Food News: DIY lunch options, oyster mania, farmerly love, and drinking vinegar

Yeah, there’s some weird things going on this time, but most of them sound delicious. And if it doesn’t, just trust Stephanie. It is.


Opening later this afternoon, Ellwood Thompson’s Beet Café and Create station promise to have a little something for everyone. Looking for a healthy lunch with ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth and your choice of toppings? They’ve got you covered. Hankerin’ for fluffy waffles? Hanker no more! And if you, like me, feel that shopping would be so much more civilized if you could have a glass of wine in hand, well kindred spirit, our time has come. Ellwoods’ new ABC license will mean wine and beer in the café, and no corkage fee means you can have a go at any wine in the store, conceivably even while you shop for groceries.

In addition to make-your-own bowls and gild-your-own waffles, the Create station will feature a few pre-conceived omelet, sandwich, and earth bowl ideas for people who just aren’t interested in being so creative on their lunch break.

On the walls of the Beet Cafe are portraits of three innovative farming icons. Marketing Director Colin Beirne explains, “So we really wanted to keep it a community space. We wanted to really bring in some thought leaders that we look to–Wendell Berry, Amy Hicks, and Michael Pollan. We look to them for sustainable agriculture and organic growing practices and just putting back into the Earth what you take.”

Beirne says the Ellwoods team wanted to create a space that was a reflection of what’s going on in the store, while giving guests a community space for events (with full A/V capabilities) as well as live music and poetry readings. Monday through Wednesday, the Beet Café will be used exclusively for private events. Thursday through Sunday, the café will be open to the public with all of the food Ellwoods has to offer–hot bar, sushi, creation station, plus beer and cider on tap.

The first ticketed events for the Beet Café will take place as part of Fire, Flour & Fork, of which Ellwood Thompson’s is a sponsor. On Thursday, October 29th, Ellwoods will host a completely gluten-free “Farm-to-Fork” dinner with chefs Patrick Carr and Ingrid Schatz cooking alongside Joe Kindred, of Kindred in Davidson, N.C. (Kindred was named one of Bon Appétit’s Hot 10 this year!) And on Friday, October 30th, they’ll host a vegan feast with Richmond Restaurant Group’s Michele Williams and Scot Jones, of Crossroads in Los Angeles. No animals will be so much as inconvenienced in the making of this dinner! Get your tickets here.


Over the weekend, the Magpie announced via Facebook that they would be closing their doors for good. The response was immediate and distraught. Fellow chefs, restaurateurs, and diners were unsettled by the announcement and the fact that a restaurant with great food and service could succumb to the harsh realities of the restaurant industry. In a interview, co-owner Tiffany Gelner Lane outlines some of the reasons for the couple’s decision to close up shop.

It was only a short time later that Brian Marks, a supporter of the restaurant and the Lanes launched a fundraiser selling “Magpie Love” shirts as a way to say thank you and give an extra boost to Owen and Tiffany “as they find their path to what is next.” :-/


I’ve made no secret of my love of bivalves, and the fires of my love are getting further stoked by the Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program (VOSRP), whose mission is to bring those shells back to the waters from whence they came in an effort to restore the Bay. That means that by eating more oysters, you are actively contributing to the restoration of one of our country’s greatest natural resources, so yes, you’re a hero, as long as you recycle the shells! Pat yourself on the back with whatever hand isn’t being used to slurp down all the Ruby Salts, Shooting Points, Windmill Points, and Big Island oysters that will be available on Sunday, October 4th from 2:00 – 6:00 PM at Seven Springs Farm.

The Shell-Raiser’s Shindig will feature oysters from each of Virginia’s seven oyster regions, prepared by Brittanny Anderson (Metzger Bar & Butchery), Walter Bundy (Lemaire at the Jefferson), Donnie Glass (Public Seafood and Oyster), Ed Gross (Virginia’s Executive Mansion), Mike Ledesma (Patina), and Joe Sparatta (Heritage and Southbound).


As a society, we tend to idolize people for some pretty weird reasons. Sports. That’s one reason why we lavish praise and money on otherwise ordinary (and sometimes extremely subpar) citizens. And then there are actors. We treat actors like demigods walking among us even when they’re not terribly good at what they do. We’ve even rolled out the red carpet for chefs, elevating them to a place of reverence and awe when, I don’t know, maybe we shouldn’t.

But farmers! Farmers are the ones who really deserve our adulation. Through the heat and the rain (or lack of rain), despite back-breaking labor and relatively low compensation, farmers are the ones who keep doing the real work, growing food and raising livestock FOR US. And it’s rare that we take the time to thank them for the tireless work they do. Good thing they’re really in it for the produce and not the praise.

On October 3rd and 4th, the Virginia Association for Biological Farming will host their second annual Farm Tour, during which guests can tour any of the over twenty participating farms for just $25 per carload of people. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure way to meet and thank the people that feed us. Last year, my farmer-loving buddies and I packed a picnic and ate it under a weeping willow under the watchful eye of some farm cats, and it was downright idyllic.


A couple of restaurants opened in August, and if you haven’t been to them yet, well, what are you waiting for!? A written invitation!? GO!


Whether you’re planning to activate the fan zones in your own soul or to board yourself up in your house and pretend nothing is going on outside, THE BIG BIKE RACE™ is going to happen, and we might as well all look for silver lining where we can find it (unless you’re a member of the former group, and then it’s all silver linings for you!). The Metzger Bar & Butchery team plans to make things more bearable for those of us who are trapped on Church Hill with LUNCH! According to Facebook, “Full bar and schnitzel sammies start at 11 am 9/19 and continue through the 27th!” But I’m wondering, if we show them the enthusiasm that this deserves, can we get them to do lunch…FOREVER?


Are global food trends akin to gentrification? Yeah, kinda.

Can we have foie gras without gavage (forcefeeding)? No, probably not.

Southern Living knows what’s up, names L’Opossum one of the South’s best restaurants.


I gave up Diet Coke a couple years ago, and I’ve been unsatisfied with my drinkin’ options ever since. Sure, there’s soda water. It’ll do. But it’s never been able to hit the same note as my beloved Diet Coke. It’s just so…plain. I dabble in the LaCroix spectrum, but it just doesn’t have my heart the way an ice-cold can of DC once had. But I’ve found a secret weapon–Som Drinking Vinegar, created by James Beard Award winning chef Andy Ricker of Pok Pok. Just a few drops of Pomegranate Som transforms a can of club soda into something interesting, refreshing, and allegedly healthy. Flavors include Thai basil, tamarind, and turmeric; and you can find them online or locally at Southern Season.


Lullabelle’s is just the right kind of place for me, a sweet little sandwich shop with exceptional service that just feels good to walk into, no matter what my mood was like before stepping over the threshold. It’s a kind place. And the Jessie, god bless it, is a kind sandwich that knows I require my roast beef to be served on brioche with cheddar, grilled onions, and both garlic aioli and jalapeño relish. When I eat it, I like to imagine all the Jessies I can think of–from my friend Jessie at the JCC; to American Ninja Warrior competitor Jessie Graf; to pragmatic, if impressionable, Jessie Spano. This one’s for you, Jessies!


Believe the hype.

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Stephanie Ganz

Stephanie Ganz thought there would be pizza.

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