In the past several years, it has become increasingly important to me to know
where my food comes from and how it was raised or grown. This farm-to-fork philosophy is reflected in Roanoke's Joseph Decuis Emporium.
Located on the town's historic Main Street, the Emporium includes not only a restaurant but also a gourmet food shop.
And it's only fitting that my dining companion grew up on a family farm in Ohio.
The day we visited the Emporium, the two daily specials were the Wagyu Steak Salad and the Wagyu Beef Liver and Onions. Normally I would have gravitated to the salad, but on yet another of the numerous sub-zero days this winter, I just wanted hot soup.
Along with my Wagyu burger with Napa slaw, I selected the Gumbo Ya Ya. The visible bits of sausage and the spicy Cajun broth awakened my taste buds. It was excellent and I would order it again.
My dining companion opted for the grilled veggie panini with French fries and vegetable beef soup.
Soups and drinks are self-serve. When I ladled the vegetable beef soup for her, we were shocked at the avalanche of ingredients. Though she said it was very good, it was a bit too spicy for her. The soup was very thick and chunky; she would have liked a bit more liquid.
We had just finished our soups when our entrees arrived.
My Wagyu burger was served on a toasted Kaiser roll accompanied by a slices of cheddar cheese, tomato, red onion and leaf lettuce.
The char-grilled meat was cooked perfectly - no pink center and yet juicy and rich with flavor. I'm glad I didn't drown it in condiments. I can honestly say that this burger is one of the best I've ever tasted.
The Napa slaw was as excellent as the burger. Crunchy Napa cabbage and shaved carrots were lightly dressed with a rice vinegar concoction.
My companion's grilled veggie panini sandwich was oozing with melted cheese. The toasted bread was buttery and was packed with veggies. The sandwich was so large she couldn't eat the whole thing, but she enjoyed every bite.
A mountain of shoestring French fries accompanied her sandwich. They were crispy and lightly salted. They were so good I found myself swiping one every so often.
At the end of the meal we didn't have room for even a cookie. Instead we browsed the food shop. You can find a little bit of everything at the Emporium - assorted meats, wines, cheeses, popcorn, Gumbo Ya Ya and even Valentine's cookies.
Another way to bring the farm to your house is by buying eggs. According to the the Emporium menu, the farm-fresh eggs come from Happy Hens.
And isn't that the epitome of farm-to-fork?