|Photo by Pableaux Johnson|
I'm Nicole Lang, an ex-record-store-nerd, cheesmonger, sometimes filmmaker , and on-and-off pastry cook. I spent my first 32 years in New England and New York City.
In 2006, my then-bandmate (now husband) booked a tour for us that had a stop in Richmond. He is a Virginia native, by way of Danville. I'd always been intrigued by the South and had traveled to Virginia, the Carolinas, and Louisiana, but had never stopped in Richmond.
We pulled off I-95 and drove down Monument Avenue. It was bursting with flowers, lined with ornate 100-year-old homes, and shadowed by enormous statues. Most were Confederate heroes, and then suddenly—Arthur Ashe! It immediately struck me as a beautiful yet complicated place.
Once I met the people here, I was hooked. Richmonders are lovely people. It took a bit of convincing, as my husband was not quite ready to leave the Big Apple, but we finally made Richmond our home in June of 2010.
My husband and I opened our own businesses within the first 6 months of living here. He opened Steady Sounds, a record store in the historic neighborhood of Jackson Ward. I started selling baked goods at the farmer's market. I've since taken a hiatus from my bakery, Dollop, to focus on various film projects. (Editor's note: Including a film about Richmond for the SFA, which will premiere at the Summer Symposium!) Currently, I'm the cheese buyer and event coordinator at Secco Wine Bar in Richmond's Carytown neighborhood.
So, Nicole, what can we expect from your Richmond dispatches? Why should readers be interested in Richmond, even if they aren't going to the Summer Foodways Symposium?
Richmond has a long and complex historical legacy, as well as many different—some quite unexpected, depending on your perception of Virginia—cultures. In the last couple of years, our food scene has downright exploded. There are lots of new places opening and people—especially women—doing new and exciting things. But there are also institutions that have been around for generations that are ripe for rediscovery.
I believe that RVA (shorthand for "Richmond, Virginia") is crafting a name for itself as a food destination worthy of attention and exploration. It feels as though in recent years, the community has come together to celebrate and strengthen our foodways identity. I look forward to sharing with readers and SFA members the people and places that make up this vibrant, unique city.