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Sette’s Pizza Setback

Sette\'s CalamariMaybe it’s my fault for setting the bar high. After visiting Matchbox, a pizza bistro in D.C., I had big expectations for fire-roasted pizza in my hometown. The flames shouldn’t merely bake your pizza, it should mend the flavors together and make them One.

Sette is one street over from Tobacco Row. It’s a cute place with a killer patio. Their menu is a nice mix of salads, sandwiches, and of-course, the fire-roasted pizza which I had heard great things about. We started with a very tasty calamari that was garnished with marinara and an olive tapenade. The calamari wasn’t overly crispy and the shaved parmasan was a nice touch. The flavors went well together.

Sette\'s Little Italy PizzaFor our pizza selection, we went with the Little Italy – a red-sauced pie with chicken, spinach, mozzarella, and goat cheese. It arrived and looked amazing, but simply didn’t deliver. The sauce was not thick and made the crust soggy. The chicken was not freshly grilled and tasted salty like it was scoured on the piefrom a pre-cooked pack. Disappointing.

I guess some things are just left for the big city.


Best Nachos in Town

Speaking of Greek, if you haven’t had the Greek Nachos at Kitchen 64, then you are certainly missing out on one of this city’s culinary masterpieces.

The reviews of the kitchy preppy/hipster/family/anyone-depending-on-when-you-go hotspot have been mixed.

Greek Nachos at Kitchen 64

I’ve personally been satisfied with most of the food I’ve gotten there and the service has been great, but I go for the nachos. The heavenly triangles of corn tortilla are smothered in mozzerella and feta cheese, olives,

lettuce, spicy banana pepper slices, and tomato. The best part is the tzatziki sauce served in addition to salsa that just compliments the salty morsels so darn well.

The nachos are originally a menu item over at sister-restaurant Sidewalk Cafe. I’ve had Sidewalk’s variation a couple of times, but something is just missing in the delivery. Sidewalk’s use of kalamata olives over Kitchen 64’s black olives is alright. The presentation is just prettier at Kitchen 64, but perhaps that’s because Kitchen 64 is just a bit prettier too.

Indulging at the Greek Festival

It was back with a vengeance. A crowd of mythological proportions wrapped around St. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Sunday afternoon in celebration of a blowout return of one of Richmond’s largest ethnic food fests.

Baklava Sundae at the Greek Festival

As the church on Malvern and Grove underwent renovations, the past two years had been scaled back to a drive-through only Greek Food Festival. Compared to the pay-as-you-go style of other festivals, if you wanted to sample everything, you had to wait a line longer than a coaster at King’s Dominion. It was worth the wait as the food was as amazing as ever – but as pricey as going out to a restaurant. Souvlaki was fresh and well-seasoned; pasticio (think lasagna) was flavorful and spicy; grape leaves were tightly bound and zesty; and the spanakopita (spinach pie) was better than I had remembered.

My fave was the sinful Baklava Sundae. The combination of the sticky walnuts, honey, and flaky phyllo over soft serve ice cream made this bad boy worthwhile. Some eye candy serving up in the pastry line didn’t hurt either and made for nice dessert.

Another Week, Another Festival

St. Joseph\'s Italian FestivalWhat is an Italian Festival without pasta?  Not much of a festival.

The scene today at St. Joseph’s Italian Festival was wet and muddy.  Attendance was noticeably affected by the rain, but most notable was the lack of food.  With the exception of coffee, gelato, pastries, and pizza, there was not much else available  Perhaps some vendors had to cancel because of the inclement weather.

The highlight was the delectable sfogliatelle at the pastry booth.  Still hot from the oven, this ricotta-filled dessert was wrapped with a spiral puff of dough and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Yum!

At the core of any festival of this nature is the heart and soul of those putting it on.  Today, everyone seemed preoccupied with the rain, so hopefully better weather tomorrow will set the stage for a more festive event.  St. Joseph’s Italian Festival continues tomorrow at 828 Buford Road in Bon Air from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Monument Avenue 10K Is OK

This guy finished first at 28 minutes, 38 seconds.  Image from Sports Backers Website.I was the fat kid that could barely do a 15-minute mile in gym class. After losing 135 lbs. a couple years ago, I have decided to push myself physically. Back then, I could never have seen myself running a 10-minute mile, much less enjoying it. Today, running the Monument Avenue 10K, I can say that my first race was a phenominal experience.

During registration, you write your estimated time of completion to determine your start time. One hour, thirty minutes seemed like a safe bet. I began training a few nights a week on the treadmill and shortly worked myself up to 5K each session. Last week, I did a test run for endurance. My one attempt to train outside became too fussy with traffic –  thus learning, in the future, I should go to a park. With my lack of outdoor running, I was curious to find the outcome on race day.

This morning, portapotties lined Broad Street and so did the racers waiting to use them. Each participant received a bib including a number that corresponds with their start wave. I was in the “P” wave which had about 2,400 runners – the amount of people that registered for the entire race during it’s first year in 2000. Since then, the 10K has grown to 31,000 registrants and received a boost this year as a US Men’s 10K Championship Race.

The rush at the start of the race was exhilarating. Moving from Broad Street and taking a detour through Lombardy to get to Monument began a scene of live performers and spectators cheering on friends and family.  When I arrived at mile-marker one, I thought to myself, “Is this all I have ran?”  It was going to be a long 6.2 miles.  My goal was simply to complete the course at a running pace.  I didn’t have a specific time goal, but the competitive nature of the event helped keep me motivated.  Avoiding tripping over paper cups at the water stations also proved challenging for a person as generally clumsy as myself.  Running in the rain added to all of this excitement.

To add some quirkiness to the 10K mix, participants were encouraged to dress in costume.  For most of the duration of the race I ran with the X-Men, which was pretty rad.  I don’t think I could run with a wig on like Storm did, then again, there’s always next year.

I ended up passing the finish line at one hour, seven minutes, and fifteen seconds.  Not bad at all for the first go round.  Even after a bruised toe, sore nipples, a few muscle cramps, and some other select chaffing, it was totally worth it.  Next up, a marathon.

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American Apparel For Dummies

UndiesEver since this LA fashion clothier came to Carytown a few years back, I’ve been curious and intrigued by their mix of simplistic t-shirts, hoodies, silver lamai jackets, and brightly colored underwear.  When I walk into American Apparel, I feel intimidated by so much cool.  It’s overwhelming – you can hardly tell that the men’s clothing is to the left and the women’s is to the right because somewhere in between, there is a whole bunch of unisex…and K-9 jackets.  It’s all just a bit hipster.

The employees even exude a too-cool-for-school attitude with sparkly leggings, slim figures, and sweatbands.  Although something about all the neon dayglo feels like a throwback to an 80s workout video, I still find myself tempted.  Today, I gave into that temptation.  Honestly, I just wanted some cute underwear.

After circling around the store in a fit of indecisiveness, I finally gave in and asked a girl if she worked there – I assumed so since she was robotically folding clothes and doing an incredible job sorting them by colors.  I think back to when I worked at Blockbuster and became a master at the alphabet and movie genres.  Much in the same vein, these employees have mastered the spectrum.  I was looking for ringer tees and I was informed that the “2410s” had been shipped out last week.  Apparently, they are also so cool that they speak in a secret code.

Four pairs of Crayola-colored undies, a purple polo, and one teal t-shirt later, I can now be cool too.  I tried on both the polo and t-shirt and was pleased with the fit.  Friends have told me that their clothes hold up incredibly well, so $24 for a t-shirt seemed like a fair investment when I think about my last splurge on 7 Jeans.

Somehow, I feel okay giving my money over to American Apparel – a very socially conscious company that believes in taking care of its workers by not outsourcing and paying them a fair wage.  The company also makes significant contributions to the communities that it serves, so kudos to them.

So next time you see me, just ask and maybe I’ll show you my hot pink briefs.  

Corned Beef And More

All Decked OutRichmond has always been a huge town for festivals – with a special place in its heart for those revolving around food. Greek. Lebonese. Italian. Pan-Asian. You name it, this city celebrates it. With March here, festival season is in full swing.

Despite today’s chill in the weather and slight drizzle, a crowd of men in skirts and patrons sporting green enjoyed Church Hill’s 23rd Irish Festival. The event, sponsored by St. Patrick Catholic Parish, brought Celtic goods, plenty of Harps and Guinness, and of course, corned beef.

Irish Suprise/LasagnaThe most notable aspect of this festival was the incredible value. With only a $2 donation to get in and quality fest food homemade by the parish, I spent only $8 and left in need of a carb-detox. Starting out with Irish Lasagna (also known as Irish Suprise) brought a big pile of mashed potatoes, corned beef, and cabbage. Even though it was a little light on the corned beef, it was still delicious for a pile of mush. It reminded me of the corned beef and cabbage my grandmother used to make. The star of this show was certainly the macaroni and cheese (of questionable Irish origin) and the “Shamrock” fries. The massive amount of fries were a steal at $2. Cut fresh and fried to perfection, they were heavy, but satisfying.

Big Hair

Accompanied by my partner in crime, the lovely Lindsay of RVA Fashionista, we ran into a few friends – including our buddy Eric who was dawning a stunning blond wig and getting plenty of photo ops. We just had to get one with Lindsay – I yelled to that kid with the green wig to get in the picture. He agreed.

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