Food Preview: Kanoa’s Latin Fusion Heads Off the Beaten Path

by Brandon Fox

UPDATE: Kanoa Latin Cuisine at 417 W. Grace St. is now open on Tuesdays-Saturdays for dinner.

Think about the look you see on someone’s face when he or she takes the first bite of something wonderful — that’s the look that keeps Yofre Blanco going.

His Mechanicsville restaurant, Sapori Italian and Latin Cafe (not to be confused with Sapori Italian Restaurant in Chesterfield) closed in December. But undaunted, Blanco plans to open another, Kanoa, on West Grace Street this spring.

“I learned what I needed to learn [at Sapori] and I’m bringing it here,” Blanco says. “I took the good, the bad and will merge it to make the best.”

Kanoa’s future home is about a block from the arts district on Broad Street, and Blanco plans to bring Latin fusion cuisine to the area. He becomes passionate when he talks about food. Arepas (corn-meal flatbread), cachapas (a thin corn pancake), pabellòn criollo (rice, black bean and slow-cooked beef) — these are things Blanco grew up with in his native Venezuela and wants to share with Richmond.

He’ll also draw from Peru, Bolivia, along with other South American countries for inspiration — and even Mediterranean cuisine. Because, as he says, “Why not try to do different things?”

Blanco wants to use as many organic and local ingredients as he can and has already lined up a purveyor that he used at Sapori who farms without chemicals. “When he starts planting,” Blanco says, “he calls me.”

The design for the long interior of Kanoa leans toward urban rustic: reclaimed wood, Edison bulbs and big graphics. The space will be loosely divided into three spaces, with dining in the front, the bar in the middle, and communal and private seating in the back. There’s even a chef’s table planned for Kanoa’s huge kitchen.

Blanco wants to mount rotating art shows, poetry readings, live music and dancing. In addition, the restaurant will offer delivery and a weekly lunch package for area businesses.

A big outdoor mural on the restaurant’s western-facing wall also is in the works. “Richmond is becoming an international city. We have people coming from every single corner of the world,” Blanco says. “We accept everyone and everyone is welcome. That’s what I want the wall to say to people.”

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A New Bakery for Jackson Ward

We’ve been waiting impatiently for Nettie’s Naturally Bakery and Café to open in Jackson Ward and owner Lynette Potgieter is planning to do just that next month. Potgieter began baking organic, gluten-free — and most importantly — low-glycemic goods about two years ago and sells them in places like the Daily Kitchen & Bar, Shield’s Market, Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market and Whole Foods.

A bakery and café is a logical extension of her wholesale bakery business,Nettie’s Naturally. Health is Potgieter’s primary focus. Diabetes runs in her family, and she wanted to offer bakery items made with coconut-based sugar, an ingredient that doesn’t spike blood sugar the way that other sweeteners do. Using other organically produced ingredients and keeping the recipes gluten-free also made sense.

Check back next week: We’ll sit down with Potgieter and talk more in depth about the things she makes and plans for her café, plus a photo preview of the space.

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Charles Bradley To Play Diamond

Well, this is good news.

One of the great near misses of past Friday Cheers shows occurred in 2013 when Daptone recording artist Charles Bradley — a soul singer and performer not to be missed — showed up at Brown’s Island and was met by a torrential downpour. He was game though and played a short set as about 100 people cowered to the side of the stage, blasted by the rain.

Looks like Bradley will be returning with his band to Richmond on Friday, Oct. 2 as past of the RVA Field of Dreams Fest which is being held at the Diamond. The event also features former local band since gone to Colorado – the Congress – as well as the Neil Tibert Band and more groups to be announced.

If you haven’t heard him before, here is Bradley singing the Black Sabbath tune “Changes” backed by the Budos Band and making it deeply soulful.

Proceeds go towards the betterment of Richmond’s inner-city youth baseball facilities and the advancement of STEM learning opportunities in the community. Per the website: “Tickets range from $25-$100 depending on the level of amenities included with your ticket purchase.” You can follow updates here.

Another summer show announced recently: Seattle drone doom group Earth will be playing with Brooklyn’s Holy Suns at Strange Matter on Aug. 30. Expect tickets to move on that one. A little trivia: Earth, which takes its name from the original moniker for Black Sabbath, is fronted by Dylan Carlson, who some may recognize as Kurt Cobain’s former roommate, who (sadly) lent his friend the shotgun that would claim his life.

Here’s video of the band performing in the lovely German city of Stuttgart (I visited there once to watch a friend’s band record an album and remember they had cool rock shows on abandoned old train cars). Nice place.

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Gableman hopes to reel Rindfleisch (and Scott Walker’s secrets) back to Wisconsin

Dear Readers: We have some John Doe II news to talk about. I’m not absolutely positive what’s up – but I have some strong suspicions, which I will go into. Whatever’s going down, the timing of this could not be more threatening to Scott Walker’s impending presidential campaign. First you need to know that the more »

An Uncomfortable Conversation: Bastard Hits the Road

You try your best to have a civilized conversation; a cordial back-and-forth where two individuals tactfully and respectfully get down to brass tacks and get real with one another. You rehearse what you have to say in the mirror over and over, searching for just the right words to be sensitive yet firm, considerate yet straightforward. You do this, because you care deeply for the individual who will later replace that mirror. After all, much like that person staring back at you from that pane of reflective glass, the guy you have to have this sit-down with reminds you a lot of you. He is family, after all, and though you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, there are undeniable bonds. You’ve been through everything together over the past 17 years and, though it sometimes felt like the distance between you was immeasurable, he was always there, the weight of his presence and that insatiable ego of his casting an ever-present shadow over every significant moment in a history that is storied in great part thanks to him. Still, you can’t let that sway you from this inevitable come-to-Jesus moment, so you sit him down and tell him that he’s gotten too big for his britches; enough that he’s soiling yours to a degree. You deliver what you hope is a masterfully convincing dissertation, ending it with an open invitation for your conversational partner to say something for themselves…perhaps even offer an iota of understanding. Heck, with any luck you might even get out of this one with a hug and some shared mistiness. But, no. Not with this Arrogant Bastard

What does this mean for our sudden anti-hero? He’s hitting the road, but what does that mean? Your guess is as good as ours. We’ve housed this haughty rabble-rouser for the past 17 years and, though he’s always kept his distance, his omnipotence has been undeniable. Given that, one has to ask: What does this mean for us? For the Stone Brewing Co.? We’ll surely get along just fine, but things will certainly be different around here. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a really bad thing. Again, your guess is as good as ours. We’ll all have to wait and see how it plays out, how this Bastard’s story plays out. It may be a tale marked by victory of the highest order, or it may be a long, winding road ending at a tragic dead-end—or off a cliff. But one thing’s for certain. It won’t be dull. And nothing will ever be the same again…

Fox News: Meet the PARCC Test Maker!

Chris Wallace on Fox News interviewed Laura Slover, identified as the CEO of the federally funded PARCC.

The interview–and the description of Common Core and PARCC on the Fox website–repeats common myths about both.

This is how PARCC is described:

“PARCC is one of two nonprofits set up by states to test how students are measuring up to Common Core education standards.”

But PARCC and the other testing program were not created by the states. They were both created by the U.S. Department of Education with a grant of $360 million.

No mention of the fact that numerous states have backed out of PARCC. It started with 24 states. Now it’s down to 12 states and D.C.

And then comes a slew of bogus claims. See how many you can count:

Slover says:

“”I think it’s vital that we set a high standard for kids, because if we build it, they will come,” Slover said. “If we expect a lot of kids, they rise to the occasion.”

“Wallace noted that the main complaint about Common Core testing is that it is part of a federal takeover of local schools.

Slover asserted that it’s actually a state-driven program, and states make all the decisions.

“As a parent, I can understand why there are concerns about testing,” Slover said, adding that she wants her daughter taking the tests. “I want to be sure she’s learning. I want to be sure she’s on grade level. And I want to be sure she knows how to do math and is prepared for the next grade.”

“She asserted that for far too long a child’s success has been determined by their parents’ income level and where they grew up.

“We think it’s critical that kids all have opportunities, whether they live in Mississippi or Massachusetts or Colorado or Ohio,” Slover said. “They should all have access to an excellent education. And this is a step in the right direction.”

Biggest bogus claim: if all kids have the same standards and same tests, all children will learn the same things in the same way and will have high test scores. The path to an excellent education requires standardization.