Re:Weekend in Virginia
Fri, 03/4/11 11:46 AM
Despite the fact that one of the things we wanted to do over the weekend was visit Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Charlottesville, we drove right through the town without stopping on our drive from Culpeper, almost all the way to Lynchburg. That is because the restaurant I most wanted to visit on this trip, Woodruff's Cafe & Pie Shop, in Monroe, VA, closed at 4:00pm. I had called earlier in the day to confirm what time they close and to inquire what pies they had available. The list was coconut, pecan, buttermilk, apple and berry crumb. We had no difficulty finding the place, even though it is well out into the country and we pulled into the small parking lot at 3:40pm. Painted white, with an attractive red and white awning out front, the building was easy to spot. I immediately made a bee line inside to check out the pie case, to see what was left. Seeing only pecan and coconut, my heart sunk. I am not a fan of either pie, since I don't like nuts or coconut. The disappointment quickly faded once I took a closer look and saw just how good this coconut looked. And on a lower shelf, was a lone, very large, fried pie. There are only three tables on the inside (somehow, I failed to take an inside photo!), both of which were occupied, so we sat at a table for two by the front door. I would have selected this table anyway, since it had the best light for taking photos. A friendly woman, who we later found out was owner Angela Scott, took our order. Since she was also taking care of the three customers in the middle table, it was a few minutes before we got our pie. Sitting at a back table, reading the bible was an older woman, who we would later find out was Angela's mother, Mary Fannie Woodruff. She got a kick out of me taking photos and to her credit, Mariton sat down with her and had a nice conversation. Once the pies were delivered to our table, Mariton rejoined me. Like I said, I am no fan of coconut. But my two most common traveling and dining companions, Mariton and cousin Johnny both love it, so I have often had a bite or two of theirs. And this was the best coconut pie I have tasted and my girlfriend agreed. The filling was delicious, but the meringue was just about perfect. At this point, we decided to stop and try some of their non-dessert food. There was a two sided white piece of paper on our table with sandwiches, hot dogs and sides listed along with a board displaying the daily specials. Knowing how many stops were still in front of us, we went with the potato soup and cornbread. The soup could have been a little hotter, but was very creamy, with plenty of potato and carrots and was unmistakably homemade. The cornbread, which was very crumbly, with no sweetness to it at all, reminded me of my grandmother's version. After eating that, we turned our sights back to the pies. The pecan was still warm and very sweet and I could see why people would like this pie. Angela told us it was her biggest seller. Mariton did eat much more of this one than I did. Next was the fried apple pie. After taking my photos, I just tore it in half with my hands. We both took our first bite at the same time and then gave each other the "Can you believe how good this is?" look. The outside was soft, with the fruit being sweet and fresh. It also had a nice cinnamon taste to it. This was Mariton's first experience with a fried pie, but it won't be her last. I think it was even better than the ones I have eaten at my beloved Family Pie Shop in Arkansas. To drink, I had a bottled water, while Mariton helped herself to the coffee, set out on a table in the corner. The other customers had left, so owner Angela was at our table asking where we were from and if that was me who had called earlier. She proceded to tell us the history of the place, how it had been a grocery store, run by her mother and father for years. After the big chain grocery stores moved in, the place closed and Angela took it over as a restaurant and pie shop, which has been in business since 1998. Her mother Mary, makes the fried pies and providing what she calls, the "entertainment". Angela started showing us the family photos on the wall and I especially liked this one of Mary in 1951 at the grocery store. That was the year that Angela was born. I asked if I could take a photo of mother and daughter and Mary slyly replied that she would be happy to pose if I bought her book. Up to this point, I didn't even know that she had a book, but how could I turn down an offer like that! Here is mother and daughter. I would have never guessed that Mary is 95 because she is as sharp as a tack! By the way, Angela's husband Larry Scott was also there, but I never spoke to him as he was discussing fishing with a friend who had come in. It was now well after 4:00, so we said our goodbyes. Mariton got hugs from both women on the way out the door. Once we got into our car, we sat there for a few minutes talking about how much we enjoyed this place and what nice people we just met. Well, that is what Mariton was saying. I was still raving about how excellent the pies were! Once we got home from the trip, I read the book, which is only 44 pages long. The cover shot is Mary and her husband James on their wedding day. And Mary even autographed it for me before we left! The book is mostly family history and she does spend time talking about friends and the store. It won't make the New York Times best seller list anytime soon, but it is very touching and it has quickly become one of my favorite Roadfood momentos. Woodruff's Cafe & Pie Shop 3297 Elon Road Monroe, VA 434-384-1650 Unfortunately, our euphoria over our visit to the pie shop wouldn't last long as we continued south into Lynchburg. Much more to come.....
<message edited by buffetbuster on Mon, 03/7/11 8:34 AM>