Friday, November 28, 2014

geSHENKe

Artist Carmen Shenk, formerly chef and co-owner at Jimmy Anderson's Casual Gourmet has started a new venture in Staunton, Virginia, called “geSHENKe, a fine art and live music experience.” Geschenke is the German word for presents and “Shenk” is the artist's last name, so the business name became “geSHENKe”.


Shenk is a jewelry designer, photographer, and works in textiles as well as a variety of other art media. Color is a common theme in her work, and her new gallery features the joyful exuberance of vivid colors and textures. GeSHENKe is an art gallery featuring Shenk's work along with the work of a dozen or so artist friends from around the region whose work is not otherwise in the Staunton market. The gallery includes studio work space, and space for classes and workshops. The gallery will have a musical component and features a piano and other musical instruments that are also available for sale. Shenk's husband, Xaver Wilhelmy, provides piano tuning and repair as well as pipe organ tuning, voicing, and restoration services.
 
When Shenk returned to the Shenandoah Valley in 2000, she started work as a fine art consultant at William Grover Gallery in Bacova and Hot Springs, Virginia. In 2004 she opened Charis Designs, a boutique art gallery, in Warm Springs Virginia and became an award winning jewelry designer with her designs featured on the back cover of print publications and online. Shenk was on the board of directors at Oasis Gallery in Harrisonburg, and was Director of Exhibits for a number of years. Shenk moved from Bath County to Staunton in 2006 and met Xaver Wilhelmy and the pair married in 2012 in the building known as “Jimmy Anderson's”. Together they opened Jimmy Anderson's Casual Gourmet which was a neighborhood restaurant favorite on Springhill Road just north of the duck pond in Gypsy HillPark. They closed the restaurant in June 2014 to pursue other interests, and sold the building to Chef Mike Lund.

When asked what she misses about the restaurant, Shenk invariably replies that she misses having fresh bread, crispy Kunzler bacon, and fresh produce at her fingertips at all times. She misses the farmers and producers from around the region who became friends. She says she doesn't miss the day to day demands of managing a staff, creating an ever-changing menu, sourcing, and the administrative work required to manage a restaurant. Shenk and Wilhelmy hosted a concert series in the restaurant featuring classical and jazz piano music, and those concerts were a highlight of their time as restaurant owners.

As Shenk and Wilhelmy closed the restaurant, conversation invariably changed to plans for the future. And together they decided it was time for Shenk to return to her roots as an artist and art gallery owner. “I often have people in the gallery who express their sadness at the close of Jimmy Anderson's and it's really kind of people to say such great things about that place.” However, Shenk says it's a difficult playing field when you make a meal completely from scratch and compete against restaurants who order food from Sysco, warm it, and serve it for the same price. “It's different in the art world”, Shenk says. “It is easier for people to tell the difference between a plastic mass marketed product and a one-of-a-kind work made by a skilled artisan.” 

 
Shenk is delighted to again be a small business owner in Staunton, Virginia. She loves being surrounded by beautiful artwork and believes the community will appreciate the art and music offered at her gallery. “In a world of cheap plastic imports, it's great to see artisans at work creating beautiful hand made things that will last.” Visit geSHENKe and enjoy a selection of beautiful fine art and craft made by some of the Shenandoah Valley's finest artists. 
 
I landed on my feet, this is the right gig for me.” Shenk says. When you visit the gallery and take a look around, you will agree. She did indeed.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

All our Favorites!

 We're going out on our menu favorites this week.  Of course Chef Tom's Crab Cakes are at the top of the list, they are always a crowd favorite (and a personal favorite!)
 Another crowd favorite is Chef Tom's Concerto Chicken, a dish we served at a classical music concert here, featuring Stefan Petrov and Dmitry Volkov.  This dish will always remind me of that amazing evening when we enjoyed the convergence of fine food, fine people, amazing music, and two historic musical instruments.
 Chef Kevin's Pulled Pork with spicy mustard sauce is marvelous, as always.
When we started this restaurant and started thinking about the things we might like to serve in the evenings here, the first thing on the list for me was always Shrimp and Grits.  And it's what we started with, and it's what we'll finish with.

Thanks to all our many friends here in Staunton and around the region, your support has been marvelous and we appreciate you very much!  Join us for lunch or dinner this week though Saturday evening, and call now and make your reservation for the final concert in our Spring Concert Series.

Ciao!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Big News!

We’d like to thank our friends, family, farmers, and vendors for your support over the last year. We are so proud of the beautiful restaurant we've created, the great food, smoothies, wine, and desserts we've served, and the many friends we've made here at Jimmy Anderson's Casual Gourmet!
 
We've hosted memorable classical music concerts here featuring our 1862 Steinway Concert Grand piano, including Stefan Petrov and Dmitry Volkov of the Heifetz Institute, Dr. Lise Keiter of Mary Baldwin, and Dr. Eric Ruple and Kevin McMillan of JMU. We have also hosted local favorites including Kat & the Travelers, Joshua Goines, Kathy Lafon, Brian Buchanan, and Steve Smith.
 
 
Our exceptional team, Chef Kevin Lewis, and Sous Chef (writer, and organic farmer) Tom Sarvay have worked hard to bring an incredible dining experience to each and every one of our customers. Their consummate skill and dedication have made this place a pleasure to visit for so many, and many of life's milestones have been celebrated here.

 
We are honored to have supported an amazing community of farmers and vendors in this region, and to bring good fresh food to the table day after day. Tom Sarvay of Sarvay Farm, Norm Shafer of Geezer Farm, John Matheny of Nu-Beginning Farm, Tom Hayman of Grains of Sense, Phil & Deirdre of Harvest Thyme Herbs, Linda Newman of Mixing it Up Gluten Free Baking, Joe Pehan of Joe's Sausages, and Mt. Crawford Creamery have all been amazing! We are most pleased to be good neighbors and friends with the good folks at Queen City Brewing across the street. The good folks at Bluestone Vineyard in Bridgewater and Barren Ridge Vineyards have rounded out our international wine list with local favorites.

 
We believe we've stayed true to the heritage of this building. Jimmy Anderson built this building in 1937 and tirelessly brought great products to his community, and always with friendly service. We've made every effort to continue his legacy here.

 
Please join us Saturday May 31st through Saturday June 7th for our final celebratory send off as we close Jimmy Anderson's. We will be open Tuesday - Saturday 11 - 3 for lunch, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for dinner from 5 - 9 pm, dinner reservations are a good idea. 

 
We have two remaining concerts on our schedule and we urge you to make your reservations now as space will be limited.  The one is Wednesday, June 4th, featuring Jennifer Kirkland and Bert Carlson...

And the final is Thursday, June 12th, featuring Bob Hallahan at the Steinway and Pete Spaar on bass. The concerts are by reservation only, tickets are $10 per person and the prix fixe menu is $20 per person not including beverage, tax, and gratuity. We hope you'll stop by, raise a last glass with us, enjoy some live music, and send all of us here at Jimmy Anderson's Casual Gourmet off in style!

Thank you so much.
Love,
Xaver, Carmen, and the entire Jimmy Anderson team, past, and present!

Live Piano Music!

Joshua Goines will be back at our Steinway again Saturday evening the 31st starting at about 6:30.  Join us for an evening of classical and beautiful arrangements of familiar tunes.  Joshua is the Organist at First Presbyterian here in Staunton, and teaches music at Shenandoah Valley Academy.
  Join us for dinner and live music, straight from the heart!  No cover, tips gratefully accepted. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bonjour!

C'est une belle journée!

 Tonight we have a special treat for you!  Dr. Eric Ruple, Professor of Piano at JMU, will be joining us at the Steinway for an evening of music from Paris!  He will be joined by Kevin McMillan, also faculty at JMU, who will provide the narration for Poulenc's "The Story of Babar" (the Elephant).  It promises to be an evening of charm and laughter for us all.

A few words from Dr. Ruple:
I am so pleased to bring you this evening of music from Paris! 
Arguably the greatest French composer was Claude Debussy.  His music is filled with both lyrical melodies and a hint of modernism which was beginning to bubble over in 1913.  Rumors of war, along with similarly heated cultural wars (just consider the riot which greeted The Rite of Spring) were part of everyday life for this progressive and inventive composer.  Tonight's pieces, four Preludes, from his set of twenty-four, display the wide range of expression and sound found in so much of his music.  As this is an evening of food and music, we will begin appropriately eough, with a prelude which co-mingles different senses.  "Sounds and Smells Turn in the Evening Air" is based on a line from a Baudelaire poem, and shows Debussy at his most mysterious and atmospheric.  From there we go to the simple beauty found in The Girl With the Flaxen Hair.  Third we find ourselves in the unexpected world of humor in General Lavine - eccentric, a piece that borrows from the American "cakewalk" that Debussy may well have seen at the Paris World Exhibition some years earlier.  Finally this portion of the program ends with the technical brilliance of Fireworks - and, like all good patriotic events, these fireworks end with just a bit of the French national anthem.

Although Chopin was born in Poland, he lived much of his adult life in and around France, and more importantly, was influenced by what he heard there.  Many of his "character pieces" were very likely performed in a home or "salon" with food being served.  The beautiful Mazurka in A Minor is a piece in which one can perhaps hear the nostalgic feeling of one who has long ago left his homeland.  The Nocturne in D flat Major is a favorite of mine.  While employing the operatic melodic lines that Chopin so often heard and loved in Paris, it is as harmonically rich and varied as anything he wrote.

Francis Poulenc brings us back to the twentieth century.  His music is always elegant and sophisticated, while at the same time it remains immediately attractive.  The Story of Babar is Poulenc at his best.  One can read Babar as an indictment of French imperialism, or simply enjoy a wonderful children's story.  In the same way, the music can be appreciated for its deeply complex harmonies, or just a lot of really great music!  I am honored to be joined by my wonderful JMU colleague, Kevin McMillan.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Love Sweets!

The flowers at this wedding were lovely, and this little butterfly dropped by for a visit!
 My handsome husband made lots and lots of these chocolate covered cherries.  The process is time consuming, but the end result is completely worth it!
 
 I made chocolate almond toffee crunch.
 This was milk chocolate ganache with a hint of caramel in a milk chocolate with a design in gold on top.
 These were Myan chocolate... a hit of heat and a dusting of paprika on top.
 This was Valrhona Caramelia wrapped in white chocolate with a design on top.
 And I failed to get a photograph of the rich mocha truffles, oops!
 I made small chocolate cups with french silk (a recipe I've come up with that did not require raw eggs) and berries and one of the bridesmaids made a lovely almond cake with almond buttercream and strawberries inside that was divine!  It was lovely with peonies on it and all the chocolates around it.
It's not possible to even imagine a more beautiful setting for a wedding and reception!
It was a great pleasure to be a part of this special day and we will all be pleased to see the photographer's work! 

God bless you on your journey together, thanks for making us a part of your celebration!


Sandwiches and Vegetables!

 The sandwich table at the wedding started out with the best ingredients... first of all - BACON! 
 We made pastries with honey mustard, apple, smoked ham, and brie wrapped in puff pastry.
There were very few of these left by the end of the evening!
Chef Kevin and Chef Tom made chicken salad sandwiches - what we call the Taylor here in the restaurant. 
And we made my signature sandwich, the Sherwood.  This has basil pesto and garlic spread, fire roasted red bell pepper, lettuce, avocado, and onion.  Yum!
We also served an outdoor casual version of my favorite BLT shooters... a small cup with bacon, a cherry tomato, a basil leaf, and my dad's recipe of cucumber cream cheese filling.  They're one mouth full of summer, and really quite good!  We also had a vegetable tray up on the Thonet chair, and veggie cups with Chef Kevin's Chipotle Ranch dressing on the other side.
 The handsome couple enjoyed their first dance...
And the sandwich table was complete and I'm very pleased with how it came together! I'm not sure which was my favorite, the ham & brie croissant or the BLT shooters... either way - YUM!