What does the number 31 represent to you? If you first think of "days in a month" (well, many months), then boo to you. But if you said "ice cream," now we're talking.
In my youth, the Baskin-Robbins ice cream store was quite the destination, with 31 flavors tempting us from the glass case. But looking at the original 31 today, we might say ... meh. There was chocolate ... and chocolate almond ... and chocolate chip ... and chocolate fudge ... and chocolate mint ... and chocolate ribbon.
For a long time, such plainness marked American cooking, too. But thanks to Julia Child and the wise souls who plunked cookie dough and cake batter into ice cream, we now expect variety and flair in our savory and sweet delights, even if we don't know where the inspiration for such creativity came from.
Richmond being a hot restaurant town, we figured this would be a great place to dig into that idea. So in this edition of Discover Richmond, Joan Tupponce talks to a baker's dozen of notable local chefs to get behind the dish – to hear about what inspired them to craft an item that reflects their creativity and sensibility.
Among insights: Walter Bundy at Shagbark tells us about a million-dollar idea tied to ... an onion. Brittanny Anderson at Metzger Bar & Butchery respects an overlooked part of the pig. David Shannon at L'Opossum captures many colors of the rainbow in a sweet treat with special meaning. Michael Hall of Spoonbread Bistro honors molasses and Mom. And Carena Ives of Carena's Jamaican Grille finds flavor in the old rim of a tire. (Other chefs sharing their inspirations include Mike Ledesma and Nicole Jessee, who will be featured at the RTD’s A Taste of Richmond event on Thursday, April 20.)
If you're planning instead to eat in, then check out Holly Prestidge and Clare Schapiro, who put some spring into simple but tempting salads. And Colleen Curran gives us a look at what's hot in the kitchen – in terms of design.
We mix in plenty of history, too. With food on our minds, we asked the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities for insight into Virginia Indians ... and you might be surprised that some terminology we're familiar with today has direct links to their diet.
From Danville, Tiffany Holland digs in on a different matter. After Richmond fell to Union forces in the Civil War, Danville became the Confederate capital – but did it also become the burial site for Confederate treasure?
A half-century later, Virginia and the nation were on wartime footing again. This month marks the centennial of America's entry into World War I, and historian Charlie Bryan looks at Virginia in 1917, from its ramped-up industrialization to rumors of German spies in familiar towns.
In other features, we get to know "Mr. B," the longtime Atlee High School chorus director whose path to Hanover was anything but common. RTD meteorologist John Boyer debunks some weather myths, dining critic Jo Lord shares her mindset for restaurant reviews, and Leeanne Ladin highlights Secretariat, the Thoroughbred legend from Caroline County ... who, 45 years ago this year, actually lost his maiden race.
So that's the scoop for this issue. Make mine a double ... in a waffle cone.