Category Archives: Richmond

Walking around Richmond: the View from Southampton Rd

In a previous post, I wrote how much I love our new neighborhood. But I lamented that I didn’t have any photos to show you as proof that this truly is a spectacularly natural and lush place to live. As promised, here’s the photo evidence…

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“Crawling” around Richmond

A few weekends ago, Christian and I were invited by our new friend and coworker, Asha, to “crawl” around the various neighborhoods of Richmond, VA, and get to know our new hometown. All three of us being Spanish teachers, we figured a Spanish-style tapeo would be the perfect way to see the city and sample the fine food and spirits of its eclectic neighborhoods.

Salud!

First stop: the Water Grill in Carytown. Like true Spaniards, we each ordered an appetizer to share. Not able to overcome the Southern gourmand in me, I ordered the fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese sauce (nom nom nom). Asha and Christian agreed upon the mussels in coconut curry broth and the lobster dumplings. Double delish!

Lobster dumplings at the Water Grill in Richmond, VA

Fried green tomatoes and Coconut curry mussels

Second stop: Sticky Rice in the Fan. When Asha discovered that Christian and I love sushi, she knew just where to take us. Apparently, she uncovered my secret love for dive bars and nostalgia for all-things-Austin. The sushi at Sticky Rice was not our favorite, but it got the job done. (We prefer Osaka on Cary St. Rd.). However, the atmosphere and the service trumped all previous restaurants Christian and I had visited. Football fans gathered around bright screens, the bar was dimly lit and musky, they had a good craft beer selection, and the place was filled with tattooed hipsters. As soon as we entered, we did a double take. Were we in Austin? Did we enter into a different time-space continuum? (To our dismay, this was not an episode of Quantum Leap).

The tapeo continues at Sticky Rice

Third (and final) stop: Kuba Kuba (also in the Fan). Stuffed with sushi and appetizers from Water Grill, we mustered up the strength to order some vino and a slice of (very rich) chocolate pie. Christian oggled plates of cuban pork and plantains that waiters were hurriedly carrying by. I loved the atmosphere. It was sort of like a 50s soda fountain meets hipster hangout, with deliriously decadent smells wafting from the kitchen window. Kuba Kuba will be a definite repeat in our future.

Kuba Kuba's atmosphere was one of a kind.

We didn’t make it to Shockoe Bottom that night. Our tapeo didn’t leave room for pizza at Bottoms Up. But there’s always next weekend…

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Richmond: First Impressions

1. It rains in Richmond! Quite a bit actually. It’s interfering with some soccer and tennis matches as of late, but we are forever grateful, having moved from a city whose water resources are severely strained to say the least. Richmond is a very green place, and we are still getting used to the leaves, the soft grass…the luxuries of nature.

2. People dress appropriate to the weather. We’re hard-pressed to find a hipster outside of the VCU campus, and he or she would never be caught dead in their skin-tight jeans in the summer time (because that’s just ridiculous Austin.)

An obnoxious Austin hipster

3. It’s even more southern than in Texas. One of my tennis team members actually asked me if we were “going to be back from our away match in time for the Cotillion party.” What’s more, Christian and I will be attending our first gala this Friday. I bought a long dress; he rented a tux. I’m hoping they don’t expect me to have a “hair-do,” because I’ll be coming straight from a tennis meet and it’s supposed to be as humid as a swamp in Georgia.

4) Starbucks is in hog heaven…and we are not. We miss local coffee shops! There’s nothing wrong with Starbucks. The staff is nice. They are quite successful at what they do. But I’m a strong coffee drinker, and my husband is a French press fiend, and Starbucks doesn’t do either of those. Also, it frustrates me that I can’t order a “small” coffee at Starbucks. Every time I ask for a small, they correct me and say “tall.” Huh? No comprendo.

6. Public radio might as well go off the air. No amount of pledge drives will save these people. All they talk about is politics (Washington, not local), and there isn’t decent music. Perhaps KUT should come out and hold a workshop on how to be a more global and more hip. I never thought I’d say it, but I miss John Aielli. Gasp!

7. Mexican food is only attainable if we’re willing to work for it. I love to cook, and I do make some mean migas. But there’s something special about rolling out of bed on a Saturday morning and being able to ask my husband about where to go get breakfast tacos. Needless to say, we’ve already planned our culinary itinerary for when we return to Texas for Thanksgiving. I think we can squeeze in at least two Mexican brunches and  one happy hour.

Thank the Lord on High for Curra's Mole

8. People are really nice here. In Richmond, even your boss invites you over for breakfast, and the Brooks Brothers sales rep writes you a thank you note. I missed an orientation meeting with the Assistant Director of the Middle School, and I asked to set a meeting to get caught up to speed. Instead of having me to her office, she invited me to her house for breakfast (my favorite meal of the day!). She actually made eggs (with all the fixin’s), coffee, fresh fruit, and bagels. I never knew work could be so scrumptious. About the Brooks Brothers bit…No joke. My husband really did receive a thank you letter from our sales rep after we bought him a new shirt and some ties for his teaching job. I know this guy just wants our business, but that’s still really nice.

9. Cab drivers double as tour guides. My brother-in-law Robert and his girlfriend Jane came to visit us recently. We took a cab downtown to the Capital Ale House for some brews and burgers. Little did we know that the real fun of the evening would not be had at the bar, but rather, on the cab ride downtown. Our driver apparently considered himself an amateur tour guide. He informed us that we lived on the “John Smith Trail” (true) and that Mr. Smith was a famous Civil War Captain (not true). Also, the Malvern Manor apartments – where Christian and I once applied to live, with other young folk – was apparently a retirement home for “old, rich doctors and lawyers” (not true). Last but not least, he had some particularly slandering things to say about the Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Ave and what “it had done to our Confederate history.” That was the last time we called for a cab in Richmond.

The Arthur Ashe Statue on Monument Ave in Richmond, VA

10. We managed to slip under the radar and gain access to the “Beverly Hills” of Richmond without having to undergo genetic testing or show proof of income. We live in the most gorgeous neighborhood right along the James River bank, which is lined with impressive homes. We happen to rent and are blessed with a little yard, a fire pit, two bedrooms and two baths! Our neighborhood has tall trees that are very green. Quite a change from Austin. We are so happy here!

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Hurricane Irene: The View from Richmond, VA

Last night hurricane Irene paid us a visit. She was not a happy camper. We’ve been out of power since 4:00pm on 8/27/11, and it looks like it’s going to stay that way for several days (if not weeks). I’m writing this post from the cafe of the grocery store down the block from our house. They are running on backup power – no cold or hot food, but they do have coffee, water, and dried goods. Needless to say, the line for coffee is about 20 people deep! Christian and I just moved from Austin, TX – a part of the world suffering from severe drought – to Richmond, VA where we were welcomed with an earthquake and a hurricane (both firsts, for me). Life’s been colorful lately!

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