Get bowled over (probably) by new fast-casual restaurant Freshii, now open in Willow Lawn. I can't stop the puns. But I *can* give you some great news, below. (Photo courtesy Freshii)
New week, new restaurants. We've also got Peter Chang's favorite song! We've got multiple oyster events! We've got multiple pet-friendly events! We've got it all, so read on and don't be a shucker. (Or do. You get the idea.)
- The weather started off a little cold, dreary and damp today, but the weekend's set to be sunny and moderately warm: perfect conditions to get out and explore some of the region's hidden gems. From our new-to-newsstands issue of Spring/Summer Dine, here's a handy guide to some of the best delis, baked goods, salads, seafoods and fresh meats you'll find in Richmond, and they're all found tucked away into the corners of strip malls. From house-made Egyptian sweets at Jerusalem Market & Deli to Salvadoran chorizo at Arco Iris, there's bound to be something exciting, refreshing and new for everyone, so get out there, adventurers. Go forth and nosh.
- Keep rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin' WHAT? Sabai co-owner Brandon Pearson is launching a new Scott's Addition-based food truck, Aloi, bringing California-grown produce to the site of his new custom furniture shop at 3103 W. Leigh St. Aloi's chef, Scott Davies, is whipping up a menu that draws inspiration from the West Coast as well as the neighborhood's local beers, which will be used as ingredients throughout the menu. According to Pearson, the truck launches tomorrow at Ardent Craft Ales and will be there every Friday and some Saturdays through June. Beginning April 12, you can catch Aloi at The Veil. Most other times, you can find the truck parked at the shop. (Richmond BizSense)
- Over in Willow Lawn, shoppers, diners and residents alike can now grab a bite at Freshii, a fast-casual, eco-friendly international chain serving salads, burritos, curried rice bowls, and fresh juices and smoothies. Check out the full menu here. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
- Plans for the East End's new mixed-use development are well underway, and pending city approval. Why does this matter? Because one of the area's food deserts is one step closer to gaining fresh produce, dairy and meat — along with new jobs — in The Church Hill North Retail Center. Expected to begin construction this fall, the massive project at at Nine Mile Road, Fairmount Avenue and North 25th and 24th streets is set to bring an affordable supermarket, apartments, shopping and new facilities for the J. Sargeant Reynolds’ culinary arts program to the neighborhood by the end of 2018. Right over here we catch up with Steven A. Markel, one of the center's chief financial backers, and spotlight just what to expect, including how this development will aid a community currently and historically lacking fresh-food options.
- PUCKER UP: Have you tried Mother Shrub's drinking vinegars yet? Here's a solid spotlight on the locally made shrubs and how founder Meredyth Archer got started, plus, you know, how drinking vinegar is so hot right now. (I just love this stuff because it's freaking delicious.) Give it a try. (RVA Mag)
- And last but not least, how does acclaimed chef Peter Chang take it easy on his day off? What's his favorite breakfast? Our "Flip to the Back" Q&A column is now online, where you can learn everything you never knew you wanted to know about the chef. (For instance, he really loves Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." Like, really loves it.)
Sure, it was pouring rain today, but how could it ever be raining in your heart when you've got these great events in your future?
- IT'S BACK! Ardent's third annual Swine & Brine event returns this Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. with oysters in fried and raw forms from Rappahannock River Oysters and Northern Neck Oysters at this free event at Ardent. You can find food for purchase, including Amuse's kung pao pork and cellophane noodle salad, and The Roosevelt's pork-shoulder tacos with salsa verde, chipotle hot sauce, cumin crema and pickled onions. Sabai will dish out pork belly, pork skewers and papaya salad, and Saison will serve up grilled porchetta sandwiches with arugula verde and pepper relish, while ZZQ slings pork sandwiches, pork spare ribs, bone-in pork belly, jalapeño mac 'n' cheese, buttermilk potato salad, and Terlingua coleslaw. Holy moly. Wash it all down with Ardent brews, Blue Bee Cider and Zardetto Prosecco. (Ardent Craft Ales)
- Just a few blocks away, Buskey Cider is hosting a fundraiser for Liza and Eric Cioffi, the owners of Courthouse Creek Cider, who recently closed their taproom due to a house fire. Stop by and taste Buskey's new strawberry rhubarb cider, and $3 of each pint will benefit the family. (Buskey Cider)
- Saturday you'll also find not one but TWO dogs-at-breweries events. Strangeways Brewing kicks off its Bow Wow Meow Luau at 10:30 a.m., featuring live music, silent auctions, food trucks, pet costume contests, vendors, $6 beers and more, and the $5 suggested donation for this pet- and kid-friendly event goes directly to Richmond Animal Care & Control Foundation. Fun runs till 5:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Hardywood's hosting its BARK & Brew Fest from noon to 6 p.m. with photo booths, doggie kissing booths, pet vendors, pup adoptions, food trucks and, of course, beer. Proceeds from the day benefit Bandit's Adoption and Rescue of K-9s, or BARK.
- Up for a drive? Petersburg's Trapezium Brewing Co. is throwing its first annual all-day oyster roast, running from noon to 11 p.m. Find raw oysters, cooked oysters, live music and the release of Oyster Ale, a collaboration with The Boathouse. (Trapezium Brewing Co.)
- Holy frijoles, Bandito's Burrito Lounge is turning 20, and it's throwing a big birthday bash to celebrate. Stop by on Saturday for a parking lot full of live music, an outdoor bar, a bouncy castle (for kids only — um, hey, what gives?) and food! Read up on the Mexi-Cali haunt's longevity over at Style Weekly, then be sure to stop by Bandito's from noon to 6 p.m. for the action.
- It's going to be a busy, boozy Saturday, because over in Carytown, it's the second annual I Heart Carytown Craft Beer Festival. Head to City Stadium for more than 20 craft beers and ciders on draft, plus food trucks and live music, all from 3 to 7 p.m. Your $15 admission gets you entry, a beer or lemonade, and a ticket to the Richmond Kickers game, which starts at 5 p.m. Get on it. (Richmond Kickers)
And now for a few (inter)national links:
- This is good: the story of With Love, a Syracuse food-business incubator that gives immigrants, refugees and American citizens all a place to work and grow their culinary concepts together. Pop-ups run six months in the space, and each brings diversity to the table both in cuisine and community. The business provides training, and even translators for servers who don't speak fluent English. (Saveur)
- In other news, someone fed a few thousand cookbook pages into an artificial intelligence neural network and asked the robot to generate recipe ideas based on what it thinks people eat. Highlights include "Crockpot Cold Water," "Completely Meat Circle," "Chocolate Cake (Chocolate Cake)," "Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cake," "Artichoke Gelatin Dogs" and "Crimm Grunk Garlic Cleas." (Someecards)
Till next time, Export Bean Spoons in Pie-Shell, Top if Spoon and Whip the Mustard.