Food News: Estilo’s new business partner, Harvest’s new meat, and Rappahannock’s Virginia celebration
Latin-influenced Estilo welcomes Owen Lane as Executive Chef and Partner, while Harvest Grocery + Supply welcomes JM Stock Provisions as Executive Butchers (fictional title). Rappahannock plans an epic epicurean event. And a few of #RVADine’s finest attempt to cleanse their culinary sins.
When Estilo closes its doors at the end of service on January 17th, it will be with a certain kind of finality. It’s not THE END, but it’s an end. If all goes as planned, the doors will reopen eight days later, and a new Estilo will emerge, like a phoenix…like a phoenix with tapas.
Four weeks ago, Estilo owners Josh and Jessica Bufford struck up a partnership with Owen Lane, Chef/Owner of The Magpie, making him Executive Chef and partner of their Near West End restaurant.
Lane studied Latin food at an early point in his career and has referred fondly to it several times at his own restaurant, like at the Magpie’s La Uracca anniversary pop-up, where the Buffords were impressed with the way the chef treated a cuisine that’s basically a hobby for him: “Having a guy like Owen, who has a real passion for this food, is so special,” says Jessica Bufford. “It’s hard to find people that share a passion for a certain type of food.”
Bufford says she feels confident that Lane is the right partner for the business: “We have a lot of faith in Owen’s food, and Owen has a lot of faith in our ability to run a restaurant.” Plus, she points out, it helps that the two businesses already share an attorney and an accountant. The Buffords and the Lanes have regularly called on each other for support and advice in the past.
For Lane, the timing was right. Many of the Magpie staff have been at the restaurant for years. They get it, and they get him. He knows they’ve got his back on this one. In classic chef style, Lane said to himself, “If I can go on vacation, there’s no reason I can’t grow and try to do something else.” He’s also eager to see the effect that opening another kitchen up to his cooks will have on their skills: “All the people working in both kitchens, from Magpie and Estilo, get to look at different restaurants. It’s gonna make them even stronger and help them to grow,” says Lane. “I’m excited to see my guys grow.”
The plan is full immersion in the first few weeks of Estilo’s relaunch to ensure that every detail meets Lane’s standards. He’s realistic about the expectations: “In the beginning of opening the Magpie, we didn’t have much of a microscope,” he says. “but now that’s completely different. The microscope’s going to be out, and I can’t let anything slip in the beginning.” The self-described perfectionist says he knows that’s going to mean giving up control, which he says is possible if you have the right team. After talking with friend and fellow chef Lee Gregory about the realities of owning multiple restaurants, Lane says he’s hoping to achieve a somewhat balanced schedule after about six weeks.
Lane will introduce Estilo to the purveyors that he leans on for the Magpie, like Autumn Olive Farm and Victory Farm. The menu, which Lane says is almost complete, reflects not just Latin American cuisine, but traditional Spanish influences as well. He describes the dishes with obvious giddiness: “I’m really excited about the rotisserie oven. I plan on having something spinning all throughout service, hopefully every night.” Guests can expect to see goat on the menu as well as Lane’s homemade sausages, various smoked preparations, and “everything from pig head tamales to classic carnitas.” The beverage program, on which Lane is collaborating with beverage manager Scott Harris, will compliment the menu’s style and seasonality.
— ∮∮∮ —
Main Street’s neighborhood grocer, Harvest Grocery + Supply will be noticeably meatier this week. Owner Hunter Hopcroft has partnered with the folks at JM Stock Provisions to offer a full-service butcher case, featuring 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef from Charlottesville-based Timber Creek Organics, plus Autumn Olive Farms pork, and chicken from River Oak Farm and Polyface Farm. A dedicated whole-animal butcher will be working the case and taking special orders for things like lamb, duck, and rabbit. JM Stock Provisions will also bring their lineup of sausages, including an array of traditional sausages plus some of these most excellent sounding specialties (from the JM Stock Provisions website):
- Virginia Country Breakfast
- The Hot Morning
- Bada Bing! (Southern Italian parmesan + parsley)
- Pizza Party (spicy marinara + mozz)
- Sam Elliot (BBQ, cheddar cheese, crushed Funyuns)
- John Deez (pimiento cheese + pickled jalapeños)
- Sexy Chicken (shallots, red wine, dijon, thyme)
- Chicken N Waffles
- Jeff (smoked W/ bourbon apple butter + caramelized onions)
- O’doyle Rulez (pickled mustard seed, ginger, soy, scallions)
- Butternut squash + bacon
- New Mexican green chorizo
- K-pop (on’t ask…or do.)
— ∮∮∮ —
This past October, Esquire Editor-at-Large Josh Ozersky ordained Virginia the “food region of 2014,” saying, “The Old Dominion has seemingly overnight exploded into one of the country’s greatest gastro regions.” Shining stars of the regional scene, Rappahannock River Oysters’ Travis and Ryan Croxton, took that as an opportunity to party and have planned a night of Virginia dining on Monday, January 12th to spotlight the food that makes the state so exceptional.
During the reception, from 5:00 to 6:30 PM, guests will be able to interact with the producers mentioned in the article, learning their stories and rubbing elbows with Ozersky himself, while enjoying sips from Barboursville Winery, Champion Brewery, and Foggy Ridge Cider, plus oysters on the half-shell, cider-glazed lamb ribs with peanuts, baked Olde Salt clams with Merguez, and fried quail with concord grape sauce and parsley salad.
When guests are seated for dinner at 7:00 PM, they’ll enjoy two courses from Rappahannock’s Dylan Fultineer, including olive oil-poached fluke with citrus, as well as Adam Musick’s Berkshire pork loin with rye knefla and honey crisp apple butter, Border Springs lamb neck and oyster stew with chili sauce, and Sub Rosa pastries for dessert. Then, presumably, they will roll themselves home and vow to start dieting on Tuesday.
Tickets to the reception are $75. Tickets to the dinner are $125. And tickets to both are a cool $175.
— ∮∮∮ —
One of my favorite Richmond journalists (whom I, oddly, never met IRL. IS HE REAL?), 1 Nathan Cushing has left the city for…somewhere other than here! Here’s his last article for RVANews, a profile on the biscuit wizards at Early Bird.
The newest Urban Farmhouse, located on Norfolk Street in Scott’s Addition, opened quietly on Boxing Day. It looks gigantic (3,500 square feet!) and lovely. (RVANews)
If you’re looking for Buddy’s Place, it moved. (Richmond.com)
A round of applause and an inappropriate hug for the people named as Style Weekly’s 2014 Richmonders of the Year: The City’s Food and Drink Pioneers. Keep up the good work, folks.
— ∮∮∮ —
In national news…
Are you always bummed about the lack of foie gras in California? That speaks volumes about your personality, dude. Here’s some news you definitely will care about. (Eater)
Ever wish the Borg could make your breakfast? Well, you might just get your wish. 3D printers are headed for the kitchen. (NRN)
BITE OF THE WEEK: CASSOULET
When Alain Ducasse’s Benoit NY tells us that January 11th is #NationalCassouletDay (and that the surrounding week is Cassoulet Week), I say, “Ah, oui!”, followed by what I’m pretty sure is French-sounding laughter: “Hon hon hon!”
Cassoulet sometimes gets billed as peasant food. Maybe that was true 200 years ago when peasants had a bunch of duck confit and cured pork laying around, but by today’s standards, it is a casserole worthy of royalty.
Go-to French restaurants Bistro Bobette and Amour Wine Bistro both offer variations on the oft-varied dish. While Bobette’s is a life-bracing combination of sausage, bacon, duck confit, lamb, and beans; Amour takes a more modern approach with a seared duck breast over a cassoulet-inspired combination of Toulouse sausage, duck confit, and white beans. Can Can Brasserie offers cassoulets “of the land” and “of the sea,” but only on Sunday, so mark your calendar.
If you’re feeling froggy, you can always make it yourself, but you’ll probably need to hit up the aforementioned butcher counter at Harvest to make it happen.
SIP OF THE WEEK: FLAT WHITE
Forget your lattes. They’re so done. The flat white is the new king of the espresso beverages, especially on the heels of the announcement that Starbucks would start offering the Australian-born bevvy on their menu last week. In Richmond, you’ve got two good options–Proper Pie, where an actual kiwi (owner and New Zealander Neil Smith) will be in the building to validate the drink’s authenticity, or Alchemy’s The Lab.
Alchemy owner Eric Spivak shares his thoughts on the craze, saying, “We consider it to be a structurally more sound drink construction than the cappuccino. ‘Wet foam’ is a superior milk structure for both mixing in with the coffee and how your palate perceives the milk. It’s what a proper latté is made with.” He adds, “A flat-white is the milk consistency of a latté but volume/ratio of a cappuccino. If Italians had known how to steam milk properly 100 years ago, it’d be the drink standard today.”
If you’re looking for something a little smaller and lighter (in density if not in calorie), try a cortado, the flat white’s Spanish cousin, available at Lamplighter and Saison Market.
‘GRAM OF THE WEEK: LEMAIRE
Lemaire continues their ongoing series of pairing weather with wine. In the latest installment, Lemaire serves up an earthy, spicy shiraz, perfect for warming your winter bones from the inside out. If it gets any colder, they’re going to have to serve up a stellar vintage of antifreeze because BRRRR.
Photo by: Cameron Charles Lewis