Archive for the ‘Davis West Virginia’ Category

Rhubarb Gardening and Special Pancakes

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Giant rhubarb stalks in the herb garden of the Bright Morning Inn

Gardening in the West Virginia Highlands, with our frigid winters and brief summers, takes getting used to. Flowers love our cool summer weather; they seem to bloom forever. The flowers in Davis, WV gardens are impressive, with giant peonies early, tall hollyhocks later, and masses of gorgeous daisies and phlox in between.
At the Bright Morning Inn, near Canaan Valley, it’s our herb garden that’s the real winner. Last year we renovated the herb bed, peeling back the black plastic mulch, and moving plants around. The difference has been astounding, the bed is thick and lush and pleasantly organized for once…thanks mostly to guest Ken Morgolius, a gifted landscaper from Charlottesville.
The star plant in the herb bed this year is rhubarb, with it’s giant leaves and beautiful reddish stalks. It’s a great ornamental, but at the Inn we like to cook it in strawberry rhubarb pancakes.
If you haven’t tried them, you have no idea how delightful the sweet sour concoction can be, especially doused with pure maple syrup and butter. We simply slice the fruit thinly and lay it on the cakes before flipping. When it’s gooey and caramelized they’re done.
At the Bright Morning Inn’s restaurant,  pancakes change with the seasons. We start with the rhubarb cakes in spring, then move on to fresh peach cakes in August, sometimes with a raspberry sauce. In the fall we switch to pumpkin cakes, with a special maple butter sauce. They are sublime, and may be the most delicious cake of all. Near Christmas we offer gingerbread cakes, with apple slivers cooked inside and a light drizzle of lemon curd.
Even people who aren’t pancake eaters like the cakes at the Bright Morning Inn. And if you’re an overnight guest, you can take your coffee outside and sit near our wonderful garden while you plan for the day’s adventure.

Majestic Wind Turbines Near Thomas, WV

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

The ridge just north of Thomas, WV, which we call Backbone Mountain, has been lined with Wind Turbines for nearly ten years. They’re a bone of contention for some, who question their adverse affect on wildlife, in this case the many varieties of bats who soar the night skies zapping insects. It’s a serious issue, as bats are endangered on many fronts.

But for purely visual spectacle, the turbines themselves are awe inspiring. Bold, white, quietly slicing through the sky, they are more beautiful than most public sculpture, and much more useful.

The electricity these turbines generate goes into the grid and is sold to people in the cities who want to do good and think that buying wind power, even if it costs more, is a good thing.

I’m still conflicted about the issue. I love the turbines, but am awfully fond of the bats, too. Let’s hope the clever scientists who invented these things will get with the biologists and devise a way to lessen the impact on wildlife. In the meantime I will continue to send guests who visit the Inn  up the road to photograph and marvel at the power of human engineering.

Forty four wind turbines line the ridges of Backbone Mountain near Thomas WV

Apple Blossom Time in Davis, WV

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

It’s hard to believe that Davis, WV was once a boomtown, with nearly 5000 people and two streets lined with stores. It was a prosperous and busy place filled with boardinghouses, like the Bright Morning Inn, a fine hotel or two, a tannery and lumbermill and, of course, a railroad running right along the Blackwater River.

Nowadays it’s mostly gone…the town has dwindled to around 500 residents and there are just a handful of shops and restaurants, mostly catering to tourists. But we do have remnants of those good ol’ days– lots and lots of old apples trees. Sometimes I think Davis is an apple orchard pretending it’s a town, they’re that ubiquitous. And now, in early May, they are in glorious pinky white bloom.

The old railway bed along the new Riverfront Park is lined with apple trees, and they’re in nearly every yard. And if you north drive to Thomas, or south to Canaan Valley you’re struck by the beautiful display.

Apples aren’t gathered and treasured the way they used to be, when Davis residents needed apples for pies and sauces.  Now you’ll mostly see them strewn across the roads or alleys, rotting on the ground, an offering to deer and other critters.

But in early May, when in their blooming glory, they remind us of how rich this funny little mountain town really is, and how giving these trees have been to us these many years.

Blooming apples in Davis, WV: Remembrance of Things Past

Ramp Season Comes to Davis

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Early April and ramps we are digging ramps for the Bright Morning Inn restaurant

Early spring in Davis is beautiful, but it’s lackluster when compared to warmer places with their opulent flower spectacles. Our spring is more subtle than that, and it takes forever to get here. That’s why ramps are such a celebration in the mountains. They are proof that the season has finally turned, and they’re a great treat for those of us who seek out wild and local foods.

Ramps are wild leeks, Allium tricoccum to be specific, and members of the lily family. They are a pungent cross between garlic and onion, with delicate strappy green leaves and a white stem that looks a lot like a scallion. Ramps grown on steep rocky hillsides at higher elevations, which makes them a challenge to dig. But they’re worth it. Because they add a marvelous garlicky flavor to bland foods like eggs and potatoes, which is how they’re served at many traditional ramp dinners, called “ramp feeds” by locals.

At the Bright Morning Inn, we scramble them with fresh orange-yolked country eggs and potatoes, or sprinkle them in omelets with bacon and cheese. They’re wildly popular, but they don’t last long. By the middle of May most local ramps have withered or grown too big and stinky, which means one thing: you must eat them, as many as you can, when they’re in season. They’re a spring tonic, and a tangible tie to our forebearers, who relished the first wild greens of the season in all their forms.

On May 2nd the Mount Grove Volunteer Fire Department will host their annual ramp feed near the Tucker County line (about 9 miles north of Davis). From 11 am to 3 pm you can feast on an array of traditional country dishes including fried pototoes, pinto and great northern beans, cornbread, ham and various raw and cooked ramp treats. It’s a truly special slice of West Virginia culture you won’t want to miss. In fact, it has been chronicled in the Spring 2010 issue of Goldenseal, our magazine of West Virginia Traditional Life.

Canaan Valley Snowfall Approaching Record Levels

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Cutting a trench in front of Hellbender's Burritos

According to local weather guru Dave Lesher, whose records of  Canaan Valley weather can be seen at http://canaanweather.4t.com/, the first nine days of January this year have been the snowiest ever for the past 66 years, which means some of the best cross country and downhill ski conditions in recent memory!  At the Bright Morning Inn in Davis we’ve been shoveling, scraping and plowing, and then doing it all over again…to prepare for guests. The inn is mostly filled on weekends this month, but plenty of mid-week slots are open. If you haven’t tried mid-week x-c skiing at Whitegrass or Blackwater Falls you’re missing out on a pleasure mostly known to locals: peaceful woodland trails and a solitude that is sublime. And if you’re a downhill skier at Timberline or Canaan, midweek offers that rarest of benefits: non-existent lift lines.

Cozy Restaurants in Davis, West Virginia

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

In a place where winters are fierce, like this place, cozy is good. And Davis, WV has some of the coziest eateries around. In fact the Inn is surrounded by three of the best restaurants in the region – all within easy walking distance. On our right is Sirianni’s Café, which may be West Virginia’s most beloved pizza joint. It’s an institution, with fresh tasty salads, innovative pasta dishes and fresh and creative pizza choices. Across the street is Hellbender’s Burritos, with giant build your own burritos, lots of specialty burritos and homemade appetizers and desserts. On our left is Muttley’s Steakhouse, home of the $1.09/oz steak dinner on Thursdays and similar deals on Tuesdays. As for breakfast, the hands down winner is the Inn’s own restaurant, which is open to the public and rocks on weekends. The food is fresh, choices ample, and the best part: overnight guests eat for free!

Thanksgiving at Bright Morning Inn

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

November in Canaan Valley is a quiet time to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family and prepare for the winter ahead. Every month in Canaan is beautiful…and this month is no exception. The cold clear nights offer fabulous stargazing at nearby dark spots off Canaan Loop Road. When the leaves have fallen, the woods surrounding Davis become silvery grey and copper and the crisp dry air is perfect for hiking. But stick to the parks and posted areas near town, as deer hunters dominate the Monongahela Forest when deer season begins Thanksgiving week.



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