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Tidbit: Taste Test

So I'm a person who enjoys kind of strong tastes, let's say. Blue cheese, sharp cheddar, cabernet, black coffee, the darkest of chocolate...all favorites of mine. Sometimes, I'll dip a piece of dark chocolate (usually Green & Black's, fair trade, and available at Kroger for a reasonable price) into some organic peanut butter for a quick "sweetie."

Anyway, one day a few weeks ago, I was totally out of chocolate (aka "crack" at my house) and peanut butter, but Haley had left a Saris chocolate and peanut butter bar in the kitchen cabinet. So like any good friend, I helped myself to a square or two. And you know what it tasted like? Sugar. I could barely detect the flavor of chocolate or peanut butter. It was so strange, and made me wonder if much of the food consumed in the U.S. has a taste that's kind of "dumbed down" to either super sweet or super salty, so much that we hardly taste the food itself...


Review: Richwood Grill, Morgantown, WV

So my nephew had surgery Friday, and Haley and I were on our own in Morgantown, without Mindy and Jeff. We headed, as we often do, to Richwood Grill.

We know about Richwood because a.) Morgantown is a small town, and b.) we know the owners. There are several other places to go for a nice evening out in Morgantown, but not if you really want local, organic, sustainable type food. For example, one night Haley and I went to Cafe Bacchus. The special was lamb, and I LOVE lamb. So I said to the server, "hey, where does the lamb come from?" His response, "you know, from sheep." True story. Back to Richwood...the chef told us last night that he's only doing Atlantic seafood, to get stuff that's as close as possible. And, you can always catch him at the farmer's market (when it's happening) gathering up stuff for the restaurant. So good deal.

We usually wear jeans to Richwood, which is totally fine. Some folks dress up more, and that's fine too. Everybody fits in fine. It's not at all stuffy.

Ambiance is always nice. Dark, but not too dark. Interesting local art to view. The chiminea on the deck was lit, and looked real cozy. The restaurant was plenty warm last night, and it was SO cold outside. I don't know about you, but there's nothing I dislike more than freezing my arse off in a restaurant.

We didn't have a reservation, and a reservation isn't required at Richwood. There wasn't a wait last night, and there usually isn't. However, the restaurant can get pretty full.

I don't know if I'd say Richwood is kid-friendly. I'd say yes, because it's pretty laid back, but I'd say no because there is no kids' menu.

Service is always good, very friendly staff. No snobbery here (I really can't handle snobbery). No long waits for food, or anything unreasonable. If there's ever a wait for food, it's usually a pleasant one because they play great music, and it's a nice place to just relax and sip a drink.

On to the chow. Last night was a special menu, the Rum and Chocolate Dinner. However, the regular menu at Richwood Grill changes with the season, and really has something for everyone...excellent grass-fed beef, vegetarian dishes (Spring Creek tofu), sustainable seafood, etc.

The wine at Richwood is never a disappointment. They offered a flight of three rums with the Rum and Chocolate dinner, so I didn't have wine last night. The rums were very good with the meal, they were all easy to sip. Now I don't know much about rum, or any other booze for that matter, but I always trust Richwood to have great pairings. So far, I have never been disappointed. (And if you're wondering, I did not end up with a buzz after drinking three shots of rum with dinner, so that's nothing to worry about. Although I should also mention that I wasn't driving last night.) If you do know a lot about booze, (scotch, tequilla, whatever), Richwood Grill has an extensive menu and I'm sure that the chef would be more than happy to gab about it with you.

There was bread with the meal last night, and it was brushcetta (more like crostini) with a not-too-sweet chocolate on top. We both got a plate with three pieces. It was tasty.

The salad was mixed greens with grape tomatoes and goat cheese from Firefly Farms, topped with a balsamic dressing with a touch of cocoa. I liked it as well (although I'm not a huge fan of the spring mix), thought it was very fresh. I especially liked the taste of the dressing and the tomatoes together.

The entree was really range pork (a loin chop) with a cocoa rub and sauce that was super tasty. The rice on the side had some herbs that made it match up really well with the pork. There was also some nice looking broccoli on the plate, but that went into my go box. (I almost always end up with a go box...the portions are pretty generous.)

I think that the dessert was my favorite course...a poached pear on top of a white chocolate chestnut mole. It was sweet, but not too sweet, the pear was still a little crispy, and the mole had a nice texture and an amazing taste. The rum seemed to be a little lighter and less sweet than the first two, which was a good thing.

The folks at Richwood really do a good job with local, organic, sustainable. But I know that because I gab with chef. People who don't might not get a great feel for what Richwood Grill is doing. Plus, Richwood Grill doesn't advertise a ton.

I thought the price for the four course meal was completely reasonable. It was $35 without the rum flight, and $50 with the rum flight. (I also wanted to mention something else here...Haley and I both usually only eat out once a week, which makes meals in this price range more doable.)

Will definitely go back. Looking forward to the Valentine's Day Dinner! If you're in Morgantown and haven't tried Richwood Grill, check it out. Same if you're just passing through.

Going to DC to pick up a painting (I'm the one with no kids and hence no college funds to save for) from some friends of mine. So, stay tuned for a review of Restaurant Nora. We're also going to Coppi's Organic, a pizzeria in DC and we'll talk about that.


The List so far...

So, like I said, to get things rolling we wanted to put up a list of places that we've been and loved, with local, organic, sustainable food. To me, these are places you can go and feel really good about what you're eating (my mouth is watering as I type this list!!!) and also about the fact that you're supporting folks who are doing something awesome. In fact, if I visit any of these cities, these restaurants are all places I can't/won't miss. The menus are usually fascinating to read, which is especially good if you drop in solo. We'll probably do full reviews at later dates (because we'll surely go again). Over the next week or two, I'll try to do mini retro reviews of all of them.

The list is a little shorter than I'd like it to be, mainly for two reasons. One, lots of places aren't doing local, organic, sustainable (dare I say, especially on the east coast???). Two, we tend to go back to the same places!

We're certainly looking to build up the list, so suggestions are absolutely welcome!

Asheville, NC
Early Girl Eatery

Athens, OH:
Casa Nueva

Columbus, OH:
Jeni's (ice cream)
North Star Cafe
Rigsby's Kitchen

Las Vegas, NV:
RM Seafood

Morgantown, WV:
Richwood Grill

New York, NY:
Angelica Kitchen

Orlando, FL:

Pittsburgh, PA:
Bona Terra

Tampa, FL:

Washington, DC:
Restaurant Nora


I read the word "minifesto" on a cereal box the other day. Maybe this is the beginning of our minifesto...

So, my sis, my brother-in-law, and my best friend and I are going to try to put some of our detective work to good use. For the past couple of years we've been really enjoying digging up new places to eat when we travel, or even when we just hang out locally. Like I said in the our "profile" info, we always look for local, organic, sustainable. (I'm probably the biggest stickler for that, and if I don't know where the meat came from, I'll order vegetarian.)

In the beginning, my brother-in-law was kind of surprised by my ability to find sometimes "unusual" places to eat, and my sis was often apprehensive about the menus. (Haley's always been a good sport, up for anything.)

We decided to work on a blog (and my sis may not realize this) a couple of weeks ago after we dined at Rigsby's Kitchen in Columbus, OH. Mindy (my sis), who as I said is often the most apprehensive, really just dug into the menu before anyone else. And I was so impressed, because she has really changed in that regard. I mean, we all grew up thinking that eating out at Red Lobster was LIVING. We're from super small towns, and we don't fancy ourselves *foodies* or super-sophisticated. We often have questions that any other average person might have, and we thought we could pass on some of the answers to others who are looking for similar experiences. (And give SHOUT OUTS to fabulous restaurants at the same time!)

What we'll try to do are restaurant reviews in a standardized format, that are super-helpful. And then Jeff, Mindy, and Haley will all post on some of their own topics, food-related of course. For example, Jeff and Mindy have a bunch of kids and they are starting a push with their family for *better* food at home...

Our first restaurant review will be this weekend. Haley and I are going local in Morgantown, WV at Richwood Grill for the "Rum and Single Origin Chocolate Dinner." Plus, I'm going to put up a list of some of our favs from all over, to get things rolling.