A regional food dinner series "Taste of Blue Ridge" focusing on chefs in the Blue Ridge region and the farmers who produce the food with a multi course meal.
Disclosure: Taste of Blue Ridge invited me to this event and covered our tickets to come experience the dinner.
Those of you who have been around for a while know my favorite sport is, without a doubt, eating and drinking outside. Having been #blessed to live in a gorgeous region of the country it always seems a shame to not be dining outdoors. So before we dive too deep into an event recap, we should probably indulge in a little geography 101. Chris and I live in Northern Virginia. We always require the directional addition of Northern preceding Virginia because Northern Virginia is just not like the rest of Virginia. We can get to DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia within an hour. We don’t have 'Southern' accents. We have city traffic but we also have gorgeous farms and a ton of vineyards, wineries and breweries. There’s a big horse and polo scene. And surrounding it all is the Potomac River on one side and the Blue Ridge Mountains on the other side. It’s lush, it’s green and it has rolling hills. So you can see why I’d rather be eating outside than under florescent lights anywhere.
Often times when Chris and I get invited to dinners or food events, they take place in DC. And within the past few years the theme of all of these events has been a feature on farms that supply the restaurants. It’s just that the farms are actually closer to out where we live vs DC. So when there’s a chance to go to a dinner outside of the city... we’re all in.
The Taste of Blue Ridge dinner series is new but this sort of event is not. The biggest differentiating factor of Taste of Blue Ridge in comparison to other dinner series currently existing (or previously existing) in the region is the focus on the chefs west of DC. As previously mentioned, many events will highlight area farmers (who are typically in outlying DC suburbs and rural areas), but few bring non-DC chefs and restaurants to attention. The goal of TOBR is to bring the community of food lovers together to connect with local Blue Ridge region chefs, as well as the farmers who produce the food, in the setting it’s grown in. In this case, Hillbrook Inn located in West Virginia. Featured chefs this year included Chef Erik from Magnolia’s at the Mill (a Loudoun County favorite for graduations, brunches etc), Chef Marcus at Lansdowne Resort, Chef Damien from Hollywood Casino, Chef Steven from Hillbrook Inn and Chef Abby from Schenck Foods (the event sponsor).
The Root to Table dinner was in its second year this year and according to the team, doubled in size (they actually sold out of tickets). The menu focus was smoke and family style everything. The day before the dinner an earth oven was dug to cook the pork used for both main courses during dinner (pork tacos with refried peanuts and salsa and also Chinese Steamed Buns). The pork was tender and smoky and delicious. But in actuality, I think one of my favorite menu items was the hot appetizer which was an Argentinian gaucho style steak with pickled mushrooms and garlic with an herb sauce. The menu also featured a cold appetizer with basically every in-season produce item of the moment. It was such a nice balance to the heavier options and the kind of salad Chris and I like to make at home. To wrap up the menu was a peach cornbread upside down skillet cake with buttermilk ice cream.
The tables were set outdoors with a tent and a fire pit close by with live music. There were also grills/smokers by the fire pit so you could go over and talk with the chefs and see what they were making.
So if you’re local, keep an eye out! This is not just a summer event. In fact, there’s already a November event planned. In the meantime, keep hitting up your local farmers markets to support producers, dining out at your local restaurants who purchase from the farmers and enjoy the lingering days of summer!
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.