food

Restaurant Review: Travinia Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar

Last weekend, I got together with a few friends for lunch. It’s been a few months since our last get-together, so I was ready for some time with the ‘gang’.

We decided on Travinia Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar, since they appeared to have a little something for everyone. The restaurant is conveniently located right off of Interstate 64 West in Henrico County, Virginia. I’m glad that this one is so close to my home because, while the chain has a few other locations, most of them are over one hour from my home.

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The restaurant describes itself as contemporary Italian food, and I’d have to agree. There wasn’t an abundance of traditional Italian dishes on the menu, but what I did notice was a focus on giving a fresh take on an otherwise simple dish. I ended up trying the zucchini frite (fried zucchini slices) and the shrimp messina with a side of Brussels sprouts.

Travinia’s Shrimp Messina

Both dishes were tasty albeit not strikingly unique. The flavors were good and, while the restaurant puts a new spin on traditional Italian cuisine, they don’t stray so far away from the standard seasonings and flavors that the food doesn’t fit the Italian flavor profile. I appreciate the adherence to tradition while still injecting creativity into the dishes. Good job, Travinia, for walking a thin line and doing it well!

I would return to the restaurant, though I’d probably choose to go in the evening as opposed to lunchtime. I’m curious about the wine list and I generally prefer pairing wine with dinner over pairing it with lunches. It’ll be nice to see how the after-five crowd differs from the lunch crew.

That’s all for my quick review of Travinia. I have to get back to my writing (NaNoWriMo calls!) so that’s it for today. Talk to you all tomorrow.

food

NuVegan is Coming to RVA!

I am beyond excited to share this news with you all! One of my favorite vegan restaurant, NuVegan Cafe (formerly Woodlands Vegan Bistro) of Washington, D.C., is opening a restaurant in my hometown of Richmond, VA! I spend a lot of time bouncing around in the Midatlantic region but when I’m home, I am always eager to try new vegetarian options. This technically isn’t new to me – I’ve been enjoying NuVegan for at least 4 years – but I’ve always had to be in either D.C. or Maryland if I wanted their food. Having the restaurant so close to home is going to really have me spoiled!

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The Richmond location will be opening on June 30, 2018. Part of me wants to attend the grand opening . . . The other part of me is pure introvert and would rather avoid any potential crowds! We’ll see how I’m feeling on June 30th and if I’m feeling up to it, I’ll make a special stop to check out the restaurant.

vegetables

Plant-based foods are awesome!

If you want more information about NuVegan Cafe in Richmond, VA, be sure to follow the NuVegan Cafe Richmond Twitter page @NuVeganRichmond.

Have any of you eaten at NuVegan yet? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below!

life curation

This Month’s Plans

Can you all believe that June is here already?! My mind is blown by how quickly this year is moving along! I’m really pleased at how I’ve been progressing with my goals and I’m excited about what I’m envisioning for the rest of this year.

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This month will have a lot of activity, both on this blog as well as on my social media accounts (Twitter and Instagram – feel free to follow me if you haven’t already!) Over here, I’ll be bringing more information about visual arts, self-improvement, and creating/curating a quality lifestyle. On Twitter, you can see all of the latest art and culture happenings for Washington, DC and Richmond, VA (two of my stomping grounds). Check out Instagram for daily photos recapping some of my daily shenanigans, as well as a special series highlighting incredible artists that are showcasing their work on Insta.

I’ll also be posting a goal update at the end of this month. Yes, I’ve been working on those goals! And I finally updated this website to show my goals on the righthand column of the page. Yes, overdue, but better late than never, right?

 

festivals · international

It’s Officially Festival Season!

April is such a bittersweet month for me. It’s when spring really starts to kick into gear, and my allergies get assaulted to the nth degree. It’s also still cold and rainy enough to make quite a few days less than ideal.

However, there is a lot to love about April. For starters, it isn’t as cold as the winter months! And, it signals the beginning of festival season in Richmond and DC. And there’s nothing I love more than to be able to pick and choose the festivals that I want to attend!

There are so many festivals that have caught my eye: I’m having a hard time picking a few to mention here. But, as best I can, here are some of the events I look forward to attending during the first two months of this festival season:

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Richmond French Food Festival – Food, wine, music, and supporting a good cause: the French Food Festival has to be one of my favorite hometown events to attend. I went several years ago and enjoyed the dishes, the can-can dancers, and the vendors offering all sorts of delightful objets d’art. This one will be a lot of fun!

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Strawberry and Wine Festival – this festival combines two of my favorite things: wine and strawberries! It’s wholesome fun for the entire family, with treats, music and activities for all. This year will be my first time going, and I’m really excited to experience this festival!

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Passport DC – various embassies in Washington, DC open their doors for a once-a-year event that allows visitors to tour the embassy offices and ambassador residences. I wrote about my visit to the Haitian embassy during Passport DC last year. Visitors can talk to embassy staff and get to experience a slice of the countries participating. This free event draws a lot of people, but if you are willing to brave the crowds, you will be rewarded!

Do you have any festivals that you love to attend? Let me know in the comments below: I’d love to hear about them!

food · international

Review: Anokha Indian Restaurant

Last week, I returned to a restaurant that I’ve visited but never reviewed. Anokha is a small but charming restaurant located in the Short Pump area of Richmond, Virginia. The restaurant specializes in Indian cuisine with an upscale twist.

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As an ethnic (international) food fanatic, I find myself constantly on the hunt for new restaurants to get my “fix”. While I tried Anokha one day during my lunch break, I was eager to try it again to make sure that it was as good as I recall.

I’m pleased to say that my memory didn’t fail me: Anokha’s food is outstanding and worth the visit.

I tried the Shrimp Koliwada as my appetizer, the Crabmeat Curry as my entree, and the regular and peshwari naan. Here are the photos of my Indian feast!

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Shrimp Koliwada (I was starving, I had to eat one before I took the pic!)

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Crabmeat Curry (you can even see my cousin’s hand in this photo: for once, I wasn’t dining alone! And she ordered the crabmeat curry, too)

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Naan (regular and peshwari: the peshwari naan has the reddish hues)

The restaurants describes the shrimp koliwada as, “Jumbo Shrimp in a Konkan Style Spiced Batter”. The end result was crisp in the best possible way, and the chutney was a nice, spicy garnish for the dish. The fresh slaw was a delicious flavor counterpoint for the tasty fried shrimp.

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Closer pic of the crabmeat curry

The crabmeat curry was everything a good curry should be: hearty, creamy, spicy, but full of fresh ingredients and flavors. The portion was so generous: I had enough for lunch on the next day. The restaurant really impressed me with the crabmeat in this dish: they used real lump crabmeat, and lots of it. This was well worth the price.

The naan was freshly toasted and buttery. The only drawback was that the peshwari naan didn’t have as much coconut and dried fruit as I expected. However, I like the more sparse fruit/coconut: it makes it a more suitable as a dipping bread for the main entree (I usually save my peshwari naan for dessert).

Anokha is located at 4015 Lauderdale Dr, on the opposite side of the street from Short Pump Mall. This gem is a hidden treasure: part of me wants to see them grow exponentially, and the selfish part of me wants to keep it all to myself!

culture · international

An Unforgettable Army

A few days ago, I got to return to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to spend some time with the exhibits. When I found out that the museum was featuring statues from the world famous terracotta army (the 8,000 Chinese sculptures created to accompany China’s first emperor in the afterlife), I knew I couldn’t miss it.  The exhibit, Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China, appealed to my love of Asian art and history. Since I didn’t see any of the terracotta soldiers during my trip to China in 2016, this exhibit was the perfect chance to glimpse into the first Chinese empire.

You all may recall a few months ago I visited VMFA to see the Yves St. Laurent exhibit. I felt awful about only going once: I wish I had visited several times before the exhibit left.

I learned my lesson well. I gave myself enough time to see this exhibit more than once.

Just as a heads up: this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit. VMFA states, “More than 40 objects in the exhibition have never before been on view in the United States.  Terracotta Army is the first exhibition the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has presented in its 80-year history that is devoted to the art and archaeology of ancient China.”

If you can’t make it to see the artifacts in person, never fear! I took LOTS of pictures. I can’t promise that you’ll feel like you were there, but at least you can imagine . . . First, the small artifacts and information posted throughout the exhibit:

And now, the soliders (I’ll share 5 of them in this post):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was awestruck by the artifacts and am so happy that I get to share them with you all. The true treasure, however, is the HISTORY behind each artifact. The Qin Dynasty was revolutionary and set all of the groundwork for Chinese unification. It’s amazing how much Qin Shihuang accomplished during his less than 50 years on earth.

Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China will be at VMFA until March 11, 2018. I implore you to go if at all possible: you won’t be disappointed!

food

Review: For the Love of Chocolate

During my last Carytown excursion, I went to Xtras Cafe and tried the delicious crabcake entree. However, the trip wasn’t just for the sake of trying a new meal. I wanted to also get some candy from my favorite chocolate shop, For the Love of Chocolate.

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The shop is small but packed with delicious options. I’m always impressed with the variety of chocolates and high quality service. The only downside of the shop is that they don’t have online shopping capabilities.

This trip, I focused on truffles. And boy were they delicious!

When I get a little more time, I’ll do a more in-depth review of specific truffles and other chocolates available there. In the meantime, check out the mint chocolate truffle that I enjoyed.

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Have any of you been to this chocolate shop? If not, it’s worth a trip! It’s located at 3136 West Cary Street, in Richmond, VA. I’ll see you there!