Thursday, April 2, 2009

The White Dog's Whiskey Bread Pudding

So, I’ve lived in Richmond for about 7 years now and had always been intrigued by the White Dog, although I’d never stopped in. About two weeks ago, I finally had the opportunity to try it with a group of friends. My meal was pretty good. I got the Black Angus New York strip with roasted garlic glaze, which was cooked perfectly and tasted great with the accompanying mashed potatoes and spicy collard greens. I also tried a bite of my friends’ positively mouthwatering wilted spinach with walnut-and-brown-sugar-crusted chevre topped with bacon vinaigrette. I mean, bacon vinaigrette makes anything better, especially a sweet-savory goat cheese and spinach combo.

While the meal was all good, the true star of the night was the creamy bread pudding topped with whisky hard sauce and hot caramel glaze. I didn’t even order it: a friend did and generously offered me a few bites. After a taste, I couldn’t put the spoon down. The pudding itself was perfectly cooked and it was topped with the just the right amount of gooey, sweet sauce and glaze. The dish was finished with a crunchy piece of brittle that perfectly contrasted the softness of the pudding. This was a dynamite combo, and I can certainly understand why it’s a standard on the White Dog’s menu. I’ll certainly return for it again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brunch at Kuba Kuba: The Best Ever?

Last Saturday I found myself at Kuba Kuba for brunch. I seriously forgot just how good this place was. Every aspect of the meal was worth the 20-minute wait. My friend and I started our meal with lightly sweetend cafe con leches and an order of tostones. My friend, who was in from out of town commented on the cafe con leche: "I could drink an entire bucket of this."

We loved that the tostones, which cost only about $2.95 for an order, arrived in maybe 2 minutes, making two hungry diners who'd been waiting quite happy. We dipped our friend plantains in Sriracha as we munched and the mild sweetness of the plantains combined perfectly with the hot sauce for a sweet, spicy, crispy treat. We pretty much plowed these in about 5 minutes.

Next came our entrees. We both ordered the California Huevos, and oh my gosh was it good. I think this might just be my favorite brunch dish I've eaten in the past year. Two eggs were served over cuban bread and red beans then topped with Monterey Jack cheese, enchilado sauce that was packed with tomato and pepper flavors, lime sour cream and sliced avocado. As I ate, the egg yolks ran into the bread and beans, making for a wonderful, slightly soggy concoction. I dolloped some more Sriracha on my dish, because I love the stuff. Each bite was spicy, creamy, tomato-y and delicious. Accompanied by a Negro Modelo, it was heaven.

This was a special occasion: my friend was in from out of town. So we finished our meal with a slice of the tres leches cake, which as always, was simple and tasty. While all was good, I continue to crave that California Huevos dish every time I recall the perfect flavor blend.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Va Wine Expo SunTrust Governor's Cup Grand Tasting

I attended this portion of the Va Wine Expo last night and it was a great time. This year the space was much bigger and the wineries were more spread out. I chose to pay the extra money for the Friday event after attending on Saturday afternoon last year and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the crowds. It's never fun to have to push your way in to taste. Last night, the event wasn't at all packed and we rarely had to wait to taste. Plus, there were tasty hors d'oeuvres from chefs around town. The standout hors d'oeuvre was definitely a pork salad served on a crab chip from J. Frank, personal chef to Frances Lewis.

In terms of wine, all the usual players were there with a special pour that wouldn't be available to taste for the rest of the weekend. My favorites including Delfosse, Barboursville and Keswick were there and there were also some great new players. One of my favorite surprises was Mountfair Vineyards. Located in Crozet, this winery only produces reds right now and had three available to taste. All were big, bold blends that were fruit-forward and delicious. I took home the Belated and the Inaugural.

The other standout was Vino Curioso, a winery that doesn't have a tasting room yet, so the opportunity to taste was even more exciting. This Winchester winery has creative labels and wine names with some tasty options. I took home the Franc the Tank Cab Franc and the Sangiovese.

I also have to give props to New Kent Winery. Another new winery only about 30 minutes away, these wines were also delicious. I especially liked both of their Chardonnays, which were light and fruity. Even the Chardonnay Reserve had only a light kiss of oak. This is a welcome alternative to oak-filled California Chardonnays. As soon as it warms up, I'll definitely be planning a trip down to the tasting room with a picnic in tow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Addicting Dip

So I happened upon Sam's Club on a pre-Super Bowl tasting day. I'm always tempted by fancy dips, spreads, etc. and often have to talk myself out of taking them home. Have you tried the locally made Miss Bonnie's Jalapeno Cheese Spread from Kroger? I can rarely buy that stuff because I love it soo much I can't stop eating it. Spicy cheesy goodness that goes well on everything...

Back to present. Of all the tempting toppers I tried on this Sam's visit, there was one I had to bring home. Upon tasting the Channel Island Bay All Natural Buffalo Blue Cheese Spread, it seemed as though the tub just leapt into my cart. Since it's come home with me, to the dismay of my love handles, it's become my newest eating best friend. I've spread it on turkey sandwiches, spread it on crackers, veggies and toast, and visions of buffalo-blue-cheese chicken salad are dancing in my head. The spread is made with sour cream, maytag blue cheese and hot sauce, and it has the perfect creamy texture with a blue-cheese bite and mildly spicy finish. This stuff is sooo good, but be forewarned: it's addictive! Just writing this post is making feel the need to go grab and another dip.

The Caterer’s Corner Café: W for Weird

My coworkers and I just tried the Caterer’s Café in the former La Petite France spot for lunch, and it was a bizarre experience. First off, the décor has not been changed from the restaurant’s original formal, straitlaced design including the china, cloth napkins and silver. The menu spans sandwiches, soups and a salad bar.

Upon walking in, I saw the “salad bar,” which was a table in the middle of the restaurant with soup and some salad fixings. Everything was in pretty small bowls including one tiny container of greens, so I decided to skip this option and go for the soup/sandwich combo with the soup du jour, tomato, and the dill-tuna salad sandwich on multigrain bread. The meals arrived on fine china: a bit like eating lunch at your grandmother’s house. The food was all fine, I’m not gonna say spectacular. The soup tasted homemade but it came out lukewarm and was extra chunky. The tomato pieces were kind of chewy as if the soup hadn’t simmered long enough. The tuna was light on mayo but also on flavor. The best part of the meal was the dill potato salad with redskin potatoes, fresh dill and a creamy, smooth texture.

When our checks were brought, they weren’t taken for a while. Keep in mind we were the only table in the place and she was pretty much standing off to the side watching us. Maybe she was waiting for a break in the conversation to interrupt? Finally, the server came over and we asked if we were supposed the checks bring up them to her (since she gave us kind of an odd look as she took them). She responded with a confused “yes” but then took them into the back. English wasn’t her first language, so maybe she didn’t understand the question? When the receipts returned, there was no place to write in a tip and she stood right over our shoulders as we signed, so discussion of how/should we tip wasn’t really an option. On the car ride back to work, we decided the spot and experience deserves a “W” for “Weird” rating. I know this place is newly opened, so maybe they'll work some of the kinks out in the future...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Yummy Visit to Capital Coffee & Desserts

I met a friend for coffee at Capital Coffee & Desserts (2928 W. Cary St.) today. I've always appreciated the delicious desserts, friendly staff and coffee there but forgot about the goodness of their lunch offerings. When I arrived today I was hungry and although I'd planned on a sweet treat, I was tempted by the sandwich selection.I decided to try the "Roma" panini made with fresh mozzarella, homemade bread, roasted red peppers and a zesty pesto mayo. This sandwich was seriously gooey and delicious. Lots of melty, delicious cheese punctuated with tangy peppers and savory herbs. The crusty homemade bread (and keep in mind I come from an Italian family where bread is of utmost importance) was sliced just right and added a satisfactory crunch to an indulgent sandwich. I finished the meal with a delicious Vienna blend coffee. What a tasty treat.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Goodness that is Arianna’s Eggplant Parm Pizza

I know other bloggers have given this pie love, but I had to take a moment and blog about the amazing Italian-American goodness that is the eggplant Parmesan pizza at Arianna’s Grill. A hand-tossed, slightly chewy, crunchy-on-the-bottom pizza crust is topped with a combination of pungent Italian cheeses, thinly sliced fresh basil and, of course, eggplant Parmesan. Now I know, eggplant Parmesan on a pizza may sound a bit odd, but the crunch of the crust, flavorful breading, slightly mushy eggplant and fresh basil flavor might just be one of the most satisfying combinations I’ve ever tasted. Even my boyfriend who’s a definite “where’s the meat?” type of guy craves this pie over any pepperoni-, sausage- or ham-topped variety. Add a pretty big Mixed Green Salad for $5.50 that last night came with delicious garlic-stuffed olives, and you’ve got the best meal ever. Plus, it's delivered to your doorstep if you live in the Museum District or Fan. If not, it's sooo worth the drive. The only question left: can I stop at two slices?