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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.

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Forgive my French, but the Virginia Musee opened to members such as myself 10 days ago and to the public May 1st and I wrote this way back when and never posted it. Quite the faux pas. It had been closed for renovation and expansion entirely for one year and partially for several others. It was worth the wait. Even though the sculpture garden isn’t finished and several galleries are still works in progress, within about two seconds of walking into the joint it’s clear this is the new place to be in Richmond. Soaring views inside and out,  indoor bridges, and outdoor reflecting pools aesthetically place the museum in Richmond as it never before did. Or perhaps the old building was just a reflection of staid and dull Richmond that couldn’t see past its classic architecture. Not this baby. The first two pieces of art you’ll see upon entering let everybody know the 21st century has arrived and it’s a great place to be.

Most of the hundreds of members there that afternoon loved being in the soaring Cochrane Atrium so much, I’m not sure they saw more than a piece or two of the collection, but hey–there was food and wine there, so I can’t blame them.  Even though I’d had taken two advance tours in January while writing the Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, wandering about today was still more about the flow of the place and the density of the crowds than really seeing the art though it’s exciting to see just how much there is up on the walls. There are days’ worth of visits awaiting me, and I hope an infinite number of opportunities to pull up a chair on the deck overlooking the sculpture garden in between wandering through galleries. It was funny and a little frightening to note how jam-packed the rather large and well-endowed gift shop was already. I guess that’s what museums are for–cash registers. It actually does have worthy offerings, and it is also worth noting that admission to the VMFA is FREE!   Open to the public every day.  It might just be perfect. 

As was the meal Ed and I had afterwards at Mezzanine in Carytown. Ceviche, Portabello pizza, and the Naan salad add up to a happy tongue–ever so tasteful. I can get used to living the Richmond version of the cosmopolitan life.

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