Hope your Monday is going well so far.
On Saturday I was invited to attend a cool festival at Monticello, the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Every year, for the past 10 years, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation puts on the Heritage Harvest Festival. The festival honors the horticulture and epicurean legacy of Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved men and women responsible for the kitchen, gardens, and grounds of Monticello. It is a hands-on, family-friend event, that promotes gardening, sustainability, local food and heritage plants. I was definitely intrigued by this festival and I brought Tommy, Ava, my mom, and her good friend, Mellen, with me! Not only were there some gardeners and foodies in the group, it had been awhile since I had been to Monticello and Charlottesville so I was glad to get back up to this beautiful part of Virginia again.
This year’s special focus was on the diverse food cultures of the American South. In addition to tastings (over 100!), workshops, book signings, and tours, there was also a festival marketplace, a kid and family zone that included a petting zoo, and a large food and drink area offering an array of food trucks + various wines and brews from local wineries and breweries.
While Saturday couldn’t have been any sunnier, it was definitely a steamer so we all made sure to stay hydrated and nourished, which wasn’t too difficult here!
Upon arrival we immediately headed into the Tasting Tent.
You may remember my introduction to a Shrub. While the one I had at dinner last month was non-alcoholic, the Cranberry Shrub I tried on Saturday did contain alcohol, Sage, a garden gin.
Pretty soon we were all getting pretty hungry so we moseyed our way to the Food & Drink area.
We each ordered Green smoothies from Smojo, which totally hit the spot. This particular smoothie included kiwis, apples, pineapple, kale, bananas, and cashews.
A little while later Mellen and I headed to a workshop “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Pickles” with author Kevin West, while mom, Tommy, and Ava hung out. I thought this would be a fun workshop to attend since everyone in my little family LOVES pickles and Tommy has even been talking about getting into pickling himself.
Some key takeaways from this workshop included:
- Learning that there are varieties of pickling – this includes making various kinds of vinegar: Tarragon Vinegar, Pepper Vinegar, and Raspberry Vinegar – which we got to smell and sample up close and personal (see photo below)! Salting Lemons (because why wouldn’t you) is another form of pickling.
- Pickling essentially means to preserve something, whether it be a veggie, a fruit, or herb.
- Pickles are low acid foods preserved in acidic brine.
- According to West, pickles are at their best after 1 or 2 years of being pickled. Mom respectfully disagrees…
- West’s universal pickle recipe rests in a 1:1 ratio for vinegar and water.
- I loved this analogy he used for sauerkraut – “sauerkraut is cabbage on a long journey to the compost”. YUM.
Both Mellen and I really enjoyed this workshop and I can’t wait to delve more into West’s book.
We soon regrouped with Tommy, Ava, and mom who were enjoying themselves at the petting zoo!
Tommy and I really enjoyed a local cider we stumbled upon, Bold Rock Hard Cider.
We popped into the Festival Marketplace for a bit, where Tommy got a quick lesson on how chocolate is made.
After about 4 hours or so at the festival Little Miss was getting tired so we decided to wrap things up. My whole party really enjoyed learning about and attending this festival. There was so much to learn about and it was great spending the day outside. We are even planning to come again next year! We’re thinking about making a weekend of it – I’d love to attend more workshops and tours, and spend more time in Charlottesville in general.
While this festival is most definitely kid-friendly ( and there were so many kids here on Saturday!), it is not dog-friendly. (No dogs allowed). I was quite impressed how accommodating this festival was to kids of all ages.
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation owns and operates Monticello, and was founded in 1923. The Foundation has steadily expanded Monticello’s functions and events. For more information on the Thomas Jefferson Foundation go here.