Give thanks for local growers, bakers, farmers and chefs
Blessed with one of the most moderate climates on earth, those who make their home in the Crozet area have plenty to be thankful for when planning holiday meals. From the meat on the table to the pumpkin in the pie, our neighbors who make their living from the earth enable us to have the best nature can provide without traveling far from home.
You don’t have to look far to find fall fruits and vegetable. Apples are available nearby at Chiles Family and Henley orchards. Chiles also has pumpkins and other seasonal produce; Henley has beef. Both have cider. If you’re looking for collards or Swiss chard for cooked greens or lettuce for tossed salads, Schuyler Greens will deliver them to your door or meet you at the Crozet Library with them, along with other seasonal vegetables, fruit, local cheese and pantry staples like vinegar.
Another way to support local farmers is to order each week from the Rockfish Valley Community center in Afton, where you meet the farmers as they deliver your bread, meat, cheese, pastries and vegetables. Delivery is every Wednesday. There’s also an indoor farmers market scheduled for Dec. 5, showcasing late-season vegetables as well as bread, cheese, flowers, baked goods and local meat, all produced in Nelson or Albemarle County. This traditional Christmas market also has wreaths and other items specifically for the holidays, including fruitcakes, all local.
For most families, the centerpiece for Thanksgiving is the turkey, and Cari and Judd Culver have a bird for that. The Culvers raise Kelly Bronze turkeys, allowing them to run free and grow naturally right near the heart of Crozet. Order in advance by getting in touch with them through the website kellyturkeys.com.
River Oak Farm in Nelson County also has turkeys to offer, or buy a fat hen there, or pick out a cut of lamb, beef or pork. They’ll deliver: riveroakfarm.com. Also in Nelson, Double H Farm specializes in Berkshire pork, and you can order pork and vegetables in season from their Facebook page. Or there’s grass-fed beef, milk-fed pork and pastured lamb at Old Orchard Farm. Farmers Anne and Dan Buteau will deliver your order to you Wednesday mornings between 9:15 and 10 a.m. at Rockfish Valley Community Center, but order first at oldorchardfarmva.com.
Should your family crave a holiday goose, you can order one from Free Union Grass Farm to pick up later, or see what’s available at the farm stand Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You’ll also find grass-fed beef, pork, chicken and ducks, with several different kinds of sausage. See them all at freeuniongrassfarm.com.
Since we don’t live by meat alone, we’re lucky to have our own bakery, right down the road in Afton, supplying bread, rolls and seasonal granola. You can find products from Goodwin Creek Bakery at Greenwood Grocery, order ahead to pick them up at the Rockfish Valley Community Center, or just pick up what you need from Greenhouse Coffee or the Crozet Market.
You can procure local cheese the same way they did in the old world: Let the monastery know you’re coming, then pick up a two-pound wheel of hand-made Gouda from Our Lady of the Angels, left on the counter by the contemplative nuns. You’ll need to order first, by phone or mail, olamonastery.org.
It’s hard to drive down any of our local roads without seeing a sign for farm-raised eggs for your pies. Or, if you’d rather have someone else rolling out pastry, order ahead from Crozet’s “Cakes by Rachel.” She’s baking apple, caramel apple, fresh pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate pecan pies for the holidays. At Greenwood Gourmet, there’s some pie baking going on, too, and you can order a whole pie up to a week before Thanksgiving. Greenwood also has a small stock of Kelly Bronze turkeys and always some local cheeses as well as homemade cookies.
And don’t forget Cutie Pies, where you might get a little poem with your cute little gluten-free pies, both sweet and savory, available for pick up on most Fridays and Saturdays, with each week’s selections posted on the Cutie Pie Facebook page, along with instructions for pick up.
Some of us always want chocolate instead of pie (or chocolate and pie) so make sure to stock up on Crozet-made Wild Blue Chocolate. Order from the website, www.wildbluechocolate.com (Mike Sever will deliver it to your door) or find it at Mudhouse, Batesville Store or the Crozet Artisans Center, where you’ll also now find Gearhart’s Chocolate. And if you believe your family should have ice cream along with their chocolate and pies, we have the real thing at the Creamery, with a rotating selection of pints delivered to your car or cones and scoops for good children to take out. Find details about both at crozetcreamery.com.
You might not want to go even as far as the Farm at Red Hill in North Garden for hummus for your appetizer; or to Waynesboro for Simply Cheddar’s pure cheddar cheese balls, or to Wolftown for Kite’s country ham, but you can find all these products at Crozet Market, said store manager Jeffrey Roberts. You’ll also find some of the products mentioned above, plus Silver Creek apples from Tyro and other seasonal vegetables from local growers. Sprinkle with a little Peg’s Salt, made in Charlottesville and sold at the Crozet Market.
The good fortune of Crozet citizens is not limited to the raw ingredients for delicious dinners: In town, we have Justin van der Linde smoking meat at dawn for Smoked, Jennifer Blanchard and Keeley Hass stuffing tacos with the freshest ingredients they can find for Morsel Compass, Trey Wilkerson grilling hot dogs and inventing home-style entrees at Sam’s Hot Dogs, and the Whistle Stop dispensing hearty, inexpensive breakfasts.
West of town, you’ll find the finest in gas station cuisine: biscuit breakfasts and fried chicken at Brownsville and authentic tacos, tortas and burritos at Las Cavañas.
On Jarmans Gap Road, Mark Gresge is making world-class soup next to Cakes by Rachel. In town, our neighbors are tossing pizzas at Crozet Pizza and Sal’s Pizza; dispensing southern-style food at Whistle Stop Cafe; and brewing coffee and making homemade pastries and sandwiches at Greenhouse Coffee, the Mud House and (in Old Trail) Grit. Fardowners’ loyal patrons find comfort in taking out the familiar food they prepare.
Our friends at Mi Rancho, Jalisco, and Sabor Latino manage to serve lunch and dinner, fast and sizzling hot and full of flavor every day, and Restoration provides spectacular sunsets free of charge with every dinner. When you need a break from rich holiday food, do as many chefs do and seek out the clean, bright flavors of Asian cuisine at New China in the Square, or the Tea House or Love2Eat, both just east of town.
And don’t forget the wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries that provide cheer and warmth through these dismal times. Pick something special and locally made for your guests, even if it’s just two adults around the table giving thanks.
Let’s hoist a glass to all of them this Thanksgiving: farmers, shopkeepers, brewers, bakers and chefs—these are the people who have served us these last uncertain months, and the best way to show our gratitude is to patronize them. They’ve all scrambled to stay afloat, changing their business plans, offering family-style meals, delivering directly to us, expanding their space for distancing, erecting tents and in general, surviving on sheer determination, creativity and generosity to keep Crozet fed and happy.
Old-country favorites roll into Crozet
Dave McNeal was the cheese manager for Wegmans when it started up in Charlottesville, and his knowledge of cheese gave him an idea for a food truck. One specific cheese, Raclette, known for its melting quality and beloved by the Swiss, gave its name to the traditional after-ski meal, where diners dip bread, boiled potatoes and vegetables into the sides of a round of cheese that’s turned towards the fire, scooping up the warm cheese as it softens. Swiss restaurants––and those all over the world––now are likely to use a more efficient means of melting cheese, as well as different kinds of cheeses.
McNeal thought it would make a different and fun kind of food truck but, since Raclette is not well-known, he had to design his own vehicle and, after delays by COVID-19, chose Crozet and the Starr Hill Brewery for two days of his first week of operation. He plans to park the truck, aptly named “Raclette on the Run” at the Brewery Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. Besides the traditional dinner of bread, root vegetables and sausage dipped in cheese, McNeal offers a variety of cheeses and sandwiches, featured each week on the Racletteman Facebook page.
Tais Salazar’s new venture stemmed from a long-time interest in baking. Salazar, whose business operates under the name of “The Little Green Coop” (she raises chickens, too) was one of those pandemic bakers who challenged herself to become familiar with sourdough. “Someone gave me a starter and I just became fascinated with it,” she said. In fact, she started a business inspired by her interest and makes hundreds of crusty baguettes, round loaves and sweets each week, delivering door-to-door in Crozet on Wednesdays. She’ll also have a special bread dedicated to the Mexican “day of the dead” throughout November, and pies for Thanksgiving. Find ordering instructions and weekly offerings on the “Little Green Coop” Facebook page.
Ceramics, Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard Featured Art Offerings
The monthly guest artists series at the Crozet Artisans Depot features a show and sale of work by Hawksbill Pottery, the business of Scott and Vicki Supraner. The show will include Hawksbill’s functional pottery as well as Scott Supraner’s ceramic wall art, November 1 to 30 at the Depot.
Named after the Shenandoah Valley mountain and creek where their first studio was located, Hawksbill Pottery produces handcrafted stoneware, with each piece embossed with original designs and hand-painted with lead-free, studio-mixed glazes. Some pieces are thrown on a potter’s wheel while others are hand-built with slabs and extruded pieces. The glazing technique is similar to a batik process, where the potters use a variety of masking materials between layers of glaze to create colorful designs and patterns. The pottery is fired to 2,300°F, creating a strong and durable finished product. All pieces are ovenproof, dishwasher and microwave safe.
Scott Supraner’s ceramic wall art reflects the artist’s interest in the potential of ceramic materials to create compelling images.
The Depot represents more than 80 regional artisans. For more information, please visit www.crozetartisandepot.com or facebook.com/crozetartisan depot.
The Hamner Theater presents an original adaptation of Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, a part of the Newtown Project, on November 14. Eventually, plans are for the play to tour the large estates in the historic Afton and Greenwood area. Some of these were plantations, but all of them comprised what was referred to as the playground of the wealthy. “The Cherry Orchard is in many ways about the shifting demographics of a country in turmoil—kind of like America today,” said Boomie Pederson, the play’s director. It will be streamed live at 5 p.m. on the Hamner Youtube channel with a Zoom link provided for the community conversation afterwards. As always, this will be a free presentation, but tax-deductible donations are always welcome. To get the Zoom link, email [email protected], or call 434-960-5936.
Choose an Award-Winning Local Wine for Thanksgiving
Remember life before COVID-19? That’s when the Virginia Wine Board, the Virginia Vineyards Association and the Virginia Wineries Association got together to celebrate the amazing quality and selection of wines grown throughout the state. Each February they choose 12 Virginia wines for the “Governor’s Case,” a selection that acknowledges the top dozen wines regardless of type.
Crozet-area wine lovers have something extra to celebrate, as our relatively small region was responsible for a third of the wines chosen by the 19 judges who sniffed, swirled and sipped more than 530 wines over a four-week period. Pollak Winery produced two wines that made it into the case, its 2017 Smuggler and its 2017 Cabernet Franc. Pippin Hill won honors for its 2017 Petit Verdot, and Afton for its 2017 AMV.
The Batesville Market is open early now on Saturdays, with coffee service by Espressivo and a huge array of baked goods, including bread and pastries from Marie Bette and biscuits, cakes and other sweets baked in the store. The store opens on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Sam’s Hot Dog Stand of Crozet has been completely remodeled and opened a greatly expanded indoor space Oct. 6.
NorCro Delivery, the ingenious adaptation of Brad Diggans’ Zoom Fence operation, is changing its name and will soon be Crozet Delivery.
The Crozet Downtown Initiative has added some picnic tables to the Square for the convenience of downtown shoppers.