I usually like to have a guest writer do the first blog post of the month either on an area of their specialty or local food options in their hometown. This month, however, you all get to listen to (read?) me again. I recently made a trip back to Roanoke, VA, where I attended college and was lucky enough to eat at an excellent local restaurant.
I admit that while I was in college, I did not take advantage of the copious local food options in Roanoke. When all your meals are paid for, you tend to not venture out to find other food. On trips back to Roanoke, I have been introduced to not only some great farmers markets (one of which is downtown every Saturday all year round) but also a phenomenal locally-sourced restaurant, Local Roots.
The downtown market runs every Saturday until about 2pm and features local produce and meat products as well as crafts. There are several soap makers and potters among the plethora of produce vendors. The market is a permanent fixture in the center of downtown called Center in the Square which is also home to restaurants and art galleries. Altogether, the market is an integral part of the downtown area.
The real gem of Roanoke local food though is Local Roots. Though not 100% locally sourced, they use as many ingredients as possible from local farms to create a true farm-to-table experience for diners. I went there for brunch and the highlights of their menu included the largest order of French toast imaginable served with sautéed local potatoes and spinach frittatas. I visited in mid-Fall and the restaurant made excellent use of the produce available this time of year.
This just goes to show that in a medium sized metropolitan area, locally-sourced restaurants can not only exist but flourish using little more than what can be found in their area.