[HIT LIST] - BANH MI / THE NAKED ONION

It’s a very nice thing to have a very special sandwich shop right around the corner. The Naked Onion (here) is a very special sandwich shop. The chef/owners Lauren and Greg are a) incredibly friendly and pleasant humans and b) super talented chefs.

But this is the most important part: their Banh Mi sandwich. As it reads on the menu, this is a pretty standard, Americanized banh mi as they go - pork, cilantro, pickled daikon+carrot, aioli, baguette. The delight in this sandwich comes from every part being so well done. The baguette has a chewy crumb and crackly crust, the pickled vegetables are broader and crisper than you’d expect, and then the pork. Damn, that pork. It’s just thick enough and just fatty enough and just seared enough and just mouth-melting enough. It’s firm so that it has a little bit of a bite to it, but at the same time just collapses itself into your mouth post-bite.

SO - here’s what you’re going to do next time you want a sandwich. You’re going to go into the Naked Onion, you’re going to order the banh mi (to go, it’s all takeout there), and when you get home and dig into that situation, you are going to make some for-real sex noises without the littlest bit of embarrassment. This is a really enjoyable sandwich. - Pete Cartwright

Also while you’re here: 

  • The Cuban is an excellent alternative if you’re sick of daikon but your pork levels are dangerously low.

  • I don’t love mixing a sweet with a cheese (I know I’m wrong) but everyone I know with a rational palate loves the apple + brie grilled cheese.

  • If tomatoes are in season, you owe it to yourself to get the BLT - it’s a solid 3/4-inch slice of Hanover tomato with housemade bacon that’s just right - crispy enough to snap but not so brittle that it shatters. There’s an add-on of a couple slices of house-brined and roasted turkey for a couple bucks. Trust me, add that on.

Fire, Flour & Fork: It’s going to be the jam

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We don’t have to ask if you’ve heard about Fire, Flour & Fork, because we know that you have. It’s huge. Kinfolk Magazine, Todd Kliman (The Washingtonian), Christina Tosi (Momofuku Milk Bar), Travis Grimes (Husk) and the like will be dishing it out alongside the best-of-the-best in Richmond food and drink, and it’s going to be one big culinary fireworks show. We’re always stoked for October, but this takes our fuzzy fall feelings to another level entirely.

You should probably get tickets. Right now.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fire-flour-and-fork-speaker-series-registration-12176238457?ref=ebtn

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There are spectacular events happening from October 30th to November 2nd, but here’s our dream list of magical experiences to attend on Saturday, November 1st:

10am: Welp, we’re starting off with a crossroads. No way can we pick between Dave DeWitt’s hot pepper party and Alice Medrich’s dethroning of wheat flour as King of Baking.

The Pope of PeppersDave DeWittFiery Foods & Barbecue
Dave DeWitt is one of the foremost authorities in the world on chili peppers and spicy foods. His interest in chili peppers led to his writing numerous articles and books on the subject and he launched Fiery Foods & Barbecue Magazine, now a highly trafficked web site with thousands of recipes. He received the ultimate accolade when The New York Times declared him “The Pope of Peppers.” Sample and book signing.

Flavor FloursAlice Medrich
Alice Medrich is one of this country’s premier bakers and chocolate dessert chefs. She’s the author of the new cookbook, Flavor Flours, a teacher, James Beard Award-winning author, but we had you at chocolate dessert chef. She’ll demonstrate how teff, buckwheat, rice, oat, corn, chestnut, coconut and sorghum flours can, in her expert hands, add flavor rather than merely serve as lowly substitutes for wheat. Demo and book signing.

11:15am: Another tough one. James Beard history is fascinating, but we’re honestly only picking that one over Chris Fultz’s barbecue (ZZQ!) because we’ve eaten it and already know that it is, unequivocally, the absolute BEST IN RICHMOND. If you haven’t had it, run to him.

Chefs on Fire | Dale Reitzer, Lee Gregory and Justin Carlisle | Kendra Bailey Morris, Moderator | Acacia, The RooseveltArdent
Learn the history of the James Beard House and awards from our moderator, Kendra Bailey Morris, who has been a James Beard Foundation Awards judge, and listen to the career trajectories of these three nominated chefs, two from Richmond and one visiting from Milwaukee. Reitzer grew up in Virginia Beach, working in seafood restaurants. Carlisle grew up on a cattle farm in Wisconsin and Gregory grew up in South Carolina with a love of Low Country cuisine.

Lunch: No way are we missing the Day of the Dead Luncheon at Saison with chef Adam Hall, which benefits CenterStage.

2pm: In a cruel and unusual twist, they’re making us choose between T. Leggett (sheer cocktail brilliance), Travis Milton (a deep well of heirloom culinary wizardry) and Mike Isabella (uh, you might have seen him on a rather popular TV show). After way too much thought, Travis Milton’s great-grandma’s Apple Stack Cake recipe seems like the hardest-won treasure.

Apple Stack Cake | Travis Milton | Comfort
Travis Milton, chef de cuisine at Comfort, left his beloved Appalachia to cook and write, emerging as an authority on Appalachian food ways. Heirloom apples are just one of the treasures of Appalachia and Travis knows which varieties work best for making his trademark vinegars, applesauce, apple butter and of course, his version of his great-grandmother’s Apple Stack Cake. Only a few of the 1,600 known varieties of apples that once grew in the Appalachians and Southeastern U.S. have been conserved. Once you learn the secrets of Apple Stack Cake, you’ll want to plant your own heirloom apple tree. Demo

3:30pm: For variety, we’d switch it up and swing by Williams & Sherrill’s awesome table decor/design talk so that we can impress our friends at Thanksgiving.

Forks at the Ready | Jamie Coffey/Williams & Sherrill                         From Victorian oddities (ice cream forks, baked potato fork, baby food pusher) to modern sensibilities, we’ll talk silverware, ceramic-ware, flatware and table top design in this session focused on function and form led by Jamie Coffey, Creative Director of Williams & Sherrill. Get some inspired ideas for your upcoming holiday tables.

6pm: And lastly, dinner. DINNERRRRRR.

Heritage, Husk & Hogs: Travis Grimes of Charleston Husk, Clay Trainum of Autumn Olive Farm & Joe Sparatta. 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Nonprofit Beneficiary: J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Educational Foundation

Cronuts, y’all

image(Southern Season’s unfilled powdered sugar glazed doughssant.)

About a year ago, Tom Leonard’s took Richmond’s first stab at recreating Dominique Ansel’s absurdly popular doughnut/croissant hybrid. (FYI, there’s still enough demand for Ansel’s original invention that you can hire someone from Craigslist to wait hours in line for you to get one. This service costs $25.) TL’s called them Fro-Doughs, as Cronut™ is obviously unavailable, and sold a ton of them, but they were still pretty close in gooeyness to a regular doughnut.

Today, we will discuss the Second Coming of the Cronut™, as delivered unto us by Southern Season. They call it a doughssant. We put together an airtight trifecta of judges to weigh in—a pastry expert, a sugar addict, and a pregnant lady—and served them four doughssant iterations: unfilled powdered sugar glazed, cream cheese-filled powdered sugar glazed, unfilled cinnamon, and cream cheese-filled cinnamon. (There is a chase model: the elusive raspberry-filled powdered sugar glazed. Good luck.)

Here’s what they had to say:

[PASTRY EXPERT]: It’s… a pretty good croissant mixed with a really good doughnut. I really like the contrast between the butter-steamed inside layers and the crispy, sweet outside. With the cinnamon unfilled, you get the caramelization on the outside, and the texture is amazing… it has more depth. The glazed one is all sugar, all fried, but still good. It’s way closer to a doughnut than a croissant.

Favorite: unfilled cinnamon.

[SUGAR ADDICT]: I’m not a fan of croissants, usually—they’re too buttery, without any other flavor. Like… chocolate. I get chocolate croissants, but I just eat around the bread to get to the chocolate. I like this, though. It’s like a blend of sophisticated and state fair. It’s not cheap-tasting. The cream cheese filling’s what the icing would taste like if Toaster Strudel had higher standards. And with the cinnamon version, there’s no glaze, so you can focus on the filling.

Favorite: cream cheese-filled cinnamon.

[PREGNANT LADY]: They’re buttery on the inside, and the outside’s kind of crispy-sticky. I like that you can pull it apart. And you have to chew it, it’s bready. Krispy Kreme and Yoder’s just melt in your mouth immediately. I like the cinnamon unfilled because the caramel-y outside is like Christmas. I’m ready for Christmas. And it would make less crumbs in bed, so that’s the obvious choice.

Favorite: unfilled cinnamon.