Epicurean Charlotte

Food & Wine Magazine


Well-rounded Richmond

by Zenda Douglas
images courtesy Richmond Region Tourism and VisitRichmondVA

Richmond, Virginia, is located 98 miles south of Washington, D.C., by the James River, and between the Virginia coastline and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Interstate highways I-95 and I-64 intersect here for easy access. It’s easy to get into and easy to get back out, but you’ll definitely want to spend as much time as possible in between.

The only ambivalence visitors to Richmond may experience is in deciding if this intriguing city is a college town or an arts community, a foodie hot spot or a sports center, a historic site or a hub of government. It won’t take long to figure out that it’s all of these things and so much more.

A ride on the Historic RVA Trolley Tour will help visitors gain their bearings. Meet the trolley at the Richmond Region Visitors Center to begin a two-hour guided tour showcasing the riverfront, architecture, historical sites, and many of the popular landmarks throughout one of America’s oldest cities.

See a grand view of the city from Libby Hill Park, where, in 1737, William Byrd II was inspired to give Richmond its name because of the striking similarity to the views of Richmond on the Thames in England. The fabric of Richmond is interwoven with history that dates back to Pre-Revolution times. This vantage point offers a breathtaking and impressive view of the city, the James River, and neighboring regions.

Another great view of the city skyline is available from the Virginia War Memorial, now a major education center whose goal is to honor military veterans by passing their stories of sacrifice on the future generations. The Memorial’s Virginians at War series of documentary videos, narrated by Virginia veterans, can be seen in the Memorial’s theater. Unique artifacts are on display in exhibits situated throughout the Center’s galleries. The Shrine of Memory contains the engraved names of 11,639 Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice during the 20th century. The statue, Memory, sits at the southern end of the Shrine along with the Torch of Liberty, an eternal flame. A large outdoor amphitheater overlooking the James River is the perfect venue for concerts and ceremonies.

Fortunate visitors will get settled in downtown at The Jefferson Hotel, truly one of America’s grand hotels. Its breathtaking architecture and elegant décor will impress the most discerning guests, but most memorable of all is the completely genuine, friendly, and helpful service. For more than a century, The Jefferson Hotel has provided visitors to the Richmond region with an extraordinary travel experience. Guests will be immersed in luxury, from the fine art exhibited throughout the hotel to state-of-the-art amenities.

In March 2013, The Jefferson Hotel began a three-phase reconstruction project. The hotel’s 262 guest rooms were quietly transformed into 181 spacious new rooms and suites, featuring entry foyers, dressing areas, and luxurious new marbled baths. Centrally located in the heart of downtown, The Jefferson Hotel is just blocks from the state capital, historic Shockoe Slip, the Richmond Convention Center, and Richmond’s financial district. Visitors to Richmond not staying at the hotel are equally welcome to enjoy the Palm Court, Rotunda, History Room, and restaurants of the hotel. Indulge in the Sunday Champagne Brunch at Lemaire, and upscale casual fare at TJ’s. Whenever possible, local produce, naturally-raised meats, and sustainably-harvested seafood are featured in the globally-influenced Southern cuisine.

Holding more than 5,000 years of art from around the world, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is worthy of top billing on visitor itineraries. The airy interior is home to 33,000 works of art comprising the Museum’s permanent collection. Coming up in May 2017 is the Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style exhibit. Look forward to seeing Hear My Voice: Native American Art from the Past and Present exhibit coming in August 2017. Marvel at history on Monument Avenue.

Cultivated on land that was once Powhatan Indian hunting ground, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden offers 40 acres of spectacular gardens and a one-of-a-kind classical domed Conservatory housing more than a dozen themed gardens. Gardens include a Children’s Garden, Healing Garden, Sunken Garden, Victorian Garden, and a Rose Garden with more than 80 varieties. Get up close and personal at Butterflies LIVE! as hundreds of tropical butterflies feed, flutter, and take flight all around you. Visitors can explore the origins, preferred habitats, and lifecycles of butterflies.

Continue in the gardening spirit by visiting Maymont. Stroll through acres of magnificent gardens including a Japanese, Italian, and Victorian garden, among many beautiful others. Maymont, an elaborate Gilded Age estate on a site high above the James River, was built in 1893 by James and Sallie Dooley. Upon their deaths, the property, which included its architectural complex, the 100-acre landscape, and a collection of exquisite furnishings, was gifted to the people of Richmond. Travelers can explore natural-setting wildlife habitats and the Children’s Farm and Nature Center.

Maymont Mansion, the gardens and historic artifacts have been lovingly restored to look much as they did when the Dooleys called it home.

Get your awe on at the Science Museum of Virginia, where hundreds of experiential exhibits await your participation. Become mesmerized in the Dome Theater, with a Digistar 5 full dome 3D system—the largest screen in Virginia. The Science Museum of Virginia presents dynamic programming to hundreds of thousands of guests each year. The Museum features permanent exhibitions about space, health, electricity, and the earth, as well as hosts visiting exhibitions from around the world. Spend time in the “Boost!” exhibition, where the exhibit challenges and inspires visitors.

The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar is unique in that it’s the nation’s first museum to interpret the war through three interwoven perspectives: Union, Confederate, and African-American. Expected in late 2018, a new building at Tredegar will combine the Center’s collections with those of the Museum of the Confederacy.

Opened in 1922, in The Old Stone House, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum is only blocks away from Poe’s first Richmond home and his first place of employment, the Southern Literary Messenger.

Richmond’s Poe Museum boasts the world’s finest collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia, and personal belongings. The Poe Museum provides a retreat into early nineteenth century Richmond where Poe lived and worked. The museum features the life and career of Edgar Allan Poe by documenting his accomplishments with pictures, relics, and verse, and focusing on his many years in Richmond.

In most places, visitors tread a bit out of town to take advantage of water sports. Here, rafters and kayakers glide and maneuver right through downtown. Richmond also has the only class III and IV urban rapids in the entire country, and the mighty James River is available for swimming.

Moving around the city, visitors will get acquainted with the neighborhoods that make up Richmond. Tour the numerous neighborhoods including Carytown, which contains Richmond’s eclectic nine-block “Mile of Style;” the Fan District; Jackson Ward; Church Hill, and Shockoe Slip. The blocks along Cary Street (in Carytown) are lined with unique boutiques, restaurants, and specialty shops. The Church Hill neighborhood stands out with new restaurants such as The Roosevelt and Dutch and Co., and is also carving out a niche
as the bakery district.

Repast in Richmond

Indeed, eating through Richmond is delightful, adventurous, and completely satisfying.

Enjoy lunch or dinner at The Daily Kitchen & Bar, which strives to serve foods that are not only delicious, but also health conscious, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible. The restaurant uses organic, all natural, local, and sustainable ingredients
as much as possible. It also offers an extensive selection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free items. The Daily Kitchen & Bar hosts a large menu of items that include butter croissants, tofu omelets, rare tuna salad, blackened mahi, BBQ tofu sandwiches, fava bean bruschetta, lump crab stacks, Angus beef burgers, tuna banh mi sandwiches, and chicken paninis.

Bistro 27 is a lively European bistro with floor-to-ceiling, wrap around windows and airy 20-foot ceilings. It offers a stylish dining experience. The eclectic menu shows a contemporary take on European classics with a carefully-chosen wine list that ranges from inexpensive, little-known gems to world-class award winners. Try the Lamb Osso Bucco, five-hour braised lamb shank served in a rich demi sauce with polenta and vegetable, or the Pan Seared Sea Scallops with tomato, garlic, and pine nuts served with citrus butter sauce, risotto, and vegetable.

Lucy’s Restaurant is situated in the revitalizing Jackson Ward neighborhood. A small restaurant seating only 40 diners, Lucy’s offers daily specials, a full complement bar, wine by the glass or bottle, and draft or bottled beer. The duck breast—pan-seared duck breast with an apricot glaze over a sauté of farro, scallion, baby greens, and Sausage Craft chorizo—may well tempt you. Here, diners can find Non “Spaghetti & Meatballs,” which is made up of artichoke, spinach, and avocado meatballs served over sautéed spaghetti squash, with caramelized onion pomodoro sauce and grated parmesan.

Since its opening, Heritage has garnered numerous accolades including: Richmond Magazine’s Chef & Restaurant of the Year Elbys 2015; StarChef.com Rising Star Winner 2014 Washington DC area; Southern Living’s 100 Best Restaurants in the South 2014; and Richmond Magazine’s Best New Restaurant 2013. While awards say a lot, serious diners will want to experience it all for themselves. Get things started with a lovely housemade charcuterie with smoked guanciale, shoyu coppa, pork rillette, pancetta, mustards, jam, chutney, and toast. Choose between small, medium, and large plates with dishes such as kale gnocchetti with shrimp, andouille sausage, broccolini, red sauce, and Parmesan, or local rockfish with fresh garbanzo beans, fingerling potatoes, preserved lemon, and peanut romesco sauce.

North Carolina’s Outer Banks: A Destination Any Time of Year

by Sara Kendall
images courtesy Sara Kendall and Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Spanning over 200 miles in a string of narrow barrier islands, the Outer Banks is an ocean haven anytime of the year. The locals refer to them as OBX, and millions of people make these islands their vacation destination. Looking to book a winter retreat or plan next summer’s getaway? The Outer Banks is a fabulous choice no matter the time of year you decide to venture to the ocean breezes.

Seaside Activities

Steady winds and tall sand dunes brought Wilbur and Orville Wright to the Outer Banks, helping them achieve their dream of flight. Stop by the Outer Banks’ most popular attraction, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, to explore a small museum, walk the grounds, and stand where these famous brothers took their first flight.

Step into the visitor’s center to see how the Wright Brothers dramatically changed our world. Examine replicas of their flyers and see actual tools and machines used by the brothers. On the grounds, kids can climb onto a life-sized sculpture of the first flight, which provides a great photo opportunity.

Feel the spirit of the Wright Brothers by taking flight in a hang glider over Jockey’s Ridge State Park, which encompasses 426 acres with the tallest and largest natural sand dune on the East Coast. Go fly a kite, hike around on two self-guided trails, and picnic to refuel from your day’s activities. A 360-foot boardwalk provides guests a shorter walk without getting all sandy.

Built in 1870 using North Carolina bricks and granite, Hatteras Lighthouse, with its characteristic black and white swirls, has remained an iconic symbol of the Outer Banks and the State of North Carolina. As the tallest brick lighthouse in North America, it will take you 257 steps, the equivalent of a 12-story building, to reach the top. You’ll need to pace yourself and take breaks on the landings, but visiting this piece of North Carolina history coupled with the view is well worth it.

In 1999, for fear of losing it to the encroaching rise of the ocean, the lighthouse was moved from its original location. Now, it stands 1,500 feet from the waves, which is the original distance it stood when opened back in 1870. Once you reach the top, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the path of this historic move. Consider a full moon night climb during the summer season. It’s the same ticket price as a regular climb, just be sure to sign up sooner than later.

Have you always wanted to learn how to sail? Then you’ve come to the right place. Stop by and talk to Jon Britt, owner of Nor’ Banks Sailing & Watersports. They focus more on sailing than other outfits in the Outer Banks, and you can sign up for a personalized private
lesson with one of their pros. Experienced sailors can even take one of their sailing vessels out for a day on the water.

For vacationers looking for some high-octane fun, then jump on a jet ski, soar in the sky with a parasail, or hit the waves on water skis. An excellent way to give the whole family a fun time on the water is tubing—hop in an inner tube, with handles of course, and hand on while a boat pulls you through the water at top speed for an exciting ride.

Never tried kiteboarding or unsure what this sport is all about? Kiteboarders use the power of the wind with a kite to propel them across the water on a kiteboard, which is similar to a wakeboard or surfboard. As Christopher Nygard, Wind & Waves Concierge at Waves Village Watersports Resort says, “Right here are the best kiteboarding conditions in the world due to the consistent winds and shallow sounds.” The shallow waters extend a quarter mile out, so Rodanthe is the perfect opportunity to try this sport.

Is riding a horse on the beach on your bucket list? If it is, this is the place to check this particular adventure off your list. Take a ride to the beach with Equine Adventures; your ride will even start with an hour jaunt through the only Maritime Forest in the Outer Banks. You’ll then pass over a series of sand dunes to reach the most desired location, the beach.

As your horse makes its way to the sandy shores, your destination will beckon you with a cool ocean breeze. Once there, you’ll have an unforgettable experience that will likely become a favorite memory of your Outer Banks vacation.

If you’ve gotten too much sun or a rainy day has you down, then head over to Studio 12 for some creative fun. Paint pottery, create a mosaic, or make a glass fusion wave sun catcher—one of the most popular items to make. Just look in one of the jewelry display cases and decide which piece you would like to make. The friendly staff will assist you in any of your creative endeavors.

Tucked into the Roanoke Sound, Bodie Lighthouse is the black and white candy striped lighthouse that stands alongside the lighthouse keeper’s quarters. Built in 1872 with bricks leftover from the Hatteras Lighthouse construction, this lighthouse still uses it’s original Fresnel lens from Paris.

After 219 steps and eight landings, you’ll reach the observation platform at the top. Catch your breath as you gaze over coastal landscapes. Only 12 people are allowed up every 15 minutes, so be mindful of your time.

Lodging Choices
Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Currituck Sound, the Sanderling Resort in Duck offers oceanfront luxury, first-class amenities, and stunning seascapes. Most guests stay in one of their 120 beautiful guest rooms and suites. But, for more space, choose from their five vacation homes, the largest with six bedrooms.

The resort’s beach is a stunning attraction, but don’t miss these other activities. Surfing, kayaking, or standup paddle boarding can be found at the Kitty Hawk Kites kiosk, located beachside at the resort. Off-site activities like seeing wild horses in the Corolla Outback or taking to the sky by parasail can be arranged through the resort’s concierge.

An experience everyone should have is an underwater photography shoot in one of the Sanderling pools by Brooke Mayo Photographers. You and your loved ones will have stunning photographs sure to become amazing family keepsakes.

Hatteras Island’s Waves Village Resort’s cheerful, pastel-colored condos are perfectly situated on the Pamlico Sound. An ideal location for vacationers, the resort offers the best wind and watersports available on the Outer Banks, stunning sound front views, kiteboarding action by day, and beautiful sunsets by night.

Settle into one of the newly-built three-bedroom, three-bath condos. Each one has 1,600 square feet of living space, plenty of room to accommodate your family for a vacation. Gourmet kitchens, broad private balconies, and bubbling hot tubs are nice perks in each unit, with WiFi available throughout the community.

For a more intimate lodging experience, try The Inn on Pamlico Sound in Buxton. With just 12 rooms, this boutique hotel may be small, but its reputation is huge and growing. Steve Nelson, the owner says, “I haven’t spent a dime on marketing and 60 percent of my business comes from repeat guests and word of mouth.” His philosophy is, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay. He listens to his customers and makes changes accordingly. His business philosophy has obviously worked for him as his reservations are strong and steady.

There are three different choices of rooms, from premium sound views to intimate garden views. Each room has a private bath, high speed Internet, and televisions with DVD players. Children are welcomed, but they must be well-behaved children 8-years-old and up.

Your day starts with a complimentary, three-course gourmet breakfast. For the rest of your day, go kayaking, standup paddle boarding, or grab a bike for a ride. These amenities are all provided free of charge! Or, you can spend your time relaxing by their beautiful pool. When hunger strikes, fuel up on baked goods, stocked beverage refrigerators, and snack baskets located throughout the inn. Make sure to save some room to indulge in a gourmet dinner at their fine dining restaurant, located onsite.

Follow the Locals for Fine Fare

‘Follow the locals’ is good advice. In Kitty Hawk, you’ll find the locals hanging out at Trio, where the specialties are wine, beer, and cheese. When you walk in the door, don’t be confused by the half bistro and half retail store, just head towards the right to find the bistro.

Owner Kenny Hyman says, “We wanted to create a unique experience in a very social setting with knowledgeable staff.” I believe their vision has created a comfortable place where you’ll find the staff taking care of you and not rushing you out the door—a refreshing way to be treated in a restaurant setting.

Start off your experience here with a trip to the wine station, where you can try one or more of their 24 chilled wines by taste, half, or full glass. It’s a great way to sample a few before enjoying a full glass of your favorite. If craft beer is more your speed, then choose one from their 24 rotating taps. Order a specialty cheese appetizer, antipasti plate, or a yummy panini.

On the soundside of Sanderling Resort, Kimball’s Kitchen is an exquisite dining experience, but jackets are not required. It’s an elegant coastal establishment serving first class entrées made from the best local and organic ingredients. Kimball’s Kitchen is a premier restaurant featuring Kobe steak, oysters, and the freshest seafood around.

The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday, and they bring you the same great team every night, by design. Since the staff works every meal, you can have your favorite server anytime you decide to dine here. They’re open from May to October.

Located at The Inn on Pamlico Sound, Café Pamlico is a casual fine dining restaurant serving expertly prepared gourmet cuisine. This restaurant has received numerous top accolades, so make your reservations well in advance. Committed to local sources, the menu is constantly changing based on the availability of fish, meat, and produce. Café Pamlico grows up to 55 organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables onsite, doing their part to keep it local. This concept pairs the best ingredients with a skilled culinary staff, bringing what could arguably be one of the finest meals during your stay on the Outer Banks.

Don’t miss a meal at Red Sky Café in Duck, a place where diners get creative healthy meals sure to please everyone. Chef Wes Stepp has created a new concept of ‘Tastefully Fit,’ where he takes classic recipes, takes out the fat, and incorporates healthy ingredients to make meals healthier and tastier.

Many travelers have created a tradition by making a stop at Duck Donuts while on their vacation. Follow in their delicious footsteps with made-to-order donuts. Choose from a variety of icings like orange or chocolate, and then add chopped peanuts, coconut, rainbow sprinkles, and more! A popular favorite is a maple-coated donut topped with bacon. Have a cup of their freshly-brewed coffee to go along with your warm donuts, and don’t forget to take a couple with you for a sweet treat later in the day!