Many folks familiar with the local food scene know that Rev Soup is among the throng of eateries promoting the farm-to-table theme. Recently I’ve enjoyed following along in the adventures that proprietors Lisa and Will have documented in the blog on their site, Red Row Farm. Alert readers might enjoy doing so, too. There is a host of interesting entries to read, lots of fun content on sundry other matters, and lots of good writing. Check on it!
Category Archives: Food
Pat and I had dinner at Peter Chang’s China Grill tonight. We had stopped there on a whim Thursday, because we were both late at work and wouldn’t be able to prepare a reasonable meal; not knowing that reservations were needed, we couldn’t get a table that night. So, we made a reservation for tonight.
We arrived a couple of minutes late, only to learn that we had the wrong time in our calendars. Not a problem! We had it early, so we were not late. We were just a couple of minutes early! As Pat and hostess discussed this, pouring over the reservation list, I nosed around the dining area.
Then we were seated in a booth. As often happens, we’d forgotten to carry in our sets of metal chopsticks. Sigh.
The menu had many dishes we remembered from our two meals at Taste of China, Mr. Chang’s previous venture in Charlottesville. There were only two of us, though, so we couldn’t order everything on the menu, even if we were skipping the mammal and fowl. We ordered coriander fish rolls, dry-fried eggplant, braised bean curd with vegetables, and Hunan fried fish. Wooohoo!
Food came to the table quickly, and it was delightful. Oh yes, the eggplant was spicy, as was the fish. I liked the spiciness a lot more than Pat did, but she was going back for more and following bites with lots of rice to absorb the spices. The bean curd had complex flavors, but I could still taste the individual onion, bok choi, and such in it. I had a fine time over-indulging.
Prices were pretty reasonable: $6-10 for apetizers; $10-18 for entrees (with a couple of higher items). I didn’t see the wine list, but it appears there is wine served.
The venue is the old Wild Greens location in the north wing of Barracks Road shopping center. The large bar that dominated the entry room is gone, making room for many more tables. By my rough count, there are nine or ten 2- or 4-top booths (we were at A2, which is in the lower, western room), a few other small tables, a dozen or so 4-top largish square tables (we saw a group of five seated at one), and perhaps five large 8-top tables with lazy susans at their centers (these reminded us of banquet tables we have seen in Asia).
Although the dining room was not full, the receptionist was turning away walk-in guests. According to our waitron, the ownership wants to get control of the schedule before having to deal with a full dining room that is turning over rapidly. Pat noted that they are likely to have to handle such a situation; they will need to get ready quickly unless they irritate enough customers that the clientele disappears. After we got home, I learned that there have been features on local television as well as a the Hook piece.
As I walked around the dining area, peeking into the hall toward the kitchen entrance and such, I didn’t see the array of certificates and medals that I remember from the wall when Chef Chang cooked at Taste of China in Albemarle Square. I don’t know whether they are hidden in an office, just not on display yet, not going to be displayed, or what….
Pat had the local chicken last night at Zinc. She said, “Yum.”
I had excellent tomato soup and tuna.
Justin et al. done gooood.
We are dining at Zinc tonight. Some will note that there was a feature in Edible Blue Ridge recently about folks raising pigs for local restaraunts. Pat, who doesn’t usually eat meat, ordered a bit of ‘Doobie,’ one of those pigs for dinner.
The first photo shows her preparing to tuck into the dish. The second shows Zinc proprieter Vu Nguyen sitting with Pat during her first bites.
The idea is simple. Coordinate the entire process from production through serving of food. The local team includes Jarrett Freeman and chef Justin Hershey.
Vu says, “Jarret was the developer of our version of the concept. He deserves the credit.” He also characterizes the Zinc approach as, “Seasonally inspired, locally acquired.”
During dinner tonight (Sun the 6th here in Asia), we heard a tremendous assortments of fireworks and saw the restaurant staff exiting the front door. Our friend and local resident said that there was a parade coming to the restaurant. We hastened outside to watch, and I filmed some of the events. The accompanying image is extracted from one of the video clips, so it’s not particularly clear.
The parade came in three waves, each with a musical ensemble, dancers, and a brightly-lit portable alter. Loud! Fireworks. Loud! Music. Mostly youths seemed to be carrying the alters as if they were sedan chairs. A team with wheeled generators trailed each alter.
The restaurant staff stood in ranks on the sidewalk between the restaurant door and the curb. They held their hands together in front of their chests, bowed, burned incense, and watched intently. The dancers, musicians, and alter carriers came up to the curb. The restaurant people gave offerings (rice wine and cigarettes, we learned later) to them. In the image, one of three oversized dancers from the second troupe approaches the cooking staff, represented by the man in the white chef’s jacket at the bottom right.
Apparently, this was an opportunity to hope for a good harvest in the future. Quite an event!
Soon after arriving on Green Island, a rustic spot about 50 ferry minutes to the east of Taitung (TW), our new friend Hsin-Ning took us to the restaurant shown in the accompanying image for lunch. (Check the wooden Native Americans to the right of the entrance!)
We three shared a large table near the rear of the place with another group of four. The table was made from a huge, irregularly shaped, thick piece of rough-hewn wood, so there was room for 3-4 more people between our two groups. The back wall was completely glass, so we could look back across the thin strip of the Pacific toward Taitung. (I have not yet ever tired of watching water, much as I can monitor the flames of a fire for long periods of time.) That experience was pretty nice.
What was even nicer was the food, though. We had a big (大) plate of sashimi (huge would be more like it) that was tongue tender; steamed dragon tentacles (veg) with garlic; shrimp flash-fried in some very light, sweet dusting of something; a couple of other dishes; and rice (naturally). We finished with watermelon and a specialty desert. Ultra-fresh and simply prepared so that the foundational item shone. Yumm!
Green Island is a pretty nifty spot. Motorscooters and bicycles probably outnumber automobiles in about the ratio one could derive by counting them in the picture; there are many tourists here who have rented scooters and are circumnavigating the island in pods of 10-12. The main road that goes around the island has an advertisement for a pending marathon, which looks to have a pretty nifty course.
There’s plenty to see and do, enough to merit a couple of days, though we’re staying only about 24 hours. We have the good fortune of having Hsin-Ning—a native and probably one of only a few, if any natives, with a Ph.D.—guiding us.
We had some fun visiting with a cousin (by marriage) of Pat’s who lives in Hong Kong. Victor, who also runs a design business in Hong Kong and Beverly Hills, took us for a delightful stroll around parts of Town Center. At one point, as we walked along a foot bridge, we were able to look down on street vendors, and I got this photo of a fruit stand.
We started by visiting a shop—Shanghai Tang—which Victor decorated and then walked lots of little places, stopping at the shops of people whom he knows. We ambled while the local crowds hustled along their way. A little later, Victor took us to a restaurant called “Love” where we had a good vegetarian meal. Pat had an avacado sandwich and I had a black bean casedia. Even later, we made the nearly obligatory trip to The Peak.
Visiting with Victor, whom I’d never met before, was quite a treat. He has lots of stories about Pat’s family that were new to me (though the players in them were familiar aunts and uncles) and about his business, V A D I, decorating hotels and such. We look forward to seeing him again.
It’s Julia Child’s birthday again. Had she lived, she’d be turning 98 today. Ms. Child’s mother, Julia Carolyn McWilliams, who lived with John McWilliam in Pasadena (CA, US), named her daughter after herself. The younger Julia later married Paul Child in 1946 and took his last name. When Mr. Child was assigned to a United States Foreign Service post in Paris (FR), they moved there and Ms. Child learned about French cooking.
It was Ms. Child’s “The French Chef” that made me think cooking could be not only rewarding but fun and intellectually engaging, too. Pat and I would watch it on our old B&W TV and then cook things we’d seen her make. Our menus were not grand (chili beans with souffle and salad!), but I got the general ideas of the recipes and the nerve to try them.
Our friends Alan and Diane shared our interest in fine food and gave us Mastering the Art of French Cooking (both volumes). Another friend, Jim, edited the title, replacing “cooking” with “kissing.” We still use them.
It’s wonderful to see that sales of Ms. Child’s cookbooks have increased recently. Those increased sales are the result of renewed interest because of the movie, Julie & Julia. I’ve not yet read Julie Powell’s book Julie & Julia, based on her blog, Julie/Julia Project. A few days before I drafted this post, we saw a trailer for the movie based on the book. And then we saw the film the day it opened (7 August).
In a packed theater, we saw Julie & Julia yesterday afternoon. As probably most people in the US with access to popular media have heard, this is Nora Ephron’s movie based on a combination of Julie Powell’s book Julie & Julia (following her blog, The Julie/Julia Project) and Julia Child’s memoir (written with Alex Prud’homme), My Life in France. Oh, and it’s about cooking.
As at least one reader will know (PJM, you can run, but you can’t hide), I have a soft spot for Ms. Child. Pat and I learned a lot about cooking from watching her public TV show. I remember our first souffle, undertaken not long after watching Ms. Child on The French Chef showing that what I thought was a daunting disk was actually pretty easy. Those memories made me anticipate this movie, perhaps creating a predisposition to like it.