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    Smooth Operator: Virginia Bourbons to Celebrate a Delicious Heritage

    by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted on September 12th, 2014

    September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, a time for folks to enjoy an imbibe that is truly American.

    The celebration was set aside by a Senate resolution in 2007 and reads in part:

    “Whereas the history of bourbon-making is interwoven with the history of the United States, from the first settlers of Kentucky in the 1700s …”

    As a Virginian, I couldn’t agree more, for when the first settlers came to that region, that region was Virginia. In fact, it was Virginia until the commonwealth of Kentucky was established in 1792.

    The geographical area today famous for the spirit – Bourbon County – was Virginia until this separation.

    Re-enactors making whiskey at George Washington's Mount Vernon.    Photo: CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com

    Re-enactors making whiskey at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Photo: CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com

    And the man noted as the father of modern bourbon, Elijah Craig, was born in Orange County, Va. in 1738 and began distillation in that region in 1789 in charred oak casks that, he writes, is “a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique tastes.”

    -

    But the road to bourbon began before the 18th century.

    The process of making distilled spirits using grain mash (from barley, rye and wheat, among others) as a base is millenniums old. Among the round-up: gin, rum, tequila, vodka and whiskey. Bourbon is a type of whiskey.

    Corn, being a New World agricultural product, was new indeed to European settlers coming to the Americas. And bourbon is made from a mash of corn.

    A key crop for Jamestown settlers, corn cultivation and use was introduced to the English by Native Americans. It was used to feed livestock, and to feed people.

    Another use was found around 1620 by preacher, physician and surgeon George Thorpe, at Berkeley Hundred (now Berkeley Plantation,) just a short distance northwest of Jamestown along the James River.

    Wee have found a waie to make soe good drink of Indian corne I have divers times refused to drink good stronge English beare and chose to drinke that,” he writes.

    Not exactly bourbon, but a good start to crafting truly American whiskeys in the developing nation.

    Virginia fostered this corn whiskey, and many farmers found that they could make about three gallons from a bushel of corn, and that the price they could fetch on their distilled spirits surpassed that of the corn at market.

    This tradition made its way as the frontier opened up into the Shenandoah Valley, and across the Allegheny Mountains into what is now West Virginia and Kentucky.

    A proposal to tax this drink to cover war debts from the Revolution caused the Whiskey Rebellion in those parts, the first armed conflict between citizens and the newly formed American government.

    But it wasn’t just farmers that got in on the act; what would become Virginia’s largest commercial distillery of the day opened in 1797 at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

    Rye and corn grown on the estate was used in the mash, and production leapt from 80 gallons the first year to 11,000 gallons the following year. By the early 19th century, however, the distillery ceased operations.

    A. Smith Bowman Distillery

    A. Smith Bowman Distillery

    In 2006, the site was excavated and a reconstructed distillery was built on the foundations, and tours are available as well as limited productions of whiskey using George Washington’s recipe. 

    Whiskey was in abundance during the 19th century, but by the early 1900s Virginia moved towards Prohibition, adopting laws in 1914 that forbid alcohol production, sales and consumption across the state. The whole country went dry in 1920.

    Although A. Smith Bowman Distillery began operation in 1935, shortly after Prohibition’s repeal, quality production of bourbon and other spirits were slow on the return, but the Old Dominion now has more than a dozen distilleries now offering artisanal quaffs flavored with history.

    And what’s better than enjoying some of the imbibes from across Virginia than actually visiting some of the businesses, seeing the operations, and speaking with the distiller themselves? We’ll raise a glass to that.

    THE DISTILLERIES

    Be it bourbon, or another distilled spirit, that calls your name when 5 o’clock comes, Virginia has more than a dozen distilleries offer quality quaffs for enjoying in a cocktail, on the rocks, or served neat.

    Look in state ABC stores for the offerings.

    Many distilleries offer tours to see the process up-close. Check with distilleries for details as not all are open to the public.

     

    Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farm

    Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farm

    Belmont Farm Distillery
    13490 Cedar Run Rd., Culpeper
    540-825-3207

    Offerings: Kopper Kettle Virginia whiskey, Kopper Kettle vodka, Virginia Lightning corn whiskey (original and apple pie or cherry flavors.)

     

    A. Smith Bowman Distillery
    1 Bowman Dr., Fredericksburg
    540-373-4555

    Offerings: Bowman Brothers Virginia small batch bourbon, John J. Bowman single barrel bourbon, Abraham Bowman small batch whiskey, George Bowman small batch Colonial Era-style dark rum, Deep Run small batch vodka, Sunset Hills small batch gin, Virginia Gentleman bourbons.

     

    Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

    Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

    Catoctin Creek Distilling Company
    120 W. Main St., Purcellville
    540-751-8404

    Offerings: Roundstone Rye, Roundstone Rye 92 Proof, Watershed Gin, Roundstone Rye Cask Proof, Mosby’s Spirit (rye), 1757 Virginia Brandy, Pearousia (pear brandy), Short Hill Mountain Peach Brandy,

     

    Chesapeake Bay Distillery
    2669 Production Rd., Virginia Beach
    757-692-4083

    Offerings: Blue Ridge Vodka, Chick’s Beach Rum

     

    Cirrus Vodka
    1603 Ownby Lane, Richmond
    844-724-7787

    Offerings: Potato-based, hand-crafted, small-batched vodka.

     

    Copper Fox Distillery

    Copper Fox Distillery

    Copper Fox Distillery
    9 River Lane, Sperryville
    540-987-8554

    Offerings: Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky, Copper Fox Rye Whisky, Copper Fox VirGin, Wasmund’s Single Malt Spirit, Wasmund’s Rye Spirit, Wasmund’s Barrel Kit (to craft your own whiskey at home.)

     

    Laird & Company

    Although based in New Jersey, the company obtains all its apples from orchards in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where it owns a distillery. It has been distilling apple brandy since 1780.

    732-542-0312

    Offerings: Laird’s Applejack (apple brandy)

     

    Reservoir Distillery
    1800 Summit Ave., Richmond
    804-912-2621

    Offerings: Bourbon, Wheat Whiskey, Rye Whiskey

     

    Silverback Distillery
    9374 Rockfish Valley Hwy., Afton
    540-456-7070

    Offerings: Beringei Vodka, Strange Monkey Gin, Blackback Whiskey, Blackback Bourbon, Blackback White Whiskey, Beringei Sweet Tea Vodka (coming soon.)

     

    Virginia Sweetwater Distillery. Photo: Jason Barnette

    Virginia Sweetwater Distillery. Photo: Jason Barnette

    Virginia Sweetwater Distillery
    760 Walkers Creek Rd., Marion
    276-378-0867

    Offerings: Virginia Sweetwater Moonshine, War Horn Whiskey

     

    George Washington’s Distillery
    3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon
    703-780-2000

    Offerings: a limited production is offered at the distillery – sign up on the website for email notifications when new batches of whiskey become available; folks can also get a taste of George Washington Rye Whiskey Estate Edition through a partnership of Mount Vernon and Hillrock Estate Distillery (www.HillrockDistillery.com)

     

    Woods Mill Distillery
    1625 River Rd., Faber
    434-361-1215

    Offerings: Woods Mill Harvest Apple Brandy; note – a bourbon is in the barrel aging and should be available within a year

    -

    Also of note for your travel plans: the Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop

    THE RECIPES

    So you’ve visited Virginia and toured several distilleries. You have a couple of bottles of bourbon as souvenirs. Now what? It’s cocktail time. Here are three of my recipes for making some drinks that will carry you back to the Old Dominion with each sip.

    Of note: one of the most famous bourbon cocktails, the Mint Julep, is also a Virginia native: the first reference was in 1803 and described as “A dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.”

    The classic recipe is attributed to The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, then in Virginia, now in West Virginia.

    Bourbon Slush

    This party punch puts local spirits to good use and satisfies the southern palate for boozy, sugary drinks with equal parts bourbon, lemonade and sweet ice tea.

    This recipe is from my cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia.

    Ingredients

    • 4 cups Virginia bourbon
    • 4 cups lemonade
    • 4 cups sweet ice tea
    • 1 cup ginger ale (like Virginia’s Northern Neck Ginger Ale)

    Method

    Combine the bourbon, lemonade and tea in a 9-by-13-by-2 inch baking dish. Freeze overnight.

    Remove the frozen mixture from the freezer 30 minutes before serving. Break up the mixture slightly and transfer to a punch bowl. Add the ginger ale. Stir until a slushy consistency is reached and serve immediately.

    Yields 12-16 servings

    The Virginia Highland

    Virginia is the southernmost state that produces maple syrup, and we combine that delicious flavor with Virginia bourbon, complimentary orange bitters and garnish with a tasty slice of Virginia bacon just because.

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 ounce Virginia maple syrup (from Southernmost Maple)
    • 2 dashes orange bitters
    • 2 ounces Virginia bourbon
    • 1 slice extra crisp Virginia bacon slice

    Method

    In a highball glass add the maple syrup and bitters and stir. Add one or two ice cubes and add bourbon. Garnish with Virginia bacon slice

    Yield 1 cocktail

    The Winchester Wink

    Winchester is the Apple Capital of the World, and we combine Virginia bourbon with Virginia cider along with complimentary flavors of lemon and ginger in this cocktail.

    Ingredients

    • 3-4 thin slices of fresh, peeled ginger
    • 2 ounces Virginia bourbon
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • Virginia cider

    Method

    Add ginger, bourbon and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker; fill with ice and shake to combine. Strain into a highball glass and add one or two ice cubes. Fill to the top with Virginia cider.

    Yield 1 cocktail

    HISTORY BITES

    - One of the first Native American tribes that English colonists encountered is named after food.

    The Chickahominy, whose name translates to “The Coarse Ground Corn People,” is today among the 11 officially recognized by the state.

    The Chickahominy River, named after the people, feeds into the James River just to the west of Jamestown.

    - Congress declared bourbon as “America’s Native Spirit” in 1964, making it the only spirit distinctive to this country.

     

    Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com.

     



    Couples, History | 1 Comment

    Seven for the Season: Destination Restaurants to Visit this Autumn

    by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted on September 5th, 2014

    Labor Day has come and gone, and with the first of September comes the meteorological start of autumn.

    It may still be a few weeks before trees across Virginia light up in fiery reds, brilliant oranges and stunning yellows, but change is definitely in the air. Days are a little bit shorter, nights a little bit cooler, and shadows a little bit longer.

    Add Skyline Drive to your route to The Apple House.

    Add Skyline Drive to your route to The Apple House.

    Now is a great time to get out and explore Virginia, one bite at a time. Here are some ideas to guide you along your path.

    EDIBLES

    Autumn means heartier dishes; food to warm the body and soul. Across the state there are many wonderful offerings. Here are three that showcase a trio of Virginia’s culinary calling cards: apples, oysters and Brunswick Stew.

    The restaurant:

    The Apple House
    4675 John Marshall Hwy., Linden
    540-636-6329

    The dish:

    Apple Butter Donuts

    Other:

    At the northern entrance of Skyline Drive, in the middle of Virginia apple territory, The Apple House opened in 1963 selling ethereal rings of fried goodness.

    These treats, donuts made from apple butter and adorned with a sprinkling of cinnamon, are still offered today. A location in Front Royal also offers the donuts.

    Grab a dozen and enjoy the fall views along the byways here at the cusp of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

    -

    The restaurant:

    Island House Restaurant and Marina
    17 Atlantic Ave., Wachapreague
    757-787-4242

    The dish:

    Fried Oysters

    Other:

    We don’t need it to be an “R” month to enjoy one of Virginia’s gifts to the culinary world, but there is something about oysters in the fall, when they are plump and juicy.

    They are great on the half-shell, but equally awesome in a light batter and deep fried until golden brown and delicious. The generously-portioned oyster dinner comes with two sides and housemade sweet potato biscuits.

    Island House is designed after a 19th century life saving station; after dinner climb spiral staircase to lookout tower for stunning views of the surrounding marshes, tranquil and still in the autumn air.

    -

    Old Chickahominy House

    Old Chickahominy House

    The restaurant:

    Old Chickahominy House
    1211 Jamestown Rd., Williamsburg
    757-229-4689

    The dish:

    Brunswick Stew

    Other:

    First opened in 1955 by Melinda Cowles Barbour, this restaurant and antique store/gift shop offers many Virginia-centric dishes, including Brunswick Stew.

    The stew, a richly flavored amalgamation of lima beans, corn and other vegetables with chicken and seasonings in a tomato broth base is sold with hot biscuits or crackers; or as part of Miss Melinda’s Special which also features a country ham biscuit, fruit salad, homemade pie and coffee or tea. It’s also offered to go by the pint or quart.

    While in town, walk through Colonial Williamsburg under soaring trees adorned in golden leaves to get a taste of 18th century Virginia.

    —   —   —

    EXCURSIONS

    Sometimes its not just the destination, but also the journey. Of course journeys are made all the better knowing there is some delicious food waiting for you at the end.

    Here are some favorite places where getting there, and eating there, are rewarding anytime, including the fall.

    The restaurant:

    Charles City Tavern
    9220 John Tyler Memorial Hwy., Charles City
    804-829-5004

    The view:

    Located about halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg, Charles City Tavern is just off Route 5, also known as the John Tyler Memorial Hwy. This ribbon os asphalt follows the curves of the James River, and is a gorgeous drive any time of the year, including the fall, when the colors come alive.

    Stop before or after your meal at one of the famous James River Plantations along the way for a real treat. Berkeley Plantation, where the first bourbon in America was distilled and this country’s first Thanksgiving was celebrated is just four miles away.

    Other:

    Located in a charming 1889 farmhouse on a 2,000-acre working farm, views of the surrounding countryside are afforded from the dining rooms and screened in porches.

    At dinner try the Eastern Shore Crab Cakes with Ragout of Sweet Corn and Virginia Ham.

    -

    Chateau Morrisette

    Chateau Morrisette

    The restaurant:

    Chateau Morrisette
    287 Winery Rd. SW, Floyd
    540-593-2865

    The view:

    Immediately off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Chateau Morrisette is widely known for the quality vintages that the winery produces.

    But there is also a restaurant on-site serving up seasonal dishes and spectacular views. Opening up towards the west from the lodge-style dining room are gorgeous panoramas from the rolling hills and farmlands in the valley below to blue-hued mountains lit up in fall hues beyond.

    Other:

    It’s not just the incredible views once you get to Chateau Morrisette, but the ones along the way down the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take extra time to stop and snap photos.

    Enjoy the Pork Tenderloin, which is infused with locally grown oregano, grilled and drizzled with roasted pepper and tomato coulis, and served with rice, fried green tomatoes and house collards. Pair it with a Cabernet Franc from the winery next door.

    -

    Hunter's Head Tavern

    Hunter’s Head Tavern

    The restaurant:

    Hunter’s Head Tavern
    9048 John S. Mosby Hwy., Upperville
    540-592-9020

    The view:

    Route 50, also called John S. Mosby Highway, cuts an east-west path through scenic horse country in Virginia and offers many spectacular vistas, especially heading away from the Washington D.C. area where the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains loom on the horizon.

    Both Upperville, where the tavern is located, and nearby Middleburg are scenic towns, providing a good opportunity to stop and take a walk exploring antique shops and galleries.

    Other:

    Hunter’s Head Tavern is located in the historic 1750 Carr House, which began as a log cabin when this part of Virginia was on the western frontier of the nation. There are charming colonial features throughout.

    Enjoy the Stuffed Rainbow Trout with House-Cured Bacon and Local Mushrooms; the trout is sustainably harvested seafood. The bacon and mushrooms are locally sourced; organic meats and produce come from neighboring Ayrshire Farm, which raises only Certified Humane animals.

    -

    Peaks of Otter Lodge Restaurant with seating overlooking Abbott Lake

    Peaks of Otter Lodge Restaurant with seating overlooking Abbott Lake

    The restaurant:

    Peaks of Otter Lodge Restaurant
    85554 Blue Ridge Pkwy., Bedford
    866-387-9905

    The view:

    Nestled in the mountains, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter Lodge, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is a perfect place to enjoy nature, especially when the surrounding landscape comes afire with fall color.

    The trip to the lodge is filled with scenic opportunities, as is the view from the lodge dining room. The space here opens up onto an expansive vista onto Abbot Lake and the rolling Blue Ridge in the background.

    Other:

    Blue Ridge Half Chicken, fried or roasted, and served with caramelized apples, cranberry relish, garlic mashed potatoes and housemade gravy. The fried chicken is done low and slow; it’s cooked to order and you’ll have to wait about 20 minutes but it’s essential in a perfect crispness.

    On Friday nights there is a seafood buffet that includes crab legs, shrimp, clams, fish, oysters and even frog legs.

    —   —   —

    RECIPE:
    BRUNSWICK STEW

    This dish was created in 1828 in Brunswick County, according to legend, and is open to interpretation and inspiration as ingredients go. Rabbit and squirrel were once the primary components, while today chicken and pork are used. Most Brunswick stews are tomato based and augment an animal protein with lima beans, corn, potatoes, and often okra.

    The result is a rich, thick, hearty stew with complex and complementary flavors ranging from savory to sweet to smoky. Make a big pot; the leftovers taste even better as the ingredients mesh and meld and become more unified. Cornbread is the quintessential accompaniment.

    Chicken Ingredients

    1 large (4–5 pound) boiler chicken

    1 large onion, unpeeled and quartered

    3 carrots, unpeeled and quartered

    3 celery stalks, quartered

    2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed

    1 small bunch fresh Italian parsley

    1 bay leaf

    1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

    1 teaspoon sea salt

    Stew Ingredients

    4–6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

    3 pounds new potatoes, quartered

    2 medium onions, chopped

    3 tablespoons tomato paste

    6 cups stewed or canned crushed tomatoes

    2 cups prepared lima beans

    2 cups corn kernels

    1 tablespoon sugar

    1⁄2 teaspoon salt

    1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1⁄4 teaspoon ground red pepper

    4 tablespoons butter

    Method

    Make the chicken. Place the chicken in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, and sea salt. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow boil and cook until the chicken is tender and the meat is falling off the bone, 45 to 90 minutes.

    Remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for 10 to
15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate or cutting board to cool; do not discard the broth. Debone the chicken and shred or chop the meat. Strain the broth; cool, and skim off the fat.

    Make the stew. Cook the bacon, stirring frequently, in a
large stockpot over high heat until cooked. Add 4 cups of the reserved chicken broth to the stockpot. (If you don’t have
4 full cups, use additional chicken or vegetable stock, or water to make up the difference.) Add the potatoes and onion, and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

    Stir in the tomato paste. Add the reserved chicken. Reduce to a simmer and add the tomatoes, lima beans, corn, sugar, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Stir well and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add additional broth or water if needed, but stew should be thick.

    Remove the stew from the heat. Stir in the butter until it melts and serve immediately.

    Yields 8-12 servings

    This recipe is from my book, Dishing Up Virginia (Storey Publishing, 2013)

    Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com.

     



    Destinations, Food | 0 Comments

    Pork-fect places to celebrate International Bacon Day (or any day)

    by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted on August 29th, 2014

    Virginia has always loved its pork; look no further than the country ham, one of the state’s culinary calling cards, for evidence of that.

    But it was more than ham that was eaten. In the first salvo of the Snout To Tail movement in English-speaking America, colonists ate just about every part of the pig they could, and what wasn’t eaten fresh was salted and smoked to preserve for a future meal.

    Like bacon.

    Bacon was no stranger to early Virginians; the cut is one of the oldest in meat history, and the English who came here in 1607 (pigs came to the Jamestown Colony, too) were already intimately knowledgeable with it. Bacon was meat for the masses as it was easy to produce and affordable.

    And it is still loved today. In fact, since 2000 the Saturday before Labor Day has been observed as International Bacon Day.

    We can’t think of a better occasion than to plan a trip across the commonwealth to try some bacon-centric dishes (some of our favorites are listed below) and grab a rasher or two from folks who cure their own to take back home and enjoy.

    —   —   —

    THESE RESTAUANTS ARE MAKIN’ BACON

    Looking for a bacon fix? Here are some of our favorite dishes which incorporate that sinful, sultry, salty flavor in the mix:

     

    APPLE BUTTER & BACON MILKSHAKE

    A creamy concoction of complimentary flavors like rich and complex apple butter and salty, savory bacon

    3Way Café
    216 Plume St., Norfolk
    757-625-3929

     

    Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots from The Public House!

    Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots from The Public House!

    BACON-WRAPPED TATER TOTS

    Cheesey housemade tater tots are wrapped in bacon and served up sizzling hot with housemade chili ketchup.

    Want to try these at home? Still chef/owner Mike Farrell shares his recipe with us below.

    Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas
    50 Court St., Portsmouth
    757-332-7222

    also offered at Still’s sister restaurant, The Public House:

    The Public House Victuals & Libations
    1112 Colley Ave., Norfolk
    757-227-9064

     

    This pig fits in nicely at Jackson 20.

    This pig fits in nicely at Jackson 20.

    B. E. L. T.

    This bountiful brunch sandwich features bacon, an over-easy egg, lettuce, and a fried green tomato on toasted brioche

    Jackson 20
    480 King St., Alexandria
    703-842-2790

     

    CHICKEN ‘N WAFFLE

    Crispy fried chicken topped with a fried egg adorns a bacon-studded waffle and a dressed bed of salad greens, then served with Kim Kim Hot Sauce (a Virginia’s Finest product) and maple syrup

    Brookville Restaurant
    25 W. Main St., Charlottesville
    434-202-2791

     

    GRILLED CORN & CRAB BISQUE

    A rich bisque made with grilled corn, crab and hickory-smoked bacon from Virginia artisan butchery The Rock Barn

    Zynodoa Restaurant
    115 E. Beverley St., Staunton
    540-885-7775

     

    Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint

    Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint

    THE ELVIS BURGER

    Decadent is an understatement; burger topped with peanut butter, mayonnaise, applewood-smoked bacon and cheese

    Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint
    80 S. Main St., Harrisonburg
    540-433-5225

    and

    210 Market St. Roanoke
    540-342-0328

     

    HELL SANDWICH

    This fiery sandwich features bang bang bacon, fried mac-and-cheese, Thai dragon pepper salad and ghost pepper sauce

    BBQ Exchange
    102 Martinsburg Ave., Gordonsville
    540-832-0227

     

    THE HOG DOG

    Bacon-wrapped jumbo beef hot dog, deep fried, and topped with hand-pulled pork, barbecue sauce and cole slaw

    HogsHead Café
    9503 West Broad St., Richmond
    804-308-0281

     

    HOUSE MADE NOODLES

    A brothy dish of housemade noodles with house-cured bacon lardons, mustard greens and a potlikker broth comprised of greens, vinegar and pork; topped with freshly-grated pecorino cheese.

    Pasture Restaurant
    416 E. Grace St., Richmond
    804-780-0416

     

    MAC DADDY SPECIALTY PIZZA

    Oven baked mac-and-cheese topped with cheddar and bacon and olive oil parmesan sauce

    Fork in the Market
    32 Market Square, Roanoke
    540-400-0644

     

    OVER-THE-TOP MAPLE BACON CUPCAKE

    This tall, cylindrical sweet is comprised of a Virginia maple syrup cake stuffed with a maple cream filing and topped with milk chocolate icing and bits of caramelized brown sugar-pepper bacon. It is available on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Extraordinary Cupcakes
    1220-C Richmond Rd., Williamsburg
    757-645-2122

     

    OYSTERS ROCKAFELLER

    A classic rendition of the venerable favorite: oysters in the half-shell topped with a rich mixture of bacon, cheese and spinach then baked until golden crowned and bubbling

    Rockafeller’s Restaurant on Rudee Inlet
    308 Mediterranean Ave., Virginia Beach
    757-422-5654

     

    PIG CANDY

    A sweet and savory addictive snack of bacon coated and cooked in maple syrup, cayenne and raw sugar

    Primland
    2000 Busted Rock Rd., Meadows of Dan
    276-222-3800

    Station 2

    Station 2

    CLASSIC STATION 2

    This wonderfully crafted burger starts with 100 percent Virginia-grown beef from Buffalo Creek Beef in Lexington chargrilled to order and placed atop an artisan bun baked with spent grain from Virginia brewer Devils Backbone. Garnished with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle chips and a choice of cheese, the icing on the cake is – you guessed it, crispy bacon.

    Station 2
    2016 East Main St., Richmond
    804-249-4702

    —   —   —

    BRING HOME THE BACON

    Here’s a list of places to bring home the bacon; the Virginia bacon, in fact.

    These smaller producers craft their edible works of art right here in the Old Dominion.

    Some places you may just have to go in and order right from the counter, while others ship. Some produce a good amount of quantity, while others do so on a smaller scale, meaning supplies may be limited.

    -

    Belmont Butchery
    15 N. Belmont Ave., Richmond
    804-422-8519

    From this artisan butchery comes –

    BB Bacon: house-cured and slow smoked over hickory

    Beef Bacon: house-cured, slow smoked boneless rib plate

    Canadian Bacon: a brined and smoked cut from ham

    -

    Blue Ridge Meats of Front Royal
    2391 Guard Hill Rd., Middletown
    540-636-6050

    Using no-hormone meat locally-grown and house processed comes –

    House smoked bacon

    -

    Crabill’s Meats
    3149 Riverview Dr., Toms Brook
    540-436-3884

    Producing meats in the Shenandoah Valley since 1962 comes –

    Crabill’s bacon

    -

    Edward's Virginia Ham Shoppe

    Edward’s Virginia Ham Shoppe

    Edwards of Surry
    11381 Rolfe Hwy., Surry
    800-222-4267 | 757-294-3688

    A number of bacons in various cuts and styles are offered, including –

    Sliced Berkshire Bacon: dry-cured by hand from pasture-raised, Berkshire hogs

    Bacon Steak: extra-thick hickory smoked bacon

    Jowciale: smoked and peppered hog jowl

    Assortment boxes: The Big Bacon Box, Virginia Bacon Sampler

    -

    RM Felts Packing Company
    35497 General Mahone Blvd., Ivor
    757-859-6131

    Under the brand name Felts Genuine Southampton comes –

    Country-cured bacon

    -

    Kite’s Hams
    3957 Wolftown-Hood Rd., Wolftown
    540-948-4742

    From this Blue Ridge meat packer comes –

    Thicker-sliced country-cured bacon

    -

    The Rock Barn
    2387 Oak Ridge Rd., Arrington
    434-263-4222

    From this field-to-fork artisan butchery comes –

    Hickory-smoked bacon

    —   —   —

    Bonus Recipe:

    Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots with Chili Ketchup

    Are you licking the computer screen yet? We thought so.

    Sate your Virginia bacon desire immediately with this pork-fect recipe from Executive Chef Michael Farrell of Still Worldly Eclectic Eats in Portsmouth; they are a staple on his menu.

    Ingredients

    4 medium-to-large potatoes

    2 cups grated cheddar cheese

    1 tablespoon granulated garlic

    1 tablespoon salt

    1 tablespoon white pepper

    16 strips bacon

    Method

    Preheat oven to 425F. Thoroughly wash potatoes and prick with the tines of a fork.

    Place potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until tender. Set aside to cool completely.

    Once cool, grate them using a medium grater and mix in cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.

    Lay out a long piece of plastic film wrap and place potato mixture in the middle and press to form a log. Roll the film over the log tightly to form a cylinder. Let the mixture set and rest about 45 minutes.

    Unwrap the potato cylinder and cut into 1-inch pieces about an inch or so in diameter.

    Lay out the bacon and cut each strip in half. Place one tot on the bacon and wrap, then secure with a skewer.

    Cook tots in a fryer with oil at 350F (or in hot oil in a skillet on the stove top) until the bacon is crispy and the potatoes are golden, about 3-5 minutes. Serve with Chili Ketchup.

    Makes about 32 pieces.

    Chili Ketchup: in a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup Asian chili garlic paste (like Sambal), 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Asian chili hot sauce (like Sriracha), 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Let chill in the refrigerator about an hour before serving. Makes about 1 cup.

    Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com.

     

     

     

     

     

     



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    Crafting a Quality Cocktail for Virginia Beer Month

    by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted on August 25th, 2014

    From time immortal, beer seems to have been part of the human experience; 7,000-year-old earthen vessels in Mesopotamia show signs of having housed the amber liquid.

    But when someone first decided to marry beer with the cocktail is anyone’s guess, however Victorian-era notations from Britain support the idea that it’s been around for quite some time.

    Todd Thrasher, of PX, Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, and other Alexandria restaurants, crafted his Atypical Chocolate Martini using a stout beer.

    Todd Thrasher, of PX, Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, and other Alexandria establishments, crafted his Atypical Chocolate Martini using a stout beer.

    Beer cocktails (the Germans call them Biermischgetränke, or “beer-based mixed drinks”) are quick-and-easy to prepare and very refreshing. And, because most beer has a lower alcohol-by-volume than spirits, you may want to indulge in more than one imbibe.

    I can’t think of a better reason to raise a glass to August being Virginia Craft Beer Month than getting crafty with some of the commonwealth’s best beverages. Below are some of my recipes; I hope they will become favorites of yours.

    Please note that some beers are flagship offerings, while others may be limited to certain times of the year. Brews may also be available by the bottle or can, growler, or keg, depending on the quaff; check with breweries for seasonal and packaging availability.

    The good news is that, if one of our suggested beers happens to not be around at the time, there are dozens of great craft breweries across Virginia offering countless varieties and styles – something for every palate.

    -

    The Cocktail: Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks

    A year-round favorite cocktail is the margarita; there have even been songs written about this concoction that helps folks hang on.

    The classic gets a makeover with the addition of a slightly hoppy lager which plays very nicely with the flavors of tequila and frozen limeade concentrate, which is the base for this drink.

    Fill a growler at Starr Hill in Crozet to make a Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks.

    Fill a growler at Starr Hill in Crozet to make a Beer-A-Rita on the Rocks.

    The Brewery:

    Starr Hill Brewery
    Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

    5391 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet
    434-823-5671

    The Brew Used:

    Starr Pils
    “… A classic German Pilsner. This beer is crafted with pilsner malt, German hops and Bavarian lager yeast. It is golden in color with a subtle malt backbone and pleasant hop aroma.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients
    1 12-ounce can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 cup tequila
    48 ounces lager
    2 limes, cut into wedges
    Sea salt

    Method
    Chill beer.

    In a large carafe, add limeade concentrate, lemon juice and tequila and stir to incorporate. Squeeze wedges from one lime into container and toss in. Add the beer and fill container with ice, slightly stirring.

    Take one lime wedge and run around the rim of each glass. Pour salt onto a plate and dip the rims of the glasses into the salt to coat. Pour margaritas into glasses and garnish with remaining lime wedges.

    Yields 4-6 cocktails

    -

    The Cocktail: Black Velvet

    Black Velvet is a beer cocktail made from floating chilled stout beer on top of a sparkling white wine. The drink has its origins at Brook’s Club in London in 1861. This cocktail is a great substitute for mimosas.

    We recommend using a Virginia sparkling wine for the cocktail; find a favorite.

    The Brewery:

    O’Connor Brewing Co.
    Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

    211 West 24th St., Norfolk
    757-623-2337

    The Brew Used:

    Dry Irish Stout (ODIS)
    “A robust dry Irish stout with a rich roasted malt aroma. Smooth and velvety on the palate, concluding with a lingering dry finish.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients
    3 ounces sparkling wine
    3 ounces stout beer

    Method
    Chill the sparkling wine and stout beer.

    Pour the sparkling wine in a champagne flute and carefully pour the stout beer atop. Serve immediately.

    Yields 1 cocktail

    -

    The Cocktail: Red Eye

    Tomato juice is added in a number of beer cocktails, including the Mexican classic Michelada, a concoction of beer, lime juice, Worcestershire (and other) sauce and spices, including peppers.

    Sometimes even the venerable Bloody Mary is made with beer, with monikers like Bloody Beer and Red Beer. The Red Eye is similar.

    Popularized in the 1988 Tom Cruise movie Cocktail as a morning after, hair of the dog drink to ease into the day after a long night of imbibing, the Red Eye traditionally has a raw egg added as a final flourish; that is certainly optional.

    Another option: use a bloody mary mix in place of tomato juice. There are several incredible bloody mary mixes which hail from the commonwealth.

    Visit Virginia’s Finest for a list of regional products, including bloody mary mixes and hot sauces, which is also an ingredient in this drink.

    Take a tour of Port City when you go to buy their Downright Pilsner.

    Take a tour of Port City when you go to buy their Downright Pilsner.

    The Brewery:

    Port City Brewing Company
    Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

    3950 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria
    703-797-2739

    The Brew Used:

    Downright Pilsner
    “… Our take on a traditional Bohemian-style pilsner [golden color, prevalent hops, spicy floral flavor and aroma] … perfectly refreshing lager …” – tasting notes from the brewery website

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    6 ounces tomato juice or bloody mary mix

    1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
    1 teaspoon hot sauce
    9 ounces pilsner
    1 raw egg, optional

    Method
    Chill the tomato juice and beer.

    In a pint glass add tomato juice, lemon juice and hot sauce and stir to incorporate. Fill glass with beer and serve immediately. Optionally, before serving, crack open a fresh egg and add to the drink.

    Yields 1 cocktail

    -

    The Cocktail: Shandygaff

    Crisp and refreshing, the Shandygaff, or Shandy, has origins to the mid-19th century when the word was used in am 1853 novel by H. G. Wells to describe a drink of beer mixed with ginger beer; sometimes ginger ale was substituted.

    Today there are many variations, and in our neck of the woods, often a lemon flavor is introduced and the drink is called a Lemon Shandy.

    Northern Neck Ginger Ale for the kids; Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Parkway's Bridge Builder Blonde for the adults.

    Northern Neck Ginger Ale for the kids; Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Parkway’s Bridge Builder Blonde for the adults.

    We infuse our drink with fresh lemon juice and top it off with ginger ale. We recommend Northern Neck Ginger Ale, which is now produced by Coca-Cola, but has had strong ties to the Northern Neck of Virginia since 1926.

    The Brewery:

    Parkway Brewing
    Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

    739 Kessler Mill Rd., Salem
    540-314-8234

    The Brew Used:

    Bridge Builder Blonde
    “An easy drinking Belgian-style ale … [with] a wheat flavored backbone from the malt, tempered with hints of clove, banana and pear.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    7 ounces Belgian-style ale
    2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    7 ounces ginger ale

    Method
    Chill the beer and ginger ale.

    In a pint glass, add the beer and lemon juice, gently stirring to incorporate. Add a few ice cubes and top off with ginger ale. Garnish with a lemon slice and serve immediately.

    Yields 1 cocktail

    -

    The Cocktail: Snakebite

    With equal parts beer and hard cider, a shot of vodka and some raspberry liqueur added for good measure, the Snakebite is a refreshing, easy-to-drink cocktail that will sneak up on you and take a bite before you know it.

    Old Hill Cider is just one of the Virginia cideries to choose from when concocting a Snakebite.

    Old Hill Cider is just one of the Virginia cideries to choose from when concocting a Snakebite.

    British in origin, it is sometimes made with stout rather than lager, and often a cassis (blackcurrant) liqueur is used rather than a raspberry one. The drink is also sometimes known as Diesel.

    One of the quaff’s components, cider, is celebrated each November with Cider Week Virginia. See the map and locate your closest cidery at Virginia.org/Cider. Be sure to use Virginia cider when making this drink.

    The Brewery:

    Devils Backbone Brewing Company
    Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

    Basecamp:
    200 Mosbys Run, Roseland
    434-361-1001

    The Outpost:
    50 Northwind Lane, Lexington
    540-462-6200

    The Brew Used:

    Gold Leaf Lager
    “A striking gold color, light bodied with subtle, bready malt flavors. A quenching, crisp and dry finish.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

    Of note, this beer won Gold Medal in 2009 and 2010 at the Great American Beer Festival and an International Style Pilsner Bronze Medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients
    7 ounces cider
    1 ounce vodka
    1 ounce raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord
    7 ounces lager

    Method
    Chill the cider and beer.

    In a pint glass, add the cider, vodka and raspberry liqueur and gently stir to combine. Fill the glass with the beer and serve immediately.

    Yields 1 cocktail

    -

    The Cocktail: Sundae Funday Beer Float

    For a spiked, sweet ending to a meal, or a tipsy treat anytime, this beer float fits the bill with the rich, delicious porter – with aromas and flavors of chocolate and caramel – with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream added for extra decadence.

    This is what you'll be looking for when seeking AleWerks' Washington Porter for the Sundae Funday Beer Float.

    This is what you’ll be looking for when seeking AleWerks’ Washington Porter for the Sundae Funday Beer Float.

    We enhance coffee notes from the beer with a drizzling of a coffee-based liqueur, such as Kahlua, drizzled on top.

    Serve this cocktail with a straw and a spoon.

    The Brewery:

    AleWerks Brewing Company
    Tastings and tours available; check with brewery for details.

    189B Ewell Rd., Williamsburg
    757-220-3670

    The Brew Used:

    Washington’s Porter Ale
    “Very dark brown/black in color with an aroma of chocolate and malt and flavors of caramel, sweet chocolate and a touch of roasted barley.” – tasting notes from the brewery website

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients
    10 ounces porter beer
    1 large scoop vanilla ice cream
    2 ounces coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua

    Method
    Chill the beer and add to a pint glass. Add ice cream and drizzle coffee liqueur on top. Serve immediately.

    Yields 1 cocktail

    -

    Patrick Evans-Hylton

    Patrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com.

     

    —–

    Enjoy a Beer Cocktail at these Virginia Restaurants:



    Beer | 0 Comments

    Top Chefs of Virginia: Ma, Milton and Shields

    by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted on August 13th, 2014

    Virginia is America’s first food region, an early amalgamation of food and foodways from Native Americans, the English colonists, and an Afro-Caribbean influence.

    ©Robinson Imagery

    ©Robinson Imagery

    Over the years some food traditions have remained, but even those have had a facelift or two, adapting to modern palates and the country getting a true sense of place in the world’s cuisine scene.

    At the forefront of flavors are the kitchen artists, the Top Chefs of Virginia. From time-to-time we’ll chat with some of these tall toques about what inspires them, and why they chose to create their craft in the commonwealth.

    This is the first of the series. Grab a napkin, you’re going to be drooling soon.

    —   —   —

    Chef Tim Ma
    Maple Ave Restaurant
    147 Maple Ave. W., Vienna
    703-319-2177

    -also-

    Water & Wall Restaurant
    3811 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington
    703-294-4949

    After eight years as an engineer, Tim Ma traded in blueprints for recipe cards and went to culinary school at The French Culinary Institute – now International Culinary Center – in New York.

    Chef Tim Ma of Maple Ave Restaurant and Water & Wheel Restaurant. Photo by Rey Lopez / Under a Bushel Photography.

    Chef Tim Ma of Maple Ave Restaurant and Water & Wheel Restaurant. Photo by Rey Lopez / Under a Bushel Photography.

    Following an externship with the Momofuku restaurant group and other culinary jobs, Tim returned to Virginia, where he had lived since age 10, to pursue his dreams of opening a restaurant.

    “I’ve been doing this for about six years now and have loved every minute of it,” he says.

    Tim and Joey Hernandez opened Maple Ave Restaurant in 2009. The remodeled donut shop seats 28 folks and offers French-Asian cuisine. Wall & Water opened in 2013 showcasing New American food.

    At Maple Ave, a consistent favorite on the changing menu are the Crème Fraiche Wings, a dish of wings in fiery Korean chili paste tempered with cooling Kendall Farms crème fraiche and garnished with scallions.

    Maple Ave has is currently ranked Number One in the 50 Best Restaurants by Northern Virginia Magazine and named among the 100 Very Best Restaurants by Washingtonian Magazine.

    Tim was a guest chef for the James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour on Aug. 4 and will cook at the James Beard House in New York for the Virginia Rising Stars dinner on Sept. 9.

    He was nominated a Rising Culinary Star in 2013 and 2014 for the RAMMY Awards presented by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

    -

    You are on the forefront of food, what trends do you see?

    I think that sophisticated cuisine will start to bleed into casual cuisine more often that what we are seeing it now, and make what once was considered fancy food more accessible to more people.

    You cook for others all the time; what do you cook for yourself?

    I love to make myself soy sauce braised beef noodles.  It can be any kind of noodle, but the beef needs to be super tender though. Add some pickles, and maybe some bok choy and I can eat that every day.

    What is a cookbook or food-related books folks should be reading?

    Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Daguid

    What are five things in your home refrigerator right now?

    Adult yogurt, baby yogurt, toddler yogurt, five takeout boxes from five different restaurants, and milk for my cereal.

    Maple Ave Restaurant

    Courtesy of Maple Ave Restaurant

    What’s a favorite Virginia wine? A favorite Virginia beer?

    I’m not a big wine drinker, but it’s hard for us to keep any RdV Vineyards wines in stock.

    AleWerks Brewing Company’s Shorty Time Session IPA; I couldn’t drink enough of this. We have it on tap now, but it is a very limited edition.

    Let’s talk food in Virginia.

    To me it’s very important to support local, but also very important to support responsible.  Responsible meaning that processes be it a Virginia peanut or grass-fed beef, it needs to be done with the properly with the current and future generations in mind.

    We source a lot from Polyface Farms for both restaurants.  We also like to promote as much Virginia agriculture as we can.

    I love Polyface Farms for not only their incredible products (rabbit, pork, beef, chicken, eggs), but for their incredibly sustainable practices.

    Virginia does provide such a wide range of products that are just fantastic, apples, peanuts, etc.

    What makes Virginia’s cuisine scene special?

    There is something special happening right now with Virginia cuisine. Chefs are reconnecting with the agriculture as well as with other fellow Virginia chefs … and [it’s] not just what is happening in the upscale cuisine space, but also the casual eateries are becoming more craft, less commercial.

    —   —   —

    Chef Travis Milton
    Comfort Restaurant
    200 W. Broad St., Richmond
    804-780-0004

    Chef Travis Milton. Photo by Beth Furgurson Photography.

    Chef Travis Milton of Comfort. Photo by Beth Furgurson Photography.

    Restauranting is in Travis Milton’s DNA. His great-grandparents owned a small restaurant in Castlewood, Va., where his mother worked both in the kitchen and dining room.

    “She would bring me in with her, and I would sit in a highchair in the corner of the kitchen and peel potatoes with a very dull butter knife. I learned quite a bit. I got my first restaurant job at 15,” says Travis.

    Over the years he has worked with such notables as Chris Cosentino of Incanto in San Francisco, Todd Gray of Equinox and Fabio Trabocchi of Fiola, both in Washington D.C., and Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in New York before settling back in Virginia.

    Travis is a native of Russell County in Appalachia.

    Comfort opened in downtown Richmond 13 years ago by Jason Alley and Chris Chandler and has since become a stalwart of the capital city’s dining scene. Travis joined the team three years ago.

    “Our menu is rooted in the old ‘Meat and Three’ concept with a heavy emphasis on Appalachian foods,” says Travis. “We seat about 60 and try to create a very homey feel in the dining room that lives up to the name: Comfort.”

    Dishes change frequently, but Travis is noted for his Cheerwine Vinegar Pie (Cheerwine is a Southern, cherry-based soft drink) and sour corn, an old Appalachian dish of open-air fermented corn which is drained and sautéed in bacon fat.

    Travis has won many awards and accolades, including having his Green Tomato Pie named as a favorite in the Best Dishes of Dixie  August/September 2014 issue of Garden and Gun magazine.

    -

    You cook for others all the time; what do you cook for yourself?

    A pot of soup beans and a pan of cornbread.

    What is a cookbook or food-related books folks should be reading?

    Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken: The Heart and Soul of Southern Country Kitchen by Ronni Lundy

    Comfort. Photo by Sarah Hauser.

    Comfort. Photo by Sarah Hauser.

    What are five things in your home refrigerator right now?

    Sour corn, rhubarb preserves, some old-style Pennsylvania hooch called Spoodie, many cans of PBR and some bagels

    What’s a favorite Virginia wine? A favorite Virginia beer?

    For wine, it’s a tie between Boxwood Winery’s rose’ and Barboursville Vineyards’s Octagon. For beer, it’s Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s Gingerbread Stout.

    Let’s talk food in Virginia.

    Where I grew up, the concept of ‘farm to table’ is just a normal part of life; the bulk of what you ate was grown or killed by you, someone in your family, or a neighbor.

    [Incorporating Virginia foods and foodways] is about honoring and preserving. I try to do what I can to preserve them and showcase them for the many that aren’t aware.

    [I have many favorite Virginia ingredients], Sam Edwards’ ham is the first thing that comes to mind. I am a sucker for the indigenous beans of Appalachia, my favorites being Greasy Beans and Turkey Craws. Craig Rodgers of Border Springs has some outstanding lamb, Adam Musick has some excellent pork, there is Autumn Olive Farms, and Lockhart Family Farm … I could go on and on.

    What makes Virginia’s cuisine scene special?

    Its diversity. You have a rich culture of foodways that are ages old in the mountains, as well as the amazing heritage of the Eastern Shore and everywhere in between.

    —   —   —

    Chef John Shields
    Riverstead
    454 Loves Mill Rd., Chilhowie

    John and Karen Urie Shields of Riverstead. Photo by David Hungate.

    John and Karen Urie Shields of Riverstead. Photo by David Hungate.

    Like so many chefs, inspiration for John Shields came early in life; his from from his father. After attending culinary school in St. Louis, John made his way to Chicago. He began work at the famed Charlie Trotters restaurant there, where he would meet Karen, his pastry chef wife.

    John cooked at Alinea, also in Chicago, where he worked with his mentor, Grant Achatz, who is noted as a leader in progressive cuisine.

    Then John and Karen left the city for the country, and found a home in western Virginia, running the acclaimed Town House from 2008 to 2012 in the Appalachian hamlet of Chilhowie.

    Now the couple operate Riverstead, an inn and private dining restaurant set in the same charming Smyth County locale.

    From a charming renovated Victorian house overlooking the beautiful bucolic countryside, the Shields host a culinary adventure in the intimate 14-seat dining room. Meals are booked in advance on Riverstead’s website.

    “I’ve been in the highest level kitchen in North America and Europe, but I’ve never experienced the adventure that we will offer in this natural setting,” John writes on the site. “I’m pushing my creativity beyond anything I’ve ever done. We have great relationships with the local farmers, but also look for amazing seafood from unique waters and sounds.”

    Although the menu is constantly changing, look for dishes like duck hearts that are brined and grilled over the yakitori, with licorice-like flavors of dried beets, bronze fennel crowns, tarragon and black olives along with swiss chard leaves, cured egg yolk and a sauce of dried tomatoes, fermented blackberry, duck jus and brown butter.

    Riverstead. Photo by David Hungate.

    Riverstead. Photo by David Hungate.

    Over the years, John’s creative cuisine has garnered many accolade from publications like the Washington Post and Garden & Gun magazine. He’s a James Beard Foundation Awards semi-finalist, and a Star Chefs Rising Star.

    In 2010, Food & Wine magazine named him Best New Chef.

    -

    You are on the forefront of food, what trends do you see?

    I think we’ll start to see more chefs banding together to do collaborative dinners and food conferences around the country.

    You cook for others all the time; what do you cook for yourself?

    I tend to cook a lot of eggs. I love eating them, but cooking eggs properly, no matter which style you decide, takes a tremendous amount of technical skill and knowledge.

    What is a cookbook or food-related books folks should be reading?

    The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

    What are five things in your home refrigerator right now?

    Eggs, lots of vegetables, lots of fruit, yogurt and beer.

    What’s a favorite Virginia wine? A favorite Virginia beer?

    I love Fabbioli Cellars’ Tannant 2011; I also love Foggy Ridge Cider. I enjoy Devils Backbone and Blue Mountain breweries.

    Let’s talk food in Virginia.

    I think any smart cook embraces the ingredients and product that are close to them. Obviously the product will be fresher, but it also evokes a story. When I’m using sour quince juice from the guy down the road to make curd, it’s special because you can’t taste or experience it anywhere else.

    Local food benefits the environment and wildlife. Well-managed farms provide ecosystem services: they conserve fertile soil, protect water sources, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

    I love [the ramp]; it’s versatility … charring, caramelized, fermented in goats milk whey … the list goes on and on.

    What makes Virginia’s cuisine scene special?

    Virginia just feels so fertile, and the products are so diverse.

    —   —   —

    Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com.

     

     



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