Food News: Fried chicken, 20 years of beer, and Appalachian apple butter

There’s a slew of sauces and sides, a new happy hour to care about, and baby chefs in roasting pans!


A new Richmond food truck wants to spread the gospel of fried chicken to believers and vegans alike. Mean Bird, the brainchild of husband-and-wife restaurant industry vets Mike and Sarah Moore, plans to serve up buckets of fried chicken and sides, plus vegan fried chicken, aka Veggie Birds, plus “a slew of sauces and sides,” a phrase that makes me so giddy, I find myself just saying it aloud in the car sometimes.

The duo spent time working at Dot’s Back Inn and The Mill before deciding to launch their own business. According to Richmond Magazine, Jazzbo’s Rollin’ Gumbo (a bygone Northside food cart) was influential in their decision to go mobile, and its owner Jamie Dickerson was something of a mentor to the Mike and Sarah.

Mark your calendars for January 2nd when you can officially start making good on your New Year’s resolution to eat more fried chicken. Mean Bird will be at Ardent Craft Ales from 1:00 – 9:00 PM with their menu of fried birds and not-birds, biscuits, collards, potato wedges, and a slew of house-made dippies.


If you were born on the same year that Mekong first opened its doors (1995), you will be legal to drink from its plentiful taps NEXT YEAR. That’s right, Mekong turns 20 this year, which is crazy to think about. That’s 20 years of build-your-own spring rolls, crispy rocket shrimp, and frothy mugfulls of the answer to any conceivable question: BEER. Richmond Times Dispatch has a feature on the Vietnamese beer bar, who celebrated the big day on December 8th with, what else, more beer–a tap takeover with Perennial Artisan Ales. Happy birthday, Mekong! Thanks for the memories and continued fun times!


If you’re still wondering what to get for the friends and family on your holiday shopping list, take a grander at this culinary gift guide, and let it inspire you. Since its publication, another edible gem crossed my path: Dutch & Company has brought back their gift boxes for the third year, and they’re just as splendid as I remember. Each wooden wine box is lovingly stuffed with D&C’s Chestnut Rigatoni; Tomato Sauce; Harissa Mustard; Meyer Lemon Marmalade; Stroopwafels; Ginger Beer; 2012 G.D Vajra Langhe Rosso, Nebbiolo Blend; and a $25 Dutch & Company Gift Card–all for $80, plus tax.


We can finally drink at Citizen! Whether it’s lunch, happy hour, or the soon-to-come brunch, now we can all enjoy chef Greg Johnson’s inventive food with a drink in hand. Richmond Magazine has the full wine and beer list for all your beverage-planning purposes.


A Milton family recipe for apple butter, an education on the importance of beans in Appalachian cooking, and the image of a baby Travis Milton (bearded and tattooed) sitting in a roasting pan await you in this WCVE interview with the chef and his mother Renee.


Did you know chef Joe Sparatta was quoted in a November New York Times article on GMO labeling? FACT.



This latte is a smart way to wrangle holiday flavors without falling into the usual peppermint-and-chocolate trap (it’s a delicious trap, but boring). Get this one while you still can. Lamplighter’s Christmas-in-a-cup won’t be around forever.


One of the best things rice can do is crisp up on the bottom of the pan. If I could eat a bowl of just the crispy pan-bottom rice, I would do it. Saison gets me, as usual, and they’re delivering the crispy bits I crave in their Carolina Gold Rice Bowl. It’s pretty much exactly what I’m looking for–crunchy/fluffy rice, loaded up with Victory Farms’ veggies, pickled mushrooms, and fermented chile sauce, topped with a perfectly-poached egg.


Happy Hanukkah!

Our great grandfather Shmuel always used to say to his children: "Schmaltz en yeel ranetz oynder vaynays" meaning, "schmaltz and oil runs through our veins." In Budapest, our great grandfather cooked for the king. The king, a great student of folklore and the bible, loved the story of Chanukah and was equally passionate about fried foods. On Chanukah 1903 he had a grand party and invited presidents, queens, Kings, sheiks, lords, princes and dukes to his castle for donuts, fried pheasant, and latkes with lots of sauces. Our grandfather, emboldened by the guests list and quantity of persons decided that he would showcase his latke skills in front of the guests while his staff prepared the rest of the food behind closed doors. Without his supervision, a terrible fryer accident resulted in a grease fire that swept through the castle. No one died but the damage was substantial and our great grandfather was banished from the kingdom, his pride and social standing ripped away. Forced to leave Hungary from the harbor of Budapest, he took a 5 week journey and landed in the port of Detroit with only a spatula in his hand and a desire to start anew. For over 100 years our family never ate anything fried and we never discussed latkes in our home. But In 2008 using the Internet we found out about our family lore and in secret the two of us entered the Maccabees Games 18 and over division latke championships representing Detroit. Playing against the odds we qualified for the finals in Seoul. The great Russian latke team of Bratislavanskaya & Bashamatiskalva were the heavy favorites. But We surprised everyone by using just one spatula handing it off back and forth (a technique that had never been used before) and went on to win 3 Jew gold coin medallions (best overall latke, speed latkeing and in the freestyle latke). That spatula belonged to our grandfather. The very same great grandfather that had been banished earlier in this post. The one who made latkes for the king. So see, we used his spatula, the one that hadn't been used in over 100 years. Pretty powerful stuff, we know.

A photo posted by Max and eli (@thesussmans) on

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Stephanie Ganz

Stephanie Ganz thought there would be pizza.

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