Last night, Virginia Tourism took over Chelsea Market for the Virginia Craft event celebrating the state’s artisan food and beverage purveyors. I was invited to attend by the Lou Hammond PR agency and brought my boyfriend along for what I expected to be a quiet night of sampling hams, but it ended up being a party packed with people aching for oysters, bourbon, and beer. The breweries and restaurants in attendance were represented by people who really cared about their products and talked lovingly about their local, organic, heirloom ingredients. Virginia is for lovers . . . of good food and drink!
Chalkboard art by Carolina Ro Design and Alex Russel
Tables set up around the room all contained one food company and one drink company, which made for some excellent pairings.
Our first stop was Foggy Ridge Cider. Cider’s my go-to at a bar, but Foggy Ridge’s Serious Cider was something entirely different than I’ve ever had–a very light, very mineral, very dry cider that reminded me of a wine but tasted like apples. It was so neat to hear about the different types of heirloom apples they grow, one of which was thought to have gone “extinct” until twenty years ago.
Beth from FOODE served us this beef brisket over organic cheddar grits with organic kale salsa verde that had a delicious little kick of spice.
VAT OF TINY BISCUITS
My dream come true, thanks to FOODE.
Caromont Farm was on hand with two cheeses that were washed-rind yet managed to be mild and balanced: a raw milk cheese using milk from their neighbor’s farm and a goat milk cheese using milk from their own goats. They call these American cheeses in the style of European cheeses and won second place in that category last year from the American Cheese Society.
Blue Mountain Brewery was offering two of their beers, a very light and crisp Kolsch 151 lager and a Full Nelson featuring their home-grown Cascade hops.
Chef/owner Ian Boden was serving a lamb dish from The Shack featuring Border Springs Farm lamb, peas, rhubarb picked in gin, and soy sauce lees, which is the solid left behind when the liquid soy sauce is drained away. They were surprisingly mild, and the overall dish was well-balanced with sweet, savory, salty, and sour flavors.
Chef/owner Harper Bradshaw had a lovely blue crab dish from Harper’s Table with buttermilk, cucumbers, peanuts, and lime. Each flavor came through so well, and yet the sweetness of the crab was still the star of the show. As were the wood-grain compostable plates.
Complementing that was the Faux Rickey by bartender Todd Thrasher of PX using Catoctin Creek Distilling‘s Watershed Gin, home-grown basil, and lime juice. The basil foam made it impossible to drink. And also awesome to drink.
Sister restaurants Comfort and Pasture were serving this smoked trout/deviled egg/pickled apple combo on a sumac wafer. Smoke is irresistible to me.
Belle Isle Craft Spirits was making an old fashioned the old-fashioned way with their moonshine, which they had smoked. It was intense, intensely delicious, and perfect next to the smoked trout.
Co-owner Ryan Croxton of Rappahannock River Oysters was offering two types of oysters and a clam, grown at different places in the Chesapeake Bay to give them varying levels of brine ranging from sweet to knock-your-socks-off salty. My boyfriend also thought their cocktail sauce was killer.
the backdrop for the band
feasting under the Chelsea Market lights
the guys from Shooting Point Oyster Company talking about their fare
Catoctin Creek Distilling gave us a shot of their rye whiskey and a cocktail made with rye, ginger ale, orange bitters, and lemon peel. I’ll be making this one at home. A lot.
I believe this tiny ham biscuit was from Edwards Ham, but it arrived out of nowhere on a tray from an angel/server. The first time I had Surryano ham was on a tiny biscuit at North in Providence, Rhode Island, and this one was comparably tasty with its clear, sweet porky flavor.
A. Smith Bowman Distillery had seven- and ten-year aged bourbons that we each drank neat and were truly taken by the smoothness of both and the stronger flavors of vanilla and caramel in the longer-aged version, which was impressively from a single barrel. The gentleman serving the whiskey was actually the person who samples the seven-year barrels and decides which of them will be mixed together for the bottles of seven-year and which are perfect enough to go on aging for the single-barrel bottles. What a life.