Food News: Pickled stuff, Lebanese stuff, Dinamo, Secco, and more

Unbuckle your belts! (Tastefully.)


Do you have your game plan ready for The Lebanese Food Festival this weekend? Don’t tell me you dare go to St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church without a gameplan. This is a serious festival that requires patience, perseverance, and stretchy pants. The festival, now in its 32nd year, starts at 10:00 AM on Friday and runs throughout the weekend. Here are a few recommendations:

  1. Start on Friday. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  2. Do your research. Learn about the people behind the food, and find out what’s new this year.
  3. Park your car. For me, this may be the most intimidating part of the entire experience, so I create an entrance and exit strategy in advance, leaving nothing to chance.
  4. Prioritize. With 20-some menu items (PDF) from which to choose, you’ve got your work cut yout for you. You know for sure you’re going to need a cheese pie, some stuffed grape leaves, and some kibbeh. That’s a good place to start, but don’t overlook new menu items like the Laham Bi Ajeen, a kind of pita-pizza topped with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and spices. When in doubt, grab one of the three boxed lunches, which are available on Friday and Saturday only.
  5. Bring friends. Your best chances of eating your way through the entire menu is to bring a posse and then divide and conquer.


What do pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, and sourdough bread have in common? They’ll all be available in mass quantities at Center of the Universe Brewery this Saturday for the Pickled & Fermented Festival, a celebration of all things salty, sour, briny, and funky. The festivities kick off at 1:00 PM with tastings and live music. Plus, COTU’s brewed up a special pickle beer (a Pickle Gose Ale, to be exact) that sounds like it will probably make you want to drink more while you’re still mid-sip. Brilliant.

Picklers of the domestic and professional varieties are encouraged to enter the pickle competition portion of the festival, of which I will join esteemed pickle-loving colleagues Larkin Garbee and Ashley Ray of the Artisan Pickle Club, Style Weekly’s Brandon Fox, Abbie Toner of Eat Smart RVA, and Karen Grisevich of GrowRVA to carry out the solemn duties of pickle judgement.


If Style Weekly’s detailed profile of Chef Peter Chang doesn’t inspire in you both hunger and fascination, I’m afraid nothing will. The cover story delves deep into what makes the mysterious chef so successful, from his upbringing in Hubei Province China, to his education, to his early culinary experiences. It’s the perfect appetizer for Full Disclosure’s An Evening with Peter Chang, a unique opportunity to listen to the stories from the man himself while enjoying the Sichuan master’s food at the Hippodrome this Sunday night.

SHALOM x 100,000

Shalom Farms, along with Peter Paul Development Center, received a $100,000 grant this week from Impact 100. Shalom’s six-acre farm provides food and educational opportunities for low-income communities. The funds will ease the expansion process for Shalom, which plans to increase their land by 5,000 square feet, doubling their on-site academic program. That means more food for FeedMore, more youth-run farm stands, and more Prescription Produce Plans in underserved communities.


Tickets are now on sale for Off Broad Appétit, the popular dine-around kick-off event for Broad Appétit, hosted by Pasture; and this year’s line-up is solid gold. Chef Jason Alley’s enlisted his Pork Board buddies, including Stephen Gerike, National Pork Board Director of Food Service Marketing; as well as Christine Flynn, aka THE CHEF JACQUES LA MERDE; Michael Scelfo, Chef/Owner at Alden & Harlow in Cambridge, Mass.; Thomas Pizzica, Chef/Owner of Belly Burgers in San Fransisco; Rob Newton, Chef and owner of Nightingale Nine and Wilma Jean in Brooklyn; and King Phojanakong, Chef/Owner of Umi Nom and Kuma Inn in NYC.

Oh, and there will be drinks–Foggy Ridge Cider, plus Strangeways, O’Connor, and Hardywood breweries, and Belle Isle Moonshine and Mouton Noir wines, to be exact.

Proceeds from the $125 tickets benefit FeedMore.


Get deep on Bluefin Tuna before it’s too late.

What the heck is aquafaba?

Not since @chefjacqueslamerde has an Instagram account so moved me. Lucky Peach finds out what’s up with the man behind A Taste of Streep.


Raise your pint glasses to Hardywood Park, Lickinghole Creek, and Devil’s Backbone! All three breweries took honors at last week’s World Beer Cup.

Hardywood took the bronze in the wood- and barrel-aged strong stout category for their Ruse, which is aged in Bull Run red wine barrels for 18 months to create a deep, sophisticated beer with notes of chocolate and leather.

Lickinghole Creek won the silver in the Field Beer category for their Coconut Delight, a very irie barrel-aged beer with notes of coconut, vanilla, and raisin.

Devil’s Backbone won an impressive not-one-but-two Gold medals, first for their German-style Schwarzbier, Schwartz Bier, as well as for Reilly’s Red, which won in the Irish-Style Red Ale category. Fun Fact: Devil’s Backbone has won nine of these awards. NINE in the past four years. (No wonder Anheuser-Busch InBev wanted in on that!)


With the propeller turning in the window, Dinamo signals that they’re ready for business. And whether you wander in for lunch on a Thursday or dinner on a Monday night, you’ll probably find the small Cary Street restaurant bustling–full of energy and conversation and remarkable food.

The Futurist-inspired decor and the warm, personal service make Dinamo the kind of place where I find myself wanting to go as much as possible, if for nothing more than a cup of coffee and a plate of chicken liver crostini (aka “breakfast”). But lately, it’s the seafood salad that’s got me hooked: Mussels, clams, beautifully fresh shrimp, and calamari get the red-onion-celery-olive-oil treatment, and the result is spectacular. It’s enough to share…or not share, depending on your personality type.


Secco turned six years old this week, and the Carytown wine bar is ready to move onward and overward to its new home in the Fan in September! HBD, Secco!

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Stephanie Ganz

Stephanie Ganz thought there would be pizza.

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