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Wining down the Crooked Road

By Jennifer King Ferreira • Sep 13, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Yep, it is that time of year again. Time to “Hop on the bus, Gus, and set yourself free” with the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center’s annual Wine and Foodie Trip. For the past few years, Cooking Along the Crooked Road has headed to Charlottesville, Virginia, to check out the Monticello wine trail and the fab culinary scene.

However, this year, we are excited to set off in a new direction as we take off through North Carolina and end up in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina. The itinerary is sure to be a gastronomic delight with vineyard stops, foodie walks, workshops, cheese farms, cideries and cooking classes packed into two days of good tastes and good times. And of course, you can come, too!

Last fall, Katbird’s Katherine Rose and I headed out on a trial run to see what we could discover for our 2017 excursion. We ate and sipped our way through the beautiful Carolina countryside to find the perfect venues for our trip. Besides owning an award-winning wine shop in Abingdon, Katherine is sommelier at the Martha Washington Inn and has been our trip hostess for four years. At the beginning of each trip she conducts an informative lecture and experiential tasting. The end result: You are tasting wine like a pro by the time we reach our first vineyard!

We were both surprised and charmed by the Carolina vineyards and the diverse gourmet experiences we encountered in lively downtown Greenville. So, both of us gave a thumb’s up to cruisin’ to Carolina in 2017.

The rapidly growing area between the Asheville mountain region and Greenville has evolved in the last few years with new wineries and farms popping up. The area is ripe for grape growing. In fact, “Wines, friendly faces and Southern hospitality” is the motto used by North Carolina Wineries.

I bet you didn’t know that North Carolina is the home of America’s first grape. Yep, settlers discovered the scuppernong in 1585 on what is now Roanoke Island. Those cuttings from the first vine led to the development of many varieties. And to boot, the state bills itself as the only place in the world where every major grape is grown. Imagine that.

After visiting several vineyards, we chose two favorites to include on the trip — Overmountain and Saint Paul Mountain. Both family-owned vineyards offer amazing lists of award-winning wines and provide very informative tastings and tours.

Overmountain is rated No. 4 in a list of wineries you “should not miss” in North Carolina. So of course, we made it a priority stop. Katherine and I were honored to spend a delightful morning on the beautiful patio at the tasting room with owner and winemaker Frank Lilly and his daughter, Sofia. We learned that the vineyard sits on the Overmountain Trail, which ends up in the middle of Abingdon. Small world!.

Saint Paul Mountain provided a wonderful tasting with a knowledgeable staff. The vineyard is located on 10 acres, with panoramic views of the mountains. Noted as the first commercial vineyard in Henderson County, they produce over 14 varieties of some of the best wine-producing grapes in North Carolina. Owner Alan Ward and wine-maker Charlie Kidd refer to themselves as modern-day pioneers of winemaking. Their new cidery will open just in time for our group to also experience a cider tasting. Between tastings, the vineyard has planned a delicious lunch for us on their beautiful patio.

But let’s not forget the food part of this trip. Katherine and I scouted around Greenville with Elizabeth Brown, a Kingsport native and owner of Greenville’s Anything Culinary. We made stops at several of her favorite eateries to sample the goods. Elizabeth will be our guide for a five-stop foodie walk, which will focus on tastes from around the world.

As a highlight to the trip on our final morning, we will be tying up our aprons and heading to the award-winning Culinary Institute of the Carolinas, where Chef Allen will lead us in a brunch cooking class. Our last stop before home will be at North Carolina’s premiere cheese farm for an elegant cheese farewell tasting and tour.

Yes, we do have some spaces left on our 2017 Food and Wine Trip on Oct. 26 and 27. For more information call (276) 619-4348 or visit www.swcenter.edu/cooking. Here are some favorite recipes from our upcoming stops.

 

Overmountain Vineyards Sangria

1 bottle of Rose (Overmountain King’s Mountain Rose, of course)

2 cups of strawberry-cranberry juice

½ cup peach liquor

Fresh strawberries

2 lemons

2 oranges

Fresh blueberries

Lemons and oranges are soaked in the sangria

Serve over ice with berry garnish

 

Elizabeth Brown’s Southern Tomato Pie with Sour Cream Pastry

Sour Cream Pastry

1 1/4 cup all unbleached flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. sugar

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2” cubes and frozen for 20 minutes

3 tbsp. sour cream mixed with 1/3 cup ice water

Filling

7 shallots, minced

1 tbsp. grape seed or peanut oil (high heat oil)

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1.5 lb. assorted heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1⁄4” thick

5 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1⁄2 oz. fresh thyme or oregano, minced

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. tarragon Champagne vinegar, or similar

1⁄2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 oz. grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Place flour, salt and sugar in bowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Pulse a couple of times. Place frozen butter in bowl and pulse 10-12 times until mixture is pea-sized chop.

At this point, turn food processor on and pour the sour cream mixture through the feed tube until the mixture forms a ball. If mixture doesn’t bind together when pinched, add another 1 or 2 tbsp. ice water until it does.

Remove from bowl and knead slightly to hold together as a smooth ball. Wrap in wax paper, flatten into a disk and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature before rolling out to fit into a 9” pie dish. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a 9-inch fry pan, caramelize shallots in 1 tablespoon high heat oil until tender, (over medium heat for 12-15 minutes). Stir in mustard, and set aside.

In the pastry shell, layer half of the tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper; spread shallot mixture over top. Add goat cheese and half of the herbs, distributing evenly.

Layer in remaining tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and vinegar over the tomatoes; top with remaining minced herbs.

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and

Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle evenly over tomato filling.

Bake 30 minutes, or until topping and crust are golden brown. Serves 6-8.

Jennifer King Ferreira grew up in Kingsport, where she received her first cooking experiences from her grandmother, Genevieve Shivell. She is the past owner of the Abingdon General Store and Plum Alley Eatery, a gourmet store and restaurant in Abingdon, Va., and serves as marketing and public relations specialist for the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and the Cooking Along the Crooked Road Culinary Program.

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