it’s little wonder: boboko indonesian cafe.

burgimg_7028You might not even know it’s there if not for the glorious smells emanating from it. Or the zillions of people who will recommend you go there. This article is one such recommendation. GO THERE.

I’m referring to one of Harrisonburg’s newest eateries — BoBoKo Indonesian Cafe. This tiny, 20-person capacity restaurant sits right up the ramp from Pure Eats in the Ice House Building. But don’t let the size fool you: this place comes with a grand reputation.

For starters, BoBoKo’s Chef Ridwan opened the restaurant after winning the What’s Cooking Concept Plan Competition through the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center. Born and raised in Indonesia, Ridwan has been cooking since childhood. And he insists on using Shenandoah Valley Organic Chicken, fresh veggies and herbs from the Harrisonburg Famers’ Market, and local no-spray produce from Wayside Produce. Experience + talent + passion for the local community and environment = a recipe for success!

The place, though small, is warm and comfortable. Wicker chairs, wooden tables, Indonesian art, and classical music create the feeling of an intimate dinner party.

burgimg_7031 burgimg_7035Okay, on to the foooooooood.

The four of us ordered a nice variety. We started with green pomegranate tea (they also have black and jasmine) and two appetizers: the Tempeh Teriyaki Summer Rolls and the Spring Rolls Fusion, which contain spinach, goat cheese, apples, and golden raisins! Next was a tummy-warming Roasted Tomato and Butternut Squash Curry soup.

burgimg_7045 burgimg_7046 burgimg_7057For dinner we enjoyed the Chicken Rendang (slow-cooked chicken), which was slightly sweet because of the coconut milk, served with steamed rice, mixed vegetables, and Indonesian crackers. On the tangy side, we loved the Indonesian “Street Food” Chicken fried rice (nasi goreng ayam), topped with fried egg and served with chicken satay, Javanese pickled cucumber, and carrot/acar timun and Indonesian crackers. The Beef Rendang sandwich is melt-in-your-mouth good and comes with a salad or soup.

burgimg_7064 burgimg_7070 burgimg_7076 burgimg_7079For dessert, we tried the Banana-Nutella Spring Roll (OMG) and the Mango Ginger Nutella Spring Roll (get outta here!). BoBoKo also offers French Macarons because of Chef Ridwan’s passion for the French delicacy he developed while in Paris.

burgimg_7083 burgimg_7086Now, don’t let the limited space keep you from going. If BoBoKo happens to be full when you arrive, you can get your order to go and take it to one of Harrisonburg’s FOUR breweries! I can see this becoming part of my routine soon. That street chicken — DANG.

burgimg_7080Open every day except Tuesday, Boboko Indonesian Cafe is located at 217 S Liberty Street in Harrisonburg and can be reached at (540) 434-3542. See you out and about!

Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

center fold: dj hyfi and the center.

burgIMG_2999I retired from distance running not long following the birth of my son. After 20+ years of high mileage, my body finally started to rebel: my hips got wonky, I developed a bum knee, my hamstrings would tie themselves in knots over nothing…  even my feet are… well, they’re just disgusting. Even with all these reminders of my physical limitations, I still think of myself as some  25-year-old running phenom (ha), dive headlong into new exercise programs or physical challenges (such as carrying a few dozen 40-pound bags of stone up and down the hill in my backyard), and then find myself arrogantly surprised when I get tired, or my muscles (ha) start shaking, or I’m too sore to even lie down the next day.

Thank goodness for yoga. I mean it. One, it can be as challenging as you need it to be. If you’re an elite athlete and think everything’s too easy for you, there’s a yoga for you. If you’re a beginner who needs to work on balance and flexibility, there’s a yoga for you. Two, if you tend to be a stress ball all day and need to be emotionally untangled, there’s a yoga for you. Three, if you’re an old washed up athlete who struggles to do any kind of exercise, there’s a yoga for you.

And now, if you love yoga but also love electronic music, there’s a yoga for you! Yep. Brandy, Ella, and I, along with about twenty-five other folks, recently attended a 90-minute (!!!) yoga class with a DJ, the Friday Night Live: Cool Music, Groovy Yoga class AND happy hour at The Center.

burgIMG_2933The DJ arranged his sound and light equipment at the front of the yoga studio; as we all filed in and placed our mats on the floor, I felt like I had a little subwoofer in my chest. I worried for a few minutes that the music would be too loud, but before long, the movements and the sound fused together in a way that connected all the senses. The music was so much a part of us and our movements that it seemed to both predict what we were doing and respond to it, simultaneously. I lost all track of time. It was a RAVE of relaxation, if you will.

burgIMG_2947DJ Hyfi works as a “nomadic DJ, on the road, fusing fresh beats with vinyasa.” I admit, when I saw this event come across my newsfeed, I wondered how it would work and thought it sounded strange. How would I quiet my mind in a loud environment? I still don’t know the answer to that question, but having now experienced it, it seems completely natural. Yoga is rhythmic. Breathing is rhythmic. One’s heart beat is rhythmic. Why not give those things a rhythmic soundtrack?

burgIMG_2952The session started with multiple sun salutations and warrior poses, followed by balance work.Suzanne McCahill Perrine’s instructions and cuing were, as always, impeccable. If I couldn’t see anyone to mimic his or her movements, her verbal descriptions saved me. If anyone needed help getting into a pose, she was right there. My favorite part was when the entire group formed a circle and held hands during Warrior III. I got to hold Ella’s hand and the hand of a complete stranger — what a beautiful thing! Another notable moment was how gooood everyone looks doing what I call the “pretty pose” (i.e., Half Lord of the Fishes pose) — all those whittled torsos and strong shoulders and piles of messy hair. During one of the inverted poses, I could see Brandy through my legs and Ella beyond that through Brandy’s legs, and it made me smile the way, even upside down, those two gals look so much alike.

Just when I thought I couldn’t hold any pose for even one more second, sweat was pooling in awkward places all over me, and every muscle fiber burned with constant exertion, Suzanne instructed us all to lie down. I closed my eyes and let myself be carried away by the throbbing music. I might have fallen asleep… I’m not really sure… but for several minutes I thought of absolutely nothing. When I opened my eyes, the lights were dancing all over the room, and I saw faces in the ceiling. First there was a lion. Then I saw a man with a beard, until the beard morphed into a baby, being held by its mother. To the left I saw a caricature of John Lennon, while a man and his cat sat over to the right. Brandy remarked that she had an out-of-clothing experience where she snapped out of her trance and thought she might be nakey… but then she checked and realized she did indeed still have pants on. We really did lose track of time… and space.

burgIMG_2959After peeling ourselves off the floor, we quietly emerged into the lobby of Ice House Studios, where Suzanne had arranged a buffet catered by Food Bar Food and Pale Fire Brewing. Starving from our efforts in the last ninety minutes, we devoured the delicious snacks: falafel fritters with tatziki; tofu and shiitake mushroom croquettes with Thai caramel sauce; and black bean & goat cheese hummus with corn tortilla chips. For the next hour we enjoyed chatting about the class, the DJ, and our lives, making this workout as much emotional and spiritual as it was physical. I also got a chance to check out Ice House Studios: I admit, I had not set foot in there before tonight!

burgIMG_2925 burgIMG_2940burgIMG_2966 burgIMG_2978The space houses both The Center and Breathe Pilates and Yoga. There are two yoga studios with mats, bolsters, blocks, and blankies. The Pilates room contains mirrors and ample equipment, while the Barre room offers mats and balls to its users. Large windows and soft lighting contrast the concrete columns and exposed block walls throughout the old factory. There’s also a terrace — you can make yourself a cup of tea in the lobby and enjoy it outside.

burgIMG_2944Ice House Studios also hosts services provided by several other professionals: Four Seasons Harmony Massage Therapy and Healing Arts; Mary Straub Pargas Yoga Therapy and Holistic Coaching; Kate Miller’s “Be” Bodywork, Yoga, and Aromatherapy; Blue Heron Healing Arts owned by Grayson Pritchard; and Becky Bartells Massage Therapy.

And, the merchandise. You can find beautiful jewelry by Rhoda Miller of Rhodarts, Lily and Laura bracelets made by artisans in Nepal, colorful tote bags, essential oil kits, and candles. Body products, journals, mats, socks, and headbands. Icehouse, Breathe, and The Center shirts and other crucial apparel, just in case you arrived without something.

And if you’ve never really explored the Ice House in entirety, you can take a class or get a massage at Ice House Studios, grab a perk-up at Black Sheep Coffee, shop for clothing and jewelry at The Yellow Button and Hugo Kohl’s, eat dinner (or breakfast or lunch, for that matter) at Pure Eats, and then savor a beer at Pale Fire Brewing. Too bad you can’t just move in there. Oh wait, YOU CAN.

Ice House Studios are located on the second floor of the Ice House, which is located in downtown Harrisonburg on Liberty Street across from Turner Pavilion. Coming up on April 30, it’s the return of Detox Retox — an outdoor yoga class in the circular drive of Pale Fire Brewing! Click to see the classes offered at The Center and Breathe. See you there!
burgIMG_2949 burgIMG_2962burgIMG_3008Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

high score: ruby’s arcade.

burgIMG_1285The bar has been raised.

Ruby’s Arcade, the newest endeavor of local restauranteur Clay Clark, has been open for six weeks or so, so this post might seem a little late arriving. But since its opening, Brandy and I (or just Brandy, or just I) have been in that place like ten times: the Downtown Renaissance Awards ceremony, an evening out with all the kiddos, a happy hour celebration with some teacher friends, friend and family bonding time after our art show, to name a few. She kept taking photos and I kept taking notes and ding dang it, we can’t hold it in any longer.

This place is AWESOME. First, you won’t be surprised to hear the food is excellent. They pride themselves on their fresh meats, never frozen, including their pork, ribs, and brisket smoked DAILY. The fried chicken sandwich and the fried catfish sandwich (I’ve had both) are succulent and delicious, and please do yourself a favor and get the smoked gouda mac ‘n cheese. They’ve got a great selection of burgers, appetizers, and salads, too. But the pizza. Whoa. Wood-fired pizza in their snazzy red wood oven, loaded with noteworthy toppings like pickled peppers, smoked pork, artichokes, and bleu cheese, and names like The Keanu, The Swayze, and The Bern.

burgIMG_1319 burgIMG_1323But that’s not all. They’ve got several excellent draft beers, and YOU CAN GET A PITCHER of any of them. Yep, you heard me right! A pitcher!! I remember twenty years ago, I could get a pitcher of beer at one of our very few local watering holes… but then pitchers went away. It could be, and I’m just speculating, that as the quality of H’burg beer increased, pitchers got pricey, and establishments stopped selling them. Whatever. That’s all water under the bridge now, because the pitcher is back! You can even get a 2-topping pizza and a pitcher of PBR for eighteen bucks!

And that’s still not all. Let’s get to the reason it’s called Ruby’s Arcade. The games! The showpiece of the whole joint is the four-lane duckpin bowling alley. Clay rescued the duckpin bowling apparatus, Chris Howdyshell tinkered and toiled and got it all working again, and now you and up to three of your buddies can share a lane for just $20/hour. Our kids LOVED it. After that you can amble on over to the billiard and pingpong tables. Or play shuffleboard. Or Foosball. Or you can play a board game. Or darts. This list is getting long.

burgIMG_1295 burgIMG_1299 burgIMG_1310 burgIMG_1321The place is huge, so don’t worry about it being too crowded. When you first walk in, there’s a large area with high-top tables and a little lounge area. Continue down a short flight of steps and to the left is the bar and the bowling area. Tables of various sizes (and made of re-purposed wood from antique bowling lanes!), assorted game tables, and upholstered furniture fill the rest of the space, and if you keep walking toward the back, there’s another swanky lounge area back there.

burgIMG_1287 burgIMG_1289burgIMG_1292 burgIMG_1307Decorating the huge space might have seemed daunting at first, but with the help of mural artists like Lynda Bostrom, Derek Niver, Michael Broth, Andre Shank, Trip Madison, and Elliott Downs, those walls weren’t bare for long. It’s worth a trip in there just to see the art work.

burgIMG_1305burgIMG_1290Gourmet food + games for all ages + quality beer (in PITCHERS) + stunning artwork + tons of space + friendly staff = the place to go for any occasion. This is why I said the bar’s been raised. Ruby’s Arcade fills a hole I didn’t realize existed until I got in there to see what it was all about. Now it’s your turn. And to get in there, you enter from the paved area behind Clementine and You Made It!, sort of adjacent to the back of the bike shop/little bridge over Blacks Run. They’re open seven days a week! See you soon!

Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

we new it: ride along.

When I sit down to write my list of New Year’s resolutions, it usually goes like this:

Things I Should Do in the New Year:
1. Exercise more.
2. uuuuuuuuuggggghhh.

Things I Want To Do in the New Year:
1. Read.
2. Learn an instrument.
3. Be more creative.
4. Make my own sushi.
5. Do a better job of keeping in touch with people.

Things I’ll Most Likely Actually Do in the New Year:
1. Netflix.
2. Fish tacos.
3. Funny cat videos on YouTube.

I guess the three lists show a trend… that I don’t like to resolve to do things I’m simply not interested in, and that sometimes I feel I’ve accomplished NOTHING, that I’ve wasted yet another year not doing what I want, doing more working than playing, more frowning than smiling, more scrolling than learning, more spending than saving, blah blah blah. But, when I truly look back over 2015 as a whole, I see it was not a waste at all. Not a minute. Indeed, 2015 was marked by unprecedented newness and adventure, for both Brandy and for me. She and I both traveled to new destinations — she to Alaska and Oregon, and I to several national parks as far west as Yosemite. We also started an awards program called Harrisonburg Action Figures and presented the first one back in September. We were interviewed for a podcast — another totally new experience — by Kai Degner (Hello Harrisonburg), and because of that experience, we offered our first I Love My Burg prize to listeners who shared that podcast– a ride along with us, wherever he or she wanted to go, our treat! We covered the opening of two new breweries and a restaurant (Pale Fire, Wolfe Street, and Jalapeño), we attended Megan Tiller’s first ever pop up show featuring Bradford Lee Folk, and we finally tried some lavender ice cream. I’m teaching a class I’ve never taught in my seventeen years of teaching, and Brandy documented nearly twenty hikes all over Virginia and the US in her Took a Hike, Took a Camera series. Our lives are full of new things, not necessarily previously written down on a list of resolutions, but things that arise organically because we’re friends. So I think my “list” this year will simply be this: Continue doing new stuff.

This post is about a whole night of new things! Our ride along winner, Sharon Skates, wanted to try out Harrisonburg’s newest brewery, Wolfe Street Brewing. The brewery is located on Wolfe Street (duh) between Liberty and 42 and adjoins the Rock’n Wolfe Food Truck Park, which is super handy. The building was, at one time long ago, a chicken slaughterhouse, then a mechanic’s shop, and then it sat empty for a bit before the owner of the property decided to convert it to a brewery. Inside it’s a cozy space. The dropped ceiling directly over the bar holds Wolfe St. growlers re-purposed as lights. A split-level seating area leads to a homey and sizable yard out back. On the left side of the space, nine thousand pounds of malted grain in neatly stacked sacks is all that separates the general public from the brewing area. The entire brewery is cloaked in gorgeous woodwork by Benevolent Design, lending a Scandinavian cabin feel to the whole place.

burgIMG_7098 burgIMG_7105burgIMG_8258 burgIMG_8261We sampled four beers that evening. The Winter Lager is their seasonal brew, and Hop Pocket has a crisp, piney flavor. The Scotch Ale is a full-bodied, smokey beer, and the Nut Quacker is spicy and refreshing.

burgIMG_8264 burgIMG_8281Our next stop was the grand re-opening of The Mark-It in its new location at 125 West Water Street, right in front of the wooden bridge. You might be surprised to know that the business has been around for about 20 years — starting as a little kiosk in the mall, moving to several locations, and finally being operated by its current owners, Susie Diehl and Jeff Guinn. The walls of the store are filled with the work they’ve done over the years, for people and companies ranging from the Super Gr8 Film Festival and Pale Fire Brewing to Uncle Bengine and the Restraining Orders. The store looks great, the location is awesome, and we wish them happiness and prosperity in their new location!

burgIMG_7122 burgIMG_7125 burgIMG_7128 burgIMG_7132 burgIMG_7136 burgIMG_7144 burgIMG_7149Brandy and I had been to Food Bar Food several times, but for Sharon it was a new experience and we were so happy to take her there. Seriously. The food is absolutely exquisite, and the prices are so reasonable. Plus the bloody Mary menu — sheesh! I might have to update my resolutions to include “try every singe item on the Food Bar Food menu.” For now, I ordered the haddock burger with a fried egg on top (omg, I’m drooling as I type that); Sharon got the duck leg, and Brandy got the Thai curry noodles. We talked about all sorts of girly topics that I can’t really share here, but we did discover something we have in common: we’re all old enough to know what a “pager number” is. If you don’t, you could always add “learn about obsolete technology” to your list of resolutions.

burgIMG_7152 burgIMG_7163It’s a new year in our beautiful city and there’s so much to look forward to. This city is FILLED with people who “do new stuff” all the time, and that’s why Harrisonburg is so rich in art and music, gourmet food and top notch beer, unique shops and excellent, efficient service. So, thanks for helping me keep my resolution, Friendly City. I couldn’t do it without you.

If you’re looking for something new to do this year, here are the highlights of our 2015:
Hot Ticket: Jalapeño Southwest Grill
All In: unJURIED Exhibition
Freezer Burn: Pale Fire Brewing
Take Your Pick: Bradford Lee Folk and the Bluegrass Playboys
Follow Your Hearts: Bryan Elijah Smith and the Wild Hearts
Here’s the Deal: Harrisonburg Pokemon League
Tap Dance: Brothers Craft Brewing Music Festival
Grass Roots: Our Community Place Annual Lawn Jam
Cold Off the Press: Old Hill Hard Cider
Field Day: White Oak Lavender Farm
Full Alert: Edible Fest
Be In the Running: VA Momentum
Royal Treatment: 2015 Progressive Party

burgIMG_7166Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

full alert: edible fest.

burgIMG_0507Trying to schedule an outing usually goes like this:

Katie: We need to get out soon.
Brandy: Agreed. How about Tuesday?
Katie: No can do, Bree’s got a meet. What about Wednesday?
Brandy: I’ve got a photo shoot.
Katie: Okay. Friday?
Brandy: Blake’s got a band thing. How about next Monday?
Katie: I have a hair appointment.

Still, as you and the rest of our readers can see, we do manage to get out occasionally. And on a very rare occasion, we are able to attend an all-day event. When that happens, man – do we milk it for everything it’s worth!

So a few weeks ago Brandy, Blake, Ella, and I were fortunate enough to attend the Fourth Annual Edible Fest in Orange, Virginia. Driving from Harrisonburg, careening through Shenandoah National Park, traversing the curves and mountains of Greene County before crossing into Orange County, home of Montpelier and Barboursville and punctuated by corn fields and kudzu dinosaurs, provided ample and much-needed time to talk and catch up with each other, to breathe and simply sit – restricted by the seatbelt from doing anything at all but sitting side by side. There’s something beautifully restful about a drive.

Once there, we parked and took a shuttle just a couple blocks to the site, right on Main Street in downtown Orange. Presented by edible Blue Ridge Magazine, the Orange Downtown Alliance, and the AV Company, the day-long festival includes Chef Demos with food tastings, a huge open-air market, live music, food trucks, beer and wine, DIY seminars, and kids’ activities. The whole time we were there, we kept saying, “Harrisonburg could TOTALLY do this!” and we really hope that happens soooon!

burgIMG_0543burgIMG_0456Here’s how it was set up: On one end were two large tents with a closed-circuit TV, a microphone, and about 100 seats in each. These were for the Chef Demos, and the two tents took turns so that patrons wouldn’t miss half of the demonstrations. Running at staggered times in a third tent were DIY seminars on topics ranging from making Kombucha to cooking with mushrooms to beer brewing. The chefs included Dwayne Edwards from Keswick Hall; Jason Daniels from Vintage Restaurant at The Inn at Willow Grove; Curtis Shaver from Hamiltons’ First and Main; Craig Hartman from The Barbeque Exchange; Ralph Brown from RBC Institute; Tucker Yoder from Eljogaha; Angelo Vangelopoulos from The Ivy Inn Restaurant; Pete Woods from Merrior and Rappahannock Oyster Co.; Ken Notari from Nude Fude; and Martha Stafford from Charlottesville Cooking School. The chefs’ demos lasted from 10:30am until 4:45pm, so if you wanted to, you could just scoot back and forth between those two tents and spend the entire day watching these incredibly talented chefs and sampling TONS of amazing food.

On the other end of the festival site was a covered dining area with plenty of tables and chairs and a bandstand for the three bands who played (Michael Coleman, John Kelly, and Erin Lunsford). Between the two ends (chef tents and dining area) were ZILLIONS of vendors of most anything you can imagine. Plus food trucks (nine of ’em!!) and a beer truck. I can’t remember all the beers offered, but Pale Fire was one of them, and I remained faithful!

burgIMG_0479And so finally getting to the story, here’s what we did:
First we saw Chef Dwayne Edwards and his assistant from Keswick Hall make a succulent watermelon salad with lavender, sea salt, chili flakes, goat cheese, heirloom cherry tomatoes, tangerine oil, oak barrel aged vinegar, fennel pollen, and basil. Mind you, I didn’t know what HALF those things were, at all, but this tattooed chef in his pinstriped apron narrated every step and it was quite educational. I learned a lot – a new way to chop up a watermelon (my way is pretty efficient, too, I must say, but his added a ninja element), a new way to choose a watermelon (I’ve been drumming on it like a bongo all this time, but apparently you should look for bumps on the “ground side” of the watermelon), and a crazy amount of information about all the different kinds of salt, and even the origin of the word “salary,” which appealed to the word-nerd in me.

burgIMG_0316 burgIMG_0328 burgIMG_0344 burgIMG_0354Next in Tent 2, Chef Tucker Yoder and his assistant Angelo were whipping up Sprouted Grain Salad with Seasonal Veggies and Duck Ham from a local farm. All the chefs used locally-sourced ingredients in their dishes, and Chef Yoder makes most all of his sauces and spreads from scratch – a nice nod to sustainability and craftsmanship that’s usually absent in chain restaurants – resulting in fresh and vibrant flavors.

burgIMG_0368 burgIMG_0372 burgIMG_0379Back in Tent 1, Chef Jason Daniels and his assistant Anthony put together a Pan Roasted Pork Loin (dear gaaaaahhhhd) with Yellow Squash Casserole, Baby Spinach, and Blueberry Salsa. That dish smelled SO good while it was cooking I could barely resist climbing onto the countertop. The casserole included sauteed yellow squash, olive oil, butter, scallions and onion, salt and pepper, sugar, flour, a whole bunch of cheese and heavy cream. While that baked, he made the salsa from red onion, jalapenos, blueberries, garlic, mint and cilantro, and simple syrup – all smushed by hand. The pork sizzled in its skillet in brine. Then it all went together in a happy little cup. Unbelievable.

burgIMG_0397After that demo, we ventured out into vendor-land. So many products. So many samples. So much gooooood. I couldn’t possible list them all, but we saw insect repellant soap by Eastham Farms, Bloody Mary mix (three varieties) by Back Pocket Provisions. Their “Bloody Bangkok” is a throat kicker! Hot Jelly Pot brought 72 flavors of jams and jellies, including their number one seller, Pineapple Pepper. There were Wakefield Peanuts and Hickory (not maple!) Syrups. Mushroom spawn kits. Barefoot Bucha and culinary herbs. Beautiful wooden and ceramic products from Madeira and Lifeware. Tea for all occasions from Fairweather Farm Tea with names like “What the Fxxx Happened,” “Chill the Fxxx Out,” and “Calm the Fxxx Down.” No, I’m not kidding. It was awesome. Coffee, cheese, wine, vinegar, honey, produce, meat, pies, all of it!

burgIMG_0408 burgIMG_0416 burgIMG_0432 burgIMG_0449burgIMG_0462 burgIMG_0467 burgIMG_0468We made it to the end of the marketplace and found the food trucks. We all found something refreshing and reviving and sat down together to enjoy the music. Kids who’d gotten a smoothie from Maui Wowi flashed blue smiles at each other, knowingly, like a secret handshake. Feeling rejuvenated, we decided to try to catch one more chef demo.

This time, it was Chef Craig Hartman from The Barbeque Exchange and his Sweet Corn and Bacon. It was after 2pm. People had been there a while and were relaxed and jovial. You could feel the excitement; the tent seemed hotter. We all clapped when he pulled out the giant slab of bacon; we cheered when he said “butter”! His biggest piece of advice when cooking the meat was to “control the flame” at all times. Don’t let the pan get too hot; don’t lose control of that flame. So it was especially funny when his towel caught fire. And when he handed out the sample of that sweet corn and bacon, it was like Oprah’s Favorite Things: “YOU get bacon! And YOU get bacon! AND YOU GET BACON!” People went crazy! Lots of laughing and clapping and yum-ing – what an awesome day.

burgIMG_0511 burgIMG_0514 burgIMG_0522 burgIMG_0531burgIMG_0538All in all, this was a fantastic festival and something WE KNOW Harrisonburg could pull off. Who’s in?

burgIMG_0493 burgIMG_0494Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

take me to cask: casks for a cause at three brothers.

burgIMG_5408bwI love genius combinations.

Some of you might remember the old commercials for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: “Hey! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” “You got peanut butter on my chocolate!” And while the actual invention of the super-popular candy didn’t happen in the ’80s as the commercial suggests (nor was it nearly as sexy [hello, wah-wah pedal] — it was merely created by a guy named Reese in the 1920s who was just experimenting with candy recipes), it certainly is one of the greatest genius combinations of all time. There have been others. Like putting Velcro on children’s shoes. And the most recent pair of sneakers I purchased have memory foam in them. MEMORY FOAM! Or, for example, my son’s eggheaded idea to make a chess board out of LEGO. Even if you have to get up and move the board mid game, the pieces stay put. And Instagram would never have happened if someone hadn’t come up with the camera phone.

So recently I discovered another mind-blowing combination. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, you CAN be good to yourself and good to others simultaneously. It’s called Casks for a Cause, a monthly event at Three Brothers Brewing that benefits a local charity or initiative. The brothers design a specialty beer and donate a whole keg to the cause, and all the money from the sales of drafts from that keg go to the lucky organization.

burgIMG_5405This particular Cask for a Cause featured lots of genius combinations. First of all, the “cause” was Spitzer Art Center, and we all know that art and beer is a winning combo. The special cask of the night was Three Brothers Slide infused with honey and cayenne, a concoction that was smoooooth going down and then slapped you in the throat. And Mama’s Caboose was there serving up cayenne-chocolate brownies. THAT combo was ridickers yummy. And don’t forget the music: Jason Summer (DJ Real Gone) followed by Jeff Gorman is a combination I hope to hear again in the near future.

burg3bros4 burgIMG_5418Spitzer Art Center provides workshops and classes to the general public, such as oil and pastel painting, silk painting, and metal making. The center hosts a variety of art shows and speakers and provides studio space for seven local artists. This Friday, January 16, Spitzer Art Center will honor Barb Gautcher, featuring works by her and by many of her former students, including Todd Yoder, Molly Whitmore of Molly Whitmore Photography, Zachary Nafziger of ZN Stained Glass, Steven Stauffer, Bomb Proof, Ashley Miller of Ashley Sauder Miller Art, Elizabeth Frey Davis , and Kimberly Juda Souder. Barb is the recent winner of the Shenandoah Valley High School Art Teacher of the Year award AND the High School Art Teacher of Virginia Award. And on February 6, you can see ANOTHER genius combination called WORD: A Juried Show Uniting Writing and Visual Art, in which artists “write an original poem or short prose piece in any style, about any subject, and then use any medium to display/frame/decorate the words and/or the space around them.”

With the sale of the cask, the Spitzer membership drive, brownie sales, and generous donations, Spitzer far exceeded their fundraising goal. Three Brothers have supported numerous organizations in this way, like the Wounded Warrior Project, RISE, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. If your desire to be charitable and your desire to drink a beer happens on the third Friday of the month, save yourself one trip and just go to Casks for a Cause at Three Brothers.

burgIMG_5406Three Brothers Brewing is located at 800 North Main Street, just north of and across the street from The Little Grill. Spitzer Art Center is located at 486 West Market Street, a couple blocks west of Court Square.

Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

bite me… please: rocktown bites.

burgIMG_2897You know, I feel I know my city pretty well. I’ve been to lots and lots of local restaurants and businesses, many of which you’ve read about right here. But recently Brandy and I did something we hadn’t done before: we went on a culinary tour of our city. Hosted by Regina Hissong, Rocktown Bites conducts twice monthly walking tours to seven (!) local restaurants, shops, and businesses where you get to sample their best food and drink offerings, plus learn a LOT about those establishments and the history of the buildings they’re in. Back in January of this year, Harrisonburg became the FIRST city in Virginia to be designated a Downtown Culinary District! Rocktown Bites will show you exactly why.

We met at the Hardesty Higgins House, all twelve of us — Lindsey, Brandy, Blake, Ella, Ben, Heidi, Aiden, Cal, Bree, Denise, Sean, and me — plus our happy host, Regina. The kids enjoyed the gift shop and the 1862 model of Harrisonburg with all those teeny tiny animals. Once all assembled, we ventured out into the sunshine, a traffic-stopping pedestrian food procession.

burgIMG_2835Our first stop was the newly opened Midtowne Bottle Shop. Owner Lauren Penrod greeted us and quenched our thirst with two Brew Ridge Trail Collaborations — Moon (an India Pale Lager)  and her sister beer, Earth (a double IPA). The kiddos indulged in Flathead Lake Gourmet Soda in black raspberry and strawberry orange. I was kinda excited that Cal, my little soda virgin, had his first soda in my favorite new store. I see a tradition forming.

Not only does Midtowne Bottle Shop offer lots of bottles, but they also have eight taps. You can bring your growler or purchase one of theirs (1-pint, 2-pint, or standard size) for frequent fill ups with no trash. Regina’s husband has a growler holder on his BIKE. WHAT AN IDEA. Despite seeing him often, Lauren didn’t realize this… but she did say she notices he’s sweaty when he comes into the shop.

burgIMG_2855 burgIMG_2857 burgIMG_2852 burgIMG_2843Our next stop was just across the street and the site of the first ever Rocktown Bites love connection. Cuban Burger. Owner Steve Pizarro met his lovely lady when SHE was on a Rocktown Bites tour, and now a year later, they’re proud parents of cutie-pie Charles Harrison! At Cuban Burger we nibbled on… well, the Cuban Burger, and garlicky cuban toast with black bean dip, and we enjoyed Jupiña pineapple soda and a classic daiquiri.

burgIMG_2876 burgIMG_2871On to Clementine we went. If this stop is on your tour, come hungry. I was surprised (pleasantly, of course) at how many “samples” we got to try. First they served us homemade lemonade, which was a real treat for all of us on this warm, sunny day. They estimate that they squeeze 750 lemons per week to make their citrusy concoction, which also contains limes, sugar, water, and mint. Then we “sampled” some food… but really, it was a whole plate of food, including seared scallops with a saffron risotto and spinach pesto, served with roma tomatoes and A.M. Fog mushrooms in a balsamic drizzle. Drooling occurred. Also, I forget what we were talking about, but Denise was trying like the dickens to say “Snap, crackle, and pop,” and she kept stumbling over the words and burst forth with a “Crap Snackle!” which has become my new profanity replacement.

Next we meandered over to Jack Brown’s. We got to eat their AMAZING Wagyu beef cheeseburgers with their addictive special sauce, plus Sticky Nugs from Billy Jack’s, and we got to sample the Apocalypse Ale. We sat sorta near the back… usually when I’m in there I’m at the bar, at basically the first seat I can get my honey on.. but back there, near the back… is DONKEY KONG. As soon as I heard the sounds coming from the machine, my head turned as if in slow motion… I dropped everything I was eating and drinking and shoved the children outta the way: “Watch the master…!” And I saw something else I didn’t know about, too: Jack’s Hideaway.

burgIMG_2915cRemember the scene in Goodfellas, near the end, when DeNiro’s character tells Lorraine Bracco’s character to “go down there,” down the sidewalk to some door where there are some dresses she could have? And Deniro’s standing back there gesturing and looking around, and she’s looking around, and you get this bad feeling… and she does, too…? Well, I had a flash — just a flash! — of that when we were walking to the door of Jack’s Hideaway. It’s around the corner from Jack Brown’s, on Water Street, and it’s down the sidewalk, and it’s just this nondescript door you knock on. But no malevolent force will greet you, you won’t get “whacked” or anything; instead you’ll be escorted into a really, really cool space. It’s where Aaron and Patrice lived when they first opened Jack Brown’s. It’s another bar, quite lounge and swanky, with a lovely view of the street below, a bar, a menu, a second room, and restrooms. It’s open Thursday through Sunday, and I could see spending a lot of time in that secret little place. But the capacity is only a couple dozen, so it’s possible you’ll be turned away if it’s a busy night. Still, put on some fancy duds and knock on that door. It’s truly special, a Harrisonburg treasure.

burgIMG_2924There was more to see, and so we hit the pavement once again. Our pace, and especially the kids’, increased as we got closer to our next destination: Kline’s Dairy Bar. Yesssssss! Did you know they’ve been in business 71 years?? Regina told us that. Mr. Kline would hand frozen custard out the window of his home. The business is no longer owned by the Kline family, but the yumminess continues, as well as the tradition of passing frozen custard through a tiny window. On this day they had one of my favorites — Raspberry — plus the usual chocolate and vanilla.

burgIMG_2935 burgIMG_2929 burgIMG_2926 burgIMG_2928I thought for sure the tour had to be over since we’d had dessert… but no! There was more! We stopped in to Friendly City Food Co-op for a tour and samples of delicious peach poundcake made with local peaches. Steve Cook conducted the tour and told us all sorts of interesting info. For example, local products can be found in every department and on every aisle of the store, from Lucas Coffee to Polyface chicken, from maple syrup from Highland County to popcorn from Dayton, from milk from Mt. Crawford to soap from Charlottesville. They now sell beer and wine (no corporate beer!), and they’re planning a big expansion — the meat and produce areas will double in size and the kitchen will serve hot food. It’s a great place to shop, whether you need full-on groceries, or just lunch.

burgIMG_2949 burgIMG_2945And still, there was more. Regina was really wowing us today! Our last stop was Bella Luna, Harrisonburg’s fairly new wood-fired pizzeria. We ate ravioli with pork, peaches, jalapeño, lemon, and arugula (what a combination!) covered in a smoked paprika sauce, and THEN two kinds of pizza cooked in their 900-degree oven in just three minutes. Plus their chocolate torte — flourless and gluten free — with orange whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Kate, the manager, talked to us at length about each dish and also about their effort to support local agriculture. They actually ask local farmers to produce certain foods. In fact, just that morning she’d bought grapes at the farmer’s market for that evenings specialty cocktail. The kids tried their vanilla cream soda, and the rest of us got to end our tour with Regina’s all-time favorite cocktail — the vanilla old fashioned. She certainly earned it! Lordy. This wasn’t the first time Brandy and I have been “full up to the collarbone,” as she says, but it was one of the best times, for sure.

burgIMG_2965 burgIMG_2961In summary (ha), you’ve got to go on this tour. The next one is October 25 — the Goons, Goblins, and Grub Tour, in honor of Halloween. It starts at 2pm at the Hardesty Higgins House. But, you have to get tickets in advance, so Regina can let the restaurants know how many to expect. To purchase tickets, just go to the web site and click on the Tickets tab at the top. You’d easily spend the cost of the ticket at just one restaurant; the tour is a great way to sample a bunch of different places, learn a lot, and enjoy the company of Regina, my favorite Harrisonburg ambassador! You’ll have a fine time!

See you out and about!

burgIMG_2886Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

yum sip yum: food bar food.

foodbarfood signThe first thing I asked Amanda when she had a free second: “What’s the story behind the name, Food Bar Food?”

Her answer was simple and clear: she wanted the name of the restaurant to reflect its focus on food and beverages. Nothing more, nothing flashy really… it’s one of those “there’s-food-and-a-bar-and-did-we-mention-the-food?” kinda restaurants. The web site calls their culinary offerings “global comfort food,” which I think is a humble description for truly unique dishes one won’t find anywhere else, at least not in our little sliver of the globe.

foodbarfood bwfoodbarfood barBrandy and I were so excited and honored to be invited to Food Bar Food’s soft opening, and for my very favorite meal: brunch! The brunch menu consists of six “plates,” four “bowls,” four burgers, and a healthy assortment of sides. I don’t thing I’ve ever encountered a menu on which everything – absolutely all the dishes – appealed to me. Usually there are one of two items I wrinkle my nose at, but not this time. I wanted everything, from the Asian spiced fried chicken to the haddock burger with Sriracha mayo.

After deliberation that easily could have stretched us into lunch, I decided on the Pad Thai frittata – a rice noodle egg pancake with shrimp, veggies, peanuts, scallions, and ginger sauce. I noticed a “gf” notation next to the price and dorkily shouted to Brandy, “What’s this mean? Nine dollah, girlfriend?”

“Uh, no. That means it’s gluten free.”

Ah. I’m letting you all know, there are gluten-free options. Woot!

foodbarfood padthaiBrandy ordered the Huevos Rancheros – two eggs with black bean chili, roast poblano chili relish, queso blanco, red chili sauce, and a corn tortilla cheddar quesadilla, all for ten dollah, girlfriend! We each gobbled up half and then traded plates to finish the rest. Both dishes were TO DIE FOR. Amanda wasn’t kidding when she said the food is the focus.

foodbarfood brunchBut wait. I haven’t yet described the BAR part of Food Bar Food. Not only do they have a full bar, with four rotating taps, a dozen bottled and eight canned beers, a wall full of wine, and some enticing specialty cocktails like the Honey Badger and the Hair of the Salty Dog, but they also have an AWESOME Bloody Mary menu. We tried the Rooster (Kimchi spices, Sriracha, ginger, lime, and Thai basil), the Bloody Maria (cholula, jalapeno-infused tequila, chili salt and a pepperoncini), and the Bull, which arrived garnished with a ding-dang pork rind, for heaven’s sake!

foodbarfood bloodymaryWe’re so excited about this new restaurant where our nourishment needs are the number one priority. When you get a minute, check out their dinner menu, too. You’ll see all sorts of unusual combinations created by seasoned chef Jeff Minnich – like sea scallops with avocado mousse, or the braised and crispy duck leg with cranberry balsamic sauce, and somehow the most expensive dish there is just twelve dollah, girlfriend!

Food Bar Food, located at 126 W. Bruce St., is now open Tuesday – Saturday for dinner, and Saturday – Sunday for brunch.

foodbarfood staffCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

wheely good: trucks.

trucks signRecently Brandy and I had a sudden, unexpected opportunity to go out at dinner time, followed by a massive bout of indecisiveness because without all the kids to please, our options were overwhelming. Sushi? Barbeque? Burgers? Wings? Then we thought, why not go somewhere we can just get a little of everything and share? And that magical place is TRUCKS, Harrisonburg’s very own dedicated food truck lot — one of my most favorite ideas our city has ever cooked up. The last time we were there, only one truck occupied the large space. It was time to pay a visit and see what had changed. And stuff our faces.

trucks GCMDespite an impromptu rain storm that delayed our arrival, coupled with our general ineptitude that always delays our arrival anywhere, and despite the fact that it was like ten minutes before closing, all the trucks were still open and serving customers. Grilled Cheese Mania was the first truck on the lot. Brandy and I published a story about them last July, and now twelve months later, they still draw a sizable, hungry crowd (one girl said, upon receiving her grilled cheese, “Thank the Lord!”). And now they’ve cozied up to their friendly neighbors: Lobsta Rollin’, La Taurina II, and Taste of Soul.

trucks GCM tentCan I just pause here for a second and direct your attention to the awesome VARIETY provided by these four little trucks? Next time you and your friends, or coworkers, or family members, or heck, even your whiny kids can’t agree where to eat, just come here. If you’re still whiny when you get your plate, which I doubt you’ll be, you can even eat at separate tables, grouchy-pants! But I predict that, inspired by the fellowship and solidarity of these trucks and their staffs, you’ll get a case of the warm fuzzies and chow down peacefully.

Anyhoo. Lobsta Rollin’ most always offers Lobsta Tacos (which we ordered), the Lobsta Roll (the dish that started this whole thing rollin’, ha), and a Lobsta Wrap. They’ve also served Lobsta Quesadillas, Lobsta Mac and Cheese, Lobsta Bisque, Lobsta Poppas, and Clam Chowdah. Oh, and they sometimes get truffles from Truffelicious!

trucks lobster tacosOriginally from Miami, they brought the lobsta craze to Harrisonburg just a few months ago, have been wildly successful, and are already expanding (spoiler alert!) to a store front near Massanutten! They’ll also be expanding their catering and delivery services so you’ll never be far from your lobsta.

trucks lobsta2The ladies at Taste of Soul — Ebony, Angela, and Areyl — served us some side dishes that will make you miss your grandmother in a most visceral way. The homey look of their truck, the mason jars lining the counter, their smiles and laughter, and their time-honored family recipes elicit a giddy yearning for a world that seemed only to exist when I was a carefree child. We ate their collard greens, their mac and cheese, their potato salad, and even a cupcake. All that was missing was the succulent pork chop, a sell-out that particular day. Also on the menu are fried chicken wings, boneless tenders, and hush puppies, and THIS MONDAY, you can get breakfast! Chicken and waffles plus a coffee. The newest addition to the lot, they’ve accomplished all this in a very short time.

trucks soul food trucks taste soulRounding out the lot is La Taurina II — II, because you might have already visited the first one. It’s been on North Main for about five years, and I’m so excited they were able to expand to a second location. They serve flavorful, delicious, fresh food at bargain prices. You really get a lot of food. They make tortas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and sopes, with a variety of meats to choose from. We ordered Tacos Campechana (Mexican sausage with pork shoulder) and we pretty much licked the plate, and then, I admit, I continued eating the sauce with my finger.

trucks tacos trucks taurinaSo, yes, if you were keeping track, the two of us ate three large plates of food and didn’t feel bad about it for one second. TRUCKS is located at 1321 South High Street, next to Tangier Seafood. Each truck has similar but not identical hours of operation, so we created a page dedicated to ALL of Harrisonburg’s food trucks. It’s called Truck, Yeah! and it lists all the trucks alphabetically with their hours and locations. If you know of a truck not listed and can supply the details, please email katie@ilovemyburg.com and I’ll be happy to add it! See you out and about!

Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

grin and beer it: rocktown beer and music festival 2014.

rocktown beer fest wooAfter having attended the Rocktown Beer and Music Festival all four years, and having documented it on this site for three of those four, I’ve come to understand that the Beer Fest — now a beloved Harrisonburg tradition — is really just a large family reunion, minus the awkwardness. Beer is the ultimate social lubricant, after all.

You won’t run into eccentric relatives, like your Aunt Norma who always asks, “When are you ever going to have a baby?” Or your great Aunt Phyllis who’s determined to tell you about all twenty-three of her cats. Your teenage niece, who was so cute and fun at the last reunion but is now all brooding and angst-y and Snapchat-y. Or that relative you don’t know at all, who’s parked himself at the chips and dip. And Aunt Norma’s new hubby, who sneaks out to hide in his car until it’s all over.

You won’t run into that relative who constantly brags/complains about his all-important job, or the one who constantly brags/complains about his corns, bunions, sciatica, and that punk who moved in down the street. And the reunion ambles along a path that eventually arrives at the collective question: WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO??

Nope. You won’t find any of that at the Rocktown Beer and Music Festival. But here’s what you will find.

1. Your buddies. You’ll see people you haven’t seen since last year’s Fest, and people you just saw yesterday. I run into my old friend Melissa every single year. I worked with her ages ago at Clayborne’s, and I never, ever see her anywhere… except the Beer Fest.

rocktown beer fest group2. Music. This year, Rocktown Beer and Music Festival welcomed three bands: Harrisonburg favorites The Deadmen out of DC; the mood-elevating Bronze Radio Returnfrom Connecticut; and the versatile jam-band out of Baltimore, the Kelly Bell Band.

rocktown beer fest bronze radio rocktown beer fest deadmenrocktown beer fest dance3. Food. Patrons enjoyed delectables from ClementineJack Brown’s, the Local Chop and Grill House, and Union Station. This is some of the best food in the city, making the Beer Fest way classier than your family reunion at picnic shelter #4, no offense.

4. And finally, duh, the beer. More than thirty breweries to sample, including seven from Virginia: Blue Mountain BreweryBold Rock CiderChampion BrewingDevil’s Backbone Brewing Co.St. George Brewing Co., Three Notch’d Brewing Co. (who just opened at tap room here in Harrisonburg, in the Urban Exchange building!!), and our hometown heroesThree Brothers Brewing Co. I’ve been thinking about those small mugs the Beer Fest gives to its guests, and I’m just gonna put this suggestion out there for what it’s worth. Some people like a wide variety of beer and like having ten 4-oz samples. However, I’m an IPA fan, and I would appreciate being able to get an 8-oz mug filled five times, since I know I’m sticking to IPA. Maybe in the future, we can select our preferred mug size when we order tickets?

rocktown beer fest  couple1 rocktown beer fest couple2 rocktown beer fest couples rocktown beer fest crowd collage5. The staff. You get friends, music, food, beer, and people who will help you. The Beer Fest’s more than 150 volunteers keep the lines moving, the music playing, and the place clean and safe.

rocktown beer fest staff 1 rocktown beer fest staff2And now here is something exciting: Rocktown Beer and Music Festival Fall Edition!! Yep! September 20, 2014, come on down to the Turner Pavilion for another festival. So far they’ve lined up thirty breweries; the band lineup will be announced by June 1st, and tickets go on sale July 1st. And hey, maybe Harrisonburg’s newest brewery, Pale Fire Brewing, will ready by then! If you ask me, I think it would be wise to just go ahead and have your family reunion here. Everyone will get along much better, trust me.

rocktown beer fest crowd collage2 rocktown beer fest loungerocktown beer fest hugCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

harrisonbrains: team trivia at clementine cafe.

clementine team trivia sheetDidn’t I recently read an article stating that Harrisonburg is one of the smartest cities? It’s no shocker, really, what with two universities and a college right here in town, lots of high-tech jobs, and two highly esteemed school divisions. But I didn’t really give it much thought until Brandy, Ben, Michael, and I attended Team Trivia Night at Clementine for the first time last Tuesday.

Man, Harrisonburg! You’re a bunch of smartypants! And we…. were not.

I learned A LOT that night, including
1. Pretty much everything, and
2. Irony is overrated.

See, we hadn’t done this before. We were Team Trivia virgins. Green. Wet behind the ears. Fresh meat. Thankfully, one of the hosts came over and explained the deal. Here’s the lowdown in case you haven’t tried it yet. You get an answer sheet arranged in quadrants, one for each of four rounds. Each round has four questions. The questions are read aloud in a cluster. Then you and your team (of six or fewer hopefully intelligent people) discuss the questions and (of course) try to come up with the answers. When you fill in your answers on the sheet, you can rank them so that the answer you feel most confident about will get you the most points. You cannot use your phone or similar device. (And believe me, the teacher in me was WATCHING! And I didn’t see anyone cheat.) Then you have a couple minutes to run your answer sheet to the stage so the hosts can grade it and tally the points. They bring the sheet back and it’s on to the next round. Okay.

clementine team trivia hostsWell, someone in our group wrote the word “WINNER” at the top of our page prematurely. We THOUGHT maybe that would influence the judges, or at least please the Trivia Gods, or send some karma our way. Unfortunately, that word ended up being our team name.  Yes, WINNER was the name of our team. So… round after round, we continued to hear, “In last place — WINNER…” All night. All four rounds. Through to the end.

There’s something to be said for consistency, I guess. But irony? I hate you now.

Sorry if that was a massive spoiler — you know, finding out that we didn’t win. I’m sure you’re as surprised as we were. The actual WINNERs got every single question right, so they racked up the whole 72 available points (and someone should check my math on that because I learned that night that I AM A DINGBAT) plus whatever amount they wagered in the bonus round at the end.

I can’t wait to tell you about the types of questions, but first, I should mention that the place was pretty full! I was pleasantly surprised to see so many folks out on a Tuesday night for a brainy endeavor. And it was fun! People were friendly and funny and personable and relaxed. Really, don’t be intimidated by it. We got SMOKED by every team in the room, and we still left happy and laughing. And other than ours, the team names were pretty clever. Like Quiz in My Pants, Michelle Obama’s Favorite Vegetable Barackoli, Males of Seduction, Snails of Destruction, and SEVERAL that are a little too racy for this blog, designed to make the hosts say something embarrassing when they had to announce the standings.

clementine team trivia players1 clementine team trivia artRound One began. The first question was about Hosni Mubarak and what country he presided over. We said Israel <cringe>. Question 2: what was the name of the girl with “hotty body” in the Outkast song “Roses?” Someone in our group announced proudly, “I know who sings that song!” Sigh. The answer: Caroline. We actually knew the answer to the third question, which was “Care Bears.” The last question dealt with “the increase in quaalude sales due to what movie?” We said The Hangover. Another group said Frozen, lol! The answer: The Wolf of Wall Street. Dang it! Okay, so we got one right. We vowed to do better as a team. While we were waiting for the results, someone in our group said, “The suspension is killing me!” !!!  Someone kicked me under the table and then said, “Sorry for playing leggings with you.” Geez! Did we even stand a chance?

Round Two. I’m pretty sure we got the first question right: who was born first, Monet or Van Gogh? Monet, by 13-ish years. But then, what are the three colors on the Venezuelan flag? (yellow, blue, and red) A question about a 2002 Musical that won an Oscar. It was Chicago.  We said Moulin Rouge. And the fourth question involved the periodic table. Just forget it.

After Round Two, there’s a Halftime Round. Not for points, but for a round of shots for your team. You’d think that would make us muster all the intellect we had. Nope. Still missed it.

Round Three. We got ’em ALLLLL wrong. We said Tchaikovsky, it was Mozart. We said Santa Barbara, it was Newport Beach. We said the FCC, it was NASA. And we couldn’t even come up with a Swiss watchmaker. It was Omega.

No. Mozart.

No. Mozart.

When we reached Round Four, we were all a bit sheepish. Our egos were stinging. We called our cocktail waitress over. She was very helpful.

clementine team trivia three brosOkay, so see how many of these you know (i’ll hide the answers at the bottom):
1. Which Virginia college’s athletic teams are known as the Fighting Squirrels?
2. What do the letters in the acronym SWAT stand for?
3. In which city did George Washington deliver the first State of the Union address?
4. Which Jimmy John’s sandwich (by name or number) has the fewest calories? (or maybe it was fat content, I can’t remember…)
And then the final round, in which you can wager up to half of the points you’d earned so far: What did the state of New York require all cars to have, starting in 1901?

Now for this one we had a discussion. Windshield wipers? A rear-view mirror? Someone suggested headlights, because “there’s only two times you’d be driving around — day and night.” God help us. Someone else said “wheels.” What — so we don’t have to drive around on our feet like Fred Flintstone anymore? Lord. Anyway, I think we might have landed on “horn.” I don’t really remember, and our wager amount was a decimal anyway.

no peeking!

no peeking!

So, we totally failed. But it was soooo much fun! We have vowed to each other to go back and try again, all for one and one for all! And before we do, I’m going to load up on salmon and almonds and B12 three times a day for like a month. Then I’ll drive my giant head down to Clementine and mop the floor with all you brainiacs!

You can play, too! Tuesdays at 9pm sharp at Clementine, with overflow seating downstairs in Ruby’s Lounge. See you out and about!

clementine team trivia barAnswers: Mary Baldwin, Special Weapons and Tactics, New York City, the #4, and license plates.

Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

gone cuba diving: cuban burger!

restaurant signSomehow this summer I just didn’t get enough “Brandy time.” Maybe we really hadn’t seen each other in a while, or maybe it just felt that way because summer FLEW by, but here we were, the last weekend before returning to work, and we felt compelled to squeeze in a quick dinner before life turned upside down again.

Don’t get me wrong, we had some great times in the burg this summer. Dinner at the Chop House, canoeing, Valley Fourth, Grilled Cheese Mania, Ten Thousand Villages, the Cupcake Company… but we had some misses, too. I missed Art Lotto (dammit!!) because I was at the beach (yay!!), she had some weddings and little trips out of town, and for a few weeks we just barely saw each other at all. I was soooo excited to finally sit down with her again (and a plate of food) and catch up! And Cuban Burger was calling our names.

Michael and I met Brandy, Ben, Blake and Ella there and they quickly accommodated our party of six. The place looks great. If you haven’t been in yet, they occupy what was Wine on Water (and Cuban Burger operated out of there in the beginning) and the All Things Virginia shop. The bar is located on the Wine on Water half, and the dining room extends into the Virginia shop half. Once we arrived, people filled all the tables and we watched with drooling eyes as plate after plate of sumptuous food passed us. A large mural of Cuba covers one rustic brick wall, and Zac Nafziger’s stained glass glimmers in front of a light fixture. Everything is neat and clean, yet warm.

people sitting at bar server taking orderFirst, we caught up on all the news. This just in: Brandy’s dryer shorted out. “How shocking,” Michael chirped, followed by about eight more electrical puns, like “switch” and “short” and “wired.” Finally he put a “plug” in it. Ha. Thankfully Brandy’s house and clothes are all fine. Then we talked about Art Lotto. I’d gone into the Dodger when I returned from the beach to see the portraits. Amazing. They’re still up, if you haven’t seen them yet, and you can see photos of the event at the Art Lotto site. Talking about all that talent led us to Rachel Herr, who was featured in a recent issue of Edible magazine!! (Go to the link, click on the cover with the multi-colored pepper on it, and you can see the article on page 30.) Yay, Rachel! Brandy and I both noted her ability to just “know” when two (or ten) seemingly opposing ingredients will work together. Rachel’s a MacGyver in the kitchen, plain and simple. And Brandy has a bit of this instinct, too. When baking Ben’s birthday cake recently, she realized she was out of vegetable oil, but what did she have handy? Fresh bacon grease. Worked out fine. Put that in your recipe file, people.

The food arrived and we dove in. Michael and I both ordered the Buenos Dias… a burger containing beef and pork, topped with bacon (!), a fried egg (!!), CHEESE, and little matchstick fries. I pretty much ingested my three-meals-a-day in one sitting. I like efficiency. Thankfully the server cleared our empty plates before we licked them.

server serving food burger with riceBlake got the Original burger, and declared it was “the best burger I’ve ever eaten.” Brandy and Ben shared the El Jefe, a burger topped with assorted meat. Brandy quickly admitted that sharing was a mistake, and one she won’t make again. The food, all of it — the burgers, the rice, the fries, the bacon-garnished grits — was unbelievably delicious. Flavorful, cooked to perfection, succulent, and whatever other synonym you can think of. I remember thinking that if I worked within walking distance of that place, I’d have a real problem on my hands, and I felt grateful yet devastated that I don’t. Still, I find myself thinking of when I can get in there again. Lord, that food was good.

burger with gritsThe server asked if I wanted another Sol. Hmmmm… two souls. Wouldn’t that be convenient. That’s when, on the recommendation of our server, Brandy ordered a Caipirinha. It’s the national cocktail of Brazil, containing sugarcane liquor, sugar, and lime. All he had to do was say “mushed up” and Brandy was sold. It, too, was delicious. They have a full bar and offer lots of specialty drinks, and personally, I was comforted by their ample beer selection. And not that it matters all too much, because I’d probably pay $50 for another Buenos Dias right now, but it’s all very affordable.

drinks on a table bartender with shakerCuban Burger, we are so glad you’re back. We needed you. You can find Cuban Burger on West Water Street (next to Beyond). Go hungry!

street scene restaurantCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

comfort station: grilled cheese mania.

cold drinkThe last week or so has presented me with events that fall into the category “It Could Have Been Worse.” First, my cell phone started acting up. Well, wait, FIRST, I thought everyone in my world was ignoring me because I hadn’t gotten any texts or calls all day. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case; it was my lame phone. (I have a three-year-old Samsung slider that AT&T gave me for free when my previous lame phone finally pooped out.) On further investigation, however, it WASN’T my lame phone; it was AT&T’s tower. Aha! So, it could have been worse: I could have had to buy a new phone. Or get new friends.

I have a small TV in my bedroom. I actually watch it more than the big one in the family room because I’m usually in bed before I get a chance to watch any TV at all. A few days ago, the color started wigging out, and now everything I watch is gold and blue. But… the TV’s not dead; it could have been worse.

And the real kicker happened Sunday, when my son was pushing some other kids on a bench-style swing, and he somehow tripped and got tangled up underneath it and gashed his head open. Blood. Lots of blood. I threw my lame phone at some lady who called 911, the ambulance came, and we scooted to the ER. He’s fine. He has staples in his scalp, but he’s fine. It could have been much, much worse. In fact, after I knew Cal was okay, the hospital visit was actually enjoyable. Everything went very quickly, the doctor was excellent, and our nurse was pleasant and funny. She’s worked as an ER nurse at RMH for 37 years. She had to wrap Cal’s head in this big, white, gauzy apparatus, and she told him enthusiastically that he would be King Cal for the day and wear “this cool crown!” And then she laughed and said, “Who am I kidding? You’re gonna look like a Q-tip and there’s nothing I can do about it!” Meanwhile, Michael and the other four kids waited patiently in the lobby and greeted Cal with cheers and hugs and a giant stuffed shark when he emerged through the double doors. Really, it could have been much worse in many ways.

Monday morning I washed the dried blood out of my son’s hair and then met Brandy and her kids for some comfort food. Between my near-disasters and her Art Lotto event quickly approaching and 4287473892 photos to edit, the two of us needed some ding dang comforting!

red food truck with logored food truckWe met at Grilled Cheese Mania and my mouth was watering before I got out of the car. Owned by Kathleen Mania-Casey, the truck has been in operation less than a year and has already been ranked by Tripadvisor the BEST restaurant of 108 in Harrisonburg, and voted Best Food Truck 2013 by Harrisonburg residents. I stared at the menu for quite some time while the girl at the window waited patiently, smiling. Choosing was excruciating, because I wanted them all, but I decided on the Larold. My kids got Classic Johnnys, Brandy got the Mama Mania, and Blake got his with tomato. We also got a couple sides of mac & cheese, and Kathleen was gracious enough to let us sample the chili and the tomato soup. Both are excellent. I especially like the tomato soup. Some say its flavor smacks of pizza, but I think it’s about halfway to salsa.

cheesy sandwich mac n cheese cheesy sandwich overhead view of foodgrilled cheese sandwichKathleen’s niece was visiting and helped her aunt serve our food under the tent where we sat. And we each got a pair of official GCM sunglasses, which the kids happily put on so they could all be fully expressed as the maniacs they are.

woman and niece kids at picnic tableWe gobbled our sandwiches in relative silence. “Simple Comfort Food” is the perfect slogan for Grilled Cheese Mania, because there is something uniquely nostalgic about a grilled cheese sandwich. Every time my mom visits, she wants a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. And when I sit down and eat it with her, I’m six years old again, not worrying about cell phones or deadlines or scalp infections. You know that scene in the movie Ratatouille when Anton Ego takes the first bite of Remy’s ratatouille and is instantly transported back to his mother’s kitchen? It’s like that. You simply cannot be UN-comfortable when eating a grilled cheese. And Kathleen’s sandwiches beat the heck out of any grilled cheese I’ve eaten or made. Everything on the menu is made from tried and true family recipes using only the freshest ingredients.

chiliboy eating grilled cheese girl eating grilled cheeseKathleen’s goal is for her customers to be happy. My guess is she means not just happy with their order, happy with their food, but happy altogether. Like a true mom would. When you miss your mom and need a little comfort, know that Grilled Cheese Mania is just down the road. Or, when you just want a really good sandwich.

After a trying week of bizarre events, FINALLY, something couldn’t have been BETTER. Grilled Cheese Mania is located on Rt. 42 south, between the Food Lion shopping center and Tangier Seafood. Go hungry.

women in sunglassesCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

ding dang delicious: local chop and grill house.

group of people at restaurantYou know that feeling, when you’ve been out in the sun all day — at the pool or at the beach — and you’re a little scummy, a little sticky, your skin’s a little dry and sting-y… and you return home and take a refreshing shower? And then you realize how hungry you are because it was so hot all day you didn’t feel like eating much? And you can’t wait to sit down to a big, yummy meal?

I love that feeling. It’s one of my favorite parts of summer time. It’s akin to anticipation, which is another sensation I love. So a couple weeks ago when Brandy and I went canoeing, knowing that night we’d go out for a birthday dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and eat some delicious food, including a surprise birthday dessert made just for us by Rachel Herr, I found myself in a delirious state of anticipation all day. I’d been looking forward to this day for weeks, and it didn’t disappoint. One of the best days ever. :)

After getting cleaned up, Michael and I met Brandy, Ben, Danielle, and Tammy at the Local Chop and Grill House for our birthday dinner. Our server, Rob, brought out bread with olive oil and truffled popcorn for us to nibble on, then brought a round of beverages.

truffled popcorn waiter in red apronThe first order of business was to talk about our canoeing adventure that day. I didn’t have my notebook with me in the canoe, so I didn’t take any notes. And even though Brandy was the one with the PBR concussion, I couldn’t seem to recall much from just a few hours earlier. So we sorta recreated the day’s events right there at the dinner table.

It took some time for us to order because the menu at the Chop House is excellent. So, so many choices and options to ensure you get just what you’re craving. You choose the cut of meat, you choose the rub, you choose the sauce, you choose two side dishes… it’s a lot to juggle, but you will not be disappointed when your plate arrives. We each ordered something different: salmon, Polyface chicken breast, pork chop, NY strip, Twin Oaks Tofu, and the local chuck burger, and an assortment of side dishes like collard greens, duck fat fries, asparagus, smashed potatoes, broccoli, and mac & cheese.

plate with chicken and mac n cheese plate with pork chop and collard greens plate with tofu and asparagus plate with salmon and asparagusBrandy suggested we play a word game. Someone offers a random word, and everyone tries to tell a story or memory related to that word. Michael piped up with “esophagus.” And I instantly had a story, which is this: George W. Bush and I have something in common. We both nearly choked to death on a pretzel. I don’t know all the details of his story, but I was alone in my dorm room at Clemson, sitting in my papasan chair eating pretzels and drinking a Snapple. A curved portion of a pretzel became lodged in my throat and I found myself legitimately choking. Alone, in my room. It was the middle of the day and hardly anyone was in the dorm at all. First I tried flinging myself on various items in the room, like a self-imposed Heimlich, to try to dislodge the pretzel. That didn’t work. I was panicking and starting to think, “This is it. This is how I die. Choking on a pretzel in my dorm room.” My vision was getting dark on the edges. I decided to just run out of my room until I found someone to help me, and when I did, I was flailing through the hallway so wildly that I DID loosen the pretzel and managed not to die. Shew.

The highlight of my evening was when Brandy asked if I’m the same age as George W. Bush. ???

group at dinner tableBrandy had her own choking story. In elementary school she started choking on a hot dog. Of course she didn’t want to call attention to herself and make a scene, so she just sat there trying to deal with it herself. At some point the teacher noticed her esophageal struggle and hit her, hard, on the back. The hot dog flew out, and Brandy was okay. But the other kids thought the teacher just hauled off and hit her for no reason, so they all started giving her their food to make her feel better. :)

Then we started talking about weird things we say. By that I mean, weird things Brandy says. Like “no dip,” meaning “no duh.” And “I font know,” which is the byproduct of an autocorrect malfunction that stuck. Whenever she would text “I dont know,” her phone would correct “dont” to “font,” so now when she doesn’t know something, she says, “I font know.” Of course, I have a weird word, too. It’s “ghee.” It’s not “gee” — no, it’s pronounced with a hard “g” like in gorilla, and it’s usually preceded by the word “oh.” It’s one of those handy profanity replacement words that keeps you from bursting forth with a “Oh, d*mmit” or “Oh, G*d” or even worse right in the middle of, say, my classroom.

But the best new word of the night belongs to Brandy. It’s “ding dang.” As in, “Man, I left the ding dang flat iron on!” or “I can’t get this ding dang jar open!” or “Mom, where are my ding dang socks??” And since that night, my kids and I can’t stop saying ding dang. And I challenge you to incorporate it into your own vernacular. I guarantee it will bring a volume of joy to your life you’ve not experienced.

two women and birthday cakeAnd that brings me to our ding dang birthday surprise! We knew Rachel Herr, who is the pastry chef at the Chop House (and an artist, mom, and all-around awesome individual), was going to make us a special birthday dessert, but we weren’t expecting a WHOLE DING DANG CAKE! Our server brought out this gorgeous cake — chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting and chocolate crumbles, and raspberries !! with a cherry brandy sauce. Did I mention the chocolate?

rachel herr birthday cakeAnd we sang the birthday song and blew out the candles, and then the server took the cake away. For a moment I had a feeling similar to the one I had after giving birth, when they whisk the baby away to weigh it and do that APGAR thing, and I might have even said, about the cake, “Where’d they take the baby?” But then they brought it back, served on two specially decorated plates:

birthday cake platesWow. What a treat, and how special we felt! The cake was delicious, the dinner was amazing, the service was excellent, and the whole thing lived up to my weeks-long anticipation. Brandy announced she was “full as a ding dang tick.” Yes, ding dang it, we all were. It was time to go home and take a ding dang nap. Thank you, Chop House, for our birthday party! You were just what we wished for.

blowing out birthday candlesCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

music lessons: chris howdyshell and superfriends and their ground-breaking rock-n-rollishness at clementine cafe.

It was an educational evening, indeed.

Of course, it started stupid enough–the two of us yakking it up at the bar, gossiping and such about things I can’t memorialize on the Interwebs–sorry. I can say that at one point the chatter veered back to our visit to Wine on Water and how we look forward to cooler weather and going back there for some PORT. In fact, Brandy declared, “I want to drink port in a scarf,” and I (here comes a stupid part) imagined her fashioning some kind of fabric drinking vessel. How cultural, I mused, wondering if perhaps in some exotic country, people drink wine this way.

Then I got it.

We were soon rescued from our idiocy. That night Clementine served up something mind expanding for sure, something called Chris Howdyshell and SuperFriends and Their Ground-Breaking Rock-N-Rollishness.

The first of the SuperFriends was Ellen Atwood. And even though she’s young–just a junior in high school–I think I will dub her Queen of the SuperFriends. One, it was her first public solo gig, ever. Two, she’s a one-woman show, just her keyboard and her voice. Three, her voice is… angelic. She was goosebumps-on-your-face good. She played and sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” (Coldplay), and one of her originals. And four, she’s just a kid yet. And being a teacher and a general fan of teenagers, I love to see a kid who’s been able to cultivate her passion and talent in spite of all her school responsibilities and pressures and just the agony and emotional clumsiness that pervades adolescence, and still have the guts to share it with a room of (mostly) strangers. Yet there she was, shining in the hot white light. And after three short songs, I was quite moved. So thank you for that, Ellen.

Then the rest of the SuperFriends took the stage. It wasn’t quite the Dish Dogs because Michael Bowman and Lara Mack weren’t there… but it also wasn’t the new band, Dr. How (whom you can see here at Clementine on September 22)–it was… just… the SuperFriends. Namely, Chris Howdyshell, Mike Howdyshell, Ashley Hunter, Josh Vana, Doug Pitts, and Kyle Oehmke once his shift in the kitchen ended and he could join them. Untie the apron, strap on the bass. Chris had on his bedazzled hat and every person in the band wore glasses. Not, like, sunglasses, but actual “I need these to see” glasses. I could make some kind of “gettin’ old” joke, but really it was endearing because we’re all just humans with flaws doing the best we can. As Ram Dass said, “We’re all just walking each other home,” even if we can’t see where the hell we’re going.

They played a couple of old Dish Dog favorites, and things really picked up after “Tom Weights.” It seems like a hundred more people came in during “It’s Not Your Fault.” Drew, Harrisonburg’s resident hugger, danced in front of the stage (we love Drew!); more people joined the dancing during “Bird” and “She’s An Artist” and “The Tuning Song”–ha ha. And Chris took a moment to say he had two things to ask of us:
1) “You’re here.” (check!) and
2) “Don’t be afraid to dance. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your feet on the floor!”

In walked several  young men in suits, to whom he commanded, “Men In Suits–DANCE!” Which they did. Then he came down and danced with Alice, and Ashley came down and danced, and Grayson and Annie danced, and other folks I don’t know… and I remembered a New Year’s Eve Dish Dogs performance… there was this couple dancing. They’d obviously been together a long time. She danced with her eyes closed, and I thought that was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen–how they knew each other so well…

Nothing like that happened at this show, but it sure was fun!!

And educational. Remember when I said that earlier? Because between numbers, Chris would tell us interesting facts and use impressive vocabulary. Like “evolutionarily.” EV-UH-LOO-SHUN-AIR-UH-LEE. Something about woodpeckers and black flies and how, evolutionarily, they strayed from the norm and neither fared well. His lesson: “Do what you always do or you’ll die, at least in woodpecker world.” I also learned that Lance Armstrong ate oatmeal “filled with oxygen.” And most importantly, “Every time you eat bacon, you’re only losing a year of your life you didn’t care about in the first place.” Plus you get to eat bacon.

And he closed with this thought: “I really want a dog, but I don’t want to clean up the poop.” Amen to that.

The evening wound down with a smattering of other songs, including “Whiskey’s More Warm Than A Girl” and one about forgetting things (I don’t remember the title–seriously) during which Josh Vana played slide with a piece of broken glass. You gotta do what you gotta do, MacGyver.

So Dr. How debuts at Clementine on September 22 and will feature at least some of the SuperFriends. And I hope you’ll all attend.
Because you will learn stuff.
And you will dance.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

beers, burgers, and broads no. 17: capital ale house.

Not everyone knows this, but I struggle sometimes when making decisions. This is why I hate to shop–I love everything and it’s hard for me to choose. I’ve gone to shoe stores and tried on twenty pairs, only to walk out empty-footed. I’ve had eight paint samples taped to my living room wall for two years. Recently I had to buy a TV to replace my old, broken Sony, and the only thing that saved me from complete paralysis was that the store was closing in twenty minutes and I had to decide.

So when presented with the beer menu at Capital Ale House, I felt a smidge overwhelmed. You can see it here–it’s a freakin’ PDF, for Pete’s sake. Thankfully, it’s organized by type of beer, so as not to make my party wait thirty minutes while I read every word, I went straight to the IPA department and chose Devil’s Backbone. Very nice. Brandy ordered an Allagash and we were on our way. Crisis averted.

The charming and hospitable Griffin Johnson delivered our brews and told us a bit about the place. We had a minor debate about whether we could truly call it a “local” business–that is the focus of this blog, after all–but, as the restaurant originated in Richmond ten years ago, and as we liked it an awful lot, and as we’d already ordered beer and taken photos, we decided it was local enough. Turns out there are three other locations: Innsbrook, Midlothian, and Fredericksburg, all opened after the original downtown Richmond store. At our Capital Ale House, you can also make use of their banquet space, darts and billiards, and rooftop deck.

While we waited for our food, Brandy asked Griffin if she could get some exclusive shots of the heart of the establishment: the coveted Keg Room. Griffin replied, “Oh, yeah. I’ll take you back there.” Rowl. No, not because Brandy was alone with the charming and hospitable Griffin, but because she got to be alone with ALL THOSE KEGS.

The food arrived and it was delicious. Brandy had the Smokehouse Chicken Burger, which draped abundantly over its bun, and I had the Baja Burger, which I affectionately renamed “Guac-a-Mobile.”

I love guacamole and any vehicle that delivers it to my mouth. It was so good, I laughed: “BAJAJAJAJAJAJAJA!” Oh, dear. Actually, it was so good that we got window-stalked by a couple of passersby. What are YOU lookin’ at??

Just kidding. We know them.

And just when we thought we were wrapping up our evening at Capital Ale House, the lovely Sarah Murphy appeared and joined us.

So we ordered another round and, after much lively conversation, found ourselves hungry again and shared this giant piece of chocolate cake.

And by the end of the outing, I was feeling quite smitten, with my friends and the conversation we shared, with the warm radiance of the bar and my full belly, with the sin of chocolate cake, with my sweet city, and with that glorious keg room.

Thank you, Capital Ale House. We’ll see you again soon. That’s an easy decision to make.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.