There’s a lot of things I really love about my city. I love all the history,and I love the random historical factoids I’ve learned over the years about the founding of Richmond. I love that people can visit and I can rattle on about Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech while I take them past the church where that speech was spoken, and also where Edgar Allan Poe’s mother is buried. I love the seasons, even though I’ll complain about the humidity and the pollen and the mosquitoes each and every year and swear it’s never, ever been this bad. I love the people and the culture and the river, but most of all, I really love how good we are at food festivals.
I’m not exaggerating when I say there’s a food festival pretty much every single weekend of the summer and that we’ve got a festival for just about any sort of cuisine or food you’d like to eat. I’ve lived here 10 years and I’ve probably only been to half the food festivals, so really, when I tell you to come visit, you should, and I can almost guarantee that there’ll be a food festival when you visit and so we will go and it will be amazing and then you will fall in love with this precious Southern city that I’ve loved to call home for so many years.
In the past two weeks, I’ve been a food festival fool.
FIRST: THE GREEK FESTIVAL.
This is one of Richmond’s most popular festivals and because it’s so popular, it’s always, always, always packed. The good news is the booze lines are usually short, and so the right way to do the Greek Festival is to go with a friend, then get a bottle of wine, then get in the food line and then drink the majority of that wine in said food line, leaving just enough to enjoy with your delicious gyro, or whatever other Greek food stuffs you decide to consume, and then by the time you make it to the front of the line, you’re happy and tipsy and that little booze buzz you’ve got going on just makes the food taste that much more delicious.
Last year I didn’t get to go to the Greek Festival because I was out of town and it very nearly broke my heart because I spend the entire spring, each spring YEARNING for one of those gyros.
AND THEN: BROAD APPÉTIT.
I’ve always worked during the weekend of Broad Appètit, and so, when I learned I wouldn’t be working this year, I was determined to go. Broad Appètit takes over a few blocks of Broad Street, one of the major streets in this here city of mine, and along those few blocks local eateries set up their tents and offer up a few delicious plates for $3 each. There’s beer too, all local, for $5 a cup. It’s the absolute most perfect time to try food from restaurants you’ve mean meaning to try.
I tried four plates, including fried green tomatoes, pork sliders and a beef tamale. I think my favorite part was wandering around checking out the menus and trying to narrow it down to just the things I really, really wanted to try, along with the actual eating of the things.
AND THEN, THE BACON FESTIVAL.
That’s right. I said Bacon Festival.
Richmond had it’s very first Bacon Festival this past weekend and I went alone, mostly because I realized recently that going to things alone can be pretty awesome, and while the heat and the crowds were painful at best, there was bacon and beer, and that made up for almost everything.
As it turns out, Richmond really loves bacon, and a whole bunch of local Richmond restaurants came out to show the city their best take on bacon-infused dishes. I had a bacon-wrapped, pimento-stuffed jalapeno, a bacon & gouda grilled cheese & pierogi nachos, a few beers, and a delicious little slider with bacon aioli, and it was all delicious.
And that was just the first two weekends of June. I’ve still got a whole summer of food festival adventures stretched out in front of me, which helps make the mosquitoes and the humidity just a little bit more bearable.