Sunday, April 26, 2009
The vendors weren't just selling herbs. There was also hand made pottery, food, original art and my fav find of the day-- local honey.
I also wanted to share that the most exciting herb I found yest. wasn't at the herbfest. Popped in to Tom Leonard's to pick up a few things for dinner and tripped over some Thai Basil!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Other than that little 'misunderstanding,' our experience was enjoyable. The inside of the restaurant is definitely what I would deem cozy. A small space that houses banquettes and small niches of 2 tops against and seemingly set into the wall. There's a tall 8 top table in the middle of the lower part of the restaurant attached to some type of custom wine rack. A bar and more seating may be found upstairs which includes a few couches to lounge on in addition to the small patio seating along Lombardy St.
Steak & grits
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
From the Zed website:
ZED brings a unique flavor to the Richmond culinary environment serving fresh,responsibly sourced meats and local products. Come by and check us out for delicious modern cuisine, our extraordinary and ever-changing wine menu, and our highly acclaimed guest service and personal attention.
BEGINNING TUESDAY, MARCH 24TH we will open our doors at 9:00 a.m. and invite you to experience Zed morning, noon and night.
Coffee & Tea Bar Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Lunch - Tuesday - Friday 11:00 a.m.m - 2:30 p.m .
Wine Bar & Light Lunch Tuesday - Friday 2:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Brunch - Saturday 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Dinner - Wednesday - Saturday 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Open for Mother's Day Brunch, Sunday May 10th 11 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Lunch/Brunch was wonderful. I ordered the "French Press" - baguette with black forest ham, dijon mustard, brie and cornichons (I pulled these off, a little too much salt) and a side of sweet potato fries. It's truly lovely to be offered either the sweet potato fries or green salad in place of the requisite french fry. Overall, my plate was a great balance of sweet and salty. The bread/baguette was fantastically crunchy & chewy at the same time.
Hubs got choc. chip pancakes, applewood smoked bacon and the scallion cheese grits. Now, he's pretty picky about his pankcakes, I wasn't expecting this to end well. But, my head snapped up in surprise when he said, "Mmm, these are good." Hubs is a man of few words, so that means they were pretty darn delicious. I tried a bit of his grits and they were phenomenal. Creamy, hot and cheesy, I could've eaten a huge bowl of just the cheese grits and been satisfied.
The interior of the place is very mod "Zen Garden" and the new age instrumental music reminded me of being in a spa. No surprise, since there's a spa attached. They are definitely health conscious, as even the "sugar" on the table is Xylitol. Lots of local art scattered on the walls and a helpful and kind staff. Hubs and I both agreed this is one to come back to as the sum of all Zed's parts made for a pleasant experience. I could actually see going here on a weeknite w/friends to get a foot massage (reflexology)/pedi in the spa and then popping into Zed for dinner.
Richmond Food Collective has a great backstory on the previous chef and his philosophies here. (I've kept this in here to pay homage to Zed's origins).
5109 Lakeside Ave
Richmond, VA 23228
Thursday, April 16, 2009
* Lemon-Oregano Chicken
* Panzanella (thus my freezer stash of whole grain croutons comes into play)
If you want a little heavier side, it would also be great with a little parmesan orzo!
Gourmet April 2009
Yield: Makes 4 servings (I made 8 large chicken thighs from Ellwood's that ended up serving 6)
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
8 chicken thighs with skin (about 1 3/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used my own stock)
1 teaspoon dried oregano(I used a tbsp + of fresh oregano, MUCH better!)
Accompaniment: lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle. (these could be done on the grill too)
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt, then whisk together with 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pat chicken dry and coat with lemon-garlic mixture.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter and remaining tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Brown chicken in 2 batches, skin side down, until golden and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes (chicken will not be cooked through). Transfer, skin side up, to a 4-sided sheet pan.
Pour off fat (and any small burnt pieces) from skillet. Add broth and remaining tablespoon lemon juice and boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Whisk in remaining tablespoon butter and oregano, then pour over chicken.
Roast chicken in oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
I certainly can't claim to corner the market on bread salad, but I've never made it from a recipe. This is just usually what I throw in.
5-6 c. cubed whole grain baguette/country bread
1-2 lbs super ripe tomatos (various heirlooms are fun and make it colorful)
1 c. torn basil leaves
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Toast the bread cubes up with a little olive oil until golden brown and crispy (I know purists will groan, but I like the texture, so deal with it! ;) )
Meanwhile, mix olive oil, shallots, 1/2 the torn basil and red wine vinegar. Set aside/chill. I like to do this well ahead of time, so the flavors have time to meld.
Seed tomatos and cut into bite sized chunks. Along with liking to make the vinaigrette ahead of time, I also like to slice and store the tomatos in advance. This is b/c I will salt them to bring forth their natural juices, which combines beautifully with everything else going on.
You can make well in advance, combine all ingredients right before serving!
These are great on the grill and then served drizzled w/a balsamic reduction (our friend's speciality)
Or, most of the time, I throw them on a long plate w/a few tbsp of water, cover w/a matching long plate and let them rip in the microwave for 3 minutes. Drain. Perfectly steamed, not mushy, every time. Toss w/salt, pepper, butter and serve!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter a 9-inch round cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter and granulated sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in eggs until combined. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture and poppy seeds and mix until just combined.
Transfer batter to cake pan, smoothing top, and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then invert onto rack.
Whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth. Pour glaze over warm cake, spreading it with a spatula to drizzle over edge. Let stand until glaze is set, about 15 minutes.
We were seated right away, even though we showed up early, in a low slung banquette area by the bar. There's a larger (noisier) dining room towards the back of the restaurant. I was quite happy to be ensconced in my little sofa on our 2-top table. That is, until we had neighbors join us. Isn't that always the way? Now, I don't want to turn this into a "Vegas is losing it's charm" rant, but I do want to clearly state my observations.
What was supposed to be a quiet, tasty, romantic, low-key evening where we dropped 2 bills, ended up with us being audience to a couple that I think really had no idea where they were. I think they just tripped over the restaurant off of MGM's casino and thought, "This is open, I think we'll annoy people and eat here."
Off the bat, the woman (youngish 20's in casual, tourist gear) was yelling into her zebra striped cell phone that she "couldn't hear!" her kids. At least 7 times. I know. Because I was counting. Meanwhile, her husband in sports jersey regalia is asking, "How much does a beer cost here?"
Le sigh. I know I'm going to come off as a snob here. But, I'm not, really, I promise! I just wanted a nice dinner out, dressed up hot for my man, enjoying some relaxed atmosphere. If I wanted this sitting next to me, I could pay $35 and go to Applebee's! Ok, I'll spare you the rest b/c it's really not Tom's fault. It's a comment on American society that I'm not willing to make in this humble little blog.
Carrying on-- they bring fresh rolls to your table in a little screaming hot cast iron pan. If you go, be careful not to fill up before your meal on these nuggets of goodness! For starters, hubs got the lobster bisque and I got the truffled spinach salad. Hubs said the soup was more creamy, less "seafoody" (I have to take his word b/c I'm allergic) and that he'd had better. My salad, was organic spinach w/a truffled dressing and a few thinly sliced daikon radish on top. Not much to write home about other than it was seasoned well?
For dinner, hubs got the NY strip, I got the hanger steak. Both were cooked to medium rare perfection and were really the highlight of the experience. Well, other than the wild mushroom risotto and the blue cheese polenta. Both were so ridiculously good that I wanted to take a bath in them. I seriously could've just ordered the risotto and been completely satisfied. The wild mushrooms were not mixed into the risotto, instead they were left steaming atop the dish. They had been sauteed and then caramelized so that the edges were crunchy and full of earthy mushroom flavor. The texture contrast with the risotto was fantastic.
Obviously, we skipped dessert b/c we were both about to blow up. Plus, it "saved" more money for gambling! :)
There's my roundup. I hope this helps someone narrow down the diverse and wonderful restaurantscape that is Vegas before their next trip!
Amici’s recently been doing some construction to beef up the patio area. They’ve bricked it in and it’s set back a little from the sidewalk so that you don’t feel like you’re out in the middle of Cary Street (like Can Can). As our party was navigating the crushed pavement to get up the steps into the establishment, a smiling face opened the door and welcomed us in. I don’t care who you are or where you're at, you can’t beat that. We were seated right away in the upstairs dining room. The entire restaurant seating area, both upstairs and down can’t be more than 500 square feet. So, it lends itself to feeling instantly cozy and intimate.
Our server came up and kindly solicited drink orders right away. And I will say right here, that service is what Amici does best. We wanted for nothing this evening and the response was helpful, never overbearing. We all felt comfortable from the moment we walked in until we trotted down the stairs out to our car. Well, until we had to get up and use "the facilities." Remember how I said Amici's was cozy and intimate? This also includes the restroom placement. Tucked into the back left corner of the upstairs dining room, it was uncomfortably close to the dining area. And the ladies toilet makes sounds. Rude sounds, that I was concerned other diners RIGHT OUTSIDE THE DOOR, might mistake for emanating from me! I only mention this, b/c I figure someone would like the fair warning that I never received! But, I digress from the important subject, the food!
Our meal was definitely noteworthy. The hubs and my friend shared the calamari starter. I was told the calamari was tender, the coating crisp and an extra bonus of zucchini fries were mixed in as well as a side of house dipping sauce. Their plate cleared in a matter of seconds. I assume this meant it was good ;) Myself, I started with the Peperoni ripieni -Roasted bell peppers filled with pancetta and goat cheese au gratin. Salty, sweet, creamy deliciousness, I never wanted it to end. I would barely share with the rest of my table.
For dinner, the birthday girl ordered Cannelloni di carne -Baked home made cannelloni pasta filled with meat and vegetables in a walnut cream sauce. I tried a bite and it melted in my mouth, much the way you think it should in reading the menu. Her hubs ordered the duck(Anatra ai frutti di bosco -Pan roasted duck breast with mixed berries and port wine reduction), which came with a savory bread pudding underneath. My hubs had the shrimp which also had this bread pudding hiding underneath. This item was not outlined on the menu, so I wanted to point it out b/c both guys went crazy over it.
We skipped dessert as nothing was really speaking to us (and we had some dessert waiting for us at the Phoenician, thanks Naji!) But, the dessert menu contained the usual suspects: tiramisu, gelato, after dinner coffees, frangelico, port etc. etc.
Overall, with 2 starters, 4 mains, an asparagus and bottle of wine for the table, we made it out of there for $55 a person. Not bad for a fine dining, gourmet experience with excellent service! I will mention though, that our party(mid-30's) did not fit into what seemed to be the typical octogenarian demographic. Seems to be a favorite amongst mature diners. I can see why, with what seems to be reliable friendly service and reasonably priced great food. I guess with age does come wisdom! ;)
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
adapted from recipe on Epicurious
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water
1/2 stick butter
2/3 cup All Purpose flour
3 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup good Parmesan + more for sprinkling (optional)
S&P to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Combine first 3 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until butter is melted. Stir in flour; reduce heat to medium-low. Stir vigorously until mixture forms large dough clumps and film forms on bottom of saucepan, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk eggs in medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon beaten egg to small bowl and reserve. Add 1/3 of remaining beaten eggs to dough in saucepan; whisk until well incorporated. Add remaining eggs in 2 additions, stirring until eggs are completely absorbed after each addition (dough will be sticky). Mix in 1/2 cup parmesan.
Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet, forming about 24 walnut-size mounds and spacing about 1 inch apart. Using pastry brush, brush each mound with reserved egg, flattening any pointed tops.
Bake gougères until puffed, golden brown, and dry, about 30 minutes.
Do AHEAD: Can be made up to 1 week ahead. Cool completely. Place in airtight containers and store in freezer. Rewarm on baking sheet in 350°F oven until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.
* Can sprinkle a bit more parmesan on top of the gougeres about 20 minutes in to the baking process
courtesy, Ina Garten
2 tablespoons good olive oil
4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
10 fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.
Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.