Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A little change and a lot of food

It is said that a little change in scenery can go a long way. For poor working Joes (and Joanne’s?) such as myself, a change in atmosphere is necessary to prevent one from drowning in sea of political high-mindedness and twelve hour work days. Luckily, there are roads – roads that not only suck people into the beltway, but expel them out, out into the real world.

It is out in the real world that that I’ve had some of the best food I’ve eaten since I’ve moved from south Florida back in the summer of 2002. Here is a short list of places that I’ve visited that lie outside the beltway, and whose food will help you forget the drudgery of metro delays and congressional filibusters.

- Culpeper, Virginia: Located seventy miles southwest of the heart of DC, Culpeper was one of our first finds. A small town slightly off the beaten path, Culpeper has incredible charm, and some incredible restaurants. Our favorite restaurant in Culpeper is, It’s About Thyme, which serves American and European style cuisine. Their portions are plentiful and their bread is the best we’ve ever had. Their only downside is that they have strange operating hours, so be sure to call ahead before you trek out there.

For dessert, check out Frost Café, a small dinner that somehow belongs in a place like Culpeper. Quite possibly one of the best and worst dining experiences we’ve ever had, Frost is a café like a café should be: crazy waitresses serving you cheap food that’s no good for you.

- Ellicott City, Maryland: Located almost directly between Baltimore and Washington DC, Ellicott City doesn’t look like the kind of place that’s sandwiched between two large cities. The old town portion basically stretches down one main street (conveniently called Main Street) and is loaded with restaurants and antique shops.

Stop off at Sweet Cascades, a local candy shop that makes their own chocolates and try a large quarter of a granny smith apple, covered in white chocolate, caramel, streusel and a simple sugar frosting; it’s like eating an apple pie covered in chocolate. Johnny’s Bistro on Main is another great find. I was able to get a great bowl of chili with a sizable chunk of cornbread for a more than reasonable price. Finally, polish it all off at Bean Hollow Café with a white chocolate hot chocolate, quite possibly the most delicious warm drink I’ve ever had.

- Occoquan, VA: Only twenty miles from Washington, old town Occoquan has a great array of shops and restaurants, and a wonderful atmosphere. A great place to take a quick walk through, be sure to visit Mom’s Apple Pie. At Mom’s, you’ll find a great selection of homemade, all-natural pies and pastries at very reasonable prices. Our favorite selection was a bag full of cinnamon-sugar coated pie crust, broken up into manageable pieces. Wonderfully light and buttery, they provided a great snack for the drive home.

There are plenty of other places just outside the beltway that are worth visiting. So the next time you have a couple of hours, a couple of spare gallons of gas, and an empty stomach, venture forth out into the real world, you’ll be glad you did.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I love your assumption that I'll have a couple of hours to spare...