Farmers Markets Open
You don’t have to look far these days to find a farmer with a basketful of fresh produce for sale. It’s a good thing, said Mary Delicate of the Virginia Farmers Market Association. She pointed to statistics compiled by the Farmers Market Coalition, a national non-profit. According to the coalition, farmers markets help farmers keep more of their profits, protect open land, give people better access to fresh food, and in general stimulate the local economy with more jobs and more customers.
The Crozet Farmers Market opens Saturday, May 5, at 8 a.m. and continues through the season with fresh produce, honey, eggs, mushrooms and baked goods every week, ending each Saturday at noon. The market grows each year and features helpful advice from local master gardeners on alternate weeks. Saturday is also the day for the opening of the Nelson Farmers Market Cooperative in Nellysford, a huge outdoor market featuring music, cheese, all kinds of prepared food and home-grown meats, exhibits and crafts, as well as produce and baked goods.
It’s the same place but a different name for the former Red Hill Market, now the North Garden Farmers Market, said advisory board member Dolores Dwyer. A festive opening day at Cutright Lake in North Garden will feature produce, baked goods and farm-made cheeses, as well as food and ice cream trucks. This Thursday market opens June 7, and continues through the season from 3 to 7 on Thursday afternoons. Another strategy for those running low on food in the middle of the week is the Shady Lane Farm market at Crozet’s Brownsville Market. Maynard Swarey, one of the hardworking crew at the Nathan Yoder family farm, hauls in plants, baked goods, produce and home-made jams and sells them under the canopy from 11 to 5:30. He has early strawberries and will have early tomatoes, thanks to a late fall planting under glass at the Free Union farm. One of his brothers-in-law does the same thing every Thursday on Garth Road near Foxfield, Swarey said.
Up at Chiles Orchard, the asparagus harvest is underway, said Manager Lisa Henson, and strawberries are blooming and swelling in time for an early May harvest. Chiles offers vegetables in season along with the signature orchard fruit. The asparagus is the opposite of instant gratification, Henson said, with the first harvest just now cut three years after planting. Henson hopes to have asparagus through mid-May.
Love2Eat now at Blue Ridge Shopping Center
There are new faces in the house and new cooks in the kitchen at the former Thai 99 on Radford Lane. Husband and wife team of Boyd Phuangsub and Pare Fungfueang are new to Crozet but old hands at the Thai restaurant business: Boyd’s parents, Lex and Joe Phuangsub, have owned and operated Tara Thai at Barracks Road Shopping Center in Charlottesville for the past eight years. “We had a lot of customers there from Crozet,” said Boyd, “and they’d ask us to open something a little closer.” He said he kept some of the favorites from the former restaurant, and expanded the menu to include dishes familiar to people who patronize Tara Thai. Thai cooking, known for its fresh flavors and clean ingredients, is available now in Crozet every day, Boyd said: Monday through Friday from 11 to 9; 12 to 9 on weekends.
Restoration Plans Full Summer
A new team at Restoration is bringing new energy to the top of Old Trail. Food and Beverage Manager Andrea Hickman said she wants to offer the Crozet community more than dinner and spectacular views: “I’ve got more than 100 events planned in the next few months,” she said. Live music, trivia, karaoke, pasta night, prime rib night and special themed parties are in the works, as well as ample bookings for weddings and other private events. Hickman arrived at Restoration in January after years in the business and determined to make the venue a lively and friendly destination. Her partners in this endeavor are Golf Club Manager Chris Signore and Chef Alexander Brown. Brown came east to cook in the Shenandoah National Park after an early career in restaurants out west. He presides over a menu that features well-chosen pub favorites, but his culinary experience really shines in the daily specials. Steady patrons are finding out that he’s more than willing to accommodate special dietary requests, even on short notice: “Hey, I’ve got kids,” he said. “I’m used to coming up with something good, even if it’s not planned.” Find special events, menus and specials on Restoration’s Facebook page.
The Crozet Market deli opened in mid-April with a festive event featuring the local growers who supply the store. The deli has prepared take-out food, sushi, baked goods and regular deli items like meats and cheeses as well as coffee.
Down the road, Rocket Coffee opened later in the month, with Marie Bette pastries as well as an extensive coffee and tea service in its convenient location on Rte. 250. Crozet’s newest coffee shop aims to serve the early morning rush hour and will open its door each day at 6:30.
In Batesville, the Batesville Market is gearing up for Batesville Day May 5 by laying in a mountain of chicken, pork and poblano tamales as well as supplying a number of other food items for the event. The store is also sponsoring a chili tasting with Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie.
Over at Piedmont Place, merchants celebrated Earth Day by taking a look at packaging with an eye toward sustainability. Anne DeVault at Over the Moon Bookstore uses biodegradable plastic bags for her books and gifts. At Smojo, Beth Harley uses biodegradable containers made from renewable materials like corn and sugar cane and is soon to offer stainless steel straws for sale for those seeking a sustainable way to enjoy their smoothies. Jennifer Blanchard and Keely Hass at Morsel Compass also use biodegradable and compostable packaging and will soon be offering biodegradable cutlery. None of these choices is an economic benefit for these businesses: Hass estimates that the sustainable choices add about $30 per thousand ordered to the cost.
Pro Re Nata is the Crozet location for WMRA’s popular monthly Books & Brews. This month’s event, May 8, features author Allison K. Garcia discussing her novel Vivir el Dream, about an undocumented college student trying to make her way in the world, exploring her Christian faith, and also coming to terms with why her mother brought her from Mexico.
PRN now features burgers and more from the Griffons Aerie food truck.