Insiders know that fall is where it’s at—just ask the snowbirds, the leaf peepers and all the other adventurers who hit the road every autumn. According to Visit Orlando, more than 60 percent of domestic leisure travelers arrive in our area by car*, so even sky-high gas prices have yet to curb enthusiasm for good old-fashioned motoring.
With more than 70 Edible magazines in communities throughout the United States and Canada, it’s easy for travelers to find local food wherever they roam. As our bon voyage gift to you (and to your grandparents headed down from Jersey), we’ve highlighted some of our favorite stops in Edible communities between Orlando and the northeast so that you can feed your mind and fuel your appetite for local food. Links to all of the locally produced, independently published Edible magazines are at www.ediblecommunities.com.
Less than 200 miles south of Atlanta lies White Oak Pastures, the only farm in the United States that has both a beef and a chicken abbatoir on the property. While seeing how meat is processed is not for everyone – indeed, the website concedes that “White Oak Pastures is not Disney World” – the farm’s commitment to humanity over efficiency is a model for animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Tours of the farm are informal, so call before arriving.
The menu at American Grocery is a veritable primer on Upcountry agriculture, with over a dozen South Carolina sources from grits to greens listed on their regular grocery list. The menu changes seasonally, but the Pig on the Porch (house-infused bacon bourbon with Blenheim’s Ginger Ale and a pork rind garnish) would hit the spot anytime, provided the designated driver is on duty.
It’s easy to be envious of North Carolinians and their glorious state-run farm markets that make Flea World look dinky by comparison. Even with all that bounty, the smaller, laid back markets also prosper, and in Charlotte the locals love the Atherton Mill and Market. Similar in vibe to our own Audubon Park Community Market, customers rave about the quality of the products and the friendliness of the vendors who make or grow their own wares. Days and hours vary throughout the year, so check their Facebook page before heading out.
When you’re making good time, it’s tempting just to keep on going. Lucky indeed that both Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen locations (in Greensboro and Cary, NC) offer curbside service when you call ahead. The Get Lucky & Go menu has most of the traditional NC favorites that indoor diners enjoy, including a car-friendly local grass-fed beef burger topped with pimento cheese.
Edible Blue Ridge
If the thought of corn whiskey conjures up images of backyard stills and a pile of mason jars, prove yourself wrong with a tour of the distillery at beautiful Belmont Farms in Culpeper, VA. The only distillery in the US that grows its own grain, Belmont Farms produces its Kopper Kettle Virginia whiskey using traditional methods that are illustrated during tours that begin every 15 minutes on Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm, April through December (closed holidays).
In deference to the local food movement, P.A. Bowen Farmstead doesn’t ship their products, so it’s worth a stop at their farm store in the Village of Aquasco near Brandywine, MD to score some Chesapeake Cheddar and Prince George’s Blue, made on site from the milk of grass-fed Jersey cows. The farm itself is a mixed-species, pasture-based farm incorporating biodynamic methods, and strives to be a model to farmers, educators and families. Walking tours are available on Saturday mornings by appointment.
Farm market denizens from New York and New Jersey have long had access to Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse’s wood-fired rustic breads, cave-ripened cheeses and whey-fed pork, but nothing beats a trip to the source. Hours and offerings vary so check the website first, but the bucolic locale and passionate staff might just inspire you to stay on for a year-long apprenticeship in cheesemaking, grass-based dairy farming, or bread baking.
Edible Hudson Valley
With three full-service restaurants serving lunch and/or dinner six days a week, a rocking bakery open from 7:30am-5pm on weekdays, and a bookstore chock full of hostess gifts, there’s always something happening at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. The sprawling campus affords prime views of the Hudson River and the Catskills across the way, and the throngs of earnest students in their chefs whites will make you wish you could don a toque of your own and play chef-for-a-day.
Berkshire County, MA is chockablock with excellent cheesemakers, organic farms, ranches, and artisan bakers, and one of the best places to enjoy its bounty is at Route 7 Grill in Great Barrington, where even the wood they use to smoke their fine barbecue is local. And while the casual atmosphere is decidedly more elegant than a typical ‘cue joint, don’t hold that against them – the t-shirt sporting their chicken-in-a-pig-in-a-cow logo brings the place right back down to earth.