You guys. I probably gained 10 lbs. this weekend… And it was worth it.
We’re getting close to G’s deployment date. We started this year out with the mindset of “we need to save money”, “we need to buy a house”, “we need to pay off debt”. Now, we pretty much have the mindset of “eff it”. This weekend we took “eff it” to a whole new level.
Friday kicked off Graham’s birthday weekend. We drove out to Norfolk and had a highly anticipated breakfast at the Handsome Biscuit. We’ve tried to eat there in the past, but it’s a tiiiiiiiny little place. There are literally three tables inside, and a few picnic tables outside. We went, and there were no tables available. But luckily the breakfast Gods smiled upon us, and a table opened up a few minutes before our food was ready.
I ordered the Mr. Close Love (roasted pork shoulder, sweet hot mustard, cucumber) and it was fabulous! Even though the biscuits look epic, I was honestly worried I wouldn’t like them, since the biscuits are made with sweet potato. I hate sweet potato. But everything was so, so good. The biscuit was perfect & fluffy, and the pork was so tender. It fell apart when my fork just barely touched it. The mustard was the spiciest mustard I had ever had, and the cucumbers seemed a little weird at first, but they were really refreshing against the super spicy mustard.
Graham had the Hella Fitzgerald (fried Chicken with bacon, cheddar, and red eye sausage gravy). This thing was a MONSTER. He never even attempted to pick it up, and ate the whole thing with a fork. And it was delicious!
After breakfast, Graham headed to Charlotte for the day. One of his oldest friends had graduated from the Charlotte Fire Department, and he wanted to be there to help celebrate. I spent the day running errands, and unfortunately one of those errands included an eyebrow wax. I’ve never had a baby, so I can’t say this with absolute certainty, but I think eyebrow waxes must be more painful than childbirth. So, I treated myself, and my bright, red, swollen eyebrows to a delicious Smallcakes cupcake.
Saturday morning Graham headed back from Charlotte, and I headed to Richmond, and we met in RVA for the River City Food Tour. I had read about this on a blog, and I was immediately intrigued. There was a BOGO promo code on the blog, so I immediately bought two tickets for Graham and I. It was the most gorgeous day imaginable for a walking food tour.
The tour started at Carytown Cupcakes, the only stop on the tour we had heard of (an eaten at). They had two types of cupcakes for us to try. One was a Chocolate Potato (chocolate potato cupcakes with chocolate almond butter cream) & the other was an Irish Car Bomb (vanilla cupcake with a graham cracker crust bottom, Guinness And Bailey’s cheesecake filling, & whiskey butter cream). Both were good, but the Irish Car Bomb was phenomenal. The Chocolate Potato was cool though, because it actually had riced potato in it.
Our second stop was for buffalo oysters at Water Coastal Kitchen. I had never had oysters before, so I was excited to try these. We each got 3-4 oysters, and I really enjoyed these. The oysters were pretty big, and the buffalo sauce was delicious. Surprisingly, everyone was more excited about the pickled celery. I normally HATE celery, but I loved this. I may need to make myself some before I start my Whole30 (more on that later). Their seafood was fresh & locally sourced, and I will definitely stop in for a full meal on a future trip to RVA.
Our third stop was Xtras, a place that is incredibly well hidden. Seriously. I would have never, ever stopped at this place in a million years, it’s so well hidden. This place was a lot more casual, and the food was just as delicious. This was the stop we spent the most time at, so I ordered a cocktail (the sang-arita gets two thumbs up!). The chef at Xtras went off menu, and made us beef taquitos with the most delicious avocado sauce ever. It tasted like a mix of guacamole & salsa verde, and I just wanted to swim in it. I also love the activities they offer each week (especially Cards Against Humanity on Tuesday nights).
Our fourth stop was at the Virginia Diner Shoppe for an assortment of their peanuts. We tried the regular salted, the Chesapeake Bay peanuts, and the chocolate covered. All were tasty, but the Chesapeake Bay peanuts were definitely my favorite.
Fifth (and my favorite) was Don’t Look Back. Here, we tried two of their tacos and they were amaaaaaaazing. We got to try the pulled chicken on a corn tortilla, served gringo style (cheese, lettuce, sour cream & salsa), and a carnitas taco served traditional style (cilantro, red onion & lime). Both were so freaking good, but the chicken taco was epic. I can not WAIT to eat here on our next trip to Richmond.
Our final stop was at the Nile at the Portrait House. I would have never in a million years expected to find a place that paired a huge craft beer selection with Ethiopian food. It was an odd combination, but it definitely worked. Here we were served Ayib Tikel (signature Ethiopian cheese seasoned with mitmita, rolled in injera, and cut into a sushi type roll), The cheese was so, so spicy. It was a slow building heat, and was absolutely delicious. The other item we had was a sambusa (crispy pastries filled with your choice of mildly spiced beef), which I absolutely loved! The pastry was so flaky & crispy, and the filling had excellent flavor.
Everything we had was really delicious, and we had such a great time. We met some very cool people (including Liz from I Heart Vegetables, and her husband), and got to spend a beautiful day walking around a really fun area. The tour guide was really friendly and did a really great job. He provided some history of the area, along with maps and photos, and was super professional and well prepared.
The only thing I would do differently is to give us a little more information about each restaurant. I would have loved to have had the chef come out and talk to us a little bit about the food. A print out with information about where we ate at, and exactly what we ate, would have been awesome too. But overall, it was a really fun experience and an awesome way to spend a beautiful Saturday.
Since Saturday was G’s birthday, we headed to Virginia Beach for dinner at Thirty 7 North. Last year, I was hunting down the perfect restaurant for our anniversary dinner, and Thirty 7 North was one of the places that was recommended. We didn’t end up going there, but I bookmarked it for a future date night. We finally made it for dinner, and had a wonderful experience. Everything we had was delicious, the restaurant was beautiful, and the service was excellent.
We started with drinks & the pimento cheese and house made crackers. I ordered the Lilypad (lemon infused Tito’s vodka, pomegranate & watermelon liqueur. This was really good. It kind of tasted like strawberry lemonade with one heck of a kick to it. And the crackers and pimento cheese were SO good (and if you check in with Yelp, you unlock an offer to get these for free). The texture of the cheese was different from what I was used to, but the flavor was perfect.
Graham had the New York strip with a horseradish espuma. He had pan roasted mushrooms and Brussels sprouts with bacon on the side. This steak was amazing, especially with the horseradish. The mushrooms were pretty blah (I ordered the exact same sides as he did) but the Brussels were amazing.
I had one of their daily fish options, the yellow fin tuna, also with mushrooms & Brussels sprouts. I know that’s kind of a weird combination, but oh well. My tuna was seared, and the outside had a perfect crust. The tuna was perfect, I just wish I had gotten veggies or greens instead of the mushrooms, but oh well. There is always next time.
We skipped on dessert at the restaurant, since Graham had a birthday cake waiting for him at home. Every year, we requests the same cake: a strawberry cake (made from a box mix), with cream cheese frosting. I tried to make it a little more fancy by using homemade frosting and homemade strawberry jam between the layers.
Of course, I can’t frost a cake to save my life (seriously, it was a hot mess), so I covered the whole damned thing in sprinkles. It was messy, and there were sprinkles EVERYWHERE, but it made him happy, and that’s what counts =)And Sunday, our friends Sav & Elise had the grand opening of their restaurant, Lé Mu. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the launch party, and I’ll write more about the food we had in tomorrows post, but everything we had was SO good! We went with some friends, and between the six of us, we ordered everything on the menu. If you’re in the Hampton Roads area, you HAVE to check them out!