Monday, October 25, 2010

Foodie Weekend


I've been sharing my recent races so it was high time I got back to the food. I posted a blog earlier about my pumpkin muffins and only thought it was appropriate to remind everyone that it's still pumpkin season and I can't help myself. I made another 2 dozen chocolate chip pumpkin muffins for my HR team at work, but this time I changed up the icing from cream cheese to buttercream. YUM. I actually like them sans icing. Heat one up in the microwave, add a little butter and viola, breakfast (or dessert, or a snack, or with wine...).

I'm not the only family member with a food fetish. I'm Sicilian, and my Italian family revolves
around food. My Aunt Gina makes the best arancini's you will ever taste, and my Dad's
meatballs are a coveted recipe. My Aunt Felicia use to run a restaurant here in Richmond called Mama's Felicia's with the best pizza and spaghetti but unfortunately it recently closed after the horrendous economic times as did my cousin's cafe - Cafe Nuara's in the west end. But there's hope just yet! Sal and another cousin of mine,
Steven, plus their close friend Victor decided to
open up a pizzeria in the museum district of Richmond called Belmont Pizzeria. A pick-up and delivery establishment, Belmont Pizzeria has everything from pizza, to calamari, to eggplant parm subs and homemade cannoli's. They will soon have their licence to sell beer and wine too. The combination of wine and the fact that they deliver up until 3am on the weekends is a healthy girl's nightmare and every late night bar hopper's dream. Definitely a great addition to a city lacking in it's late night options. Bravo!

If pumpkin muffins and Sicilian pizza aren't your thing, let's move on to the rest of the weekend, which included homemade french onion soup and baked oysters! First, my roommates and I at #413 have always been fans of french onion soup. We'll try it anywhere we go, and compare to the best we've had. For example, Starlite's french onion is a big fat NO. Too oily. Republic's french onion (with Gruyeres instead of the common swiss) is a definite YES, along with Panera and Can Can. We decided to try out hand at it too. I would rate out first attempt at homemade french onion soup a 7. We used fontina instead of swiss and mini french baguettes toasted with the fontina on top. The soup was simply 2.5 chopped onions, 80 oz of beef broth and about a cup of wine. Since we made it in the crockpot, the alcohol didn't cook out of the wine and it tasted terrible. Once we brought it to the boil however it got a lot better. Paired with J.Lohr's Chardonnay and a little rosemary salt blend, and you've got yourself a pretty damn good meal! Since our craze for french onion soup is usually during the winter months, you will probably see another posting or 2 on any additional attempts at homemade french onion, or a snow day trip to some bar that offer's this delectable soup!

To top of the homemade soup, we also made baked oysters. October is when oysters are in season and to pregame before my sister's oyster roast, the #413 girls made a wonderful assortment of oysters, cooked with various toppings. My sister Becky and her husband Cory received 2 gorgeous pewter oyster trays for their wedding a few years back. This tray can go in the oven, sit on a stove top or even on the grill. It's truly an awesome piece of cookware. As you can see, all you need is a jar of shucked oysters, and the rest is up to your creativity. We tried the following toppings: Lemon pepper, goat cheese, old bay, Frank's red hot, Rosemary and Salt, and minced garlic. the toppings boil up around the oysters in the oven and made an excellent appetizer for any meal. Easy to make - literally we picked anything we could find in our kitchen to dress the oysters and it was a huge success! Now if only I can keep my sister's oyster trays forever... Will she notice???

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