Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Gazpacho with Local Goat Feta Cheese

The Diva coming to you live from Floyd, Virginia, a beautiful mountain community nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For the next three weeks, I'll be shopping, cooking and eating in residence and my goal is to discover the best, freshest, local & hopefully organic ingredients. With each post, I'll be highlighting great, local producers of everything from produce to poultry and a whole lot in between. Luckily, I have my mother, the Original Diva, backing me up and my father, the Wine Lover, providing plenty of great wines. With all this love and great food & wine, I'm in for a fabulous trip.

First up, we made a simple, summer recipe that I've been dying to cook up all year: gazpacho. Eating this soup, served cold, is one of the great pleasures in life if you ask me. A chilled mixture of tomatoes, peppers, onions and cucumber, it cools you off right away on a hot day. It's also exceptionally healthy, featuring an array of raw, fresh vegetables each with their own health benefits. When combined with a little fresh olive oil which contains good fats that help your body absorb the nutrients in the vegetables, this dish packs a major health punch.

The Diva & Dante at Green's Garage in Floyd, VA

Scouring the local offerings, I journeyed with the Original Diva to one of the best & most improbable places to find produce: a "garage" stocked with food and completely unsupervised. Green's Garage is the brainchild of Tenley Weaver & Dennis Dove, Floyd locals who run a co-op of about 30 local farms called Good Food-Good People. The main focus of their business is supplying restaurants like the one at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, but Green's Garage offers local residents a chance to procure restaurant quality, locally cultivated, organic foods for themselves. Operating on the honor system, you select your purchases, write up your own ticket, and leave money in an envelop. What an amazing way to shop!

Interior of Green's Garage

The Original Diva and I walked in with one of my parent's humongous Golden Retrievers, Dante, hot on our heels. It's hard to go anywhere without Dante due to his love of all transportation. He'll literally stake out the cars for hours and then leap in as soon as he figures out you're leaving. After Dante proceeded to knock his tail into anything in its radius, we shooed him out the door and hoped he wouldn't venture too far on his own. We immediately began selecting our items, including a handful of locally grown, organic, hydroponic tomatoes. I also grabbed two tubs of the BEST hummus in the world, made fresh by a local resident and CIA graduate.

The Diva at Harvest Moon in Floyd, VA

Once we'd filled our bags and chatted up fellow Green's Garage lover, Susan I., one of our oldest friends, we journeyed over to Harvest Moon, the local health food grocery store and cafe. After bumping into Margie, the owner, and the region's congressman, I found the exact item I'd been searching for to top off the Gazpacho we planned to make for dinner: a fresh goat feta cheese from a local dairy called Sterling Bridge Dairy in Willis, VA. I loved the concept of combining a local farmer's cheese with the fresh, crisp flavors of the gazpacho.

Sterling Bridge Dairy's Goat Feta Cheese

Additionally, we loaded up on fresh fish from local business Indigo Farms, including a huge slab of wild-caught salmon (more on Indigo Farms coming in later posts) and bought two pounds of cherries a Floyd resident had picked from a local farm with hundred year old cherry trees. With that, our dinner menu was set. We'd first feast on the gazpacho with the local feta cheese, then we'd have grilled salmon with roasted asparagus & potatoes, and we'd finish with the cherries for dessert. All of the meal's ingredients were procured from local businesses and almost everything except for the fish was grown or made locally.

With that, The Original Diva and I set about cooking our dinner while we sipped red Burgundy, courtesy of the The Wine Lover, and listened to bluegrass music. While everything we ate was wonderful, the gazpacho was the star dish of the night. The goat feta went exceptionally well with the fresh flavors of the soup, leaving everyone wanting more!

Indigo Farm's Wild Salmon with Marinade

So without further ado, I'm sharing the Original Diva's gazpacho recipe with you lucky divas! Also, keep checking back in for the next few weeks. I'll be bringing you plenty more Floyd-inspired summer recipes featuring local ingredients.

Roasted Asparagus & Potatoes

Domestic Diva's Summer Gazpacho with Local Goat Feta Cheese

1/2 cucumber, seeded & chopped
4 tomatoes, quartered
1 red pepper, seeded & chopped
1/2 red onion, peeled & chopped
1 cup tomato or vegetable juice
2 tbsp good olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp chili flakes or 1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
salt & pepper
goat feta cheese


Place all the ingredients except the cheese and the salt & pepper in a blender & puree them together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill the soup for about an hour in the refrigerator.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Crumble some feta cheese on top. Drizzle with the olive oil. Enjoy!

Local businesses mentioned in this post:

Sterling Bridge Dairy
242 Sterling Bridge Rd.
Willis VA, 24380

Producers of both fresh and aged cow's milk and goat's milk cheeses, they're a family run operation in Willis, VA. They raise their own grassfed livestock and use a variety of sustainable practices to ensure they make the highest quality cheese. Click here to visit their website & read more about them!

Harvest Moon
227 N. Locust St.
Floyd, VA 24091
(540) 745-4366

A local grocery store and cafe, it follows the vision of the Slowfood Movement now sweeping the nation (at least I hope so!). They also feature a lovely cafe with delicious, healthy foods! This gem is truly one of the best things Floyd has to offer! Click here to visit their website and read about them!


  1. This gazpacho looks amazing!! I'll definitely be trying it soon!

  2. OMG, it's so good!! I might make it again this week. Thanks for checking it out!!