Oh Hello There

After a very long break, I'd like to welcome you to the new Broad Appetite! I was fortunate enough to have the beautiful and talented designer, Carrie Walters, create my new logo and help with web design. Carrie is not only a master of her trade, but she has a passion for food - so much so that she published a cookbook, 804ork. It's a gorgeous collection of recipes from some of Richmond's best restaurants. I've actually been helping her with photography and recipe editing for the second edition of the book. 

Speaking of what I've been up to while MIA, here are a few pictures from the past few months. 

I went on my very first Caribbean vacation to Grand Cayman. I've never seen water so clear and beaches so white. I instantly fell in love with the Island and its food. 

I went on my very first Caribbean vacation to Grand Cayman. I've never seen water so clear and beaches so white. I instantly fell in love with the Island and its food. 

One of the world's most interesting creatures in the wild.

One of the world's most interesting creatures in the wild.

Rum Point, Grand Cayman

Rum Point, Grand Cayman

Fresh coconut water

Fresh coconut water

It was so weird to see lizards all over the island instead of squirrels.

It was so weird to see lizards all over the island instead of squirrels.

Ackee and Codfish - A classic Cayman dish & my new favorite breakfast

Ackee and Codfish - A classic Cayman dish & my new favorite breakfast

While we were in Cayman Tommy proposed. We're thinking about going back to get hitched. 

While we were in Cayman Tommy proposed. We're thinking about going back to get hitched. 

Lately, I've been obsessed with the Pok Pok cookbook, and I'm working my way through each recipe. This is recipe #1 - deep fried whole fish with chile sauce (plaa thawt lat phrik)

Lately, I've been obsessed with the Pok Pok cookbook, and I'm working my way through each recipe. This is recipe #1 - deep fried whole fish with chile sauce (plaa thawt lat phrik)

The aftermath

The aftermath

Pok pok recipe #2 - Green curry with fish balls and eggplant (kaeng khiaw waan luuk chin plaa)

Pok pok recipe #2 - Green curry with fish balls and eggplant (kaeng khiaw waan luuk chin plaa)

Pok Pok Recipe #3 - Stir fried chicken with hot basil

Pok Pok Recipe #3 - Stir fried chicken with hot basil

Pok Pok Recipe #4 - Phat Thai

Pok Pok Recipe #4 - Phat Thai

Pok Pok Recipe #5 - Burmese-style pork belly curry (kaeng hung leh)

Pok Pok Recipe #5 - Burmese-style pork belly curry (kaeng hung leh)

Pok Pok Recipe #6 - Fried egg salad (yam khai dao)

Pok Pok Recipe #6 - Fried egg salad (yam khai dao)

Pok Pok Recipe #7 - Ike's Vietnamese Fish-Sauce Wings

Pok Pok Recipe #7 - Ike's Vietnamese Fish-Sauce Wings

Pok Pok Recipe #8 - Northern Thai curry noodle soup with chicken (khao soi kai)

Pok Pok Recipe #8 - Northern Thai curry noodle soup with chicken (khao soi kai)

Pok Pok Recipe #9 - Boat Noodles (kuaytiaw reua)

Pok Pok Recipe #9 - Boat Noodles (kuaytiaw reua)

I visited City Museum in Saint Louis, Missouri. This is one of the coolest places on earth, and I don't understand how it's not talked about more. It's a giant interactve art installation housed inside (and out) of an old shoe factory. You could spend days exploring every crevice of this unbelievable space. I would go back to Saint Louis just to see it again.  

I visited City Museum in Saint Louis, Missouri. This is one of the coolest places on earth, and I don't understand how it's not talked about more. It's a giant interactve art installation housed inside (and out) of an old shoe factory. You could spend days exploring every crevice of this unbelievable space. I would go back to Saint Louis just to see it again.  

My dad moved from Virginia to California this summer. so I helped him pack up his car and we drove across country together. 

My dad moved from Virginia to California this summer. so I helped him pack up his car and we drove across country together. 

Arizona landscape

Arizona landscape

Chili mobile

Chili mobile

As I mentioned before, I helped with photography and recipe editing for the second addition of this cookbook. 

As I mentioned before, I helped with photography and recipe editing for the second addition of this cookbook. 

The 804ork cookbook is a collection of recipes from prominent Richmond chefs, so I was able to spend time in the kitchen with some chefs I really admire. This is Tim Laxton working his biscuit magic at Early Bird Biscuits Co.

The 804ork cookbook is a collection of recipes from prominent Richmond chefs, so I was able to spend time in the kitchen with some chefs I really admire. This is Tim Laxton working his biscuit magic at Early Bird Biscuits Co.

804ork recipe testing

804ork recipe testing

Although it may seem I was keeping pretty busy, the truth is I was in a blogger rut. For the past few months I was completely unable to bring myself to post. 

After reading a slew of self-help books (recommendations below) to get to the root of my paralysis, I’m finally moving forward.

My official line to you guys (and myself) was that I needed time to revamp the website and work on other projects. But when those were done, I still hesitated. Why? To answer that, I had to be really honest with myself.

I found myself feeling anxious and insecure. And the blog started to feel less like fun and more like a chore.

After winning Saveur’s Best New Blog award in 2014, I suddenly felt a new pressure to perform and constantly compared myself to other, better, food bloggers. I was offered promotional products and opportunities, and was obligating myself to things I felt lukewarm about. Also, the more food blogs I followed the more they all started to look the same, and I knew my blog was no different.

I was getting jaded. The blog was going down a certain path at full speed, and I wasn’t sure if it was the direction I wanted. The problem was, I didn’t know which way I wanted it to go.

So I put on the brakes and took a vacation from it all, a much-needed break to relax, think, and course correct. At first, it felt amazing to completely disconnect. It was so nice not to worry about how many page views, likes, or shares I got. I felt liberated from the need to instagram and tweet every morsel I ate. I could just enjoy.

But after a while it started to feel more like I was giving up rather than just taking some time. I felt like I was letting everyone down (including myself), and I’d grimace every time my mom called and asked about my next post.

For the last couple months, I’d wake up determined to start back up. I would have grand plans to test recipes, practice photography, and write – only to end up doing nothing and feeling even worse about myself when I went to bed. I knew I wasn’t lazy, so I didn’t understand why I couldn’t get myself moving.

So I starting reading book after book about personal success and professional effectiveness. I read about procrastination and motivation. I started meditating in the morning, and I really analyzed my feelings. I realized that I got caught up with making the blog a “success.” I worried too much about what everyone else thought. Instead of being motivated by an excitement for food, I was driven by a fear of failure, which is a pretty stupid reason to do something that’s supposed to be fun.

So I decided I had two choices. Either continue working on the blog, knowing there would be ups and downs and a lot of hard work, or quit and feel the pain of regret and unfulfilled potential. I decided on the former, but this time around I would drop the fear. I vowed the blog would be my space on the web where I would share only those things that are a true expression of myself.

I still don’t know exactly what I want from this blog, but that will come in time. What I know for sure is that I’m going to blog for myself first, and if anyone enjoys it - that will be a bonus. I've made a promise to myself that Broad Appetite will always be a creative project that will come from a place of excitement and possibility.


If you're ever in a professional, personal, or even spiritual rut like I was, I highly recommend the following books:

Blog Vacation - Taking a Break for a Redesign and to Help with a Cookbook!

Sometimes it's best to take a step back and assess the state of things. I'm working on a brand new look for the blog, as well as helping with photography and recipe editing/testing for the new 804ork cookbook. So I'm going to take a few weeks to work on these projects and really think about the direction of the blog. See you soon!

Weekend Trip: Raleigh, North Carolina

I have a globetrotting friend who finally wants to plant some roots and buy a house. He and his wife work from home and can move anywhere their hearts desire. So they enlisted me to help them vet their options, and I was specifically tasked with researching the restaurant scene. Last weekend we all packed our bags and spent a few days exploring one of their top contenders – Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Choosing a city that will be your “forever” home is a weighty venture. There are countless variables to consider, which can overwhelm even the most Zen among us. And after carefully analyzing everything from the local economy to the proximity of Whole Foods to your front steps, you may still end up with a shitty next-door neighbor. 

That’s why it’s great to start your research with something digestible like restaurants. It’s an easy and entertaining way to map out different neighborhoods and get a feel for the area’s demographics. A thriving farmer’s market can speak volumes more than the dry statistics posted on the city's website. It’s also an opportunity to interact with the locals or simply people watch. And if after all your careful planning, you still manage to move next to a Ned Flanders, at least you know you can eat away your pain with some good grub!

Here are a few of the stellar meals we had in Raleigh. 

Stanbury:  This hip eatery is tucked away in a charming residential neighborhood only minutes from downtown Raleigh. The restaurant exudes cool, from the tasteful Star Wars/taxidermy decor to the stylishly dressed servers. It's clear that the Stanbury isn't boxed in by a theme, and this is reflected in it's eclectic menu. I enjoyed oysters from North Carolina and an African steak tartare served with injera, the spongy flatbread served with every Ethiopian meal. Next up was the standout dish of the night, the grilled broccoli. It had an Asian flare, with its delicious black bean sauce and crushed peanuts, and was served next to a deep fried, soft boiled egg. The meal stayed strong with perfectly cooked scallops and an Indian cherry pound cake. 

Merritts Store and Grill: We zipped over to Chapel Hill to try the legendary BLT from Merritt's Store and Grill. I loved this place from the moment I walked through the door and was hit in the face with bacon fumes. The aroma of bacon was so dense, that I could smell it on my clothes all day (NOT a bad thing in my book). I ordered the BLT with avocado on sourdough; the bread was fresh, the bacon was thick, and the cooks didn't skimp on the mayo. My eyes were rolling into the back of my head as I ate - it was that good! As a sweet bonus Merritt's sells homemade versions of classic Hostess pastries. They are also not to be missed.  

Videri Chocolate Factory I've been a long time fan of Videri's handcrafted bean-to-bar chocolates, and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to stop by the factory and watch the chocolate makers in action. The care that goes into these chocolates is mind boggling. The cocoa beans are hand sorted before they are ground and tempered into a rich, intense chocolate. While there, I snagged a few Stumptown Coffee Truffles and an incredibly delicious hot chocolate at their coffee bar.  

Trophy Brewery & Pizza Co.: During the trip we encountered nothing but mixed precipitation and freezing cold temperatures, so pizza and beer was in order. Trophy Brewery satisfied our craving. The beer out-shined the pizza, and I especially enjoyed the Double Death Spiral, a floral and fruity IPA. The pizza dough lacked depth and the springy chew I love, but there were a plethora of interesting toppings to choose from: herb roasted carrots, swiss chard, ghost pepper salami, and lamb sausage to name a few. 

Neomonde -  When I first visited Neomonde Lebanese Deli 6 years ago, I was a novice to Mediterranean food. I was accustomed to bland hummus and dense baklava, so the diverse options in the sprawling deli case was eye-opening. I was impressed when asked if I wanted a drizzle of olive oil and a few olives to top my baba ganoush. And the delicious white sauce that came with the tender, chargrilled kabobs was unapologetically garlicky. The pastry case was jammed full of exotic desserts I'd never heard of, such as maamoul, basbouseh, and namoura. I saw that Neomonde baked everything onsite, so every pita and dessert I tried was fresh from the oven. Now every time I'm in Raleigh, I make a point to get my Neomonde fix.

Cleaning Out the Fridge and Finding Coconut Bread Pudding

Sometimes the best dishes emerge from the random assortment of ingredients found in the forgotten reaches of your fridge. Limiting yourself to the items you have on hand has a surprisingly positive effect on creativity. Instead of wasting energy deciding among a limitless array of ingredients, you’re focused on what’s in front of you. This was how my coconut bread pudding was born – from the ashes of stale bread and leftover coconut cream. 

I was in rare form and cleaning out the fridge when I came across some bread that was so hard it could cut your gums. I also unearthed half a can of coconut cream I’d given up on. My impulse was to throw both in the trash; after all this was refrigerator-purge day. Instead I harnessed my inner thrifty grandma and went to work salvaging the food. 

Like any sensible cook, I decided bread pudding was the best course of action. I had a few eggs and some milk to contribute to the custard. And instead of adding white sugar to sweeten the pudding, I opted for the crystalized honey I’d neglected for months. I whipped up my wet ingredients and tossed in my hard bread for a long needed soak. 

After a 45 minute stint in the oven, I sampled my improvised creation and was a bit let down. It was okay but wasn’t as sweet and moist as I had hoped. Quickly the feeling of self-doubt and failure began to set in, but before it took over I had an idea. I’d make a caramel sauce with the remaining coconut cream; and since caramel is just sugar and fat it theoretically should work…right? Miraculously, a beautiful mahogany sauce formed in my pan and my confidence was restored. I poured every bit of the caramel over the pudding and left it to soak. 

The result was everything I’d hoped – sticky, ultra rich, and unapologetically coconut-y. I alone devoured the pan’s contents in 3 days flat. Not only was this dessert tasty, but it felt good to know that I didn’t let perfectly good food to go to waste. I have a theory that many of our most beloved dishes were created in this fashion, from carbonara to gazpacho. For centuries, humble cooks have made meals from what they could and over time those dishes have became tradition. 

Coconut Bread Pudding with Coconut Caramel

Bread Pudding Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut (shredded)
  •  4 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups stale bread cubed
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Coconut Caramel Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons coconut cream
  • Pinch of salt

 Directions:

In a medium bowl beat eggs. Add coconut cream, milk, ½ cup shredded coconut, honey, and a pinch of salt. Mix well. Stir in the bread cubes and make sure there are submerged in the custard mixture. Cover and let sit for at least 1 hour (up to 4 hours depending on how hard your bread is).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of a baking dish (I used a loaf pan). Pour in your bread pudding mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of shredded coconut and bake for 15 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature.

In a medium sauce pan heat sugar over medium heat. Mix the sugar until all the crystals have melted and is caramel color. Add 6 tablespoons of coconut cream. Cook for 1 minute longer. Add a pinch of salt and remove from heat.

Pour the coconut caramel over the bread pudding. You can serve immediately or let the caramel soak into the pudding. Either way its delicious. 

Textured Ceramic White Plate from Shady Grove Pottery *

Pancake Art with RVA Pancake Love

The quickest way to a person’s heart is their stomach; in fact, my man reeled me in with his kitchen savvy. Food is a universal expression of love, and it’s impossible not to melt when someone makes you a golden stack of pancakes, capped with fresh butter and real maple syrup. And if those pancakes are heart shaped, the descent into love accelerates.

That’s the premise of this year’s Valentine's Day brunch fundraiser: pancakes, love, and community. RVA Pancake Love is an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast with 100% of the profits going to FeedMore, Central Virginia's leading food bank.

Not only will you delight in the pancakes, but you’ll also get a hefty dose of performance art. A prominent lineup of Richmonders has volunteered to be pancake artists, and will be cooking up unique flapjacks with a variety of themes: dinosaur, unicorn, Star Wars, and whatever else they dream up.  

So start your Valentine’s Day off on the right foot with a plate of edible art—a fun, delicious, and wonderful time for all. See you there!


What: Artistic Pancake Breakfast

Why: To benefit Feedmore, Central Virginia’s Food Bank (100% of proceeds will be donated)

When: Valentine’s Day (Saturday, February 14th, 2015) from 9:30am - Noon

Where: The Broadberry (2729 West Broad Street)

Cost: $15 for all-you-can-eat pancakes & $5 for kids 12 and under

How: Purchase tickets here: https://www.eventjoy.com/e/rvapancakelove