Spice Diva moves next door to expand selection
The lights are out and the doors are closed at The Spice Diva’s original Main Street Market location, but don’t panic. Owner Phyllis Hunter didn’t close up shop—in fact, she did the exact opposite. Two weeks ago, she hauled her hundreds of jars further inside the market into the space next to Orzo.
The new location, only a few yards away from the original spot, is what Hunter has had in mind for years. The entrance is lined with the familiar rainbow of spice jars, ranging from turmeric and saffron to 24 chili powders and housemade seasonings and rubs. And now, with more space, she’s expanded the selection of non-spice products, such as loose leaf teas, oils and vinegars, cocktail ingredients and cookbooks.
“The little shop got so full that I really had to do something else,” Hunter says. “It’s not just going to a bigger shop. It’s a completely different concept. It has departments now instead of just shelves.”
New items also include sweet offerings. Coming soon to separate corners of the shop are a case full of Belgian chocolates and a little rollaway freezer with tubs of freshly made gelato from Splendora’s.
Perhaps the biggest change, though, is the addition of cooking classes. The space includes a kitchen with a long countertop big enough for a group of 12. Next week Donnie Glass (formerly of Public Fish & Oyster and owner of recently opened Banyan Day Provisions) will begin a five-week series of classes called Cooking Creatively—classes begin at 7pm on Wednesdays, and include stocks and sauces; braising and roasting; steaming and poaching; raw preparation; and grilling and searing.
Local food historian Leni Sorensen will host two classes, one examining the cookbook The Virginia Housewife and one focusing on African-American cuisine and its role in Southern foodways. Other upcoming events include Knife Skills with Alex Import of JM Stock Provisions, Paella with Tomas Rahal of Mas and How to Cook Veggies with Orzo’s Pete Evans.
For more information and to sign up for classes, check out thespicediva.com/cook-with-the-diva.
Taste of what’s to come
A few lucky guests recently enjoyed a sneak peek of one of this year’s most anticipated openings, Junction, the Belmont restaurant whose chef is four-time James Beard semi-finalist Melissa Close-Hart. Junction, located across the street from The Local, also owned by Adam Frazier, will be a saloon-style restaurant where “modern Mexican meets Old West.” This means a focus on Southwestern and steakhouse-style cuisine, with a bar driven by both tequila and whiskey.
Last week, The Local hosted a Junction preview dinner, benefiting The International School and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, which was so popular it sold out in just four minutes. Guests sampled dishes such as pozole verde, a Mexican stew with hominy, cabbage, radish, avocado and fresh herbs. Dessert included three-chili-spiked fried ice cream, with Kahlua crème anglaise, salted caramel and toasted almonds. On hand to emcee was Craig Hartman, of The Barbeque Exchange, who said he can’t wait for Junction to open. Well, he will have to wait a little while longer—Junction is set to open this summer.
Nothing says happy hour like pizza and beer. Or pizza and cocktails. Or pizza and wine. Or pizza and anything, really. Last month Red Pump Kitchen launched its new happy hour menu. Available from 5-7pm every day (including weekends), it features $4 draft beer, $7 specialty wine and $10 craft cocktails, plus a nightly chef’s special pizza for $10.
There’s also a new “bar bites” menu with shareable plates available from 8pm to close every day. That menu includes a charcuterie platter, braised duck sliders with housemade pickles, pizzettes and desserts such as chocolate panna cotta.