Virginia is one of those states that mark change, where nobody can decide whether they are in the North or the South. People here have Southern twangs and are more polite than say, New Yorkers, yet Washington DC is a mere miles away, deep South states like Mississippi or Louisiana seem foreign and distant, and the cuisine doesn’t trend toward fried food and okra quite yet. We are very pleased to be here.
Both last year and this year we made the drive into Virginia late at night, after a month and a half of the nonstop and unrelenting East Coast. Both years we have gotten lost in the woods, winding trucks and trailers down one-lane highways with zero moonlight or cell phone reception, looking for farms we’d never been to before. This year, Kara and I drove Gold Truck into the depths of a misty, haunted forest, nodding heads to the new Drake album, which if you haven’t heard yet, is a real game changer.
We were rescued from the darkness by our friends Amanda and Derek Luhowiak from The Whole Ox butcher shop in The Plains, Virginia, who welcomed us to their beautiful home with a bottle of wine, an industrial Costco cube of cashews and Loretta Lynn records. We stayed up late.
I realized that this year, not a single one of our tour crew is from the South. Ilana and I have both lived in Texas, and Kara spent a few years in North Carolina, but nobody grew up South of the Mason Dixon line. The South is unfamiliar, dreamy and exciting. The people are lovely, and there is no lack of characters amongst them. A lot of people in Virginia, both male and female, look like George Washington.
I really love the chefs we work with down South. Tarver King from Patowmack Farm cooked our first Virginia dinner at Over the Grass Farm in The Plains, Virginia. Tarver is one of those chefs we are giddy to see: gracious, hilarious and talented beyond belief. Before every dinner, the chefs hold a menu meeting with our staff so we can explain the menu to our guests, and Tarver’s meeting was a perfect example of why I love doing farm dinners. He was so passionate about the food he was serving, constantly launching into stream-of-conscious stories about the farmers and producers he sources from, promising to tell us a joke about unpasteurized cheese, letting us taste unfamiliar greens and ask questions, questions, questions. The light on the table was unreal- it looked like magic hour all night long.
We are headed to the Carolinas, Georgia and Arkansas! Then Kentucky, Southern Ohio and Tennessee. I think our tour bus will look REALLY good next to kudzu-covered tree branches. And obviously, we are bringing her to Graceland.
Till next time, with love from the state for lovers…