This post is sponsored by Wolf Gourmet.
I spent a weekend at Fire, Flour & Fork, a food festival in Richmond, Va. and discovered a total hidden gem. If the River City isn’t on your radar yet, it should be. As should Wolf Gourmet countertop appliances — at the end of this post, enter the giveaway for one of their powerful countertop ovens.
Let me be honest: Richmond was never really on my radar. It was the place my childhood neighbors used to live. It was the place I saw signs for on the way to and from Washington, D.C. It was a place I read about in history class.
But it was not a place I would ever think of as a foodie destination. New York, sure. Chicago, yes. Seattle, definitely. But not Richmond.
All of that changed when my friends at Wolf Gourmet invited me to attend a food festival they sponsored. Fire, Flour & Fork is a four-day food event in the capital city of Virginia for the ‘food curious.’
The whole weekend is focused on showcasing Richmond’s history and vibrant food scene. And boy, did it succeed! I haven’t been that full in ages. (Okay, just kidding. Thanksgiving was right after this trip and I was totally just as full then!)
Join me below for a full recap of FFF and an incredible giveaway from Wolf Gourmet at the end! We’re giving away one of their countertop ovens!
Click through to read more about my weekend at this food festival in Richmond!
My boyfriend Chris and I arrived in Richmond on a Thursday, in time for a quick lunch at Boulevard Burger & Brew (that neon sign!) before our bus tour of Scott’s Addition, which is a national historic district with lots of burgeoning businesses.
They called this kick-off event the Liquid Launch, because all we did was sample beverages. From whiskey at Reservoir Distillery to coffee at Ironclad Coffee Roasters to beer at Three Notch Brewing Company to cider at Buskey Cider and Blue Bee, this event was a delicious way to start off our long weekend.
Next we caught a book signing with one of my heroes, Vivian Howard for her new book Deep Run Roots (affiliate link). I had been looking forward to eating at her restaurant The Chef and the Farmer before my friend’s wedding recently, but the celebration was relocated due to Hurricane Matthew and so my friend and I had to cancel our reservation. Meeting Vivian was a real treat! She is a lovely woman in person.
Later that evening, we joined other FFF festival attendees for a great Friendsgiving. Chefs from all over Richmond prepared small bites and local wineries and breweries poured samples of their beverages. The whole evening was designed on a rustic, Thanksgiving theme in the stunning Hotel John Marshall. It was awesome to meet my Wolf Gourmet partners in person, too!
Afterward, we took an Uber to the Canal Walk and Casa del Barco for THE bartender battle. Local mixologists competed for the John Dabney Cup by creating crazy drinks with odd ingredients (like Cracker Jacks and eggnog!) and interesting tools (like the Wolf Gourmet High-Performance Blender). A panel of judges picked the winner: James Kohler from Saison. It was really fun to watch these guys at work!
We spent the weekend at the Hilton Richmond Downtown, which was perfectly centrally located to almost everything we did.
Chris and I spent Friday morning learning about barbecue with Tuffy Stone, one of the country’s top barbecue competitors. There are dozens of medals and trophies around his demonstration room to prove it.
As a North Carolina native, it’s sometimes hard for me to believe there are other ways to cook barbecue than the ones we Tar Heels made famous, but Tuffy put in a good case for Virginia barbecue. Tuffy showed us how to make rubs and marinades for chicken and ribs, then cooked them on the grill, over coals and over fire for our lunch.
Paired with sweet tea and sides — including some of the best mac & cheese of my life and a white barbecue sauce I’ll never forget — we ate a quick lunch before dashing off to our next event.
Next, we headed to The Rogue Gentleman for a class by the cocktail master himself, David Wondrich. I have read quite a bit of Wondrich’s articles on the history of various cocktails and his book Imbibe! (affiliate link) has been on my list for years, so I was really looking forward to his sessions. At this class, we talked about the history of rum and daiquiris. We tasted classic daiquiris that were nothing like the frozen kind at college bars — simply sugar, rum and lime juice. I enjoyed the Hemingway daiquiri, which is a a grapefruit version I’d never tried before.
After daiquiris, we went to another event with Wondrich — this time a punch party. Specifically, a madeira punch party. In the basement of the historic home of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, we nibbled on madeira cake, played quoits, sipped on two 1800s-era punches and sampled Broadbent madeira, which is a fortified wine. I have never known much about madeira, but you can bet I’ll be using it in cocktails from now on!
As many of the festival’s plated dinners were sold out, we did dinner and a movie on our own for a little break. After that, we headed to Pasture for a sweet, little after-party with the Fire, Flour & Fork crew and special guests. I loved this little restaurant and bar, and I wish I could come back for brunch on the regular!
We spent most of the day at The Valentine museum attending the ‘Class Pass’ series. It was a glorious (and scrumptious) morning of cooking demos and lectures on things like fermenting, mixing punches and mint juleps, pasta-making, pie-baking… you name it.
There was also an entire program dedicated to demonstrating the Wolf Gourmet products. I have a few but it was awesome to see what else they can do! I seriously did not know their blender could spin so fast it can heat up your food! What?! So great for things like soup and sauces, though. If you don’t have any of their awesome products, you can get yours at Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma.
And! You can enter to win your own Countertop Oven with Convection at the end of this post! Keep reading…
David Wondrich also taught a mint julep workshop. Yes, that’s now three demos by my cocktail hero! My favorite thing he said was that when you’re crushing ice for juleps, “smash it with a hammer like your boss’s Rolex is in it.” He’s so funny!
We also got to sample plethora of Virginia-made foods. There was juice and gin and chocolate and honey and cheese and meat. It was very clear to us how proud Virginians are of their craft food and drink culture. Most of the booths had products for sale, and I purchased a ginger shrub/drinking vinegar for cocktails from Mother Shrub.
After our workshops, we headed to Richmond City Hall’s observation deck for pie, popcorn and pop (AKA soda!) and gorgeous views of the city. We took a bite of every sweet and savory pie we could find, trying not to fill up too much for dinner! Our favorite was a Czech kolache from Craft Kolache — soft buns filled with meat that I could eat every day for the rest of my life.
Dinner was at Comfort. This event was titled “The War of Northern Ingestion,” as it was a collaborative effort between Boston chefs Michael Scelfo and Brian Mercury and Comfort’s Jason Alley.
These three crafted a North & South hybrid five-course meal, which Chris and I enjoyed with a local craft beer pairing at a family-style table. We were seated with two delightful older couples from Richmond who seemed to enjoy talking to us about their city.
The most memorable dish was a stew of rabbit, snails and fried oysters. One of the chefs even used a sea salt he made himself (!) with salt water he got in Massachusetts — incredible. The dessert was a luscious semifreddo with a bourbon foam on top and edible flowers. It was ridiculous!
Before we turned in for the night, we took our full bellies to Greenleaf Pool Room for a round of pool and pints. I loved this space, and if I lived in Richmond I could totally see myself returning here with girlfriends every weekend! It’s a gorgeous space that made me feel like I’d stepped back in time.
On our last day of Fire, Flour & Fork, we only had time for one more event before driving to Washington, D.C. for Thanksgiving with my brother. (We were already planning to do that, so when Wolf Gourmet invited me to Richmond for the festival the weekend before our trip, it worked out perfectly!)
We stopped by The Valentine again, this time for biscuits and bloodies. While we sipped on bloody marys made with local Belle Isle Craft Spirits and local Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix, chefs from local restaurants provided a spectrum of biscuits, which ranged in fluffiness and flavor. My favorite biscuit was a cheese biscuit and my favorite topping was maple butter! So good…
I was bummed that was our last event, but we had a lengthy walk back to our hotel and we used it to see a few more sites before we left town, like the Thomas Jefferson-designed Virginia capitol building and the luxurious Quirk Hotel I’d heard so much about!
Overall, I loved Fire, Flour & Fork! I am so appreciative of my relationship with Wolf Gourmet for bringing me to Richmond for the first time and showing me this city that’s rich with history and charm. I already have a list of places to go when I come back! // susannah
Disclosure: Thank you to Wolf Gourmet for inviting me on this amazing trip. I’m so grateful for opportunities like this. All opinions written are 100% my own. I only work with brands I know and love, and I thank you for supporting them!
Watch the video!
Video by Chris Henry Co.