Edible Blue Ridge — Winter 2013
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All the news that's fi t to print about Orange, including a five-chef feast, a favorite spot's famous soup to-go, and a new company raising hydroponic greens – and seafood!


WHEN A VISITING CHEF stayed overnight at Holladay House Bed & Breakfast in downtown Orange last summer, he raved to us about the elegant two-course breakfast served to him the next morning. The fresh fruit! The crustless herbed-cheese quiche! The buttermilk biscuits! (Really, he couldn't stop gushing.) Turns out that every guest gets that treatment – proprietors Sam and Sharon Elswick take pride in preparing memorable breakfasts that might also feature French toast or noodle kugel. Needless to say, guests rarely check out early.

IF YOU LOVE SOMEONE who loves good coffee, Orange County Coffee Roasters has a gift idea that will get his or her Valentine's Day off to a sweet start. Instead of the cliché (and calories) of actual chocolate-covered strawberries, pick up a bag of chocolate-covered-strawberry-flavored coffee, which the 12-year-old specialty roaster creates right around the romantic holiday every year. Now we know what Cupid drinks on his coffee break.

WHEN GREENOCK HOUSE INN first morphed into Greenock Bakery & Gourmet Shop last year, it was the best-kept secret in Orange. Then word got around about Dria Conyers' made-from-scratch breads, cookies, and puff pastries. Especially popular are croissants made only on weekends and the Scarborough Fair bread that shares its parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme with the song of the same name. Now news is spreading about just-opened Greenock Bistro, where mom Lill Shearer prepares dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings in the former inn. But you didn't hear it from us.

THE OLD MAXIM about too many cooks in the kitchen bites the dust at the annual Five Chefs in the Vineyards dinner, as a quintet of local culinary aces join forces to benefit Orange Boys and Girls Club. Held at Barboursville Vineyards on March 3, the event includes pasta by Palladio's Melissa Close Hart, a lamb dish by Pomme's Gerard Gasparini, a duck dish by Elmwood at Sparks' Randy Cooper, and dessert by Real Food's Sarah Deigl. (The fifth chef wasn't determined by press time.) Each course will be paired with a Barboursville wine. The 150 available seats always sell out, so contact organizer Mary Lew Sponski at (540) 672-6399 to reserve a spot.

YOU'VE HEARD OF SPEAKEASIES, but what about a soupeasy? If you spy owner Paul Deigl's car still in the parking lot after Real Food stops serving lunch at 2 p.m., just knock on the back door to buy a quart of his famous soup to-go. (No secret password needed.) Now that it's winter, expect gourmet-hearty options such as duck ramen, white bean with greens, and pinto-bean chili. And check the website on Mondays for special takeout dinner entrees, including beef stew and a shepherd's pie made with Spring Gate Farm lamb.

SURE, YOU'RE EATING the Stonefire Kitchen meatloaf because it satisfies a killer craving on a chilly day, but you're also supporting three local farms – it's made with beef from Skyline Premium Meats, pork from Papa Weaver's Pork, and eggs from Spring Gate Farm. For winter, also try the new lamb burger or a vegetarian black-bean burger with harissa mayo that will satisfy even hard-core carnivores. Stonefire is now open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and keeps the lights on an extra hour when Four County Players is having a performance across the street.

EXPECT THE NAME Crisper Products to become part of the local food conversation soon. With a test lab already in Fairfax, the company expects to open newly constructed aquaponics greenhouses between Orange and Gordonsville in January. Fresh herbs, spinach, and lettuce will be grown hydroponically, and in some cases connected to tanks in which freshwater tilapia, rainbow trout, prawns, and crawfish will be sustainably raised. Crisper president John Faigle says he plans to market to wholesalers and restaurants, and sell direct to consumers at farmers' markets and an on-site retail shop.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for our second annual Edible Food Fest in Orange, to be held Saturday, August 10, in downtown Orange. Last summer's inaugural fest was an amazing day, connecting more than 3,000 local food fans with an all-star lineup of vendors, speakers, and chefs. By popular demand, this year's event will be even bigger, including expanded hours. Check out upcoming issues of this magazine for more details – and plan to show up hungry!