The magic of a first novel
Keep your eye out this spring for a debut novel by Nicole Glover called The Conductors, a suspenseful historical fantasy tale about a former Underground Railroad conductor-turned-detective in post-Civil War Philadelphia. Glover, a researcher in Norfolk, tells the story of Hetty Rhodes, who ushered dozens of people north with her wits and magical powers then settles in Philadelphia with her husband after the war. The pair start solving murders and mysteries that white authorities won’t touch. The book, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is due out in March.
Americans in Spain
A new exhibition opening Feb. 12 at the Chrysler Museum of Art explores the early 19th and 20th centuries when artists from all over the world flocked to Spain for inspiration. Co-organized by the Chrysler Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum, the exhibition is developed around each institution’s collection of American and old master paintings. Americans in Spain: Painting and Travel, 1820- 1920 features artists like Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Robert Henri, John Singer Sargent, and others alongside their Spanish contemporaries and the country’s old masters.
The exhibition will present more than 70 paintings alongside 19th century photographs, prints and travel guides. The works on view come from a wide range of national and international collections including the Prado Museum, Madrid; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Musée d’Orsay, Paris; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and others as well as a newly discovered painting by Cassatt from a Madrid private collection never before shown in the U.S.
Americans in Spain runs through May 16.
Richmond’s new star
Richmond’s Adarra was recently named one of the 20 best new restaurants in America by Esquire magazine. The two-year-old eatery, located in Jackson Ward, serves vibrant small plates inspired by the luxuriantly fatted lambs and long-cured fish of Spain’s Basque country. Adarra is a testament not just to the resilience of restaurants, but also the warmth, conviviality, sense of discovery and all of the other nice things a meal out can offer. Since opening in February 2019, it has also collected a number of local accolades, including four out of four stars from the Richmond Times-Dispatch and restaurant of the year from Style Weekly.
The restaurant is Basque not so much in its adherence to saffron-tinged recipes and red pepper vizcaína sauce, though these are present, but rather in the care it takes with the ingredients it serves. There is a near-rustic dedication to imparting the flavors of the land and sea. Each dish is both disarmingly simple, and less simple than it appears.
The cocktail menu, put together by Norfolk native Jas Singh, contains equal surprise, as with an unusually balanced and full-textured take on the Singapore sling, made with unfiltered sake and much less sweetness than the drink is known for. A cheekily named But Really, Why Wouldn’t You Be Anti-Fascist is a gentle and meal-friendly take on a Negroni, using floral Japanese gin.
A meal at Adarra, over time, takes on the character of intimate conversation, prodded along by uncommonly gracious and knowledgeable staff. Each item, each off-kilter drink or unexpectedly full-flavored fish conserva, is like a story you’d never heard in quite this form. And at least on our visit, none was off-color, nor overstayed its welcome.
The future is hazyin Newport News
Downtown Newport News has a new home for hazy IPAs and other craft beer fan favorites. Coastal Fermentory, at the southern edge of downtown near City Hall at 206 23rd St., is a brewery project that a trio of partners began more than a year ago in a zone of idle warehouses city officials hope will become a new restaurant row.
“With the shipyard here and all the municipal buildings down in the downtown area, there’s a lot of activity,” says co-owner Mike Reppert, who works part time as an engineer at the nearby Newport News Shipbuilding. “I feel like it’s (a) pretty untapped area.”
In addition to its six-table patio, the brewery offers about 2,000 square feet of floor space abutting Coastal Fermentory’s 10-barrel brewing system — with additional space for a barrel-aging program and two large foeders for Belgian-style experiments in mixed fermentation. The brewery’s neighbor, Ironclad Distillery Co., is allowing the brewery to use their bourbon barrels to age boozy stouts.
Our new obsession
If you are like us and have wrestled with some, ahem, weight issues while trapped inside this year, you may not want to read this next one. There is a gourmet ice cream sandwich maker in Richmond that creates treats so good they make the ones you got after losing those little league games look like mud pies.
Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches, founded in 2016 by Hannah Pollack and her husband, Brussels, Belgium, native Xavier Meers, specializes in ice cream sandwiches with names like Fat Banana, Cookie Monster and Chocolate Espresso.
The couple met working with one another at the former luxury restaurant Belle Vie European Bistro and we can only assume that when that ended, they sat in a room and asked themselves, “How can we ruin everyone’s diets?”
Well congrats Nightingale, it worked!
Check ‘em out
After a little more than two years, Bennett Wales & The Relief is back with Album II, a respectable sophomore effort that, according to The Virginian-Pilot’s music writer Amy Poulter, covers a range of human emotions, from “Hey Otto” – about the tragedy of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier – to “The War”, “a jangly piano tune about unity versus division but more importantly, hope, evident in Wales’ buttery warm vocals.”
Filled with the spirits
Virginia’s own A. Smith Bowman Distillery won big at the 2020 International Spirits Challenge, receiving gold, silver and bronze medals. It took top honors for Abraham Bowman Limited Edition Virginia Whiskey, Bowman Brothers Small Batch Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey and John J. Bowman Single Barrel Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Silver medals went to Isaac Bowman Port Finished Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Sunset Hills Small Batch Gin and Deep Run Small Batch Vodka. George Bowman Small Batch Dark Rum took home the bronze.
“We are thrilled to have such a variety of spirits recognized by such well-respected judges across multiple categories,” says Brian Prewitt, master distiller.
A feather in their cap
A turkey-feather mantle hand-woven by a leading member of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe in the 1930s is among the featured objects in Jamestown Settlement’s new exhibition titled FOCUSED: A Century of Virginia Indian Resilience.
The mantle, which is a ceremonial garment worn by Native Americans to display authority, joins other significant Virginia Indian objects and photographs taken from the early 1900s to present day, acquired from professional and personal collections. Woven together, they tell the stories of the state’s Native Americans and their perseverance over the past century, from the passage and repeal of the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 to the more recent state and federal recognition of numerous Virginia tribes.
On the Table
Just Wing It!
By now, everyone has perfected their takeout game. But occasionally you want to break from the regular lineup and try something more adventurous. My newest addiction are the Korean-fried chicken wings made at Wing It inside Sk8 House Virginia Beach, a 27,000-square-foot space that boasts not only a roller-skating rink but also a mini-food hall with several small vendors serving boba tea, pizza, coffee and, of course, wings.
I call Wing It about once a week. With at least nine different varieties of bone-in and boneless wings, everyone will find something they like. My favorite is the dakgangjeong style. “Dak” means chicken and “gangjeong” denotes a sweet, fried confection commonly made in Korea. The wings are double fried to get extra crispiness. The sauce, a mix of soy sauce, garlic, sugars and other ingredients, blend to make a sticky, salty, sweet glaze. The wings and the sauce are made-to-order then tossed with spicy chilies and sprinkled with peanuts, scallions and sesame seeds. They are simply divine.