Our rendezvous with Culpeper goes back to a Washington Post informative write-up in November 30, 2005, Food Section review of a Civil War town, some 70 miles from Washington D.C. The reading itself hit the spot already that day, and four days later we tried the recommended chic dining in a town undergoing it’s welcomed Renaissance.
Gathering of facts reveals that the town’s name comes after Lord Thomas Culpeper, Colonial Governor of Virginia, was first named as Town of Fairfax, and was surveyed in 1749 by a 17-years old George Washington. The area was hotly contested during the Civil War. The town’s historic district, built between 1880 and 1920 saw subsequent decay and neglect with front show windows boarded up. In addition, the town’s claim to fame sport an exciting fact that if you are standing in front of the Visitors Center now, General George Armstrong Custer had his horse shot out from under him on this very spot during the Civil War.
The first visit also included a stop at the Cameleer store of International Giftware and Aboriginal Handcrafts – a world of native simplicity offering an escape from the usual made in China products. It was on one of the first visits when we stepped into a European-style market called Food for Thought, which offered an outlet to a locally produced grass-fed meats, a stock of local cheeses, pies, and other homemade products. Today, the market is no more. Its then presence was now to be experienced by John and Connie’s Thyme Market.
A few weeks later, we “parked” at the It’s About Thyme, the first in the Thyme cuisine empire in Culpeper, opened in 1995, for a serving of ravioli and other fine foods. During the subsequent visits, we learned about what drives John Yarnall, his two daughters – Joclyn, now a Head Chef trained at Cordon Bleu in Paris, pictured with President Bill Clinton when he visited the spot in 2008, and Jodi, a Penn State graduate, now House Manager – and of course, Connie. As we met, Connie was ever so eager to take us through the stages of the Thyme establishments, including when a Thyme Inn was being added in a renovated space above the Market, adding an up-scale B&B space.
After we meet our friends, and enjoy the Virginia hospitality at the Thyme Market, we also take away a trinity of smells, tastes and creativity, all merged into an unforgettable moment that will carry us until the next Thyme in Culpeper experience, as they refer to an encounter with their town on http://www.thymeinfo.com.