Congratulations go out today to Dippers Ice Cream in Ridgeway, Virginia. This upstart two-year-old Virginia frozen treat emporium survived the Virginia Culinary Madness Challenge, defeating all comers. Beginning in early April, the field was narrowed from over 70 state wide culinary fan favorites to 16 finalists in a March madness style tournament. Dippers’ Peanut Butter Bang Sundae, an indulgent mountain of custom ice cream flavors and toppings, defeated the equally tasty Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Cyprus Grille in Hampton to take the championship crown.
Dippers represents everything that’s great about Virginia’s culinary scene – small businesses and inspired creativity combined to offer an exceptional experience for local and travelling foodies alike. From humble beginnings selling a pre-made ice-cream brand from a mobile food trailer, Dippers now creates its own treats in small batches daily and prides itself on its customer service and love for its community. The relatively small eatery has come a long way in just a few years. And the winning entry provides a “bang” for sure, with chocolate cake, hot fudge and peanut butter sauces, all combined with Dippers’ own Peanut Butter & Brownie Explosion ice cream.
Not forgotten though are the other three members of the “Flavorful Four”, Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken, the Pimento Cheese BLT from the Horseshoe Diner in South Hill, and the Spring Harvest Virginia Faux at Landsdowne Resort in Leesburg.
Runner-up, Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken, from chef Kyle Fowlkes at the Cyprus Grille in Hampton, was inspired by a recipe belonging to the chef’s grandmother. With creamy mashed potatoes, crisp green beans, and perfectly fried light and crispy chicken, there’s no doubt this down-home classic really reflects the commonwealth’s southern heritage. Fowlkes even noted that the Nana’s Chicken creation wasn’t even his first choice. Another fan beat him to the punch entering the contest, but the incredible-sounding bacon-marmalade he mentioned sounds like it could be a tough competitor.
Support was high on social media and in the voting for the Fried Green Tomato BLT from the Horseshoe Restaurant in South Hill. Owner and chef Scott Rogers has revived the classic diner in recent years, and the restaurant’s home-made pimento cheese is some of the best anywhere. If you’re up to the challenge, you can upgrade to the Clydesdale burger, a Fried Green Tomato BLT “enhanced” with a huge slab of beef. Not for the faint of heart but really, really tasty.
And last but not least, the Spring Harvest Virginia Faux at Landsowne Resort in Leesburg, represents the best of modern Virginia cuisine. The dish takes it’s name from traditional Vietnamese pho, and includes ingredients like rice noodles, miso, tofu and Sriracha. If you’re a visitor at Landsdowne resort, stop in to the Crooked Billet restaurant and try some of chef Robert Bradley’s interpretation of Artisan cuisine, filled with fresh local ingredients that showcase the region.