West by God Virginia is full of all sorts of interesting delights that often go overlooked. While we are not technically a “fly-over” state as they are traditionally defined, we really are pretty much overlooked for everything except as the butt of jokes.
There are so many things in WV that I would consider gems that most people passing by just miss. A few weeks ago, we discovered one – Fish Hawk Acres. Fish Hawk Acres is a combination catering service, organic farm and outdoor restaurant…at least 4 days a year. We had the pleasure of driving to Rock Cave, WV a small town near Buckhannon…another small town in central WV. Emily and I met in Buckhannon 25 years ago so I reference Buckhannon whenever I can. Anyhow, we drove into Rock Cave and through a few fields to an un-assuming pavilion where Dale Hawkins, the chef and owner of FHA was preparing a gourmet meal with items that were all grown in one of 14 farms nearby.
Dale talked some about his theory on sustainability and farming, food and cooking, and his pleasure in returning to the family farm in WV to do what he loves. He found that he was more a chef than a farmer so he partnered with Patti and Lupe Espinosa who took the endeavor from a 3 acre row-crop farm to a 30 acre farm to supply his cooking. Before we ate, Dale and Pati took us on a walking farm through a few fields to describe how they manage and conserve water and soil as well as how they plant vegetables and manage weeds. It was an incredible operation and one that made me wish I could undertake such an adventure.
We returned from the field, ready to eat. I guess there were 100 or so people that dined on beef tips and pork loin, asparagus and fresh roasted potatoes. We had cucumber-basil mojitos (not bad) and salad made from fresh greens.
After dinner, Sarah Loudin Thomas, a WV-native who has authored two books read a few segments from each novel for us. In her blend of WV and now-NC accents, she told us a story of life in WV in the early 1900s. After she read, a number of people asked for her to sign their books including her 5th grade teacher who was in the audience! It was one of the coolest things of the night!
On our way back, we had to stop for gas. For some reason, I felt the need to pollute my palette with ultra-processed ice cream. Still, we had a wonderful time as a family, enjoying one of the many gems that WV has to offer!