A Taste of Timeless Virginia

Culinary Delights

Many consider Virginia to be the birthplace of American cuisine, with Thomas Jefferson regarded as “America’s First Foodie”… The state’s signature cuisine is a reflection of its abundant agriculture. All across Virginia, talented chefs have access to fresh ingredients and artisan products year round, to design menus that are as creative as they are comforting.

While stuck at home, why not recreate some of Virginia’s signature dishes for yourself? Below, are the traditional recipes for three of those famous dishes, along with some of  top chefs’ interpretation of those same plates. Bring a little Virginia to your kitchen and travel virtually by enjoying the local flavors.

Virginia Peanut Soup

If Virginia had a state soup, it would have to be this one. With peanuts growing abundantly in the state, this dish proposes a unique way to savor these tasty legumes. The traditional recipe is offered by the Food Network, while the Hotel Roanoke serves one of the best versions of this dish, along with their famous spoonbread. This Tudor-style hotel built in 1882 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it features many preserved elements from the past, such as its Palm Court, the original ceiling of which was painted to show the constellations as they appeared in the skies the day the first train came to Roanoke in 1852.

Recipe by Executive Chef Stephen Demarco:

Ingredients –

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups natural peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
  • 2 scallions, chopped

Directions –

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour all at once and cook until the mixture has a toasty aroma. Whisk the stock into the flour mixture in a slow, steady stream until smooth. Add the heavy cream and peanut butter to the soup and stir to combine. Stir in the hot sauce and lime juice and season, to taste. Garnish with the chopped peanuts and scallions.

Shrimp & Grits

Talk about a classic southern dish! You can typically find Shrimp & Grits on menus of restaurants across Virginia. Taste of Home suggests a traditional recipe; however, the interpretation of The Red Fox Inn & Tavern can’t be beat. A pillar of the beloved Middleburg village, The Red Fox Inn has been Virginia’s Hunt Country jewel since 1728. Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Inn has welcomed many notable guests over the years; among others, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and more recently, Tom Cruise.

Recipe by Executive Chef Arnold Martinez:

Ingredients –

  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned grits
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  • 8 thick-sliced bacon strips, chopped
  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun or blackened seasoning
  • 4 green onions, chopped

Directions –

  1. In a large saucepan, bring the broth, milk, butter, salt and pepper to a boil. Slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat. Cover and cook for 12-14 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheese until melted. Set aside and keep warm.
  2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; drain, reserving 4 teaspoons drippings. Saute the shrimp, garlic and seasoning in drippings until shrimp turn pink. Serve with grits and sprinkle with onions.

Apple Tart

This luscious fruit is abundant in Virginia, and it yields itself to a plethora of savory and sweet dishes. You can make a traditional apple tart, or kick it up a notch by recreating The Inn at Little Washington version by world-renowned Chef Patrick O’Connell: the Warm Granny Smith Apple Tart with Buttermilk Ice Cream (rest assured, the ice cream recipe is also available!). The Inn opened in a converted garage in 1978 and over the last quarter century has evolved from a simple country inn to an international culinary shrine with a Michelin Three-Star ranking.


  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 medium tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Pastry for a single-crust pie

Directions –

  1. In a 10-in. cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet, heat 3/4 cup sugar, stirring constantly until it is liquefied and golden brown. Remove from the heat.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon and remaining sugar. Arrange half the apples in a single layer in skillet. Sprinkle with half the sugar mixture. Arrange half the remaining apples in circular pattern over sugar; sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. Place remaining apples over all, keeping the top as level as possible. Dot with butter.
  3. Roll out pastry to 11-in. circle; place over apples, pressing gently to completely cover. Do not flute. Bake at 400° until apples are tender and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.

Why stop there?  More delicious recipes for Very Virginia meals can be found here. –

Link to the high-resolution images –

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