As much as Mr. Fuzzy loves Stratheden and Floyd, he can get stale on occasion and a short change of pace is often the perfect tonic. A brief trip to visit an old, old friend in Baltimore fell through at the last moment and a quick trip to Charlottesville was substituted. Calling on friends who venture there often for advice resulted in an invitation to stay with them and have Jeff act as my tour guide/chauffeur/shopping adviser.
Leaving the farm on Thursday afternoon, it was a quick trip to north of Lynchburg to the ancestral homelands of Jeff. A delectable and healthy dinner followed arrival and to bed early for an active day in Charlottesville all day Friday. What a rare pleasure to have someone else do the driving so Mr. Fuzzy could rubber neck and enjoy the fine scenery.
Jeff has been regaling Mr. Fuzzy with tales of the local camera store, PRO CAMERA. It was on the side of Charlottesville where the highway entered and thus was the first stop. It is in a very unassuming building and would be very easy to miss but inside was a different story. A full range of darkroom supplies, digital supplies, of course, new cameras of all stripes, a magnificent machine shop for fabricating repair parts - but the crown jewels were the used equipment; its been years since seeing so much medium and large format equipment for sale. Bill Moretz is a true connoisseur of lenses and a well practiced photographer. It was a severe test of will to keep the credit card from leaping out of the wallet.In the end, a bag of darkroom supplies left with us... but those Ektar lenses from the 1950s and 1960s are still dancing in Mr. Fuzzy's little brain. There will be a return trip... maybe with hay money in pocket in the autumn.
As in any town or city, fine cuisine is an almighty inducement for further pleasure. Our lunch was just off of the Mall at Revolutionary Soups which serves locally raised, sustainable foods. Their menu is inventive, diverse and huge: http://revolutionarysoup.com/menus/downtown/ Mr. Fuzzy's sandwich was Virginia ham, brie and homemade 'grainy' bread, the flavors simply exploded in your mouth. The ham was superb, equal to the finest Parma ham ever to hit these old taste buds, the brie was as good as the farm fresh brie in Scotland, and the bread was a meal in itself. Absolutely the best sandwich in the last five years. Oh, my.
Highly satiated in one appetite, we went off in search of antiques, real antiques, not eh broken bits & bobs passed off as 'collectibles' these days... they seemed to be everywhere. Unlike the camera store, a bit o'change did slip out in one of the antique dens.
The weather both days was excellent, crisp and sunny, a treat given the time of year. Saturday was perhaps even more active that Friday, in downtown Lynchburg. A fine cup of tea at The White Hart Cafe and Coffee Shop began the tour. A quick look inside of the store where Mr. Fuzzy found a marvelous bit of stained glass on a prior trip, then around the corner to a large and very reasonably priced antique furniture store. Never have seen so much Eastlake furniture under one roof. Out of the corner of his shifty eyes, Mr. Fuzzy spied something hiding behind a c. 1860 divan, a delicate oval small table, cherry wood, with fine architecture. The single drawer was instinctively removed, the perfect dove tail joints noted then flipped over where the Gustave Stickley mark was found. This was a survivor of their 1960s "Cherry Valley" line and priced at a bargain $60 - but wait - it was a 30% off sale that day - it went into the Honda trunk for $42. As grand daddy Field used to say, "even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while."
Soon thereafter, Jeff introduced Mr. Fuzzy to Tom Burford, dean of American apple experts, the greatest living pomologist and wonderful person. The best part of having great friends is meeting their great friends. Mr. Fuzzy went home with an inscribed copy of Tom's benchmark tome, APPLES OF NORTH AMERICA which elucidates his 192 favorite apples and apple culture. Truly a book for the ages. If you eat or cook apples, you must read it. Tom has designed every cider producer's orchard in Virginia and most in California. he knows his field like no one else. Standing in front of an orchard vendor at the Lynchburg Community Market (begun 1783), he pointed me to Arkansas Black apples... ate one on the way home and have two in keeping, my goodness, they are just superlative eating apples.
It was time for lunch and there were number of possibilities but Jeff knew the best: Barb's Dreamhut, where Barb herself takes the orders. A warm and gracious lady, she sure knows how to make a barbeque and cole slaw sandwich!
This was the final stop and with a full stomach and full mind, Mr. Fuzzy turned the Honda towards Stratheden.