One of my very first experiences with fried chicken was when my father took us to KFC. After placing his order, he asked for a Coca-Cola. After being told there was only Pepsi, my father snarled “Pepsi sucks!” and he made us leave immediately — our hot, crispy fried chicken still sitting on the counter.
While this experience may have traumatized me, it did not quell my love of fried fowl. Growing up in Washington state, I had few opportunities to enjoy decent examples of this ubiquitous American dish beyond KFC and Hungry Man dinners, so now I immensely enjoy living in a city that is rife with chicken choices. (more…)
There are areas of town where restaurants always seem to congregate: the Fan, Downtown, Short Pump. You could head to any one of those spots, throw a stone, and find a great little restaurant to grab a bite (although I don’t recommend actual stone throwing in these crowded neighborhoods.) But if you’re willing to stray into uncharted waters (or, say to Midlothian or Church Hill) there are some hidden gems just waiting to amaze and delight your tastebuds. (more…)
Here in the South, we don’t do trendy. Trendy is for New York hipsters and their ironic moustaches. In the South, mustaches are never ironic. They are purposeful. Gentlemanly, even. So when I’m naming the trendiest restaurants in Richmond, what I really mean is “Southern Trendy.” They aren’t filled with skinny folks wearing skullcaps or based on gimmicky food concepts. They are simply the (currently) popular spots in town that are getting a lot of good word of mouth. Some are brand new, some have been around a year or more, and some are old favorites that have risen to the top again. (more…)
This Wednesday, January 23, has been proclaimed Brunswick Stew Day in my home state of Virginia. A contingent of cooks from Brunswick County in southeastern Virginia will travel to the state capital and prepare 140 gallons of stew for the governor and General Assembly.
Brunswick stew is a slow-cooked, one-pot tomato-based stew, consisting of meats, usually chicken, or in more traditional preparations, rabbit or squirrel. Its ingredients also include many vegetables and legumes, such as lima beans, corn, tomatoes, and okra. Think of it almost as a hearty chicken chili. The stew is often made in huge batches in a cast-iron pot, and is said to be ready when it’s so thick that the paddle stands up in the middle. (more…)
October 15 marks the start of Florida stone crab season, a special time for the southeastern United States. Perhaps the most sustainable crustacean, Florida stone crabs are unique because once they are wild-caught, only one claw is removed, the crabs are returned to the water, and the claw regenerates. The stone crab’s ability to easily lose its limbs is an evolutionary mechanism to escape from predators. Full regeneration takes about three years. (more…)
At LSU, tailgating is as important as the Fighting Tigers themselves. Some families hold onto tailgating spots for generations, passing them down from friends and family along with each tailgate’s own rules, traditions, and recipes. The food that LSU Tiger Tailgaters cook up on game day is legendary throughout college football, and it takes excellent chefs with some special equipment to get the unique Louisiana foods that are found around Death Valley.
A black cast iron pot is a tailgate stalwart. Craig Messer of the Chest Box Tailgate has used his custom fabricated pot for “several different types of jambalayas, gumbos, and alligator sauce piquant… We have also fried huge batches of freshly caught speckled trout.” Frying may be standard at any college tailgate, but the only place to find hot, fresh cracklins is at LSU. CBT always cooks a few batches in their black pot. This way, the pot is well seasoned for a jambalaya. The pot also serves a secondary function on the grill: as a windshield. (more…)
In small towns across South Louisiana, one of life’s challenges is catching a whiff of a fresh fried batch of pork fat and skin and trying not to stop. Cooked fresh every morning in corner stores, bags of crunchy, golden, greasy nuggets tempt the senses. Once inside, the battle is only half over. There’s no denying yourself a link or two of fresh ground pork meat mixed with rice and seasoning and stuffed into a casing, better known as boudin. These two items make up a true Cajun breakfast. The back roads and highways of the Acadiana region of Louisiana are spotted with signs that read “hot boudin and fresh cracklins.” With names like Babineaux’s, T-Jim’s or Hebert’s, these small-town grocers provide two staples of South Louisiana cuisine while keeping alive long-running Cajun traditions. (more…)
May 5th marks the 138th Kentucky Derby run — an event steeped in glamour and tradition. The highly anticipated horseracing event takes place in Kentucky’s Churchill Downs racetrack and is preceded by a week-long itinerary of derby-themed festivities. The longstanding tradition of donning fancy sun hats to Derby Day has secured the event’s reputation as a chic, high-class event, attracting both fashionistas and wealthy bidders from around the world. Beyond the frills and bowties, a well-established menu of Southern classics adds to the time-honored Derby customs. The refreshing mint julep and the hearty burgoo stew are among the most popular items on any Kentucky Derby menu, adored by many derby fans alike. Come revel in the spirit of the South and read about the traditional derby favorites that have stood the test of time. (more…)
Compared to Louisiana, other states have it easy. Sure, Louisiana is home of the Big Easy and we locals are known for our joie de vivre, but we are also parents to some of the most precious cuisines in the world. While we may, on occasion, have one too many Bloody Marys at Sunday brunch or add some “punch” to our milk, we don’t take this responsibility lightly. Even when away from the motherland, Louisianans still find ourselves bragging about and defending our pride and joy. Perhaps the most difficult task is explaining our food in a few short sentences. Of course, a Louisianan would prefer to sit down, put on a pot of coffee or pour a cold beer, and talk about it at length. However, we’ve come to learn that most people don’t have the time to do that. So if you’re versed on Louisiana history and culture, then all you really need to know is that Creole cuisine uses tomatoes, and proper Cajun food does not. That’s how you tell a Cajun versus Creole gumbo or jambalaya. You can stop reading now. You’re welcome. However, if you’d like to go a bit deeper, please continue reading so that you can learn why the terms Cajun and Creole that have become used so loosely and interchangeably when describing Louisiana food, are not at all the same. (more…)
March is one of those months that I hate to love. The weather is a tease, giving you beautiful spring days right next to bitterly cold ones (or, sometimes, excruciatingly hot ones). Not much is in season, but you can feel the expectation building in the air. And of course, I can’t help but to love March for Pi(e) Day.
Anyone who took math as a teen will remember (at least vaguely) that pi is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of any Euclidean circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi is approximately equal to 3.14. Or, at least this is what Wikipedia tells me. For me, math class was more of a place to eat Bojangles and think about the boys I was crushing on. What I do remember about pi (besides that one kid who was always so cool because he could recite however many numbers) is that on March 14th each year, my math teacher would bring in pie. Because, you know, pi/pie. AWESOME. Pi Day is PIE DAY. (more…)