Eating with Rob

My new marriage and the eats that bring us together.

1 note &

Big and rich.

Sunday, August 3rd was our very first wedding anniversary. Here are the highlights in a little graphic I made for Rob.

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We were back in Richmond from our Saturday getaway to Virginia’s Northern Neck, and we were looking forward to spending a low-key Sunday together, running errands together and eating good food. We started with brunch at Carytown’s Galaxy Diner (http://www.yelp.com/biz/galaxy-diner-richmond).

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Neither Rob nor I had ever been there before, but with our new Museum District digs, we’ve been effortful about trying new places in Carytown. It’s a goofy looking place, very sci-fi meets 50s diner. The items on the menu are “cosmo” this and “super nova that,” but we of course went with the “interplanetary breakfast.”

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Rob had the Callahan Breakfast Platter, a layered carb explosion beginning with hash browns, topped with toast, topped with chicken fried steak, topped with over-easy eggs, TOPPED WITH creamy gravy. I had their biscuits and gravy with a side of sausage patties and really delicious warm cinnamon apples.

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My b&g were absolutely classic, hearkening back to my Rollins dorm group breakfasts. Nothing special, but that’s just what I liked about them. The sausage too were deliciously normative, but it was actually the apples that were the unique point of my meal - they tasted like autumn in a bowl and are a seldom-seen accompaniment to diner fare. Rob’s was also very good, but he was full beyond measure from such a big and rich platter. The icing on the cake was that this was all very affordable, a trend that would continue at our dinner locale.

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Since we’d had such a nice dinner the night before, we didn’t need anything too traditionally celebratory for dinner on our proper anniversary. So after a day of running errands, we walked about twenty minutes from our place to Garnett’s (http://garnettscafe.com/), an adorable sandwich shop on the corner of Park and Meadow. They have a “date night” deal where you can get two entrees and a bottle of wine for $30…from 6-9pm…ANY NIGHT OF THE WEEK. Sign us up!

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Rob, having recovered from his big breakfast, ordered “The Colonel,” a roast beef, and turkey sandwich with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Garnett’s signature “tiger sauce” (kind of a sweet and spicy, mayo-based sauce if I’m not mistaken) on toasted wheat bread. He had it with an order of coleslaw, and he was all set.

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I had the croque florentine, a warm ham sandwich with gruyere cheese, spinach, red onion, and garlic aioli on grilled Italian bread. I had never heard of topping a sandwich with sauce before, but this one was topped with mornay sauce, not unlike alfredo.

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I selected potato chips as my side, and I got a whole bowl of them!

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Rob and I agreed that my sandwich was the clear winner here. His was of course very tasty, but between the yummy, garlicky, oniony, meaty, cheesy interiorand that warm, creamy sauce, the florentine was absolute heaven.

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Despite loving it, I didn’t get very far, and I had to take about half of it to go. This may or may not have enabled us to request a slice of one of their gorgeous homemade cakes they keep on display at the counter. I mean, we didn’t have any of our own wedding cake to eat on our first anniversary, so we had to do something!

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We ordered a slice of double chocolate chip, and I tell you, it might as well have come out of somebody’s mom’s kitchen. It was as homemade as it gets, and it was the perfect ending to our calorie-packed anniversary. Well, almost the ending…we may or may not have gone home and shared a drink from the new tiki bowl I got Rob to commemorate the occasion :)

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This was our first time at both of these restaurants, and we would go to both again in a heartbeat. Galaxy Diner was just the type of diner that every town needs, with affordable staples and lots of gravy. Garnett’s was a dream - with that date night deal and selection of delectable sandwiches that are so much more than just lunchmeat and cheese, we can’t wait to go back. Big thank you to both of these establishments for giving us exactly what we wanted on our anniversary - a little relaxation, a little gluttony, and a little opportunity to reminisce about our wedding day one year before.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Galaxy Diner Carytown Callahan breakfast platter hash browns toast chicken fried steak eggs gravy biscuits and gravy sausage apples cinnamon apples Garnett's sandwiches date night anniversary wine the colonel tiger sauce turkey ham roast beef swiss cheese lettuce tomato mornay sauce

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Northern Necking.

The afternoon of August 2nd was a bit dreary, which wasn’t ideal for a beachy sort of day trip, so we spent a lot of it in thrift and antique stores in Kilmarnock. Things cleared up a bit in the late afternoon though, and we got a little sand between our toes.

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After some time reading and relaxing on the beach, Rob and I excitedly made our way to our dinner destination, Merroir (http://www.yelp.com/biz/merroir-topping). Rob had heard tales of its deliciousness from his co-workers, and he couldn’t wait to take me.

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Merroir is run by the same folks as Rappahannock (http://www.rroysters.com/), one of our favorite restaurants in Richmond (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/57807356040/a-river-runs-through-it). They even get their oysters from the same beds (which are right out there in that water in the above picture). Given their connection, I assumed Merroir would feel a lot more like Rappahannock, but it is WAY more casual! Picnic tables on gravel outdoors, not exactly the candlelit upscale dining experience of Rappahannock. Pinky’s still out, though.

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Despite my expectations (and my pearl necklace tan line), you’d better believe I didn’t care a bit. We knew we would still have that luxurious experience that comes with good food and special occasions.

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After selecting our wines, we started things off with a cheese plate. They didn’t list out the varieties of cheese, but there seemed to be a Parmesan-type wedge, a Swiss-type wedge, kind of a creamy bleu cheese, and my absolute favorite, a heap of pimiento cheese! They came with some fruit and flatbread.

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Just when I thought I couldn’t get much happier, our oysters arrived! We order a dozen Old Salts, the variety we usually get from Rappahannock. They were a little smaller than they are at Rappahannock, and there was actually a little less of a wow factor with the taste than we’re used to. Which doesn’t make sense, since they’re supposedly exactly the same. Despite this, we really couldn’t complain…these fresh oysters with mignonette sauce are the stuff dreams are made of, and we won’t let comparison thieve their joy.

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These two dishes alone made me so incredibly happy. We ended up needing even more flatbread to go with that unbelievably delicious pimiento cheese. I’m realizing that cheese plates are becoming one of my favorite things…even when compared to my beloved oysters.

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After nomming on our first plates for about a half hour, we ordered three of their “artisanal plates” to share. When I’m on the other side of the camera, you don’t usually see me doing this embarrassing thing I often do - smelling the food. Thanks for documenting my process, Rob!

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What he’s caught me smelling is the oyster and lamb stew, a tomato-based stew of local lamb sausage, Old Salt clams, and what appears to be a grilled slice of Billy Bread.

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We also had the above famous Merroir crab cake, your classic crab cake preparation with a dollop of remoulade. It’s hard to call it classic though when you consider the ridiculous freshness of the crab and the sheer QUANTITY of the crab in this cake. Puts others to shame.

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Our final small plate was the “stuffin’ muffin,” an oyster stuffing with bacon and peppercorn cream sauce. As a huge stuffing enthusiast, this was high on the “things to get pumped about” list. Just look how pumped.

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Sadly, I found 2 out of these 3 dishes to be disappointing. There was hardly ANY lamb in the stew, and it was actually kind of cold! Once I was done dipping the bread in the tomatoey broth, there wasn’t much to be excited about. I also found the stuffing to be a bit of a let down - maybe I built it up too much in my head. The saving grace of this trio actually turned out to be the crab cake, which I was least excited about due to its ubiquity, but it turned out to be my unexpected favorite.

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It’s hard to say if Rob and I had intentions of having dessert at that point, but as we were finishing our wine, wouldn’t you know it, it started to rain. So we bore our drinks to their covered patio, and since we didn’t want to trek out to the car in the rain, we found ourselves with some time to kill. Thus, the s’mores donut you see above, and the berry-covered pound cake you see below.

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Again, I was strangely disappointed! The donut, though appreciably homemade, was dry, and the chocolate sauce didn’t taste much better than if it had been smothered in Hershey’s syrup. The “marshmallow fluff” to complete the s’mores theme really just tasted like whipped cream. And I didn’t like the bite of Rob’s I had at all - the berries were too tart for me (and I’m usually a berry fan!), and the cake again was just a little dry.

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Rob disagreed with me completely and really liked his berries and pound cake, which I was glad for. He certainly paid me back for my picky palate by taking some real gems of me, above trying to squeeze my newly acquired pounds out of a small space, and below, looking just adorable in front of their entrance.

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We had been there for a few hours at this point, and now that the rain had stopped, we took a few photos out on their little pier before heading back to Richmond. We took this immaculate selfie, both out of joy for surviving our first year of marriage, and for managing to spend, after ALL of that food and drink, just over $100. SO HAPPY.

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I know I’ve made some little gripes in this review, but I am so happy we were to Merroir. It was exactly the experience we were looking for-  a slow, laid back meal with fresh seafood and wine. We ordered course after course, throwing caution the wind, but it somehow turned out to be a pretty darn affordable luxury, as far as luxuries go. The first course was a definite favorite, and I’d go back for their cheese and oysters again and again if I could. Thanks to my hubby for treating me so nice on this little anniversary day trip :)

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Topping Virginia Kilmarnock beach anniversary oysters old salts cheese board parmesan swiss bleu cheese pimiento cheese flatbread fruit lamb and clam stew billy bread stew stuffing oyster stuffing cream sauce crab cake remoulade Merroir donut smores donut pound cake berries wine

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Nobody puts baby in a corner.

Sorry for the hiatus - between school and trying to track down all the photos off of Rob’s camera, I’ve had a hard time getting this post together! But I’m really excited to finally be able to share it with you, because it involves a very fun trip that Rob and I took for our very first wedding anniversary.

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On Saturday, August 2nd, we thought we’d take a little day trip up to Virginia’s Northern Neck to eat some good seafood and relax on the water. Our anniversary wasn’t technically until the next day, but we were so excited to celebrate in this way. Our first stop was at Tides Inn in beautiful Irvington, Virginia (http://www.tidesinn.com/).

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This resort was straight out of Dirty Dancing, and we honestly worried that we showed up a little too casually for lunch in their pretty dining room, called The Chesapeake Club. But did that stop Rob from taking too many photos of his hungry wife? Nope.

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We knew we would be having a slightly early dinner so we would have time to drive back to Richmond that night. Thus, instead of ordering up entrees, we decided to share a few appetizers for lunch.

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We made really good selections, if I do say so myself. Above, you can see our blue crab quesadilla, complete with creamy boursin cheese and some sort of tangy remoulade.

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We also had the smoked fish dip. They make it with their local catch of the day and serve it with flat bread and a few pieces of lavash, kind of a big, Middle Eastern cracker. It also had some giardinera on the side, but neither Rob nor I are brave or from Chicago, so we went ahead and let that be.

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Both selections were just delicious, and so rich! Between the creamy dip and the buttery crab, we were hardly want for another bite when all was said and done. But we WERE want for one more picture, apparently.

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Now that I had lots of photos to choose from if I ever need to fill some space on the back cover of a book (ha), Rob and I continued with our holiday. We really enjoyed the resort atmosphere of Tides Inn - it felt a little luxurious, and I of course kept envisioning Patrick Swayze talking about babies and corners. The food was delicious, and it’s surely a very nice place to vacation on the water. Stay tuned for dinner!

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Virginia Northern Neck Irvington Tides Inn Chesapeake Club seafood anniversary smoked fish dip smoked fish lavosh giardanera blue crab quesadilla blue crab quesadilla Dirty Dancing

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In your mouth.

By Friday, July 25th, prelims were over, and so was the summer class I was teaching. My busy summer was starting to wind down, with just a week left of clinical work and some procedural stuff to do for my dissertation before 10 days of sweet, sweet vacation. While we never officially celebrated the end of these two huge time-sucks, we DID walk down the Boulevard for an awesome dinner at En Su Boca (http://ensuboca.com/).

It was a beautiful night, and we got a table right where the restaurant turns into an open air space. After our recent mediocre taco experience at Don’t Look Back, a sort of equivalent locale with similar fare, neither of us were really craving tacos (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/92666067282/dont-come-back), despite the fact that we were at an entirely different establishment. So, Rob ordered the carne asada burrito, stuffed with salsa verde, pickled onions, dirty rice, drunken beans, jack cheese, avocado, sour cream.

I decided on the quesadilla conchinita pibil, full of Yucatán banana leaf slow roasted pork and jack cheese, topped with sour cream
and two salsas…one sort of run of the mill tomato salsa served on top, and the other looking a heck of a lot like applesauce on the side. Not knowing what it was, I stuck my fork in it and gave it a try…only to burn my face off. Wish I’d have had any clue that there would be something so aggressive on the plate before unwittingly consuming it…it didn’t say anything about how spicy it would be on the menu. Just “2 salsas.”

Despite this rough bite and the consequent gallon of water I drank, this quesadilla was amazing. I loved the unique presentation, and it was so brimming with moist and flavorful pork that I only needed to eat half to get my fill. If they’d had free chips and salsa, I might have only needed a few bites.

The verdict? Wayyyy better than even the high points of Don’t Look Back. While we honestly missed free chips and salsa a little bit, the entrees more than made up for it. We’ll have to try their tacos sometime, but I’m not sure how we’ll deviate from these selections in the future. What a perfect way to relax on a summer night.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Don't Look Back En Su Boca mexican burrito quesadilla carne asada dirty rice drunken beans salsa verde salsa pickled onions jack cheese sour cream avocado slow roasted pork banana leaves pork

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…secondary?

On the evening of Friday, July 18th, I was about halfway through my prelims. The only times I’d left the couch were to go to campus to teach, making my pace when I returned to my computer all the more feverish. It can’t have been too bad if I was willing to pause for a selfie, though.

…unless, of course, you take into consideration that I took the selfie to prove to Rob that I was still alive while he was at work. When he got home that night, he went straight to the kitchen to fix our dinner. I investigated a few minutes later, to find him toiling over a hot stove. I guess we know he can pull off the line cook look if he needs any more ideas for Halloween.

He was making me some good old fashioned comfort food, fried chicken with pan gravy and mashed potatoes. I tell you what, that man is so good at fried chicken. I found myself not hating that I didn’t have time to make dinner if this was the result.

Of course, it was right back to work immediately after dinner, which he dutifully cleaned up himself. I was immeasurably lucky to have his support during this very tricky time, when so many of my duties converged (dissertation + teaching + clinical work + prelims + still moving in + trying to be a decent wife). In the end, I would pass my prelims, thanks especially to his time and care for my well-being. I’m wishing my classmates who are still making edits to their essays all the luck in the world…I recommend fried chicken to help get you through it.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog grad school Richmond Virginia prelims fried chicken mashed potatoes gravy pan gravy

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Preliminary.

My cohort mates and I received our preliminary exams on the morning of Wednesday, July 16th. Which meant that for the next five days, we would be swimming in a sea of research, ethics, and practice, typing away in our respective productivity cocoons (mine = couch + sweatpants + Peaches). Cooking was out of the question.

Lucky for me, ol’ Rob doesn’t mind manning the kitchen, and on that first night of prelims, he lured me to the outdoors with a lovely dinner he’d made, featuring a recipe I asked if he would mind whipping up while I worked away. I had recently bought a pound of organic wings from Ellwood Thompson’s (I pretty much never shop there, so it was a big deal, http://ellwoodthompsons.com/), and Rob gave them the royal treatment by baking them with brown sugar and spices with a roasted red pepper and goat cheese dipping sauce (http://domesticfits.com/2012/05/16/baked-brown-sugar-chicken-wings-with-roasted-red-pepper-cream-sauce/).

I am endlessly impressed with clever spice treatments on wings…not hot necessarily, but the type that makes a sticky barbecue sauce obsolete. You know me, as a native Kansas Citian, I love my barbecue sauce, but I also love the challenge of balancing spices - it’s a little more artful and complex than pouring straight from a bottle of barbecue sauce. Not that I was the one doing it, this time (thanks Rob).

Speaking of sauce, the roasted red pepper goat cheese sauce was a creamy, tangy accompaniment to our sweet and savory wings. Plus, I reminded Rob that I usually substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream, which made the sauce a little healthier and a little zippier, too. The spices on the chicken combined with this anti-ranch-dressing was a unique change of pace from my usual wing game.

Rob and I both really enjoyed these wings, and we ate them with a lovely view of our neighborhood from our front balcony on a calm summer night. But I was already feeling behind since I’d taught that day, taking three hours away from my prelim writing time, so I returned to my station on the couch shortly after. I was so impressed with Rob’s execution on these wings, and I would highly recommend this recipe if you’re looking for satisfying wings with nontraditional flavors.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia grad school prelims wings brown sugar baked wings chicken wings Ellwood Thompson's organic roasted red peppers goat cheese roasted red pepper goat cheese sauce

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The whole enchilada.

On the night of Saturday, July 12th, Rob and I decided to walk down the street from our apartment for dinner at a restaurant that had heightened our interest. It’s called Bandito’s, and you’d better believe it is a “Burrito Lounge” (http://banditosburritolounge.com/). We were so tickled by this prospect, but also hopeful that with the close proximity of this Mexi-Cali locale to our apartment, this would be good eatin’. 

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We munched on chips and salsa (their house salsa is actually pretty spicy, if you ask a weeny like me, but very tasty) and had some Mexican beers while we waited for our entrees - neither of which were burritos. Rob had the above shredded chicken chimichanga though, because what’s better than a FRIED burrito? Honorable mention to the beans and rice. 

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I had a little combo plate, which is usually my initial selection at a new Mexican place - a cheese enchilada (above) and a taco (below). The enchilada doesn’t look like much, but the sauce tasted homemade and not like a strained bowl of Chef Boyardee. It was SO delicious. I had it along with a ground beef taco - I’m sure it would have been better if I’d eaten it first rather than going straight for the whole enchilada, because by the time I ate the taco, the bottom half was soggy and fell off! So I ate it with a fork, but I can think of worse things. Soggy was a bit thematic now that I think of it, as they also served salsa and sour cream in little paper cups, which isn’t the best idea functionally, but I suppose it got the job done. 

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Ultimately, we enjoyed this neighborhood spot - Rob really liked his chimichanga, and the enchilada was the best I’ve had in Richmond, and probably the best I’ve had anywhere in a long time. The taco left a little something to be desired, and honestly, so did their margarita game. Rob inquired, and they don’t use fresh juices for their margaritas, which is strange since they’re kind of pricey and CLAIM fresh juices (boo!). PLUS they don’t have frozen margaritas, which is quintessential for a place like this! The waitress said they used to have a machine for it, but that it broke and had not yet been fixed. Even though we have already been back, Bandito’s, you will get much more of our business if you can bring back those sweet, slushy margs. Keep us posted :)

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Museum District Bandito's Bandito's burrito lounge chimichanga chicken enchilada cheese enchilada taco beef taco salsa margarita

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Rosé colored glasses.

Friday, July 11th was a balmy evening, the calm before the storm that would be teaching, unpacking, therapy-ing, and and pre-limming in just over a week. When Rob got home from work, we put together a really relaxing dinner, inspired by these little glasses of rosé.

We wanted something simple and refreshing for our evening together, and It started with a gorgeous sausage link, made by Sausage Craft, a local small-batch sausage maker here in Richmond (http://sausagecraft.com/).

It is truly amazing stuff. A little more expensive than the usual sausage links you’d pick up at the grocery store, but not totally unreasonable (this link was $6, if I’m not mistaken). It’s not something we get terribly often since it’s not tons of meat for the price, but it’s a nice splurge and we love supporting the local company and their ethical methods.

While Rob prepared the sausage, I decided to put together kind of a fruit and cheese board. Normally you’d have summer sausage or some type of chilled meat with accompaniments like these, but we had hot sausage and we didn’t care.

I sliced some apples and broke out Ritz crackers that I’d impulse-purchased to accompany some tuna salad I’d made earlier that week for lunch. I thought they’d add a nice carby component to our little composition.

I also bought some smoked mozzarella cheese on my previous visit to the grocery store. I feel like I’m at my most indulgent when I’m buying nice cheese - which is excellent, because it’s not a very expensive habit, especially when combined with my general frugality regarding clothes and other material stuff. So if spending $5 on cheese makes me a high roller, so be it!

I also chopped up some berries and made a little dipping plate of Greek yogurt and honey. I’ve found this is a nice pairing with fruit, if I feel like it needs to be sweeter (and sometimes it really doesn’t). Since we had lots of fruit on this plate, it was nice to have that dipping option on the platter.

And of course, we had our sausage. Meat, cheese, fruit, and big fancy cutting board? Check. Time to move it to the patio to enjoy with our rosé.

That’s a summery meal if I ever saw one. I parked the cutting board right between the two of us so we could both eat from it without having to dirty additional dishes. Here’s a wonky picture of it.

We sat outside for I think about two hours, under my lovely bulb lights, both eating to our heart’s content. So often, I plan a specific recipe ahead of time spend a lot of time and energy in the kitchen, mixing and adding so many components together to make one big dish, and then I’ll throw together a salad or some canned veggies as an afterthought loosely related to variety and nutrition. And as much fun as I usually have in that process, what a welcome change of pace this was - to just eat plain ingredients. I sometimes forget that that’s even an option. Kind of like how Rob forgets how to smile like a real person.

This dinner, though including some nice quality ingredients, was so simple and refreshing, not unlike our slow and relaxed Friday evening. I think about this night frequently when planning meals now - it opens my eyes in circumstances when I look in my fridge and say “there’s nothing to eat!” Sometimes it doesn’t have to be an artfully combined recipe - a little plate of things you have can go a long way.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia summer rose rose wine wine sausage sausage craft smoked mozzarella apples yogurt honey Ritz crackers strawberries blueberries fruit

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Melanzane parmigiana.

Rob usually goes out for drinks with a few of his friends from work on Wednesday nights, but on Wednesday, July 9th, Rob was eager to show off our place. So we invited his good friend Eric over for dinner on our nice new back patio. 

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We had stopped by the Carytown Farmer’s Market just a few days before, where I impulsively purchased a local eggplant for a whopping 99 cents. I had actually never cooked with eggplant before, but I had half a mind to give the parmesan version a whirl. 

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I basically winged it, beginning with the tomato sauce Rob and I have been making a lot lately. I fried some garlic and oregano in a mixture of olive oil and butter and then added freshly blended San Marzano tomatoes (my immersion blender is the perfect tool for this job!), and of course some salt and pepper. After about an hour of simmering on the stove, I added a little chiffonade of fresh basil we have growing on our patio, and the sauce was in good shape. 

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One of my favorite things about our new apartment is its proximity to Belmont Butchery (http://www.belmontbutchery.com/), where I have purchased some very fresh, local, and high quality meat in the past (such aaaaaas http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/95493466337/feaster). When I decided to make eggplant parmesan from scratch, it seemed silly to add shredded mozzarella from a bag in the refrigerator aisle. So I walked down to the Butchery, where they also have lots of fine canned goods, wines, and cheeses. 

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"Smooth, silky, and pulled to perfection." I might need to acquire a labelmaker of my own so that I can print such poetic musings about my leftovers.

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After making my tomato sauce and admiring my mozzarella, I was prepared to batter and fry my eggplant. If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been recently converted to wet batters rather than dredges, so I whipped up an impromptu mixture of flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, a touch of cayenne, dried oregano, and a whole egg. 

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I coated each of my eggplant slices in my batter and let them fry until golden brown and fantastic. I have always just let my fried foods sit on a paper towel upon extraction in the past, but I finally wised up and used a cooling rack over paper towels, which yielded a much crispier and less greasy result. Look how nice!

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While frying the eggplant, I was also assembling my baking dish. I coated the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of my homemade sauce, added a layer of fried eggplant, then a slice of mozzarella, and then more sauce on top. 

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Once all of my eggplant were done, I put the finished dish into the oven and let it bake for about 30 minutes at 350, and by the time Eric and Rob arrived, it was bubbly and delicious. I managed to not take a SINGLE photo of the finished product, or of anyone who ate any of it. It was so good that once it came out of the oven, I honestly forgot about the camera. 

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This was a wonderful dinner. The weather was warm but breezy, the patio lights were twinkling, and of course the company was delightful. The three of us ate right through this little 8x8 dish, full of 99% eggplant and fresh, local, home-grown, and from-scratch ingredients. I’ll definitely be putting this recipe together again sometime.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia eggplant farmer's market Carytown eggplant parmesan Belmont Butchery mozzarella mozzarella cheese tomato sauce homemade tomato sauce basil fried eggplant garlic butter olive oil

2 notes &

A place of our own.

On Sunday, July 6th, Rob and I made the excursion up to D.C. to make the ubiquitous newly-moved trip to IKEA. We were excited to buy a few things for the apartment, most notably a patio table since we now, for the first time ever, have a patio! I also insisted that we festoon it with bulb lights, which Rob dutifully hung for me the next night.

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While Rob labored in the early evening heat, I prepared our dinner. It was a burger and fries kind of night, so I whipped out my favorite recipe for sweet potato fries (http://www.amybites.com/?p=2784). Behold, the ingredients!

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After julienning my sweet potatoes and tossing them with olive oil, cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne, I devoted my attention to the chipotle dipping sauce. I have been known to make this sauce even when I’m having something unrelated to sweet potato fries (case in point - http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/93313058917/sunday-funday). Because it’s creamy, it’s spicy, it’s sweet, it’s garlicky, and it’s amazing.

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I find it difficult to get crispy fries without burning the ends a little bit. I’ll have to do more research the next time I make them. But all around, they still looked pretty good to me upon extraction from my tiny oven (this was the meal that proved my regular sized cookie sheets would fit in there, thank the lord).

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While the fries were finishing in the oven, I prepared our burgers. I usually make burgers from ground turkey, but the organic beef was on sale at the Kroger that week, so I fired it up on our cast iron skillet. Which again, took up about half of my comically small stovetop, but it yielded about the juiciest burgers possible sans grill.

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I plated up our dinner and took it outside, where Rob had just finished putting together our patio table and chairs AND hanging the lights. So handy!

Doesn’t our IKEA table look so fabulous, by the way? And it was such a steal! We love it and eat dinner on it so often.

The burgers hit the spot on that long summer evening, and the sweet potato fries and chipotle garlic aioli were divine as usual. But I think the best part was ignoring the boxes, the e-mails, and the work, just drinking our cheapy PBRs and enjoying our first dinner under our new lights.

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I can’t describe to you how enchanting this was, and I couldn’t believe this was ours. I think about this night every time we eat out there and how fantastic the novelty remains. There’s nothing that calms your nerves after long days in front of a computer screen like eating a good meal outside, with the most important person, in a place of your own.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia IKEA bulb lights patio patio furniture patio table outdoor furniture burger cheeseburger sweet potato fries chipotle garlic aioli aioli garlic paprika cinnamon cayenne sweet potatoes Kroger

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