Food News: Brews, biscuits, doughnuts, coffee, macarons, matzo

All the necessary things, basically.

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TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING

It seems like a new brewery opens every week here in Richmond, though I’m pretty sure the rate is actually slightly slower. Can all these breweries expect to last as long as pioneering brewers like Legend, who just celebrated their 22nd year in business last weekend? I’m going to guess “no,” but again, I’m speculating.

Richmond Magazine’s Robey Martin does more than just speculate: She pours out some cold, hard statistics about the growth of the industry and its consumers, and before you suggest that Martin has it out for the brewers, let me just tell you I’ve rarely seen anyone with more dedication to the cause (the cause of finding and drinking great beer).

In the article, Martin brings up the issue of a beer “bust,” similar to what Richmond experienced in the 1880s and again during that dark time in American history known as Prohibition. Beer historian Mike Gorman, who contributed to the article, added this insight during a Facebook discussion about the article:

I don’t think that any of those types of catastrophic busts are possible any more. Those busts were always caused by global economic and domestic social factors, not because of saturation. Unless we have a zombie apocalypse or super-majorities across America revive Prohibition, there’s always going to be a market for good beer…That market was created. It can’t go away now. The market could get smaller (based on social and economic factors), and possibly will, but as long as there’s demand, someone will be there to fill it (there are still prosperous corset-makers, for instance). I don’t see how those kinds of historical busts could be possible any more. That doesn’t mean breweries won’t close, but there’s no way there would be a brewery vacuum (like say, after the James River Steam Brewery closed in 1880) again–even then, if I’m wrong, and such a bust IS possible, that very vacuum encouraged the response that led to two large local breweries opening up in 1892. Only Prohibition stopped that trend in its tracks. And those breweries offered products very similar to their larger competitors –not unique and interesting like what you see today. I’m very optimistic about the long-term track we’re on.

So, is the scene bound to bust? Probably not in the huge barrels-in-the-street way that history has already witnessed, but the numbers suggest that, over time, some of the breweries will be the victim of what Gorman likens to a kind of natural selection. Survival of the sudsiest.

BISCUITS ‘N’ BRUNCH

Just when you thought Richmond could not possibly get any brunchier or biscuitier, you learn that you have been deliciously mistaken. The Fancy Biscuit opened last week after over a year of taunting us with the idea of biting into fluffy biscuits made by the same people who make some of our favorite cakes in town. Score another one for gluten-lovers!

And the brunchy part? Starting on Sunday, May 15th, Southbound will offer brunch…with mimosas…on a patio. See you on the southside, guys!

COFFEE ‘N’ DOUGHNUTS

Ironclad Coffee Roasters and Sugar Shack Donuts know that some things are just meant to go together…like coffee and doughnuts and benefits for a worthy cause. Improve your Monday morning on April 25th with a stop at Ironclad Coffee Roasters to pick up coffee and doughnuts, and 100% of the funds will go directly to the family of slain Virginia State Police Trooper Chad Dermyer.

JUST ANOTHER MACARON MONDAY

If you’ve got a case of the Mondays, I strongly suggest taking yourself to Sweet Fix on the first Monday of every month for #MACARONMONDAY. From 11:00 to 2:00 PM, Sweet Fix will open up to offer three hours of macaron madness with a variety of flavors, sampler packs, and specials. Owner Amanda Robinson says you can expect to find a case full of dozens of flavors of French macarons, including Fruity Pebbles, Pina Colada, Earl Grey and Honey, and Orange Blossom. Check out this adorable macaron dude, and just try to not be charmed by his little dance. C’est impossible!

DINNER IN THE FIELD OF DREAMS

The warmer weather means it’s finally time to start eating al fresco with regularity, and to help that cause, Dinner in the Field has announced their line-up of events for June and July. Locations include Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, Seven Springs, and Caromont Farm. Do you prefer more international fields? In August and September, the DITF crew will take the show overseas to England and Italy. Tickets for the Virginia-based dinners are $150 per person and go on sale one month prior to each dinner. Set your reminders accordingly.

100 YEARS OF FARMITUDE

Governor Terry McAuliffe recognized a dozen farms as the newest to join Virginia’s “Century Farms.” The Virginia Century Farm Program was designed to recognize and honor farms that have operated continuously for one hundred years and their contribution to Virginia’s largest private industry–agriculture.

In a press release, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore said, “These long-standing farm families, as well as the 1,352 other Century Farm families across Virginia, all share a common bond–the proud and enduring tradition of agriculture, the Commonwealth’s largest private industry. Agriculture, from these family farms to value-added processing and manufacturing, is a key component of the Governor’s call to build a new Virginia economy.”

SIP: MANISCHEWITZ MANHATTAN

Passover begins at Sundown on Friday, and what better to pour for Elijah the prophet than a rocks glass full of rye, bitters, and…Manischewitz?! Sure, Manischewitz isn’t everyone’s cup of…wine, but it certainly checks the Kosher-for-Passover box, and oddly enough, switching out sweet vermouth for the sweet wine makes some sense. Enough sense, at least. Garnish with a cherry, and nu, you’ve got a Manhattan that’s very lower east side.

BITE: WHISK’S MATZO CRACK

You’ll need something unleavened to go with that Manhattan, and let me suggest Whisk’s matzoh crack, an addictive combination of matzo, toffee, and chocolate, topped with pistachios. (A pistachio-free version also exists, but I’m going pro-pistachio.) The sugary, chocolatey goodness makes the perfect reward for finding the afikomen or sitting through your family’s seder or waking up the next morning in time for services. But it, like Passover, won’t be around much longer than a week after its Friday debut, so enjoy it while you can.

GRAM: @MOLLYYEH

Start here, and then let yourself get lost in Molly Yeh’s seriously gorgeous food blog. Hunger and procrastination are inevitable.

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Stephanie Ganz

Stephanie Ganz thought there would be pizza.

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