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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.

I’m going to try to be a grown-up about this soon, I swear, but tonight I’d really prefer to whine just a bit about Martin’s–the grocery store that’s impersonating Giant here in Richmond. Went to the Stony Point one for the first time since it wasn’t Ukrop’s anymore and wanted to feel comfortable. Apparently I used to like grocery shopping.  I didn’t realize it until I’ve started hating it these last two trips to Martin’s. Stony Point was my favorite Ukrop’s even if altogether too many St. Michael’s people could be there at any given moment. (Just because I sent my kids to the school doesn’t mean I want to run into everyone I ever avoided in the carpool line–and vice versa– for the rest of my life.)

One of the workers recognized me and gave me a friendly welcome which I appreciated, but things went downhill from there.  There’s a frightening amount of beef jerky in the store–turkey jerky too–more than one aisle had oddly large displays, which is disturbing any way you slice it.  Who do they think we are?  That might fly in Waynesboro, but not here.  It’s as if Martin’s is trying to make me hate it. There’s all that jerky, for one thing, and then they didn’t have our actually healthy cereal or the right kind of soy milk. I think they’re trying to kill me.  (I actually don’t imbibe soy milk though other family members swear by it. I usually refer to it as yoga milk which annoys the hell out of my dear husband. Soy and yoga just seem interchangeable to me. I avoid both.) I was shopping exactly when I shouldn’t have been shopping, late in the day when I was tired and hungry and had no clue what to get for dinner, so no wonder I was crabby. Being in that store didn’t improve the mood. Kroger, Ellwood Thompson, Libbie Market, the Butcher at Bon Air, Belmont Butchery, Bon Air Seafood, Yellow Umbrella, farmers’ markets and Mediterranean market, here I come.  I wonder where the Ukrop’s family shops these days.  If I were one of them I’d go on the infamous baby food diet just to avoid the heartbreaking grocery shopping while it’s still so raw and pick up cases of baby food at Target.  I know I’m being a baby about this Ukrop’s/Martin’s switch, but at least I won’t go so far as eating baby food–although smooth foods are not to be trifled with. Let me know when the Chocolate Mousse Diet is on deck.

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