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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!

So it’s been a while. And the alliteration keeps coming. Even when actual thoughts do not.

But I have been thinking about you, blog, just haven’t had any thoughts that aren’t Fire, Flour & Fork-related, coming up Oct. 30th-Nov. 2nd, so I spared you until now. 

Four years ago my partner in dine, SJW, and I started our Real Richmond Food Tours biz and now we’re putting on a 4-day gathering for the food curious with acclaimed Richmond chefs and purveyors like Dale Reitzer, Lee Gregory, Tanya Cauthen and Travis Milton sharing the stage with lauded chefs and authors from all over the country, such as Sean Brock, Christina Tosi, Dave DeWitt, Ronni LundyAlice Medrich and Jehangir Mehta. And that’s just the icing on the cake. 13 dinners, 7 lunches, including a Sunday one that starts with tours of Monumental Church and its crypt, 1 Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, 1 Tasting Tent, 1 Urban State Fair, 18 book signings and 2 receptions in rarely visited cool spots–C. F. Sauers and Electric Eclectic Appliance Museum.

The crypt at Monumental Church. Tour it during Queen Molly's Monumental Moveable Feast, Sunday, Nov. 2nd.

The crypt at Monumental Church. Tour it during Queen Molly’s Monumental Moveable Feast, Sunday, Nov. 2nd.

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Toasters are tame compared to what appliances are in the bathroom!

I think somehow we are putting on year 3 of this first time event, so my head is spinning. Or maybe it’s just that when David Guas of Bayou Bakery and Travel Channel’s American Grilled looks at me that way, I think I might overdose on sugar and gluten.

He’s cooking with Jason Alley of Pasture and Comfort Saturday, Nov. 1st and sorry, it’s full, but both Jason and David are doing talks during our Culinary Tracks Speaker Series October 31st and Nov. 1st at the Library of Virginia and FFF’s host hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Downtown. David will be demo-ing Not Your Mama’s B & G and signing his cookbook, DamGoodSweet.

Yes, David Guas is looking at you, too!

Yes, David Guas is looking at you, too!

Damn. Good. Sweet.

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!

 

One of the perks of having one’s mother move in with one is to have it confirmed–by the movers at least–that though my birth order makes me the third, in fact, I’m #1.

I didn't put it there, but I'm not taking it off either.

I didn’t put it there, but I’m not taking it off either.

Swear on my mother’s storage unit that this is what came out of the well-wrapped box among many boxes that arrived at my house last week. Jean Reasoner Plunket painted this watercolor of most of my siblings over the course of months in 1968. I can still remember coming home from school and sitting in my sister’s room none too happy about having to sit still. How I hated that hairstyle but loved the blue plaid dress that I can easily conjure up beneath that white collar. So now this portrait hangs in my house near the dart board, which seems appropriate. Of course, since I have another sister not pictured here, we hung her much larger portrait nearby as well. She came into the picture a few years after this one was done so her reward was more glory than the rest of us. Funnily enough, the painting of her wound up across from a movie poster of her that already hung downstairs. I will spare her and you that ironic photo gallery.

Having been an operating system for the benefit of others for many years now,  it took me less time than it takes Siri to botch my latest phone call to need a system reset after watching a preview of Her, the new Joaquin Phoenix/Spike Jonze movie about the former falling in love with his operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

I am a different version from the SJ edition: Do this. Don’t do that. You need to keep these receipts for tax purposes. You don’t need to keep receipts for your $3.29 purchase at CVS. You do need to keep those receipts for all the things you buy that should be immediately returned. You really need to return those. Yes, you have to go to the post office.

An interesting male fantasy, for sure, where she loves him for exactly who he is and isn’t bothered by his inability to clean the toilet. No matter that some reviews hint at an intellectually interesting film, the preview and the ads are cringe-inducing. Does her overabundance of empathy and understanding make her the embodiment of everything he needs in a woman except the body? Ethereal is interesting and god knows I’m not a fan of the fascination with body parts and adornment and fashion, so living out-of-body has its virtues. But chocolate has no place in a virtual life, so I think I’ll go with my gut and all the other parts. And see the movie with a box of chocolates handy.

Tasteful

Tasteful

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.

It was a dark and stormy night when my husband and I arrived in Cape May for a September vacation, so we didn’t do much gazing off into the distance as we unloaded what we needed to get to bed. The next night, Friday, the 13th as it happened, I was out on the front porch with a friend around 11 p.m. when we noticed  2 orange lights in the sky moving in tandem though not close enough to be on the same object. They headed west along the beach and then turned south over the ocean around Queen Street and soon enough disappeared. Mildly entertaining but hardly anything to talk about–until one of us noticed another orange glow coming low from the east and taking the same track as the other orange balls. And then another and another. Completely silent and steady. We called our other witnesses outside and speculated all sorts of things: something the Coast Guard base was doing, drone testing, UFO’s or a really meticulous wedding planner showing her stuff. The last was all mine.

We looked forward to the next evening with four more friends arriving to either make fools of us or be foolish with us. A little before 10 p.m. on Saturday, sure enough, the orange balls kept popping up to the east, silently coming towards our house before taking a left over the ocean to disappear–seemingly before they were so far away that we couldn’t possibly have seen them. I think we saw 8 that night over the course of 10 minutes. My usually shy and retiring husband went down the porch steps to accost some people walking along on the sidewalk with their backs to the show and they started pointing and blabbing along with us, wondering what the heck it was we were seeing. One of them had a good camera with a telephoto lens and took a shot, which my husband saw, that seemed to show that each orange ball was actually 2 separate lights. We talked about getting in the car to try to find the source of it–perhaps to Poverty Beach where we could glimpse the Coast Guard Station’s beach, but we were too lazy to do that.

This is not that photo.

aha!

Aha!

I wasn’t interested enough to do the research that one of our friends did. Somebody in 2010 noted a similar scene in Cape May and speculated it had something to do with the Electronics Support Group at the Coast Guard Training Center. I prefer the wedding planner scenario, imagining the rehearsal dinner guests and wedding guests on or near the beach oohing and aahing at the pretty lights in the nighttime sky.  We kept looking most other nights we were there, but didn’t see anything other than a beautiful full moon. When my husband and I walked to The Pier House for dinner one night, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the light at Pittsburgh and Beach to send the friends who’d already headed home–not with the aliens–as far as I know.

Given that one of my most vivid dreams from childhood was of a traffic light near what is now the Heritage Motel in Cape May giving me lessons in how to walk on my heels, you would be within your rights to dispute the truthfulness of my earlier account. But I’d rather you just tell me what it was.

Getting inspired for the next session.

Getting inspired for the next session.

should be the next big thing. I’m a fan. Especially  drunk yoga on the beach. Tipsy yoga just doesn’t sound right. Hammered yoga–no. But drunk yoga brings the hard sounds and the soft ones together on the beach. Not too drunk. No queasy feeling. Just loose. No mats. Just bathing suit and the sand and the ocean and a drink or two. My father used to sneak over his “funny 7Up” to the beach. You didn’t want to pick up his bottle by accident. It is hard to contemplate putting my father and yoga in the same sentence, but that is the sort of mind-altering stuff that can happen when one is at one with drunk yoga.

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!

 

 

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