Monday Miam-Miam: Peace and Tranquility on Virginia Tech Territory

The lovely town of Blacksburg, Virginia and the college campus of Virginia Tech breathed so much peace and tranquility in these early summer days that it was hard to imagine violence striking there. As we strolled through the Hahn Horticulture Garden that stretched on the opposite side of the college buildings, the shooting of April 16, 2007 seemed to have never happened.

Any college town comes with its array of bars, breweries, and restaurants. Our pick for the night was 622 North Restaurant and Wine Bar. The restaurant is housed in a renovated Victorian building in Blacksburg’s historic Downtown District. I’ve already eaten in a few restaurants, on both coasts, also located in former houses and have always liked their warm atmosphere.

The weather was gorgeous that night and it was tempting to join the young crowd gathered on the large deck/patio that opens on the Blue Ridge Mountains. Retrospectively, I’m glad we ate inside.

I suppose that when sun is not granted, you seek it

It was a sans music night, but I imagined the pianist on a winter night

Only two years ago, if anyone had asked me where to eat great cheese in the US I would have thought of Wisconsin, Vermont, and California, but not Virginia. With one daughter studying and living in Baltimore, I’ve been lucky to sample excellent local cheese through the upper part of the Southeast. At 622 North, the trio of cheese was served with toasted sourdough, apple butter, pepper jam, and fresh berries. Miam-miam.

The first time I attended an American girlfriends’ night I was asked to bring cheese. Yeah, it happens when people know you are from France 🙂 I showed up with a small goat cheese, a slice of blue cheese, and a piece of Gruyère, a green salad with its dressing on the side, and a baguette. The host seemed a tad puzzled when I set everything on the counter and told her that I would toss the salad at the last minute when we would be ready to eat the cheese. Then she started to slice the bread that she toasted. Meanwhile, she displayed the cheese on a large platter and brought it to the living room where everyone gathered. I watched my new friends dig through. So I followed in their steps. That’s how you learn a foreign lifestyle.

Now my husband and I also love cheese as an appetizer. Only when we eat out, though. Never at home, where cheese is always served right before dessert or a fruit and often as a dessert. Like my father, who didn’t have a sweet tooth, did. It often surprises me to watch our own American-born kids follow in our steps as well. Early life traditions stay with us.

I would do anything for sweet potatoes, which I discovered in the US over my first Thanksgiving. So I chose the snapper only as an accompaniment 🙂 The salsa on top was amazing too. 

My husband’s sweet potatoes is called tuna. He loves tuna in all its forms.

I should no longer be surprised to meet friendly, professional waiters and waitresses in the US. Yet I am. Things have changed a lot in France where service used to be sometimes intimidating and even condescending. I’ve met young French professionals who are now extremely pleasant and helpful. But I still find the American big smile and down-to-earth attitude exceptional. Our waiter that night was also perfect. When we ordered our two glasses of wine he mentioned that today all their bottles of wine were sold at half-price and that we could take home what would be left. So…

We obeyed, of course.

I didn’t find any independent bookstore in Blacksburg, besides the Barnes and Noble at the mall and the few typical college town shops that carry textbooks and college gear.

But our dining room counts as a bookshop no?

Art, wine and books.

What else do you need when your plate is filled and you eat with someone you love?




  1. Virginia is one of the most beautiful parts of this country. I spent almost 20 summers vacationing there with my family, as we visited my mom’s relatives who had a large farm about 30 miles from Charlottesville. This weekend’s event made me sad, but your post is reminding me that the Virginia I remember is still there, too.

    • You’re lucky to have enjoyed such summers! In all honesty I had no idea how beautiful Virginia was until we started to drive through. What happened this weekend in Charlottesville is really devastating. I had planned this post before the violent events but since we also visited Charlottesville a few years ago, I decided to write briefly about it on French Friday. Thank you for your visit and comment, Dan.

  2. Delicious Evelyne, I would happily have had what you had 🙂

  3. We do cheese night at our house regularly. Whatever night there’s less time to cook. I’ll put out cheeses, and then whatever’s around fruit, nut, cracker-wise. Almost always olives for me, The Mister likes a lil salami with his, and the girls don’t care as long as there’s plenty of goat cheeses. 🙂
    I love sweet potato but I am allergic. I sneak a bite or two of my MIL’s sweet potato casserole maybe once a year, maybe twice, and then I just pray it stays down, lol!

    • Then you guys are almost French! I used to do that a lot in Paris when we both worked full time. We had a great fromager and baker next door, so it was easy.
      One of my daughters is like you with sweet potato. Too bad since they are loaded with good stuff for us. But when she’s home I’ll do regular mashed for her.
      And I love olives but not salami. My husband loves both 🙂

  4. Funny. In all the years Garry and I have been married and before that, were friends, he would never travel down south unless it was a family thing (I had family in northern Virginia). Otherwise, with the single and carefully programmed exception — a week in New Orleans in 1997 — we’ve never gone below the Mason-Dixon line. I said “Things have changed.”

    He gave me that one-eyebrow-raised look and said “Not THAT much.”

    He was right. Not that much.

    • Well, sadly, last weekend violence is making Gary’s point even more valid. Dan, above, was commenting on his happy childhood summers near Charlottesville and how sad last weekend makes him. I agree that it’s bad for Virginia since there is more to the state than racists. Roanake, for example, also in Virginia, has always been a nice stop for us.
      New Orleans stands definitely in its own league.
      Like you, I would have said with assurance, “Things have changed.” Until Saturday.
      Thank you for stopping by again, Marilyn.


  1. […] Saturday, as I was selecting the photos for my Monday post about Blacksburg, Virginia and the peaceful gardens set on the campus of Virginia Tech, despicable acts of violence hit […]

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