One of the perks of being a freelance writer is meeting interesting people and sometimes if you are lucky, meeting those people in a food related setting. Today was one of those days for me.
It started out at Paradox Pastry in Charlottesville when I had the good fortune to meet an inspiration in the form of Jenny Peterson, owner and operator. Jenny is the consumate hostess so she poured me a delicious cup of steaming coffee (decaf for those of you who know about me and caffein) upon my arrival then insisted that I try a big fat slice of her famous gluten free almond cake. Jenny trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and it shows. This cake was super moist and European in style meaning yummy but less sweet than typical American cakes and pastries. Part of her vision for Paradox is to have a gathering place for people to talk face to face and relate to each other over some good food. She has been in the business of health as a personal trainer for many years and understands the relationship between what we put in our bodies and how that dictates our overall health. So ingredients are fresh and good. One could argue the health consciousness of a chocolate croissant but hey, they eat them in France and the French are significantly healthier than Americans. Perhaps it is less about what one eats than the quality of the food and the stress levels we allow in our lives?
Which brings me to my next stop of the day…
Lehja in the Short Pump Town Center where I met the delightful Dr. Dilip Sarkar to chat about how his yogic lifestyle is eradicating his heart disease. (Is that a grammatically correct statement?) Dr. Sarkar eats an Ayurvedic diet and loves to lunch at Lehja when he is in the Richmond area (he is from Norfolk) where the chef combines the best of Indian cuisine with a healthful twist. They will only serve fried foods upon request, they use grape seed oil and make their own light dressings.
Dr. Sarkar is a regular customer- between you and me I think he looks for excuses to come to Richmond to eat there- so Sunny, one of the owners, just brought out dishes for us to eat, a custom menu, of sorts.
Here is the the salad created with fresh greens, pomegranate seeds, apples, tomatoes:
This salad had a delightful crunch to it with an autumnal flair via the apple slices. The combination of fruits and veggies made it appealing to all the senses and the grape seed dressing with a dash of soy provided a salty zest to the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds
Kerala Style Seafood Curry: Seafood Medley Prepared In Kerala Style Curry Sauce, Basmati Rice which was fabulous!!!
This fish dish featured salmon and prawns in a coconut curry sauce that was divine with the garlic nan bread Sunny brought out to go with it. According to Sunny, this dish was voted one of the best fish dishes in town by Richmond Magazine.
A second salmon dish, Tandori Salmon Tikka Swerved with Afwaini asparagus and greens, boasted perfectly grilled salmon hunks with grilled veggies served on a banana leaf. The salmon was moist and flaky and melted in the mouth – just the way I like it.
The dessert was homemade Indian pistachio ice cream called Kulfi served with a plum colored Indian donut called Gulab jamun. The garnish was cumin – mocha paint spoon smeared on the plate a la “Chopped”.
The final leg of Foodie Thursday took me back to Charlottesville where the fabulous Sigrid Eilertson hosted a benefit for the Food Bank at Firefish Gallery featuring the artwork of artist, Ellie Frantzen van Beuren (see her stuff on 2bkinder.com). Ellie makes fabulously fun beaded necklaces with cool accent chachkies like Buddha heads and peace signs embedded with colored rhinestones. She also knits cool hats boasting a signature plastic shiny star emblem sewn on the front and creates totally cool art on her iPad then has it printed up on the canvas size of your choice. Admission to the event was canned goods ro $10.00 and part of the proceeds of the arts sales went to Feed More of Central Virginia. A dinner of homemade barbecue (Ellie made) and Beef Stew (Sigrid made) with cheese, bread, crackers, fruit and cheesecake was available for guests.
Here are some pics:
The thread of the day was food and its relationship to health. Eating the right foods and surrounding that food consumption with friends and family. Sounds like a great idea.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving!