Friday, October 07, 2005

The Treasures Behind the Truck Stop

Since we are going out tomorrow night and we will be busy, I am going to cheat and pre-post. When I have free time, I like to write up posts that I can save for days when I'm not cooking or am too busy to post and tomorrow seemed like the perfect day to put this particular post to use. My mom is coming for a visit next week, so I'll be putting in orders from Wade's Mill and maybe some wine....

I suppose this could be considered a shamless plug, but it is food-related and in any case, it's near and dear to my heart.

My parents live in a small town called Raphine, VA.. If you drove past it on Interestate 81, all you see is a large truckstop. One might never guess that there are a few foodie and wine gems, just off that tacky little strip, back in the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley . But if you get off the highway....

As you wind through the beautiful countryside on Route 606, the first gem you would come upon is Rockbridge Vineyard. This little winery has some great finds. We particularly loved what used to be called their Cabernet, but is now called Heritage (it's technically a blend and they were told they could not call it a Cabernet). The older vintages are particularly good, but we like the Heritage as well. It's been a long time since we've tasted their wines, so we plan to do a complete tasting when we visit my parents over Christmas.

Continuing on Route 606, the next stop would be Wade's Mill. This mill still grinds flour the old-fashioned way, using mill stones powered by water wheel. It is owned by a Jim and Georgie Young - Jim is the miller while Georgie (the Georgie of Georgie's Pesto), his wife, offers dinners, luncheons and cooking classes. They also have an ever-expanding kitchen shop with great cookware, untensils, and much more. My mother helps out occassionally with their food events and often sends me little goodies from the Mill. One of our very favorites is the Buckwheat Pancake Mix - I will never eat a plain old pancakes again! And for you dog-lovers out there, they used to have a dog named, appropriately, Barley.

Right next to the mill is the simply gorgeous Buffalo Springs Herb Farm which has been beautifully restored by Don Haynie and Tom Hamlin. I like to go there just to see the lovely gardens, but they have much more to offer.

Visiting my parents is always a peaceful and serene experience. They live far enough out in the country that generally the only noises you hear are cows and wild turkeys. There have even been occasional bear sightings. However, my mom has convinced me to bring our dog Bailey on our 12-hour drive this Christmas, so I'm not sure how peaceful and serene getting there will be!

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