Three completely blank days on the calendar = road trip!

Pulling out my list of local places that I’ve never been but should have after living in DC for 12 years, and considering the time of year lead to one easy conclusion: Shenandoah Valley. Of course, I spent a good portion of the trip checking out good food. I’ll write a separate entry about the beautiful fall foliage, hiking and Skyline Drive.

Facebook crowdsourcing started the trip off right with doughnuts at The Apple House in Linden, VA. Given that I left DC much later than planed and it was lunchtime, I designated the doughnuts an appetizer to a bbq sandwich. Bad decision. The sandwich tasted only of sauce and although I hate to waste food, the doughnuts had taken the edge off my hunger so I chucked it and headed down the road eight miles to Spelunker’s, in Front Royal, VA, which I had been advised serves delicious burgers and custard. Score!

I enjoyed that doughnut

I enjoyed that doughnut

Although there is a drive-thru, and inside the menu board and counter are set up like a fast food joint, this a chain burger place. My food took a few minutes to cook, and was delivered to my table by a server who then asked if I needed anything from napkins to silverware to a very long list of condiments. Aside from being a bit too salty, the burger was delicious. Really nicely grilled onions made the difference. It was big, almost to the point where I worried I didn’t have room for dessert. Luckily, it was only almost.

 

Photobombed (by a man who has no idea what that means)

Photobombed (by a man who has no idea what that means)

Here’s the first of many times I knew I wasn’t in the big city: people pre-pay for their custard and when ready for it, walk up to the counter and say, “I paid for a cone already.” They then get a cone—no proof of purchase required. It hadn’t occurred to me do this, so I waited in line again. The custard was very creamy, but ice slivers in it prevent me from raving. If I returned for a burger, you wouldn’t have to twist my arm very hard to get me to order dessert too, but I won’t send you there just for the custard.

Front Royal’s dinner options were limited—all the recommended places only serve lunch, are closed on Mondays, or both. While strolling through the town, a couple asked me for directions to a nice-sounding restaurant. Even though they live two towns over and I live 70+ miles away, I’m good with a map and decent with an iPhone and figured out which way they should walk. Before they set off, I looked at Yelp and saw that the place was closed (remember, this was a Monday). We started walking together in another direction and even though I wasn’t that hungry (it was 2.30 by the time I ate at Spelunker’s), I liked the idea of sharing a meal with someone, so I joined them for an entirely forgettable meal. It was a good change of pace to have conversation over dinner, and they ended up treating me, which was unexpected and kind.

Appetizer before breakfast

Appetizer before breakfast

Fortunately, I left Front Royal the next morning on a good food note at the Woodward House Bed and Breakfast. This place was everything I expect a country B&B to be — a bit kitschy and decorated with flowery wallpaper and lots of knickknacks. I think this is the first bed that I’ve needed a step stool to climb into.

I had some work to do and was up way before breakfast started. Luckily, there were homemade cookies in my room to tide me over. (And yes, that is a golf lamp on the side table.)

Then I learned they really do mean it when they call their breakfasts “skip a lunch.”  And, BTW, I did (skip lunch).

 

More about more good food, gelato and ice cream later.