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The natural beauty of the Roanoke Valley

LYSA ALLMAN-BALDWIN | 11/29/2012, 4:53 p.m.
The natural beauty of the Roanoke Valley

The facility itself, which also encompasses a voluminous hospitality center, gift shop and tasting room, is an architectural marvel and attraction of its own. Spanning over 32,000 square feet with 135,000 board feet of Douglas fir recycled timbers, it is recognized as one of the largest salvaged timber frame buildings in North America. Despite its size, the ambiance here is definitively European, warm and inviting, and the staff treats each and every visitor--whether wine aficionados, those desiring to learn more about wine or others who just want to come and enjoy the natural surroundings--like family. Additionally, they offer a variety of themed music and other events throughout the year.

In addition to sampling and purchasing wines and shopping for wine accoutrements for home, the piece de resistance for me was dining at the Chateau's restaurant, an unbelievable experience in a relaxed old-world setting that is both low key yet elegant at the same time. The focus here is on combing the finest regional ingredients with organic and fresh produce, meats, fish and seafood and other products, including breads, artisan cheeses and so forth, to create aromatic and flavorful dishes inspired by the South.

Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, starters and sandwiches on the menu include duck egg rolls filled with chopped house collard greens, julienne carrots and duck confit and served with their homemade blackberry BBQ sauce (very unusual and tasty); roasted fennel and white bean gratin; crawfish beignets made with crawfish, Tasso ham, corn and scallions and served with chow-chow, Black Ridge tartar sauce and spicy mustard; and wild boar sausage made with cranberries and apples and served on a bed of collard greens tucked into a fresh Costanza roll with Hopping John rice. And that's just a smidgen of the mouth-watering menu!

The Chateau serves the most marvelous shrimp and grits entree I have ever had--huge black tiger shrimp sauteed with Tasso ham, Cajun sausage and tomatoes finished with a light shrimp broth and served over smoked Gouda grits. It is un-freakin'-believably good! Other choices include crab-stuffed salmon, cinnamon chili-rubbed pork tenderloin, seared beef tenderloin tip and ginger lime fried chicken, just to name a few. All of this is paired with award-winning wines from around the world and excellent service.

Gastronomic Adventure in Roanoke

If culinary diversions are right up your alley, then the Roanoke Valley is sure to satisfy, as it possesses the highest number of restaurants per capita than any other area in the state. As such, there are more places and varieties of food to explore than there is space to write in this feature series. Nevertheless, there are several I want to mention that are worth your time and attention.

Among them is Carlos Brazilian International Cuisine, featuring Brazilian, French, Italian and Spanish dishes; Norah's Cafe, a quaint, Black family-owned cafe located inside of the Taubman Museum of Art; Macado's (three locations in the Roanoke area), known for their extraordinary overstuffed sandwiches and unique pop culture memorabilia and local artifact decor; Rockfish Food & Wine, serving upscale Southern fare; Martin's Downtown Bar & Grill, which has also been voted Roanoke's Best Live Music Venue; and Local Roots, a farm-to-table restaurant whose passion is serving food fueled by a philosophy they call "S.O.L.E." (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical), just to name a few.

From historic attractions to excellent culinary fare, jaw-dropping natural beauty, a rich history, warm and welcoming people and a great deal more, the Roanoke Valley is a wonderful travel destination.

Resource List

  • Blue Ridge Parkway 828-298-0398, www.blueridgeparkway.org
  • Chateau Morrisette 540-593-2865, www.chateaumorrisette.com
  • Mabry Mill 276-952-2947, www.virginia.org/Listings/HistoricSites/MabryMill
  • Norah's Cafe 540-204-4154, www.taubmanmuseum.org/main/dineshop/norahs-cafe
  • Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau 800-635-5535, 540-342-6025, www.visitvablueridge.com