Tag Archives: food

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.

Advertisements

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.

GHOSTS OF EASTER PAST AND FUTURE!

Every year since let’s see… about 2002, my sweet friend Molly and I have had an Easter brunch. We are not religious either of us, but the ritual of getting together with friends in the Spring and sharing food is one that initially brought us together, starting what I know will be an epic lifelong friendship. I am so excited because she is coming in a week to keep our special holiday tradition alive!! Here are some pics from some past Easter celebrations.

HOMEMADE PEEPS

Epic Carrot Cake

Hot uncrossed buns

Easter gang

Molly N and her tortilla!!!

I have new tricks up my sleeve as well as new friends to invite for this year’s gathering and I am stoked!
So stay tuned to see how we celebrate Spring, Food Punk style!!