Heartwood, Southwest Virginia's gateway facility for crafts, art, and music, is closing in on its first year anniversary. It's constantly introducing visitors to our culture and new ways to enjoy it.
Next week they will introduce former First Lady Barbara Bolling Wilson's hoe-cake mix, an old historic Virginia recipe to be made available for the first time.
Besides music, art, and crafts, nothing defines a region like its food. Visitors coming to the Heartwood in Abingdon, will get a taste of everything the region has to offer.
Our famous music, the unbelievable arts and crafts created here and to get the full effect, a literal taste of the region. Most times you'll get the smell as well from the smoker out back.
"You walk in, you get to see the wonderful art and the music throughout the building and then you get that wonderful aroma of that applewood on the smoker out back. You can't go wrong with that," executive chef Barry Boothe says.
In the summer at the height of the growing season, locally-grown vegetables are always a part of the menu. "That's what kind of in a way kind of inspired me as a chef is that I go to the farmers market. Instead of shopping for food you start shopping for menu items that you can do. I can do this with that and you get creative trying to keep the southern type feel to everything," Boothe says.
Even a simple salad can use local chicken, local produce, and local blueberries. It's simple but all local. "That helps the taste a lot, having fresh local organic or non-organic. Just local produce or meats. It has a big difference in flavor versus something that's been processed or shipped from Florida or California," he said.
But there's one particular menu item that folks try and find out, its something they didn't think they liked at all. "Grits is a common thing that we've had for years and you can cook it many different ways. The way we do it is to lay a lot of love to it, cream and butter, salt and pepper and it comes out wonderful and we get that comment, 'we didn't eat grits until we came here,'" he said.
So when they say come get a taste of the Southwest Virginia region, they mean it literally.