Last week, I was lucky enough to have a three day weekend. Day 1 – beach trip. Day 2 – veggie palooza! Day 3 – errands and chores. We’ll focus on the middle, because chances are, you are all too familiar yourselves with the activities of days 1 and 2.
My super veggie Saturday began at the South of the James farmers’ market, as usual. The stars of these gorgeous photos are carrots from Walnut Hill Farm, flowers from Amy’s Garden, and berries from Pleitez Produce.
Kyle took a few more risks this week and brought home some versatile, seasonal ingredients along with a few fresh surprises.
This week’s loot:
- Purple kale
- Collard greens
- Summer squash
- Assorted peppers
- Purple potatoes
This purple and green kale from Pleitez Produce is so vibrant. I can’t wait to see if it holds this color when steamed or sautéed.
While Kyle shopped, I helped out with the cooking demo. You may read my recaps of all of this season’s demonstrations by clicking on the Market Chef link at the top of the page. The posts are in chronological order, which makes catching up easy.
After the farmers’ market, I went to the Richmond Vegetarian Festival in Bryan Park. There was so much vegan and vegetarian food there; it was definitely the best food festival I have been to in Richmond. One of the highlights was the Meatless Gourmet vegan “Iron Chef” competition.
Three chefs battled for the title of Meatless Gourmet Champion while highlighting this year’s secret ingredient, corn.
The first contestant was Greg Johnson of The Citizen. His restaurant is my favorite lunch spot downtown, and I wrote a post last year explaining why. The food is always fantastic and I appreciate the consistent quality. The banter between Greg and his staff is also entertaining, and there was no shortage of that during the competition.
The second contestant was Jenna Sneed of Fresca on Addison. I have to imagine this girl gets sick of always being introduced as Chef Jimmy Sneed’s daughter. Although she is descended from Richmond restaurant royalty, I think Jenna has proven with Fresca that she can stand on her own as a Chef and restaurateur, regardless of her pedigree. Fresca is a place I need to visit more often, but I’ll never forget the vegetarian-friendly Cobb salad I had the first time I went there, or the comforting bowl of soup I had once when I visited with a head cold. I have a lot of respect for a Chef who can make a good soup.
The third contestant was Jen Mindell, of Rooster Cart and formerly of Café Gutenberg. I have heard great things about Rooster Cart, yet I had not found the opportunity to try their food until the festival on Saturday. The Presidente and the tofu banh mi were both delicious. Before it closed, Café Gutenberg was my favorite place for vegetarian food in Richmond. Jen’s dishes are always very creative and the flavor combinations are out of this world.
What a surprise it was to have Gina Collins, formerly of Victory Farms, pop up during the cooking hour to talk about growing corn from a farmers’ perspective. Gina is an extremely talented speaker, and she always makes me excited about produce. It was her seminar on Discovering Greens at Ellwood Thompson’s last year that got me to try using chard, arugula, and broccolini in my kitchen for regularly. It also got me to sign up for my first CSA.
After judging and a little more impromptu entertainment from the Chefs and our host, Jason Guard, the winner was announced.
Jen Mindell for the win!
It’s amazing to see what Jen has done over the last year, and based on her innovative dishes in the Meatless Goumet competition, she has a lot more up her sleeve. Richmond is lucky to have her and all the Chefs featured in the competition.
After a Saturday like that, you might think I was veggied out. However, rather than being burned out on veggies, I feel even more energized to come up with some creative dishes in my own kitchen. It should be an interesting week!