Whichever region you are in, Virginia has an impressive culinary scene, with dozens of notable chefs creating inspired dishes from locally sourced ingredients that bring together the best of the Commonwealth's flavors in uniquely delicious ways. To showcase the best food in Virginia, we spoke to a few of these chefs, from the award-winning seasoned professionals to the rising stars who have garnered attention in national and even international publications. Follow our "Inside the Kitchen" series as we take a look at all that Eat.Drink.LOVE has to offer in Virginia!
Red Truck Bakery began in a rural farm about an hour west of Washington, D.C. in the famous Shenandoah Valley. Over the years, the bakery has grown rapidly in reputation, with accolades from the New York Times, Southern Living, and the Washingtonian. In addition to media recognition, the bakery is also loved by famous celebrities such as Oprah and former President Barack Obama, who fell in love with the bakery's pecan pie. In addition to the original Marshall location, a second Red Truck Bakery was opened in Warrenton, and the bakery also has a selection of pies, cakes, and baked goods online, shipping to customers across the United States.
Photo Credit: Brian Noyes
Chef and owner Brian Noyes is the former art director for national publications such as The Washington Post, Smithsonian, and House & Garden. As a hobby, he started making jams on the weekends and selling them in local rural stores, burning the pots with his "Red Truck" label, named after the classic Ford agricultural truck Noyes had bought from international fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. . The popularity of his products began to grow abroad, and when Noyes' products were featured in The New York Times two years in a row, he decided to leave the world of art direction and focus full-time on his cooking career. Today, Chef Noyes is as busy as ever, constantly creating new recipes for his bakery locations, while publishing cookbooks that are indispensable for any aspiring home cook.
Want to know more about Red Truck Bakery and Chef Noyes? Read on to learn about some of his chef secrets, followed by one of Chef Noyes' favorite recipes!
Do you have a few go-to producers, farms or other suppliers where you'd rather get your local ingredients from?
I use pears and a lot more from The Farm in Sunnyside, near Little Washington in Rappahannock County, in Gardiner Lapham. We also get pears and most other fruits and vegetables through Al Henry and his Jumpin Run Farm in Mount Jackson, Virginia (and if he doesn't have what we need, he brings it from the Mennonite farming community in Dayton, right in the Shenandoah- valley.
What are your favorite Virginia flavors?
It's all about apples and pies and caramel (and we'll throw that all into one great dessert! I'm cooking apple butter, and now I'm working on a new cookbook and going in a slightly different direction with winter squash butter.
What is your favorite thing to cook for yourself?
This time of year it's pork stews, soups, and especially a mole sauce (that amazing Mexican sauce with chilies, chocolate, raisins, nuts and fruit) that I learned to make in a former monastery in Oaxaca, Mexico, with Chef Rick Bayless . Mole with chicken thighs and pumpkin enchiladas with mole sauce.
Which Virginia wine, specialty beer, cider or cocktail would you combine with that?
I'm not a beer lover, but I think a hard cider would be great, especially when mixed with a little bourbon.
What's your favorite vacation spot in Virginia?
I live in Arlington, have two bakeries in Fauquier County, and for me a vacation is a 15 minute drive to my farm in Orlean – especially when I don't have to mow the field.
Otherwise I like to travel through the Shenandoah Valley (stay off I-66) eating at Ian Boden & # 39; s The Shack in Staunton, River and Rail in Roanoke, and whatever small dive looks good when I go to go south towards Abingdon.
Chef Recipe Spotlight: Upside Down Pear Gingerbread Cake
“I love gingerbread, and although we bake it every winter, I wanted to offer an elevated version for holiday fun. My friend Gardiner Lapham from the nearby farm in Sunnyside in Rappahannock County brings me surplus pears every fall and they inspired this recipe. We recommend using a well-greased springform pan to ensure that the cake comes out as smoothly as possible. Pieces of pear inevitably stick to the bottom, but you can easily remove them from the pan with a knife. Comice pears are best for this recipe, although Bartletts and even Asian pears work well too. Make sure they are not too ripe, as they will not hold their shape during baking. You want the fruit to be soft enough that you can stick your thumb in it without any juice spouting all over the place. "
Chef Brian Noyes
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Photo Credit: Brian Noyes
- 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons of orange zest
- 1⁄2 cup of granulated sugar
- 11⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon of ground allspice
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1⁄4 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 2 large eggs
- 3⁄4 cup of whole buttermilk
- 1⁄2 cup of molasses
- 2 tablespoons of canola oil
- 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, melted 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger
- 3 ripe medium pears, peeled, halved and cored
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Unbleached all purpose flour, for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 375 ° F. Coat a 23 cm round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with flour and beat out excess dough. To prevent the fruit in the batter from sticking to the pan, line the pan with cut-to-size parchment paper and spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray
2. Make the topping; Pour the melted butter into the prepared cake tin, tilt it to evenly cover the bottom. Sprinkle the brown sugar and crystallized ginger evenly over the bottom.
3. Hold the pear halves in the palm of your hand and cut them lengthwise into 1⁄4 inch thick slices. Carefully place each half in the pan, round side down, and fan the slices by pressing them down. Repeat with each pear half to create a spoke pattern around the pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, until pears look soft and light brown.
5. Meanwhile, make the cake: In a small bowl, combine the fresh ginger, orange zest and granulated sugar and stir with a fork. Let stand for a few minutes for the orange and ginger flavors to infuse the sugar.
6. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Add the sugar mixture to the flour mixture.
In a separate large bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk, molasses, and canola oil. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine.
8. When the pears are cooked, carefully and slowly pour the batter into the pan over the pears to make sure they keep their pattern.
9. Bake for 25 to 33 minutes, turning the pan after 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
10. Carefully turn the cake over onto a large plate or platter and remove the parchment paper. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.
Looking for even more incredibly tasty recipes from Virginia's top chefs? Stay tuned for more Inside the Kitchen articles and check out these other articles in the Chef series: