Friday, December 30, 2011

Montana Plains Bakery: Black Forest Cookies to Die For!

Want a local bakery that uses only the finest ingredients and makes artisan crafted breads and pastries?  Look no further than Montana Plains Bakery found in two convenient family owned and operated locations in Lynchburg, VA. 

It is the type of place that is overwhelming at first.  The choices in loaves of bread, pies, cookies, rolls, brioche, quiche, salads, soups and coffees will leave you wondering what to start with first.  Never fear though because the bakers also take turns serving the customers so they are on hand to answer any questions. 

What have I found of particular interest during my excursions to Montana Plains Bakery?  I love the quiche!  In particular, the breakfast quiche and the  Southwestern quiche (which contains egg, cheese, chicken, onions, green and red peppers, and corn).  I also enjoy the spinach and cheese brioche.  For the brioche and the quiche, ask the staff to heat it for you to make it extra yummy!  Or you can choose a salad with almonds, raspberries, and goat cheese topped with strawberry ranch dressing if you like.   And don’t forget the chocolate cheesecake!
However, saving the best for last, I confess the pi√®ce de resistanc√© for me is the Black Forest Cookie!  After my first bite I knew I was in love.  Imagine, if you will, a chocolate cookie with chunks of chocolate, walnuts, dried cherries, raisins and cranberries combined into the most deliciously crunchy and chewy cookie and you will begin to understand the reason for my devotion.  But don’t take my word for it.  Stop by Montana Plains Bakery for a Black Forest Cookie and tell them Cindy at explorevirginia.blogspot.com sent you! 
Two locations:  4925 Boonsboro Rd., Lynchburg, VA 24503 and 102 Tradewynd Cir., Lynchburg, VA  24502.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Emerson Creek Pottery Outlet: Great Shopping in the Boondocks

In November, I was perusing the wares for sale at an art/craft festival in Myrtle Beach, SC.  One of the artisans was a potter who was selling, among other things, a small pottery colander meant for rinsing cherry tomatoes, berries, grapes, and the like.  It had a drain to catch the water and could be left on the counter for anyone to eat the freshly cleaned produce.  I thought it was adorable and practical but, being on a budget, I couldn’t bring myself to pay $38.00 for it. 

Over a month later I was thinking that I would still love to have a pottery colander and looked them up online.  I found a huge selection but also for higher than what I wanted to pay.  That’s when I remembered that Emerson Creek Pottery, a pottery in Bedford, VA, has an outlet store.  I had never been to it before but knew someone who had years ago and they spoke highly of it.  So, one day, while riding out in the boondocks, I decided to try to find it. 
NOTE:  For those of you unfamiliar with the expression “the boondocks”, it’s just a good old Southern term for in the boonies, sticks, or out in the country.  In other words, it’s a rural area usually far off from the nearest town, also called, “timbuktu” (not pertaining to the actual place, Timbuktu). 

Well, let me tell you, the outlet is definitely in the boondocks!  In fact, on the first attempt, I didn’t find it before their 4 pm closing so I gave up.  I tried again a few days later with the aid of Map Quest and, after still a few missed turns, I made it.  The outlet is back off a country road in an old farm house originating from the early 1800’s.  Each room is full of pottery in various shapes, sizes and patterns and all at much better than retail prices.  I was able to find the much desired colander ($16.99) and a shortbread pan ($6.99) for me, as well as, a few gifts for friends.  It was worth the effort to find the outlet store, plus I never mind a drive in the country.


The next time you’re in the mood for a drive in the country, check out the Emerson Creek Pottery Outlet Store and tell them Cindy at explorevirginia.blogspot.com sent you!  For those of you who can’t make it to Virginia, you can visit the Emerson Creek Pottery website for purchases, at regular retail prices, at www.emersoncreekpottery.com.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Catalano's: Not Your Average Delicatessen



Truth be told, I don’t normally eat at a lot of delicatessens, not even the chain sub shops.  Subs and sandwiches aren’t normally on the short list of foods that I want to eat.  But my friend, Jessie, knew that I had created this blog and said I must try Catalano’s Delicatessen in downtown Lynchburg since they have the best meatball sub she’s ever had.  She said that not only were the meatballs delicious but the bread was wonderful too.   So, off we went to try it last Wednesday.
My review?  Excellent!  The meatballs and bread were wonderful but the marinara sauce was too.  And that’s saying something because, being from the South, I’m not usually too big on just anybody’s marinara sauce.  I usually find most peoples’ marinara to be too acidic.  I’m used to my Mom putting a little sugar in everything, especially in tomato based sauces, to cut down on the acidity.  However, Catalano’s sauce was perfect! 
What about the prices?  An 8” meatball sub costs $7.95.  It may sound a little high to some but consider that you are getting two inches more than most places that only serve 6” subs.  And the ingredients don’t even begin to compare with some of the chain shops!  Catalano’s Delicatessen uses only quality ingredients, including Boar’s Head meats, and seeks to offer as many local, Virginia made, and organic products as possible. 
  • Bread is made by Carter’s Bread and Albemarle Baking Company in Charlottesville.
  • The coffee is roasted by Trager Brothers in Lovingston.
  • The meat is from Bedford Avenue Meat Shop in Lynchburg.
  • Additionally, Catalano’s carries many Virginia products including Route 11 chips, Blue Crab Bay Co. snacks, Edward’s hams and pork products, Caromont Farm cheeses, and Virginia Artesian bottled water.
The restaurant has a cozy, relaxed atmosphere and a loft for additional seating.  The design is clean and crisp but preserves the integrity of the buildings original appearance.  So, who is behind Catalano’s? 
Catalano’s was established in 2011 by the husband and wife team of Clinton Jones and Marisa Catalano.  Both have spent many years in the food and restaurant industry and bring a wealth of knowledge to their new venture.  Their full and impressive profiles, along with their menu, can be found on Catalano’s website at www.catalanosdelicatessen.com.   In addition to offering great food, Catalano’s offers catering services and hosts special events, like wine tastings and cooking classes. 

Catalano’s is located at 908 Main Street in downtown Lynchburg across from the Galleria and they are open Monday – Friday from 8:30 am – 3 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am – 6 pm.  Stop in for a bite and tell them Cindy at explorevirginia.blogspot.com sent you!