Floyd, Virginia

This summer we spent three weeks in the States.  I flew over mid-July and taught at the wonderful John C Campbell Folk School then David joined me and we began our road trip from Nashville through the Smokey Mountains then up and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was fabulous.

Since returning I’ve been planning on posting about some of our travel and food experiences.  So let me start here…

One of our favourite stops was towards the end of our trip – Floyd, Virginia.  It’s a tiny town just off the Blue Ridge Parkway known for it’s jamboree.  Every Friday night musicians from the local area and further afield gather in the town to play.  The main event is in the Floyd Country Store where musicians play and folk dance from 7pm until late.  Outside on every street corners bands also play.  The crowd was a mix of musicians and dancers, locals and visitors, young and old. It was an amazing experience and one we’d love to repeat.


Our accommodation for the night was just outside of Floyd itself. A tiny wee cabin in the woods with an outdoor shower and toilet, it was .  Had we not been flying home the following day, we would have asked to stay an extra night.


Venison & Black Bean Chili (for a chilly day)


Made the following dish last summer and loved it.  Knew at the time that we’d enjoy it even more come winter.  And so we do.  The bright flavours and warming spices are perfect for days when the frost lies thick on the ground and two pairs of socks just aren’t enough to keep the chill from your toes.


Venison and Black Bean Chili (adapted from Diana Henry’s Food from Plenty)

(serves 6 – freezes wonderfully)

300g dried black beans, soaked over night

750g diced venison 

2 medium onions, chopped

4 plump garlic cloves, chopped

1 tspn dried chilli flakes

1 tblspn cumin

2 tins chopped tomatoes

600ml light ale or lager

1 tblspn tomato puree

1 tblspn brown suar

1 tblspn dried oregano

To Serve:


Chopped coriander

Chopped spring onion

Yogurt or sour cream

  • Cook the beans in plenty of unsalted water until just tender.  Drain and set aside.
  • Add enough olive oil to cover the base of a large, heavy based pan.  Heat to medium-high then brown the venison in small batches.
  • Once all the venison is browned, place it to one side.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion to the pan.  Cook until truly soft and beginning to turn golden (about 20 mins).
  • Add the garlic, chili flakes, cumin and oregano to the pan and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes, beer, sugar, and venison to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper then bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer gently, covered, for an hour.
  • Remove lid, add beans and cook for another hour until sauce is thickened and venison is tender.
  • Serve topped with coriander, spring onions, a squeeze of lime and some sour cream.