I will confess to being a food person. I love to find great food, and I enjoy eating it. Whether it is a fantastic piece of salmon or some great home grown tomatoes, I think eating quality food is not only a treat but good for you.
When I tasted this White Lady peach from Jamison's Orchard in Roanoke, Virginia, I knew that I would have to write about it so that it could join the collection of great food that I have talked about in my blog posts. A peach as good as the White Lady deserves to be memorialized.
I know that I have never tasted a peach like the White Lady. The first bite made me think that it had been infused with sugar. I wasn't surprised when I went back the next day, and all the White Ladies were gone. I consoled myself by going home and grilling a few lesser peaches.
Most people understand that the closer you get to the farm, usually the better your food is. We lived on a farm in Canada for sixteen years in the seventies and early eighties. I raised purebred Angus cattle, milked a Guernsey cow, and collected eggs from our hardy band of chickens who ate snow in the winter instead of drinking water. We also had a huge garden which produced wonderful English peas, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, squash, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, and more potates than we could ever eat. My wife made homemade bread, yogurt, and even churned butter.
I was also raised in the Piedmont of North Carolina where gardens, fresh foods, and canning are a tradition. With that kind of background, I like to think I have a head start on most people when it comes to finding great fresh foods.
We also are fortunate to be near Jamison's Produce and Orchards when we are in the Virginia mountains overlooking Roanoke and close by Winberry's Farm when we are staying on the North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks near the beaches of Emerald Isle. Both are excellent sources of wonderful locally grown produce.
Our fresh produce season on the coast starts usually in the middle of April with the first ripe strawberries. The real excitement for me comes with the first homegrown tomato of the season which is usually around the first of June. When we have a dry fall, our tomatoes can last well into December. I have picked them as late as December 19.
Between the middle of April and the middle of December, we enjoy wonderful local produce and some fantastic locally caught fish and shrimp from places like Clyde Phillip's Seafood between the bridges in Swansboro.
Each area has specialities. The cabbage, squash, peaches, and apples seem to do particularly well in the hills and mountains around Roanoke. Tomatoes, blueberries, cantaloupes, watermelons, and sweet potatoes are specialities along the coast. A Bogue Sound watermelon is a true special summer treat. If the moisture is there corn seems to do well in both areas.
After the watermelons come in, we know the coastal produce season is starting to wind down. By late August, much of our produce at the coast comes from the north. During August we can stay local by heading to Roanoke, where we often get to re-visit what we have enjoyed on the coast during July. Corn and tomatoes really hit their stride in the mountains during early August.
Last year, we had an unusual fall, and there was a time when pumpkins and watermelons were at the produce stand together during early October.
In September and early October, we get a special treat along the coast, Epsicopalian lobsters. Two of the area churches have lobsterfests which we always try to attend.
By late October, we see the last of the local produce, huge bags of sweet potatoes that have been cured and are ready to winter in our garage.
Then it isn't long to the Thanksgiving feast, and not long after that I am planting tomato seeds for next year's crop.