Monday, October 14, 2013



By Doc Lawrence

BLACKSBURG, VA- The mountains are just approaching fall leaf season grandeur. The region is genuine heartland where some of the earliest pioneers settled, entertaining themselves with music and dance that gave birth to Bluegrass music traditions. Locals produce country ham, a culinary descendant of Native American pemmican that will give Italian prosciutto a run for taste excellence any day and the Virginia food enthusiasts claim that their state, not Georgia, first produced Brunswick Stew.

Today, the Panthers of Pittsburgh visited Virginia Tech’s Hokies at Lane Stadium and the food and beverages served at the tailgating soiree mirrored all the joy and optimism of the moment. Smoke, laughter and music attracts a hungry visitor and there is more than enough to keep the palate stimulated.

Hokies party passionately. The name is etched into my memories that fondly recall endless glasses of fine Virginia wine with grilled meats, chicken, duck and turkey. For the uninitiated, Virginia’s wineries produce heralded wines with Norton and Viognier garnering praise for decades.

Virginia Tech's lovely campus features buildings mostly built of “Hokie” stone in a style known as military gothic. The centerpiece of the campus is the Drill field, a large oval-shaped lawn surrounded by academic buildings on one side and dormitories on the other.

Nearby Smithfield Plantation is one of the first large farms established in Southwestern Virginia. The plantation house is now a museum owned by a non-profit organization and open every day, but check times. Blacksburg is a launch pad for touring Virginia’s stunning landscape and no trip here is complete without enjoying Marion, Abington, Roanoke and charming Saltville, where, if you are lucky, you’ll meet Virginia’s accomplished storyteller, Charlie Bill Totten, whose enthusiasm for his city makes visitors eager to return.

The cooking traditions of the Deep South often have ancestral connections to Virginia. Few dishes incorporate all the taste adventures of Southern recipes like this amazing duck creation from Lara Lyn Carter’s family favorites:

Barbecued Duck Breast with Mustard Sauce
                  By Chef Lara Lyn Carter
Four 8 oz. duck breast
Chef Lara Lyn Carter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter - melted
Place the duck breast in a 9x13 baking dish. Combine the soy sauce, lemon pepper and butter and pour over the breast. Allow the duck to marinate for 30 minutes. Grill the duck over low heat for 1 and 1/2 hours basting every 20 minutes with the marinade.

Tangy Mustard Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tbsp. Worcestershire
Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often. Serve the sauce drizzled over the duck breast.

Enjoy this with Château Morrisette's Liberty Service Dog Red, a dry red wine blended from some of Virginia's finest grape varieties including Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The wine pays tribute to service dogs and their dedication to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. Bursting with deep flavors and aromas of blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, and plum,

Peanuts, ne of Virginia's signature crops, blend well with chocolate. And a perfect finish for tailgating in Blacksburg is this original chocolate created by Chocolate Diva Lecia Duke.

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