Hi everyone! Though I promised more summer dinners, I had to share a bit about this experience with you. This summer, I went with my family, grandparents, aunt, uncle and two little cousins to Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, Virginia. My dad went here as a baby with his family, and now we came back!
Located in the tiny town of Syria, VA, Graves Mountain Lodge is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’ve been in 3 mountain ranges this summer that all have names with colors: the White Mountains (NH), the Green Mountains (VT) and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Syria mainly consists of a tiny convenience general store called Syria Mercantile, the Apple/Corn Stand that has no name besides the wooden sign out front reading “FRESH Apples and Corn”, a plant nursery, and some houses. And Graves Lodge.
As much as Syria is a dot-on-the-map town, it IS cute, the mountains are gorgeous and there is plenty to do around here. Shenandoah National Park is right nearby, and the trailhead for the White Oak Canyon trail is a 5 minute drive from Graves. Yay, waterfalls!
We also stopped by Montpelier, James Madison’s house, where I begged for this book (all in vain), checked out the classic “Virginia Housewife Cookbook” (circa 1800), bricks of tea, and some pretty great gourmet sandwiches. Hickory Smoked Chicken Salad, anyone? Or perhaps some turkey and gouda on a demi-baguette with herb mayo? Sure? I thought so. All I have to say is: Dolley Madison was one fabulous lady.
Graves Mountain Lodge is also a farm that grows their own apples and peaches, and the apple butter served with every meal (along with homemade rolls and golden topped biscuits.)
Graves Lodge is also a beautiful place to be, from the pool with its turquoise waters, to the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the old farmhouses that you stay in.
It was also fitting for me to be frolicking around the South, looking at giant plantations and eating down-home food because at the moment I am reading “The Great American Novel.”
Yup, none other than Gone With the Wind, taking place in Georgia. How lovely.
Of all the lovely things about Graves, a top contender was the food.
Coming from a city filled with gourmet fancy pastries and ethnic foods and fancy fish and sauces, it was a bit of a happy relief to enjoy some carb/sugar/fried-food soaked classic Southern fare.
Among the delicious options, there was the steak buffet, laden with pasta salad, coleslaw, baked potatoes, beets, string beans, biscuits, apples (oh, my!). The rainbow fried trout was a favorite, but I coughed up some little bones from the breading, which made it not possible to eat the breading around the flesh.
Though the rolls were crusty, the chicken tender, the apple butter spiced and creamy, I felt at times the food was TOO heavy. You ate a lot and felt it and the fried food and the sugar and the carbs began to overload. I think I’ll stick to healthier most of the time.
But despite the fact that this is true, the food was superb. Fresh peaches from the farm in their own juices, or baked apples from the farm served at every meal were superb. Delicious biscuits, toast, rolls and more, smeared with apple butter are amazing (we took some of the condiment home and it was delightful on my toast), and the food was so delicious and filling.
I’ll have some, please.
Getting hungry from the apple butter? Here are some recipes to try:
Food Network’s Apple Butter (PS: Is anybody else excited about the Camp Cutthroat premiere tomorrow night on Food Network?)
Simply Recipes’ Apple Butter (their PB Cookie recipe is scrumptious, as well)
I’ve outgrown ChopChop (3rd post ever, guys!) and am now loving Cook’s Illustrated in addition to the Food Network Magazine and Bon Appetit and they have an apple butter recipe as well…
More on all of this later, so I am signing off.
Keep cooking 😉