Allegheny Mountain Escape: Canaan Valley, West Virginia

img_8151It’s been oddly warm this February, and Mother Nature’s bizarre mood has me longing for a real winter. I’m hoping that before spring arrives we will get another good snowfall, and can enjoy a true winter wonderland. In the meantime, I am finding myself day-dreaming back to a recent outdoor adventure in West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains.

The first week of January, my dear friend Heidi and I headed to Canaan Valley, West Virginia for a much-needed girls getaway. The weekend just so happened to be an ideal time to visit Canaan, as there was a perfectly timed snow storm that blanketed the resort in 8 inches of powder for us to play in.

We left on a Thursday afternoon and planned that driving from Richmond it would take us just under 4 hours  (without interruption). We headed west on I-64 to Staunton and then north on I-81 to Harrisonburg, where we started meandering our way to Canaan via backcountry roads (AKA Route 33). We weren’t on the backroads long before things started to go awry. It was in Franklin, West Virginia, to be exact when our journey became … adventurous. A dusting of snow started to fall, and we pulled over at a gas station for a pepperoni roll and bathroom break. I disconnected my iPhone from GPS and suddenly we were off the grid.

Without GPS, naturally we were lost. We were an hour away from the ski resort and had no clue which winding mountain road to take.

The friendly gas station hostess / pepperoni roll lady didn’t know how to get to Canaan, so we purchased a West Virginia atlas for $21.15 and had to navigate our way down Route 33 to Route 32.

As we left the gas station, the snow started coming down hard. Heidi mapped our way from Franklin to Canaan, an hour-and-a-half drive in the snow on curvaceous mountain roads with hairpin turns. At one point, Heidi got a little too quiet and I realized that the curvy roads — along with my bad driving — were making her carsick. Luckily every couple miles we saw a snow plow clearing and de-icing roads, preparing for the big storm that was en route.

When we arrived arrived at the resort (only 30 minutes late!), we found out from the resort’s manager that there was a quicker, safer and more convenient way. Of course there was. [Note to self: Next time take I-81 North to Route 259 (Broadway exit) and drive to Baker, West Virginia where you get on Route 48 (a shiny new four-lane expressway! Imagine that.), which will take you all the way to Davis, the small town just down the road from the resort. I digress … ]

Here are a few highlights from our stay at the West Virginia resort.

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING

We spent one morning exploring Canaan’s beautiful meadows via cross country skis. Thirty kilometers of trails traverse the picturesque and peaceful landscape. If cross country isn’t your thing, the sports club also has snowshoe rentals.

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DOWNHILL SKIING

This was my first experience skiing on the east coast, and I have to say it did not disappoint. (Although, plenty friends told me it would be a letdown, knowing that I grew up skiing the Rockies.) Great snow, no lift lines and winter’s solitude made skiing Canaan an enjoyable experience.

Heidi and I skied two days on the mountain, and one of the mornings had the amazing, one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ski “first tracks” with the ski patrol. So, we rolled out of bed at 6 a.m., and moseyed over to the mountain before it opened to help ski patrol open the mountain. We hit four runs of fresh corduroy, from the long, easy green Timber Trail to its neighboring Black Diamond Gravity run.

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Situated on the highest mountain range east of the Rockies, Canaan Valley has an elevation of 4,280 feet and has nearly 100 acres. It is small but mighty ski area with an average annual snowfall of more than 180 inches, and features nearly 50 trails (20 percent beginner, 26 percent intermediate and 44 percent advanced/expert), along with glade skiing (new this year!).

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In the afternoons, Heidi and I found ourselves on the tubing hill, which is a quick walk from the ski hill. Canaan is home to the Mid-Atlantic’s longest tubing hill, and boy was it a blast! Even though it was zero degrees out, we couldn’t get enough.

We enjoyed après ski at Quencher’s Pub at the base of the ski hill. A perfect place to unwind after a day of skiing, the bar offers healthy selection of tasty local brews from Mountain State Brewing Co. and Blackwater Brewing Co.

Overall, I highly recommend Canaan for a winter weekend getaway. There’s plenty to do — and you don’t even need to leave the resort! When not enjoying the great outdoors, the hotel has plenty of opportunities for lolling about — from the hot tub and sauna to grabbing a beer at the bar.

I’m hoping to head back for some warm weather activities, and to explore neighboring towns Davis and Thomas. Taking recommendations now for cool places to visit near Canaan!

Cheers, marissa

Where To Order Thanksgiving To-Go in Richmond

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Photo via Whisk

While some of us prepare elaborate Thanksgiving meals with all the fixings, others prefer to forgo the chaos of cooking. There are plenty of Richmond restaurants open on Thanksgiving, but for those who are still looking to relax in the comfort of their homes, take-out is also a great option for Turkey Day. Consider these six spots if you are looking to grab something easy to warm up at home. Let someone else do the work this year. You’ll be thankful without the stress of meal prep. Be sure to call these eateries ASAP to place your orders. xo, marissa

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Q Barbecue

Tuffy Stone’s tasty Q Barbecue chain is serving up turkey, gravy, and signature side dishes for families to grab and go.  Brined and slow-smoked 16- to 20-pound turkeys, ready for pick up are $70. They are rubbed in an herb-butter that enhances flavor when you reheat the bird at home. Turkey gravy is $9 / quart and sides (mac n cheese, pineapple hot dish, corn pudding, greens, and side salad) start at $2 / person.

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Stella’s Grocery

Our Near West End neighborhood market Stella’s Grocery always offers take-out meals during the holidays. Mains include boneless leg of lamb and cornish game hens with sausage and apple stuffing. And sides galore! I’m eyeing the wild rice salad and potato fennel gratin. Greek casseroles, pastries and hors d’oeuvres also are available to order for your Turkey Day shindig.

Stroops Heroic Dogs

This gourmet hot dog eatery in Church Hill just launched its holiday catering menu. Stroops will be offering duck confit stuffing ($96, serves 16), sausage stuffing ($32, serves 16), cranberry sauce ($27 / quart), gravy ($20 / quart), smoked deviled eggs ($16 / dozen), ham biscuits ($24 / dozen, and six-packs of their homemade Heroic Soda ($15).

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Yellow Umbrella Provisions

Our neighborhood meat and seafood shop Yellow Umbrella has a lengthy list of options from your traditional turkey and sides to seafood dishes like a salmon platter and crab cakes. This place is a one-stop shop with everything you need for the day — white house rolls, cheese and charcuterie, even pies.

Pies from Whisk

Shockoe Bottom’s Whisk bakery is taking orders for Tuesday, Nov. 22 pick up. (Wednesday is already booked up, so hurry up and order a pie today!) Choose from silk chocolate ombre pie, sweet potato with marshmallow meringue, maple pecan tart, and salted caramel apple pie. All tarts are $25 plus tax.

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Vegan Side Dishes from Fresca On Addison

And for the vegans in the house, Fresca on Addison (one of my favorite lunch spots) is offering an array of sides . Make sure you have a few veg options on your table!

RVA Holiday Shopping + Events

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Photo by Sarah Walor

Last week I kicked off my holiday shopping, which is a huge feat, considering every year I wait until last minute. R•Home Magazine held its annual Embellish holiday party at Williams & Sherrill with local makers like Mother Shrub, Bear Ceramics, Drift / Riot and Tulip & Bear. I loaded up with all sorts of goodies for friends and family (and maybe for myself, too).

While shopping, it reminded me how special Richmond is because of its local artisans and businesses. With Amazon and other websites as my go-to, sometimes I forget to stop and support RVA during the holidays. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are about — giving back and showing love to our neighbors?

While in the holiday spirit, I compiled a little list of fun shopping and holiday events in and around Richmond. Mark your calendars and grab your friends and family for these fun yuletide happenings.

xo, marissa

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Photos by Nikki Santerre

Tart Event Co. Holiday Wrap Bash

WHAT: Tart Event Co.‘s giant gift wrapping party. (View photos of last year’s fun here.)
WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 11, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
WHERE: Paisley & Jade‘s warehouse in Scott’s Addition @ 3119 W. Moore St.
WHY GO: Because wrapping presents with your friends is fun and is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit! There will beautiful paper and craft supplies so you can personalize each gift.
RSVP: Tickets are on sale now!

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Wreath Workshop with Photosynthesis Florals

WHAT: DIY floral design class with Photosynthesis Floral Design
WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 6 to 9 p.m.
WHERE: Paisley & Jade‘s warehouse in Scott’s Addition @ 3119 W. Moore St.
WHY GO: I took this workshop last year and it was a blast. We made two kinds of wreaths — a lush wreath and a minimalist wreath. Make one for yourself and give the other to a friend. This is a good way to get in the holiday spirit, while creating something beautiful.
RSVP: Purchase your class via Photosynthesis’s site

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Dear Neighbor Grand Opening

WHAT: Dear Neighbor is a fabulous gift shop that will be opening its doors just in time for holiday shopping.
WHEN: BLACK FRIDAY! How perfect, right?!
WHERE: In Church Hill @ 2416 Jefferson Ave.
WHY: This new gift shop has a curated array of gifts from local jewelers to other makers from far off places.
STAY TUNED — Follow the shop on Instagram for updates on opening events.

andrea-donnelly-scarfCraft + Design Show

WHAT: Visual Art Center of Richmond‘s annual high-end craft show
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 18 – Sunday, Nov. 20
WHERE: Science Museum of Virginia @ 2500 W. Broad St.
WHY: In its 52nd year, this craft show is a one-stop shop for unique gifts made by artists from here in Richmond and around the country.
RSVP: Buy your tickets via VisArts

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Moore + Gile’s Holiday Pop-up Shop at Ledbury

WHAT: Ledbury will host Lynchburg-based luxury leather bag + accessory maker Moore & Giles for a holiday pop-up shop
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 16 kick-off party, 5 to 8 p.m. (w/ goods for sale through the end of November + Black Friday weekend)
WHERE: Ledbury’s brand-new flagship store in downtown Richmond @ 315 W. Broad St.
WHY GO: Because supporting local is important, and Moore + Gile’s is a badass company. Also, during the kick-off party, Mattias Hagglund will be mixing Bulleit cocktails. (YUM!)
RSVP: More info on their Facebook event page.

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And a few other things to keep on your radar this season . . .

QUIRK GALLERY trunk shows — A perfect opportunity for purchasing unique and beautiful gifts

PHARSALIA holiday workshops — From ornament-crafting to wreath-making, these workshops are ideal for those who like to embrace the holidays surrounded by crafts and nature.

STUDIO TWO THREE print workshops — Tis the season at Studio Two Three with fun classes like Holiday Photogram. The art center’s gift shop is a great option for cards and gifts too.

Richmond’s CURRENT Art Fair: Build Your Art Collection

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PREFACE: As a journalist I love transparency, so I must let you know that I have been helping out CURRENT Art Fair with its public relations, social media and marketing. So, in a sense, I am biased. But, I would totally write about the art fair even if I wasn’t involved, because it is THAT cool. 

Not going to lie: buying art is intimidating. As a semi-artistic person who has worked in the visual arts world and whose mother is a trained artist, I still feel nervous when purchasing art. Aesthetically I know what I like, and what pieces excite and inspire me. But something about the purchasing process has always scared me. Perhaps it’s because I’m not an artist; I feel like I can’t fully appreciate the piece since I don’t understand what went into creating it. Or, maybe I feel that as a young person I can’t have nice things. Who knows. Over the years I’ve unnecessarily made myself feel insecure about buying art, and as of late I’m realizing that is just silly.

Two years ago we bought our first house, and in those two years not much has been hung on the walls. I’ve blame this on our plaster walls (and attempting to be a minimalist). But, in reality, it might just be me holding out, waiting for a situation to present itself.

That situation has presented itself: next week Richmond will welcome its first contemporary art fair, CURRENT. For those of you who aren’t involved in the arts scene, successful national/international art fairs include the likes of Affordable Art Fair, Armory Show, Art Basel,  Art on Paper, Frieze Art Fair, and Pulse Art Fair. Compared to those art fairs, CURRENT is a baby, just entering into the big, bright art fair circuit. In its first year, CURRENT involves seven contemporary Richmond galleries — 1708, ADA, Candela, Glave Kocen, Page Bond, Reynolds and Quirk. The galleries all have a unique perspective, showing a variety of artists and works, which makes their unity so dynamic, giving CURRENT a strong synergy.

Richmond’s new art fair isn’t just for knowledgeable art collectors, but newbies too. CURRENT is a great opportunity for young people who are just starting their art collection to purchase exciting pieces. As someone who has just started a collection at home, the chance to view a range of pieces from local, national and international artists is such a gift. (And, honestly, it’s a great opportunity for not just Richmond, but our region.)

Art events like CURRENT are the perfect opportunity to throw yourself into a new environment and educate yourself. You can pepper gallery owners with questions about the artists and their processes without feeling silly. The gallery owners and managers behind CURRENT are very passionate and excited about spreading their knowledge, welcoming newcomers to the art world.

And now for a little background info about the event …

Local art philanthropists, collectors, and CURRENT advisory board members Pam and Bill Royall commissioned Shepard Fairey, renowned contemporary street artist, graphic designer, and activist to design the logo for CURRENT (see above image). Playing off the fair’s name — a nod to the nearby James River, the idea of the new, and the notion of an electric spark — Fairey created a graphic inspired by the landmark TV tower on Broad Street that is located mere blocks from the art fair.

CURRENT kicks off Thursday, Oct. 20 with a preview party at Hohman Design in Scott’s Addition. The party is an opportunity for collectors to get a sneak peek at artwork and purchase in advance. (If you have your eye on a piece, this is the time to mark your territory!) I’ll be there looking at pieces to buy / catching up with friends, so if you go, say, “hi!” The art fair runs Friday, Oct. 21 through Sunday, Oct. 23. For more details on the fair — times, food and beer info, extracurricular events, etc., click on over to currentartfair.com.

And now for the fun part of the blog post — a few pieces that will be featured at the event …

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“The inspiration of my work is an ever-ricocheting attention span, resulting in a worldview constructed with pop culture, public radio, punk rock, and conspiracy theories,” writes artist Andrew Kozlowski, of his work. “Often my works on paper engage in oblique conversations through their placement, utilizing the process of closure and the language of comics to generate narratives, as well as considering traditional print media and its relationship to the multiples that litter our landscapes.” • Monolith screen print, 13 x 10 inches via 1708 Gallery

bruce_wilhelm_trippels_blue_tape_72_l2Richmond native Bruce Wilhelm is known for exploring new ways of making art — from his animated paintings using homemade video players to his take on British sporting paintings. This particular piece from the series “Trippels” was created using layers on layers of paint and peeling away masking tape, revealing an entirely new, surprise painting underneath. Bruce received his MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, his BFA at Virginia Commonwealth University, and has been exhibiting with ADA Gallery in Richmond since 2005. He’s received the VMFA Fellowship for Painting in both 2004 and 2006.  • Trippels: Blue Ribbon, acrylic on canvas, 26.25 x 21.25 inches, 2016

Alyssa SalomanANIMAL LAND is a new project by visual artist Alyssa C. Salomon in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University, and Anne Wright, director of Environmental Outreach at the Rice Rivers Center. The series shines light on the wildlife dwellings among tamed and untamed habitats threaded along the James River in Central Virginia. The images primarily draw on night-vision infrared stills collected in the James River Park System and are made using 19th century photographic printmaking processes. • EK000183 2015-11-30 JRP, by Alyssa Salomon, in collaboration with Anne Wright, Science in the Park, and VCU Rice Rivers Center. 16.75 x 16.75 inches, Van dyke photo emulsion on kozo-abaca paper, waxed via Candela Books & Gallery 

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“All my work is rooted in nature or in natural phenomena, like wind or *currents* or waves,” Sue Heatley says of her art. “For me, it’s really important that art doesn’t hit you in the face with its meaning. You have to come to it as a viewer and make your own sense out of it.” • Blue Creeper, Rust Ripple, Moss Grainrelief print on Sekishu paper, 18 1/4 x 17 3/4 inches, limited edition Monotype via Glave Kocen Gallery

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“I am passionate about challenging preconceived notions of the shared human experience and eroding the conventionally assigned racial archetypes'” says artist S. Ross Browne. “To that end in [the Self Evident Truths] series I examine the possible in the perceived introspections and shared history of my subjects in classical pictorial representations using delineations of factual chronicles and imagined mythology. Using portraiture replete with persuasive imagery that defies the common visual library, I make conduit for communication and an instigator of discourse.” • Princess______ IV, 2016, oil on clapboard, 12 x 12 inches via Page Bond Gallery

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Suzanna Fields’ spring show at Quirk Gallery, titled “Inside Out”, had an amazing response and those who came to view her work were fascinated by her unique and complex processes of extruding, pouring, dripping, spraying, cutting, and drawing with paint and ink. “An intermingling of high and low, contemplation and spontaneity, my work mixes wonder with ebullience, persistence and unease,” she says. • Chasing The Feeling, detail, ink and acrylic on synthetic paper, 48 by 60 inches via Quirk Gallery

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“There is a modesty in Freed’s work — not of ambition but of presentation — that is like the spread of light in certain Renaissance paintings. One doesn’t know where it come from, but it is everywhere, enlightening, leaving us, somehow, more room to look in, a seduction of sorts that eschews excess,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Wright, of Virginia artist David Freed’s work • Rain I; etching, woodblock, and pastel on paper; 9.5 x 12.5 inches via Reynolds Gallery

My Favorite Richmond Vintage Furniture + Decor Boutiques

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Some of my most beloved pieces of furniture and decor have been culled from the vintage furniture stores right here in Richmond. I try to make a habit of scoping out my favorite second-hand shops monthly. I usually stick to the ones nearby in the Near West End — Eviction, Susan’s Selections, Verve Home Furnishings, and Born Again Furnishings.

In August, Class + Trash opened a second location in Scott’s Addition at 1720 Altamont Ave. I stumbled upon the new warehouse while leaving Eviction one Saturday morning. Class + Trash’s new space is filled with a mix of antiques, industrial pieces, hardware, along with patio furniture and garden decor. I purchased a galvanized “Virginia” sign that now hangs in my home office, along with a rusty metal “M” (for Moomaw) that adorns our tiny kitchen.

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One of my all-time favorite places to find unique pieces is Verve Home Furnishings at 4903 W. Leigh St. Owner Kim Vincze’s love for Asian-inspired decor and Hollywood Regency style is on display in the 12,000-square-foot warehouse that she shares with a few other local vendors. When we first moved to town, we scored a fabulous English antique dining room table along with a funky orange floral wingback chair from the warehouse. If you are looking for a statement piece, this is the place to go.

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Another go-to for accent furniture is Born Again Furnishings at 5446 W. Broad St. One recent Saturday morning when visiting the shop, as new items were being unloaded, and I eyed this teak record cabinet ($175). I have been looking for a new entryway piece for the past year-and-a-half, and finally came across this clean, contemporary-looking cabinet.

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Born Again also sells up-cycled furniture as well. A few years ago I purchased this bar cart ($225) created by Bill McCarthy, who fuses together pieces to create rustic-meets-industrial furniture. I wrote this little Q&A about his re-fabricated pieces for R•Home awhile back.

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Tucked behind the Krispy Kreme off Broad Street, Susan’s Selections has always proven to be a gold mine. When we first moved to town, I purchased an Martha Washington sewing table for $125 from the store. I even recall at one point in time seeing an authentic Cherner Chair.

The above vintage rattan chair that I found at Susan’s reminds me of my Nana Sue. When I was a little girl, her beach apartment was decorated with ’70s-era Peacock chairs. This small rattan chair was just $40 at Susan’s, which is such a steal. I saw a similar chair on Etsy recently for $225! Word on the street is that Susan’s is moving to a new location. More info TBA.

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POP-UP SALES: Another way to find great pieces is at pop-up sales. For instance, Susan Auman of Ralph’s Warehouse had a fabulous yard sale a few years back, where I purchased a vintage typewriter ($25) in working condition, along with a few fun tcotckes. Also, last year, artist Maurice Beane and gallery owner Geraldine Duskin were hosting monthly warehouse sales in the back of Ghostprint Gallery. For $40 I bought three animal skulls, much to my husband’s chagrin.screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-7-11-20-pm

What are your favorite places to purchase second-hand and vintage pieces in town? Currently looking for statement rugs, abstract artwork, and prints. I look forward to hearing your recommendations! cheers, marissa

Isca Greenfield-Sanders exhibit at Reynolds Gallery

Dunes, mixed media oil on canvas, 2015, 63 x 63 inches

New York-based artist Isca Greenfield-Sanders will be exhibiting her contemporary paintings, watercolors, and drawings in the exhibit Balance Point at Reynolds Gallery Sept. 9 through Oct. 28, 2016. An opening reception will be held at the gallery Friday, Sept. 9 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Painted in subtle hues, Greenfield-Sanders’ ethereal watercolors of American experiences — beach trips, the sea, summer camp — have a washed-out quality to them, playing on the concept of fleeting time and hazy memories. Greenfield-Sanders blends elements of time through paint, manipulating memory, vision, and historical art practices. 

Dock Girls, mixed media oil on canvas, 35 x 35 inches

Greenfield-Sanders’ process is almost like that of memory — as each image is recollected, details fade.

“The integrity of memory is diminished the more you recall it. As you think about something over and over, you infuse it with details that did not exist. This relates to how I make my work,” Greenfield-Sanders says. “I drag the original image through different incarnations but by keeping the photographic scaffold, my viewers read it as within the realm of the real. Yet each turn I’m eroding the photographic information.” 

Bucket Beach, mixed media oil on canvas, 35 x 35 inches

ARTISTIC PROCESS: The artist transforms found slides from the ’50s and ’60s by scanning and gridding them, and then applying layers of watercolor, colored pencil, or oil paint.

“The resulting painting blends photographic and painted elements to reimagine scenes of beach vacations or Nantucket outings. With fuzzy figures and muddled blues, her painted imagery evokes a nostalgic air that tugs at the viewer’s memory and perception.” – Reynolds Gallery

To learn more about about the artist, visit iscags.com.

The Big Easy meets Asian at The Dog & Pig Show

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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