The Piedmont Virginian's Blog

Serving and Celebrating America's Historic Heart

Category: Hotels and Country Inns (page 1 of 14)

Chef of Nature Serves Virginia’s Finest

by Meghan Scalea

View More: http://kellisphotography.pass.us/willowgrove

photo by Kellis Photography

When executive chef, Scott Myers, took the helm at Vintage Restaurant on the ground floor of the Inn at Willow Grove last summer, he wasted no time diving into the local farming community – and the fields surrounding the Inn – to learn how to source his menu. Having cooked in restaurants in New England and Montana, he’s used to starting over in new communities and treating the land and its local culture like he would a crash course in anthropology.

The restaurant is a fine dining destination for guests of the Inn as well as the community. As menu curator, Myers was challenged to produce options that would appeal to the the local Orange/Culpeper patrons but also be forward enough to attract foodies on weekend getaways from DC and New York.

“You want to be that definition place where you can put out really cool stuff,” Myers says. “You can still keep a really basic dish but use all Virginia ingredients so it’s got its own little thing going on. We did a play on ham and biscuits once, and everything was local, and it was fun.”

restaurantHam and biscuits sounds like a southern recipe, but Myers has learned by observing the local food scene and his guests that the central Virginia palate is not strictly southern. In his opinion, there is a southern country flair, but the food isn’t heavy southern cuisine. He learned this by meeting the local people, going out to restaurants – both good and bad ones. “What is it these people eat?” he asked himself. “What do they like? It’s mainly seeing and learning their culture as best you can. It’s great to immerse yourself in it.”

Myers first immersed himself in the local farm scene through the now defunct Fresh Link, a farm aggregator business that sourced seasonal foods from farmers to chefs across Virginia. When that business closed, he developed direct relationships with those farmers he’d sourced from and started attending any kind of farm expo he could find. He prefers these casual interactions with producers where they can learn from each other.

web chef's tableHe is a man of nature who bow hunts for venison and raises meat birds, guinea hens and hogs for his own use. He is known for taking his staff out on the Inn’s grounds to forage for local watercress, morels, mulberries, raspberries, wild strawberries and greens. And the Inn just put in a kitchen garden with raised beds and fresh herbs that Myers frequently pinches off to add to a dish.

Despite nature’s bounty that seems abundant out the kitchen door step, Myers spends a good deal of his free time picking up food orders from his local suppliers. It’s a task that often cuts into his personal time, but it’s also what he considers one of the best parts of running a locally sourced kitchen. “It’s not even about getting product. It’s about getting to see what [the farmers] are doing and them getting to see what you’re doing, meeting their families, having dinner with them. It’s the best part of it.”

That connection to the local fields is what Myers hopes his guests take away after a dining experience. “The greatest compliment someone could me is probably just that we take the time to go source it and find it, that they can see the difference in it as opposed to commodity stuff.”

He acknowledges that more and more people are interested in knowing where their food comes from and wanting to talk about it. Some of his farmer partners send customers to Vintage to taste their food prepared, and Myers reciprocates by encouraging his guests to go visit the producers, like Moving Meadows Farm where he gets his chicken, turkey and goat.

One recent, unexpected star menu item is the Virginia tofu, produced by Twin Oaks in Louisa. At the time of this interview, the tofu was marinated in a spicy coconut broth and served with shaved daikon and bean sprouts. “I groove on it a lot. It’s the perfect texture on the grill. I’ll save the scraps while I’m making it and come back to it.”

Featuring a Virginia tofu on the menu is not something diners will find just anywhere and sends a strong message about Myers’ curiosity for local foods and commitment to sourcing locally whenever possible. Cooking with local, seasonal ingredients is the only way for him, and he’s enjoying seeing the central Virginia community starting to prefer it, too.

When asked, he struggles to name his favorite Virginia foods to cook with. Wild edibles are nice in the spring, he says. Tomatoes are great, and the peaches and fruits are fantastic. Corn is great. Lately the cheeses have really been starting to take off. And the hogs – oh man, the hogs, he says as he leans back in his chair and licks his lips. There are too many to pick just one thing.

We can’t help but agree.

Piedmont Virginian writer prepares exquisite floral arrangements for Valentine’s Dinner at Airlie

IMG_7235Hardie Newton is the in-house floral designer for Airlie Center and I just had a quick visit with her as I stopped by Airlie to watch her transform their dining room for the romance of Valentine’s Day dinner. Following is a sort of “photo essay” of the magic she has created at Airlie on this cold winter day, and a few photos as well of their Garden Bistro room, with some whispers of spring.

IMG_7218There is a beautiful sitting room just behind the front desk which she takes over completely with her flowers and arranging materials every Thursday as she prepares the arrangements for the week. Today the beautifully decorated room, complete with a crackling fire, was filled with roses and other makings of romantic table arrangements.

IMG_7219Hardie carefully crafts a garden and flower contemplation for each issue of the Piedmont Virginian, celebrating what her Madison county garden produces in each season. Her in-depth knowledge of what seems to me to be every single thing that grows in the ground, and her ability to harvest plants at their peak, turn them into works of art, and share that in her writing is her gift to us every issue. An excerpt from her article in our winter issue follows.

IMG_7224Never having actually taken seriously the fact that many growers plant seed solely to produce seed, the idea encourages contemplation. Plantsmen and farmers who, through the ages, have dedicated their lives to collecting, growing and hybridizing seeds, are involved in lifetime work, a giftIMG_7225 to future generations. Having personally limited myself to planting seeds to solely produce beautiful flowers and vegetables, seems mindless when compared to more lofty ambitions. Saving heirloom seeds for next year’s planting is an ingrained habit. They are expensive and the habit a practical one. All the while, however, a goal of growing varieties useful for both eating and decorating has not been  considered.

Photos by Jan Kamphuis

A First Birthday Bash at Salamander

Middleburg – Salamander Resort & Spa is celebrating its first anniversary with a fun-filled Birthday Bash over Labor Day Weekend featuring numerous activities, contests and packages.

Activities 

On Friday, August 29, exactly one year after it opened its highly anticipated doors, the resort will host a Birthday Bubbles celebration from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Filled with bottomless sparkling wine, birthday sweets and live entertainment, the event will take place on the Grand Terrace and Lawn. Admission is $30 per person.

On Saturday, August 30, there will be numerous activities taking place throughout the day, including Carriage Rides, an Ice Cream Social and a Middleburg Scavenger Hunt, while the resort’s new Tree Top Zip Tour by Empower is offering special birthday pricing of $123 per tour. The day winds down with a Family Movie on the Grand Lawn beginning at 8:30 p.m.

The resort’s birthday weekend culminates on Sunday, August 31, with an Epicurience Brunch Spectacular from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy numerous culinary selections, including bountiful breakfast choices, carving stations, a seafood display and decadent desserts. There will also be live musical entertainment, bottomless mimosas, Virginia wine tastings and classic family lawn games. Admission is $75 per adult and $18 per child; reservations are required.

Contest

Salamander Resort & Spa is also giving away a spectacular Grand Birthday Getaway to one lucky winner valued at $11,111. Everyone in the resort’s e-mail database as of Sunday, August 31 will automatically be entered to win this ultimate getaway for two that includes a two-night stay in the Owner’s Suite, a three-hour private session with Pastry Chef and Food Network Winner Jason Reaves, a horse-drawn carriage ride around the 340-acre property and a 10-course, delicious tasting menu. Both guests will receive 80-minute spa and rasul treatments, as well as a Tree Top Zip Tour and a private Equi-Spective experience. Visit www.SalamanderResort.com to enter the contest.

Packages

Salamander is offering a two-night Birthday Bash Weekend Package that includes luxurious accommodations and two adult tickets to the Epicurience Brunch Spectacular. Package pricing starts at $600 per night, while the resort is also offering a three-day package.

Throughout the weekend, there will be additional birthday specials in the resort’s spa, restaurants and equestrian center – all of which are open to the public year round.

To make event or overnight inquiries about guest room availability and reservations, please call 866-938-7370, visit www.salamanderresort.com or email reservations@salamanderresort.com.

 

PV Magazine Spring Edition on newstands today!

Pick up a copy of the Spring 2014 issue, on newstands now! Click the following link to find the closest location to you. http://www.thepiedmontonline.com/page.cfm/go/pick-up-a-copy

Our newest issue includes a special home section, highlighting three beautiful Piedmont residences including a log cabin, a historic home with a vineyard and a unique home with seven additions.

Featured stories also include the Best of the Piedmont winners, Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, a sumptuous strawberry recipe, how to raise chickens in your backyard, and more!

Take a peak at other featured articles on our homepage. http://www.thepiedmontonline.com/index.cfm

E. Fletcher’s Locally Crafted Approach

We’re delighted to welcome our Little Washington neighbors E. Fletcher Construction to the Piedmont Virginian (see their ad on page 77 of the spring issue).

Led by Eddie Fletcher, a Piedmont native and one of the key people responsible for a certain Inn’s beautiful construction projects, the builder has a unique, locally crafted approach.

More about E. Fletcher’s philosophy following and at their web site: www.efletcherconstruction.com

Our Values: E. Fletcher Construction, located in Washington, VA in Rappahannock County, combines traditions of the past with today’s building innovations to create unique, regionally specific, elegant custom homes. We deliver classic structures that are beautiful, energy-efficient, and easy to maintain. Using time-tested materials and sustainable building methods, we construct homes with character that will last.

We strive to make sure our clients are truly happy in their new homes. We build homes that meet our client’s dreams while carrying out the architect’s vision; embrace and enhance the client’s lifestyle; meet their practical needs; and provide comfort.

Timelessly crafted: E. Fletcher Construction welcomes the opportunity to build one-of-a-kind custom homes and structures. The most talented craftspeople from Virginia’s Piedmont create historically authentic details in each home by using available local and regional materials.

Sustainably built: At E. Fletcher Construction, we practice aspects of the age-old art of home building, while also embracing and implementing cutting-edge advancements in sustainable building practices. These eco-friendly practices are key to the home’s long-term comfort, efficiency and maintenance

We believe it is our responsibility to advise our clients about the many options to implement sustainable building practices. Because the building industry is ever evolving, we constantly study and research the advancements in sustainability that can improve the home’s overall performance, save maintenance dollars and lower energy consumption.

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