Swine and Brine at Ardent Craft Ales

Last week Meg and I attended Ardent’s second annual Swine and Brine and let me say, it did not disappoint. We both enjoyed our fair share of tasty small plates created by some of Richmond’s best restaurants. And even though it rained — for the second year in a row — we still had a great time!

Swine and Brine 2016

The Dish

Let me start by saying, Ardent knows how to throw a great event. The staff were super well organized, the check in process was streamlined and they had more than enough staff on hand to pour beer and serve food. This is not one of those events where you have to stand in the beer line for thirty minutes. Tickets ($20) were mainly sold presale, and upon entering you were given three tickets — redeemable for one beer or food item each (a select few food items cost two tickets) — and an Ardent bandana.

Max with bandana

Ardent Swine and Brine Beer Selection

This year, Ardent added more restaurants to the line-up (yay!). We had to make a few difficult choices because we just couldn’t possibly eat every small plate. We skipped ZZQ, knowing that we’ll be able to find them at Ardent every Saturday, starting this weekend. Meg went straight for Rappahanock and tried the crab cake and a plate of oysters. Two thumbs up.

Rappahannock Oysters

Rappahannock Crab Cake
Rappahanock swine and brine menu

Rappahannock Crab Cakes

My three small plates had one thing in common: pork. This is Swine and Brine after all! I picked up food from Metzger, Sabai and The Rosevelt. Everything was so delicious but for me, the Sabai pork skewers stole the show, they were just packed with so much flavor.

Sabai Pork SkewersRoosevelt Sausage and Pea SaladMetzger Meatball Slider

By the way, I am 100 percent regretting not marathon eating and also attempting to try the carnitas tacos from Amuse and the pastrami ribs from Saison.

Amuse Carnitas Tacos
Saison Pastrami Ribs

Now that this year’s Swine and Brine is over, I’m patiently waiting for my favorite Ardent beer, the Honey Ginger to be back on tap. Follow @letsshareadish on Twitter and we’ll keep you posted on this year’s release date! We can’t wait to see what Ardent has in store for next year’s event  – hopefully third time’s the charm and we won’t need our raincoats.


What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

Can you believe it is already the end of April? Last week was a little crazy for me with a ton of meetings and events for both work and fun, so I’m excited for a little more downtime this week!

It’s Wednesday! Here’s What’s Happenin’

  • Let me start by saying I don’t really love wine (gasp!). I know, I’m working to expand my palate, but it is a slow process, okay? But I think we can all trust the French when it comes to wine. Enter: Grapefruit wine, which is apparently all the rage in France right now. You can either search for a bottle or make your own by mixing the juice of one whole grapefruit with a bottle of rosé!
  • Poor Rachael Ray, she just wanted to share her sandwich recipes on Twitter and then the behive attacked. Classic internet.
  • ICYMI: Meg and I celebrated our takeover of the Virginia Bloggers’ Instagram account on the new rooftop bar at Quirk Hotel. I can’t wait to see what the view looks like at night! Follow along, we’ll be posting from the account through Saturday.

  • The NFL draft kicks off tomorrow, and while I don’t typically care too much about NFL football, I am extremely excited for Kendall Fuller (the fourth Fuller brother to make it to the NFL). Sports Illustrated recently did an awesome story on his family and it just puts a smile on my face. Go Hokies!
  • When I plan out a vacation itinerary, one of the first things I scope out is where I want to eat! Bon Appétit recently launched city guides to serve as your food guide in some of the larger cities in the United States. I’ve started planning for a trip out to San Francisco and Yosemite in July and the San Francisco city guide has helped me narrow down my options — there are just so many great places to eat and so little time! Bon Appétit, if you ever need help scoping out places to eat in Richmond, I’m your girl!
  • Hardywood is expanding westward, AGAIN! This time the brewery is expanding into Charlottesville and planning to open in September. I guess this fall UVA football fans won’t have to drown their sorrows with bad beer.
  • One final thing: The Dog and Pig Show in Church Hill has rolled out an updated menu. I’m excited to try the Papaya Salad!

New dog and pig show menu

What to add to your calendar:

  • If you like beer, oysters and/or German food check out Metzger’s Maifest on Saturday. They’ll be slinging everything pretzels and schnitzel sammies starting at noon, rain or shine. Definitely make the drive over to Church Hill if you haven’t tried the schnitzel from Metzger yet.
  • There’s still time to purchase tickets to the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Taste of Richmond event tomorrow (4/27). At the event Jason Alley, chef and co-owner of both Pasture and Comfort, will be showcasing his skills in a live cooking event.
  • The official start of the South of the James (SOTJ) farmer’s market 2016 season starts on May 7! Get excited for new vendors and old classics to be back at it.
  • The threat of frost is now officially gone, so if you’re ready to start your own garden, check out Herbs Galore & More at Maymont on Saturday. Warning: Arts in the Park (at Byrd Park) is also happening this weekend, which is great news, unless you hate traffic. Plan alternate routes if you’re not attending either of these events.
  • Richmond’s outdoor concert season kicks off next week with the RVA East End Festival. This three day festival in Chimborazo Park is all for a good cause, benefiting music education in Richmond’s East End public schools.



Weekend in Austin: Part One

Taylor and I recently spent a long weekend in Austin, Texas visiting one of Taylor’s closest friends, Matt, who’s living there while getting his MBA. Austin has been on our list of places to visit for awhile, but we decided to take advantage of the timing and make a trip happen this year. I’d never been to Texas before and I was excited about going for a number of reasons – but I’d be lying if I said food wasn’t at the top of the list! We stayed at Matt’s apartment in East Austin just a few minutes from downtown, and it was the perfect place to call home for the weekend.

If you’re planning a trip to Austin anytime soon, this post should serve as helpful guide for some fun places to eat and see while you’re there.

Torchy’s Tacos

The tagline for Torchy’s Tacos is “Damn Good”, and they aren’t lying. This was our first stop after Matt picked us up from the airport, and it was a great way to start our weekend in Austin. We visited the South Congress location which just opened earlier this year. We started off with Torchy’s green chile queso which is topped with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and diablo hot sauce. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of queso over the years, and this one is at the top of the list. The hot sauce was the perfect touch.

Weekend in Austin - Torchys Tacos

I ordered two tacos off the menu: The Democrat, which was a beef barbacoa taco, and the Trailer Park, a fried chicken taco – I got mine “trashy” which meant it came with queso on top. (More queso? Yes, please!)

Torchy’s has locations in Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, and if you’re ever in close proximity, this taco spot is definitely worth a visit.

Lady Bird Lake

Weekend in Austin - Lady Bird Lake

With the amount of food we knew we were going to be eating over the weekend, we all agreed it would be a good idea to see some of the sights in Austin by foot. After lunch at Torchy’s, we walked around Lady Bird Lake and enjoyed the view of the skyline and the Colorado River. We lucked out with gorgeous weather the first two days of our trip and Lady Bird Lake was the perfect spot to enjoy the sunshine and just take it all in. The view above is from the pedestrian bridge.

Gourdough’s Public House

If you’ve been following the blog, you know Kelsey is our resident donut expert. When she was giving me advice for our weekend in Austin, I knew I couldn’t miss her donut recommendation: Gourdough’s. We went to the location on 5th Street and Matt, Taylor and I made the wise decision to split a donut – this snack was decadent and suitable for sharing. After looking at the menu, we ordered the Funky Monkey – a donut topped with cream cheese icing, fresh grilled bananas and brown sugar. It was like bananas foster and a donut got together to hang out, and I’m certainly not complaining.

Weekend in Austin - Funky Monkey Donut at Gourdough's

Via 313 Pizzeria

On Thursday night, we grabbed dinner at a food truck close to Matt’s apartment, Via 313. This spot is known for their Detroit-style pizza, and it was delicious. Matt and Taylor both got The Rocket pizza with hot soppresatta, arugula and shaved parmesan, and I went the simple route and got The Detroiter which had smoked pepperoni under the cheese and natural casing pepperoni on top of the cheese. The pizza is made fresh so there was a bit of wait for our food, but the food truck is next to a bar so we grabbed drinks and the time passed quickly at our picnic table outside.

Weekend in Austin - pizza at Via 313

la Barbecue

Weekend in Austin - La Barbecue Smoker

One of the smokers at la Barbecue

Weekend in Austin - la Barbecue food truck

The la Barbecue food truck

Of all the things that are better in Texas, I think barbecue tops the list – so it was naturally on our list of must-eat items for our weekend in Austin. Matt suggested la Barbecue, located in Aztec Food Park, and let me tell you – he didn’t steer us wrong. la Barbecue opened in 2012, and they serve delicious barbecue Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. – or until they sell out.

We arrived shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday morning to find a decent but not discouraging line. (Remember, they don’t even start serving food until 11 a.m. – the people in line (including us) just wanted to be among the first served). They were offering free beer to those waiting, and we each grabbed one and settled into our spot in line.

Weekend in Austin - Free beer at la Barbecue

I used the extra time to check out the smokers and one of the employees was nice enough to let me have a look at the brisket being prepared for the next day. la Barbecue smokes their brisket for 14 – 16 hours, and the brisket you see here was only about two hours in.

Weekend in Austin - brisket on smoker at la Barbecue

As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, we didn’t skimp on our lunch order. When we got to the front of the line shortly after 11, we ordered more than a pound of brisket, two kinds of sausage, a frito pie, chipotle slaw, potato salad and some of their house made pickles to share. I asked for some of their “bobby sauce” on the side and it was the perfect complement to our meal – perfect for both dipping the brisket and the bread that came with our lunch.

The food was out of this world – the brisket literally melted in your mouth. I’m not kidding, I would fly to Austin again just to have la Barbecue for lunch – a wait has never been more worth it.

You can read part two of our weekend in Austin here.


New To Town: Citizen Burger Bar Carytown

The Richmond location of Citizen Burger Bar opened this past weekend in Carytown at 2907 W. Cary St. in the space formerly occupied by Portrait House. The Citizen Burger Bar Carytown is the restaurant’s third location, joining two other Virginia locations in Charlottesville and Clarendon.

Kelsey and I sat down last week with Andy McClure, owner of the The Virginian Restaurant Company, (currently composed of the three Citizen Burger Bar location as well as a number of other restaurants in Charlottesville) to chat with him about what Richmonders can expect from Citizen Burger Bar Carytown.

Citizen Burger Bar Carytown Bar

Citizen Burger Bar Carytown Menu
Citizen Burger Bar Carytown Hours

The Food

As you might expect, burgers stand out when you take a look at Citizen Burger Bar’s menu – but this isn’t your standard burger. The beef comes from Timbercreek Organics, a farm located in Charlottesville. “We don’t say it’s some of the best beef in the world –  we say it is the best beef in the world,” says McClure. “We mean that. If you’re going to eat meat, this is the way to do it.”

The restaurant doesn’t only offer burgers, though. Across the board, Citizen has a huge commitment to ingredients, and customers can expect the same level of quality in any item on the menu. Other menu offerings include items like shishito peppers with a sweet soy sauce, truffle fries, a lobster club and a vegan burger made from a blend of blend of quinoa, millet, and beets. (I’ve enjoyed dining at the Charlottesville location a few times, and the shishito peppers are so good I’ve tried to recreate them at home, more than once.)

Though the main menus are similar at each Citizen location, the Carytown location will offer an “extras” menu in the coming weeks specific to Richmond. The location also plans to serve a turkey burger in recognition of its neighbor across the street, The Byrd Theater. A portion of the each sale of that burger will to the The Byrd.

The bar offerings stand out, too. Citizen serves over a hundred different kinds of beer, many of them local to Virginia. Those looking for a deal will be glad to know that happy hour is offered on weekdays from 4 – 6 p.m.

Citizen attempts to offer locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible, but above all, McClure wants the products to be good. He wants his customers to understand the source of the food, and why that source is a good place to support.

What to order on your first visit to Citizen Burger Bar Carytown:

Citizen Burger Bar Carytown Burger

The Citizen Burger

McClure suggests the Citizen Burger, which includes Timbercreek beef, McClure swiss, black onion, garlic aioli, iceberg, tomato, house brioche and a fried pickle. If you have a smaller appetite, you might enjoy The Mini, a 4 oz. griddle-smashed Timbercreek Angus with American, iceberg, onion and citizen sauce on a classic potato roll.

The Feel & The Space

The burger bar concept is one that McClure had wanted to try for a long time before opening up the first Citizen location in Charlottesville – and he’s done his research, visiting burger bars all over the world. “At the end of the day, it’s a burger and a beer,” says McClure. “Let’s not complicate that –  but if you can do that and do that really, really well – that’s the goal and that’s what I’ve always been intrigued by.”

It was easy for McClure to make the decision to open this location. “You come here enough, it’s hard not to like Richmond,” he says. “Richmond doesn’t get enough credit for how quirky and cool it can be.” As a business owner, he was immediately drawn to Carytown and says it’s the first place he thought of when considering a location in Richmond.

Citizen Burger Bar Carytown Patio

Citizen Burger Bar Carytown Interior

Citizen Burger Bar Carytown Cocktail Tables

McClure hopes Citizen is a place that customers see fit for any occasion, whether it’s to watch a game, go on a date or spend time with family. (It’s worth noting that Citizen Burger Bar caters to sports fans – near the bar, customers will find three custom-made cocktail tables each with their own TV.) He wants Citizen Burger Bar Carytown to feel welcoming, approachable, easy – no wonder, as those are all words that could easily be attributed to McClure himself.

He’s very focused on his employees and how important they are to his restaurants. “The smartest business owners are the ones who realize the people who work for them are more important than they are,” says McClure.

The restaurant seats approximately 80 people, with room for about 18 more on the patio. In our opinion, this patio location is one of the best that Richmond has to offer – a great place to watch the hustle and bustle of Carytown while enjoying an afternoon with friends.

“Every Citizen is unique,” says McClure. “Talking about the other ones does this place a disservice.”

Planning to visit?

Citizen Burger Bar Carytown is open every day of the week. The hours are  11 a.m. – 12 a.m. every day except Friday and Saturday when they’ll be open until 2 a.m. Today the restaurant will open at 5 p.m. and lunch service officially starts tomorrow, Tuesday, April 26. The kitchen closes a bit earlier than the bar, but you’ll find Citizen serving food until 11 p.m. on weeknights and until midnight on weekends. They don’t take reservations, but they do offer several parking spaces if you can grab one.


Richmond Markets: Stock Provisions

How often do you find yourself staring into your refrigerator aimlessly, hoping that something edible will just appear? That’s basically what happens to me every night after work, and I love to cook.

Hunter Hopcroft, one of the owners at Stock Provisions (formerly Harvest Grocery & Supply), hopes that his shop can help inspire home cooks who may feel inadequate in their own kitchens. I know the feeling. Sometimes it’s hard to get excited about cooking at home when it’s so much easier to enjoy an incredible dinner at one of Richmond’s many critically acclaimed restaurants.

Outside stock provisions

 Hunter Hopcroft - Stock Provisions
 Stock Provisions Meat

“We wanted to create a space and a store that inspired people to want to cook.” – Hunter Hopcroft

Back in late 2014, J.M. Stock Provisions — a butchery based in Charlottesville — opened a counter inside Harvest Grocery & Supply. After months of staffing overlaps and running supplies back and forth between Richmond and Charlottesville, the partnership just made sense. Today, when you walk into Stock Provisions you’ll find a variety of quality ingredients that you can use in your own kitchen. Side note: The guys from J.M. Stock are legit. They were both trained at The Meat Hook, the butcher shop inside Brooklyn Kitchen.

For Hopcroft and Stock Provisions, it all goes back to one thing, people today aren’t cooking enough for one another. And Stock wants to be the place where you can find ingredients that make you excited about cooking for and sharing a meal with someone else.

Idle Hands Bread

 5 for 50 dollarsFridge case stock
 Stock Provisions PicklesBar essentials

Stock Provisions Produce

The shop is also trying to make it easier for at home cooks on the go by stepping up its prepared food game. Think sous vide carrots, seasoned with olive oil and thyme, ready for you to reheat. And keep an eye out for all of the upcoming events that they’ve got planned for this summer, currently they’ve got the following events in the works:

  • A wine and junk food tasting.  Yes, you read that correctly. Wines will be paired with some of your favorite junk foods.
  • Ardent beer brunch, because who doesn’t love good brews and brunch foods?
  • A seed starter sale for all you aspiring gardeners!
  • A Blenheim Vineyards event, before the Dave Matthews Band concert in Charlottesville — they’ll be serving tasso pork shoulder porchetta sandwiches, YUM!
  • Another burger night? Please? I’m hoping this blog post convinces you Hunter! In the meantime, you can always visit the shop for #SandwichSaturdays — where the shop’s evil geniuses concoct a new sandwich for you to try each week.

Don’t worry, we’ll keep you posted as official dates and details are announced for each event.

Five under $50 at Stock Provisions

If you’ve never been to Stock Provisions, you might be wondering where do I even start? There are just so many great options to choose from and you probably don’t want leave the store breaking the bank. We asked Hopcroft to pull five items someone should buy if they have $50 to spend.

What to buy at stock provisions

  1. Old Church Creamery Milk, $6.50 for 64 oz. Oh my god, if you haven’t tried this milk you are missing out. Try this in your next roux, cream sauce or latte. I love having a glass of this milk to wash down a piece of chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookies.
  2. Parlor Coffee, $12.50 for 8 oz. This is Hopcroft’s favorite coffee, roasted by a small shop in Brooklyn.
  3. Tomato Achaar, $8.99 for a jar. This mildly spicy Indian relish is great on eggs, spread on sandwiches or even for kicking your boring sautéed vegetables up a notch.
  4. Kewpie Mayo, $7.99. This Japanese mayo is creamier, smoother than traditional American mayonnaise. Oh, and it contains MSG – so don’t go eating the whole container in one sitting. Try using this in your next batch of homemade chicken salad.
  5. Tin Mustard’s Whole Grain Mustard, $7.99 for a jar. Makes a great base for anything emulsified — think marinades or salad dressings.

Five for $50 total: 43.97 + tax.

What’s for dinner?!

And for the even more budget conscious, here are a few cheap and quick ideas to help elevate your week night dinner. If you work downtown, Shockoe Bottom or Church Hill, and live in The Fan or Museum District, Stock Provisions might be a convenient stop on your way home.

Stock Provisions Dinner Essentials

For when you need a good appetizer: cheese + jam + crackers = YUM!

  • Cyprus Grove Chevre’s Midnight Moon Goat Cheese, priced by weight. The goats used to make this cheese live in Humbolt County, California, but the real magic happens when the goat’s milk is sent to Switzerland and aged like Gouda. I’ve never had a non-crumbly goat cheese, so I’m excited to try this!
  • Virginia Chutney’s Spicy Plum Chutney, $8.00 for a jar, pairs nicely with the creamy goat cheese. This spread is made in Flint, Va. in Rappahannock County.

For when you need a great glass of wine and a simple meal:

Sauté a couple of Stock’s chicken, bacon, ranch sausages and serve over rice with a bottle of rosé. This bottle is a steal at $12.99 – the grapes used to make this wine grow next door to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s winery and they sell their rosé for $48 a bottle! So you’re basically drinking the same grapes (aka the same wine), at nearly a fourth of the cost.

Check out Stock Provisions the next time you’re in the Fan, where the friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you find whatever it is you need to complete (or start) your next meal. If you’ve purchased something awesome at Stock recently, let us know in the comments.



What’s Happenin’ Wednesday

It’s Wednesday! Here’s What’s Happenin’

  • If you follow us on Instagram, you probably saw I was in Austin this past weekend! It was my first time in Texas and I have so many good things to say about the city and (of course) its food. Stay tuned next week for two posts about my trip, which should serve as a helpful guide if you’re planning a trip to ATX anytime soon.

  • Cheers to Richmond’s newest craft brewery, The Veil Brewing Company! They officially opened their doors this past weekend. (Yes, that means there is another stop for you to add to your brewery tour of Scott’s Addition! Never a bad thing.)
  • Wednesday isn’t too early to be planning for happy hour on Friday, right? One of my favorite things to do in Richmond during the spring and summer months is Friday Art & Wine at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). If you haven’t been, you should definitely add it to your list! Happy hour is from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. and the museum is open until 9 p.m. During happy hour, they offer half off all beer and wine purchases! (On any nice day of the week, I recommend making good use of the VMFA’s colorful patio seating – it’s a great spot to read a book or chat with a friend in the sun.)
  • There’s a new ramen spot coming to town! Tenka Ramen is slated to open in May at 110 N. 5th Street. Follow their Facebook page for the latest and an opening date.
  • Thrillist recently did a round-up of every state’s most important food innovation. Virginia’s contribution? Virginia ham, specifically Smithfield.  If you know how much we love a good ham biscuit, you know we don’t disagree with this choice.
  • In the kitchen: You guys. At book club a few weeks ago, I tasted one of the best cakes I’ve ever had and I’m so excited to recreate this Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake. I would wait for a special occasion, but this cake is so good I think my special occasion is just going to be the fact that it’s the weekend. (When cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop are a part of the recipe, you know it’s going to be good.) If you need to make a cake anytime soon, look no further than this Ina Garten recipe – you won’t be sorry!

What to add to your calendar:

  • Hurry, or you’ll miss it: You still have time to enjoy Richmond Restaurant Week, which runs until April 24. Check out a round-up of menus here from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  • The launch party for Buskey Cider is scheduled for this Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. We’re huge cider fans and we can’t wait to check out this new spot!
  • The 2016 Friday Cheers season kicks off May 6. The shows are a steal, coming in at only $5 or $10 and it’s such a fun way to spend a night on Brown’s Island.
  • If you’ve always wanted to attend an Underground Kitchen event, now is the perfect time to check it off your list. On Sunday, May 15 at 11:30 a.m., Underground Kitchen is holding a gospel brunch to support VCU Massey Cancer Center. You can purchase tickets here for what’s sure to be an unforgettable afternoon, and $100 of each ticket purchase can be deducted as a charitable contribution.
  • I bet you didn’t know there was a National Pineapple Upside-down Cake Day, did you? It’s a real thing, and the holiday is celebrated today. If you want to join in on the fun, here’s a recipe for the classic favorite.