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  • Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

    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.

    —   —   —


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



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

    3Way Café
    216 Plume St., Norfolk


    Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots from The Public House!

    Bacon-Wrapped Tater Tots from The Public House!


    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

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

    The Public House Victuals & Libations
    1112 Colley Ave., Norfolk


    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



    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



    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


    Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint

    Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint


    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


    210 Market St. Roanoke



    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



    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



    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



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

    Fork in the Market
    32 Market Square, Roanoke



    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



    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



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

    2000 Busted Rock Rd., Meadows of Dan

    Station 2

    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

    —   —   —


    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

    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

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

    House smoked bacon


    Crabill’s Meats
    3149 Riverview Dr., Toms Brook

    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

    Under the brand name Felts Genuine Southampton comes –

    Country-cured bacon


    Kite’s Hams
    3957 Wolftown-Hood Rd., Wolftown

    From this Blue Ridge meat packer comes –

    Thicker-sliced country-cured bacon


    The Rock Barn
    2387 Oak Ridge Rd., Arrington

    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.


    4 medium-to-large potatoes

    2 cups grated cheddar cheese

    1 tablespoon granulated garlic

    1 tablespoon salt

    1 tablespoon white pepper

    16 strips bacon


    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







    Food | 0 Comments

    Mouth-Watering Wood Fire Pizza Spots

    by Stefanie | Posted on August 26th, 2014

    Just thinking about the ooey, gooey, melty, cheesiness that is a pizza pie is enough to make the mouth water. And if it’s not, check out the following  spots that will do the trick.

    And don’t forget! It’s craft beer month, so while you’re digging into some great wood-fired pizza, wash it all down with a nice cold one.


    Pizzeria Orso – Falls Church
    Once hailed as Washington’s best pizza by the Washington Post, Pizzeria Orso specializes in authentic Neapolitan pizza. Featuring an enormous custom-made volcanic brick oven, handcrafted in Italy by Forno Napoletano, the restaurant boasts 14 specialty pies, including classic options like margherita or their Orso pie. Feeling like something different? How about the Smashing Pumpkin: cream sauce, bufala mozzarella, smoked blue cheese, roasted pumpkin, pear, garlic, arugula and shaved grana. Or The Fun Guy with wild mushrooms, mozzarella, fontina and parmesan. The excellent wine and beverage program introduces exceptional, value-oriented Italian wines as well as a number of craft beers– including nine that are brewed right here in Virginia.

    One of many Thyme Market's specialty pizzas

    One of many Thyme Market’s specialty pizzas

    Thyme Market – Culpeper
    Bringing a taste of the traditional European market to the heart of historic downtown Culpeper. Thyme Market is an oasis of gourmet prepared foods – both to go or to be enjoyed on their patio. The kitchen is centered on their wood-fired pizza oven, which turns out delectable thin-crust pizzas with tasty toppings such as chorizo, artichoke, peppadew, shiitake mushrooms and goat cheese.

    Venture Kitchen & Bar – Hampton
    Placing in the top three among Coastal Virginia Magazine’s Best Of Awards 2014, Venture Kitchen & Bar won the bronze for best new restaurant, bronze for best overall restaurant and silver for best signature drink. Their pizza and bread dough are made fresh, in house, and boasts a not-quite-Neapolitan pie. Not only do they make their own bread and pizza doughs, Venture smokes their own sausage. So what’s good on the menu? How about the vegetarian Eggplant pie, with caramelized eggplant & onions, tomato sauce, seasoned ricotta, fresh thyme and mozzarella. And of course, their most popular Everybody’s Pizza (it’s not called that for nothin’!) topped with basil pesto, artichoke hearts, bacon, mozzarella and parmesan. Venture offers eight draft beer options– four are local craft– and more than two dozen bottled.

    Dogtown Roadhouse – Floyd
    Dogtown Roadhouse has six classic, but with a twist!, wood-fired pizzas on its menu. An interesting pie to try is The White, with fresh grapes, almonds, gorgonzola cream sauce and house cheese blend. Prepared in a ceramic oven and bubbling with cheesy goodness, Dogtown’s pies have become a mainstay in Floyd. Craft brews from around the country accompany the crispy pies.

    Mad Fox Brewing Co. – Falls Church
    Featuring  gluten-free crust options, Mad Fox Brewing Co. accommodates any palate. Some favorites on the menu include the Eye of the Tiger: zucchini, ricotta, caramelized onion, garlic base, oregano and pecorino. And there’s the Almost Famous: ham, pineapple, pepperoni and jalapeno… yum. Wash it down with their own Mad Fox Beer.

    Fire Works Wood Fired Pizza – Leesburg
    With pies called the Guadalajara and Black Sheep, those along should pique your interest about Fire Works Wood Fired Pizza. Fire Works uses the freshest ingredients possible, while supporting six different local growers and producers. Still need some convincing? Fire Works pizza is free-formed– the dough is made daily with fine milled Italian “Caputo” flour, filtered water, sea salt and yeast. They burn oak and use nitrate-free pepperoni and sausage. Whichever you choose, rest easy knowing when it arrives on the table, it’s going to be a fresh, wood-fired pizza you’ll be coming back to for more. Check out their Tap Takeovers in September and October, as well as 12 different craft beers on draft– four Virginia-made.

    Check Auckerman at Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza

    Check Auckerman at Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza

    Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza – Harrisonburg
    Did you know Bella Luna is Harrisonburg’s first farm-to-table pizza restaurant? Well, it is! Neapolitan-inspired, thin-crusted pizza is baked at 900 degrees in a traditional wood-fired oven, just as it was over 200 years ago in Naples, Italy. Dough is hand-made fresh daily, using only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. Guests may watch as pizza chefs press out the dough, top it with artisanal ingredients and slide it into the wood-fired oven. Bella Luna’s handmade pizzas feature seasonal produce, cheeses and meats, delivered daily from family farms in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia.

    Monza – Manassas
    They’ve got a mind of their own! When Monza‘s wood-fired pizza come out of the oven, they come out. Monza serves up something for everyone. Try the Seafood: mozzarella, calamari, shrimp, scallops and rose cream sauce. Or the Buffalo Chicken with hot sauce, blue cheese, mozzarella and chicken. You have 10 to choose from, so choose wisely! Or just come back to try them all. Monza has several big screen TVs for watching sporting events and more than 100 craft beers available.

    Fork in the Market – Roanoke
    DEATH BY CHEESE. Just one of their nine gourmet pizzas on Fork in the Market‘s pizzas. How about a spin on the classic Philly Cheese Stake sandwich? The Philly pie serves up all the greatness that is the Philly sandwich, right on a pizza… it’s like two worlds collided to create this amazing concoction. Eyes are immediately drawn to the final item on the menu, the Mac Daddy. Yes, it exactly what it sounds like, sans a father. This amazing pie is topped with oven-baked mac and cheese and topped with cheddar and bacon, with olive oil parmesan sauce. If that doesn’t entice the palate, what will?

    The Brick at Black Bear Bistro – Warrenton
    The Brick at Black Bear Bistro rolled out onto the pizza scene in merely a year ago and has taken it by storm! The pizzeria’s owners achieved their dream of perfecting the crust that is prevalent in Italy and away they went. Eleven eclectic pies are on the menu, including the Fattoria with vodka sauce, farm-fresh eggs, shredded mozzarella, arugula, then tossed in olive oil. The Brick features gluten-free and vegan cheese options, as well as seven local craft beers on tap.

    Blue Mountain Brewery Restaurant – Afton
    How does hand-rolled thin crust infused with herbs, olive oil and honey sound? That’s the foundation of Blue Mountain Brewery‘s delicious wood-fired pizzas. You may think five measly options on the menu isn’t much, but try these on for size… Our Famous Veggie is topped with cilantro pesto sauce, zucchini, squash, roasted mushrooms, caramelized red onions, goat cheese, mozzarella and fresh cilantro. Or how about this one? The Bratwurst with Apples and Onions pie comes with Double H Farm bratwurst (from Nelson Co.), caramelized onion, apples, mozzarella, fresh marinara and balsamic reduction. And of course, wash down the deliciousness with one of their 20 seasonal drafts.

    Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – Charlottesville
    It says it in the name! Brixx Wood Fired Pizza has 23 amazing pizzas on their menu. How do you choose just one?! Brace yourself… some of these unique pies are going to get the stomach growling. First in line, the Mexican: black bean spread with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, wood-roasted chicken, roma tomatoes and sliced fresh jalapenos topped with sour cream. Feeling like some Asian cuisine? Done. The Sweet Thai Chicken pie has wood-roasted chicken, tossed in a sweet chili sauce, goat cheese and mozzarella, roasted red peppers, pistachios and drizzled with Thai satay dressing. Not only is the pizza outstanding, the restaurant has the Brixx Masters of Beer Appreciation program. Who doesn’t love that? There’s 24 craft beer options from around the world, and of course, Virginia!

    Stuzzi Pizza Napoletana

    Stuzzi Pizza Napoletana

    Stuzzi – Richmond
    Stuzzi is a restaurant that brings a slice of Italy to you! Their Neapolitan recipe follows all the standards required for their wood oven goodness to come straight to you. And of course, wash it down with some local brews, like Hardywood.  Stuzzi also has gluten free options for both their pizzas and pasta.

    Rivermont Pizza- Lynchburg
    If you’re looking for a great pizza, fantastic craft beer, authentic wood-fired pizza, AND a thriving live music scene, Rivermont Pizza is for you! The menu is locally-sourced and changes seasonally. You’ll love the housemade mozzarella!

    Aziza’s on Main – Richmond
    Try this on for size… not only are there fantastic wood fire pizzas, Aziza’s on Main serves up a menu of Lebanese and Mediterranean fare as well. Visitors sing the praises of their wood-fired pizzas, topped with the freshest possible ingredients. Try out their Red pie, complete with red sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms and basil. It’s no wonder Style Weekly honored Aziza’s as the 2013 Restaurant of the Year!

    There’s so much deliciousness to choose from! No matter where you are, or where you travel, there’s always a great pizza spot to try out.

    What are some of your favorites?




    Food, Locals | 0 Comments

    Donut Spots that Satisfy

    by Stefanie | Posted on August 18th, 2014

    If you have a breakfast time (or any time) sweet tooth, you’re going to want to swing by these donut shops that pack in unique flavors and toppings! You nominated and here they are:


    Beach-themed donuts from Paradise Donuts

    Beach-themed donuts from Paradise Donuts

    Paradise Donuts of Virginia - Norfolk 
    Paradise Donuts is a family-run donut shop, located in the heart of Downtown Norfolk. Their family friendly establishment serves not only incredible donuts but lunch as well. Donuts are baked fresh in-house on a daily basis. Paradise Donuts is famous for their Maple Bacon or Old Fashioned donuts!

    Pure Eats – Lexington
    Pure Eats donuts are legendary! Order a fresh, house-made donut and you’ll never want to leave! Coconut lover? Try out the Almond Joy. Other favorites include the decadent chocolate peanut butter and the light, but always delicious margarita-flavored! Pure Eats doesn’t have a set menu, so you’ll be surprised of the flavors each time you visit!

    The Apple House - Linden
    Good food, friendly staff and beautiful surroundings make The Apple House a landmark to visit in Virginia. Come visit for your gift needs and be sure to try out the famed apple butter donuts!

     O’Doodledoo’s Donuts - Suffolk
    Hand made, hand decorated, fresh, funky, one of a kind donut shop! This is a real “Hole in the Wall!”  O’Doodledoo’s makes more than 200+ flavors and rotate their menu daily.  Try the famous red velvet cream cheese donuts or a delicious sour cream old fashioned.  Known for gourmet donuts at budget prices, find out what everyone’s talking about! The Oreo extreme, peach cobbler, key lime pie, or chocoholic–yep those are all donuts too! Come quick– once the donuts are gone, so are they!

    O’s Donuts - Norfolk
    With 13 different types of donuts and eight different toppings, it’s easy to see why O’s Donuts are a Norfolk favorite. AND custom colors are available too! Try out a cool twist on a sundae, with the Uh O: A fresh, warm donut, tossed in cinnamon sugar, sliced open with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle. And topped off with hot fudge and whipped cream, of course!

    Carol Lee Donuts - Blacksburg
    Cake donut? Yes, please. Carol Lee Donuts boasts seven different types of cake donuts, including Devilsfood cake glazed and blueberry cake. Or try out one of their yeast-raised donuts, including maple iced with peanuts and toasted coconut. Grab a freshly brewed cup of coffee to wash it all down!

    Happy Day Donut custom creation

    Happy Day Donut custom creation

    Happy Day Donuts – Chesapeake
    The name says it all! Start your day off right with a Happy Day donut. They pride themselves on crafting their donuts with only the highest quality ingredients, so you can rest east knowing they’re always fresh and always tasty. Happy Day always has about 22 donut selections, including their 16 “daily flavors.” And don’t forget about creating your own masterpiece! Choose anything from Boston cream to cinnamon apple, to red velvet, samoa, snickers and more! You also get to choose your own toppings– from 45 possible combinations! Wash it all down with a cup of Happy Day’s custom roasted coffee, roasted to order.

    Sugar Shack Donuts – Richmond
    “I’m pretty sure we’ve found the Holy Grail, and this is it.” Sugar Shack Donuts prides itself on fresh, all nature and local ingredients. Seven house donuts are available, including the quintessential glazed and strawberry iced. They also have six specialty creations, caramel apple cake, anyone?! Try out their monster donuts, featuring peach fritters and Maggie Walker’s signature Dragon Tails. What’s the Dragon Tail? You’ll have to stop in and see for yourself!

    Blackbird Bakery – Bristol
    The Blackbird has become a favorite bakery shop for the locals in Bristol and has developed the reputation as one of the top bakeries in the tri-cities area. When you visit the bakery, you will feel as though you stepped back to a time when neighbors and shop owners knew each other on a first name basis. One of the first things you will notice is the pleasant, friendly and inviting atmosphere that awaits you when you step through the door. Baked fresh daily, when you take the first bite, you will realize that the products are handmade with only the freshest and finest ingredients.

    The Dunk & Deli Co. – Abingdon
    Known for their made fresh daily donuts, Dunk & Deli prides itself on freshness and quality, as well as efficient and friendly service. Join them in their comfortable, sit-down atmosphere and relax with friends and family or call ahead for convenient take-out service!

    Triple Oak Bakery – Sperryville
    Triple Oak Bakery is a dedicated gluten free bakery using local and organic products whenever possible.

    Spudnut Coffee Shop - Charlottesville 
    Spudnuts is an old school donut shop that makes donuts with potato flour, hence “spud”nuts. An institution in Charlottesville!

    Duck Donuts – Virginia Beach 
    Duck Donuts makes their donuts made-to-order and fresh as can be! Their base donuts are made with these key ingredients: wheat & corn flour, soybean oil, nonfat dry milk, egg yolks, and beta carotene. Rest assured when you come to Duck Donuts, you’re receiving the best! Ten coating choices are available, as well as five topping choices.

    Great Country Farms – Loudoun
    Great Country Farms is best known for their cider donut. These apple cider donuts, made with cinnamon and sugar, are baked fresh at the farm and melt in your mouth when you catch them hot. Visitors enjoy them year-round before visiting the farm’s animals, u-pick areas and fresh market.

    Emily’s Donuts & Cafe – Williamsburg
    Emily’s Donuts & Café is more than the new local face of great donuts. The yeast donuts are unlike anything else in town. The process of creation takes nearly three hours from start to finish. There are classic “ring” donuts — meant to be glazed and topped, and solid donuts, perfect for filling with out-of-this world combinations! Emily’s Donuts boasts baking 7,000 donuts every week! Clearly these donuts are in demand — especially with seasonal flavors, like their scrumptious Key Lime Donuts made with real Key Lime infused filling and topped with a not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting.

    Country Style Donuts – Richmond
    “Deliciously addictive since 1968!” That’s the motto of Country Style Donuts in Richmond. Swing by early in the morning to grab some delicious holes before they run out! Try out the peanut-covered glazed, toasted almond or blueberry chip. Or why not try them all! Country Style has 38 varieties of donuts and is open 24 hours.


    Check out some more delicious nominations:




    Food, Locals | 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


    Water & Wall Restaurant
    3811 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington

    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

    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
    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



    Food | 0 Comments

    Virginia: Bon Appétit Appalachia!

    by Casey | Posted on August 5th, 2014

    Virginia’s Appalachia is ripe for the tasting, and Bon Appétit Appalachia! maps out fresh, local flavors for your road trip indulgences. Please your palate at 65 sites within Virginia’s Blue Ridge Highlands, Heart of Appalachia and Shenandoah Valley. For the ultimate tasting adventure (a bucket list by itself, really!), eat your way through the entire 205,0000-square-mile region along the Appalachian Mountains (Mississippi to New York).

    Cuz's Uptown Barbeque

    Cuz’s Uptown Barbeque

    When you spend three days along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, you can indulge in a delish dish from Bon Appétit Appalachia! farm-to-fork restaurant Oddfella’s Cantina, as well as the restaurant at Chateau Morrisette Winery. Extend your stay or mix in tastings from additional Appalachian wineries, including Abingdon Vineyard and Winery and MountainRose Vineyards.

    When in Lexington be sure to see the historic Natural Bridge as you sip and savor your way around. Rockbridge Vineyard, Lexington Valley Vineyard and Southern Inn Restaurant are all Bon Appétit Appalachia! stops.

    The Bon Appétit Appalachia! initiative is vast. Forks up and napkins down for all of the fantastic flavors that await!

    The Palisades Restaurant

    The Palisades Restaurant




    Additionally, the map outlines farm tours, festivals, and farmers markets that deliver fresh tastes and first-hand culinary experiences. Download the map (22 Virginia sites) or navigate online to see all 65 Virginia sites.

    Virginia: Bon Appétit Appalachia!

    Beer, Food, Food and Wine, Virginia Destinations, Wine | 4 Comments