Armed with a very handy Washington Post guide to the Shenandoah Valley ("7 on 11," published last year), I took a nice ride out to the Valley.
I encourage everyone to do the same. This place is a national treasure, full of Civil War sites, antique emporiums, etc -- and I-66 takes you right there, if you can resist the exits along the way, many of which will take you to orchards, vineyards, restaurants, etc. But I digress.
I started off at the northern end of the Valley in the nice town of Middletown (nice is redundant; every town in the Valley is nice), where I stopped in at Virginia's favorite chippery, Route 11. The samples were garlic-herb potato chips and sweet potato chips. I ate all the samples.
The chips are perfect, but some of the toppings -- the Chesapeake Crab in particular -- might be too salty for some folks. I picked up a small bag of Mama Zuma's Revenge chips to eat in the car, and it was a good thing I had a cup full of ice handy. These chips are HOT.
I would definitely recommend the basic Lightly Salted chips and those sweet potato chips, but try the flavored chips too.
Next stop, after a great drive down the middle of the Valley on US Route 11 (Old Valley Pike) -- unless you're in a big hurry, DO NOT use the awful I-81; Rte. 11 goes right down the heart of the Valley, and the views on either side are spectacular -- was The Southern Kitchen in New Market. It's been in the same family since it opened in 1955, and probably looks like it did in '55. The peanut soup and fried chicken were great. The mashed potatoes w/gravy were pretty tasteless. Bypass those for a lighter side dish and save room for pie.
Next stop, Shenville Farms, just east of New Market. I'm pleased to report that Shenville is alive and well. Like Mom's, they lower the price of pies as they approach the expiration date. And they have a very good selection of pies and other baked goods. The dairy products are in another building. Bring a cooler and load up!
As for Shenville and farmers markets, they told me they go to Manassas, Warrenton, and Leesburg. Yesterday we went up to the Leesburg market and Shenville was there -- but won't be any more (just too much hassle for them, truck troubles etc). However, their products are always available at Natures Market on Edwards Ferry Rd. in Leesburg (just off the Route 15 bypass) so that is good news.
Last stop, Daily Grind in Strasburg. I spotted this place on my drive down the Valley and hit it on the way back. They produce a very commendable iced coffee, which is no sure thing in these parts. Also, Strasburg is a great little town -- it's not often you find head-in parking spots on a town's main drag any more.
That still leaves the whole southern half of the Valley to explore -- New Market down to Staunton. Definitely something to look forward to!