Cake, Whiskey, and Food, Oh My!

Treats in Hunt Country, VA

We worked up an appetite exploring Loudoun County, Virginia, and headed over to the much-acclaimed Red Truck Rural Bakery to remedy the situation. I coveted a slice of their Applejack Butter Pecan Bundt Cake. They have gotten a lot of national attention for their Applejack cake, and a key ingredient happens to be aged apple brandy from the local Catoctin Creek Distillery (so we knew we’d have to check that out as well). Brick and Mortar locations are in nearby Warrenton or Marshall, and you can also order online for pick-up or shipping.  Sadly, the Applejack Cake was not quite in season yet, so I settled for more-than-ample servings of their deliciously moist Meyer Lemon and Moonshine cakes, as well as few treats to share with family. These are Southern cakes at their best, y’all. Sandwiches are also available, but who needs protein when you can eat cake.

Note: When we visited the retail store, indoor dining was closed due to the pandemic, but as of this writing, the retail area is open and there is limited seating inside, as well as outdoor.  Apparently, there is no need for the walk-up window we visited to be open at this moment. Credit/debit cards only, no cash.

The Red Truck name is a tip-of-the-hat to the vintage pick-up truck the owners bought from fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger.  A big shout out to my friend Nancy for turning me on to the New York Times article that led us to the bakery; my tastebuds thank you!

Forgot to take a good picture before I started gobbling up the goodies.

Pick Your Poison in Northern Virginia: Beer, Wine or Whiskey

Pick Your Poison in Northern Virginia: Beer, Wine or Whiskey

Northern Virginia is dotted with wineries and craft breweries, but lesser-known are the distilleries in the area. Virginia has quite a robust distillery trail, and we chose the home of the state’s most awarded whiskey (Roundstone Rye) for our introductory visit. Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, located in Purcellville is open every day but Monday, featuring tastings of their single barrel and small-batch offerings. This is the first local family-owned distillery since before Prohibition and offers flights of whiskey, brandy, or seasonal cocktails.  We had the pleasant-tasting room all to ourselves as we sampled a brandy flight, coming away with a bottle of the pear brandy.

Market Station

Lunch in Historic Leesburg

Continuing our exploration of Loudoun County, Virginia, we took a break on a busy day to visit historic Leesburg, and lunch at the charming Tuscarora Mill. The restaurant is located at the site of McKimmey’s Mill, rebuilt after a fire in 1898, and in use as a mill and feed business until 1969.  Moved 300 feet from its original location by the W&OD Railroad, the multistory building has been restored and is part of an entertainment complex known as Market Station. BTW – our lunch was delicious; we will return.

We’ve always enjoyed driving around exploring new areas, keeping away from big highways, and taking country roads whenever we can. On a recent visit to Loudoun County Virginia, I was looking for a fairly isolated activity (due to the pandemic) when I came across an old article about several of the area’s 19 remaining historic bridges. No, not covered bridges, these are constructed of stone, concrete, and iron.

Loudoun is a beautiful County, part of suburban Washington DC, known for lovely drives, horse farms, historic sites, and wineries. After a quick study of the map, we decided to find three of the bridges, combined with a tasty oyster and lobster lunch at the King Street Oyster Bar in the charming town of Middleburg (passing over yet another historic bridge in Aldie).

Hibbs Bridge

As George Washington would have done, we traveled on the Snickersville Turnpike (otherwise known as State Road 734) to find the double-arched Hibbs Bridge dating from 1829. If we hadn’t been focused, we would not have realized we were even crossing a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Spanning the Beaverdam Creek, you need to pull over of the side of the road, get out of your car and make your way through a somewhat mushy field that I’m sure is someone’s private property. Once at the creek’s bank, peer through a tangle of trees and bushes for a good glimpse of the actual structure. It was hard to photograph without breaching a mass of weeds and branches and since I thought snakes and insects would be lurking, I didn’t.

In case you were wondering . . . there is no connection to the candy bar. The Snickersville Turnpike got its name from Edward Snickers who ran an inn and a ferry used to cross the Shenandoah River along the route. As a land surveyor for Lord Fairfax, Washington traveled this road and would spend the night at the inn.

There is actually a Beaverdam Creek Historic Roadways District which is part of the Loudoun County Rural Road Network. Another bridge in this District is the one-lane concrete Luten Arch bridge on Greengarden Road, just north of route 50. Daniel Luten was a pioneer in early motor vehicle bridge construction patenting arch concrete bridges that were built throughout the US. Luten bridges are identified by a plaque embossed “Luten Bridge Company.” 

From the smallest to the largest, we had to look hard to find the four-arch Goose Creek Bridge dating from 1802, back when Thomas Jefferson was President. Near the line between Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, it was originally part of the old Ashby’s Gap Turnpike (Route 50 today) and was built privately by tolls. You paid 12 cents to move a score of cattle or carriage across and 3 cents per horse. In 1863, it was the site of a significant Civil War clash and was in use for vehicular traffic until 1957. Currently, it sits in a 20-acre park and is usually open to pedestrians. But not these days, when so many places are still closed; access was blocked, the trees untrimmed, and the adjacent power lines did nothing to enhance the ambiance.

A great resource I discovered during this hunt is the website where you can search by state and county for details and locations of bridges. I doubt we would’ve actually found these bridges without that terrific site.

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