The Slice: Chicken wings, noodles, and Szechuan Sauce

 Merroir--Where the joys are. Photo by Stephanie Ganz.

Merroir--Where the joys are. Photo by Stephanie Ganz.

SOUL PATROL

There's a new market headed for Church Hill in early 2018. Soul 'n' Vinegar announced plans to open in March 2018, with pop-up appearances places like Sub Rosato and The Robinson Theater along the way. Soul 'n' Vinegar received a 2017 Capital One/LISC/Bon Secours’ SEED grant, which provides necessary funds for business development for this R Street location. Owner Michelle Parrish currently holds a catering license and, according to the Soul 'n' Vinegar website, plans to provide healthy, affordable meals for Church Hill residents.

READY YOUR WETNAPS

This Sunday, October 15th is the 4th Annual Kickin' Chicken Wing Festival at the 17th Street Market from 12:00 to 5:00. Think of this like one long day of tailgating without all the pesky sports (JK, they will be showing the San Fransisco 49ers / Washington Breadsticks game on the big screen).

For a suggested donation of $1, which goes to EnRichmond, you'll enjoy access to more than a healthy amount of wings from folks like Chef Mamusu's Africanne Restaurant, Addis Ethiopian Restaurant, Bottom Burger, Buffalo Wild Wings, Inner City Blues home of Carolina Bar B Que, Legend Brewing Company, Manchu LLC, Minibar RVA, The Pot, and Tri City Concessions. Pepcid not included.

NOODLES WITH BENEFITS

Monday, October 16th from 5:00 to 9:00, The Jackdaw and Kudzu folks team up for an evening benefitting the American Cancer Society. The first-come, first-serve pop-up will feature four noodly options, including ramen and pancit, plus a small menu of starters including deviled eggs and roasted bone marrow. 

ICYMI: LUNCH AT SABAI

Sabai is now serving lunch, starting at 11:30, Friday through Sunday! 

HIGH FIVES TO MERROIR

Located in Topping, VA, my Official Happy Place, Merroir was recognized by People Magazine as the most popular restaurant in Virginia in their "The Most Popular Restaurant in Every State (and Washington DC)" feature. I can't say I'm surprised, as it is impossible to have a bad time at Merroir unless you have a shellfish allergy and then, I guess, you're used to disappointment.

Dinamo Amore Maria

HURRICANES ARE THE WORRRST

Hate hurricanes, love pizza? On Sunday, October 29th from 5:00 to 9:00 pm, Dinamo will host a benefit for Hurricane Irma relief. Live music, pizza, doggza*, wine (provided by the good folks at Free Run) and beer! The standing-room-only benefit will offer pizza and doggza by the slice (or dog, as the case may be), and 100% of profits will go directly to Sister Islands in St. Croix

*What is Doggza, you ask? I ASKED THE SAME THING! According to Dinamo FOH manager Abi Huntington, "Think personal pan pig in a blanket. A Sabrett hotdog baked in pizza dough with provolone served with mustard."

(WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM) SZECHUAN SAUCE AND MYSTERY OREOS

Two national marketing campaigns caught my attention this week for their parallels and potential takeaways.

The first is McDonald's sadly failed attempt to reintroduce their Szechuan Sauce, a limited run nugget dippy that was created to coincide with the release of Mulan back in the day. The cult-fave show Rick and Morty used the sauce as a punchline to an episode, and the Szechuan Fever caught on. Fans of Rick and Morty latched onto the the teriyaki flavored promise of bringing back the sauce, and McDonald's was supposed to release a limited amount at select stores this past Saturday. The problem: Too many fans, not enough sauce. Drama ensued. McDonald's issued an apology and vowed to make it right in early 2018.

Then came the release of mystery flavored Oreos. The promotion was simple: Buy the Oreos, eat them, guess their flavor, submit a guess on a special Oreos website, and then one person could win a $50,000 grand prize and five others could win $10,000 slightly less-grand prizes. Quickly, the internet dismantled the Oreos (and then came a slew of yawner jokes about the flavor of tears and disappointment. C'mon, jokesters, that is low-hanging fruit. Push yourselves!) The consensus is that the flavor is (not good) some sort of fruity cereal--Fruity Pebbles, Fruit Loops, or as Food & Wine suggests, Cereal Milk, which I hope is true just to enjoy Christina Tosi's inevitable reaction to it: "Come up with your own universe, Oreo!"

Here are my takeaways:

  • This is classic example "no publicity is bad publicity" (though a tad worse for McDonald's, who really underestimated the power of nerds on this one). Here I am, talking about two national brands to which I usually don't give a second thought, a conversation I've repeated several times this week. My time spent thinking about McDonald's and Oreos is up about 500% over most weeks. Will it translate to me making a purchase? Probably not, BUT STILL.
  • Running any promotion is about managing expectations. It's about being one step ahead of your audience. While it's true that scarcity drives demand, an unreasonable amount of scarcity drives people being pissed. Sometimes a long line can be a good thing, but a line with no reward at the end almost never is.
  • Wendy's is the best at Twitter, and we could learn a lot from their ability to harness what feels like an authentic (and clever) voice.

SIP OF THE WEEK: ARDENT CRAFT ALES' VAULTED VANILLA MILK STOUT

In honor of CF Sauer's 130th Anniversary, the spice slingers have teamed up with the brewers at Ardent to create a special small batch milk stout using Sauer's aged Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract. They'll release limited quantities this Saturday from 12:00 to 10:00 pm and, there will be cookies--Sugar + Twine cookies to be exact. 

BITE OF THE WEEK: WHISK'S FREEZER-TO-OVEN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Speaking of cookies, if you have an inner cookie monster lurking, it is best to be equipped for cookie cravings at any given time. Whisk is making it easier with a new line of freezer-to-oven cookies, available at the bakery and at Stella's Grocery for $12/bag. I will not judge you if you eat these dough balls by themselves, but consider baking them because they are very delicious right from the oven.

GRAM OF THE WEEK: @RVAFOLKFEST

Follow along with Richmond's best loved festival all weekend long!

Stephanie GanzComment