everything seems homemade, right down to the pickles!
it too is tiny with a small counter bar and only a handful of tables.
there are always colorful neighborhood folks in attendance!

2. 8 1/2
can be found on pretty strawberry street in the fan.
this place is take out only,
but the pizza, oh the pizza is so delicious!
it reminds me of lombardi's in new york city;
the sauce is flavorful and the ingredients are quality... mmm, pepperoni!
they don't have a website, but you can find them on yelp & urbanspoon.

1. mekong
this is our #1 go to restaurant in town. the only one on the list we have to drive to.
its not much to look at,
located in a shopping center on broad street amongst mattress stores and latino markets.
it can get extremely crowded, especially on a friday or saturday night, but any wait is worth it!
the pho is amazing, curries are delicious and, my favorite, make-your-own spring roll is fun and yum.
the craziest part, however, is the beer list.
mekong has the largest selection of belgian beers in richmond
and those tart and rich brews counter the spice and flavor of vietnamese food so well!

there are a number of other places that we like a lot, but don't go to quite as much;
like la grotta in shockoe slip, strawberry street cafe down the road from 8 1/2,
the cellar door tucked in the basement of an apartment building on monument avenue,
can can on cary and balliceaux on lombardy in the fan.

if you live in richmond or come to visit, check some of these places out!

our custom cheese plate from secco wine bar
image by sarah c baron

the cute garnett's cafe. no food photos because i eat too fast!
image by sarah c baron
pizza from 8 1/2
image by sarah c baron

bob modeling a delicious winter brew at mekong
image by sarah c baron

mekong pho with chicken & accoutrements
image by sarah c baron

04 January 2012

our not-so-secret recipe: homemade bacon vodka & bloody mary mix

i just love a spicy, smokey bloody mary on a sunday morning!

what began as an attempt to court through food
has evolved into the search for bloody mary perfection.
for the passed few years, we have been concocting and tasting and reworking
both the vodka and the mix for this holy grail of breakfast cocktails.
it has been a difficult task, but, as they say, someone has to do it!
here are our secret recipes that we willing share with anyone who cares...

sarah's bacon vodka (not for the vegetarian!):
fully cook one pound of bacon
submerge bacon in one bottle of quality vodka (use a large jar with an airtight lid and save the bottle)
place in a cool dry place for 3 to 5 weeks
remove and discard bacon
freeze vodka overnight
remove large chunks of fat and leftover bacon by pouring through cheesecloth
freeze vodka overnight
slowly pour through coffee filters 
repeat two or three times until you are confident that the majority or the fat has been removed
(the resulting liquor might be a little yellow or it might be a lot yellow, it depends on the bacon)
use a funnel and pour back in to bottle making sure to label it!

bob's spicy bloody mary mix (not for the timid!):
1 bottle of quality tomato juice
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup pickle juice
1/4 teaspoon moore's hickory
2 tablespoons sriracha
1 teaspoon tabasco
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
3 teaspoons horseradish
1 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon old bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper (or a rich chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro (or a small handful of fresh chopped)

shake well, chill & season to taste after a day or so.
mix with bacon vodka and serve garnished with pickle, bacon slice, celery & lime!

bob & sarah's smokey bacon bloody mary
garnished with vodka cured jalapenos
image by sarah c baron

03 January 2012

holiday eating

i love the holidays because it means food, food & more food!
this season i spent a bit of time traveling, which always means tasty meal options...
pittsburgh, washington dc, richmond & southport, nc
offered us some delicious items to put in our mouths!

here is a visual recap with web links!

The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company
is a must for meats & cheeses. They do mail order!
Primanti Brothers,
because fries taste great on sandwiches!
Yacht Basin Eatery
has amazing Italian food in an unexpected location. Check it out if you are in Southport, NC.

tollhouse cookies from scratch made by yours truly. bob helped!
image by sarah c baron

primanti brothers salami & cheese in pittsburgh, pa.
if the lines are too long, consider going for breakfast. everyone loves a french fry sandwich for breakfast!
image by sarah c baron

experimenting with the fryer:
fried skins stuffed with roasted garlic mashed potatoes & all of the trimmings
image by sarah c baron

a lovely cappuccino and croissant from le pain quotidien
in old town alexandria, va
image by sarah c baron

the final filtering of my homemade bacon vodka
it sounds and looks pretty gross, but it tastes oh, so good!
image by sarah c baron

new year's eve party snacks!
fried bacon wrapped dates with pistachios & bleu cheese courtesy of doug hetrick
image by sarah c baron

bob stanier created a scrumptious meat & cheese platter from penn mac in pittsburgh
bresaola, calabrese, prosciutto, maytag bleu, black diamond cheddar, gruyere & a sheep's brie
image by sarah c baron

an exquisite & authentic new jersey italian meal at the yacht basin eatery in southport, nc
the napolitano pizza with prosciutto & balsamic reduction was to-die-for!
image by sarah c baron

pierogies from penn mac with turkey kielbasa
tossed together in the kitchen after a late day at the office
image by sarah c baron 

a slow cooked white bean & chard soup
taking advantage of those frozen parmesan rinds & the le creuset cookware
image by sarah c baron

01 January 2012

i like food

it would be an understatement to say that, when i was a child, i was a picky eater.
my grandmother could often be overheard whispering,
"give her a cookie. at least she'll be eating something".
i really like cookies!

food back then wasn't quite what it is today.
i knew only of canned vegetables; corn, green beans and carrots.
i only had white starches; potatoes, macaroni and rice.
i experienced just the standard proteins; chicken, pork and beef.
with all respect to my family and their cooking,
i will admit that these dishes were ofter overcooked or bland.
it seems to me that this was just the way of the new england home cook in the seventies and eighties.

as i have gone out on my own, met knew people and visited new places,
my palette has expanded and my bravery for trying new foods has become more bold.
i am still getting over old phobias and experiencing new flavors for the first time to this day.

in 2011, i learned to enjoy grouper, thai & indian curries, brussel sprouts,
vietnamese pho and the once dreaded mushroom!
in 2012, i plan to keep exploring my eating options, but i still won't eat broccoli!