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    If you're in #VirginiaBeach and looking for a killer #breakfast with local gourmet #coffee, you HAVE to check out Zeke's Beans & Bowls. Their #acai bowls, made-to-order with fresh fruit, will knock your socks off! This is their North Pole Bowl, acai topped with granola, banana, mango, blueberries, cocoanut and almonds. The cafe's eclectic, retro-beach vibe is also a #morning mood lifter. #loveva #vafood #goodmorning #wakeup #getinmybelly #freshfruit @visitvabeach @zekesvb
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    Helmets On! Virginia Biking Resources to Get You On Your Way

    by Casey | Posted on June 20th, 2014

    Pump up the tires and secure your helmet for great biking around Virginia. Whether you’re into the challenges of mountainous terrain or are more of a bike path easy rider, these resources will help you roll out for the day.

    Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, Henry County

    Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, Henry County

    Mountain Biking Trails for Everyone – Take it easy with a rental and custom tour or hit it hard on single tracks.

    7 Most Bike Friendly Cities and Towns – Bike lanes and trail rides through scenic cities.

    Hikes, Bikes & Brews – Quench your post-ride thirst with a pint of Virginia craft beer.

    Mountain Biking in Virginia – Get acquainted with various places to ride and the outfitters who can assist you in your quest.

    Bicycling in Virginia – Cycling the Commonwealth – Get the map, ride the roads. Did you know that 838 miles of US Bicycle Routes 1 and 76 run through Virginia?

    Looking to get out on the bike this weekend? Check out the Bike Virginia Tour traveling from Chesterfield to Williamsburg June 20-25. The Tour takes a different route each year, offering you a laid back way to experience the beauty of the Commonwealth. Registration required.

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    Outdoors | 1 Comment

    Hot? 26 Places to Chill Out with a Great Milkshake

    by Casey | Posted on June 19th, 2014

    It’s hot and getting hotter, so where can you find the best milkshakes in Virginia to help you cool off? Our trusty locals have come through again, this time with 26 appealing shake spots across Virginia.

    Fenderz

    Fenderz

    Have an affection for peanut butter? So do our locals, it seems. When evaluating the favorite flavors and specialty shakes offered across the Commonwealth, peanut butter rose to the top. Here’s what our friends had to say …

    “Chocolate Peanut Butter- Just the right mix of sweet and salt,” wrote Tonya of Abingon’s Ellis Soda Shoppe. She also noted, “The shop is in an old drugstore and much of Abingdon’s history is told on the original oak shelving and on the tables.”

    Stacy’s favorite at Fenderz in Collinsville is the “Peanut Butter Hot Fudge milkshake made with Homestead Creamery chocolate soft serve ice cream and peanut butter hot fudge.”

    Brian gives a word of caution, but this shake from George Bowers Grocery in Staunton sounds like it was made especially for men. Or any bacon lover, for that matter. He writes, “Calorie counters be forewarned … The Heartbreaker! Artisan vanilla gelato is blended with local Polyface bacon and Falling Bark Farm hickory.”

    Hob Nob Drive-In is located in Gate City. Penny gives a nod to the Nob and her favorite shake, “Reese’s … Thick, rich, and good! The Hob Nob has been a locally family owned drive in since the 1950′s. They are one of the oldest drive-ins in our region. The Hob Nob is THE place to go.”

    The Burger Bar in Bristol received several mentions for their milkshakes. Dave, James and Carol all enjoy the Chocolate Peanut Butter shake. Carole wrote, “the almost-sinfully flavorful choices are beyond your imagination and worth every spoonful!”

    Gail let us know of Front Royal’s Facebook vote for their favorite milkshake, writing, “Spleunker’s won hands down. Peanut Butter was the favorite.” If an entire town rallies behind a milkshake, you know it has to be the bomb.

    Summertime calls for fruity shakes. Oranges and berries are the cream of the crop when considering traditional summer milkshake flavors.

    Anne wrote “it tastes like summer,” when describing the strawberry shake at Carl’s Frozen Custard in Fredericksburg.  ’Nough said.

    In Kilmarnock, Stevie’s Ice Cream offers delicious fruit shakes, making it hard to choose just one. Susan wrote, “Black Raspberry gets the nod for its fruity taste. It’s so ultra thick, you’ll pull the straw shut getting it out!”

     Noelle has a favorite at Kline’s Dairy Bar in Harrisonburg. Her recommendation? “The best shake on the menu is the Orange Creamsicle. It tastes just like the old days of an orange cream float.” Thomas picked “Black Raspberry. It’s made with a thicker, creamier ice cream is really just to die for.”

    Doumar's Cones and Barbeque

    Doumar’s Cones and Barbeque

    Wright’s Dairy Rite in Staunton has an orange offering of its own. Sheryl wants you to try a drink freeze, which is “your favorite drink blended with rich vanilla ice cream. It’s much like a milkshake but they use soda instead of milk. The Orange Fanta tastes like a dreamsicle.”

    Along the same lines, Anthony suggests you try the Orange Freeze at Doumar’s in Norfolk, which also tastes like a dreamsicle. He adds, “All the ice cream is handmade and has been for 100 years.”

    Richmond Magazine rated The Dairy Bar as offering the Best Local Milkshake. Julianna wrote, “The Dairy Bar Restaurant uses ice cream from Blue Bell Creameries as the base for their milkshakes, and they offer over 20 different flavors!” Dreamsicle is one tasty flavor, but then also try the Cookies N’ Cream or the Rum-Raisin.

    Adult milkshakes. Have you considered one? These might pique your interest …

    Station 2 in Richmond has a Girl Scout reference on their shake menu, and Juliana recommends it! She wrote, “For the adults: Naughty Girl Scout – made with vanilla ice cream, Irish cream, creme de menthe, creme de cacao and chocolate chips! Station 2 has fantastic regular milkshakes, but they are really known for their popular ‘adult’ milkshakes.”

    Patty had a few recommendations for Lexington’s Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe, but the one that caught our eye (a la Station 2, above) was the Chunky Irish Girl Scout, which Patty described as “Thin Mint cookies mixed with Bailey’s Irish Cream.” Sign me up!

    Another suggestion for Kline’s in Harrisonburg is Shami’s favorite, the “Coffee Malt Shake – custard style ice cream without the egg! It’s deliciously good and refreshing on a hot summer day!”

    Maureen wrote to us, “Residents and visitors alike flock to the iconic ice cream cone sign at Colleen Drive-In in Arrington.” One of the favorites is the Mocha milkshake.

    An anonymous tip was received about Bristol’s Blackbird Bakery‘s milkshakes. Our tipster wrote, “Blackbird Bakery’s new milkshakes are made from over 15 ounces of Homestead Creamery ice cream. Blackbird offers six base flavors and two seasonal flavors, all of which can be turned into one of their fantastic milkshakes … wonderful sauces and syrups [are] available [and] Blackbird’s coffees can be added to your shake.”

    Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe

    Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe

    So what about classic milkshake flavors? Get ‘em here …

    Danelle keeps it simple when mentioning Goolrick’s Pharmacy in Fredericksburg. “Chocolate milkshake. [It] has been around since 1863.”

    Though we’ve mentioned Doumar’s for their Orange Freeze, Julie loves the chocolate shake in particular. She wrote, “Chocolate milkshake: real milk, real ice cream, plenty of chocolate — yummy!”

    Walton & Smoot Pharmacy in Woodstock has a claim to fame, which Barbara pointed out when she wrote, “Jackie O (Onassis) had a chocolate shake there!!” Barbara’s favorite, however is the “Vanilla shake!” Josh also likes Walton & Smoot, but recommends the Strawberry. He adds, “All are good because they come from a vintage fountain.” Heather votes for the Chocolate shake, while Jenna calls it “very nostalgic!!”

    Christina found a nostalgic spot in Mathews – Richardson’s Cafe. She wrote, “The best shake on the menu is the Mint Chip! Sweet, cold and refreshing. I love to enjoy it while sitting at the old soda pop counter watching reruns of ‘I Love Lucy’ in this former Rexall drug store.”

    In Williamsburg you’ll find Shorty’s Diner and Retro’s Good Eats, both serving delicious shakes. Vivian said of Shorty’s, “Chocolate is my favorite. They also offer their old fashioned malts.” She added of Retro’s, “For me, Chocolate is the best! They also offer their real custard milkshakes in Vanilla, Swirl Chocolate Cherry and Dreamsicle.”

    Looking for more great shakes? Consider these as well.

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    Food, Locals | 3 Comments

    Five Culinary Destinations for B&B Travelers

    by Casey | Posted on April 23rd, 2014

    Food is not only essential to life, but is often a reason to travel. If your taste buds direct your path more often than the appeal of any other attraction, these destinations known for their culinary greatness should be on your to-do list. How do I know these are great culinary destinations? They each have a food tour, meaning, there’s enough great food to put on tour. Plus, there are beautiful bed and breakfasts nearby that are happy to host you and make your reservations. Good eats, good sleeps, win-win.

    Taste of the Town Trolley Tours, Abingdon

    Taste of the Town Trolley Tours, Abingdon

    Abingdon offers Taste of the Town Trolley Tours once per month. Hop aboard and visit four to five locations that incorporate local ingredients into their menus. Previous locations have included Sisters at The Martha, The Tavern, Wolf Hills Brewery, and Figaredo’s Bistro.

    Consider Your Historic District Stay:

     

    When on Charlottesville‘s Downtown Mall, look for the orange umbrella. No, it’s not a sign of rain, but a sign of a delicious Charlottesville Food Tour in progress. Buy a ticket for one of two Saturday tours to sample the delights of such places at Hamilton’s at First & Main and Splendora’s Gelato Cafe.

    100 South Street Inn, Charlottesville

    100 South Street Inn, Charlottesville

    Within a Mile of the Downtown Mall:

     

    Downtown Harrisonburg is the first recognized “culinary district” in Virginia. Join in the tasty fun when you tag along for the Rocktown Bites! Food Tour in Harrisonburg. Seven sampling locations, such as Clementine, Cuban Burger, Jack Brown’s, and Kline’s Dairy Bar may be on your Saturday or Thursday tour.

    Within a Mile of the Culinary District:

     

     

    The One Bed and Breakfast, Richmond

    The One Bed and Breakfast, Richmond

    Real Richmond Food Tours highlights some of the tastiest dishes in Richmond every Saturday, with each tour being a different theme with different flavors. One example is the Spies to Pies Tour in Church Hill that includes The Roosevelt, Proper Pie Co., The Hill Cafe, Alamo BBQ, and other eateries.

    Monument and Fan District B&Bs:

    • Grace Manor Inn – This 7500 square foot mansion with a salt water pool is on both the Virginia and National Registries of Historic Places.
    • The One Bed and Breakfast – Another National Registry entry, The One is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the home in 2014.
    • The Museum District Bed and Breakfast – A 1922 home with two luxury suites (one family-sized three bedroom!) and an adorable carriage house for utmost privacy.
    • Maury Place at Monument – This 1916 home has been restored in keeping with more than 100 historic easements protecting it. Featured in Remodel magazine and Small Room Decorating magazine.

     

    The promise is that “you’ll never view or taste downtown Roanoke the same again” after you experience the Downtown Food & Cultural Tour. Line up your tickets for a Thursday, Friday or Saturday to taste what’s unique to Roanoke, like Texas Tavern and Hotel Roanoke.

    Historic Roanoke B&Bs:

     

    Which Virginia town or city is your favorite culinary destination? Leave us a comment to boast and tell us if there’s a fantastic B&B nearby, too!

    Related:

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    Food, Virginia Destinations | 2 Comments

    15 Festivals for the Adrenaline Junkie

    by Casey | Posted on April 22nd, 2014

    For some, it’s simply not enough to enjoy a festival atmosphere. Where’s the challenge or fun in that? Festivals must be experiential to really rise to the expectation of dedicated adrenaline junkies, and these 15 Virginia festivals do just that.

    Dominion Riverrock

    Dominion Riverrock

    River Fun The most rigorous, diverse outdoor festival in Virginia is Dominion Riverrock, and it’s held each May in Richmond. Riverrock brings kayaking, biking, bouldering, trail running, slacklining, paddle boarding and more for three days of challenging fun and spectator entertainment. Musical highlights for this year are The Infamous Stringdusters and Matisyahu.

    The Annual Smith River Fest in Axton is dedicated to those who live for and love the river life. Held each August, the festival centers around Smith River activities, from the 4.8-mile river race to the 5K mud run.

    Henricus Mudstock

    Henricus Mudstock

    Mud Fun

    The Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg is the venue for the Rugged Maniac on May 3. A little over three miles of muddy courses with 20 obstacles are yours for the conquering, while the festival area includes mechanical bull riding and music.

    Biking Fun

    Is it biking that really spins your wheels? Don’t miss the Cap2Cap Bike Event on May 10. The ride can be as long as you wish with quarter-, half-, full-century, and 15-mile fun ride options between Richmond and Williamsburg. Well-stocked rest areas, a delicious lunch and beer are promised.

    Appalachian Trail Days

    Appalachian Trail Days

    Hiking Fun

    May 16-18 is Appalachian Trail Days in Damascus, and it’s the place to be if you’re an avid hiker or lover of the AT. There’s lots of food and plenty of family fun available.

    Just Plain Fun

    XtremeFest of the Blue Ridge will be held May 31 in Waynesboro’s Constitution Park. BMX stunters will give adventure-seeking kids a thrill while the climbing wall lets them work off their energy. Put a kayak in the South River and enjoy the other opportunities of the festival at this family event.

    Where will the need for adrenaline take you this spring and summer? Go hard and go get ‘em!

    Related:

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    Festivals, Outdoors | Comments Off

    Eat Local! 16 Dishes with Fresh, Local Flavor

    by Casey | Posted on April 18th, 2014

    “Fresh, not frozen” is the mantra of many, but you’re invited to really taste the difference when you dine at some of Virginia’s farm-to-table restaurants. Of note are these 16 locally-sourced dishes that were nominated by locals as their favorite meal. Perhaps one sounds palate-pleasing for your next out-and-about Virginia excursion?

    Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier.

    Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier.

    1. Traditions, inside the Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg, cooks up a Fennel Dusted Virginia Coast Shrimp and Scallop Dish that utilizes Dave and Dee’s Sedley, Virginia-grown oyster mushrooms, local farmers’ produce, and cured Virginia bourbon bacon.

    2. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier is located in beautiful Old Town Alexandria. Just as beautiful is their Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder served with hand-rolled pappardelle, dill, pearl onions, glazed parsnip and a natural jus.

    3. In Staunton, try Zynodoa’s locally-sourced Autumn Olive Farm pork entrée, which includes Meadow Creek Dairy’s Mountaineer cheese bruleed cornbread, and Harvest Thyme Herbs’ corn shoot salad.

    4. Shrimp is served atop locally-sourced Andouille sausage and stone-ground grits at Wild Wolf Brewing Company in Nellysford. Pair this dish-with-a-kick with one of their homemade brews for a divine lunch on the patio.

    Gunness Ayrshire Beef Stew. Hunter's Head Tavern.

    Gunness Ayrshire Beef Stew. Hunter’s Head Tavern.

    5. Upperville is home to the English pub,  Hunter’s Head Tavern, where Ayrshire Farm’s certified organic, humane, heritage-bred beef is the main ingredient in their Guinness Ayrshire Beef Stew. It’s slow-simmered with red wine, stock and Guinness stout, and finished with carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes.

    6. New Leaf Pastry Kitchen in Harrisonburg offers a filling Bruschetta that’s perfect for a quick lunch. House-made rosemary focaccia is split and spread with herbed goat cheese before being filled with roasted Portobella mushrooms, onions, Polyface Farms’ sausage, and shredded smoked Gouda. It’s served hot with a Parmesan crisp and Dijon crème fraiche.

    Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish. Lemaire.

    Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish. Lemaire.

    7. Inside the famed Jefferson Hotel in Richmond is Lemaire, where a Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish is a popular local dish. The Rockfish is served with stewed white beans, semi-dried tomatoes, Manakintowne Specialty Growers’ field arugula, smoked Surry County sausage, and truffled mushroom broth.

    8. A historical dessert in honor of Thomas Jefferson, the Jefferson Brandied Peaches & Vanilla Ice Cream dessert that you’ll find at the Old Mill Room at Boar’s Head in Charlottesville includes raspberry sauce, meringue, locally-grown peaches, and Jefferson vanilla ice cream. Dessert first? Yes, please!

    9. More dessert? You betcha! The Heartwood Cobbler at Heartwood in Abingdon is simply sugar, self-rising flour, Duchess Dairy milk, butter and fresh fruit from the farmer’s market topped with Homestead Creamery vanilla ice cream. Which type of cobbler you find on the menu depends on which fruit is fresh and in season.

    10. Created from all local ingredients, the Bratwurst Pizza with Apples and Onions from Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton includes Double H Farms’ bratwurst and local apples. The dough includes Ashland Farms’ whole wheat flour and is infused with herbs, olive oil and Hungry Hill Farm honey.

    The Savory Grain, Richmond.

    The Savory Grain, Richmond.

    11. Roanoke’s Local Roots Restaurant serves a Hollow Hill Farm’s Bison Pastrami sandwich topped with cheddar cheese, house sauerkraut and house barbecue sauce. It’s served atop a Breadcraft Bakery sesame seed bun.

    12. Timbercreek Organics’ beef is slow cooked with whole grain mustard spaetzle, roasted Sharondale Farms’ mushrooms, braised red cabbage, and bleu cheese. You can find this fine dish at Fossett’s at Keswick Hall in Keswick.

    13. The Savory Grain in Richmond serves a Roasted Quail stuffed with a nine-grain cranberry pecan medley and finished with Bold Rock Cider roasted red pepper and ginger jus. Beautiful and delicious.

    14. A perfect farm-fresh egg is served on garlic-rubbed ciabatta and served with mixed baby greens topped in balsamic vinaigrette, Virginia country ham and Parmesan cheese at Foti’s Restaurant in Culpeper.

    15. Fresh catfish is served with creamed farro, Surry County sausage, butter beans, hominy, and mustard cream at The Roosevelt in Richmond.

    16. Also in Richmond is Rappahannock, serving a beautiful dish of braised Border Springs Farm lamb with a crispy cake of Arborio rice, fregola sarda and lentils, fermented vegetables, pea tendrils, and a blood orange vinaigrette.

    What’s your favorite locally-sourced dish? Tell all about it by leaving a comment!

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