MIV: Food Winners

Our 2023 Made in Virginia Awards for Food.

Original Black Garlic Worcestershire Sauce

Black Garlic Shire Co.

In the food world, black garlic is culinary gold—sweet meets savory, with a molasses-like richness and tangy, mellow undertones. It’s like balsamic vinegar had a fling with soy sauce. Black garlic doesn’t grow in the ground, it’s made through a weeks-long fermentation process that tames the garlicky bite and produces inky black cloves with a soft, date-like texture. It’s been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries, and thankfully, for the rest of us, it’s finally catching on here. 

Based in Virginia Beach, Clint Barca tinkered with black garlic during his decades in the restaurant business, before he stumbled on a plan: “One of my buddies said, ‘You should bottle that, you don’t see it here that often,’” Barca says. So he did. His Black Garlic Worcestershire Sauce goes with just about everything: “I love to hear people tell me that they use it on burgers, steak, as a marinade, even in salad dressings or in Bloody Marys.” His two other saucy creations include a Worcestershire infused with smoked chipotle and a black garlic hot honey steak sauce. 

“This is the first year of getting it out there,” Barca notes. For the time being, he’s focused on getting the product in front of people—sampling and selling at farmers markets in the Norfolk and Virginia Beach areas. All in all, he says he’s “having a good time talking to customers,” and excited to see where his black garlic sauces will go from here. $8, BlackGarlicShire.com

Wiltshire Plaits

The Salt Pot Kitchen, Leesburg

Le Cordon Bleu trained Wendy Salt’s first catering gig was at a Scottish shooting lodge, making savory pies for lavish picnics to accompany guests on grouse-hunting trips. The British-born chef and her family now run The Salt Pot Kitchen, a mobile food trailer serving traditional British pastries, pies, sandwiches, and soups. Their signature Wiltshire Plait “is an elevation of the classic sausage roll,” says Salt. “We add finely chopped onions, garlic, grated apple, and cheddar to pork sausage, then wrap it in homemade rough puff pastry, before plaiting (braiding) the top of the pastry and sprinkling it with fresh thyme.” $5, TheSaltPot.com

Homemade Fudge

The Southern Churn Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe, Bristol

Step into Southern Churn for a trip back in time, where you’ll find vintage candies and bottled sodas, hand-dipped ice cream, and homemade gourmet fudge. Since 2014, the shop has produced over 170,000 pounds of fudge, offering a swath of mainstay and seasonal flavors, from classic chocolate to strawberry shortcake. The signature ingredients? “We make all of our fudge with real cream, butter, and lots of love,” says shop owner Karen Hester. Treat yourself to a half-dozen assortment, or to Southern Churn’s decadent new offering: milkshakes, made thick and creamy with fudge pieces mixed throughout and sprinkled on top. $15.99–$20.99/pound, TheSouthernChurn.com

Nut Butters

Davvero Gelato, Richmond

Layne Montgomery fell for gelato during a postgrad trip to Italy. In 2018, she left a teaching position in Turkey to attend a gelato-making course at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, Italy. Back stateside, she started churning out homemade, vegan gelato and delivering to customers around Richmond as Davvero Gelato. Now a popular mainstay of area farmers markets, Davvero also offers a trio of nut butters, refined for 10+ hours in a stone chocolate maker for optimal smoothness: Gianduia, a chocolate hazelnut spread; Lemon Almond Cookie Butter; and Sweet Pistachio Cream—all perfect with toast, fruit, or straight from the jar. $14, DavveroGelato.com

Classic Tomato Sauce

Nona’s Italian Cucina, Charlottesville

While living in Italy during her husband Jesse’s naval deployment in the 1990s, Yvonne Cunningham, then just 24, met Nona, her 78-year-old upstairs neighbor and landlord. They kindled a friendship, learned each other’s languages, shopped for fresh produce together, and did lots of cooking. Nona’s tomato sauce recipe inspired Nona’s Italian Cucina, the Cunninghams’ small business and tribute to their time abroad as a young family. “Our sauce is a timeless blend of imported San Marzano tomatoes, fresh herbs, and classic spices,” says Yvonne. “It’s influenced by Nona’s kitchen in Milan, and is the perfect addition to a family dinner.” $14/24 oz. jar, NonasCucina.com

BBQ Sauces

Bristol Gardens & Grill, Bristol

Just north of State Street is a working farm and deli, Bristol Gardens & Grill (BGG), where fresh meats are slow-smoked on-site, and visitors can chow down inside a converted greenhouse. Homegrown produce and herbs are key ingredients in BGG’s lineup of savory condiments. A quartet of barbecue sauces “reflect our favorite Southern flavors and are perfect complements to our smoked meats,” says BGG owner Matt Shy. Try all four varieties: the Signature, sweet and tangy with just a touch of spice; the Alabama White, creamy, sweet, and spicy; the Western Carolina, vinegar-based and ketchup-infused; and the mustard-based South Carolina. $9/jar, BristolGardensandGrill.com

Classic Crab Cakes

Graham & Rollins, Hampton

Four generations and 80 years strong, Graham & Rollins (G&R) seafood is the stuff of Virginia legend, known nationwide as one of the largest crab processors on the East Coast. Crispy and convenient, G&R’s classic crab cakes come frozen but cook to juicy, flavor-packed perfection. Lightly blended with special sauce (a mixture of salt, spices, and paprika) and dusted with cracker crumbs for just the right amount of crunch, the cakes are made with Old Point Comfort Brand crab, a combination of jumbo lump and lump blue crab meat developed by G&R and fresh from the Chesapeake Bay. $85–$270, GrahamandRollins.com

This article originally appeared in the December 2022 issue.

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