Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Banh Mi Throwdown

What a great idea... Create food competitions with various specialty dishes for a panel of judges and audience to taste and judge! My sister, our best friend and I went down to Cafe Gutenberg to attend the Banh Mi Throwdown last night - a competition where chefs Jen Mindell and Garrett Berry of Cafe Gutenberg battled against Patrick Harris, chef and owner of Boka Truck in creating the best Banh Mi – a Vietnamese sandwich made on a baguette and is one of the best tasting sandwiches I’ve ever had. I’m not a professional writer nor food critic (and don’t plan on being one either), so I won't go into details on the history of the banh mi sandwich or all the ingredients but feel free to Google it!

Once the chefs created their sandwiches, samples were passed around to the audience and the judges table for review...

The sandwiches were delightful. Cafe Gutenberg's pork banh mi was very traditional, full of flavor, and tasted great. Even the tofu banh mi was awesome. However, I am loyal to Boka Truck and anything with heat. Patrick's banh mi packed a lot of spice, which always gets my attention. I loved the toasted sesame seads and sriracha on absolutely anything is always good. The judges all agreed that Patrick used too much mayo (3 different aoli sauces were drizzled all over), and that was probably the weakest link, but otherwise Boka Truck's banh mi provided more flavor than Cafe Gutenberg's version. Boka Truck orders their baguettes fresh from Catina (Vietnamese bakery behind Horsepen) and have a light buttery crispiness to them that melts in your mouth (....or mouf!). Take a look at the photos below, and tell me if you don't drool just a little...

To top it all off, it was one of the judge's birthday (@rvafoodie) and his wife provided us with mini cupcakes by Pearls, another delightful treat to wrap up the evening.

I really hope more food competitions pop up in Richmond soon! You'll certainly find me there!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dan the Bike Man

My roommate and I went to a bicycle yard sale over the weekend. It was advertised on Craigslist. Sketchy as hell, but I was so close to buying this used mountain bike for $60 bucks. If anyone is looking to buy a used bike, I have Dan the Bike Man's number if you want it!

Weekend Bliss

Since I decided to start this blog over a weekend filled with awesome RVA food, I think I'll share my experiences with you since they are fresh in my head... er... stomach?

We'll start with dinner at Julep's New Southern Cuisine. If you ever want to be wined and dined southern style and with class and elegance, Julep's is the place to be. I felt so cared for during the entire meal. The service is excellent and the atmosphere is quaint, sophisticated and comfortable. Every time I've dined at Julep's, I pick a seafood entree. Last night's Seared Florida Grouper was a pure delight. The Citrus-Smoked Paprika Glaze was served with Lobster Meat, Roasted Sweet Corn-Vidalia Onion-Avocado Salad and Lime-Chili Butter Sauce. The fish was hot and tender while the cool salsa underneath made for an excellent combination. And always try their soup. Soup is one of my favorites things to eat, and their crab bisque was nothing short of heavenly.

Next up: Millie's Diner! I've been wanting to try Millie's every since I moved to the Fan 3 years ago. While brunching in the Fan is fun and eventful, the trek down to Church Hill is worth it. The restaurants down in Shockoe Bottom and Church Hill have incredible menu's, and to-die-for brunch options. Millie's Diner is no exception. My first dining experience at Millie's rocked. We ordered Castro's Mess and of course 2 rounds of bloody mary's. Both are hot and spicy, just the way I like my food. I've included the description of Castro's Mess below along with a photo. Let me tell you, there was no mess left after we finished our entire plates of food.

Now all that's left to do today is hit the trail for a long run. And eat leftovers of course.


"May the best of your yesterday's be the worst of your tomorrow's."

Welcome to my blog. I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog to share my passion for food and fitness, just like everyone else. I'm a native of Richmond, Virginia. Made it a stone's throw away to Charlottesville to attend college at UVA. Pursued my odd obsession with Russia by studying abroad in St. Petersburg the summer after college, and landed back in Richmond for good, settling down in the Fan, where every 20-something belongs.

Ah, the good life. That's been a major theme for me as every year passes. I look back and realize how lucky I am to have such an amazing family, wonderful friends, and fulfilling experiences. I hope to share some of "the good life" in this blog, focusing on my most passionate hobbies of food and fitness. Yes, I will also throw in a plug or two about foreign policy and other interests of mine.

So, where to begin... I feel that I should start at the beginning so you can understand the foundations of why I am so passionate about food and fitness. I grew up in a large Italian family. My Dad is Sicilian, second generation and full of knowledge and insight. My Mom is a product of West Virginia and pure motivation. I am 1 of 5 girls, and most importantly, I am a twin. My twin sister is my best friend, my confidant, my soul mate, my life saver and everything in between. You will hear me talk a lot about her, that's for sure.

Let's fast forward to my my not so distant past. If you can imagine, growing up in a large Italian family lead to large meals, large clothes, large everything. I was overweight from since I can remember and it was tough. But in February 2007, I decided it was time to change my unhealthy habits and turn over a new leaf. I had always been athletic growing up, but I certainly didn't eat well. When I decided to join Weight Watchers, I never thought it would truly change my life. The program taught me to eat right. It provided me with the education and tools to make healthy decisions and understand my boundries. The added bonus was that it allowed me to launch my creativity with what I cooked and the things I could eat. I love to cook, and Weight Watchers was the key to reinventing that hobby.

And so, here I am, 3 years and 45 pounds later. During that journey, I also started running. Running was my new routine to add to the new foods I was eating. I wouldn't say I'm an addict, or even that good of a runner, but I love it. I've had the pleasure getting a "runner's high" on a couple of my runs and the feeling is incredible. I sign up for various races year-round and that helps motivate and feed my habit. I completed my first half marathon last year in under 2 hours and I'm damn proud of it! Once running sunk in, I picked up other activities such as kickboxing, swimming, biking, and bikram yoga. I love to try new things and love to learn. I look forward to sharing many adventures with you all as well. Hope you're hungry... You are in for a real treat!