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It’s the time of year when people focus even more than usual on food. Grocery stores are stocked with holiday must-haves. Time to bake and shop and simmer. Yet the week before Thanksgiving I was stewing over what I was going to drink with a bottle of Mirilax to get me through a follow-up colonoscopy. Timing is everything.  So with the aisles stuffed with  Thanksgiving necessities, I wandered through the store looking at coconut water and naturally sweetened Vitamin Water and Steaz and Metromint. I had water on the brain. I was thinking about quaffing and quenching even though I knew damned well thirst wouldn’t be involved.  I did three preps last year within 6 weeks, courtesy of a malignant polyp that cost me several inches of my colon, so I have plenty of experience with the ups and downs and rebounds of my gastrointestinal tract. Here’s what I wrote in Richmond Magazine earlier this year about that much fun.

To jazz up what doesn’t sit well with my stomach, this time I thought I’d try  to suck down the prep with less sugary flavored waters from Brazil and Indonesia and Thailand. As much as I like to eat, my gut isn’t a fan of drinking a lot of anything. I’m not a coffee drinker, not a beer drinker, not even a soda drinker anymore (though in a bid to make myself happy during the liquid diet portion of the proceedings I did take a few swigs of Dr. Pepper to see if that transported me back to happy land days of yore). I don’t mean to make too much of what’s one day and night of unpleasantness since I was  lucky to have the opportunity, certainly. And given that too many of my friends are facing radiation and/or chemo after breast cancer surgery, what’s a day of intestinal fortitude anyway? I couldn’t help but hum She’s Got the Whole World in her Bowels except that the coconut water never made it much past my esophagus.  And the chocolate mint-flavored water is a mistake as well. But you knew that already.

2013-11-16 13.03.10

I might be the only non-homeless woman in the United States who walks into an Ann Taylor Loft dressing room with a couple pairs of pants and a shirt to try on with a 1/3 of a pound of sliced chorizo in my bag. It was Zoe’s chorizo from Formaggio and it was what I like to think of as an essential styling tool.

Thank goodness the bag is pretty cool–from the Poe Museum in Richmond–a gift from my friend and biz partner, Susan. It gets the people talking in the big cities. I find it lends me (truly I don’t own it) an air of sophistication  even when all else points to a scruffy bag lady. But when one adds the flat-packed chorizo wrapped in plastic and paper, well, heads turn. Or at least well-tuned noses do.

Poe Poe Poe...

Poe Poe Poe…

Even though I’d just walked 2 miles to get that chorizo–ostensibly for my husband–I’d forgotten about it until I lay the bag down in the dressing room. Trying on clothes with what got me there–eating too much to fit into my clothes– (the hot fudge sundae wouldn’t have travelled as well) seemed fitting. Or perhaps, given the state of my clothing, ill-fitting.  I suppose I should have taken the flat-packed chorizo wrapped in plastic and paper and added it to my waistline while I was trying on the pants to make things more accurate. A new, wholly unappealing form of pork belly. The clothes may make the man, but they make the woman insane.

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.

Woke up the other morning fuzzy and a little confused about where I was since I’d been out of town a couple of nights before. But clearly through the haze two words came to me: church chocolate. In that order. Related. Unexpected yet it all made sense. Not chocolate church–that’s a different dream. I love alliteration even when I’m asleep. To my mind, especially at 6 a.m., church chocolate combines religion with all that is holy. If only pain au chocolate were the bread that gets broken at church, I might make an appearance now and again.

A chocolate for my thoughts?

16 apostles here

Of course, Jesus didn’t say, “I am the chocolate of life,” but perhaps he’s regretting his turn of phrase. With so many people avoiding wheat and going gluten free, bread is getting stale.

I’ve long had a theory that the whole Last Supper thing was a game of telephone gone awry. Jesus is at the table and says, “The bread tastes fresh.” And around and around the table his comment gets repeated, until it comes out, “the bread made flesh” and transubstantiation had to fill in the blanks. I think my version is every bit as believable.

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!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to all and to all some dark chocolate! I am not a traditionalist, so there will be no red roses today.

An orchid for Emily

Orchids are lovely. Sadly the pot is empty now. My bad.

 

 

IMG_2168

I made it myself only in the sense that my sister Mary Eileen wove the basket and my daughter made the heart magnet. I did purchase the Pantone postcards and put them in here though!

A chocolate for my thoughts?

A chocolate or 16 from Gearharts? Sadly these are not in my possession.

Heart be still.

Heart be still. It’s a beef heart from my heart throb. 

BaconHeart

BaconHeart

Whoopie!

Make some Whoopie!

impressive, no?

impressive, no?

that's all she wrote

that’s all she wrote

I wish I could show you what I’d like to show you on this auspicious occasion, but I can’t. Can’t even tell you why I can’t. It’s that crucial to the future of pie in Richmond. I will say that unless it’s a graham cracker crumb crust or the like, I don’t see the point of crust on and under pie. Not my thing.

Since it apparently is National Pie Day, I thought I’d be true to form for lunch and have my favorite thing–leftover homemade pizza. It also helped that we made a trio of pizza pies last night for dinner. BBQ Chicken w/ Caramelized Onions, Pesto w/ Chicken Sausage and a really good white pizza of my husband’s design with lots of stuff leftover from the other pizzas and mozzarella and such. Small pieces of the three, I swear.

Pizza Tonight Gluten free dough, FYI.

Pizza Tonight Gluten free dough, FYI.

 

In an unplanned pie day event, I ended up making a quiche. I use the ole Moosewood Cookbook recipe as my base and riff from there. It has never failed me though this one–in the oven now–certainly could. I used Swiss Cheese, sauteed onions and red pepper, added some leftover sage sausage that we had and, I’m embarrassed to say, pulled out some leftover greens from a container in the fridge and threw them on, too. I seem to recall their being a part of a meal in the not-too-distant past. Not sure what their mooshy-ness is going to add to the mess. Not to mention the mish-mash of flavors. Eggs and cheese cover a variety of mistakes.

 

So here’s the second installment of my Real Richmond gift guide from my Twitter feed. It’s a damned good list, if I do say so myself. I think it’s a good thing my children don’t follow me on any social media platforms.

Holiday Gift Guide #8 Gift certificate to a lovely #RVA B & B! Museum District B & B is near @VMFA. Maury Place &@gracemanorinn have pools!

Holiday Gift Guide #9 A membership in @falllinefarms for local-loving folks on your list. Year-round access to excess! http://ow.ly/fKTHB

Holiday Gift Guide #10 James River Park license plates for park-lovers on your list! #noDMVlinehttp://ow.ly/i/1bEls  http://ow.ly/fIa1y

Holiday Gift Guide #11 Burger bunch! Get gift certificates to@BelmontButchery @station2rva & @burgerbach for meat-lovers!

Holiday Gift Guide #12 Introduce someone to @relayfoods and give them the gift of local food & more time to themselves! http://ow.ly/fN2Tq

Holiday Gift Guide #13 French wine from @jemersonwine @Ellwoods@barrelthief + pass to French Film Festival @thebyrdrva http://ow.ly/fOAa8

Holiday Gift Guide #14 Nick’s on Broad sells the olive oil@StellasRichmond uses! Get chorizo and feta and other delicacies!

Holiday Gift Guide #15 Jewelry from Lynalise or Julia Dent at@bizarremarket at Chop Suey Books 

Holiday Gift Guide #16 #RVA =international! Gift certificates from  La Grotta Europa Stellas, Bistro Bobette, La Parisienne, etc. 

Holiday Gift Guide #17 @station2rva Get a Growler w/ purchase of $30 gift certificate. You don’t HAVE to give it away!

Holiday Gift Guide #18 Membership to @LewisGinter +tix to Gardenfest of Lights will put a shine to the whole year! #RVAhttp://ow.ly/gaHri

Holiday Gift Guide #19: beautiful baubles, pottery and other local#RVA delights at 43rd St. Gallery in Forest Hill.pic.twitter.com/3IXwWYMq

I recently re-read Stuart Little, having forgotten most of it. When Stuart becomes a substitute teacher for a couple hours–the only way to do that job–he asks his class, “‘How many of you know what’s important?'”

One student had the answer–or almost all of it: “‘A shaft of sunlight at the end of a dark afternoon, a note in music, and the way the back of a baby’s neck smells if its mother keeps it tidy,’ answered Henry.

‘Correct,’ said Stuart. ‘Those are the important things. You forgot one thing, though. Mary Bendix, what did Henry Rackmeyer forget?’

‘He forgot ice cream with chocolate sauce on it,’ said Mary quickly.

‘Exactly,’ said Stuart. ‘Ice cream is important.'”

It takes a genius like E.B. White to say just so what the rest of us were not quite thinking.

I’m back!

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