Recent releases celebrate the people, places and flavors behind the state’s best food.
The Virginia Table
Released last fall, The Virginia Table is a beautifully illustrated homage to six of the Commonwealth’s rising food industries: wine, cheese, beer, grains, meat and cider. It is the collaborative work of Early Mountain Vineyards, owned by McLean residents Steve and Jean Case of AOL-founding fame, and the team behind Our Local Commons, a book and website launched in 2012 focused on Charlottesville’s local food community.
The Virginia Table is a window into these industries’ past and present and the players who are introducing their products into the national consciousness. Recipes for dishes such as baked oysters with “Surryano” ham are appetizers to longer features about tastemakers like Mary Morgan, head brewer at Three Notch’d Brewing Company, and chef Tarver King of The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm.
“The Virginia Table is a natural extension of our mission to highlight the very best that Virginia has to offer,” says Jean Case, whose winery has funded other efforts to promote the state’s artisanal industries. $22. VirginiaTable.com
804ork Vol. 2: Back for Seconds
What has been described by its publisher as “the original Richmond restaurant cookbook,” 804ork Vol. 2: Back for Seconds, is a 56-recipe ode to the capital city’s most current cuisine (its name is a reference to Richmond’s area code). Both coffee-table eye candy and kitchen workhorse, it contains recipes from 21 of the city’s best eateries, including dishes like Shoryuken ramen and fig-and-pig pizza. The hardcover also features directions for recreating faves from Early Bird Biscuit Co. & Bakery and the Latin American-infused Southern cooking of Saison.
“Vol. 1 was all about the pimiento cheese, and this one is all about the biscuit,” says publisher Carrie Walters. Future volumes, says Walters, could focus on the city’s cocktail culture or desserts. But for now, the latest release ensures that the first volume, released in 2014 and nearly sold out, will live on. $40. 804ork.com
Olive Oil, Sea Salt & Pepper
Jenn Crovato’s Olive Oil, Sea Salt & Pepper pays tribute to the Commonwealth’s leading culinarians, and provides a timeless roadmap to cooking simply and healthfully from Virginia’s backyard.
Recipes range from ratatouille to sautéed collard greens with turnips and bacon to grilled squid with lemon and olives. Crovato also gives readers a tutorial in basic cooking methods like sautéeing, blanching and roasting, with the idea that the simplest techniques bring out the best in food.
After working as a personal chef to Northern Virginia’s elite, Crovato segued into a consulting position focused more on health when her business, Healing With Fresh Foods, released the book in 2013. Its hyper-local ingredient list pays tribute to Virginia’s bounty while its picturesque pages convincingly make the case that what grows here is so good, it needs little more than S&P. $40 paperback; $50 hardcover. HealingWithFreshFoods.com