Category Archives: Uncategorized

OF CABBAGES AND …CLEANSE?

 

Cleanse.

What are you doing? Giving me the eye roll? A knowing nod? I personally recall my one attempt at The Master Cleanse, which after consuming quite possibly the most harrowing beverage of my life, ended mere hours later on the street in Brooklyn,  as I ravenously downed pints of pre-cut watermelon and mango from the green grocer while the proprietor pretended not to look. Abstaining does not come to me easily.

Today is the 9th day of my two week cleanse. It involves avoiding booze, sugar, dairy, wheat, refined or processed anything, fried foods, caffeine, nightshades -all the good stuff.

So far, I am sleeping better, I can see sure signs of detox and I have energy(!) so I joined a gym-all fantastic results. The one bonus I am most grateful for, that I did not anticipate? It is not the weight loss, or gorgeous glowing skin or looking like Connie Britton….

IT’S VEGETABLES!

I don’t know how I let this happen (uhh, pizza and tacos) but I somehow forgot how delicious and dare I say, downright mystical raw or very slightly cooked vegetables are. I live with a vegetarian. There are vegetables in our lives,  on the regular. Yet somehow I lost the vegetable plot (sorry).

Life is busy and as thrilling as making dinner every night looks on Pinterest, we are lazy and fall into our roasted-cauliflower-side routines. We make as though Broccoli Rabe was the only green vegetable at our disposal. We lean on the usual, and in doing so we had become, vegetable complacent.

By making vegetables the main (ahem, only) event, I’ve been challenged to make constant use of their diverse textures and endless preparations. Oh, the epiphanies I’ve had (dirt made this! dirt and sun and rain!) Every time I open the crisper there is a riot going on!  Salads and slaw were just the gateway. I’ve now tested the boundaries of what can be considered  ‘pesto’.  I crave fennel and beet crudo.  I now have an intimate knowledge of  Brassica oleracea. Can we talk of the subtlety and simplicity of a mess of greens….revelatory.

Don’t even get me started on radishes, we’ll be here all day.

Sure, the cleanse has some drawbacks, I miss wine REALLY, REALLY miss wine and cocktails bourbon. I found myself daydreaming about the burger at Pasture once or twice. However, I am looking at Summer with the wide-eyed, expectant joy of a child anticipating a visit from Santa as my thoughts turn to tomatoes. I expect my first ‘mater sammich of the season will border on religious euphoria.

I intend to keep up this veggie romance after the cleanse is over and remain vegetable focused during the day, (an idea that Mark Bittman has written about extensively) not only for the benefits to my health but because they are there waiting for me to , and they are so very delicious.

Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not look like Connie Britton, that was apparently a vegetable induced hallucination.

 

 

 

MY POLYANNA THOUGHTS ON THE ELBYS

The Elbys are Sunday and (what feels like) the whole town (but is most likely a minority of very food focused individuals) has gone GA-GA! The local Twitterverse and RVA social media have been consumed. I am no exception, having spent much time and thought on not only the award categories and the nominees themselves, but many hours on the more exciting aspects of dress! hair! make-up! This year, Richmond’s premiere restaurant industry event somehow feels different. A bit more exciting. More…defining.

Since 2011, but specifically in the last 18 months, our city-town (as I lovingly refer to it) has become very serious about food. Well, maybe not SO serious, but certainly people involved in food in Richmond, whether it be  restauranteurs, chefs and cooks,  coffee roasters, distillers, brewers, farmer’s market vendors, growers, food trucks, even those covering our food scene- all have been stepping up their game.

Sure, there have always been committed culinary folks, pioneers carving the way, whether or not RVA was ready for it. However, there is definitely a new movement afoot, Elbys founder and Richmond Magazine editor Susan Winiecki mentioned it taking shape when I interviewed her last year. Watching our chefs and eating establishments in national magazines on a now semi-regular basis is a sign. The influx of outsiders who wish to open food businesses here,  yet another. The number (hordes?) of  entrepreneurs opening groceries, eateries, bars, hospitality consulting firms, under-ground supper clubs and high-concept ventures-a clear guarantee to where we are headed.

All of this is wonderful news of course! Who doesn’t love a food town?

But with any local awards event, now matter how miniscule or insular, it’s inevitable that people feel slighted, egos grow or are shattered and cynics call phooey on the whole shebang.  Well, I’m writing this to say, we ain’t got time for sour grapes people! We are in this together-the many before us,  the plenty whom are presently busting hump unnoticed and those who are or will soon be leading the way. Richmond deserves the recent attention we’ve received.  We deserve it because we are growing together, pushing each other, and promoting our city as a whole, and not just individually.*

It’s important for the food community get together, to acknowledge, celebrate and inspire each other-awards or not.

I am overjoyed at the opportunity to recognize the efforts of those working toward not just our potential as a food destination, but as a city where visitors and locals alike can eat fantastic meals- from the high minded to the humble and feel welcome at Richmond’s collective table.

*True, there are those just out for themselves, we know who you are.

A NIGHT OF POWER COUPLES AT HERITAGE

MaximumFlavor

Maximum Flavor is the latest book by husband and wife dynamic duo Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot. Together they run the Ideas In Food blog where they blow the minds of novice cook and skilled pro alike by sharing their innovative, experimental,  and technique driven cooking. Last Monday night at a dinner celebrating the book release, Chef Joe Sparatta along with Chef Lee Gregory of The Roosevelt welcomed Alex to Heritage to share some of those recipes with Richmond.

Obviously, having Alex in Richmond was thrilling for the gang at Heritage and for the RVA diners who sold out the event. Aki was unable to be there, busy tending to another event in what I imagine to be a hectic schedule for the pair.
Alex made very clear her importance in their collaborations, “There is no ‘Ideas In Food’ without Aki.”

A human fly on the kitchen wall, I  myself was looking forward to witnessing the complicated choreography  of  a busy kitchen, with not only a special guest and a slew of new dishes, but also a handful of chefs who would normally be in their own restaurants. I was determined to stay out the way and watch the mayhem of a busy kitchen play out.

Servers brought in hand written tickets, ecshewing the  P.O.S. system for the night. Cooks filled clay bowls, beautifully handmade by one of the servers, with pepperoni ramen (wakame noodles, octopus, watermelon radish) and plated succulent lamb shoulder (yellow mustard gnocchi sardi, in a lamb heart ragu). Joe ran expo, constantly checking in with wife and co-owner Emilia, who had the front of house locked down with the help of their expert staff. Emilia’s brother, co-owner and bar manager Mattias, was joined by  T. Leggett (also of The Roosevelt) on bar and featured a special cocktail menu.  Alex delighted diners by running food and explaining dishes. I was struck by all of these pairs from the authors themselves and the chefs who executed the 5 course meal, to the husband and wife restauranteurs and two of  RVA’s favorite bar men.

Chef Sparatta’s M.O. appears to be the more the merrier, always focused on including his fellow chefs and cooks in events and collaborations when he can. The RVA restaurant community is better for it. It was nothing short of joyful to watch this group of  friends, busting hump together, laughing quite a bit and making many happy bellies in the process. Some pics below:

tartare&ramen&PVW

Alex&Joe2

lamb shoulder

Owensmiling

KarenKendraJoe

bestpictureeverRandallwtf

HeritageIdeasDinnerGroup1

CHANGE IS HARD, AND DELICIOUS

A good drink, is a homing device.
At different times during my drinking life I have been loyal and true to various concoctions; the long lost Gin Gimlet of my own roaring twenties, the more recent Boulevardier, my on again off again sweetheart, the Manhattan.
As a serial regular, I peruse the menu but ultimately never stray. Once I find my drink to adore, I continually return to it.

That’s what happened with me and the Lincoln at Pasture,
for the last 8 months, it was my only. A stimulating and yet soothing mix of bourbon, sambuca, angostura, and orange liquor.
Like an embrace from your grandfather, post cigar and Sen-Sen, the Lincoln was comforting and masculine. It was my leather easy chair.

But change was in the air.

Jeff and Beth, Pasture’s lovely bartenders had braced me for its eventual departure from the cocktail list, to make room for new exciting drinks, giving me ample time to get used to the idea of moving on. I smiled politely at them and imagined my future self simply continuing to order my beloved Lincoln, off menu.
I hardly expected that their recent revamp of their cocktail list, would lead me to my new flame!
Meet the Remington.

The Remington at Pasture

The Remington at Pasture (glam photo by Beth Dixon)

Similar to the Lincoln, though decidedly less grandpa, the Remington feels like an old friend that I need to catch up with. It’s served neat and serious and has a “let’s get this thing started” quality (the Cocchi di Torino, perhaps?).

Among the 5 new additions to the menu, the tart and vibrant tequila based Palmer also pitched some definite woo. You can acquaint yourself with the Remington and all of Pasture’s new cocktails here, and then mosey down to Pasture and taste for yourself.

NEW COCKTAIL PROGRAM AT LEMAIRE

Gator's Ghost

Gator’s Ghost

When word comes through that a restaurant in town has changed up their drink menu I make it my business to take a looksee. Yesterday I had the pleasure of trying 3 of the recently debuted cocktails at one of my most favorite places in RVA to enjoy an adult beverage, Lemaire at The Jefferson Hotel. Bar manager Scott Harris welcomed me with a plate of pimento cheese and I wasted no time getting to know the menu.

The new cocktail list features refined classics with an emphasis on exploring flavor. The most notable addition is a “Create Your Own Manhattan” feature where you can spend lots of time (and money if you are inclined) marrying numerous bourbons to vermouth and bitters. And I plan to.

Below are the three drinks I had of the 10 on the new list, 5 served up, 5 over ice.

Gator’s Ghost- Cathead vodka, Cointreau, Aperol, fresh juices, house made ginger beer

Named for the storied Jefferson alligator, it is lively and has a pleasant zing from the ginger beer. Quite delicious and it goes down very easily (blame it on the A-A-A-A-A-Aperol).

Shady Grove- Virginia bourbon, house spiced cider and sorghum.

Citrus cuts the syrupy sweet sorghum and hints of cardamom and anise come through on the cider. An apple pie love letter to Virginia, it is already very popular with guests.

Monument and Boulevardier- Bulleit Rye whiskey, Carpano Antica, Byrrh

This was my favorite of the three as the Boulevardier (which is a Negroni with a Southern identity crisis) is dear to my heart and liver. The addition of the French amaro Byrrh brings some woodsy, bitter-fruit depth. I’d like nominate it to be Richmond’s signature cocktail.

That is where I had to stop but tomorrow is another day and there was a rum Old Fashioned I had my eye on….

HEARD! #11 JAY PIERCE

I started Food Punk to create a space to celebrate food and music. Where else could I herald the magic of both Ramps and Pusha T? Cooking, like music, is an art. Both can be visceral, sensory experiences that transport, inspire and define us. I’ve often found that those who play with knives are also into ‘deep cuts’ of another nature. It is in this spirit that I bring you this series: HEARD! highlighting the music enthusiasts behind the line, the bar, the pass and the pen.

JayPierce
Jay Pierce is the Executive Chef at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro and Cary, NC. He is generally known as a smart ass that came in third on Jeopardy. He loves to eat, drink and be merry. He blogs here!

What was the first live music performance you attended?

My mom, dad and little brother all went to see AC/DC on the Who Made Who tour in July 1986 at the New Orleans Lakefront Arena. It was definitely the loudest show that I’ve been to (except for Ministry at Lolapalooza 2, and THAT was outside!) Brian Johnson hitting that bell with a sledgehammer for the encore will stay with me forever.

What was the most recent (show, concert etc.)?
Drive By Truckers at Ziggy’s June 2013 Winston Salem, NC. Great songwriters, they have a great following, and the live show was amazing.

What album/artist changed/defined/etc your life?
I first heard Master of Puppets in May 1986. Metallica came to town opening for Ozzy on the Ultimate Sin tour. My neighbor came back ranting about this awesome band that opened for Ozzy. He let me borrow the tape and I played it nonstop for two days, until he asked for it back. Six months later I bought Reign in Blood for five bucks off of a dude who’s mother was afraid that he was going to be possessed and made him sell the tape.

Also, moving back to New Orleans and hearing Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana on WTUL and having my mind blown as Gish and Nevermind came out simultaneously. That led to a shift in the music industry, where “alternative” became a currency, eventually imploding (the idea of an alternative subculture and how the internet killed it is delightfully explored in “The Authenticity Hoax,’ by Andrew Potter) One more mind-blowing, life-changing moment was working in a Jamaican restaurant in Eugene, Oregon, listening my way through “the Story of Jamaican Music” box set, and the dishwasher introducing me to the Fela Kuti catalog on Shenachie Records. I felt like such a radical. That music was so refreshing in the late 90’s, when music was severely lacking a message.

Do you have a musical equivalent to a guilty pleasure?
Jesus Christ Superstar with vocals by Ian Gillian of Deep Purple. I grew up listening to the original cast recording on vinyl, and I could never get into to the movie, because there was a different Jesus. A buddy of mine listens to it every Easter. Every time I listen to SoundGarden, I feel like this album made a big impression on Chris Cornell too.

What album is your go to for when you wanna smash stuff and life is sticking it to you?
My car CD player has Black Sabbath Vol.4 stuck in it right now, but the most cathartic music to blare out of your car speakers would be Slayer -Decade of Aggression or Suicidal Tendencies first album or Stormtroopers of Death or Straight Outta Compton

What album is your go to for fist-pumping-this-is-the-best-ever-happiness times?
Check Your Head or Paul ‘s Boutique, ACDC –’74 Jailbreak, Butthole Surfers – Independent Worm Saloon

What is on your turntable at home right now?
Mickey Newberry -Frisco Mabel Joy, but I need a new belt, so I haven’t heard it for a while. Drive-By Truckers -The Dirty South, as I’m writing this.

Is there anything about your love of music that you’d like to add?
There is a soundtrack to my life. songs are always playing in my head. Chefs, like musicians, are performers whose true art is consumed live, when transcribed in a cookbook, or captured in a recording, the art loses a dimension, a vitality and is more difficult to understand, than a full body experience.

When or how you listen to music?
Driving, on my phone, or on my home stereo w/ big speakers like an old guy.

Favorite genres?
Rock, late-eighties rap,

Desert island albums or songs?
Siamese Dream -Smashing Pumpkins
Small Change – Tom Waits
Rage Against The Machine
Murder The Mountains Red Fang
Age of Winters – The Sword
Black Sabbath Vol 4
Amerikkka’s Most Wanted -Ice Cube
The Bends – Radiohead
Disintegration -The Cure
Funkify Your Life -The Meters
Original Gangster – Ice T
World Wide Live -The Scorpions
Live After Death -Iron Maiden
Mellow Gold -Beck


What do you play in the kitchen?

It’s all in my head

SUMMER BLUEBERRY COBBLER AND JUNIOR BROWN

Junior Brown at the 2009 BigAppleBBQ Block party

Junior Brown at the 2009 BigAppleBBQ Block party

I know what you are thinking.. “What in the heck does Junior Brown have to do with cobbler?” Well, nothing I could likely prove in court BUT the other night there was lots of talk of pies, grunts, cobblers, sonkers, and who all knows what else. So I decided to make a blueberry cobbler and I like to cook to music.. I threw on some Junior Brown.
Fact is, that gooey, delicious fruit confection pairs well with the sweet sweetness that is Mr. Brown on his guit steel.

Before I go any further, I need to ask-Have you ever had your face melted, like so much sweet cream butter, by the awesome power of rock n’ roll?

I have.
It was 1997 and I was at the now long shuttered rock club in NYC, Tramps. I’d never seen anything like him. Still haven’t. Seeing Junior Brown live is a truly original musical experience. He sounds a bit like James Earl Jones in the bottom of a well. His songs are humorous and engaging yet it is difficult to categorize him. He just is. But his chops….well, why not take a peek:


(CRAZY CHOPS!!!)

Junior Brown brings it like nothin’ you have ever seen or heard. He is based in classic country but he often works blues, surf, honky tonk and straight up rock and roll riffs into his playing. The man created his own damn instrument! He loved the twang of the steel guitar and the shred of a standard guitar and was unwilling to choose just one. So he had one custom made and he plays it like a demon.
That is some renegade style right there. I remember the GAP ran a series of hip ads in the late 90s. One featured Junior and his wife Tanya. Tanya Rae Brown plays rhythm in his band and she is no slouch, she also sings.

If you’d like to acquaint yourself with the human barnburner that is Mr. Junior Brown, may I suggest this link.

If you’d like make the easiest fruit cobbler to go with those juicy licks, how about this recipe given to me by the most gifted fruit wrangler, April McGregor who got it from someone else who no doubt got it from another baker…etc..etc…infinity.

1 stick of butter in the baking pan in the oven while it preheats to 350degrees F.
Mix a cup of flour, 2 tsp baking powder, and a cup of sugar.
When the oven is preheated and the butter is melted, add a cup of milk to the flour mix.
Stir well and pour into the hot butter.
Top with 4 cups of fresh fruit and their juices and bake for about an hour.


“There’s nothing like hearing an electric guitar for the first time, played live”-Junior Brown
Damn straight, Junior!!! If Junior Brown is playing in your town, RUN DON’T WALK!!!!!

FOOD PUNK FIELD TRIP: HILL & HOLLER

Hill&Holler

The forecast had called for rain and the skies looked to be corroborating.
“We moved the tables into the barn in case it does pour, that’s where people will want to be anyway.”
Tracey Love is right.
On this humid early Summer evening, the red barn in the distance beckons guests past the breathtaking and beautifully kept gardens of Belle Haven. Many have already crossed the grounds to check out the barn well before it’s time to sit and eat.

barn

beforethecrowd

Tracey Love

Tracey Love

Tracey is the gal behind Hill & Holler, a “modern configuration of the farm table.” For the last couple of years, she’s been gathering regional agricultural and culinary professionals together with their community to break bread and raise funds for selected non-profit groups.

Grounds1

Tonight’s event in Scottsville, VA benefits City Schoolyard, a Charlottesville initiative that uses schoolyard gardens to promote experiential learning for elementary school students.
Two of our own Richmond luminaries, Joe Sparatta and Owen Lane are the guest chefs. Their dishes are paired with local wines from King Family Vineyards. We are greeted by the sounds of Carl Anderson and Ellen Picker, two musicians from Charlottesville while hors d’oeuvres of radish with whipped lardo, grilled oysters and lamb summer sausage and pimento cheese are passed.

Oysters

VAlambsausage&PC

After attending an Outstanding in the Field dinner Tracey was impressed, and sought to bring a similar event to her community.
The first, a benefit for the UVA Food Collaborative was in October 2011 at Blenheim Vineyards and featured another Richmond chef, Lee Gregory.

“I wanted to introduce dinner guests to the farmers, winemakers, musicians, chefs, and community who help grow, raise, and make everything they are enjoying during their meal while also benefiting the food & agricultural community further by making the event not for profit.”

Kyle

Hill and Holler is not a one woman show. Tracey explains that she enlists the help of friends to make it all happen.
“I have some core staff that I always like to have on board. I couldn’t do it without a solid team who is game for anything. It’s ALWAYS an adventure but each event gets better as we learn from mistakes and streamline how to do things easier and more efficiently.”

H&Hmenu

The plentiful meal is a cross section of the region’s bounty, with produce from Appalachia Star farm, Saunders produce and chicken and beef from Ashley farms and Best of What’s Around farm respectively. A standout for me is the incredibly flavorful beef, so moist and tender it reminds me of pulled pork. All of the food is served family style, reinforcing the idea of a community coming together to connect and share.

“The reason we moved to the Charlottesville area is because it is saturated with beautiful land, farms, mountains, a burgeoning wine scene, and good food being grown, raised, and served. I started Hill & Holler because I realized all we needed was to put these pieces together.”

Tracey says the most challenging part of putting on these events is logistics.
“It’s also the part I love about it. I don’t want any two events to be the same and I like thinking creatively and organically about the table design, setting, and all the detail it takes to make the event happen.”

One such pesky challenge reveals itself when a faulty grill attempts to throw a monkey wrench into the works, but Tracey and her staff are one step ahead of it and someone leaves to retrieve another grill on standby. I get the feeling she keeps a plan B handy and maybe even a plan C.

“There are A LOT of moving parts from sourcing the food, wine, chefs, staff, music, decor, site… and then there’s actually getting everything there and setting it all up and breaking it down.”

CityShcoolseed

BestofWhat'saroundBeef

“Nothing about it is easy, but I’m stubborn and like to work hard and it’s always worth it in the end.
It makes it all worthwhile when I see relationships started between farmers & chefs, or cidermakers & restauranteurs, and friendships started at the table between strangers. When I see that happening, I know it’s working.”

Finally the weather makes good on its threats with a light but steady sprinkle. As the evening comes to a close, groups of full and happy folks begin to cluster to chat and laugh and say their goodbyes. It’s clear that Tracey has again succeeded. It, is indeed working.

Owen Lane & Joe Sparatta

Owen Lane & Joe Sparatta

To find out when the next Hill & Holler event is happening, check their events page.

Owen&Tracey

HEARD! #10 DANNY MCDERMOTT

I started Food Punk to create a space to celebrate food and music. Where else could I herald the magic of both Ramps and Pusha T? Cooking, like music, is an art. Both can be visceral, sensory experiences that transport, inspire and define us. I’ve often found that those who play with knives are also into ‘deep cuts’ of another nature. It is in this spirit that I bring you this series: HEARD! highlighting the music enthusiasts behind the line, the bar, the pass and the pen.

dannyserious

Danny McDermott is bar manager at Acacia
in Richmond, VA. His cocktail shake brings all the boys to the yard.

What was the first live music performance you attended?

The first show I ever went to was at the Drexel Student Union building in Philadelphia with my brother and his friends back in 1997/1998 featuring Ink and Dagger amongst other hardcore bands. I was 16/17 and it was my first experience with moshing and bloody noses…It was the show that started to lead me down the road of punk/straight edge/hardcore with Minor Threat, Earth Crisis, Fugazi, etc.

What was the most recent?

I’m pretty sure it was the New Kids on the Block reunion tour at the Super Dome in New Orleans, where Tami Chynn taught me how to “wind”.

What album/artist changed/defined/etc your life?

There have been multiple and its all space specific.
When I was living in DC and got involved in the anarcho-bike punk scene (anti-corporate globalization protests, black bloc stuff) it was all about political punk and agitprop..i.e. Fugazi, Q and not U, Against Me!, Propaghandi, etc. It was all sweaty punks, track bikes, and politics.. good times.

In New Orleans, it was bounce music that changed everything–especially because I met my boyfriend at a bounce party at St. Roch Tavern. From the Godfather of bounce Dj Jubilee (especially Do You Thang Girl) to Sissy Bounce. You should really check out Gitty Up feat. da Rumpshakers or Big Freedia (have you seen the video for Y’all Get Back Now? well you should!). It was all about rump shakin’, getting down on the floor and being free–something New Orleans does better than any other city.

Do you have a musical equivalent to a guilty pleasure?

Too many, from the boy bands of the 90s to J-Pop (Pizzicato Five, etc.) to crappy pop of today, sometimes–just like shitty TV—you just want to turn off your brain.


What album is your go to for when you wanna smash stuff and life is sticking it to you?

Gotta go back to Against Me! “Baby I’m an Anarchist”


What album is your go to for fist-pumping-this-is-the-best-
ever-happiness times?

Not so much fist-pumping, but The Flaming Lips always reminds me of the good days in NYC riding over the Manhattan Bridge from Bed-Stuy to Lower Manhattan, because It’s Summertime.


What is on your turntable at home right now?

This might be a shameless plug, but really the album on my turntable is my brother’s band Nymph If you like Sun Ra, or Arthur Doyle, or awesome music in general you’ll love them.

I also really like to sing–I don’t do it much anymore, but I’ve been singing for ages, from classical in Carnegie Hall to dressed in raunchy drag singing punk versions of You Are My Sunshine as the lead singer for the Chicken Missiles at the Red Hook Bait and Tackle (the bar where I got started) in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

I’M ABOUT TO GET REALLY (PIMENTO) CHEESY

It’s only Wednesday and this week is looking mighty special so far!

First, a group of fabulous humans have collaborated on a project which explores Southern identity through its foodways. The result of their efforts, A Spoken Dish, debuted this week and the internet is in love. So am I. I’ve watched many of them and am trying hard to resist so I don’t run out and have to stop. The good thing is-looks like they’re working on more!

This spectacular series of vignettes got me thinking about my own ties to Southern food. It got me thinking more specifically about where my love of Southern food has taken me.

For instance, as a double Yankee, spending most of my life in NYC and Massachusetts I did not have my first BBQ rib until very recently. My grandmother’s cornbread recipe, is polenta. That is not to say I denounce my New England/NYC heritage, I will wax poetic on some fried clams, and sing about pizza if you’ll let me.

But back in 2007 a little dish I’d never heard of called Pimento Cheese ended up changing my life. It sent me on a path I am still forging, what I imagine could one day become my own Southern identity.

Wild, right? Well, fortunately there is an organization for folks like me.

Who find home to be not the place I came from, but a place I’m still moving towards, a place I am still learning about and figuring out. A place shaping me, but allowing myself and others like me to help continue to shape it, as it constantly evolves.

The Southern Foodways Alliance
hits Richmond this week for its Women, Work and Food Summer symposium. There will be much eating and drinking. There will be celebrating and learning.
There will be truths discussed, some heavy and some light, all lyrical.
There will be connections made and friendships forged.
That to me, is why I am so grateful for my place at their table.

Look, I know this sounds crazy, but that first bite of spicy, mayonnaise laden spread was a catalyst in my search for meaning. It led me not only to the SFA, but to many incredible people, to self discoveries, and thankfully to creative realizations and pursuits which continue to this day.

It helped me to discover how deeply food defines us. How it connects us and how it gives us our sense of place. Even if that place is very unexpected.
It set me on a path toward home. I’ll let you know when I get there.