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I write a lot in a little on Twitter for my small biz, Real Richmond Food Tours, and though it makes sense that food comes up often, as it does on part 1 of my Holiday Gift Guide for Richmond, art and nature are other themes that keep showing up. And I keep buying what keeps showing up. Makes sense, since those are some of Richmond’s strengths and what is such a pleasure to tout on our tours and on Twitter. Apologies that photos are few and far between. I’m in an igloo with very little bandwidth, let’s just say. Here’s #1-18 for 2014.

#1 Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar because salads need chocolate, too!

#2 Give the gift of Cider Club  Blue Bee Cider to give them an apple a day all year long!

#3 Membership to  Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with a bauble from the gift shop. They’ll be grateful & artful!

#4 A James River Park System license plate is a gift to our big backyard and your special someone.

#5 No 2 snowflakes are alike and all that– Design your ornament from

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#6 This beautiful serving tray from Nest Home   SORRY, it’s long gone!

#7 Little late! Tix to Sat. Dec. 13th Pizza Tour of Shockoe Bottom w/ etc.   Owe you another. How about Case of the month from J Emerson?!

#8 Holiday Gift Box from packed w/local love, beans & booze+

#9 Signed books from like this sweetie from , Dam Good Sweet

#10 Get your eagle on with Discover the James river tours! Gift certificates available.

#11:The Artists Coloring Book w/ w/ at Atlas Mkt!

#12 (Oy, a duplicate!)  Tomorrow’s Shockoe Bottom Pizza Tour 2 w/   Owe you another–A shrinky dink painting from Orange in Carytown!

#13  Something meaty from and a Meat Juice t from

#14 Virginia Fizz and from make great stocking stuffers!!

#15  Ornaments or decor or gorgeous poinsettias from the Garden Shop

#16 You don’t have to like what you see in the mirror to love these mirrors from Orange!

#17  Forget a day of beauty. People want a day of foodie: gift certs to  @harvestrva

#18 Spice it up their life w/ gift certs to and Sauer’s spices!

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I don’t pretend to be a food writer though I have tweeted more than 12,000 times and most have involved either putting food or my foot in my mouth or putting words together halfway wittily which is different from half-witted. Then there’s my children’s writing that I haven’t done in a while–all those damned tweets and the business of Real Richmond Food Tours has something to do with that. One of two filing cabinets in my desk is jammed with children’s picture book manuscripts and poetry and food comes into play more than I’d realized. I’m a bit of a food poet, so for April here’s a snippet from Want a Cookie?:

I started gnawing zwiebacks/back when these were almost new./Gluey, tasteless sawdust;/what’s the point of teeth?/ Then I spied my mother/with something on her face./A smile, a smudge,/a glimmer, a gulp./Want a cookie.

One bite/one taste/one swallow/one nice big cup of milk,/one lick of my lips/and I knew what to do–/try, taste, chomp!/From a package or a pan/I don’t need to waste a plate;/crumbs in teeth, on shirt, in hair./Where’s my cookie?

And on it goes…. So autobiographical, I know.

Now that I’ve established my gravitas, it makes perfect sense to say that I’m one of the gang of three that’s putting on the Mid-Atlantic Food Writers Symposium in Richmond this June. We’ve assembled a remarkable collection of talented writers, editors, chefs, agents and food stylists that includes Kat Kinsman of Eatocracy, Todd Kliman of The Washingtonian, Lisa Fain of The Homesick Texan, Josh Ozersky of Esquire, Monica Bhide, Matt Gross of Bon Appetit, Ramin Ganeshram, Bonnie Benwick of the Washington Post, Kendra Bailey Morris, John Shields, Denise Vivaldo, Judy Pray of Artisan and Michael Psaltis of CEA. How many James Beard Foundation winners/finalists do you count?

Fresh-picked this June!

Fresh-picked this June!

That’s a line-up that ought to get lips smacking, hearts racing and fingers flying on the keyboards for food bloggers, recipe-collectors, cookbook-lovers and those who dream of cooking up a book or a blog. Hope to see you in Richmond June 20th-22nd!

 

Damned good list! To continue the consolidation of my Real Richmond Food Tours Twitter Holiday Guide for Richmond ( part 1  )that is only just barely self-serving:

#14  Gift certificates for Discover the James Bald Eagle tours on the James River!

#15  Cards, mugs and kitchen fun w/ a Richmond touch at Rostov’s Coffee & Tear in the Fan.

Poe Poe Poe

Poe Poe Poe

#16: Tix to  Lewis Ginter Gardenfest of Lights + something whimsical from their gift shop.

#17: Case of the month at J. Emerson will make people toast your good health all year long!

#18 Fall Line Farms membership makes buying local pastured meats, eggs+more goodies so easy!

#19: Gift certificates from Flames 231, Bottoms Up and Pizza Tonight +tix to our  Jan. 25th  all pizza tour .

#20: Peanut Butter Pups from Gearharts RVA Made w/ Reginald’s Homemade  PB + a portion helps Veterans. 

#21: Get their butts on bikes at  Boho Cycle Studio    to work off calories of #RVAdine gift certs!

#22: Tickets to Hollywood Costume at VMFA, lunch at Amuse, see one of 60films/60 days + a show The Byrd Here’s the Info

#23 Stuff stockings with Olli Salumeria from EllwoodsBelmontButchery, J Emerson Wine and Little House Green Grocery.

#24 When time is running out, there’s still time to snag a gift certificate to one of our food tours around town!

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I write a lot of  140 character bursts for my small biz, Real Richmond Food Tours, and though it makes sense that food comes up often, as it does on part 1 of my Holiday Gift Guide for Richmond, art and nature are other themes that show up. Makes sense, since those are some of Richmond’s strengths and what is such a pleasure to tout on our tours and on Twitter. Here’s #1-13 for 2013.

#1 Art abides: a membership to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best gifts (and best deals) in #RVA.

#2 Gift baskets from Little House Green Grocery full of Hispania Bakery , Blanchard’s Coffee & more treats!

#3: Tix to Virginia Rep’s Fiddler on the Roof! For Hannukah or Christmas +pairs w/ #rvadine meal. (Ok, so it’s late for Hannukah now!)

#4- Fun food-related utensils and books at Quirk Gallery.

#5  Create burger heaven w/ gift certificates to Station 2, Burger Bach & Belmont Butchery. #diditlastyear

#6  Blue Bee Cider will put a shine on somebody’s apple! I’m a fan of Aragon + the Reserve!

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#7 Help Cucina achieve world soup domination by buying Mulligatawny or Chorizo Black Bean soups at St. Stephen’s Farmers’ Market Saturday, 9-12.

#8 From the warmth of your home, get someone James River Park System license plates! Support an #RVA park.

#9: Beard Foundation Dinner tickets  Jan. 18th at Lemaire with chefs Bundy, Reitzer, Gregory, Alley and Sparatta!

#10: Animal masks from Big Secret  atBizarre Market upstairs in Chop Suey Books!

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#11: Bacon Bender– Housemade from Belmont Butchery ties  at Fountain Bookstore, mug from Rostov’s Coffee & Tea.

#12: Pick up some local art and food at Art & Food at Huguenot Springs Sat. 10-4 w/ @Manakintowne 

#13  Something your heart/art desires at Handmade Holiday at Dogtown Dance Saturday, 11-5 + Bainbridge Art Center Sat. & Sun.

He wears it well!

David Rohrer of WPA Bakery wears it well!

Julia Child didn’t become a famous cook until her 50’s. I didn’t become a t-shirt mogul until 51. There must be a book and movie and television show there somewhere. In all of the writing I’ve done, who knew that 3 words: Capital of the Confectionery, would make my day–or at least our latest Real Richmond Food Tours t-shirt. I’ve seen one disparaging remark on Twitter–from someone who mistakenly thinks the phrase is showing pride in the other phrase most associated with Richmond that makes my skin crawl every time I read a lazy travel writer’s take on our fair city. Poking fun at all of that is my favorite part of all this–not to mention showcasing (on the back) some of our favorite bakeries and sweet spots that we stop by or utilize on our tours.

We eat it up!

We eat it up!

Besides online, the shirts are available at shops and bakeries around Richmond, including Fountain Bookstore, Quirk Gallery, Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe, Shyndigz, World of Mirth, Very Richmond and the gift shop at the Richmond Convention Center on 3rd St. Wear it with the proper amount of pride in pie and cupcakes and in Richmond for being worthy of attention for a baker’s dozen of 21st century reasons.

Somewhere in the run-up to my 30th college reunion–which I did not attend–I received a survey to fill out from the alumni office. They’ve never lost me in all these 30 years, but they must keep hoping they have the wrong Maureen Egan (there were two of us in our class at Holy Cross) and figure eventually they’ll find the one who is a billionaire and wants to give it all back to the college. Keep trying.

Of course, they want to know what field people are working in. Under the self-employed spot–after the ones they’re really interested in–investment bankers, stockbrokers, doctors, lawyers–a couple of telling options popped up. There was freelance writer, where it belonged, which is one part of what I do. Right under it was an option I’d never considered and certainly didn’t expect it to have its own line: funeral director. A trick of that pesky alphabet or something more? The two fields have plenty of things in common. Magazines and newspapers keep dying and so do people. Synergy. God knows I’ve been to enough funerals that provide a microphone to people who could use a good writer to make what’s said not make the audience go nutty. See, Yes, I’m referencing my own damned story! It’s sad that I remember the awful funerals as funny stories and don’t remember the good funerals much at all. Perhaps I should write about that….

I have a job where I walk through Richmond neighborhoods during the day and show off almost anything to unsuspecting folks. Friday I’ll be wandering The Fan in search of good food–not exactly a difficult task. Saturday I head to North Side to show off the eats available on MacArthur and Bellevue avenues. Don’t tell the restaurants, but as happy as I will be to introduce people to their joints, and as fun as it is that we’re starting the tour at my painter friend’s Sarah Master’s studio, I get absolutely giddy thinking about showing off backyard chickens in one generous person’s yard (almost legal, even) and then there’s the creme de la creme, alpacas in another woman’s backyard! In the city. I love this more than makes sense.

 

No eating alpacas on this food tour!

No eating alpacas on this food tour!

Tickets ($44.46) are available and must be purchased in advance here. I wonder how many restaurants on the tour are serving chicken? I do know we will answer the question, Which came first the chicken or the egg?

The egg doesn't come first on this tour.

The egg doesn’t come first on this tour.

Our visit to Little House Green Grocery will settle that!

 

 

I can’t tell you all the quirky offerings that will be on this Friday, March 15th’s tour, RVA Ink: Imprint & Impact, that we’ll debut in Richmond’s Downtown Arts District 12:30-3:30 p.m., but I’m perfectly fine with dropping a few tidbits to entice you.

It’s all about cool, artsy things going on downtown and includes lunch at Pasture. We start at Ghostprint Gallery and meet the co-owner and tattoo artist extraordinaire, Thea Duskin. Tattoos welcomed, but not necessary! Then we head to Art 180 which does amazing things with kids and art, then pop into Big Secret, a biz that does wild laser cutting and engraving, then lunch, then head  to Richmond Times-Dispatch, Library of Virginia for a special look at old newspapers and end at the Valentine to see their RVA tattoo exhibit before it closes at the end of the month. Ink in many forms. Creativity everywhere we turn. And I haven’t even mentioned the murals!
Pasture is creativity we can eat!

Pasture is creativity we can eat!

It’s quirky and creative, so it would be so fun if you could come! I’ll be leading it. Here’s the link for  RVA Ink. Should be good weather Friday, unlike today!

 

So here we are on a Sunday evening with no new Downton Abbey episode to look forward to. Life is harder than it looks–especially without all those servants and such. I suggest you don’t look at all. When one does, it’s not pretty.

It has come to my attention, especially when I am on the treadmill watching the morning news shows, that I have the answer to our unemployment troubles. Bring back the valets! There are just too many men on television who are in need of a good brushing off before they start spouting off.  I’m talking to you, Mike Barnicle! Tom Brokaw, too, I’m afraid. High Definition Television is doing no favors to those on TV and to those of us out in the hinterlands. I can see your dandruff. Your nose hairs, ear hairs, gunk in your eyes and spots on your sweaters. I don’t mean to pick on particular folk, and god knows I’d not do well under anyone’s scrutiny, but I avoid looking in the mirror early in the morning for good reason. I certainly don’t want to be subjected to visions on the television screen that are even more disconcerting. Thomas or Mr. Bates or even Mr. Molesley are what’s wanted ’round here! I get the point of their incessant shoulder brushing of Lord Grantham and Matthew Crawley’s suits and sport coats.

A valet in every house....

A valet in every house….

Think of the jobs there’d be. Especially if even the window guy at a big box home improvement store who has the unfortunate situation of an untamed mustache growing into his nose hairs–and vice versa–could get a valet. Be warned, once you start looking for unkempt men, the men in your own life might not look so bad.

Just Ducky

Would that I had my ducks in a row on this first day of 2013. Came upon something I wrote in early Jan. 2002 bemoaning the lack of organization in these parts and our manic undertakings to improve this that and the other. Ducks have two advantages that we don’t–no email or paper to drown in. I think it might take some walking on water to stay afloat!

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