Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Butterducks Winery, Lane Southern Orchards Store, Fort Valley, GA

It is unusual to find a winery in a Georgian peach orchard store. But Butterducks wines have been offering tastings at the back of Lane Southern Orchards' store for some time. Lane sells peaches to Butterducks (Guyton based) for wine and in turn Butterducks sells wine in the Fort Valley peach store.

Lane Southern Orchards, location of Butterducks
Winery store, Fort Valley, GA
This year they have a new wine called Red Decoy. It is made with fifty percent grape juice, twenty-five percent blueberry juice and twenty-five percent blackberry juice. It is a pleasant, medium-bodied, semi-dry red that goes well with chocolate.

They also have old favorites from dry wines to super-sweet dessert wines. They use vinifera bunch grapes, muscadine grapes, and different types of berries and peaches to make their wine.

There are many places in Georgia to buy their wine according to their website.

For more information you can visit Lane Southern Orchards at 50 Lane Rd, Fort Valley, GA or go to


Friday, September 21, 2012

Le Vigne Restaurant, Dahlonega, GA: Local Gourmet Food

Le Vigne Restaurant at Montaluce Winery & Estates, Dahlonega, Georgia, is a gourmet food destination. It is under the culinary leadership of two amazing chefs: Austin Roconni (27) Chef du Cuisine, and Sean Fritchle (23) Sous Chef. 

Montaluce Winery's vineyard, Dahlonega, G.A.
The restaurant grows a lot of produce in an organic garden, just minutes away from the dining area. They also use some local and regional ingredients.

My husband and I went in to share brunch. We ordered a $12 Flight (wine tasting) to go with our meal. We chose four whites and one dessert wine.
Summertime beet and greens salad, Le Vigne Restaurant,
Dahlonega, GA
We ordered light salad ($12) with marinated pink beet, earthy red beet sorbet, and a spring lettuce mix topped with peppery nasturtium leaves, sharp Crater Lake (GA dairy sourced) blue cheese, and champagne vinaigrette. The plate was finished with a drizzle of sweet orange blossom honey coriander emulsion. 

We drank the 2010 Montaluce Primo and Primaluce white wines with the dish. The Primaluce had a mild orange peel nose and citrus taste. And the Primo smelt of honeysuckle and had a spicy taste. Unfortunately their flavors overpowered the salad.

Springer Mountain Farm chicken dish, Le Vigne Restaurant,
Dahlonega, GA
For the main course we ordered a Springer Mountain (GA farm sourced) chicken breast dish ($20)with broccolini, yellow zucchini, golden raisins, and fingerling potatoes. The chicken was surprisingly juicy, the broccolini was earthy, the potatoes creamy, and the sauce drizzled about tasted of teriyaki sauce mixed with smoke, black pepper, and sesame oil.

We drank the 2009 Montaluce Chardonnay and Viognier wine with this dish. The Chardonnay had a unripe pinapple nose mixed with citrus. It was a bit bitter at the beginning of the sip but it finished nicely with a tart citrus flavor. The Viognier had a slight vanilla nose mixed with ripe pineapple. It tasted sweeter than the other wine, and had a slightly bitter citrus finish. Both wines went well with the chicken.

Vanilla Mascarpone pannna cotta dessert, Le Vigne
Restaurant, Dahlonega, GA
For dessert my husband ordered a vanilla mascarpone panna cotta ($7.50) with peach (GA sourced) sorbet in a chilled peach soup. It was a wonderful combination of sweet creaminess to tart cold floral soup.  
Blackened garlic ice cream with chocolate torte,
Le Vigne Restaurant, Dahlonega, GA
I had blackened garlic ice cream with a bitter-sweet chocolate tart ($7.50) on a buttery shortbread crust. I loved the slightly grey colored ice-cream with its smoky mild garlic flavor. It went beautifully with the chocolate and candied hazel nuts.

We drank the sparkly mead with both desserts. It smelt like wildflower honey mixed with tropical ginger flower. But it was surprisingly dry with a slight vanilla, mangosteen, and caramel flavor. It went beautifully with the panna cotta and garlic ice cream.

Le Vigne Restaurant on Montaluce Vineyards exceeded my expectations. The flavors are bold and bright with very little salt. And the Food, wow it was amazing. It was a lovely brunch by some fabulous chefs in a gorgeous location. I look forward to the next time I am in town.

To find out more about the winery and Le Vigne restaurant, you can go to or visit them at 946 Via Montaluce, Dahlonega, GA 30533   Phone: (706) 867-4060
They are closed on Mondays.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dogwood Hills Farm, Weaverville, NC: Medicinal Herbs Future

Dogwood Hills Farm is locally known for its sorghum syrup and u-pick grapes, apples, blueberries, and blackberries. But in the next four to five years they plan to transition to Chinese medicinal herb growing.
Farmers Jenny and David Fridlin, Dogwood Hills Farm,
Weaverville, NC
There is a lot of demand for medicinal herbs in Weaverville, N.C., according to farmer Jenny Fridlin. Jenny is a whole body work therapist who works with local acupuncturists. She came to this 10-acre farm five years ago with her husband David a, Swedish born, retired European Chef.

Chinese medicinal herb garden at Dogwood Hills
Farm, Weaverville, NC
Jenny took me on a tour of her herb garden, located just steps away from her house, "I enclosed it to keep the chickens out," she said with a smile as she pushed the gate open. We walked past bright purple Echinacea flowers and aromatic German Chamomile.
Buckwheat and sweet potato growing side-by-side in
keeping with permaculture practices, Dogwood
Hills Farm, Weaverville, NC
They use organic growing methods on the farm. And permaculture practices in the garden. "I grow buckwheat next to sweet potatoes because the buckwheat captures phosphorous and the sweet potato captures nitrogen," she said.

Guinea Fowl chicks being raised by a chicken, Dogwood
Hills Farm, Weaverville, NC
They also have a fowl organic bug control system. Ticks were everywhere when they first arrived on the farm. But with the introduction of Guinea Fowl, the tick population went down to almost zero.
Unfortunately female Guinea fowl make terrible mothers, according to Jenny. And so all the Guinea chicks are raised by chickens.

I originally went to Dogwood Hills farm to buy sorghum cane syrup. In Florida, most of the sorghum is used for green energy fuel.

"We hand-planted and harvested it," Jenny told me, placing two jars, filled with sticky brown syrup, on an outside table. "We've been told by locals that our syrup has an old timey taste to it," she said. To get that flavor they use a horse powered machine to crush the cane. Then the juice is wood fired, by a local mill, down into a syrup.

There was no crop this year so syrup supplies were limited. Next year they hope to get at least a half-acre planted.

I didn't know what sorghum syrup was supposed to taste like but I fell in love with theirs from the first teaspoon. It had a sweet and sour flavor with a light smokiness.

To find out more about the farm you can call 828-645-6286 and leave a message.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lakeridge Vineyards: Florida Dry Wines in Clermont

Lakeridge Vineyard is known as, "that winery on 27 that produces muscadine wines." But they have so much more like some surprisingly complex dry wines.  These are made with three types Florida-grown hybrid wine grapes: Blanc Du Bois, Stover and Suwannee.

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, Clermont, Fla.
Lakeridge is located just 25-miles west of downtown Orlando. It started operating as a vineyard and winery in 1989. It has 80-acres planted with hybrids and native Muscadine grapes. It also use grapes from other vineyards that grow the same types. This means that it can produce huge volumes of wine. 
Harvested grapes at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards,
Clermont, Fla
I went recently for a taste and entertaining tour with Kevin J. Callanan. I got to see a fresh harvest of grapes start the process of converting to wine.

Kevin J. Callanan entertaining guests at Lakeridge
Winery & Vineyard tasting session, Clermont, Fla.
My favorites were Cuvee Noir Reserve, a dry red wine with medium levels of tannin, and a rich ruby red color. It is surprisingly complex and could easily be mistaken for a European wine. This is definitely a wine to go with food.

My next favorite was Cuvee Blanc, a dry white wine with light oak flavors and aged orange peel. It had a nice tart finish. Its characteristics are something you'd expect more from a Californian or Australian wine.

I tried their Blanc Du Bois, a semi-dry white wine, made with French hybrid grapes. I wanted to see how it compared to other Florida labels. It was spicier with a bitter aftertaste.

I also tried their Southern Red muscadine wine and found it enjoyable. It smelt and tasted like sweet candied cherries. It was the most aromatic of the muscadine wines because it had the lowest musk flavors.

Showroom at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards,
Clermont, Fla.
I bought two bottles of Stover Reserve 2011 without tasting it. It was risky at $12.99 a bottle but worth it.

You can buy their wine directly from them at or go to their Store Locator page and type in your zip code. I have found some of their drier wines at Total Wines and More stores.

You also visit the tasting room seven days a week at: 19239 US 27 N, Clermont, FL 34715, Phone (352)-394-8627 or 1-800-768-WINE

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Frogtown Cellars' Vineyards, Dahlonega, GA

The Iberian Pig Restaurant, Decatur, is selling Frogtown wine. At least it was back in June of this year. And that's what inspired me to visit the Frogtown Cellars' vineyard in Dahlonega, GA, approx 69 miles Northeast of Decatur.

Frogtown Cellars' Vineyard, Dahlonega, GA
The vineyard is made up of 40-acres of sandy loam clay soil and planted with 23 varieties of wine grapes. The tasting room sits on the highest point of the vineyard at 1825 feet above sea level.

Tasting room at Frogtown Cellars' Vineyard,
Dahlonega, GA
I bought an All White Tasting for $15 that allowed me to try seven different types of wine. My favorites were the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Chardonnay, and 2009 Marsanne. The Sauvignon Blanc had a bubbly characteristic and reminded me a bit of IPA beer. I tried it again later, and tasted more of the vanilla oak, sweet fruit, and lemony finish.

The Marsanne was the most surprising. It reminded me of a fine French dessert wine. Made with Rhone grapes, this 2009 wine had light hints of vanilla, orange peel, and honeysuckle both in its nose and taste. The Chardonnay was smoky, with a full-bodied, oak flavor and a citrus finish.

I bought a bottle of each. And a t-shirt in purple with a purple frog and the name Frogtown written across it.

According to Frogtown Cellars website, their wine is served in many Atlanta, Georgia, restaurants.

To find out more you can go to their website at
or visit their tasting room, open year round, 700 Ridge Point Drive, Dahlonega, GA 30553  Phone (706)865-0687

Monday, September 10, 2012

Brittain Farms Ducks, Asheville Tailgate Market, NC

Frozen ducks are hard to sell, according to Joe Brittain of Brittain Farms in Mills River,  North Carolina.
Joe Brittain of Brittain Farms at West Asheville
Tailgate Market, NC
I met him at the West Asheville Tailgate Market where he was trying to sell his frozen pecking style ducks. "People are interested, but nobody is buying," he said, adding that Asheville chefs were the first to reject his ducks.

It's not because they were bad or not USDA certified because they were good and processed through a USDA certified processing center. It was just a baffling lack of interest according to Brittain.

He was however having success selling chicken and duck eggs.

To contact him you can call (828)891-3332 or email him at

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Florida Sourced Filipino Food at Kabayan Oriental Mart

Kabayan Oriental Market is selling Atsara made with Florida sourced green papaya. It is so delicious you might have trouble putting it down.

Atsara--Filipino pickled green papaya
Copyright 2012 by Helen A Lockey
The freshness of the papaya means it has more vitamins than bottled versions sold in the store according to Gemma Thedford, the owner. "We now have the equipment to process the green papayas," said Gemma, adding, "The pickle goes very well with our barbecued dishes."

I had to agree on the last point. I bought a BBQ pork combo that came with four skewers of juicy BBQ pork, four crispy, lady-finger sized egg rolls, a cup of white rice, and a large portion of Pancit (rice noodles, sauce, and vegetables).

The crunchy sweet & sour, spicy & salty papaya pickle really complimented the smoky, garlic flavor of the pork.

The shop is located in the plaza at the corner of Southern Blvd. and Royal Palm Beach Blvd at 251 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., Royal Palm Beach, FL 33470 .   Phone 561-904-6826

Updated May 2016

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Banana Stalk and Shrimp Dish Recipe: Florida Style

I love sourcing ingredients from my backyard. Recently Tropical Storm Isaac gave me a really big resource from my yard, a fallen banana plant.
My Florida sourced banana stalk and Key West
shrimp dish, Fla.
I am a free-style chef and not used to following or giving out recipes. But for this dish I am going to try to make a recipe.

4 cloves of American garlic, chopped
3 foreign-grown shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon safflower oil
½ teaspoon foreign grown turmeric
1 Pero Family Farms-grown red pepper, cut into strips
½ teaspoon dried English mustard powder
1 cup of chopped and steamed heart of banana stalk
1 stalk Californian grown broccoli, cut into florets
1 pound of raw Key West shrimp, with or without shell
Juice of 2 limes

Asian Wok pan
1 wooden spoon or spatula
Measuring spoons

First add the garlic and shallots to 1 tablespoon of oil and cook on high until the garlic browns, about 2-3 mins. Turned down the heat to medium-high. Next add the turmeric and mustard, mix until well blended.

Next add the mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring constantly, anywhere from 4-5 minutes depending on your stove. Then add the cup of steamed banana stalk, broccoli, and red pepper. Cook between 1 and 3 minutes until the broccoli is bright green and the pepper is limp.

Then add the shrimp and cook until they become completely opaque. Just before serving, squeeze the juice of half a lime on each plate or put two wedges on the side of each plate.
Makes approx four servings

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Heart Of Banana, Sth Indian Delicacy: Florida Style

Tropical storm Isaac's passage brought a lot of rain and wind to Florida. It also brought down my banana plant loaded with unripe bananas.

Banana plant stalk chopped to expose heart, Fla.
Embracing the expression--the glass is half full; I chopped down the plant to get to its heart. I learned years ago, the heart, when steamed, tastes a bit like cooked water chestnuts.
Heart of banana stalk exposed, Fla.
Unfortunately it is not possible to simply cut out the heart and steam it. First it has to be processed. The outer layers have to be cut away, and then trimmed further to get rid of any cardboard-like layers.

Trimmed down piece of heart of banana stalk, Fla.
It can be a bit disappointing to see how much of the plant is discarded but trust me you don't want to eat those outer bits.

Sticky fibers between slices heart of banana stalk , Fla.
Slicing can be very time consuming. The banana stalk is full of sticky fibers and the cutting process can take a long time because the knife has to be cleaned constantly.

Sliced and diced heart of banana stalk, Fla.
The hours of labor, yes I said hours, are worth it because in the end you get a delicious new vegetable to try. I steam it but it can also be cooked into a stir fry dish.