First Anniversary Trip - the Shenandoahs and the Joshua Wilton House

The Joshua Wilton House - Fantastic Restaurant in Harrisonburg, VA

That's right . . . Kitchen Monkey and the Missus have been married a year now, and I'm happy to say it has been a wonderful year, and I look forward to many more. I've been wanting to let her do a guest post or two for a while now, and this seems as good an occasion as any, so without further ado . . . to tell you about the amazing food ate this past weekend, I now present Ms. Monkey. . .

I've officially been "The Missus" for a year. To celebrate our wedding anniversary, KM and I spent a weekend at a B&B in Harrisonburg, Virginia, nestled in the Shenandoahs. The B&B was fine, but as KM and I have come to say of pretty much any place we've stayed since our wedding night - this was no Hay Adams.

It was a beautiful weekend, with a hike in the Shenandoah Mountains past several waterfalls, and a morning stroll through the local farmer's market (complete with Civil War reenactors and old fashioned blacksmiths). There was morning coffee on the porch swing and - of course - there was food. So I'll spare you the mushy stuff that no one cares about but me and KM and skip straight to the cuisine.

You might not think there'd be much to hope for in the way of a memorable meal in a town of 45,000, where 40% of the population is comprised of university students. But Harrisonburg's restaurants get it right by sourcing their meats and produce locally, emphasizing freshness and simplicity. The first dinner of the weekend took place at the Local Chop House & Grille. One thing to know about me is that I was a vegetarian for 8 years - until I met KM. I'm still picky about my meat - I do my best to eat only local and organic and the appeal of cutting into a big juicy steak is still lost on me. When I ordered the chicken though I knew this was going to be a very special chicken. My dinner was raised at Polyface Farms - made famous by Michael Pollan in his renowned Omnivore's Dilemma and hailed as a model of agricultural sustainability. A happy chicken it was, lightly salted with crispy skin and a creamy tomato dipping sauce. A small pool of cheesy grits complimented the tang of local mushrooms in a thick balsamic.

The Chop House was overshadowed by Saturday night's dinner at The Joshua Wilton House which was built not long after the Civil War. We were surprised when we arrived to be shown to a table set in a gazebo on a charming patio behind the house - special treatment for our anniversary. We began with the appetizer special - calamari stuffed with risotto and Spanish chorizo and topped with a squid ink sauce. The owners recently took a trip to Spain where they were inspired to create this dish - and inspired it was. After we had finished cleaning the plate with a half dozen freshly baked rolls, there was a salad of delicate watercress with fresh, crispy asparagus and buttermilk dressing. KM says that the Polyface Farm hard boiled egg on this salad was the best egg he's ever eaten.* For the main course, KM had the grilled duck with sweet potato puree, sweet chili glazed beans and finished with a maple balsamic sauce. I had plump scallops nestled in a buttery cream sauce, risotto and maple glazed carrots. Both dishes paired well with a light Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley, from a winery called "Alphabets." And because we can't help ourselves, we finished it off with an apple gallette complimented by a piece of salty peanut brittle.

It was a weekend filled with the flavors of delicious food, adventure and warmth - all things I talked about in my wedding vows as things that KM brings to our partnership and which I appreciate very deeply. So here's to the next year and many more as The Missus!

*KM's note: I say this about a lot of foods while I'm eating them, but this really was the best egg I've ever eaten. And thanks to the Missus for the post. A very memorable weekend.