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edible blue ridge Member of Edible Communities

Celebrating the food culture of Central Virginia, season by season

Number 13 Winter 2012

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Stunning to behold, delicious to eat, and they might even cure what ails you. Mushrooms are so multitalented, you might say they wear many caps.

Cooking School: Making Winter Delicious Even in this coldest season, it’s possible to cook local—and eat well. Chef Harrison Keevil, who combines hearty fare with whimsical flair at his excellent Charlottesville restaurant, Brookville, shows the way.

30 Taco Truck Nights Curb your enthusiasm? Not at Harrisonburg’s Tacos El Primo, where plates of amazing carnitas tacos turn a food truck into a fourwheeled fiesta.


Food for Thought A letter from the editor.

18 Edible Picks Foodstuff we’re into right now.


Edible Notes What’s going on in the Central Virginia food scene: a pork-centric recipe for collard greens, a Rockbridge County couple baking breads in their backyard, and an ambitious “community farm” project for kids in Augusta County.

36 Buy Fresh Buy Local Listings of local farms, wineries, caterers, and more.

12 Cider Town, U.S.A. Four cideries have taken over in Central Virginia. Time for a tasting tour! 14 Look What’s Cooking... The latest news about Lexington burger joints, markets, wineries… and literary icons? 16 Know Your Vintner Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards has been a risk-taker for almost 30 years. He’s the one, after all, who first planted viognier and cabernet franc in Virginia. And look how far they’ve come!

37 From the Charlottesville Cooking School Martha Hester Stafford shares the recipe for her decadent Butternut Squash Bread Pudding. 42 The Local [Beef Chili] What better way to warm your insides than with a bowlful of chili made with local grass-fed meat, herbs, and cheese. RECIPES IN THIS ISSUE Porky Collards with Caramelized Shallots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Brookville’s Bacon Waffles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Brookville’s Apple-Ginger Soup. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 amFOG’s Sautéed Mushrooms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

On the cover: amFOG shiitakes, best stored in a paper bag. Photo by John Robinson.



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FOOD FOR THOUGHT A letter from the editor.


Natalie Ermann Russell DESIGNER



another anniversary for Edible Blue Ridge. Winter 2012 marks birthday number three, and I for one can’t believe how time flies. When we launched EBR, the Central Virginia local-foods scene was already thriving. There were a slew of local wineries, farmers’ markets, and orchards; a few creameries; a handful of CSAs; and a number of school gardens. Despite that impressive showing, things have gotten even better. There are more farmers’ markets, more orchards, more creameries, more CSAs, more school gardens, and lots more wineries. What does that say about where we are as a community? It says we’re committed. And no wonder—we have some of America’s most outspoken local-foods advocates right here in our backyard. There’s the always-behatted and always-forthright Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, whose pasture-raised poultry and “salad bar beef” have been the model for many an operation around the country (see him speak at our first-ever Edible Food Fest in Orange in August). And there’s UVA professor Tanya Denckla Cobb, whose new book, Reclaiming Our Food, is turning heads for its practical approach to changing the way we eat (more about it on page 9). There’s also Peter Hatch, head of gardening at Monticello, whose interest in our agrarian past predates this magazine (and this movement) by decades. Likewise, Tom Burford, whom we profiled in our last issue. Known as Professor Apple, he’s one of a very few who are saving antique apple varieties from extinction, while reviving the American tradition of hard cider. And, oh boy, has there been an explosion of hard cideries, including three just in the past 12 months (page 12). Local breweries have also been busy: Wild Wolf Brewing—which started as a homebrew shop—expanded into a full-on pub last fall, Starr Hill celebrated its 11th anniversary in November, and new small-batch beers are imminent in Scottsville, where the James River Brewing Co. is set to open. For our readers who want something good to drink before cocktail hour, there’s a new locally grown grape juice that puts to shame anything you’ve ever before thought of as grape juice (page 18). Just a decade ago, finding all of these products would’ve been easier said than done. But access has been evolving right along with everything else. These days you can get almost any local food you want online (sometimes delivered to your door), through services like Relay Foods and Arganica. Restaurants, schools, and hospitals too have better access to local products, thanks to the nonprofit Local Food Hub, which aggregates small quantities from small farmers in order to make it possible for large institutions to get onboard. Farmers’ markets are also more user-friendly, as many have extended their seasons and are accepting food stamps (aka SNAP) so that people who previously didn’t have access now do. Of course, I can’t talk about all of this progress without also saying that we still have a long way to go. Small farms still fail. Ends are often hard to meet. And access to healthy, affordable food for all remains more of a goal than a reality. But from where I sit, 2012 looks promising.


Eric Bendfeldt Angel Sands Gunn Andrea Hubbell Sera Petras John Robinson Steve Russell Martha Hester Stafford Carole Topalian Melissa Wiley PUBLISHER


1614 Brandywine Drive Charlottesville, VA 22901 (434) 296-2120 CONTACT US:

To send a letter to the editor, email us at For advertising inquiries, email steve@ or call (434) 2962120. For home delivery of Edible Blue Ridge, email info@edibleblueridge. com; the rate is $28 per year. Edible Blue Ridge is published quarterly—winter, spring, summer, and fall—by News to You, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used without written permission from the publisher. © 2012. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings, and omissions, but if one comes to your attention, please accept our apologies and notify us at

Correction: In our fall issue, we used an incorrect website for the Virginia Shop as a source for Granatus sugar cookies. The correct website is 6 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE



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edible NOTES

What’s going on in the Central Virginia food scene.

PORKY COLLARDS WITH CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS Make this a day ahead—it gets better with time. Serves 8 1 large onion, minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 3 Tbsp. olive oil Coarse salt Freshly ground pepper

4 pounds collard greens, cleaned and chopped 1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion and crosswise into ½-inch pieces garlic in oil, until slightly browned. Season with salt ¼ cup Virginia Vinegar Works red-wine vinegar, plus 2 Tbsp. and pepper. Add collards and cook, stirring, until 2 Tbsp. maple syrup wilted, about 4 minutes. Pour in ¼ cup vinegar and 4 cups chicken stock cook until absorbed, about 3 more minutes. Add 1 small smoked ham hock the syrup, stock, 2 cups water, and the ham hock, 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter and cook, covered, about 2 hours, until collards are ½ pound shallots, thinly sliced completely tender and ham is falling off the bone. 4 tsp. sugar 2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Pour in 2 Tbsp. vinegar along with sugar. Stir until shallots are brown and glossy, about 4 minutes. 3. Mix half of shallot mixture into collards. Pour into a serving dish, and garnish with remaining shallots.



GOING WHOLE HOG “There’s a wide, wide world of pork beyond the tenderloin,” says Will Gray, general manager at the Rock Barn, a catering and pig-butchering enterprise in Nelson County. To that end, Gray and owner Ben Thompson have begun offering “porkshares” to the delight of many area nose-to-tail enthusiasts. The idea works somewhat like a CSA, but without the commitment. You sign up on a month-by-month basis to get an 8- to 10-pound porkshare for $80. What’s inside the package is a variety of meat cuts in a variety of forms. “The porkshare tries to show how the same parts of the pig—some of them common favorites, like pork belly—can be reworked through the lenses of different cultural traditions and recipes,” says Gray. For example, there’s the Cajun-themed porkshare, with andouille sausage, tasso ham, pig pastrami, and pork belly; or “Virginia HighCountry Eatin’,” with smoked spare ribs, a smoked picnic ham, and a smoked jowl. It all depends on how they treat any given cut. A pork knuckle, for instance, could be cooked sous vide and sliced into deli ham, or it could be smoked and roasted into a German schweinshaxe. A top round could be pounded thin into Italian saltimbocca or pan-fried into Japanese tonkatsu. The sky’s the limit. Likewise, the Rock Barn’s pork is worth noting, as it all comes from heritage Berkshire hogs raised at Piney River Farms, also in Nelson County. “Being able to source from a single farm is big for us,” says Gray. “I know the breeding is done just right, the diet is done just right—that it’s going to be the same week in and week out.” For adventurous porkivores who want the organs, feet, ears, tail, and other odd parts of the pig, you probably won’t find any here. Those are reserved for clients buying the whole hog or for catered dinners. “Because we don’t kill the pigs ourselves—we take them to a USDA slaughterhouse in Lexington—it’s difficult to source the quantity of fresh organs we would need to offer those kind of products,” says Gray. “But when we know we have clients who are interested, we’re happy to help them track down the ‘fun’ parts.”

Once Devils Backbone Brewing Company won a Champion Brewery award at the 2010 World Beer Cup, destiny dictated that its celebrated craft beers would someday be imbibed far beyond the Wintergreenarea brewpub. That day is now. Kicking off in mid-January, a duo of DBBC’s most popular brews will be on tap at restaurants and bars across Virginia, and by March 1 available in bottles at grocers. Vienna Lager is a medium-bodied, chestnutcolored brew with a subtle toasty finish, while Eight Point IPA employs several hop  varieties to create a crisp bitterness and floral-citrus aroma. “One of  my brewing philosophies has always been that quality of flavor is not  equal to intensity of flavor,” says brewmaster Jason Oliver. “These beers  are great examples—simple flavors that are approachable for any drinker, with subtle complexities that connoisseurs rarely find in a pint.” Both are being brewed at DBBC’s state-of-the-art new production facility in Lexington. Of course, for old fans and new converts alike, we still endorse a pilgrimage to the original “base camp” brewpub to see, and sip, where it all started.

LOCALLY GROWN FOOD BOOK When it comes to the movers and shakers in the local-foods scene around here, UVA professor Tanya Denckla Cobb is at the top of the list. And her latest book, Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat, has been turning heads not just in Virginia but around the world since it came out in October. She’s been interviewed by dozens of media outlets about the book, including 17 radio stations in a single day. Why? Because the book is a practical guide with real-world applications. It chronicles almost 60 projects from across the country that grow, process, or distribute foods in a diverse range of communities. In Central Virginia alone, she includes profiles of nonprofits Lynchburg Grows and Innisfree, as well as Joel Salatin’s Polyface and Radical Roots, a farm practicing permaculture in Rockingham County. “My hope is that, number one, this book inspires people to action—even just donating CSA shares while they’re on vacation,” says Denckla Cobb. “I also want this to be a reference for people who are doing work on the ground, so that they don’t have to start from scratch. It’s full of so many lessons learned.” Catch Denckla Cobb at the Festival of the Book in Charlottesville in March. EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE

WINTER 2012 | 9

THAT’S A LOCAL MEATBALL! Meatballs rank high in the comfort-food pantheon, and yet few of us would order a meatball sub for lunch and expect it to be filled with local ingredients. That’s exactly why Marisa Catalano and husband Clinton Jones make the meatballs at Catalano’s Delicatessen in downtown Lynchburg from scratch using a mixture of local pork and beef. Covered in melted provolone on a sub roll, those saucy orbs are completely worth the risk of returning to work with a stained shirt. “We believe in the idea of ‘eat local, eat quality,’� says Lynchburg native Catalano, who previously worked in acclaimed New York City eateries Ouest and Pearl Oyster Bar. “We wanted to do that in Lynchburg, but in a way that is familiar, with food like meatball subs and BLT sandwiches.� The Catalano’s menu also uses local chicken and sausage from Bedford Avenue Meat Shop just down the road. Breads are either from Carter’s Bakery in Lynchburg or Albemarle Baking Company in Charlottesville, coffee is from Trager Brothers in Lovingston, and during the growing season, Lynchburg Grows and Frogbottom Farm in Pamplin bring in their produce. And yes, they have plenty of napkins too.

GROWING KIDS WHO GROW FOOD The start of spring 2012 will be a big deal for children in Augusta County. Project GROWS, a new “community farm� on 10 acres owned by the county, will begin preparing the soil for asparagus, rhubarb, fruit trees, berries, vegetables, herbs, flowers, grains. “And anything else interesting that can thrive here,� says project coordinator Jill Templeton. “This first year, we want to try a range of things to see what does well and to show kids how diverse food can be.� Inspired by a similar program in Wisconsin, Project GROWS will target pre-K to high-schoolers in Augusta County, Waynesboro, and Staunton. In its first year, though, it will primarily be geared toward children involved in organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, whose leaders are serving on the Project GROWS advisory committee. All in the name of achieving its goal: to empower children in the garden, and to show them that homegrown vegetables can be inexpensive and delicious. “It’s important to learn new ways of preparing food,� says Templeton. “How nice would it be to overcome awful memories of brussels sprouts? They became one of my favorites after I learned to not overcook them.�



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LOAVES ON A LAWN Mary and Gary Helfenberger are the Backyard Bakers, literally. In a woodfired oven Gary built himself just outside of their Rockbridge County backdoor, they’re turning out wholesome hearth bread—in rain, snow, wind, or sunshine. It started as a hobby, but word is spreading. “We didn’t expect to sell this much bread,” says Mary, who in her previous life was an IT manager, “but it’s not efficient to make bread for only two people, so it just grew from there.” Now they’re tinkering with pita, cookies, and granola. Their hope is to exploit the oven at various times in its cycle—as it heats up and cools down—to produce a variety of baked goods, using a slew of local ingredients. Right now, one of their most popular breads is the “harvest” loaf, made with roasted local sweet potatoes and toasted pumpkin seeds. Don’t lick your lips yet. Backyard Bakers isn’t taking any new customers (food regulations dictate they sell directly to consumers, not through retail outlets). But if you plan it right, you might catch Mary and Gary stationed at Farm to You in Lexington, selling their breads for $4 to $6 a loaf. Check for dates and times.

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Welcome to Central Virginia, where hard cider is making a comeback. BY ANGEL SANDS GUNN

proliferation of people crafting hard cider in Central Virginia would breed a sense of competition. But you’d be wrong. The local artisans turning apples into this very drinkable alcoholic beverage are one another’s biggest cheerleaders. “Being in cidermaking right now is the opposite of cutthroat,” says John Rhett of Castle Hill Cider, which opened in Keswick in October. “Everyone’s working together.” Clockwise from left: Castle Hill ciders. Indeed, there wouldn’t be an Albemarle CiderWorks’ tasting room. “industry” without multiple play- Free Union’s new cidery. ers. The first modern cidery in the Commonwealth was Diane Flynt’s Foggy Ridge Cider in Dugspur. “Diane is helpful and supportive, and we’re hopefully helpful and supportive,” says Charlotte Shelton of Albemarle CiderWorks in North Garden. “Diane and my brother Chuck discuss chemistry and blends, and she’s even loaned us equipment.” Now Chuck is paying it forward, offering courses to some of the newer cidermakers. Looks like high time for a local cidery tasting tour.…

ALBEMARLE CIDERWORKS, North Garden AT THE CORE The ciders here are inspired by the 250 varieties of heirloom and antique apples grown on the property. The Shelton family’s interest in old-fashioned apples is matched only by their fascination with hard cider’s significance in the diet of Colonial America. PERFECT POUR The dry champagne-like Royal Pippin, made with just Albemarle Pippins. New this year is the exclusive 2011 reserve Virginia Hewes Crab, a straw-colored dry varietal made with crab apples grown at Monticello. BUBBLING UP Cidermaker Chuck Shelton’s long-term project is to craft a cider from Harrison apples, which were, until the 1970s, believed to have been extinct. PICK ONE UP $16 per bottle at Albemarle CiderWorks’ tasting room, Whole Foods Market, Beer Run, C’Ville Market, and Feast in Charlottesville; Devils Backbone in Roseland; Greenwood Gourmet near Crozet; Ned’s Beer and Wine in Lynchburg; Vinosity in Culpeper. BOLD ROCK HARD CIDER AND BREW PUB, Nelson County AT THE CORE It all started, strangely enough, on a sheep farm in New Zealand, where John and Robin Washburn joined forces with Kiwi cider pioneer Brian Shanks, eventually bringing him back to their parcel of land in Nelson County to make some quality cider. It requires a little patience on our part, but by March the cidery and tasting room should be open. And by fall 2012, we’ll be able to toast Virginia’s first cider pub. PERFECT POUR Cider names have not yet been unveiled, but what 12 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE


we do know is that they’ll include a range of dry-to-sweet blends made from all local (and mostly Nelson County) apples. BUBBLING UP There’s lots of building going on—including a 15,000-square-foot oldfashioned barn that will be the cidery. On the other side of a glass wall will be the pub, so guests can watch the ciders being made as they sample. PICK ONE UP Prices TBA. The Bold Rock tasting room opens in March; ciders will be in stores later in 2012. CASTLE HILL CIDER, Keswick AT THE CORE The popular Albemarle Pippin has its roots—literally and figuratively—at Castle Hill. Eighteenth-century resident Colonel Thomas Walker is credited with bringing scionwood to this area from New York. (Editor’s note: Thank you, Colonel Walker!) When local architects John Rhett and Stuart Madany learned of Castle Hill’s pomological past, they changed course, deciding to start a cidery rather than a winery. PERFECT POUR The dry, smooth Levity is made with 100 percent Albemarle Pippins. BUBBLING UP Cider Hill is the only cidery in the world that uses underground clay vessels called kvevri, a method that likely produced the first hard ciders 7,000 years ago. PICK ONE UP $17 to $23 per bottle. Available online and at the Castle Hill tasting room; and at the Virginia Shop, Feast, Foods of All Nations, and Market Street Wine Shop in Charlottesville. POTTER’S CRAFT CIDER, Free Union AT THE CORE Twenty-seven-year-olds Daniel Potter and Tim Edmond are Princeton grads who left the life of engineering and real estate to pursue their passion for offering cider to the everyman at $4 a pour. Out of a renovated horse veterinary clinic they found on Craigslist, no less. PERFECT POUR Their one and only cider right now, Farmhouse Draft, is reminiscent of Belgian beer and is made from local Winesap, Stayman, Albemarle Pippin, and Black Twig apples. “There’s always been this dual nature with cider—some of fine-wine quality made for landed gentry and some made by small farmers,” says Potter, who aims to revive the tradition of the latter. BUBBLING UP Potter and Edmond are currently working on 17 experimental ciders, which they’ll refine until they’re ready for release. Right now, Farmhouse is only on tap, but bottles should arrive by mid-January. PICK ONE UP $4 a pint at Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, and the Local and Whole Foods in Charlottesville.




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COOKING The latest food news...

…IN LEXINGTON LET’S SAY YOU SIT DOWN at the counter inside Pure Eats, the new

burger joint across from the W&L campus, right around 10:45 a.m. In that transitional period between breakfast and lunch, you face a real dilemma: Pick from the four or five doughnut varieties (apple cider, maple) baked fresh every morning by doughnut doyenne Katrina Ulrich, or go straight for a juicy cheeseburger—made with all-natural Buffalo Creek beef—and deep-fried potato salad. We cannot make this decision for you, but it might come down to which one goes better with a black-raspberry shake made with Homestead Creamery milk. Or wait, maybe the gingerbread shake? AFTER OPERATING ON THE SOUTH END of town for nearly a decade, and being absent from the local scene for the past year, Cool Springs Organic Market has reopened near the Virginia Horse Center. Old customers remember the all-organic produce and full cheese department—and the new, larger space also features a restaurant and bar. Vegetarians take note: Your options are abundant (and delicious)— rice bowls, eggplant Parmesan, mushroom stroganoff. Cool indeed. THE BEAST HAS BEEN RELEASED at Lexington Valley Vineyard. At least that’s the translation of Le Fauve, a new wine that’s 80 percent Norton and 20 percent Marechal Foch, a cold-hardy grape more commonly grown in Minnesota. “Those are both hybrid grapes, so this is going to be a robust blend,” says owner Calvin Hale. “Frankly, it’s a red that people either really like or really don’t.” Wild. WE DON’T KNOW IF chef Collin Donnelly will be sporting a kilt in the kitchen for the Robert Burns Supper at the Red Hen on January 28, but he’s pulling out all other stops for the traditional celebration of the Scottish literary icon. Feast on oyster-and-smoked-haddock stew, Scotch quail eggs, roasted goose, haggis (if you’ve never tried haggis, you really don’t know what you’re missing), and Donnelly’s grandmother’s gingerand-date pudding. Owner John Blackburn also promises “bagpipes, plenty of good Scotch, and toasting.” Reservations suggested. LIKE A WINTER FARMERS’ MARKET without the frostbite, Farm to You is filling the cold-season gap for local food with plenty of meat and eggs—and even greenhouse-grown produce—from area farms and artisans. We were surprised to learn that the former subscriptiononly service is now also a full-fledged retail shop open six days a week. And for an amazing selection of artisan cheeses cut to order, don’t forget sister business Cheese to You. WINTER ISN’T SLOWING DOWN Jo Parent at Sunflower Flats Farm in her mission to grow organic gourmet produce. Her new 100-foot 14 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE


Clockwise from left: A sign of the Southern Inn’s return. Go green at Cool Springs Organic Market. Cheeseburger and beer-battered fries at Pure Eats.

hoop house is nurturing hardy greens, mesclun mix, baby white turnips, and carrots. And by the end of January, Parent will start putting in early peas. Also be on the lookout for ginger root, a rare local crop. She sells through Healthy Foods Co-op, Farm to You, the Local Food Hub, and area farmers’ markets in season. SIX MONTHS AFTER THE RETURN of the Southern Inn to its neontopped home—after a major fire forced a yearlong relocation to a shopping center—it’s almost possible to forget the effect its absence had on Main Street. “We’re very happy to be back,” says chef (and master of understatement) George Huger. “The community seems to be happy we’re back too.” Favorites such as fried chicken and grilled trout are still on the menu, but the remodeled space features a new mezzanine with views of Main Street and House Mountain. See for yourself at the January 24 wine dinner featuring Horton Vineyards. CHESTNUTS—THEY’RE NOT JUST for the holidays anymore. To extend their shelf life, Pettijohn’s Orchard turns late-season nuts into chestnut purée and chestnut flour, available from the orchard or Farm to You. What do you do with chestnut purée? Well, Karen Pettijohn’s own chestnut cheesecake is some of the best we’ve ever eaten. THE FAMILY THAT BEEKEEPS together stays together. Okay, that’s not exactly how the old saw goes, but it seems to work for the Dubits, who sell their small-batch Rachel’s Own Sweet Honey at Cool Springs Organic Market and at Amish Cupboard (in Buena Vista). Dad Scott tends the 15 hives, which sit in their garden and the gardens of neighbors. “Our bees are very happy and not stressed,” says Mom Pat, who handles the bottling. And the three Dubit teens—Hannah, Rachel (whose face as a 4-year-old adorns the jars), and Zack—assist with extracting the wildflower honey. Zack even has a sideline selling handrolled beeswax candles—dubbed Zack’s Wax, of course.

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a conversation with

DENNIS HORTON of Horton Vineyards



That’s the mantra of Virginia wine pioneer Dennis Horton, founder of Horton Vineyards in Gordonsville. “People want to buy a bottle of wine as good as what they had last year, or better,” he says. “I can understand that.” With the help of wife Sharon, who runs 110 acres of vineyards, Horton has been on a three-decade quest for grapes that can consistently thrive in Virginia’s challenging climate and soil. It’s been a trial-and-error process, but he’s made some amazing discoveries. He was the first in the country to grow the now-popular viognier, and the first in Virginia to venture into both cabernet franc and America’s oldest native grape, Norton. Indeed, Horton’s been an innovator since before there even was a Virginia wine industry. So we set out to discover how he manages to do it so…consistently.

Edible Blue Ridge: You were the first to grow viognier in the United States. What made you take that risk? Dennis Horton: Taking risks is definitely part of making wine in a state that was not known for wine. From the first time I grew viognier, it was 10 years before anyone else in Virginia put out a bottle. Now everyone is in the act, and viognier is one of the most widely planted grapes. Why? Because it works. EBR: What about Norton—what appealed to you about that grape? Horton: Norton is bulletproof. Even in this year, which was bad for so many other grapes, it made good wine. We grow our Norton six feet in the air. This way, you get a lot more shoots, a lot more leaves, and a lot of protection. EBR: You’re always exploring new varietals. Can you tell us about any that look promising? Horton: We grow a lot of interesting stuff. Like Rkatsiteli [pronounced ruh-catz-ee-telli], which was originally grown in Russia. If you want to screw up your wine-geek friends, ask them what the most widely planted white vinifera grape is. They’ll probably say chardonnay. But it’s Rkatsiteli. It’s a pleasant, dry white, and it’s very consistent. It works. It’s nice to be able to produce a good bottle of wine, and then another and another. All grapes don’t do that. 16 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE


EBR: Any others worth watching? Horton: Pinotage will catch on here one of these days. It’s a big red wine, originally out of South Africa. It grows well, and makes a nice bottle of wine consistently. I’ve been doing it for about seven years. It may take some time, but other wineries will start producing it. It takes a while to catch on, so you have to be patient. EBR: Given your fondness for trying out unproven varietals, do you consider yourself a risk-taker? Horton: My only claim to fame is that I’ve probably ripped out more grapevines than most people have planted. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. If in three years, you don’t get a good product, you don’t want to keep going with it. You can’t make a living once every four years. EBR: Choosing one wine is probably like choosing a favorite child, but we’ll ask anyway: Which do you like best? Horton: Viognier is terrific. We can make it as good as anyone else in the world. It’s one of my favorites to grow. Cabernet franc is a terrific bottle of wine, and so is pinotage. EBR: Of all the places you could have made wines, why did you choose Virginia? Horton: We were first looking at property in California, but when I was flying back home with Sharon, she said, “You can get the vineyard, but I don’t want to live there.” There you go. EBR: What was it like, at the beginning? Horton: If you’re going to Bordeaux, you know what to plant. But when we were coming to Virginia, we didn’t know exactly what would work. We didn’t have a damn clue. We’d take a quarter acre and grow a new variety, and then see what we could make of it. That’s how I made the first cab franc in the state. And now everyone is making it. EBR: What is your take on where the Virginia wine industry stands today? Horton: We’re still working at it. We’re not done yet. We’ve tried a lot of grapes, and many are succeeding. I think Virginia is moving in the right direction, with grapes that are consistent. And that is very important. For more about Horton Vineyards, go to



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HEART OF CLAY A Valentine’s Day no-brainer, this stoneware dish is a sweetheart deal for foodies with a thing for exotic spices, like pink Himalayan salt. “It’s great for any spices you use often,” says Nelson County potter Deborah Harkrader of Starfire Pottery, whose work also includes pepper grinders and pie dishes. She’ll soon combine her love of cooking and pottery in a workshop. On the agenda: making cassoulet… and the dish to cook it in. For details, call (434) 361-1788. $15 for the heart dish; $2.50 per ounce of pink salt at the Spice Diva in Charlottesville;



Food and drink we like right now.

HOMEMADE BEEF JERKY We’ve gnawed on our fair share of beef jerky, and the house-made stuff from the Organic Butcher of Cville may be the best. Instead of using scraps, they hand-cut whole hormoneand antibiotic-free bottom-round and top-round roasts. Then the irregular pieces get a spice rub before going into a commercial dehydrator to cook and dry. The result is perfect chewiness— firm on the outside and soft on the inside—and a primal beefiness. Look for it soon in other local stores too. Chew on that, cowboy. $5 for a three-ounce package.


PERFECT-SIZE HERBS How many times have you bought a giant bunch of cilantro or basil only to have most of it spoil before you could use it all? Yeah, us too, which is why we’re so glad that Rockingham County’s Shenandoah Growers has introduced mini clamshells of organic fresh herbs that are “recipe size”—meaning, there’s enough for a recipe (plus some), and nothing but stems hit the compost pail. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? 99 cents at Whole Foods Market in Charlottesville. 18 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE


VARIETAL GRAPE JUICES We didn’t even know we wanted nonalcoholic grape juice made with local wine grapes—until we tasted it. Oakencroft Farm harvests the low-spray vinifera grapes of a former winery near Charlottesville and transforms them into single-varietal juices. There are two whites— the crisp seyval blanc and the fruity traminette—and one red, the rich chambourcin, which has notes of tart berry and is our family’s favorite. About $9 at Greenwood Gourmet Grocery and Stinson Vineyards near Crozet, Cardinal Point Winery in Afton, Rebecca’s Natural Foods and Feast in Charlottesville, and online at


“The fish swim around, people point to which ones they want, and I scoop them out,” says Serge Kasyanov, who started selling rainbow trout at Edgewood Farm in Orange just this past November. His insanely reasonable price is three good-size trout for $10—if you clean them. Or for a bit more, buy them ready-to-cook at Seafood @ West Main in Charlottesville or Yoder’s Country Market in Madison. We rubbed ours with olive oil, salt, and pepper, stuffed a few dill sprigs inside, and broiled them. Now we’re hooked. Call Edgewood Farm at (540) 421-9999 for an appointment and directions.



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Even in the coldest season, Brookville Restaurant chef Harrison Keevil is turning out finger-licking, locally sourced food. BY NATALIE ERMANN RUSSELL t PHOTOS BY ANDREA HUBBELL



the schedule of a farmer. Unlike most nocturnal denizens of the restaurant world, this guy is up with the roosters. He’s been at work today since about 7 a.m., not unusual for the proprietor of Brookville Restaurant on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. There’s a lot to do, after all. Calling him the executive chef does not tell the whole story. Better put, this energetic 29-year-old is the only chef and the sommelier and the bread baker. He’d be a one-man show on most nights if it weren’t for new wife and co-owner Jennifer, who runs the front of the house (plus two-day-a-week kitchen helper Hardy Reichel). Bottom line: If you’re eating at Brookville, Harrison is cooking. He pours every ounce of energy into turning out elevated, whimsical fare with local ingredients—even in the dead of winter. The menu is 85 to 90 percent local, all the time. That means besides the spices, citrus, and occasional dairy product, most everything else is obtained from within 100 miles. “What you see is our philosophy, not a gimmick,” Harrison says, rattling off what came from where, mostly using first names— chicken from Zach (Miller, of Timbercreek Organics), pork belly from Ben (Thompson, of the Rock Barn), goat cheese from Gail (Hobbs Page, of Caromont Farm and Creamery). “Most of the ingredients started off with people I know, people whose farms I’ve been to and seen how they operate. You don’t get that Opposite: Bacon waffles with buttermilk fried chicken. This page, from left: Chef Harrison elevates this down-home dish. Part of his immense cookbook collection resides in the restaurant. Brookville’s saltysweet bacon–chocolate-chip cookies.

if you’re pulling produce from California.” Of course, there’s a lot more produce to choose from in January in balmy California. But eating local in the winters of Central Virginia—where it actually gets cold—is quite doable and, as it happens, very delicious. No, there aren’t any sun-kissed tomatoes or tender asparagus, but Harrison finds refuge in the microgreens from the greenhouses at Manakintowne Specialty Growers in Powhatan, and plenty of hardy root vegetables like onions and potatoes from a variety of area farms, as well as local eggs, pork, beef, chicken, apples, flour, polenta, cheese, and honey. “We’re a meat-centric restaurant, and I make no apologies for that—it’s what I like to eat, what I like to cook,” says Harrison as he whisks Wade’s Mill flour and Timbercreek Organics eggs into a waffle batter that will eventually be studded with bits of Edwards Virginia bacon. Yes, bacon in the waffles. It doesn’t get much more meat-centric than that. Drizzled with local maple syrup, the waffle will serve as the plinth for a masterpiece of fried chicken doused with house-made hot sauce, topped with a red-wine-vinaigretted frisée salad and a snowfall of Pecorino cheese—thus achieving the exalted sweetsalty-tangy trinity Harrison so adores. “I love all those flavors at once,” he says, conceding his is a highbrow, lowbrow approach to dining. Case in point: He can transform an unpretentious dish like chicken and waffles into something worthy of a whitetablecloth restaurant. And people are taking notice. In October,

Harrison’s bacon–ice cream root-beer float earned him the 17th spot on Complex magazine’s “25 Best Stoner Dishes in America.” It may seem a dubious distinction to the priggish, but he’s in good company, with the likes of New York superstar chefs David Chang of Momofuku and David Burke of David Burke Townhouse. What these “food artists” are doing in big cities is what he strives to do here: Present diners with an onslaught of flavor, color, texture—all the while supporting local farms and artisans.


fter settling in for the morning and taking a quick inventory, Harrison and Jennifer are off on their daily errands, often by foot, to stock up for dinner service. Perhaps some Virginia rockfish and oysters, which are in season now, from Seafood @ West Main; cheeses and cured meats from BROOKVILLE’S BACON WAFFLES

Makes 8 2 cups Wade’s Mill all-purpose flour 1 tsp. salt 4 tsp. baking powder 2 Tbsp. sugar 2 eggs, room temperature 1½ cups milk 2 ⁄3 cup unsalted butter, melted 1 cup chopped cooked local bacon In a medium bowl, mix together first four ingredients. In a large bowl, mix together eggs and milk. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture, and whisk until lump-free. Whisk in butter. Add bacon. Cook in waffle iron, according to manufacturer’s directions. EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE

WINTER 2012 | 21

Feast; and beef, among other odds and ends, from the Organic Butcher. “Ultimately, by sourcing locally I’m being selfish and getting the best ingredients I possibly can,” says Harrison, who honed his skills during restaurant stints in San Francisco and London, and then back in Virginia at the Clifton Inn under mentor Dean Maupin. “Building relationships with the producers, local shops, and fellow chefs is a big part of this whole movement. We’re putting money back into the community. Then they put money into the community. And so on. It’s a dynamic that can last forever.” Back in Brookville’s small but very efficient kitchen, it’s time to get cooking.


Serves 10 5 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped 2 white onions, chopped 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and chopped 1 jalapeño, stem removed, chopped 1 stick unsalted butter 4 sprigs thyme 3 cups Foggy Ridge hard cider 3 cups water 1 cup cream Salt and pepper to taste 1. In a large skillet over low heat, sweat apples,

onion, ginger, and jalapeño in butter 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add thyme, then cider, and reduce by half. 2. Add cream and water. Bring mixture to a boil on high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender or in batches in a standard blender, taking care not to fill more than halfway. Season with salt and pepper.

Local ingredients are everywhere—not for show, but to be sautéed, baked, braised, and eaten. On the open stainless shelves are sacks of flour and polenta from Wade’s Mill in Raphine, and gallon jugs of Hungry Hill honey so large and deeply colored they could easily be mistaken for cider. Stacked on the floor are boxes of Granny Smith apples, yellow onions, and red potatoes that Harrison got today from the Local Food Hub, each labeled with the name of the area farm from which it hails. Harrison pulls out five apples and a couple of onions, and starts chopping them for the beginnings of what will be a soul-warming apple-ginger soup. “I love this apple,” he says, relating his affinity for the tart Granny Smith to that of Jelly Belly Sours, an admitted indulgence. “These dishes are all about what I love to work with in the winter.” To be sure, if anyone knows the ins and outs of what’s available in Virginia in winter, it’s Harrison, who hails from Richmond and graduated from UVA in 2005. In winter 2009, he volunteered at the Food Hub, stuffing boxes with the goal of meeting local farmers and better understanding all aspects of farm-to-table. He also helped slaughter and process chickens on many a Thursday at Timbercreek Organics this past summer. “You have a much deeper respect for the animal if you’re the one taking its life,” he says, pouring some Foggy Ridge hard cider into the sautéed mixture of apples and onions. “Being involved in the slaughter forces you to treat ingredients with much more respect when you’re cooking them. It’s something every chef, every meat eater should do in

Newlyweds Harrison and Jennifer in a rare moment of enjoying the fruits of their labor.

his life—go to a butcher, go to an abattoir, see the whole story.” For Timbercreek’s farmer Zach Miller, Harrison’s visits are a two-way street. “Having Harrison help us process lets us interact with a very talented end-user,” says Miller, who gifted the Keevils with perhaps their favorite wedding present: a forest-fed Blue Butt pig, which was smoked and served at their rehearsal dinner in October. “Harrison has helped us hone the presentation of our fully butchered chicken so that it’s tasty and beautiful.” Jennifer too wears many hats. As the boss in the dining room, she is charged with keeping guests happy. She’s also the baker of the pies and cookies, including Brookville’s renowned bacon–chocolate-chip cookies. (If not the most popular, these cookies are one of the restaurant’s most talked-about offerings.) Jennifer’s hands are also behind today’s fourinch-high apple pie, made with large chunks of those same Granny Smiths from the Food Hub. The flaky crust incorporates Wade’s Mill flour and shredded cheddar, again to infuse some salty into a sweet. Further proof that, in any season, the payoff for sourcing locally is great-tasting food. Harrison carefully sets a slice of his wife’s handiwork on a plate, readying it for the journey into the dining room. “In the winter you just have to work a little harder to find the things you need,” he says, wiping a few stray crumbs from the rim. “But if you look, they’re out there.” For more info, go to EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE

WINTER 2012 | 23


Beautiful, healthful, delicious, and local. What more could anyone ask of a fungus? BY NATALIE ERMANN RUSSELL t PHOTOS BY JOHN ROBINSON



his calling with sweets. Mushrooms are Earth’s most whimsical, most magical-looking f lora—arguably more appealing (and definitely more nutritious) than Wonka’s fanciful candy versions, even if his did sit along the banks of a chocolate river. Take oyster mushrooms, for instance, which grow in a rainbow of colors: yellow, blue, pink, pearl gray, to name a few. Their pillowy caps sprout in village-like clusters, luring locavores—old and young alike—to the farmers’ market stalls that display them. Their undersides reveal ridge upon ridge of pristine white gills, like a field of French vanilla ice cream that’s recently been plowed. But as their name suggests, oyster mushrooms actually have a shape and flavor akin to the bivalve, minus the brine. “The slate-blue oysters are my favorites because of their deep, earthy flavor,” says mushroom-grower extraordinaire Yvonne Harris, who with husband Ken raises oyster mushrooms, shiitakes, and maitakes yearround at their Afton farm, amFOG. In the wild, these mushrooms can be found shooting out from the trunks or fallen branches of woodland trees. They grow above the leaf litter, with access to at least some sunlight. But at amFOG, as with other commercial growers, they thrive in a “mushroom house” where temperature, carbon dioxide, humidity, and light are tightly controlled. Here, the grow house is the first floor of a large red barn, no doubt an amazing sight inside, with billions of mushrooms of different varieties and stages of growth. But since amFOG’s exact setup is proprietary, with unique grow chambers and air systems, only Yvonne and Ken are allowed to enter. As they do, they pull on masks so as not to breathe in the billions of microscopic mushroom spores—prolonged inhalation of the spores can cause a condition called mushroom lung, the precise reason why people shouldn’t try to grow mushrooms inside their homes. When they return, Ken is holding up a straw-stuffed bag studded with baby oyster mushrooms, the mini caps so yellow they resemble tiny lemon candies. This is just one of hundreds of plastic bags that are hung from the ceiling inside. Plastic is needed because it traps enough moisture to encourage the

Clockwise from opposite: Yellow oyster mushrooms. amFOG’s proprietary grow house. Yellow oysters at an early stage. Shiitakes stored in a brown paper bag.

threadlike mycelia (roots) to “fruit”—meaning grow the actual mushrooms—through holes in the bag. From start to finish, it takes the oysters three to eight days to mature. Once harvested, more can be grown on the same bag over and over again for about six weeks, after which the straw and mycelia inside are turned into nutrient-rich compost. This same bag system is also used for the less-familiar maitake, Japanese for “dancing mushroom,” which looks more like a dense cluster of ocean coral than a fungus. In the wild, these frilly masses are often found at the base of oak trees, where their petals resemble chicken feathers, earning them the moniker “hen of the woods.” They take the longest to grow, maturing after 25 to 34 days. Not all mushroom varieties are grown

on bags, though. Shiitakes, for example, grip manmade logs lined up on shelf after shelf in the grow house. The brown logs are almost as big as cinderblocks, and are just as boxy, but contain an interesting mix of sawdust and birdseed—the latter of which acts as a food MUSHROOM STORAGE TIPS When you get home from the store, transfer your mushrooms to a paper bag, and put them in the refrigerator. Oyster mushrooms will last this way for three to five days; shiitakes for up to 10 days; and maitakes for up to two weeks. If mushrooms become dried and shriveled while in the refrigerator, salvage them by simmering them in a pan of white wine or mushroom stock (covering them halfway with liquid).


WINTER 2012 | 25

source for the growing mycelia. The logs are inoculated with seeding material, and 10 to 14 days later—poof!—the shiitakes appear.


hoosing a good mushroom isn’t as daunting as it may seem. “It’s the fruiting body of a fungus, like a fruit or flower, so you look for the same attributes,” says renowned food writer Eugenia Bone, whose latest book is Mycophilia. “Moist firmness, strong, appealing smell, and a kind of brightness that says, ‘I am ripe.’” Subtle differences among the mushrooms, though, are enough to tell Yvonne, whose background is in herbal and medicinal plants, what went on. “When the edge of the cap is thinner and feathers out, that means there was too much moisture,” she says, plucking out an offending shiitake. “And these indents might be from growing too close to a neighboring mushroom.” Another notable imperfection among shiitakes, for those in the know, is a pale cap, which indicates the mushroom probably grew on the back side of a log, away from the light source— though such coloring really doesn’t affect taste. Likewise, splits in the lines of the gills are a sign of age. Then Yvonne points to one with a particularly ruffled pileus (aka cap). “Yes,” she says, aiming her finger at the edge. “These are quite desirable when they’re frilly like this.” The Harrises have honed their mycological skills to such a degree, they can pinpoint a problem with just a sniff of the air in the grow house. “I can often guess the CO₂ levels just by smell and feel,” says Ken. “And most of the time, the equipment confirms my diagnosis.” Impressive. But the actual superpowers belong to the mushrooms. After all, they have been used as healers in Asian cultures for thousands of years. “It’s not like that in America,” says Yvonne. “We as a country got

away from nature for a long time. And we got away from knowing where our food comes from, and the medicinal benefits of it.” Mushrooms are indeed loaded with vitamins and minerals, specifically B vitamins and ergothioneine, a unique antioxidant especially prevalent in shiitakes, maitakes, and oysters. They’re also high in vitamin D—the only plant food to offer it naturally—as well as protein (more than beans), iron, potassium, and zinc. Studies have shown they retain most of these assets even after being cooked. Furthermore, each type of mushroom has its own distinct healing powers. Oysters can help relieve such ailments as muscle tension and high cholesterol. Maitakes and shiitakes are good for blood-sugar regulation (diabetes), high blood pressure, and to help counteract the side effects of chemotherapy treatments, among other things. Mushrooms are not a panacea, though. When you eat one, it’s not going to attack malignant or otherwise sick cells—but it can boost the immune system and restore the body in other ways, which is helpful for fighting a variety of afflictions, from the common cold to AIDS. “I’m interested in the science of it all,” says Yvonne, who’s constantly tinkering with different varieties in what she calls her “lab.” She’s hopeful she’ll have the fickle pink oyster mushroom for sale in time for Valentine’s Day. It all depends on her spawn supplier—the lifeline of the mushroom-growing world—and whether or not its batch this year is viable. Like the grow house, the details of her spawn supplier must be kept secret, to ensure that there will be enough for her needs. After all, says Yvonne, the mushroom business is mushrooming.


nside amFOG’s small on-farm kitchen, the air is now redolent with a faint, pleasant


If you’re using maitakes, first cook the garlic in butter and sherry, and add the mushrooms at the last minute, just to heat through. This recipe does well as a side dish by itself, or tossed with pasta, incorporated into a frittata, or served atop meat. Serves 2

From top: Oyster mushrooms grow through a hole in a plastic bag. Yvonne Harris of amFOG.



2 Tbsp. unsalted butter 1 tsp. chopped garlic 2 cups chopped oyster or shiitake mushrooms ¼ cup dry sherry, white wine, beer, or mushroom stock, plus more to taste

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, and sherry, and cook 10 minutes, until tender. Add more sherry to taste, and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Salt only at the end (otherwise it will draw out the water and make the mushrooms rubbery).

PORCINI A.K.A. Boletus edulis, cep, king bolete, penny bun. CHARACTER Club-shaped, bulbous stem and convex cap. HEALTH BENEFITS Rich in vitamin A, vitamin, C, calcium, iron, and potassium; believed to have anti-carcinogenic properties. DID YOU KNOW? Drying it intensifies the meaty character and will enhance soups and other dishes. EAT IT The flavor is nutty, with hints of woodland.


ENOKI A.K.A. Flammulina velutipes, enokitake, snow puff mushroom, golden needle, velvet foot. CHARACTER Slightly fruity and mild, with a crisp texture. HEALTH BENEFITS Fat-free and rich in selenium, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, and fiber. Good for the immune system. DID YOU KNOW? The cultivated variety has white stems and caps, but in the wild, they appear more orangey-brown. EAT IT Before using, cut away the mass at the bottom of the stems. Enokis don’t need much cooking if any, so they’re great on salads or sandwiches, or as garnish on hot soups or Asian noodle dishes.



A guide to taste, looks, and nutrition.*

A.K.A. Pleurotus djamor, flamingo oyster. CHARACTER Sour when raw, but flavor improves with cooking. HEALTH BENEFITS Studies have linked oyster mushrooms with cardiovascular health and improving cholesterol levels. DID YOU KNOW? Its color becomes less intensely pink with age. EAT IT Its flavor is often likened to ham or bacon.

A.K.A. Cantharellus cibarius, golden chanterelle, egg mushroom. CHARACTER Most are bright orange or yellow, with a funnel shape and a fruity fragrance. HEALTH BENEFITS Full of antioxidants, fiber, and protein. DID YOU KNOW? The gills of a chanterelle are unique: The ridges are widely spaced, rounded, and shallow. EAT IT Chanterelles aren’t to be eaten raw. They benefit from being cooked long and slow—and will retain their peppery undertones.

MAITAKE A . K . A . Grifola frondosa, hen of the woods, ram’s head, sheep’s head, dancing mushroom. CHARACTER Delicate “caps” look more like petals. Flavor is appealingly woodsy. HEALTH BENEFITS The maitake is believed to help with high blood pressure, diabetes, immune deficiencies, respiratory ailments, and stress. DID YOU KNOW? No knife necessary; simply crumble the mushroom with your fingers. EAT IT Because they’re so fragile, maitakes don’t need long in the pan—just enough time to warm through.



A.K.A. Lentinus edodes, Chinese mushroom, black forest mushroom. CHARACTER Umbrella-like caps are a popular meat substitute for vegetarians. HEALTH BENEFITS Too many to count: the improvement of bronchial inflammation, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, sexual health, stress…. DID YOU KNOW? Shiitakes have almost double the shelflife of white button mushrooms. EAT IT Remove the stems before grilling, sautéing, or broiling the caps. Flavor is aromatic, with notes of garlic.

* Mushrooms can be fatally poisonous, so unless you bring along an expert, don’t eat these from the woods. Instead, “forage” at a local mushroom producer.

BLACK TRUMPET A.K.A. Craterellus fallax, horn of plenty, trumpet de mort, black chanterelle. CHARACTER Tubular and vase-shaped, it’s related to the chanterelle. HEALTH BENEFITS Rich in protein and antioxidants. DID YOU KNOW? Some liken the black trumpet’s aroma to apricots, which likely comes from the sugars it obtains by growing near tree roots. EAT IT With its smoky, buttery flavor and dark hue, black trumpets can be incorporated into light-colored dishes to stunning visual effect.

WHITE OR GRAY OYSTER A.K.A. Pleurotus ostreatus, hiratake, veal mushroom. CHARACTER Juicy and firm; mild yet aromatic. HEALTH BENEFITS Rich in B-vitamins, unsaturated fats, protein, and calcium. DID YOU KNOW? The oyster is also called veal mushroom because its flavor is often likened to that of the tender meat. EAT IT Oyster mushrooms have a relatively strong taste and do better when spices are kept to a minimum.

Clockwise from top: The entire maitake is edible, except for the knot in the center. Shiitakes are sorted by size. Yellow oyster mushrooms—downright otherworldly.

fragrance of forest floor. “You don’t have to be a good chef to wow someone with mushrooms,” says Yvonne, drawing a large knife along each side of a root clump, which sits amid a tangle of gray oysters. The caps and stems fall to the side, and what remains is a perfectly square block of entwined roots— what the Harrises call the mycelial stump. There’s not a single speck of dirt, since these mushrooms are grown in controlled conditions without soil. Even if they weren’t pristine, you never want to wash mushrooms, as they will retain the water and turn to rubber when cooked. Instead, Yvonne scans for any random bits of straw, and then runs the knife through the pile of caps and stems with a rocking motion, 28 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE


breaking them into bite-size pieces. The intact mushroom “block” will be dropped into a soup pot, covered with water, and simmered, yielding a flavorful, restorative stock that will become even more so the longer it’s cooked. “Mushrooms are so versatile—we roast them, grill them, sauté them,” says chef Mark Newsome, who has been cooking with amFOG mushrooms at Joshua Wilton House in Harrisonburg almost since the farm started growing them five years ago. “What I really like about amFOG mushrooms is that they have a longer shelf life because they still have some of the roots attached—and because I know the Harrises are getting them to me as quickly after harvest as they can.”

Back at amFOG, Yvonne heats up a couple of pats of butter and some minced garlic in a sauté pan, then adds the chopped mushrooms, which appear to be enough to feed an army but, because they are mostly water, will shrink substantially when cooked. “Some people would think this is too much to eat at one sitting,” she says, “but we recommend getting a half pound of raw, untrimmed mushrooms for each person.” As they cook, mushrooms have the uncanny ability to soak up whatever sauce surrounds them while simultaneously releasing flavorful juices to make the dish as a whole even better. This is especially true of dried mushrooms. “For some mushrooms, drying intensifies the flavor—like oregano, which is also better dried,” says Bone. “Candy Caps, porcini, and morels dry incredibly well with no loss of flavor—in fact, just the opposite.” When added to soups, spaghetti sauce, lasagne—pretty much anything—dried mushrooms plump back up and impart a toasted earthiness like no other. The slate-gray oysters, still simmering in the pan, begin to turn brown, absorbing the essence of butter, garlic, and sherry. Indeed, regardless of the color an oyster is at the start, by the end, all will wind up a comparable shade of brown with a similar (albeit delicious) flavor. You’d have to eat the oysters raw to really get a sense of the subtleties: The darker they are, the heartier and earthier they tend to be; yellow oysters, on the other hand, have a slight fruitiness and a more fragile constitution that makes the stem softer, meaning more of it is edible. Mushroom lovers know that exotic varieties like these are complex, almost meat-like, and can ably command center stage. Chef Newsome surely knows it. His menu always includes amFOG mushrooms in one form or another—in a tart, in a soup, alongside osso bucco. There’s so much that mushrooms can be. Caps off to that. GET YOUR HANDS ON SOME Find amFOG mushrooms, mushroom stock, ready-to-cook mushroom packs, and mushroom pâté this winter at the Harrisonburg Farmers’ Market and at the on-site farm shop. These products are also sold at the Staunton, Nellysford, Richmond, and Williamsburg markets during their seasons. Maitakes are $18 per pound; shiitakes, $16; oyster mushrooms, $12.

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TACO TRUCK NIGHTS Food trucks come and goâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;literally. So how has Tacos El Primo become a curbside institution to its loyal patrons? BY STEVE RUSSELL PHOTOS BY SERA PETRAS



of food trucks. Humble hot dog vans alert customers to their latest locations via Twitter, while pedigreed chefs roll out gourmet trucks that serve braised lamb cheek sandwiches and escargot in puff pastry. Cities from Los Angeles to Boston sponsor foodie-magnet festivals that gather dozens of trucks in one spot. There is even a reality TV show devoted to a cross-country cook-off between a melting pot of lovable food-truck crews. In the midst of this movable feast, it’s worth pausing to appreciate that stalwart of the food-truck scene, the taco truck. These rolling taquerias were dispensing traditional, affordable Mexican fare on corners in Latino neighborhoods long before food trucks became a trend, and are likely to exist long after zeitgeist-seeking celebrity chefs have retreated to their indoor six-burners. A sure place to find taco trucks in Central Virginia is Harrisonburg, where a sizable Hispanic population has spawned more than a half-dozen of them parked around town. And there is no better truck to start with than Tacos El Primo. Sitting just over a hill from I-81 in a tiny construction office parking lot on Reservoir Street, ringed by modest apartments and an enormous concrete transformer tower, the boxy van would be easy to pass right by if not for two things—its bright turquoise paint job and the scent of grilling meat carried on a frosty evening breeze. “The train tracks being right here helps too,” says Veronica Paniagua, who started Tacos El Primo with husband José in 2006, when it was Harrisonburg’s sole taco truck. “When a train comes and the traffic backs up, the cars start pulling in.” In truth, Tacos El Primo doesn’t need any help from the railroad. Almost everyone walking up to the order window, manned by Veronica’s energetic mother, Alicia Avila, is a repeat customer. And they express feelings about the food that are typically reserved for a cherished favorite from Grandma’s kitchen. “I grew up with Mexican food,” says Elizabeth Bird, a James Madison University sophomore who hails from Texas. “And this is good.” Despite the plinking of a light drizzle as the

Opposite: Dusk at Tacos El Primo. This page, clockwise from top left: Warm torta. Chorizo tacos dripping with flavor. Mixed tacos, before they are devoured.

short winter day ebbs into night, she is savoring her usual vegetarian burrito at one of the truck’s three round tables, while classmate Karissa Harris unwraps a burrito stuffed with adobada. “We started eating here last year,” say Harris, “and now we try to convince anybody who is heading for Taco Bell to come with us instead.” Folks lured away from that ubiquitous chain with the zillion-dollar marketing budget find a simple menu at Tacos El Primo—no focus-group-branded Nacho Cheese Gordita here. Instead, there are just tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and tortas. Each can be filled with authentic asada (steak), pollo (chicken), carnitas (fried pork), adobada (spicy pork), chorizo (spicy pork sausage, ground on site), or lengua (beef tongue), and finished with toppings such as red or green salsa, onion, cilantro, and avocado. While the weather is cold, there is also posole (soup made with pork shanks and hominy), cinnamon-dusted churras, and steaming champurrado (hot chocolate). This is basic South of the Border comfort food—in the best sense. Take it from Silvano Cruz, a native of Oaxaca, Mexico, and a regular at Tacos El Primo from the time he arrived in Harrisonburg three years ago. “It does remind me of home,”

he says through a translator. “I started by loving the tacos, and now it’s like an addiction— I’m here two, three times a week.” Cruz’s regular meal, carnitas tacos, is a standout. Shredded hunks of pork are fried in a deep skillet until the edges are crispy and the fat perfectly caramelized, yielding a sweetness that balances beautifully with the corn tortilla and slightly spicy salsa. For sure, this is the sort of mouthful that can turn a taco truck into a landmark. Veronica beams as she surveys the small crowd gathered around the van at dusk—a trio of Asian students, a Hispanic teenager dressed in baggy, hip-hop style, and a scruffy, skinnyjeaned hipster. “We have customers who are Hispanic, black, Asian, Indian. We have students, construction workers, courthouse people, doctors—you name it,” she says. “And when we started getting some Hindu customers, we began offering vegetarian options of all of our food. There are no boundaries here.”


rom outside, the truck looks roomy. But inside, the impeccably clean storage, sink, prep, and cooking areas, though thoughtfully designed to enable an efficient workflow, EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE

WINTER 2012 | 31

From top: José and Veronica Paniagua started Harrisonburg’s first taco truck in 2006. Son Mikey shows off his griddle skills.

reduce the human space to a tight channel down the middle. Fortunately, the corralled aromas of warm tortillas, sizzling meat, and freshly chopped cilantro more than compensate for any feelings of claustrophobia. The drizzle outside is causing a momentary lull in business, so when an order comes in for a lengua taco, José and Veronica invite this visitor to try his hand as a taco truck cook. Having eaten almost every part of a cow except tongue, I toss one extra saucer-size corn tortilla on the hot griddle, press with a charred metal spatula for a few seconds, then move down the line. Alicia hovers, and points out the slick brown chunks of tongue simmering in gravy. I tug on plastic gloves and am instructed to peel off the thin membrane around the meat, which turns out to be easier said than done. I’m more successful at cleaving the chunks into bits and depositing them on the tortilla. After a sprinkling of cilantro, onion, and salsa, the customer’s taco is passed through the window to waiting hands, and its twin sits on the counter before me. At this moment, José, who is in charge of the truck’s menu, confides that he himself won’t eat tongue. Nonetheless, I prepped this one myself, so shove half the taco into my mouth. Hey, it turns out that I do like beef tongue—a bit mushy, but the texture and mild, earthy flavor meld perfectly into the other components. I’m feeling pleased with myself until Mikey, the Paniaguas’ 7-year-old son, squeezes past my knees and pushes a stool up to the griddle. He wields the spatula like a pro,

slapping it against the griddle top with a flourish. He scoots the stool down the line and assembles one asada taco and one carnitas taco in the time it took me to find a ladle. Mikey has prepared these two tacos for his mom and dad, and they praise him as they relate more of their personal journey over dinner. José is from the southern Mexican state of Guanajuato; Veronica is from California, where they met. In 2005, they followed a relative to Harrisonburg, where Veronica found work at a printer and José took a job as a cook at a Chili’s. “We loved it here, but we missed the lunch trucks where we ate a lot back in California,” says Veronica. “So we decided to start one ourselves.” Even though they knew that others in the community harbored a similar hunger, investing in the truck was a leap of faith, given that no other taco truck was operating in Harrisonburg at the time. While the vehicle was being converted, they drew upon their heritage to develop a menu. “We use a lot of spices, like guajillo chiles, garlic, and ginger, but not so much as to chase people off. Our customers from Mexico think we’re authentic, and so do the ones who move here from California or Texas,” says Veronica, noting that the plump pinto-stuffed burrito, for example, is more in the California style. “Now these recipes are all family recipes. Unless employees are family, they don’t get to see them.” The first week they opened back in 2006, customers were sparse. “We weren’t making any

MOVABLE FEASTS Line up for a few more of our favorite local food trucks. LAST CALL DOGS Charlottesville Find it: On the Corner near UVA, late night, 11:30 p.m. to around 2:30 a.m. Also at every Pavilion event, and available for weddings and other special occasions. Order up: The Wahooptie Dog, an all-beef frank in a bun with chili, pulled pork barbecue, crushed tortilla chips, and cheese. Psst…it’s on the “secret” menu, so you gotta know to ask for it. Mobile moment: The time a barroom brawl was averted by turning it into a hot-dog-eating contest. 32 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE


WHOLE FOODS MARKET TRUCK Charlottesville Find it: Gleason Street near ACAC on Mondays; in the Whole Foods parking lot on Fridays and Saturdays. Order up: From burgers to noodle bowls, the menu changes with the season. Winter brings a Latin theme with burritos and tortilla soup. Mobile moment: Food trucks in town can operate anywhere with a curb and a speed limit that doesn’t exceed 25 mph—a fact that the crew has had to explain to a few curious police officers.

FEAST CHEESE MOBILE Charlottesville Find it: Festivals, weddings, special events. Order up: Like a mini version of the beloved gourmet shop from which it sprang, the 1974 Citroen truck (previously employed in France) offers pretty plates of cheese, charcuterie, bread, and fruit. Mobile moment: When the recently acquired truck broke down while ascending the mountain to last fall’s Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. It was pushed the rest of the way by fellow vendors.

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Clockwise from left: Alicia Avila tops off a burrito. Tortillas stand tall. Tongue taco in the making. Another satisfied customer.

money at all,” recalls Veronica. “Then word got around and they found us. People just love the truck.” By the time they had 80 satisfied revelers gathered around on Cinco de Mayo, they knew they had turned a corner. “Whoever thinks running a business is easy—it’s hard,” says Veronica. “But we came from nothing. When we started, we lived in a little apartment. Now we own our house. This is our family business, and when something is yours, you really care about it and make it something good.”


t’s nearing closing time when the rain finally slacks and a throng of customers suddenly arrives. “It’s so funny,” says Veronica. “Sometimes it’s totally dead for an hour, and then people just come out of the woodwork.” With a line forming, Avila and grill man Martin Castillo resume their duties, their near-choreographed motions filling order after order with practiced skill. Tortas are piled high with marinated asada. Bottles of the Mexican soda Jarritos, in a rainbow of flavors from strawberry to tamarind, are uncapped. Greetings veer between English and Spanish, depending on the face at the window. A quintet of chorizo tacos is crowded onto a plate and traded for a mere $5 bill. (Even though



the Paniaguas recently, and reluctantly, had to raise prices on several items by 50 cents, tacos remain a true bargain at just a buck apiece.) “You’d expect meat from a truck to be tough, or sit around and dry out,” says Robert Whitson, who drives 40 miles from Shenandoah County several times a week to pick up food from the truck, often with a fistful of orders from friends. “But the pork is always perfect and moist. It’s obvious that they really care.” “Reputation for us is very important,” says Veronica. “I’ve been in restaurants where I can tell that the owners just don’t care about the food or how the customer feels. We try to serve food that we want to eat ourselves.” The whole ethos of a food truck is impermanence. And yet through their sincerity, hard work, and, not least of all, good food, the Paniaguas have transformed a simple taco truck into a gathering place that touches more lives than just their own. In the glow cast by the truck’s exterior security lamps, a young woman from nearby Elkton named Donnie Widdowfield shares her chorizo taco with her mother, and her story with a stranger. She first started coming to Tacos El Primo with her boyfriend, Levi Nuncio, until his Army unit was shipped to Afghanistan last year. “And when he got over

there, I’d come here and email him photos of whatever I was eating,” says Widdowfield. After serving in Afghanistan for just two months, Nuncio was killed when enemy forces attacked his unit on June 22, 2011. Now Widdowfield still comes here often for the food, and to savor a few precious memories. Though the truck usually closes by 9 p.m., tonight’s late rush keeps the griddle sizzling a bit past that mark. Finally, with Avila taking the last customer’s order, José and Veronica can look back on another successful day, and maybe also to the future. José has undertaken a sideline business building custom food trucks for other entrepreneurs, and has sold several to date—the nearest destination being Roanoke, the farthest, Indiana. “We’ve also thought about opening a small sit-down restaurant, but that would be a whole different feel from what we’ve created here,” says Veronica. “We’d rather open another truck in some place not too far away, like Winchester or Charlottesville.” Fans of street food anywhere would likely be thrilled to spot a distinctive turquoise Tacos El Primo truck roll up to a sidewalk near them. The trick, of course, would be replicating not only the authentically delicious food, but also the welcoming family vibe, which is even reflected in the truck’s name. Primo, though it might sound like a declaration of excellence, is a common Spanish word for cousin. And when that last customer of the night strolls away, order of tacos in hand, the truck’s entire crew calls out the same parting words that have been offered to customers all evening: “Buenos noches, Primo!”

TACOS EL PRIMO Location: Corner of Reservoir Street and Dutch Mill Court in Harrisonburg. Phone: (540) 560-2315. Winter hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Check Tacos El Primo’s Facebook page for closings due to inclement weather. Cash only.

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WINTER LOCAL FOOD DIRECTORY Farms, artisans, restaurants, and caterers that offer local farm products this season. Availability and schedules can change, so please verify information directly with producers. Steadfast Farm

Sweet Seasons Farm

Iron Rod Chevre

Earlysville,, (434) 973-8407 Chèvre goat cheese with a variety of coatings. Sells at retailers and restaurants. Jam According to Daniel


The Farm at Red Hill


Afton,, (540) 456-7100 Greenhouse produce, beef. Sells on-site. Animal Connection

Charlottesville,, (434) 825-7082 Healthful pet food made with locally grown ingredients. CSA Bellair Farm CSA Charlottesville,, (434) 262-9021 Produce, flowers, herbs, eggs. Sells by CSA, farmers’ markets. Best of What’s Around

Scottsville,, (434) 286-7255 Grass-fed beef.

North Garden, (434) 979-4693 Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, salsa, hummus, dips, habañero jams. Sells through Whole Foods, Foods of All Nations, IY, Reid’s, Great Valu, Market Street Market. Farmstead Ferments

Charlottesville,, (434) 295-3622 Seasonal kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled veggies, kombucha, kefir sodas. Sells through retailers, special order. Firsthand Farmers Cooperative CSA

CSA Charlottesville, (434) 277-9304 Vegetable, fruit, eggs, mushrooms, and dairy shares available.

Free Union Grass Farm

Brenda Moore

Scottsville, (434) 295-8361 Jams, jellies, baked goods. Sells on-site. Caromont Farm and Creamery

Esmont,, (434) 831-1393 Fresh and aged farmstead chèvre, artisanal cow’s milk cheese. Sells at farmers’ markets, retailers, restaurants, wineries. Copps Hill Farm

Esmont,, (434) 286-3106 Grass-fed beef. Sells on-site by appointment, phone, or email (free Charlottesville delivery). Creekside Farm

Afton, (434) 987-6006 Grass-fed and natural grain-fed Boer goat meat. Sells by appointment. Currituck Farm

Earlysville, (434) 978-1150 Grass-fed beef. Sells on-site by appointment, local delivery.

Cheese & Dairy

Specialty Products







CSA Community Supported Agriculture 36 | EDIBLE BLUE RIDGE

Free Union, (434) 409-6797 Pastured chicken and duck, grass-fed beef, eggs. Sells on-site by appointment, online, restaurants; home delivery available. Free Union Produce & Gourmet Edibles

Free Union, (434) 964-0816 Sustainably raised herbs and heirloom produce, artisanal bread. Sells on-site by appointment year-round. Goodwin Creek Farm

Charlottesville,, (434) 825-6651 Local-fruit jams. Sells at Albemarle Baking Co., Feast, Greenwood Gourmet, Happy Cook. New Branch Farm

Charlottesville,, (434) 977-0155 Lettuce, greens, arugula, radishes, kale, collards. Weekly delivery to Fifth Season Gardening through winter. Sign up on website. New Moon Naturals

Charlottesville,, (434) 295-3622 Dried bulk herbs, herbal teas, medicines, and elixirs featuring locally grown herbs. Sells at Rebecca’s, Greenwood Gourmet, special order.

Afton,, (540) 456-8489 Grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, pork. Sells on-site by appointment, farmers’ markets. Timbercreek Organics

Charlottesville,, (434) 295-7600 Beef, pork, eggs. Sells on-site by appointment, local retailers. Whistlin’ Hollow Farm

Afton, (540) 456-8212 Grass-fed lamb, rabbit, duck eggs. Sells onsite by appointment, special order. AUGUSTA Autumn Olive Farms

Open Gate Farm

Charis Eco-Farm

Earlysville,, (434) 978-7446 Pastured chicken, heritage pork, workshops, farm tours. Sells on-site by appointment.

Staunton, (540) 886-8486 Pastured poultry, pork. Sells on-site, farmers’ markets, restaurants. Cherry Ridge Farm CSA Middlebrook, Dairy, apples, Asian pears. Sells through CSA, co-ops.

Quarter’s Farm

Charlottesville,, (434) 293-6982 Grass-fed beef and lamb, eggs, produce. Sells on-site by appointment. Reynolds Grassland Natural

Granatus Sugar Cookies

Rockfield Farm

Free Union, (434) 973-0353 Grass-fed beef, honey, eggs, mushrooms. Sells on-site weekends by appointment, delivery.

Gryffon’s Aerie

Rolling Rock Farm

Crozet,, (434) 823-5725 USDA-inspected heritage livestock: grassfed beef, pork, lamb. Sells at Stinson Winery.

North Garden, (434) 977-0467 Grass-fed lamb, eggs. Sells on-site by appointment, and at Mona Lisa Pasta.

Hardy Farms

Sharondale Mushrooms & Useful Plants


Tall Cotton Farm

Waynesboro,, (540) 447-6080 Boer bok meat, Autumn Berry purée and sauce, vegetables. Sells on-site by appointment, online, restaurants, retailers.

Schuyler (434) 831-2688 Chicken, lamb, chevon, free-range eggs. Sells on-site by appointment.

Cismont, (434) 979-1001 Chicken, quail, eggs, produce. Sells through Relay Foods; call or email for special orders. Horse & Buggy Produce CSA Charlottesville (434) 293-3832 Produce, bison, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, eggs, goat cheese, trout, specialty foods. Sells by CSA/cooperative, restaurants.

Batesville,, (540) 456-7145 Grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured pork, sausage and hamburger shares, eggs, tomatoes, hay.

Charlottesville,, (434) 960-8500 Free-range pork, beef, chicken, and turkey. Sells on-site, farmers’ markets.

Old Spot Farm

Afton,, (540) 456-6701 Free-range eggs, baked goods. Sells on-site, online, retailers, restaurants. Charlottesville,, (434) 466-4242 Sugar cookies. Sells online, retailers, restaurants.

CSA Charlottesville, (434) 566-2277 Grains, legumes, oilseeds, grass-fed beef. Sells on-site by appointment, restaurants, CSA.

Iona Farm

Scottsville, (434) 286-4761 Free-range heritage-breed poultry and eggs, organic vegetables. Sells on-site by appointment.

Keswick, (434) 296-3301 Mushrooms, culinary and medicinal herbs, fruit and fiber plants, workshops. Sells onsite by appointment. Sherwood Farm

Charlottesville,, (434) 284-4165 Grass-fed, grain-finished Angus beef. Sells by advance order.

Circle M Farms

Bridgewater, (540) 421-9422 Produce, hormone- and antibiotic-free Angus beef. Sells on-site, Harrisonburg farmers’ market. Gatherings

Mount Sidney, (540) 248-6904 Rabbit meat, beans, handspun Angora yarn. Sells at farmers’ markets, restaurants. Grains of Sense

Staunton,, (540) 433-6853 Hand-roasted coffees. Sells online, mail order, Harrisonburg farmers’ market, restaurants. Green Fence Farm

Greenville, Pastured chicken and eggs, yarn, wool. Sells on-site, online, restaurants. Heartland Harvest

Mt. Solon, (540) 885-7172 Beef, lamb, pork, poultry, eggs, flour. Sells on-site. CSA JMD Farm Staunton,, (540) 290-4015 Pastured eggs and chicken, grass-fed lamb and beef. Sells on-site, online, CSA, retailers, restaurants.

MeadowCreek Bees

Stallard Road Farm

Staunton, Honey. Sells on-site, grocers, farmers’ markets.

Rixeyville, (540) 937-4181 Grass-fed beef, goat cheese, herbs, teas. Sells on-site by appointment.

Misty Meadow Farm

Weyers Cave, (540) 234-8212; (540) 421-1965 Lamb, beef. Sells on-site, online. Polyface Inc.

Swoope, Sells on-site, buying clubs, grocers, restaurants. Quiet Acres Farm

Grottoes,, (540) 830-2298 Grass-fed lamb. Sells on-site, online. Shenandoah Valley Beef Cooperative

Weyers Cave, (540) 487-0142 Beef. Sells on-site.

Culpeper, (540) 727-8207 Frozen lamb and beef, eggs. Sells on-site by appointment, farmers’ markets.

From Martha Hester Stafford, owner of the Charlottesville Cooking School. This casserole can be baked a few days ahead and reheated.

Too Many Paws Farm

Serves 4 (side dish) or 2 (main course)

Culpeper,, (703) 508-5685 Chicken, eggs. Sells on-site by appointment. Virginia Truffles

Rixeyville,, (540) 937-9881 Truffle-inoculated oak seedlings. Sells onsite by appointment, mail order. Wilevington Farm

Cibola Farms

Culpeper,, (540) 727-8590 Buffalo meat, free-range pork sausages and jerky, dog food. Sells on-site, online, farmers’ markets.

Hilldale Farm

Clover Hill Farm

Rixeyville, (540) 937-5961 Blue and brown eggs from free-range chickens. Sells on-site. Croftburn Farm Meats

Culpeper,, (540) 825-9044 Grass-fed and grain-finished or grass-fed and grass-finished dry-aged Black Angus beef. Sells on-site, CSA shares. Muddy Run Farm

Culpeper, (540) 937-3504 Spanish goats (meat and breeding), llamas. Sells on-site by appointment, restaurants. Oakhenge Farm at Hillside

Culpeper, (540) 522-8283 Produce, grass-fed beef, chicken and duck eggs. Sells on-site, restaurants. Old Gjerpen Farm

Culpeper,, (540) 829-5683 Whole lamb. Sells by special order only. Pannill’s Gate Farm

Culpeper,, (540) 423-1168 Grass-fed beef. Sells on-site by appointment, delivery. Pleasant Hill Farm

Rixeyville,, (540) 937-2344 Pasture-raised Berkshire and Large Black Hog pork, eggs. Sells on-site. Rainbow’s End Farm

Culpeper, (540) 727-8408 Live chickens, goats, and rabbits; herbs, fruit, vegetables. Sells on-site by appointment. Retreat Farm

Rapidan, Pastured beef and heritage lamb and pork. Sells on-site by appointment, Beggars Banquet.


Summer Creek Farm

Rixeyville, (540) 937-3447 Butters and jams. Sells on-site.




Palmyra, (434) 589-2762 Beef, lamb, certified-organic eggs, lambskins. Sells on-site by appointment. Oak Hill Farm

Palmyra,, (434) 589-4981 Heritage-breed pastured pork and beef. Direct sales. Rob Harrison

Troy, (434) 242-4996. Natural beef.

1 cup milk 2 eggs ¼ tsp. salt 1 ⁄8 tsp. freshly ground pepper Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg Butter, for ramekins 1 shallot or small onion, diced 2 cups stale bread, cut into cubes 2 cups diced butternut squash 2 ounces grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Parmesan, Everona sheep’s milk, or Gouda) 1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, whisk milk and eggs together

until thoroughly combined. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. 2. Butter the inside of four 6-ounce ramekins or one 16-ounce ovenproof casserole. Alternate layers of bread and squash. Sprinkle the shallots over top. Pour in enough egg mixture to cover. Top with grated cheese. 3. Bake 30 minutes, until bubbly and browned.

GREENE Arganica Farm Club CSA

Ruckersville,, (434) 979-0480 Home delivery in Charlottesville and Crozet. Blue Ridge Natural Beef

Stanardsville, Grass-fed, grain-finished beef. Direct sales. FarmColony

Stanardsville, (434) 985-6530 Marino and Lincoln wool fleeces, market lambs. Sells on-site by appointment. Planet Earth Diversified

Stanardsville, (434) 985-3570 Produce, microgreens, herbs, edible flowers, eggs, jams, sauces, pestos. Sells online, retailers, restaurants. Spring Gate Farm

Barboursville,, (434) 990-9162 Beef, pork, lamb, goat, honey, eggs, cashmere fiber. Sells on-site, farmers’ markets, retailers, restaurants. Sweet Peeps Farm

Dyke,, (434) 985-1244 Free-range poultry, eggs, heritage pork, community classes and retreats. Sells on-site. LOUISA

Rohan Farm

Forrest Green Farm

Rixeyville,, (540) 937-4999 Rabbit, lamb, goat, squab, guineas, chicken, turkey, quail, pheasants, pickles, jams, jellies. Sells on-site by appointment.

Louisa,, (540) 967-1165 Culinary/medicinal herbs, vegetable and flower plants, herbal teas, dips, seasonings, eggs, poultry, beef. Sells on-site, online, Integral Yoga.

Grand Beginnings

Neala Farm

Louisa, (540) 967-0437 Lamb, beef, pork, poultry, rabbit, produce. Sells on-site by appointment, Rebecca’s.

Madison,, (540) 948-3904 All-natural Angus beef. Sells on-site by appointment, online. North Cove Mushrooms

MADISON Brightwood Vineyard and Farm

Brightwood,, (540) 948-6845 Jam and jelly from organic fruit, organic dried herbs and herb teas, free-range eggs, jam, wine. Sells on-site, retailers, restaurants.

Brightwood, (919) 649-7158 Fresh shiitakes. Sells on-site. Rider’s Backfield Farm Beef

Madison, (540) 948-4223 Lamb, mutton, wool. Sells by phone.

Etlan, (540) 923-4036. Pastured and grain-finished beef. Sells on-site by appointment, online, phone, restaurants, retailers, caterers. Free delivery to Madison and Warrenton Jan.–April.

Glean Acres

Springhaven Agricultural Enterprises

Excalibur Farms

Leon,, (540) 738-0436 Free-range poultry, vegetables. Sells on-site by appointment. Haywood Honey

Madison, (540) 923-5075 Honey, beeswax, homemade soaps. Sells on-site. Lost Lane Farm

Madison (540) 672-0925 Dairy products to herd share owners, grassfed beef. Sells on-site. Mary Ruth’s Garden

Aroda, (540) 948-4024 Baked goods, jams. Sells on-site, retailers, farmers’ markets.

Madison,, (540) 948-6698 Grass-fed Red Devon beef. Sell on-site by appointment. Wolf Creek Farm

Madison,, (540) 948-5574 Grass-fed beef. Sells on-site, retailers, farmers’ markets. NELSON Afton Mountain Honey

Afton, (540) 456-8460 Allen’s Creek Farm

Roseland,, (434) 277-9216 Naturally raised lamb, market lamb (Sept.– April). Sells on-site by appointment; delivery to Charlottesville.


WINTER 2012 | 37

The Apple Shed

Piney River Organics

Marshall Farms

Lovingston, (434) 263-8843 Apples, cider, jams, pickles.

Piney River,, (434) 277-8497 Pasture-raised beef and pork, organic eggs. Sells on-site, Local Food Hub, Relay Foods, Lynchburg Grows.

Unionville, (540) 854-6800 Cheese from grass-fed cows, honey, deli, Virginia wine. Sells at store Mon.–Sat.

Rodgers Family Farms

Miller Farms Market

Shipman, (434) 987-4531 Grass-fed beef, pastured pork. Sells on-site by appointment.

Locust Grove, (540) 972-2680 Produce, beef, pork, bison, lamb, milk, ice cream, cheese, eggs, specialty products. Sells on-site, U-pick, restaurants.

Bethlehem Farms

Shipman,, (434) 263-4343 Eggs, lamb, Alpine dairy goats and bucks. Sells on-site by appointment. Davis Creek Farm

Lovingston,, (434) 263-5974 Grass-fed beef, pastured chicken. Sells onsite by appointment, farmers’ markets, Relay Foods, Locally Grown Nelson. Edible Landscaping Nursery

Afton,, (434) 361-9134 Edible potted plants: apples, berries, wine grapes. Sells on-site, online. Finest Kind Farm

Tye River, (434) 263-6716 Grass-fed beef, pastured pork, poultry, eggs. Sells on-site by appointment, drop-off points. Hungry Hill Farm

Shipman, (434) 263-5336 Honey, beeswax, shiitake mushrooms. Sells at farmers’ markets and retailers. Mountain Man Collection

Montebello, (540) 377-5129 Homemade jams, dried organic mushrooms, mushroom hunting.

Twin Springs Farm

Shipman,, (434) 263-6868 Greens year-round. Sells on-site by appointment, farmers’ markets, grocers, restaurants. Virginia Vinegar Works

Wingina,, (434) 953-6232 Handcrafted wine and malt vinegars. Sells at farmers’ markets, retailers.

Papa Weaver’s Pork

Orange, (540) 672-1552 All-natural pork sausage, pork chops, baby back ribs, loin roasts, bacon, beef. Sells online, retailers, restaurants. Shady Oaks

Orange, (804) 332-1456 Natural beef. Sells direct to consumer.

Burr Hill (540) 395-5315 Pastured chickens, ducks, turkeys, guineas, eggs; goat products. Sells on-site and at local events.

Everona Dairy Cheeses

Skyline Premium Meats

Rapidan,, (540) 854-4159 Aged sheep’s milk cheeses, freezer lamb, tanned sheepskins, decorative sheep’s milk soap. Sells on-site by appointment.

Unionville, (540) 854-6155 All-natural, grain-fed beef. Sells on-site, online, retailers, farmers’ markets.

ORANGE Doug Harris

ROCKBRIDGE Buffalo Creek Beef

Lexington, Grass-fed, grain-finished beef. Sells at farmers’ markets, restaurants, and at Donald’s Meat Processing. House Mountain Finnsheep

Lexington (540) 463-6062 Lamb for freezer, fleece for spinning. Sells on-site (call first, in evenings). Lexington Coffee Roasting Co.

Lexington, (540) 462-3990; (800) 322-6505 Single-origin estate coffees. Sells online, mail order, restaurants. Mountain Meadow Farm

Goshen, (540) 997-5141 Grass-finished beef, acorn-finished pork, pastured eggs. Sells on-site, farmers’ markets. Mountain View Farm Products

CSA Fairfield,, (540) 460-4161 Farmstead cheese, butter, USDA-inspected meats. Sells on-site, CSA, Healthy Foods Co-op, restaurants.


Trump Winery

2545 Rural Ridge Ln., North Garden, (434) 297-2326

100 Grand Cru Dr., Charlottesville, (434) 977-3895 Virginia Wineworks

1781 Harris Creek Way, Charlottesville, (434) 296-3438

Blenheim Vineyards

31 Blenheim Farm, Charlottesville, (434) 293-5366

White Hall Vineyards

5184 Sugar Ridge Rd., White Hall, (434) 823-8615

Burnley Vineyards

4500 Winery Ln., Barboursville, (540) 832-2828

AMHERST Ankida Ridge Vineyards

Castle Hill Cider

6065 Turkey Sag Rd., Keswick, (434) 296-0047

1304 Franklin Creek Rd., Amherst

First Colony Winery

Lazy Days Winery

1351 North Amherst Hwy., Amherst, (434) 361-6088

1650 Harris Creek Rd., Charlottesville, (434) 979-7105

Rebec Vineyards

Glass House Winery

2229 North Amherst Hwy., Amherst, (434) 946-5168

5898 Free Union Rd., Free Union, (434) 975-0094 Jefferson Vineyards

1353 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy., Charlottesville, (434) 977-3042 Keswick Vineyards

1575 Keswick Winery Dr., Keswick, (434) 244-3341 King Family Vineyards

6550 Roseland Farm, Crozet, (434) 823-7800 Mountfair Vineyards

4875 Fox Mountain Rd., Crozet, (434) 823-7605 Pollak Vineyards

330 Newtown Rd., Greenwood, (540) 456-8844 Starr Hill Brewery

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

LOUISA Cooper Vineyards

13372 Shannon Hill Rd., Louisa, (540) 894-5253 Weston Farm Vineyard & Winery

206 Harris Creek Rd., Louisa, (540) 967-4647

1362 Fortunes Cove Ln., Lovingston, (434) 263-5392 Veritas Vineyard & Winery

1272 Meander Run Rd., Locust Dale, (540) 229-2498

Wild Wolf Brewing Company

Ducard Vineyards

40 Gibson Hollow Ln., Etlan, (540) 923-4206 Prince Michel Vineyards and Winery

154 Winery Ln., Leon, (800) 800-WINE Sweely Estate Winery

984 Barren Ridge Rd., Fishersville, (540) 248-3300

NELSON Afton Mountain Vineyards

CULPEPER Old House Vineyards

234 Vineyard Ln., Afton (540) 456-8667

13490 Cedar Run Rd., Culpeper, (540) 825-3207

Mountain Cove Vineyard

145 Saddleback Farm, Afton, (540) 456-8000

AUGUSTA Barren Ridge Vineyards

Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farm

885 Freshwater Cover Ln., Lovingston, (434) 263-8467

MADISON Castle Gruen Vineyards and Winery

6109 Wolftown Hood Rd., Madison, (540) 948-9005

18351 Corkys Ln., Culpeper, (540) 423-1032

Lovingston Winery

2461 Rockfish Valley Hwy., Nellysford, (434) 361-0088 Wintergreen Vineyard & Winery

462 Winery Ln., Nellysford, (434) 361-2519 ORANGE Barboursville Winery

17655 Winery Rd., Barboursville, (540) 832-3824 Horton Vineyards & Winery

6399 Spotswood Trail, Gordonsville, (540) 832-7440

Blue Mountain Brewery

ROCKBRIDGE Lexington Valley Vineyard

9519 Critzer Shop Rd., Afton, (540) 456-8020

80 Norton Way, Rockbridge Baths, (540) 462-2974

Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery

Rockbridge Vineyard

FLUVANNA Thistle Gate Winery

9423 Batesville Rd., Afton, (540) 456-8400

5199 West River Rd., Scottsville, (434) 286-7781

DelFosse Vineyards and Winery

30 Hill View Ln., Raphine, (540) 377-6204

500 DelFosse Winery Ln., Faber, (434) 263-6100

ROCKINGHAM Bluestone Vineyard

Devils Backbone Brewing Company

4828 Spring Creek Rd., Bridgewater, (540) 828-0099

GREENE Autumn Hill Vineyards

301 River Dr., Stanardsville, (434) 985-6100

200 Mosbys Run, Roseland, (434) 361-1001

Stinson Vineyards

Kilaurwen Winery (opening fall)

Flying Fox Vineyard

4744 Sugar Hollow Rd., Crozet, (434) 823-7300

Stanardsville, (434) 985-2535

Hwy. 151, Afton, (434) 361-1692

41-A Court Sq., Harrisonburg, (540) 564-ALES

Sugarleaf Vineyards

Stone Mountain Vineyards

Hilltop Berry Farm and Winery

CrossKeys Vineyards & Estate

3613 Walnut Branch Ln., North Garden, (434) 984-4272

1376 Wyatt Mountain Rd., Dyke, (434) 990-9463

2800 Berry Hill Rd., Nellysford, (434) 361-1266



Capital Ale House

6011 E. Timber Ridge Rd., Mt. Crawford, (540) 234-0505


Soothing Herbals

Goshen (540) 460-2722 Culinary/medicinal herbs, teas, tinctures; organic skin care. Sells online, farmers’ markets, Healthy Foods Co-op, restaurants.

ALBEMARLE A Pimento Catering

AMHERST Farm Basket Cafe

Charlottesville, (434) 971-7720

Lynchburg, (434) 528-1107

Spring Creek Farm

Beer Run

Fresh Market Café

Fairfield (540) 460-8559 Pork, chicken, eggs. Sells on-site, farmers’ markets.

Charlottesville, (434) 984-2337

Lynchburg, (434) 455-5510

Blue Moon Diner

Charlottesville, (434) 980-6666

Lynchburg, (434) 528-5442

ROCKBRIDGE Bistro on Main



Whistle Creek Apiaries

Charlottesville,, (434) 202-2791

Lynchburg, (434) 846-2585

Lexington, (540) 464-4888

C&O Restaurant

The White Hart Café

Charlottesville, (434) 971-7044

Lynchburg, (434) 455-1659

Café Feast!

AUGUSTA Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery

Lexington (540) 460-4128 Honey. Sells at grocers, farmers’ markets, co-ops. ROCKINGHAM Glen Eco Farm


These businesses support the Buy Fresh Buy Local initiative.

Charlottesville, (434) 244-7800

Linville Chicken, honey. Sells on-site, CSA, Harrisonburg farmers’ market, restaurants, co-ops.

Carpe Donut

Golden Angels Apiary

Charlottesville, (434) 220-2120

Linville Honey. Sells at grocers, farmers’ markets. Green Hill Springs Farm

Linville (540) 833-2325 Lamb, beef. Sells on-site, roadside stand. Helberts

Tenth Legion, (540) 896-7107 Pastured chicken, eggs, lamb, mutton. Sells on-site, online, grocers, Harrisonburg farmers’ market, subscription. Hemlock Springs Trout Farm

Fulks Run (540) 867-5904 Rainbow trout, fishing. Sells on-site Mon.– Sat. 8 a.m.–6 p.m., delivery. CSA Lucas Roasting Company Broadway (540) 908-1290 Coffee. Sells online, CSA, stores, restaurants. Radical Roots Community Farm

CSA Keezletown Vegetables, herbs. Sells on-site, CSA, Harrisonburg farmers’ market.

Spring Creek Trout Farm

Bridgewater (540) 828-6728 Rainbow and brook trout. Sells on-site. Staff of Life Bread Co.

Broadway Artisanal breads. Sells at Harrisonburg farmers’ market. Wolfie’s Wild Pet Foods

Harrisonburg (703) 929-7909 All-natural dog food. Sells at Polyface, grocers, retailers.

Charlottesville, (434) 806-6202 Clifton the Country Inn

Dinner at Home

Real Food

Orange, (540) 661-7261 Stonefire Kitchen

Barboursville, (540) 832-0089

Magnolia Foods

Cool Springs Organic Market

Staunton, (540) 885-4755 George Bowers Grocery

Staunton, (540) 255-6811 Mockingbird

Staunton, (540) 213-8777

Lexington (540) 463-6506 Full Circle Catering

Lexington, (540) 463-1634 Healthy Foods Co-op

Lexington, (540) 463-6954 The Patisserie

Lexington, (540) 462-6000

Charlottesville, (434) 242-5498


Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie

Newtown Baking & Restaurant

North Garden, (434) 245-0000

Staunton, (540) 885-3799


Stone Soup Books & Café

Crozet, (434) 823-1300

Waynesboro, (540) 943-0084

Lexington, (540) 464-4401

Hamilton’s at First & Main

Zynodoa Restaurant

Charlottesville, (434) 295-6649

Staunton, (540) 885-7775

Southern Inn Restaurant

Harvest Moon Catering

MADISON Inn at Meander Plantation

Charlottesville, (434) 296-9091 Ivy Inn

Charlottesville, (434) 977-1222

Staunton, (540) 887-0005

Pure Eats

Red Hen

Lexington, (540) 463-3612 ROCKINGHAM Blue Nile Ethopian Cuisine

Locust Dale, (800) 385-4936 La Bella Terra Farmhouse Catering


Reva, (703) 975-2687

Charlottesville, (434) 979-7957

NELSON Basic Necessities

The Local

Nellysford, (434) 361-1766

Charlottesville, (434) 984-9749 Mas Tapas Bar

Charlottesville, (434) 979-0990 Maya

Charlottesville, (434) 979-6292 Mona Lisa Pasta

Charlottesville, (434) 295-2494 Orzo

Charlottesville, (434) 975-6796 Petit Pois

Charlottesville, (434) 979-7647

Lexington, (540) 462-6000

Bella Clare Personal Chef & Catering

Afton, (434) 465-5749 Blue Mountain Brewery

Afton, (540) 456-8020 D’Ambola’s

Afton, (540) 456-4556

Harrisonburg, (540) 432-6453 A Bowl of Good

Harrisonburg, (540) 437-9020 Clementine Cafe

Harrisonburg, (540) 801-8881 Flavors of Earth Catering

Harrisonburg, (540) 810-6218 Joshua Wilton House

Harrisonburg, (540) 434-4464 Little Grill Collective

Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Roseland, (434) 361-1001 Wild Wolf Brewing Company

Nellysford, (434) 361-0088

Harrisonburg, (540) 434-3594 Local Chop & Grill House

Harrisonburg, (540) 801-0505 Mrs. Hardesty’s Tea Room

Revolutionary Soup

ORANGE Elmwood at Sparks

Harrisonburg, (540) 432-8942

Charlottesville, (434) 296-7687

Orange, (540) 672-0060

Organic Grounds Coffeehouse & Cafe


Light Well

Charlottesville, (434) 972-9463

Orange, (540) 661-0004


Palladio Restaurant

Wine on Water

Charlottesville, (434) 245-9462

Barboursville, (540) 832-3824

Harrisonburg, (540) 435-1014

Harrisonburg (540) 434-1800


WINTER 2012 | 39


THE LOCAL Beef Chili

With grass-fed meat and Virginia beer, this hearty winter dish warms the soul. PHOTO BY ANDREA HUBBELL

Organic greenhouse-grown cilantro from Shenandoah Growers near Harrisonburg. —Available at Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Giant, Food City, Food Lion, and Harris Teeter.

White-corn tortilla strips made by Nana’s Cocina in Manassas Park. The wholekernel corn is stone-ground using lava rock imported from Mexico—just as Nana Carmen would do. —Available at Whole Foods Market in Charlottesville.

Well-balanced, ambercolored Alpha Ale from Wild Wolf Brewing Company. —Available at the new Wild Wolf brew pub in Nellysford.

Farmstead cheddar-style Marmac cheese from Mountain View Farm in Fairfield. —Available at Downtown Wine and Gourmet and the Harrisonburg Farmers’ Market in Harrisonburg; Cranberry’s and George Bowers Grocery in Staunton; Whole Foods Market, C’Ville Market, and Rebecca’s Natural Foods in Charlottesville; Greenwood Gourmet near Crozet. Sustainably raised ground beef from pastured cattle on Retreat Farm in Rapidan. —Available by appointment through the farm store, as well as at Beggars Banquet in Orange and Miller Farms Market in Locust Grove.

LOCAL BEEF CHILI Serves 6 2 poblano peppers 2 pounds local ground beef 2 cups chopped yellow onions 3 cloves garlic, minced Salt and freshly ground pepper 3 Tbsp. ground cumin 3 Tbsp. chili powder 1 Tbsp. turmeric 1½ cups local ale or amber-colored beer

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes 1 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish Grated cheddar cheese for garnish 1. Hold each poblano over a low gas flame (or place

3. Season with salt and pepper. Add cumin, chili

powder, turmeric, and ¾ of the chopped poblano (reserving ¼ for garnish); sauté 3 more minutes, until fragrant.

under the broiler) to roast until charred, turning often. 4. Mix in beer, 1 cup water, tomatoes, and ½ cup Put them in a paper bag and let sit about 10 minutes. cilantro. Cook, uncovered, on medium-low 1½ hours, Rub off charred skin using a paper towel. Remove adding water by the ¼ cup if chili becomes dry. stems and seeds, and chop remaining flesh. 5. When chili is ready, stir in another ½ cup cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish 2. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté beef, onions, and garlic, stirring often to with shredded cheese, reserved poblano, and break up meat, until browned, about 10 minutes. cilantro leaves.

Grelen Nursery offers hundreds of varieties of trees at our farm in Somerset, VA. Whether youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking for a 6-foot flowering tree or a 40-foot shade tree, Grelen has the expertise to complete your job successfully. Check out to learn more about our landscaping services. Follow us on Facebook, and be sure to visit us for our 2012 Pick-Your-Own season!

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FOOD FEST in orange

Celebrating Food from Earth to Table

local farms. always in season.

Whole Foods Market is proud to be part of the local flavor. And for us, it all begins with the local and regional farms that support sustainable agriculture practices. The kind that protect our environment, our resources and that remind us all that the steps we take today will improve our planet for generations to come. The more local farms we have, the more delicious food for our customers to enjoy. And for us, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what being part of the local flavor is all about. For more information, please visit

visit our store in charlottesville, virginia! 1797 Hydraulic Road | Charlottesville, Virginia | 434.973.4900 For more information visit us at or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Edible Blueridge Winter 2012  

Excellent local food magazine in Central virginia