The Big Easy meets Asian at The Dog & Pig Show


Photo by Betty Clicker

Recently I wrote a profile on Richmond’s eatery The Dog & Pig Show for The Scout Guide. I’m a huge fan of this little joint because of the way Chef James marries the bold flavors of New Orleans and Southeast Asia. It’s such an unexpected and perfect fusion of flavors. Here’s a little excerpt from the piece.

Richmond, Virginia is enjoying a Golden Era of dining. It seems that every week a new article is published on the city’s latest culinary triumph, with one journalist after the next raving about the area’s restaurants and food producers.

The much-deserved credit for this newfound recognition goes to the restaurant owners and chefs who saw potential in the city, and who recognized that Virginia has an amazing arsenal of farms, fisheries, and food makers that can provide them with the fresh bounty that’s at the heart of their creations.

Among the people at the center of this culinary movement are James and Isabel Eckrosh, who moved to Richmond and opened their fast-casual eatery, The Dog & Pig Show, in January 2015. At the time, their historic neighborhood, Church Hill, was already enjoying a resurgence, and the city’s culinary scene was making leaps and bounds toward its current status as an up-and-coming food destination.

Arriving from New Orleans, where James was head chef in highly regarded—and highly popular—restaurants, the husband-and-wife duo brought the distinct flavors of The Big Easy to their new endeavor. A menu of comforting dishes like po’ boys, shrimp and grits, and grilled cheese that you can dip into a hot habanero tomato soup lured in hungry diners and made The Dog & Pig Show an instant hit.

You can read the whole story here. cheers, marissa


Discover Richmond: A Dog Owner’s Guide

2016 Disco 4

Earlier this week, the fall edition of Discover Richmond hit newsstands, and my sweet little Harvey’s face is gracing the cover. (That’s also me pushing him in his bike basket.) I pitched a dog owner’s guide to the Richmond Times-Dispatch because Harvey comes with me when I’m out and about — to breweries, the river, restaurants, you name it. Richmond is such a dog-friendly city, and I wanted to highlight some of the places you can go and things you can do with your furry friends in tow. Since moving to Richmond nearly four years ago, I’ve been exploring the city with Harvey by my side. Here are a few of my favorite snapshots of our adventures in the city. Also, a behind-the-scenes look at Harvey conducting research for this story.

Go out and grab a copy off newsstands now, and be sure to include your canine companion in your next River City adventure. cheers, marissa

Shagbark, Where Eating Is Believing

“Eating is an agricultural act.”
— Wendell Berry

Dining at Shagbark, Chef Walter Bundy’s dazzling new restaurant, I can’t help but think of Wendell Berry’s wise words, “Eating is an agricultural act.”

From produce grown in the fertile Shenandoah Valley to seafood culled from the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia’s bounty is overfloweth. I find myself constantly amazed by the farmers, artisans, and chefs who are stewards of our land and food, championing community and what is grown nearby. RVAdine’s newest gem, Shagbark embraces Virginia’s bounty with such sincerity and beauty, shaping dishes (and cocktails!) out of the freshest flavors of the season.

Choosing what we eat and where we eat empowers not just us as consumers, but our greater community. While eating at Shagbark is a one-of-a-kind experience of delicious food and lovely wine, it’s much more. It’s supporting our local purveyors — folks who run oyster companies on the eastern shore, wineries along the Blue Ridge, and the little farms just right out our back door.

Below, I’ve shared some of the dishes that highlight local flavor.

SUMMER STRONG. This cocktail is a summer Caprese salad in liquid form with milk-washed UA navy-strength gin, Campari, local basil and tomato shrub, lime, and garnished with a mozzarella ball, cherry tomatoes, and basil leaf. $13

TASTE OF TANGIER. These meaty oysters have layers of depth. Tangier, an island off the coast of Virginia, just started harvesting and selling their oysters. The island is located in its very own zone, which makes these oysters truly one of a kind, unlike any other in the Chesapeake area. Great eaten straight-up or dressed. I really wish we would’ve splurged and gone for the dozen.

Shagbark also serves oysters from Big Island Aquaculture in Gloucester, Shooting Point Oyster Company in Franktown, and White Stone Oyster Company in White Stone. 1/2 dozen $13, dozen $24


HAM AND CHEESE. Slather a heap of Sam’s ham salad topped with crispy crumbs and Bundy’s sharp Pimiento cheese over Billy Bread sourdough slices. $9
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BREAD AND BUTTER. This isn’t your basic bread and butter. Made from Chef Bundy’s honey (he keeps bees in Goochland), this honey butter is sprinkled simply with sea salt. Spread over Billy Bread.

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetCREAMY VIDALIA ONION BISQUE. This tiny teacup is jam-packed with flavor — grilled onions, Sunburnt Farms rainbow trout caviar, lump blue crab, and red chile oil. $8


MANAKINTOWNE FARM SQUASH BLOSSOM. Delicate blooms are stuffed with herbed goat chesese, and accompanied by roasted peppers and tomato coulis, and drizzled with an herbaceous basil oil. $9

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CHICKEN-FRIED CHESAPEAKE BABY OYSTERS. Move over tuna, you are no longer the chicken of the sea. Deep-fried in crispy batter, these bivalve beauts are served over Byrd Mill stone-ground grits with dill pickle remoulade and Tabasco butter. $11

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BROWN BUTTER-BASTED SCALLOPS. The crown jewels of the dish, buttery and bright sea scallops are served over Anson Mills Carolina gold rice middlins, applewood-smoked bacon, local swiss chard blackened tomato sauce. $26

Aside from food producers, other talented locals like lighting designer Wendy Umanoff and woodworkers Wellborn + Wright also played an integral role in the restaurant, giving Shagbark its rustic chic atmosphere.

The restaurant has a patio/bar menu, as well as a full dinner menu. So you can stop in for a casual bite to eat and drink at the bar, or if you are looking for the full Bundy experience, make reservations and arrive hungry.

Places like Shagbark make me proud to be living, and eating, in RVA. — marissa

Early Mountain Vineyards Visit

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With a glass of Early Mountain Vineyards‘ bright rose in hand, I’m transported sip by sip back to the Madison County winery.

Located north of Charlottesville, the vineyard is just a 1.5-hour jaunt from Richmond. Driving on the bucolic Blue Ridge Turnpike — the most scenic leg of the journey —  you can’t help but let your worries wash away as you find yourself in one of the most picturesque parts of the state.

The winery is a happy place too. (And, that’s not just the wine speaking.) Sitting on 300-some acres with 33 acres under vine, the vineyard is home to blocks that range in variety from muscat and petit mansing to cabernet sauvignon and tannat. The iconic Blue Ridge backdrop paired with delectable wine makes for a truly magical experience.
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Vines were planted in 2005 with the winery opening in 2009. Then in 2012 the vineyard was purchased by AOL co-founder Steve Case and his wife Jean Case, who spearheaded marketing and branding for AOL. The Cases renovated the tasting facility, hiring Richmond-based interior design Janie Molster to transform the space to resemble a modern-day Tuscan villa.

The winery recently hired the talented winemaker Ben Jordan who got his start in Sonoma. During my visit, Ben explained that at its core Early Mountain is all about the art of blending, creating complex, layered wines with texture and dimension. To name a few, the winery produces a cab franc-driven blend and merlot-driven blend, along with Five Forks, a white mashup of viognier, sauvignon blanc, petit manseng, muscat, and pinot gris.   They also produce straight-up varietals of cabernet franc, chardonnay, and pinot gris. The winery even has a rose (one of my faves) that is exceptionally food friendly, and not saccharine like some blushes.

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My main draw to visit Early Mountain was the arrival of winery’s new chef Ryan Collins, who hails from Think Food Group in D.C. He has a rich restaurant resume that ranges from 112 Eatery in Minneapolis to Oyamel in Washington D.C. Heading up the kitchen at Early Mountain, Ryan is embracing the local bounty and showcasing it in a new, exciting light.


Summer salad of peaches, buratta, heirloom tomatoes, hazelnut, praline, watercress, and basil oil.


Shrimp cocktail with a subdued sauce (toned down horseradish), with pickled mustard seeds, blistered tomatoes, and Gulf shrimp.


Meat + cheese plate with housemade chicken and mortadella terrine, Rock Barn hickory ham, Caromont Red Row cheese, housemade ricotta, apricot mustardo (made with the vineyard’s pinot gris), crystalized honey, and housemade pickles.


Classic buttermilk (boneless!) fried chicken with fennel and pickled rhubarb tossed in a mayo + nectarine vinegar dressing.

I’m dreaming of my next trip to Madison to explore the surrounding countryside. What are your favorite places to visit in the Madison and Orange area?

xo, marissa

Lapple owners share authentic Chinese cuisine with Richmond

Lapple Leftovers

Apple Gao’s love for her home and its food is uplifting. Her voice raises in timbre when describing the dishes from the Chinese province Yunnan — the chicken salad with lemongrass and steamy curry hot pots.

As we sip our dainty cups of green tea, before we’ve even ordered our appetizers, Gao’s intoxicating food descriptions transport us from our table at Lapple to China, and, our mouths are watering.

Gao and husband Adrian Liu opened the new eatery Lapple, which unassumingly sits on the corner of Grace and Harrison streets. She jokes that it opened on her birthday, May 3, because she loves food so much. A happy blessing, indeed.

Gao and Liu both come from China: Gao the southwest province of Yunnan, and Liu, the northeast province of Liaoning. Both of their cuisines are well-represented on the menu — the Yunnan area’s Cambodian and Vietnamese-inspired dishes with fragrant basil, curry, and spicy peppers; and Liaoning’s dishes that have a Korean flair with soy sauce, bean and chile pastes.

We kicked off our feast with a familiar mainstay, three spring rolls ($2) stuffed with cabbage and carrots, rolled in a delicate rice paper and fried until brown and flaky.

The deep-fried diced eggplant ($6) appetizer comes from Gao’s neck of the woods, and she says you can usually find the dish sold street-side. Little chunks of eggplant are fried crisp and simply seasoned with spicy Sichuan pepper and chopped green onions. The Chinese coriander gives it an aromatic heat, and there’s a pleasant saltiness from the frying oil. When Gao comes to check on us, we praise the intoxicating eggplant, and she names off the other variations of the dish that are made in her hometown, from fried sweet potato and pumpkin to yucca.

Entrée portions are enormous, and we found ourselves feasting off leftovers for days. Hot pots and stir-fried dishes make up the large plates. And for vegans, there are two pages of options.

The General Tso’s chicken ($10), thin strips of deep-fried chicken, is coated in a viscous sweet-sour mixture of apple sauce, tomato sauce, along with pineapple and orange juices. Liu makes his sauces from scratch, eschewing artificial flavors and colors.

The Chinese Bloody Henry ($14), a stir-fried dish of beef, wood ear mushrooms, pickled purple cabbage, and green pepper, is served in a sour, spicy sauce that gets its complexity from garlic, jalapeño, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and a hint of pineapple juice.

Hot pots ($11-$15) make up a significant portion of the menu, and range from mild soupy curry dishes to the super-spicy Chinese Dynamite Steak ($15), which Gao warns has a capsaicin burn more extreme than the ultra-hot ghost pepper.

The mixed seafood with curry sauce ($15) is teeming with fresh fish, shrimp, scallops, squid, mushroom and crunchy bok choy, and then cooked in a tomato and coconut milk-based sauce. The tubular squid, which I’ve honestly never been much for, is on the rubbery side; I’m a sucker for he buttery jumbo scallops, though, and the white fish that is so tender and flakey it melts on the palate.

Before opening Lapple, husband and wife both worked for the award-winning Szechuan chef Peter Chang. Gao managed the Atlanta and Charlottesville locations, and then helped to open the outpost in Virginia Beach. While Gao was managing Chang’s front of house, Liu was behind the scenes, crafting spicy creations as a sous chef at Chang’s Richmond and Virginia Beach locations.

Gao’s and Liu’s stints with Peter Chang are worth lauding, but their latest venture is commendable in itself — further introducing Richmond’s dining scene to authentic Chinese food, and showcasing it in a new light.

Now it’s just Liu in the kitchen chopping, marinating, and cooking, while Gao runs the front of house. “I just know about the eating,” Gao humbly says, with a laugh. She does so much more though, I know, as her vivaciousness set the tone for an excellent meal.

When entering Lapple, you can tell the hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant forgoes frills with its eight tables, melamine plates and paper signage in the window. It doesn’t matter though, because the food delivers, and even more so, it transports you to another place with authenticity and genuineness.

948 W. Grace St.
(804) 359-6688
Monday 12-9 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday 12-9 p.m.

10 ways to enjoy Richmond for FREE this summer

richmond skylineGuest blog post by Kate Prunkl 

Summer is here, and if you’re anything like me, you gravitate towards the refreshing pool or air conditioning during the summer heat until boredom takes over and your brain begs you to do something else. This summer, forgo the tedious lounging by the pool and venture out into Richmond to explore the city by foot.

Ranked third on Travel & Leisure’s list of best places to travel to in 2016, Richmond is a well-known haven for history, architecture, biking, nature and art lovers. The city even topped National Geographic’s list for the top destinations to travel to for food in 2016. While the River City is certainly not lacking in things to do, it can be difficult to think of fun activities that work with a limited budget.

Most local, free activities are old classics for long-time Richmonders, but many of the city’s best free features often get overlooked. If you’re new to the city or just passing through, consider this as your an intro to just a few of the budget-friendly amenities Richmond has to offer.


Richmond’s Canal Walk stretches 1.25 peaceful miles along the Kanawha and Haxall canals and briefly, the James River. Along the way, walkers are presented with facts about the city’s rich history. If you decide you want to spend a few dollars, historic canal boat cruises are offered at the turning basin (intersection of 14th and Dock streets). The Canal Walk is accessible from almost every block between 5th and 17th streets. Handicapped-accessible entrances are available at 5th, 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th streets.

Map: Canal Walk


Carytown is the collective name for the approximately mile-long stretch of West Cary Street from Thompson Street to South Boulevard. Carytown’s brightly painted buildings, unique boutiques and specialty shops make it a prime location to stroll and window shop. Carytown also is packed with a wide variety of restaurants. While walking through Carytown is free, the delicious aromas wafting through the air may convince you to spend some money if the shop windows don’t tempt you first!

Map: Carytown


Richmond’s current City Hall was built in 1972, and at 450 feet tall, the building was the tallest in Virginia at the time of completion. Take the elevator (or the stairs, if you’re feeling adventurous) up 18 stories and reward yourself with unparalleled 360-degree views of the city. The deck features slanted glass panes as protection from the weather, while allowing fresh air and unobstructed views. Bring a lunch or a snack to enjoy at one of the available picnic tables.

Address: 900 E. Broad Street Richmond, VA 23219
Open: Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


While meandering through a cemetery may sound like an odd thing to do, this beautiful 169-year-old graveyard was designed to be walkable. According to the official website, Hollywood Cemetery is the second most visited cemetery in the nation (Arlington National Cemetery is first) and is the final resting place for two American presidents (John Tyler and James Monroe), six Virginia governors, two Supreme Court justices, and 22 Confederate generals. Hollywood Cemetery also provides beautiful views of the river, downtown Richmond and Belle Isle.

Address: 412 South Cherry Street Richmond, VA 23220
Open: Daily 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


Experience the natural beauty of the James River, marshland, forests and wildlife without leaving the city. Admittedly, this includes more than one place. The James River Park System identifies 14 distinct sections from the Huguenot Bridge on Richmond’s west end to the I-95 Bridge on the city’s east end.

Visitors are welcome to fish, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, swim, rock climb, tree climb, walk, run, and even whitewater raft or tube down the James. Guided recreation options are available (some fees may apply). If you’re in or on the river, life jackets are recommended. They are required by law when the river is more than 5 feet; no one is allowed in the James when it is is more than 9 feet. Look for posted signs.

Maps: Bike, Trail and Park Maps
Open: Daily Sunrise-Sundown (unless otherwise noted)


While technically a part of the James River Park System, Belle Isle provides a noticeably different experience than other sections of the park. The former Confederate prison camp that is dotted with history markers is now a popular place for sunbathing on river rocks, swimming, hiking, running and biking (including a recently opened bike skills course). Enjoy one of the best views of the city skyline from the pedestrian bridge arcing from the edge of Tredegar Iron Works to Belle Isle.

Address: 300 Tredegar Street Richmond, VA 23219 (parking that leads to the pedestrian bridge)


Maymont, a 100-acre Victorian estate built by Major James Dooley and his wife Sallie May in 1893, was left to the city of Richmond in 1926. The property now serves as a museum, nature center, children’s farm and park. Wander the expansive grounds and admire the beauty of the Italian Garden, Japanese Garden, arboretum, rescued wildlife and stunning man-made waterfall. Guided tours of the mansion are available Tuesday through Sunday. While Maymont’s Mansion, grounds and Children’s Farm are free to the public, donations are suggested. Admission to the Nature and Visitor’s Center is $3.

Address: 1700 Hampton Street Richmond, VA 23220
Open:  Grounds and Gardens: Daily from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. during the summer
Mansion: Tuesday – Sunday 12 to 5 p.m.
Nature & Visitor Center: Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


This wide, tree-lined street is one of Richmond’s two National Historic Landmark districts. Monument Avenue is a beautiful promenade for a stroll, especially for lovers of history and architecture. Historic homes line the cobblestone street that ambles around the statues and monuments for which the street is named. According to the National Park System, Monument Avenue features a variety of Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial, Tudor Revival, French Renaissance and Italian Renaissance style homes.

Map: Stuart Circle (where Monument Avenue begins)


The Virginia Historical Society is located in Battle Abbey, a 104-year-old Neoclassical building on Boulevard. VHS’ The Story of Virginia is a year-round, free interactive exhibit that interprets 16,000 years of Virginia history and features a collection of 500 artifacts. The building boasts a multitude of restored original features, including memorial military murals painted in 1913. The gallery housing these murals is currently closed for restoration of the original leaded glass skylights. Restoration is scheduled to be completed by July.

Address: 428 North Boulevard Richmond, VA 23220
Open: Daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts sits on land used to house Confederate soldiers after the Civil War. In 1936, Virginia legislators completed the English Renaissance-style headquarters of the VMFA on Boulevard. Since then, the campus has expanded to accommodate the Commonwealth’s growing collection and display temporary travelling exhibits. VMFA’s 435,000-square-foot facility currently features 10 exhibits with free admission and beautiful public garden space dotted with sculptures to enjoy.

Address: 200 North Boulevard Richmond, VA 23220
Open: Daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays


When I heard about the Richmond Tour Guys, I knew I couldn’t leave them off this list.  Richmond Tour Guys are a group of history lovers that give historically themed walking tours of the city free of charge! They offer three tours: a downtown Civil War and Civil Rights tour, a Church Hill Revolutionary War tour, and a Shockoe Bottom tour.  Each tour is offered once a week, and they fill up fast! So, be sure to reserve your spot in advance.

Tour Times:
Downtown Civil War and Civil Rights: Saturday 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Church Hill Revolutionary War: Saturday 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Shockoe Bottom: Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Phone: 804-263-7914

The above listed free activities are just a small snapshot of the wealth of experiences Richmond has to offer. The City of Richmond is home to more than 25 museums and innumerable historical sites. Whatever your interests, the River City has something waiting for you.

kpKate Prunkl moved to Richmond in 2007 and has been exploring in and around the city ever since. Kate is an animal lover who enjoys symmetry, writing, collecting a wide variety of knowledge, RVA history, finding beauty in everyday things, exploring nature with camera in hand, and creating art. You can follow her on Twitter at @kapRVA.

Craft + Design Show in RVA

VisArts2015-CD-RVAMag-Full PageMark your calendars for the annual Craft + Design Show on the weekend of Nov. 21 + 22. The Visual Art Center of Richmond‘s annual craft show features nearly 60 artists from around the country and their beautiful pieces of work — hand-crafted wooden furniture, sculptural metalwork, vibrant glass and ceramics, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, and much more.

While the annual fine craft show brings in crafts people from across the nation, it also hosts several artists local to the Richmond area — Marie Chamblin, Tom Chenoweth, Ignatius Creegan, Andrea Donnelly, George Garrett, Ryan Gothrup, Lora Hart, Kyle Lucia, Kate O’Rourke, Donna Silvestri, Cathy Vaughn, and Jeff Vick.

I’m coordinating the marketing/advertising/public relations for this year’s show, and have to say it’s a fabulous event.

A few other cool things about this year’s craft show: there will be beer tastings from Ardent, Hardwood, and Strangeways breweries. You also can count on wine tastings and food from Alamo BBQ. During the craft show, teachers and artists from VisArts will give live demonstrations of the different types of arts and crafts represented at the show.

Saturday, Nov. 21:
Rise + Shine Breakfast, 9:30-11 a.m.
General Admission, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 22:
General Admission, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Rise + Shine Breakfast: $25
General Admission: $10
Tasting + Admission*: $20
Full Pour of Beer or Wine*: $6
Tasting Pour (4 4oz for beer, 4 2oz for wine)*: $10
*Purchase on site at event

Hope you can make it out to the show! You can learn more about the show and buy your tickets here.

xo, marissa