Sperryville column for Jan. 31

Local Valentine’s offerings

We can take what has become a commercial holiday and transform it into a meaningful time of expression of affection for our loved ones. The opportunity for special Valentine treats exist not only on Feb. 14, but throughout the week. Here is a quick roundup of what some of your options include. Make your reservations early!

Lee Anna Wharton, right, visits former Sperryville resident and lifelong friend Bea Shephard in Aroda, Va. Photo by Lisa Dodson.
Lee Anna Wharton, right, visits former Sperryville resident and lifelong friend Bea Shephard in Aroda, Va. Photo by Lisa Dodson.

Here are a few restaurant and winery highlights, but please know that each menu is so delectable this list does not do them justice. Do check their websites for mouthwatering information and the full menu.

Griffin Tavern: Chef Rachel is preparing a special menu for Feb. 14. It will be hard to choose between her warm lobster salad over shredded potato cake with Nueske’s bacon and chives, duck cassoulet, rack of lamb with mashed sweet potato and mint chimichurri and her filet mignon “Oscar” over colcannon.

Thornton River Grille: The always good and unfailingly reliable Chef Tom is offering a four-course menu for $75 with an optional four-flight wine pairing for another $25. He’s still developing the menu; a final version will be available online. The regular menu will also be available.

Blue Rock Inn: This gracious dining room will offer butter-poached lobster and petit filet of beef, pistachio-crusted halibut with blood orange raita and braised herb-brined quail over cornbread stuffing.

The Inn at Little Washington: We all know that there is nothing more that needs be said!

Tula’s Off Main is still developing their menu and will post it shortly.

Flint Hill Public House: Come for a dinner of two lobster tails, beef bourguignon, prime rib, rainbow trout with bacon and mushrooms, blackened duck breast or vegetable lasagna.

Narmada Winery features “Les Fromages et Les Vins D’Amour: The Language of Love” with speaker Don Kinnan on Feb. 9. Kinnan will take couples on a romantic journey with a selection of imported French cheeses that will marry with some of Narmada’s secret cellar wines. Don will take you through “love at first sight,” “first kiss,” and other stages of lives and love, interspersed with poetry and roses. Limited to 15 couples, seatings at 1 and 5 p.m. Advanced reservation and deposit at narmadawinery.com

Gadino Cellars: Say “amore” Feb. 16 with a glass of wine and a dish of pasta. DiGiovanna’s 2012 Organic Olive Oil (from Sicilia) complimentary tastings from 2 to 5 p.m. Complimentary dark chocolate kisses when you purchase a glass of Imagine, Gadino’s full-bodied red with a touch of sweetness. Don’t forget that there is a different pasta dish every Saturday through February for just $6. Wine and pasta by the fireplace sounds wonderful.

Little Washington Winery: Choose from a trio of offerings here. Wine Immersion Boot Camp (11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 9-10) lets you learn all about wine – in plain English! On Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. come to the endorphin-spiking chocolate and wine pairing, and from Feb. 16-17, taste a creative luncheon that demonstrates the delectable attraction of mint, anise and sauvignon blanc. Includes sandwich, salad and wine.

Gray Ghost Vineyard hosts “Irresistible Chocolates and Cabernet”  Feb. 16-17 from 11 to 4 p.m.  Bring your friends or Valentine to enjoy unlimited chocolate desserts and gold medal winning red wine tastings. The $20 admission ($10 for ages 21 and younger) includes desserts, red wine tastings and a collectible Valentine glass. No reservations necessary.

And, of course, Shop Sperryville to make up gift baskets for your loved ones!

Birthday wishes

Dr. Harold Berman celebrates his 85th birthday in London. Photo by Barbara Berman.
Dr. Harold Berman celebrates his 85th birthday in London. Photo by Barbara Berman.

Dr. Harold Berman, our favorite dermatologist, was taken to London by his wife, Barbara, for his 85th birthday celebration. This was a theatre tour that included seeing 15 plays, a concert, the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” and four museums, all in 14 days!

They enjoyed the daily educational lectures and their fellow travelers, many of whom were connected to drama in some way. Happy birthday, Dr. Berman!

Time for a change

It is not easy to let go of writing the Sperryville column. It has been my pleasure to write about Sperryville’s quiet heroes like Lee Anna Wharton, who moved out of the mountains into Sperryville when the park was created, drove over them to work for more than 30 years and, since her retirement, has devoted herself to her children and helping with her grandchildren.

In this column we have looked at the businesses that have grown and flourished and some that went away. We have tried to support our community by letting you know where to “buy local” – farm products, furniture and gifts, grocery options in our unique markets, antiques, art, wine and whiskey. In the process we learned so much about the families Swindler, Gore, Miller, Parkhurst, Thompson, Dodson and so many more that I can’t even begin to name them here.

It was great fun to discover and tell you about the non-storefront businesses that support our community – carpenters, plumbers, web designers, computer repair and gardeners. Where else but in Sperryville can you find a custom-made frog habitat for your pond?

We have witnessed the increase in vacation home rentals and B&Bs in Sperryville as the tourism industry has grown to increase our county tax base. We have tried to recognize the diverse spiritual traditions of the holidays and you have generously listened to my thoughts on holiday celebrations and long distance grandparenting.

The beauty of this county is what brought me here when I started taking my children camping in Shenandoah National Park in the early 1970s. Now, I want to have more time to take my grandchildren hiking on weekends and to resume the walking and hiking that I love to do.

My sister and I hope to put together a family cookbook and I have boxes of old photos to organize for our Voci-Procopio-Ceravolo and Adolfi-Lamandia family history. My husband, Ray Boc, and I plan to do more traveling and take more playtime, in general. It has really been delightful to share this column with Ray, my favorite photographer, as we collaborated each week discovering the treasures of Sperryville.

I hope someone will come forward to take over this column and bring a fresh perspective and new eyes to our vital village and community. Thanks to all of you who called me with information and stories. It is really your column and would not exist without you. The column has been a mirror of the richness of your lives – the real treasures of Sperryville. Thank you.