Until this weekend, I had no idea that Abingdon, Virginia was such a foodie paradise- my version of a foodie paradise anyway. I am so inspired by the work going on there, that I have to recount to you the most perfect (and unbelievably packed) day, a.k.a. last Saturday.
Brother Al and his lady Miranda were on the east coast for Thanksgiving. They traditionally come to Abingdon to visit Miranda's parents and I could not pass up the chance to see them! So I hightailed it down for Thanksgiving, arriving just in time for the cooking festivities.
Now, Thanksgiving was great- such wonderful food and company. (I even got to fulfill one of my nerdiest foodie dreams- to try Susan Stamburg's cranberry relish!) But, lest this winds up being a tale a la Alice's Restaurant, I need to jump ahead and tell you about what happened on Saturday.
The day began with a trip to the Abingdon Farmer's Market, which was surprisingly busy for the weekend after the eating marathon (or was that just us?) I walked away with a couple of bottles of viognier from Abingdon Vineyard and Winery, a local food guide, and a market cookbook.
The folks at Moyer Family Farm showed off the largest radishes I'd ever seen- a hardy black variety and one that looks like a heart!
We also ran into ladies from Healthy Families ~Healthy Farms who generously talked with me about their project getting fresh food to food pantries- something I hope to work on in RVA next year.
When we left the market, we headed over to the Abingdon Olive Oil Company, where we were free to taste as many oils from all over the world as we wanted- plus flavored vinegars! The staff answered all of our novice questions with such grace. After much internal wrestling, I wound up with a hojiblanca olive oil from Spain and an 18 year old balsamic vinegar. I haven't bought balsamic vinegar in years, but this was sweet and thick, much more interesting than I remembered. We felt like it would be fantastic on ice cream- that is how thick and sweet it is!
Alex and Miranda's mom, Judith, outside of the Abingdon Olive Oil Company.
Then, of course, it was time to eat again. And you know what restaurant is right outside of Abingdon? Barbara Kingsolver's family restaurant, the Harvest Table. That's right...
Alex and Miranda outside of the Harvest Table.
What a warm place! The Harvest Table calls itself 'the most dedicated farm to table restaurant in Southwestern Virginia'. With most ingredients sourced locally, they keep to a very simple menu, sandwiches and pizza for lunch, and seasonal specials for supper.
Yes, that is a glass of Barboursville Rosé beside this gorgeous salad/ pizza combo. So perfect!
We had heard that Tony Flaccavento was planting garlic, and after we finished eating, we headed over to his farm to see if we could help. Yes, I was wearing a dress and had already had my fair share of rosé, but I have probably gardened in fancier shape than that, so I was in. Turns out, Tony was done planting, which we really didn't mind because he was then able to talk with us about his good work.
Tony founded Appalachian Sustainable Development, (an amazing organization- how does RVA not have something like this?) and is now consulting on food system development all over Virginia. He and his wife Laurel also run Abingdon Organics, a 7 acre certified organic farm, which is where we found him on Saturday. Abingdon Organics is one of the most popular stands at the farmer's market, with individual customers and local chefs alike standing in line for the beauty of his well grown produce. I can see why- Tony's clear vision of what the food system could be is one of the most inspiring I have ever heard. (They take interns btw...)