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In This Issue

Letter from Amissville

By Walter Nicklin

In this summer of terrorism, both foreign and domestic, the Virginia Piedmont’s natural beauty offers even more solace than usual. As the sun sets over the Blue Ridge, the earth still spins on its axis and all seems right with the world.

What is it about sunsets?

They happen every day, of course — and everywhere — but in the workaday, urbanized, modern world we seldom notice. Only when we’re on vacation, or lucky enough to be already in a place like the Virginia Piedmont, do we pause sufficiently to marvel. It’s the celestial equivalent of stopping to smell the roses, or reverently focusing on the sermonizing words of a Sunday preacher. In the meantime:

Your computer’s screensaver is likely a virtual sunset. Or maybe there’re photos or representational art on your office wall picturing — what else? — horizons whose skylines are infused with color. Schmaltzy sunset scenes are as ubiquitous as Elvis on velvet. Even postmodernist artists and critics, normally disdainful of conventional notions of beauty, have been reported to indulge in sunsets — a middlebrow guilty pleasure.

The more linear our lives, synchronized to digital devices, the more we apparently like to be reminded of nature’s reassuring cyclical rhythms, particularly if they’re pretty. Or perhaps not so reassuring but a useful reminder, memento mori: each day’s end, a little death.  

Certainly, the travel industry knows the powerful allure of the setting sun. “Savor the spectacular sunsets while partaking of our exquisite cuisine on the restaurant’s splendid veranda,” goes a typical marketing pitch. If the sunsets aren’t described as spectacular, then try these adjectives: brilliant, bedazzling, stunning, magnificent, amazing, fabulous, fantastic, breathtaking, marvelous, dazzling, astonishing.

Purple prose and sunsets seem fated to be linked. So anyone attempting to write about sunsets, as I am now doing, inevitably courts sentimentality, or worse. It’s like painting by numbers. Precisely because the response to sunsets is so universal — that is, common — it doesn’t take a refined sensibility to appreciate.

When the Piedmont’s first inhabitants saw the sun set over what we now call Chester Gap, Mary’s Rock, or Afton Mountain, were they full of fear of what the night might bring or thankful for the day just past? Was the experience spiritual? The sunset connects us to them — the Native Americans, the colonists, the frontiersmen — then and now, the living and the dead. We, being human, no doubt share the same thoughts and feelings. Universal is the appreciation of a sunset’s beauty — one of the few things that can unite us in this age of civil discord and global disorder. It’s a beauty that is peaceful, not colored by racism or any ideological prism.

Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, the sun surely sets without a single witness. But for beauty an audience is needed. Only people can confer beauty. No other animals — no black bears or whitetails, no squirrels or skunks, no red-tailed hawks or cardinals — stop and stare.

I’ve seen cars pull off the road heading south on Route 29 in Culpeper and Madison counties in order for the occupants to give proper attention, indulging their sense of sight, to sun setting over the mountains on their right. In summer, the setting sun is as due west as it ever gets at this latitude, almost exactly perpendicular to the highway.

Another time, at a garden party in nearby Orange, I can’t help but notice that all the guests, though still chatting with one another, shift their stance and gaze westward as the sun began to set, as if focusing on the sermonizing words of a Sunday preacher. Old reporter that I am, I imagine my interviewing them all, commingling with philosophers and artists I’ve studied:

Why do you think your eyes are drawn to the setting sun? How does this particular sunset compare with yesterday’s or the day before’s? Where and when was the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen?

“Beautiful is neither the best nor the precise word,” I imagine the older, somewhat frail, man with a cane responding with a German accent. “Sublime is the correct word.”

“Sublime is just another masculine abstraction,”counters an attractive young woman, perhaps a gender studies major at the University of Virginia. “Sunsets need no words.”

“Vitality!” says a landscape artist with a jaunty French beret. “Sunsets are the purest expression of primitivism.”

“It’s simple: Sunsets provoke pleasure that is a survival response programmed in our genes, making sure we’re aware that night is about to fall,” says the evolutionary biologist. “Do we have enough firewood? Are our weapons handy?”

“Nonsense!” spits out a bespectacled, bearded man in a ratty tweed jacket with leather elbow patches. “Beauty has nothing to do with survival and self-preservation.  Indeed, that which is most beautiful is often the most dangerous. In this case the most beautiful sunsets signal the most polluted, unhealthy air.” Pointing to the summer haze shrouding the Blue Ridge, he then quotes the early 20th-Century Welsh poet William Henry Davis:

“What glorious sunsets have their birth in cities fouled by smoke.”

“Flirty, look-at-me colors! That’s what sunsets are all about, no more, no less,” laughs an especially attractive young woman dressed in what looks to be a Versace cocktail dress, visiting from Manhattan no doubt.  

Paying not the slightest attention to the setting sun, however, is my dog, a rescue beagle-mix that I take everywhere, even to garden parties. She remains fixated on begging for the hors d’oeuvres with slices of locally raised, grass-fed beef.

Farm to Table in the Piedmont

One of the things that is very dear to those of us lucky enough to live in the Piedmont is our food and wine. This area is becoming nationally known for its restaurants, chefs, and cuisine. Originally led, of course, by the Inn at Little Washington, smaller Piedmont restaurants are also continuing to gain popularity — and recognition — on a national level. 

And there is nothing chefs like better to work with than fresh, locally grown and raised food. 

The Piedmont simply abounds with farms raising both produce and livestock, farmers’ markets, wineries, vineyards, distilleries, breweries, and cideries, all taking advantage of the bounty of the Piedmont for growing and raising things that are good to eat and drink.

Farm-to-table is a newish term which looked like it was in danger of becoming a fad, but has evolved into a way of life. For many reasons, including healthy eating, economically supporting local farms and businesses, thereby preserving farmland, and just plain getting delicious food, it is a way of life that is here to stay. 

So please explore the farm-to-table movement in the Piedmont with us in our summer issue. We delve into local farms, restaurants, wineries, and markets — some well-known, some emerging — from almost all the counties in our Piedmont. 

It is truly a farm-to-table paradise!

Farmers at the Table

By Jenny Paurys,  Photography by Andrea Hubbell and Sarah Cramer Shields of Our Local Commons, Charlottesville

It's a bright evening on the cusp of June. Holly and James Hammond sit at the dinner table, having already had a long day. The couple owns Whisper Hill Farm in Rapidan, Virginia, where Culpeper County and Madison County meet, and this is the point when the spring market season really takes off.

This table set for dinner is not in the farmhouse kitchen, but in the Glass Building in downtown Charlottesville, at APimento Catering’s studio and kitchen. Seated at the table with the Whisper Hill team — Holly, James and the season’s interns, Sam, Jennifer, and Kaitlin — are Gay Beery, founding chef and owner of APimento, and her husband, Josef. An adjacent table is filled with members of the APimento staff. It is Thursday evening, and everyone is eager to shake off the burdens of the week. Large salad bowls, passed from hand to hand, are filled with spring baby greens, thin slices of radish, and nasturtium blossoms — all from Whisper Hill — tossed with fresh local chevré and a simple citrus vinaigrette. Read more in our summer issue.....

 A version of this story appeared in Our Local Commons — Charlottesville, Vol. II.

What Does Farm-to-Table Really Mean? Fredericksburg Farmers and Chefs Weigh In On the Debate

Text and photos by Elizabeth Rabin

The term “farm-to-table” has had a certain trendiness over the years, appearing on menus of “hip” restaurants or in the sales patter of artisanal food vendors at fancy wine tastings. But uncovering what the idea of farm-to-table actually means in Fredericksburg will reveal an informed, conscientious community of farmers, restaurateurs and markets that are eager to share what they know. Profiles of: Olde Towne Butcher and Kickshaw's Market. Read more in our summer issue....

Photo: Olde Towne Butcher

Savoring Local Flavors on Route 15

by Meghan Scalea

Route 15 is where it’s at for great local food in and around Orange and Culpeper. Plan a short road trip wisely and enjoy the best of what the area has to offer. Pack a cooler and stock up on some local products to enjoy at home. Profiles of Real Food, Croftburn Market, and Vintage Restaurant at the Inn at Willow Grove. Read more in our summer issue....

Photo: Vintage Restaurant

The Old Becomes New Again: Today’s food fads spring from yesterday’s garden and ordinary manner of dining.

By Hardie Newton

The Airlie Center, located in Warrenton, began growing its own vegetables in 1996. This Airlie experiment was no “truck farm.” It had a unique, larger purpose as an outdoor classroom for the community. During World War II, small home gardens were known as “Victory Gardens,” and my guess is that they might have been the germinating inspiration for the Airlie endeavor. The old becomes new again.

Airlie’s dedicated garden land has increased to four acres, now including a hoop house to enable year-round production (meaning winter greens!). The facility is known as the Local Food Project (LFP) and operates under the management of Airlie’s Culinary Director and former Head Chef Jeffrey Witte, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, California. A model for organic agricultural practices, the garden serves also as a main resource for Airlie’s highly respected kitchen. Read more in our summer issue....

Photo: Coconut ‘Noodles’ Sweetened coconut noodles pair perfectly with the raspberry broth and chocolate. The raspberry broth is made with Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay, a Virginia sparkling wine. Courtesy of Airlie

Farm Internship Just Makes Sense

Whiffletree Farm’s internship program economically and effectively prepares aspiring farmers to achieve their dreams.

By Jesse Straight

In this issue of the Piedmont Virginian, you have read articles on all kinds of things about the farm-to-table movement, local food and the Piedmont farms on which the food is produced. But if the agricultural lifestyle is calling you, how do you actually become a successful farmer? I’d like to explore this with a special focus given to our internship program at Whiffletree Farm, where we sustainably raise and sell eggs, turkey, chicken, pork, and beef. Read more in our summer issue....

Photo: the author at Whiffletree Farm



Farms, Forks, and Flavor: The Women Behind Farm-to-Fork Loudoun

By Heidi Baumstark

Farm-to-Fork Loudoun (F2FL) will run from July 23 to August 2, 2015.  The eleven-day culinary celebration will feature two dozen  restaurants, and for the first time, a food truck. Diners will feast on “just-picked” veggies, fruits, herbs, locally-raised eggs, meats, and poultry from nine participating farms. F2FL will also feature local spirits from seven vineyards and the county’s only meadery.

During the 11-day period, chefs keep their regular menu but develop a separate F2FL menu comprised of at least 70 percent purely Loudoun-sourced products offering at least two appetizers, two main courses, and one dessert. It’s the perfect recipe for farms, wineries, and restaurants to show off the fruits of their labor.  

Read more of all these articles in our Summer issue, available now by print subscriptiondigital subscription, or at select newsstands.

Summertime Music

Summer is music season. It is a chilled riesling on a freshly mown lawn, sundresses and linen shirts all turned towards the stage. It is friends en plein air, sneaking in comments between songs and set breaks. It is small acoustic performances as well as packed crowds and tailgates in dusty parking lots. Summer is for music, and everything that comes with it.

In our summer issue read about Summer Music Festivals, profiles of 4 local bands (Chamomile and Whiskey, The Hackensaw Boys, Red and the Romantics, and The Spruce Brothers), by Morgan Hensley

Also from Morgan Hensley: Lockn’ Festival, a national musical destination in the heart of the Piedmont:

Lockn’ Festival launched in 2013, and since it began has already drawn nationally-renowned acts such as Tom Petty, Santana, Willie Nelson, The Allman Brothers Band, and Keller Williams (a Fredericksburg native). The festival is the brainchild of partners and concert promoters Dave Frey and Peter Shapiro. After searching nationwide for the right venue, Oak Ridge Estate in Arrington was selected as the location. The estate, which has a recorded history dating back to the 1730s, is named after the expansive oak that acts as a centerpiece for the festival; illuminated by thousands of lights, the tall ancient oak is transformed into something of a totem. Arrington is, in Frey’s words, “kind of in the middle of nowhere and accessible from a lot of places at the same time.” Nested amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains, miles away from the glow of city lights, the landscape subtly manifests itself in the concerts, as Frey notes, the bands have this feeling “like ‘Wow! We’re in this beautiful place in the valley of the Blue Ridge mountains and it affects them.” That’s not to say the easygoing, pastoral landscape slows or calms the performances. Quite the contrary. The vast spaces resonant with a constant wave of music for four days, creating a contrast that at once highlights the region’s profound emptiness as well as the power of rock and roll. Read more in the summer issue.

Right: Bob Weir of Furthur and the Grateful Dead, left, with Zac Brownof the Zac Brown Band. Photo by Jay Blakesburg, Courtesy of the Lockn’ Festival

And keep an eye out for more music in the fall issue as Morgan profiles more local music.

On the Trail of Larry Keel: The Greatest, Most Original Guitar Player You’ve Never Heard of.
By Eric J. Wallace, Photos by 621 Studios

The year is 2002, and virtuoso progressive bluegrass guitarist Larry Keel is setting up on the stage of yet another dive-bar in the hills of western North Carolina. “Larry’s doing nothing short of reinventing the acoustic guitar,” explains Steve McMurry, the big, bearlike lead guitarist of acclaimed bluegrass band Acoustic Syndicate. “A lot of people, when they first hear his music, they don’t get it,” McMurry says in a dark, almost conspiratorial tone. Tracing his index finger around the rim of a pint of beer, he mutters: “It’s analogous to Van Gogh…. Like some artist that won’t be recognized until it’s all over.”
The problem with attempting to profile a musician of Keel’s caliber and originality is that his art — the depth of its effect — lies largely beyond the scope of concrete description. It is sensual, metaphysical, a thing to be experienced in the moment. While, yes, a hyper-educated critic can espouse some high-browed analytical jargon deconstructing a performance into techniques, influences, and formal innovations — thereby intellectually testifying to the genius of a given performer — the fact remains that without purchasing a ticket to the show and experiencing the music itself, a would-be initiate might as well be staring at a mouse and calling it a bear.
Each Larry Keel show is different. To consider the music of Larry Keel “is to realize the man is doing for bluegrass what Hendrix did for rock,” says McMurry, “what Miles did for jazz” — that is, exploring the uncharted possibilities, defying the limitations of a deeply established musical form. As recently as 10 years ago, Keel’s music was so creatively innovative, so ahead of his time, that it was often misunderstood, overlooked, and even dismissed by traditionalists as unworthy of critical praise. Read more in the summer issue.

Music Festivals this summer:

  • Blue Ridge Mountain Music Fest Aug. 15
  • Lockn’ Sept. 10-13
  • Watermelon Park Fest Sept. 24-27
  • The Festy Oct. 9-11
  • Mineral Bluegrass Festival July 16-18
  • Floydfest July 22-26
  • River and Roots Festival June 26-27

Read more in our Summer issue, available now by print subscriptiondigital subscription, or at select newsstands.

McMillen’s Menagerie

By Jonathan Yates  •  Photographs by Douglas Graham

It’s easy for someone from Virginia to hate Tom McMillen, the former All-American basketball player for the University of Maryland.

An All-American three times, McMillen’s Terrapins dominated the Cavaliers. Compounding the pain is that the 6-11 McMillen was so close to going to the University of Virginia back in 1970. Bill Gibson, then coach of the Cavaliers, was waiting in a car close to McMillen’s house in Pennsylvania to drive the power forward — who had graced the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title, “The Best High School Basketball Player in America” — to a plane for a one-way flight to “Mr. Jefferson’s University.” But a greater power intervened: McMillen’s older brother, who had also played basketball for Maryland. So, Hoos fans then had to watch him win just about every honor possible with envy and enmity rather than unbridled adulation.

However, it is very, very easy to love the white peacocks that roam McMillen’s second home in Marshall in the same way he used to roam around the basket in his college and 11-year NBA careers.

In addition to being an All-American in college, Olympic medal winner, NBA starter, Rhodes Scholar, former member of Congress, corporate CEO, and now real estate developer, McMillen is an animal nut. Life in the country is hard, even in the rarified rolling hills of the Piedmont, but there is a core group of animxals at home in the bucolic surroundings. There are six dogs ranging from Otis, the fearless 22-year old, toothless porker of a Chihuahua, to Chanel, the half-pit bull, half-border collie who never met a car she didn’t want to ride in or meal that she would ever miss.

It is Churchill, the white peacock, who rules the roost at the farm, however.

You just don’t become an All-American, NBA player of the week, Rhodes Scholar, Member of Congress, and achieve success in commerce and real estate without careful preparation and planning. But McMillen acquired his white peacocks on, if you will, a lark. At a farmers’ market, McMillen and his wife, Judy, a retired medical doctor, bought two white peacocks.

Read more in our Summer issue, available now by print subscriptiondigital subscription, or at select newsstands.

Turning Point Suffragist Memorial

By Glenda C. Booth

The nation’s fight for freedom was settled in Virginia at Yorktown. Union and Confederate forces battled over freedom from slavery on Virginia soil. Another, little-known fight for freedom climaxed in Virginia: the right of women to vote. 

From 1917 to 1919, over 200 women from 26 states were arrested for the trumped up charges of “obstructing traffic” and “holding a meeting on public grounds.” Known as the Silent Sentinels, these women, suffragists, were peacefully picketing on the White House sidewalk for the right to vote. As President Woodrow Wilson, a Virginian from Staunton, dawdled, cloistered inside, the persevering picketers held tall purple, white, and gold banners, with messages like, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” and “Democracy should begin at home.” Given the choice of incarceration or paying a $25 fine, they chose jail. Firing back at authorities, Lucy Burns and Katherine More asserted, “Not a dollar of your fine shall we pay. To pay a fine would be an admission of guilt. We are innocent.”

The police loaded up the demonstrators in wagons alongside prostitutes, thieves, and drunks and hauled the protestors 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., to the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Virginia, an area described by one historian as a “deserted wilderness.” Two Virginians were in the group, Pauline Adams and Maude Jamison, both from Norfolk. Guards beat the “miscreants”; forced them to wear bulky prison garb and shoes that fit any sized foot; fed them meals of hominy, cornmeal, rice, beans, cereal, hard bread, and putrid soup with worms afloat; and force fed some of the women. 

The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association (TPSMA) is building a national memorial to honor these suffragists with “a memorial that will reflect the strength of the women and the significance of their struggle,” near the site of the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton in the Occoquan Regional Park. Historians consider the jailing of the suffragists the “turning point” in the crusade for women’s suffrage. The Association hopes to raise $7 million and open the memorial by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

Read more in our Summer issue, available now by print subscriptiondigital subscription, or at select newsstands.

Photo: Memorial Concept Plan, Drawings by Architect Robert E. Beach

Header photo: Inez Milholland Boissevain on a white horse as the herald leading the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Summer 2015 Recipes

Carrot Lemonade by Laurie Beth Gills (pictured) download printable recipe

Spanish Tortilla download printable recipe

Parmesan Chard Bake; Warm New Potato Salad with wilted Dandelion greens and Arugula Aioli by Brian Lichorowic download printable recipe

Farms, Forks and Flavor

The Women Behind Farm-to-Fork Loudoun
by Heidi Baumstark

Farm-to-Fork Loudoun (F2FL) will run from July 23 to August 2, 2015.  The eleven-day culinary celebration will feature two dozen  restaurants, and for the first time, a food truck. Diners will feast on “just-picked” veggies, fruits, herbs, locally-raised eggs, meats, and poultry from nine participating farms. F2FL will also feature local spirits from seven vineyards and the county’s only meadery.

During the 11-day period, chefs keep their regular menu but develop a separate F2FL menu comprised of at least 70 percent purely Loudoun-sourced products offering at least two appetizers, two main courses, and one dessert. It’s the perfect recipe for farms, wineries, and restaurants to show off the fruits of their labor.  

It’s been said, “Girls compete with each other; women empower one another.” That’s what seems to be happening in Loudoun County. For this year’s Farm-to-Fork project, we’re tipping the hat to businesses, farms, vineyards, and restaurants  run by women.

Miriam Nasuti, of Leesburg, is the brainchild behind F2FL. Inspired by the 2008 movie, “Food, Inc.” and the subsequent “locavore” movement sweeping the nation, Nasuti started the first F2FL in the summer of 2011. This is Loudoun’s fourth F2F; in 2013 the team took a hiatus and focused on bringing  Farm-to-Fork to Frederick, Maryland, which is now in its third year and unfolds a month after Loudoun’s event,  running August 28 to September 7. 

Nasuti says, “This project is exciting for me every summer, but this time, the focus on ladies stood out to me.” This year, there are five female-owned or co-owned farms, three women winemakers, and six restaurants that are owned or co-owned by women. With her ability to bring together a smorgasbord of businesses, it’s no wonder Nasuti tops the most recent “Women One Hundred” list published by Loudoun Business Journal magazine.

Now Nasuti wants to shift the spotlight on other Loudoun women: Jean Hagen of Moonfire Orchard in Purcellville; Katie DeSouza and her sister Anna Want, co-owners of Casanel Vineyards in Leesburg; and Yovanna Reiser, owner of Chimole Wine & Tapas Lounge in Leesburg. These are just a sampling of women committed to Nasuti’s concept.

When farm owner Jean Hagen told her husband, Pat, that she wanted a few apple trees, she never dreamed her idea would explode into an orchard of heirloom apples. In 2010, the couple bought the 24-acre property. “Now we have 270 heirloom apple trees of ten varieties, Asian pears, cherry, and plum trees,” Hagen says. “Moonfire grows 75 types of vegetables, each including different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, kale, squash, melons, and several varieties of blueberries– a perfect bundle for Farm-to-Fork Loudoun.”

But caring for the land is nothing new to Hagen. “My husband and I are from Oregon, and growing up, we both had large families and gardens. We got a taste of it as kids, but I never imagined this. My parents must be rolling their eyes thinking, ‘We can’t believe she’s a farmer!’ ”  

Another woman in Moonfire’s fields is Melissa Modolo. As a graduate of West Virginia’s Shepherd University with a degree in environmental studies, Modolo says, “I grew up in Leesburg and always loved being outside.” Part of her role as farm manager includes overseeing the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that offers customers seasonal produce each week from June through September. You can pick up fresh produce at their farm stand on the property, or, on Sundays, drop by Brambleton Farmers’ Market in Ashburn between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., May through October. Modolo says, “Getting back to the roots and seeing the fruits of your labor, that’s what it means to be a human.”    

Then there’s the sister act of Katie DeSouza and Anna Want at Casanel Vineyards. DeSouza describes herself as the “ace in the hole,” doing a little bit of everything. In addition to serving as the assistant winemaker, DeSouza also works in the fields and tasting room and handles sales. Want focuses on marketing, advertising, and  event planning. DeSouza notes, “My sister and I have been behind the bar for years.” 

Learning from world-renowned vineyard expert Lucie Morton, DeSouza practices everything from basic vineyard management to the importance of soil testing to maintaining a healthy vineyard.  Casanel works with French winemaker and consultant, Katell Griaud, who has consulted other Virginia winemakers. The Casanel crew has been called the “all-girl dream team” by others in the industry because they are all young women. DeSouza says, “At 27, I think I’m the youngest woman winemaker in the state.”

The sisters’ parents bought the farm in November 2006. It was basically an abandoned cow pasture-turned-vineyard. The family planted the first grape vines, and now there are 10,000 vines on the ten acres of the 42-acre property, which is considered a “boutique winery” in the Middleburg American Viticultural Area producing, 1,200 cases per year. Since they are very involved from seedling to bottle, the idea of Farm-to-Fork just fit: “We’re a little less commercial, a little more crazy,” DeSouza admits. Although the winery practices techniques adopted from French winemakers, “we’re still in Virginia,” DeSouza says, “so we focus on creating unique vintages that reflect our terroir.” 

As of last year, Cananel’s wines were in about a dozen F2FL restaurants. This sister team dreams about becoming a household name. “We’re young, female entrepreneurs and so we have to dig a little deeper to get our voice out there. My sister has pushed; without her we wouldn’t be where we are. We’re proud to promote what we do as a family,” DeSouza says. 

Another woman entrepreneur participating in F2FL is Yovanna Reiser, owner of the stylish Chimole just steps from the historic Loudoun County Courthouse. Chimole is half-art gallery, half-restaurant, a unique twist that sets it apart from competitors. Reiser opened the art gallery in 2012 and started the restaurant the following year when the space next door opened up. She designs authentic tastes that reflect Honduras’ rich heritage with vibrant art, seafood, sophisticated tapas, desserts, organic Honduran coffees, a cigar lounge featuring handmade Honduran cigars, and  a mojito bar on the patio. On cool nights, outdoor fireplaces warm the air. “We have a lot of unique dishes, and people really like the mojito bar outside,” Reiser says. 

Other women come into play here. Reiser’s mother and grandmother are from Honduras, so she decided to open a restaurant focusing on her mother’s Honduran roots. Inspired by her grandmother’s recipes and the way past generations cooked, Reiser wanted to offer this mingling of cultures. She says, “Cooking is my passion, and I wanted to do this infusion of art and food. Basically, you’re eating in the middle of art.” Chimole highlights a featured artist from Peru or Colombia, and the food matches the art, which is also for sale. 

And it seems to be working. Only six months after opening, Chimole was listed as one of the 50 best restaurants in Northern Virginia Magazine’s November 2013 issue. In 2014, Reiser was awarded the National Entrepreneur Woman of the Year by the Minority Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Well-connected in the local community and the D.C. scene, Reiser hosts events at Chimole with the Honduran Embassy and the Smithsonian. “People from the Smithsonian came and purchased lots of my pottery from the indigenous people of Honduras,” she says. “I want to help the Honduran women and give back to them.” 

Reflecting on past F2FL projects, Nasuti says, “It’s grown over the years; this year, we have the highest number of restaurants. Some have moved from the program, but it carries on. We’re welcoming new faces, and there’s a feeling of anticipation among our returning folks while new participants wonder what to expect.” Nasuti also has the backing of several important sponsoring organizations such as MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia Farm Bureau Insurance, and the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development.  

DeSouza added, “For us, getting involved with F2FL was a no-brainer. Miriam’s enthusiasm is infectious. Going local is just smarter, healthier. Working with other Loudoun businesses brings together this sense of community. We’re producing a unique product that is Loudoun County. Why not expose people to that uniqueness?”

Passion. Determination. Commitment. Those are what these women have in common. I guess you could call it empowerment.

For a current listing of participating farms, wineries, restaurants, and sponsors, visit

Photo: At this year’s Meet & Greet on May 18 at 1757 Golf Club in Sterling, Farm-to-Fork Loudoun founder Miriam Nasuti, center, enjoys a moment with Karen Alcorn, left, and Pam Maroulis of MedStar Georgetown Hospital, this year’s largest financial sponsor. Photo by Vicky Quick, QUE graphics

Read more about Farm to Table in the Piedmont in our Summer issue, available now by print subscriptiondigital subscription, or at select newsstands.

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