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Locavorism in Staunton, Part II

As I said in yesterday’s post, when I went to college in Staunton, VA, I didn’t spend any time getting to know local food systems, farmers, or artisan producers. But in the ensuing 15 years since graduation, I’ve become more and more interested in eating locally.

This is why, when I walked into Staunton Grocery on Saturday night, I just about started jumping up and down. There, on the wall above the bar, was a chalkboard listing all their producers. From garlic and shallots raised by Rachel Effinger of Stuarts Draft, VA, to artisan breads from Staunton’s own Newtown Baking, the board included a very detailed list of thoughtfully selected sources.

I’d learned about the restaurant a few months back, after reconnecting with a friend from high school who I hadn’t seen since graduation. He and his wife had just been on a weekend trip to Staunton, and they’d eaten there and recommended it. I put it on the must-do list for the reunion weekend.

We kicked off the evening with an amuse bouche of sesame-encrusted pork with anchovy sauce and watercress. I loved my opening cocktail (although no one around me was enough of a thyme-lover to agree with my opinion): the Sadie, which is, essentially, a Greyhound made with thyme-infused vodka. Brandon, the bartender, said they’d been infusing that batch for approximately a week before they made my drink. The thyme flavor gave it a wonderful freshness, and each sip transported me back to my garden in Iowa, where I always grew thyme, even if I rarely used it in my cooking.

Four of us selected the four-course tasting menu, which took us through a selection of eight dishes. The staff served two different dishes for each course, with the suggestion that we pair up and trade halfway through each round. Each dish had its own wine pairing, as well.

The restaurant was offering a special five-course pork-centric menu, featuring pork from Baker’s Farms in Shenandoah, Virginia, and that pork showed up in our second tasting course as a braised leek-wrapped pork cheek topped with pea shoots and edible flowers, centered in a bath of country ham broth.

“I just wanted to let you know,” said our waiter, Steve. “The farmers are up at the front table having dinner with their parents.” He cautioned me, though, about bouncing over to their table to let them know how much I was enjoying their meat. “They’re shy.”

The restaurant features a lovely bar and a glassed-in kitchen that gives diners a view of all the action. And at the end of the meal, along with coffee from the Lexington Coffee Co., they served us a plate of maple cookies and tiny pear crepes. The two-bite nibbles were a sweet ending to an amazing evening.

But wait, that’s not all
For those of you who want to completely and utterly geek out, here, thanks to Awesome Hostess Cassie, Stellar Waiter Steve and Excellent Bartender Brandon, is a look at the full tasting menu we experienced, plus wine pairings.

Charred Squid+Crispy Panisse+Caramelized Onion+Herb Salad+Meyer Lemon+Aioli
(Karel Fritsch 2007 Reisling, Wagram, Austria)
Grilled Pizzetta+Cured Pork+Black Truffle+Quail Egg+Ramp Puree
(Peca Peca 2006 “La Pie Rouge,” Cotes due Roussillon, France)

House Made Fettuccini+Spring Garlic+Arugula+Meyer Lemon+Olive Oil
(Blenheim 2006 Chardonnay, Monticello, Virginia)
Baker’s Farm Pork Cheek+Braised Leeks+Ham Broth+Pea Shoots+Edible Flowers
(Coldstream Hills 2007 Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley, Australia)

Scallop+Sunchoke Latke+Fennel
(Hiedler 2007 “Loss” Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria)
Day Boat Monkfish+Truffled Risotto+Mustard Greens+Roast Turnips+Sorrel+Orange Sauce
(Casello Bondoni 2007 Lusana, Lonbardia, Italy)

Orange Carrot Cake+Sweet Cream Gelato+Kumquats+Pecan Cookie
(Chambers “Rosewood Vineyard” Muscat NV)
Chocolate Soup+Orange+Housemade Croissant
(Domaine Madeloc Banyuls 2004, Banyuls, France)
Canneles+Honey Lemon Madeleins+Earl Grey Éclair
(Chateau Filhot Sauternes 2005, Bordeaux, France)
Cheddar Pear Tart+Dulce de Leche+Verjus Sorbet
(Delaforce Colheita 1986 Tawny Port, Douro, Portugal)

And there are more pictures available on Flickr.

9 Comments on “Locavorism in Staunton, Part II”

  1. #1 Locavorism in Staunton, Part I – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Apr 1st, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    [...] In Part II, meet Staunton Grocery, where Chef Ian Boden is committed to locally-sourced, seasonal organic food. [...]

  2. #2 The infusion begins – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Apr 3rd, 2009 at 5:50 am

    [...] market, but I couldn’t do it. There was a bundle of thyme available at Whole Foods, and I have the Sadie in my [...]

  3. #3 Thyme, vodka « Blog Archive « 365 in 2009
    on Apr 3rd, 2009 at 10:33 am

    [...] Saturday night, I had a Sadie at the Staunton Grocery, which was made with fresh grapefruit juice and thyme-infused vodka. I loved its tart, thyme-y [...]

  4. #4 Karen Ledebur
    on Apr 5th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Yummy! Lately I’ve taken to grapefruit infused vodka with cranberry juice and some lime. I’m going to have to give this one a try.

  5. #5 Mom!
    on Apr 6th, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Dad and I were glad to be part of this wonderful dining experience, especially since we did not have to organizeit! Personally, the only things I would not care to try again were the pork cheek and the thyme-infused vodka. Oh, well!

  6. #6 inadvertentgardener
    on Apr 8th, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Kären, that combo sounds really good, too. Yum!

    Mom! Was so glad you and Dad could share in the experience — thanks to both of you for making the trip and joining the party!

  7. #7 Thyme for a bloody – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Apr 11th, 2009 at 9:21 am

    [...] got an experiment in the works. My hypothesis? Those who didn’t like the Sadie would, indeed, like the thyme-infused vodka in another set of clothes. Tomato-based [...]

  8. #8 Lucia
    on May 5th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Hi Genie,
    Just discovered your blog via the MBC alum notes. Actually I’ve enjoyed it in the past without realizing it was you! Would love to catch up.

  9. #9 inadvertentgardener
    on May 5th, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Lucia, wow! So great to hear from you…and to reconnect. Definitely will shoot you an email, and am adding you to my Bloglines account right now!

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