While I was out at dinner on Wednesday night with my friend, she asked if we had any plans for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. I told her that we were planning to go to Virginia and would be based in Richmond, the capital.
“Why?” she asked me, puzzled.
“Why not?” I responded, grinning.
It’s less than an hour’s flight from New York. Richmond may not be a tier 1 tourist city in the U.S., but it is the capital city of Virginia. Virginia has lots of history as one of the 13 original colonies of the United States. It is the land of Thomas Jefferson’s home, the Monticello, and is also known for fresh local seafood. There are also plenty of farms and outdoorsy activities we could do there. Granted, I told her I didn’t book this trip, as Chris did, but to me, every place is worth exploring, even if only for a little while.
The first thing that surprised me about Richmond was… well, I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me given we are living in high inflation times, but the prices! They were high! Eating out was like eating out in New York in terms of the prices we were seeing. Our first meal was at a Vietnamese restaurant, and all our dishes cost at least $15-16 each, with $6 drinks. The cost of pastries and coffee were also like New York, at anywhere from $4-8 each. And of course, the expected percentage of tipping is always going to be the same.
After our lunch today, we wandered around a small ethnic strip mall, picked up some lychees (to satisfy the Pookster) and kunefe, and then went to explore Carytown, a fun neighborhood with lots of interesting street murals, restaurants, and cafes. I was excited to see my very first brick and mortar shop of Jeni’s Ice Cream, which I’d had before and had heard endless raves about, but had never seen in person. There, we got coffee with cream and sugar, as well as wildberry (black currant) lavender, both of which were delicious. We ran into Torchy’s Tacos, which we ate 12 years ago on our visit to Austin, Texas. I had no idea that they expanded east! We got a taco from there, and somehow they messed up our order and brought us two. That ended up meaning we shared one taco as a snack, then let Pookster eat her own when she got hungry a little later. And what may have been most exciting during our walk down the main street: I finally got to experience the brick and mortar fun of Penzey’s, the infamous spice company that is so loved and cherished by cooks around the country! I always thought they were an online only company, but clearly, they have a lot of shops throughout the U.S., just not in New York or San Francisco. I picked up some very fresh, complex scented fennel seeds here.
We also stopped by a local brewery / urban winery on the main drag of Carytown and shared a flight of three honey wines and one white wine They were all delicious, but one in particular was a standout to me: it was called Kitsu, which was a blood peach honey wine with hints of yuzu and jasmine, then drenched in fresh citrus, blood orange, with more notes of tart cherry, raspberry, and yuzu. It was absolutely delicious! Chris was making fun of me regarding how quickly I finished it!
Virginia has its own delicious local produce, farms, seafood, meat, beer, and wine. It’s nice to explore and taste all these things during our travels, and also to get Pookster traveling and seeing all these different parts of the country where she was born.