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    Welcome to planet #MountVernon! Actually, @ianaberle has used the #TinyPlanet App to get this really cool effect. While George Washington's home looks on top of the world here, in reality it sits high above the beautiful Potomac River near Alexandria. #LoveVA #georgewashington #president #planet #virginia #vatravel #photooftheday @mount_vernon @visitalexva
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  • Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

    Culinary Madness Winner

    by Tom | Posted on May 1st, 2014

    IMG_7636.2

    Peanut Butter Bang Sundae from Dippers Ice Cream in Ridgeway – winner of the Culinary Madness Challenge

    Congratulations go out today to Dippers Ice Cream in Ridgeway, Virginia. This upstart two-year-old Virginia frozen treat emporium survived the Virginia Culinary Madness Challenge, defeating all comers. Beginning in early April, the field was narrowed from over 70 state wide culinary fan favorites to 16 finalists in a March madness style tournament. Dippers’ Peanut Butter Bang Sundae, an indulgent mountain of custom ice cream flavors and toppings, defeated the equally tasty Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Cyprus Grille in Hampton to take the championship crown.

    Dippers represents everything that’s great about Virginia’s culinary scene – small businesses and inspired creativity combined to offer an exceptional experience for local and travelling foodies alike. From humble beginnings selling a pre-made ice-cream brand from a mobile food trailer, Dippers now creates its own treats in small batches daily and prides itself on its customer service and love for its community. The relatively small eatery has come a long way in just a few years. And the winning entry provides a “bang” for sure, with chocolate cake, hot fudge and peanut butter sauces, all combined with Dippers’ own Peanut Butter & Brownie Explosion ice cream.

    Not forgotten though are the other three members of the “Flavorful Four”, Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken, the Pimento Cheese BLT from the Horseshoe Diner in South Hill, and the Spring Harvest Virginia Faux at Landsdowne Resort in Leesburg.

    Nana's Buttermilk Fried Chicken

    Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Cyprus Grille in Hampton

    Runner-up, Nana’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken, from chef Kyle Fowlkes at the Cyprus Grille in Hampton, was inspired by a recipe belonging to the chef’s grandmother. With creamy mashed potatoes, crisp green beans, and perfectly fried light and crispy chicken, there’s no doubt this down-home classic really reflects the commonwealth’s southern heritage. Fowlkes even noted that the Nana’s Chicken creation wasn’t even his first choice. Another fan beat him to the punch entering the contest, but the incredible-sounding bacon-marmalade he mentioned sounds like it could be a tough competitor.

    Support was high on social media and in the voting for the Fried Green Tomato BLT from the Horseshoe Restaurant in South Hill. Owner and chef Scott Rogers has revived the classic diner in recent years, and the restaurant’s home-made pimento cheese is some of the best anywhere. If you’re up to the challenge, you can upgrade to the Clydesdale burger, a Fried Green Tomato BLT “enhanced” with a huge slab of beef. Not for the faint of heart but really, really tasty.

    And last but not least, the Spring Harvest Virginia Faux at Landsowne Resort in Leesburg, represents the best of modern Virginia cuisine. The dish takes it’s name from traditional Vietnamese pho, and includes ingredients like rice noodles, miso, tofu and Sriracha. If you’re a visitor at Landsdowne resort, stop in to the Crooked Billet restaurant and try some of chef Robert Bradley’s interpretation of Artisan cuisine, filled with fresh local ingredients that showcase the region.



    Food, Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

    Five Culinary Destinations for B&B Travelers

    by Casey | Posted on April 23rd, 2014

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

    Taste of the Town Trolley Tours, Abingdon

    Taste of the Town Trolley Tours, Abingdon

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

    Consider Your Historic District Stay:

     

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

    100 South Street Inn, Charlottesville

    100 South Street Inn, Charlottesville

    Within a Mile of the Downtown Mall:

     

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

    Within a Mile of the Culinary District:

     

     

    The One Bed and Breakfast, Richmond

    The One Bed and Breakfast, Richmond

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

    Monument and Fan District B&Bs:

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

     

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

    Historic Roanoke B&Bs:

     

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

    Related:

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    Food, Virginia Destinations | 2 Comments

    Eat Local! 16 Dishes with Fresh, Local Flavor

    by Casey | Posted on April 18th, 2014

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

    Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier.

    Braised Shenandoah Lamb Shoulder. BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier.

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

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

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

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

    Gunness Ayrshire Beef Stew. Hunter's Head Tavern.

    Gunness Ayrshire Beef Stew. Hunter’s Head Tavern.

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

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

    Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish. Lemaire.

    Crispy Skinned Chesapeake Bay Rockfish. Lemaire.

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

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

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

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

    The Savory Grain, Richmond.

    The Savory Grain, Richmond.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Food, Locals | Comments Off

    Make Mine a Double! 12 Virginia Burger Favorites

    by Tom | Posted on April 14th, 2014

    Virginia has all your top-of-mind hamburgers, from the billion-served chains to the newer class of corporate-run, “gourmet” burger restaurants. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll run across some of the most unique patty places in the Mid-Atlantic, combining the best of Virginia with everything an experienced meat eater has come to expect in their ground sirloin sandwich. Check out the list below (in no particular order) and plan a visit if your travels take you nearby.

    1. The Station Burger, aptly named for its home at Smithfield Station, compliments Angus beef with a slice of Smithfield ham and bacon, cheddar cheese, and jumbo lump crab meat. It’s the closest you’ll get to surf and turf on one bun.

    The Wagyu Burger

    2. The description of the Wagyu Burger from The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg reads like a who’s who of exotic ingredients. From Wagyu beef to house-made focaccia and truffle cheese, this masterpiece certainly wasn’t on the menu in Colonial times. Don’t forget the duck fat fries!

    3. The Joel Lunchpail from George Bowers Grocery in Staunton was named for Virginia permaculture farmer Joel Salatin, and features grass-fed beef and bacon from his Polyface Farm in nearby Swoope, Virginia.

    4. Crafted with local Timbercreek Organic beef and McClure Swiss cheese, The Citizen from Citizen Burger Bar in Charlottesville is topped with black onion, garlic aioli, iceberg lettuce, tomato, fried pickle, and served on house brioche.

    5.From classic burger joint the Burger Bar in Bristol comes the Howlin’ at the Moon Chili Cheeseburger – a half pound slab with homemade chili and enough meat to satisfy the wolf in all of us.

    6. The Apple Jack Burger at BabyCakes Unique Eats in Abingdon pairs fresh local grass-fed Angus beef with grilled Granny Smith apples, an Old Dominion staple.

    7.For the adventurous burger fan, the Bison Burger at the Horseshoe Diner in South Hill might scratch that itch for something completely different. For starters, it’s locally-sourced Bison, but it’s topped with homemade pimento cheese, a house favorite at the Horseshoe.

    8. If you’re near Smith Mountain Lake, stop in at Mango’s Bar and Grill in Moneta for the 8 oz cheeseburger topped with bacon, fried egg and chipotle mayonnaise. It’s an all-day burger to satisfy your breakfast, lunch and dinner cravings at one sitting.

    9. The Fredericksburger from FOODE restaurant in, where else, Fredericksburg, certainly lives up to its lengthy name. It boasts local organic beef, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon aioli, and organic lettuce all on a freshly-baked Brioche bun. You’ll need a knife (or hinged jaw) for this one.

    The Fredericksburger

    10. The exotic sounding Wood-Grilled Teriyaki-Swiss Mushroom Burger brings together wide-ranging elements to down-home restaurant  Northern Neck Burger in Kilmarnock. Whether Italian, Swiss, or Japanese, these ingredients make for a distinctly Virginian take on a distinctly American food.

    11. Harrisonburg’s Cuban Burger serves up the flavorful El Vaquero, A Burger topped with Vaca Frita (seared, crispy steak with citrus and garlic), rum-caramelized onions, swiss cheese and a house-made smokey aioli.

    12. Last but not least, and in honor of all the meat-eaters who have reached the end of this list, is the Double BLT at the Barbecue Exchange in Gordonsville. This monster features bacon, pork belly and baconnaise on a homemade roll. Though this sandwich might be better suited for our 17 barbecue favorites list, it’s fair to say this is the only true ham-burger on the list (sorry – couldn’t resist).

    A few of these burgers are still alive in the Virginia is for Lovers Culinary Madness challenge. Go to http://www.virginia.org/culinarymadness/ and VOTE for your favorite Virginia dish.

    Each entry above was suggested by a loyal local fan. Leave a comment below in support of your favorite (and its restaurant home) and we’ll compile a list of some of the best nominations during Burger month in May.


    And here are some more favorites:

    Recommended by locals via Facebook and Twitter

    (updated 5/14/2014)

    • With different signature burgers every day of the week, Jack Browns Beer and Burger Joint in Harrisonburg is offering some serious alt-patties. Try the Elvis or the Greg Brady!
    Miss Thing and Fries

    “Miss Thing” from Norfolk’s 80/20 Burger Bar.

    • Burgers with names like Redneck Wellington have to pique your interest. The
      80/20 Burger Bar in Norfolk is serving them up with natural, virginia-raised, grass-fed beef. The weight off your conscience just might offset the pounds you’ll add to your waistline. Ok, maybe not, but it’s a nice thought.
    • Burger Bach in Richmond (pronounced “Batch“) is another burger joint committed to environmentally friendly, humanely-raised livestock. At this New Zealand-inspired gastro-pub, you can claim your own little slice of Kiwi heaven by ordering an Auckland, Queensland or New Plymouth.
    • For the best burgers in Loudoun County Virginia (no really, they won the title) drop in to Melt in Leesburg. Try something like the Fire Roasted Green Chile Cheeseburger for a serious change of pace. And if you’re tired of beef (???), get a “burger” made with lamb, shrimp, crab, or bison.
    • Locally known as the “Roanoke Millionaire’s Club”, Texas Tavern, a classic lunch-counter diner open since the 30′s, serves up the Cheesy Western, a burger of local if not regional legend. Order a “bowl with” and a “cheesy” and you’ll be all set.
    • Although you might question the ingredients in the “Flying Squirrel” at Carytown Burgers and Fries in Richmond, rest assured it’s delicious. When you learn that the local baseball team is the Richmond Flying Squirrels, you’ll feel confident enough to order a Kojak or Pancho Villa too.
    • Another favorite burger hangout in Roanoke is Burger in the Square. Even though it’s no longer on the “Square”, or the downtown market, they’re still serving favorites like The Dreamer and The Texas Chili Burger.

     



    Food, Virginia Destinations | 3 Comments

    Chocolate Lovers’ Delight

    by Casey | Posted on February 6th, 2014

    Chocolate is a tempter. Indulgent, smooth, delicious. Fulfill your sweet cocoa desires with a visit to a Virginia chocolatier or an upcoming event.

     

     Chocolate Artisans

    The Ultimate Chocolate Experience by Chocolate Spike

    The Ultimate Chocolate Experience by Chocolate Spike

    Alexandria – Artfully Chocolate - Part art gallery, part chocolatier, part cocoa bar and completely fabulous!

    Arlington – Artisan Confections - Specializing in high-quality, hand-made chocolates that are elegant in both design and flavor.

    Blacksburg – Chocolate Spike – Artistic chocolate endeavors by by Genie Ranck, producer of exciting creations.

    Charlottesville – Gearhart’s Fine Chocolates - An artisanal chocolate shop in Historic Downtown Charlottesville that specializes in handmade confections of uncompromising quality.

    Dayton – Warfel’s Sweet Shoppe - Homemade in the heart of Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley: old fashioned creme fudge, chocolate creme truffles, and “sugar free” chocolates, just to name a few.

    Glass House Winery

    Glass House Winery

    Free Union – Glass House Winery – You read right. A winery that not only excels at wine making, but also makes their own in-house chocolates. Win-win.

    Harrisonburg – Chocolate Occasions – See for yourself how the goods are made, then take home a box or two!

    Lexington – Cocoa Mill Chocolate Co. - Offering a wide assortment of chocolates in dark, bittersweet, milk and white. Also featuring turtles — hand poured caramel over fresh pecans topped with milk chocolate; butter cremes, hand rolled truffles … the list goes on!

    Louisa – Cooper Vineyards – Drink your chocolate! Noche Chocolate is a Virginia Norton dessert wine infused with chocolate. It’s also an award-winning wine (2012 Silver Virginia Governor’s Cup and others).

    Richmond – Chocolates by Kelly - See chocolatiers make world-class chocolates right before your eyes. Take a class, buy a gift, try something new and exciting, or taste a treat that’ll make you feel like a kid again!

    Richmond – Gearhart’s Fine Chocolate - Voted one of Chocolatier Magazine’s “Top 20 Artisan Chocolatiers” in the U.S., Tim Gearhart combines Single-Bean Venezuelan Chocolates, fine local and exotic ingredients, and passionate craftsmanship to create chocolates of unparalleled depth and complexity.

    Virginia Beach – The Royal Chocolate - Indulge from cases filled with store made chocolates using Belgian Chocolate – truffles, creams, caramels, chocolate and caramel coated pretzels, not to mention the famous chocolate covered apples!

    Williamsburg – MAD About Chocolate - A chocolate cafe by Marcel Desaulniers, author of Death by Chocolate and nine other cookbooks.

     

    Chocolate Events

    February 7 – Winchester – Chocolate Escape – Thirteen participating downtown restaurants are offering a $2 chocolate sampling menu while and 16 retailers have chocolate themed deals and offers available.

    February 8 – Warrenton – 4th Annual Chocolate Extravaganza – This is a chocolate tasting fundraiser in memory of a 22 year old who lost her life to Leukemia. Six samples for $10.

     

    Chocolate and Wine

    February 7-15 – Bridgewater – Wine & Chocolate Pairing in the Tasting Room at Bluestone Vineyard – Eight wines paired with eight Warfel’s Sweet Shoppe chocolates for $12.

    February 8 – Oak Grove – A Taste of Wine & Chocolate at Ingleside Vineyards - Indulge in the finest Ingleside wines with an elegant chocolate experience. Reservations required.

    February 11 – Norfolk – Chocolate Wine Pairing at Mermaid Winery – Four pairings for $20. Reservations required.

    February 14 – Stanley – Valentine Chocolate and Wine at Wisteria Farm and Vineyard – Join in the chocolate fondue and wine! Get a plate of dipping goodies and a glass of wine for $15.

    February 14-16 – Middleburg – Wine and Chocolate Weekend at Greenhill Winery and Vineyards – Handcrafted nut-free/gluten-free chocolates by locally owned Simply Nut Free will be paired with four Greenhill wines.

    February 14-16 – Purcellville – Breaux Vineyards’ Chocolate & Cabernet Tasting – Hand-rolled truffles and imported chocolate are paired with Breaux cabernet. $30; reservations suggested.

    February 15 – Floyd – Valentine’s Weekend Wine and Chocolate Pairing at Chateau Morrisette –  Chateau Morrisette’s wine-crafter, Rachel Lagergren and Wilbur’s Chocolates Master Chocolatier, Dona Peters will give an expert presentation of five wines paired with Wilbur Chocolates. $40 per person; reservations and pre-payment required.

     

    Where do you find your favorite chocolate? Leave a comment to tell us!

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    Events, Food, Food and Wine | 1 Comment