If you love food and drink, this is THE weekend to be in Richmond. Take a look:
WINING DOWN: This is the weekend that wine lovers from across town, around the state and from farther afield gather in the River City for the annual Virginia Wine Expo Presented by Publix. The six-day event that encapsulates the amazing local craft beverage and food scene culminates this weekend with the Walkaround Grand Tastings, which give guests an opportunity to enjoy a finely curated selection of hundreds of premium Virginia, Chilean and Central Coast, Santa Cruz Mountains and Southern California wines, Virginia spirits, Virginia ciders, artisan foods and specialty products. There are still tickets left to some of the tastings. Check the website for schedule and ticket information.
There are also a few tickets left for some of the other amazing special events such as Bounty of Virginia or NIGHBEAT. If you want to feast like a king, this is your chance.
I was at a special oyster lunch yesterday, held at the Rocketts Landing Boathouse Restaurant, which was part of the Wine Expo. There were folks seated at our table who had come from Fredericksburg and Northern Virginia especially for the expo.
If you haven’t made your plans yet, there’s still a little time to do it. I guarantee you that if you love good wine and fantastic food, there’s plenty left for you to enjoy this weekend.
Now, to a few other things
ALL HITS AND NO ERRORS: I spent a little time recently roaming West Main Street. We will be doing a piece in the May/June issue of River City Magazine focusing on the many amenities one can find in the Uptown area. Now, if you don’t know where Uptown Richmond is, don’t feel badly. A lot of merchants down that way are not familiar with the designation. Admittedly, it’s a term that is not used too much these days. I’m still doing a little research on the name. But regardless of whether you call it Uptown or simply a part of the Fan, Uptown (to me and a few others) refers to the area of West Main going westward from Belvidere to the Boulevard (I can still call it the Boulvard, can’t I?). While uptowning, I stopped in at Bombolini Pasta at 1606 W. Main. I like pasta, but that wasn’t what lured me in. Rather, it’s owner John Kreckman’s little distillery that’s tucked inside the store. I asked John why he calls his distillery Trial & Error,
“Well…we don’t really know what we’re doing,” he says with a laugh. Elaborating, John adds, “We run small batches. If they’re great, we keep them on. If they’re horrible…” He let me finish the sentence. That philosophy, he says gives him the freedom to experiment with some products that are “kinda cool and funky.”
I sampled three of his products and there was nothing horrible. In fact, I’d say they all lean towards greatness. We started with his 80-proof Sloe Berry Gin. It’s a smooth whiskey, with a touch of the berries’ sweetness at the end. It’s a gin you might just want to sip straight.John says the gin is his most popular. We also tried the dark rum, which is aged in Bowman Brothers bourbon barrels and you can definitely taste the bourbon in the drink as well as a hint of the oak. We finished with the grapa, a grape-based pomice brandy, which John accurately describes as having a big flavor. That’s one to savor after a delicious meal.
I asked him how he got into the distillery business. “I actually really wanted to do beer a long time ago,” he says. But I figured about five years ago the beer scene was played out in Richmond…I was wrong.”
John’s candor and humor make him exactly the sort of guy you’d like to have a drink with. And you can, as you sample his wares in the shop, where you can purchase his latest successes by the bottle.
John and his wife Lolita also offer a variety of homemade pastas, which they’ve been producing for about a decade. You can buy fresh noodles or a full meal. Check the menu on the website to whet your appetite. This is really an amazing little shop.
I LOVE THE CONCEPT: I also visited with Kelsey Aiken, GM at Beauvine Burger Concept (1501 W. Main). I gotta tell you, I like the concept. Kelsey tells me that the flavor profile that Beauvine offers is a blending of tastes of the South, the California coast and France. They certainly take the concept of the burger to a higher plain offering eight signature burgers with Pineland Farms Beef, antibiotic and hormone free turkey or vegan veggie patties on a locally made brioche, a gluten-free bun, or a lettuce wrap.
Kelsey says the restaurant serves a great mix of guests. “This is an excellent place for college students, families and professionals,” she tells me. She adds that many who come in say they’re surprised at what a quaint little place Beauvine is. For you old(er) timers, the building was once the home of the Texas Wisconsin Border Cafe.
Beauvine also offers a great Happy Hour. And speaking of drinking, they offer brunch from 11 ’til 2 on Saturday and Sunday.
Okay, I gotta run. It’s time to drink some wine. Well, it’s getting close to that time. Maybe I’ll see you at the Expo. If you have any restaurant, food or beverage news to share, share it with me. Email me at Steve@RiverCityMag.com.