One of the best housewarming gifts a new homeowner could ever receive is FOOD! Not just any food, but Cuban food from a favorite and local Cuban restaurant in Richmond, Virginia—Kuba Kuba. How would I describe Kuba Kuba? It’s completely unpretentious. Menu specials are written on chalkboard hanging on the walls. Atmosphere is alive, but intimate. This restaurant is small, but there is tons of character. The food is ethnic and relatively cheap. It’s a little taste of Cuba in good ol’ Richmond. I love it!
We are fortunate enough to know two wonderful ladies who dropped by our new home last Thursday and unloaded bags full of food for us. It fed us for the next several days! Thank you Joyce and Lu for your graciousness. The food was Ah-mazing! We ate every last bit of it. Next time, we’ll have you both over for a meal cooked by Pretty Tasty Things!
Jared and I went for brunch a few weeks ago. Going for brunch is a must at Kuba Kuba. Here’s a look at their coffee bar. The café con leche is to die for. It’s a spitting replica of café con leche in Spain.
Now, lets take a look at our housewarming gift. A full glass of Spanish red wine, avocado salad and paella…what more can you ask for?
This was not from Kuba Kuba, but from a wine & bread shop in their neighborhood. They call this “Billy” bread. We saved it the next day and made a delicious grilled cheese with provolone and white cheddar cheese. OMG. So good. We also had more bread for an open-faced eggplant sandwich.
The salad came with the Cuban toast on the left. The paella came with Cuban cornbread on the right. Delish!
Avocado salad. Seriously, a damn good salad. It’s a large bed of mixed greens garnished with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados. The dressing was a thick balsamic dressing, but I’m not 100% sure. It was good very tasty though!
What’s a Spanish meal without good Spanish wine? They also gave us a bottle of Tres Picos from Spain! We opened it immediately and finished the bottle that night. Oh boy, we were feeling good.
And there she is, the paella! Honestly, the paella was made a little different than than paella we ate in Spain. However, it was still good. This version was more light and flaky. There were some seafood such as mussels, clams and shrimp. There was Spanish sausage and vegetables all combined with rice. They also gave some yummy fried plantains on the side.
Saturday morning, Jared and I made it out of bed in time to visit the local farmers’ market in our new neighborhood. Only a 5 minute drive from our home, we arrived at Lakeside Farmers’ Market, an independently owned market operated under a pavilion in the Lakeside Towne Center. Thank goodness it was under a pavilion because it was hot as hell! There were roughly 15 vendors selling a variety of goods such as local seasonal produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods and handmade crafts. The market is open through December on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings. For more information, check out their website, Lakeside Farmers’ Market.
On the right are fresh beets. My first experience with beets happened to be at a restaurant in Barcelona during our honeymoon. Beets were in our salad, and as I recall, they surprisingly delicious!
Look at that huge zucchini on the right! You can make tons of zucchini fritters with that!
Our first purchase were these raspberries from Agriberri CSA. It was $5, which seemed a little high. But we gave it a shot and used them for mint raspberry mojitos, which I’ll show you how a little later this week.
If you live in Richmond and haven’t been to the annual Broad Appétit, you are insane. Unfortunately, you just missed it since it was this past Sunday. You certainly must remember it for next year!
Broad Appétit is an event where you can sample different cuisine from over 50 restaurants for only $3 a plate. Richmond is definitely known for it’s abundance in local restaurants, so this is a great event to try a sampling of food from a restaurant you’ve never been to at a very reasonable cost. You can spend all afternoon there just tasting, drinking and running into people. We tried four different dishes because we were still full from brunch with Jared’s family the morning of. However, this is an event we’ll definitely return year after year, and you should too.
First tasting: Grilled Sea Scallop with Sweet Corn from Empress
Seriously, the scallop was super fresh and melted in my mouth. It was as smooth as butter. The sweet corn accompanied the scallop giving it some texture with each bite and a bit of sweetness. Loved this dish. Must make grilled scallops soon.
Second tasting: Italian Ice from T&J’s Gourmet Ice
You can’t leave Broad Appetit without getting a cup of Italian Ice. It’s out of this world. We got the lemon-cherry-blue-raspberry and it literally tasted like a bomb pop. It was so refreshing on a warm day. I wish I had a whole tub in my freezer right now!
New York City. Can I just say that I’m a little jealous of the amount of delicious dining in one city. I mean seriously, can we share the wealth? I’ve been to NYC twice before, this being my third time, and every single visit I get a little envious of the food. Every dining experience is unique to the restaurant and cuisine. I call it a lifestyle. Seating down with friends, socializing and sharing dishes is what you do in NYC. Food is plentiful and exciting. It’s highly addicting, it’s their drug.
So along with my Canon G10, my friend and I ate and drank ourselves silly. Just so you know, taking photographs in dark restaurants is highly impossible for me. Please bare with my lackluster photos.
I arrived in NYC last Friday. The bus ride was over 7 hours long. So needless to say, my sugar was low and needed food as soon as I arrived. My friend and I went around the corner to a local pizza shop off 44th street and grabbed a slice of pizza. They probably had over 15 varieties, but went with an eggplant pizza. The eggplant was lightly breaded and baked, it was topped with mozzarella and sauce. It was exactly what I needed after a very long bus ride. After pizza, we walked around the Tudor City Greens, a neighborhood park well-kept and quaint.
Later that evening, we both got dolled up and enjoyed some of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. We went to a very swanky Mexican restaurant called Mayahuel in the East Village. The food was Mexican influenced, but the decor had a mix of Moroccan meets Goth meets Mexican. If that’s even possible. We share crispy tortillas with three sides—guacamole, smoked tomato and salsa verde. Our favorite was the guacamole. We also ordered steak tacos to share as well. The sauteed green onion definitely enhanced the taco, otherwise I think it was just OK. But, lets talk about the cocktails. Mayahuel is known for their cocktails, just check out their extensive menu online. I had the blackberry cobbler—mezcal, sloe gin, lemon and sugar cane with blackberries. OMG. I could have drank five. Photo courtesy of gothamist.com
There were two food places I would totally steal if I wanted to start a restaurant in Richmond. One being, Eataly—our lunch stop on Saturday. This place was truly one of a kind. Eataly is not a place for everyone since it is a little touristy and chaotic with swarms of people, but I’d recommend this place if you ever visit NYC. You feel as if you’re in Italy, but you’re not! Joe Bastianich, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Mario Batali are the owners of Eataly. Their mission with this market was to celebrate Italy and their culture. This 50,000 square foot market features areas for shopping, learning and eating—Italian style.
Fresh focaccia, the smell was radiant. I munched on a proscuitto and mozzeralla focaccia while waiting for our waitress.
There was one restaurant that was standing room only. High black-iron tables with beautiful marble countertops were situated in the middle of the large market. You literally just find an open spot at a table and wait to be served. We ordered red wine, of course, and it was amazing. For $9 a glass, it better be, right! That was the cheapest glass on the menu, which isn’t too bad for NY standards. We also ordered a plate of their crostini, which were sooooo good minus one of them. Our favorite was the smoke salmon one. Will definitely have to make my version for Pretty Tasty Things.
As you can see, our least favorite was the fava bean crostini. A little bland and dry. Not our favorite.
From fine dining to casual fare, this past weekend for us was pretty tasty. Saturday morning was filled with art and culture. We finally saw the Picasso exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and ate lunch at Amuse. VMFA is the only East coast venue to host Picasso masterpieces from the Museé National Picasso in Paris. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, you must! It’s ongoing until May 15. Later that day, we watched the Richmond Flying Squirrels beat Pennsylvania Altoona Curve at the Diamond. We indulged in beer and corndogs. The perfect combo. Lastly, we ended things off with good Southern barbecue from Buz and Neds with my family for Easter. All-in-all, it was a very delicious weekend. I was so sad to see it go.
After walking through the Picasso exhibit that started at 10am, we needed some coffee, stat. The Best Café located inside the museum offers light fare with sandwiches and salads, soups, snacks and beverages such as coffee, beer and wine!
Our reservations at Amuse, the fine dining restaurant in VMFA, were scheduled for 11:30am. We were hungry!
My sister, Sharon, helped herself to some morning cocktails, which included a champagne rose and a pomegranate cocktail with gin. The fresh bread was offered table-side. It literally smelled like fresh baked pizza.
My sister Sharon, brother-in-law Seamus and I ordered the jumbo lump crabcake with saffron calasparra and lolla rossa with a spicy tartar sauce. The crabcake was cooked perfectly. It was more crab than bread mixture, which is what I prefer. The tartar sauce was a great accompaniment to the crabcake, spicy and lemony with the capers. The rice aka saffron calasparra was very sad and disappointing though. I love my rice and this version was bland and dry! Bad news.
Jared’s dish was the roasted local chicken breast with gin and juice endive served with sun dried cherries in quinoa. He thought the chicken was cooked very well because it came out very juicy. The quinoa was something new to him and I. It’s like a grain, so it had that seed-like consistency. He thought it was paired well with the cherries, giving the dish some sweetness and texture.
Sheila’s dish was the grilled flank steak with polenta fries and garlic rapini with ancho barbecue sauce. I tried her dish too and I was a little disappointed with the flank steak. It was cooked perfectly to our medium request, but it was served cold. How sad. The polenta fries, though, were amazing! I am so learning how to make those.
Last, but not least, dessert! A very happy decision, we ordered the chocolate mousse and it was outstanding. The mousse was incredibly airy. The cookie was so delicate and a good combination to the mousse. It was a nice ending to a pretty good meal.