Summer’s heat might have stunted your appetite, but now that temperatures have dropped, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to eat for the season. From delicious seasonal dishes and recipes, to classes and other fun foodie adventures, Staunton is a cornucopia of fall culinary experiences!
Staunton Farmers’ Market
The Staunton Farmers’ Market is always a gustatory treat, but nothing beats fall for agricultural abundance. Shop for in-season fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, squash, and pumpkins, of course! Talk to the farmers about how to prepare your bounty or check out a website like Today.com’s Fall Produce Guide for recipe inspiration. If you can’t wait to get home and make your own parsnip cupcakes, just stay at the market and dig deep into a cone of apple cider donuts and a cup of local cider from Blue Ridge Cider Doughnuts. Or indulge yourself with an apple spice, cocoa heaven, guten tag, or 24-carrot-flavored cupcake from Lydia’s Cupcakes.
Let the Kids Pick
Nothing says wholesome like gathering the family and picking baskets of fruit. Enjoy sunshine, crisp weather, sweet and tart fruit, and bountiful photo opportunities at local pick-your-own farms. Check out Wenger Grape Farms for grapes and information about how grapes are grown. Local apple favorite, Sunrise Orchards, is already out of fruit this year, so if you’re looking for apples, take a scenic drive over Afton Mountain to Chiles Peach Orchard, Carter Mountain Orchard, or Henley’s Orchard.
Fall Treats from Downtown Shops
Check out some rich fall flavors from the Cocoa Mill, which has been using fair-trade chocolate to make gourmet treats since 1993. You won’t want to miss their Rockbridge Vineyard wine truffles or Hub peanut clusters. Another downtown favorite is Staunton Olive Oil, which provides ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils, infused and fused olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Visit the tasting room and try the Neopolitan Herb Dark Balsamic and the Smoked Olive Wood Oil. Wondering what to do with your goodies once you get home? Try an autumnal recipe like butternut squash and red apple pork loin served with cinnamon pear roasted sweet potatoes.
Local Recipe Gold
Have you ever tried a cinnamon pickle? Take a drive to Meadowcroft Farm to gorge yourself on the view and tickle your palate with their many varieties of jams, pickles and relishes. All products are handcrafted without artificial preservatives from fruits and vegetables grown on the farm. Check out their recipe page for ideas on how to eat their products (besides out of the jar with a spoon). And if you want to make apple or pumpkin pies this fall, The Cheese Shop in Stuarts Draft should be a no-brainer. It specializes in bulk items like flours, spices, nuts, snacks, and cheese, all at very reasonable prices. We won’t judge you for the sacks of snacks you buy. Check out their recipe page for ideas using their local cheese.
Dine on the Season
Staunton has so many fine eateries specializing in creative and seasonal farm-to-table fare, it’s difficult to walk downtown without salivating. Feeling like pie? Check out something delicious and unusual, like Concord grape, from Firkin Pie Company, known for both savory and sweet crusted masterpieces. If you’re strolling west along Beverley Street or exploring historic Thornrose Cemetery, visit the Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room for tea and a selection of light meals, including a Victorian high tea. After a morning at the park, try Mike Lund Food & LUNdCH’s stover salad. It includes roast beets, spiced pecans, and shaved fennel and apple, with bleu cheese and an herb vinaigrette. A good bet for dinner is Zynodoa’s local and seasonal Autumn Olive Farm slow-roasted pork. This comfort food feast is served with southern-style cabbage slaw, baked beans, and Highland County maple barbeque. If you’re dining at The Shack, plan to bookend your main course with seasonal treats. Warm up your palate with butternut squash pierogi topped with with soubise, chili, and pecans. Finish with the chocolate cremeux, which includes smoked apple butter, and a peanut & oat streusel.
Homemade Brie at Creambrook Farm: October 13
Want to spend a cheesy afternoon learning about curds and whey? Sign up for a cheese making class at Creambrook Farm and learn how to make the best, butteriest brie… at home. Sample brie-like cheeses, then learn the chemistry of milk, cream, and the special mold spores that make the magic happen. Veteran cheese maker, Louella Hill, will teach you to ripen, churn, and drain the curds. You’ll take home your cheese and a reusable cheese form so you can create brie any time you want.
Group Cooking Classes at Blue Oregano
Gather your besties, put down your phones, and take a customized cooking class with Blue Oregano Culinary Services in Waynesboro. Enjoy wine and a gourmet dinner that you and your friends prepare under the guidance of an experienced chef. Blue Oregano also offers cooking classes for children ages 10-17.
Octoberfest: October 6
Don’t miss Oktoberfest at the Frontier Culture Museum. Kick up your heels to live music, eat traditional food, and drink good beer. Tour the museum to see how past residents of the Valley celebrated their harvests. Interpreters will show you how people prepared food and entertained themselves before Netflix. Make sure to stop at the German farm, relocated from Hordt, Germany, for demonstrations on how they brewed beer in the old days. $12 Admission fee for adult, $7 kids 6+, kids 5 and under and museum pass holders are free.
Moriarty Release: October 8
If you’re looking for another beer-centric celebration check out Moriarty Day at Redbeard Brewing Company. It’s the day they release their latest edition of Moriarty, a barrel-aged Imperial Stout. This year’s pour has been settling in Bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace.
Farm Day at Creambrook Farm: October 20
Just a short drive south of Staunton, Creambrook Farm is home to 100% grass-fed Jersey dairy cows, and you can meet them at Farm Day and learn about the production of milk and other dairy products. Enjoy other family activities like petting calves, touring the farm on a hayride, tasting fresh milk, or eating a picnic. Food will be available for purchase. $10 Admission fee for persons over 5.