Whether you are heading to the races or enjoying an afternoon in our gorgeous Virginia countryside a well stocked picnic basket is alway a great idea.  You need not look any further than our local community of small businesses to find the perfect ingredients – these artisans are worth the extra effort to find, and their passion shows in their products.   So grab your tweed coat, pack your wicker basket and head out to the great outdoors – everything tastes better al fresco.  Here are a few of my finds.

Locksley Farmstead Cheese Co.

Located in The Ag District which is also home to Chrysalis Vineyards and The Little River Bakehouse.  This 412 acre sustainable working farm supports the vineyard and their herd of dairy cows.  The cows are grass fed and supplemented with the grape pomace left over from Chrysalis Vineyards – giving their milk a rich and unique flavor. Cheese maker Erin Saacke takes this beautiful milk and turns it into fabulous cheese.  My favorite: The Prince John Washed Rind, which is a silky smooth semi-firm cheese, with just a touch of funk to be interesting and a hint of milk crystals – pure perfection.  She has six varieties, try them all, no doubt you will find your favorite as well.

23876 Champe Ford Road, Middleburg VA

https://www.theagdistrict.com/locksley-farmstead-cheese-co

Locksley Farmstead Cheese and Gourmet Sausages

Lothar Erbe opened in 2008 and has become a fixture in Purcellville for fine meats, sausage and smoked products.  Everything is crafted with local ingredients, no fillers, and nothing artificial. This German born, classically trained butcher and sausage maker, creates a vast variety of sausage, I chose the Bacon-Bourbon Invictus Brats to use in my Scotch Egg recipe.  Treat yourself to a visit to their shop, he and his wife June are a delight and so knowledgeable about their offerings – whether it’s the perfect cut of beef for the grill or specialty sausage, they always know the perfect choice for you to take home.

860 E. Main Street, Suite A

Purcellville, VA

Find them on Facebook – Lothar’s Butchery & Gourmet Sausages

Wild Hare Cider

Wild Hare Cider offers a great selection of crisp dry ciders infused with natural fruit, flora or spices –  orchards in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley supply the apples.   So refreshing, and a perfect beverage to bring on a picnic and pairs beautifully with rich artisanal cheeses and Scotch Eggs.  My personal favorite is the Ophelia, a clean dry cider laced with touch of dried grapefruit peel.  They are located in Leesburg, Warrenton and newly opened in Middleburg – visit them to have a drink there, or purchase a few cans to go.  Try them all and you will be surprised how far hard cider has come.

17 East Washington Street

Middleburg, VA

https://www.wildharecider.com

Scotch Eggs

This old school, gastro pub staple is the perfect picnic food.  They can be eaten hot, cold or room temperature, so rich and satisfying and I hope you give them a try.  Cut them in halves or quarters and serve them with good spicy or whole grain mustard.   

8 eggs (reserve 2 for coating)

8 ounces sausage meat

½ cup panko bread crumbs

Oil for frying

In a saucepan with a lid, place a steamer basket inside and fill with a an inch or two of water (to the bottom of the steamer basket)

Place the 6 eggs in the basket and bring to a boil

When the water begins to boil, place the lid on and set the timer for 13 minutes

Remove the eggs after 13 minutes and place in cold water to cool

When they are cool to the touch peel the eggs and pat dry

Beat the two remaining eggs in a shallow dish and set aside

Pour the Panko bread crumbs in another shallow dish

Divide the sausage meat into six portion

Pat the sausage meat into a rough circle in you hand (wet your hand so it doesn’t stick) and place a peeled egg in the center and wrap the sausage meat around the egg sealing to completely enclose

Roll the sausage/egg in the beaten egg to coat

Then roll it in the panko bread crumbs and lightly push the crumbs into the sausage so it is well coated

In a cast iron skillet, pour in enough oil to measure ½” inch and heat the oil until it just starts to shimmer, medium to medium high heat

Fry the eggs turning them as they brown, making sure all areas brown evenly

Check your heat and adjust accordingly if they are browning too quickly or too slowly.

When they are a evenly deep golden brown, transfer them to a paper towel and cool. Cut them right before serving.

PS – if you plan to eat these warm right from the pan, play around with the length of time you boil/steam the eggs, if you cook them just to soft boiled 5-6 minutes and proceed with the recipe they are a lovely breakfast treat, maybe hold the super spicy mustard and add buttered toast..

This is my favorite super spicy mustard – German Mustard Düsseldorfer Löwensenf – Extra Scharf 100g From Germany.  They sometimes carry it at Lothar’s and can be found on line.