This was our second New Year's at Virginia Beach. We headed out the day after Christmas, planning to breakfast at The Blue Door in Cuyahoga Falls. But Blue Door, as it turned out, was closed that Friday, until dinner. So, relying on the recommendations of friend and food photographer Tom Noe, we headed for the nearby Flury's Cafe. They were slammed, and rightfully so for a charming, small, make-it-mostly-from scratch kind of place. It took a while, but we enjoyed a lovely breakfast.
|Scrambled Eggs, Bacon|
Yes, that is a blob of ketchup on the plate. Added by me. I was hungry.
|Chorizo Western Scramble, w/ peppers, onions & cheese, homefries & tortilla|
Our first stop would be overnight in Richmond, VA. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to sample any of the local restaurants; our meatball sandwiches at the restaurant in the Omni Hotel were pretty poor. But we awoke downtown on Saturday morning to sunshine and short sleeve temperatures. My friend Amy had recommended The Black Sheep for brunch, and was it a goodie!
|Pork Grillades and Grits|
|Homemade Apricot Applesauce|
The bread service was actually very good, and primed us for what was represented as "local" and "fresh" Rockfish. But our server was already ignoring us (no alcohol and we were splitting the pricey entree, though we also ordered a side and soft drinks). This was, after all, lunch!
|Chesapeake Rockfish over white beans, kale, Surry brand sausage, peanut romesco|
|Cheddar Byrd Mill Grits|
Several house-mates were late this year, due to health and logistical issues. So, six of us sat down to dinner Saturday night at the house.
|Bob's Brown & Serve Rolls|
|Donna's Corn Chowder|
|Baked Mixed Rice For Breakfast!|
|Baked Rice with Dubliner Cheddar Cheese and Bacon Bits|
|Nancy H's Un-traditional Lion's Head Meatballs|
Our next breakfast was sponsored by Nancy B, but accompanied by some lovely bacon from Cleveland's own Pork Chop Shop at the West Side Market, cooked in the oven.
|"Regular" Bacon from the Pork Chop Shop|
|Great Lakes Christmas Ale Bacon from the Pork Chop Shop|
|Nancy B's Panettone French Toast|
Nancy B's Leftover Egg Wash Scramble
For dinner, I scored some chicken livers at Nancy B's request for a dish she wanted to make with the bacon fat we'd saved from the above breakfast; she served it as an appetizer.
|Chicken Livers and Onions Fried in Bacon Fat|
|Nancy H's Tater Tot Casserole|
|Donna's Butternut Squash Bake|
Vince supplied our next breakfast, on New Year's Eve.
|Breakfast Sausage from the Pork Chop Shop|
And so, it was New Year's Eve. We started dinner with an appetizer that Nancy B prepared:
|Nancy B's Spanikopita|
|Nancy H's attempt at Michael Symon's Cleveland Clam Bake|
I had to leave out the cumin because of a food allergy, and decided to sub sweet and white potatoes for the out-of-season corn in the recipe, then went off to the races without tasting the sausage. Though we'd watched the counter man take it off the "mild" pile, and he wrote "mild" on the wrapper - it turned out to be spicy - impossibly spicy (and Bob and I like spice). Fortunately, the clams only picked up a little of the spice, and so none went to waste. The sausage came home to Cleveland for use in soups or stews, where the heat could spread out!
|Steamed Clams with Yams and Potatoes|
Vince's wife Donna took over breakfast duties on New Year's Day.
|Donna's Breakfast Strata with Sausage, Cheese and Apples|
Her strata was fabulous.
By now, some of us were ready for dinner out. So, five of us headed to a Virginia Beach restaurant praised by no less than the New York Times - Peter Chang's. It was a little strange in some ways - for a place that swears by authenticity and caters to the Asian community (there were a number of Asian diners that evening), and features real Sichuan ma la - they served only Lipton tea. Then, there was the below communal container of white and "fried" rice (which tasted more like soy sauce rice, but in any event isn't something normally served with Asian food as anything but its own entree) that was set on the table as our first dishes were ready to come out of the kitchen. Happily, the genuine and tasty triumphed over the weird.
|White and Fried Rices|
|Hot & Numbing Shredded Tofu Skin|
|Peter Chang's Seafood in Stone Pot: Jumbo Shrimp, Scallop, Sliced Fish, Squid, Mushrooms|
|New Year's Special: Fried Whole Snapper in Sweet-Sour Sauce with Bell Pepper and Onion|
|Stir-Fried Jumbo Shrimp with Asparagus and Snow Pea|
|New Year's Special: Pork Belly Over Mustard Green with Mini Bok Choy|
|New Year's Special: Stir Fried Tofu and Flounder Meatball|
|Dessert - Banana, Ice Cream Pastry, Chocolate|
The next day, Vince frittata-d again for breakfast, and we grazed on leftovers into lunch time. Another group went out with us for dinner, taking a chance on a local place with a long history, which changed hands in April 2014. Online reviews indicated a few bumps in the transition, but we saw enough positive comments that we were willing to risk it.
Seacrest Restaurant has been in Pungo for a long time; it is a simple, unpretentious place with a modest menu and gentle prices (though this was the first time I ever needed glasses to read a menu; getting old is no fun). Our server was very attentive and especially responsive to Bruce's dietary needs, and we settled in for a nice round of comfort food.
|Complimentary Hush Puppies|
|She Crab Soup|
|Fried Flounder, Sweet Potato Mash, Broccoli|
This year, our farewell breakfast returned to Margie & Ray's, based on the convenient location. And, as per last year, the service was beyond terrific. And the food was ok, except . . .
|Country Ham, 2 poached eggs, grits, rye toast|
We left the restaurant and headed back to Cleveland the way we'd come, much to the consternation of Google Maps, which wanted us to take I-95 and I-79. But we determined to drive an extra 75 miles or so to avoid all the traffic and treachery and headed west on I-64 to I-77. And it almost worked - we had one bad encounter with fog in the mountains, but other than that - long, but smooth sailing all the way home. We stopped for dinner in Medina Ohio (that will be another blog post) and got home after twelve and a half hours on the road. Bless Sirius/XM for playing the NYE Elton John concert!
We had great fun playing with food and friends in Richmond and Virginia Beach, and wish all who read this a Happy and Healthy New Year!