Welcome to Paradise

I have been spending a lot of time in the Blue Ridge Mountains lately. So much that I kind of want to rent a cabin up there for the weekends. The scenery is beautiful, the hikes are challenging, and the food and beer is all that I could ask for and more. It’s no surprise that Kyle and I have chosen to get married out there. With all of the meetings and planning we have to do, I am sure that by October we will feel like locals.

Of course we always try to hit our favorite spots while we are in the area, and because I have spent extra time there lately I have even discovered a few new favorites. I used to think that my best-ever Blue Ridge discovery was Blue Mountain Brewery, or perhaps Shenandoah Joe. However a new-to-me local establishment is vying for the top spot: The Cheese Shop. This place is a bulk food wonderland! The shop itself is smallish, larger than a convenience store but much smaller than a grocery store, and it is packed with aisle after aisle of pre-portioned bulk foods. I went in with twenty dollars – check out how far that got me!

This might not seem like much, but when you see the prices on these items which would usually be splurges for me, you’ll see what I mean about how far I stretched my twenty dollars. I feel like I made out like a bandit.

  • Dried Tomatoes – 0.61 lb for $3.00
  • Organic Amaranth – 0.84 lb for $1.82
  • Buckwheat Flour – 1.67 lb for $3.11 (X2 – one for me and one for a friend!)
  • Golden Flax Seed – 1.36 lb for $1.75


  • Carob Chips – 1.3 lb for $2.94
  • Crystallized Ginger – 0.64 lb for $2.86
  • Chia Seeds – 0.17 lb for $1.47

I think I did pretty well. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all this stuff! Several of these ingredients are new to me, so all suggestions are welcome. What’s your favorite way to use amaranth? Buckwheat flour? Carob? Chia?

Next time you’re in Augusta County, VA, I recommend that you make a trip over to the Cheese Shop. Since receiving this suggestion from a customer, I have collected a few more tips on great bulk food stores in the same area, so I may have more favorites to report soon.

The Cheese Shop is at 2366 Tinkling Spring Road in Stuart’s Draft, VA. Open Mon-Fri 9-5:30 and Sat 9-5. Closed Sunday. Visit them on the web at thecheeseshopva.com.