HOT NEW EATERIES
OPENING IN HUNT COUNTRY
By Chelsea Moore
From bubble tea to wild-caught fish, there are hot new eateries popping up throughout Hunt Country. Whenever you’re ready for a summer foodie staycation, we’ve got your stops covered with three new destinations.
The Market at Bluewater Kitchen
Bluewater Kitchen is doing it again. Although they started as a full-service catering and events company in 2013, they have grown far beyond exclusively catering. They are opening a new seafood and meat shop with the same high quality and attention to detail customers have come to expect from them.
Co-owners and husband-and-wife team Christina and Michael Kozich opened The Market at Bluewater Kitchen in Upperville’s old country store in November 2019 as an expansion of their catering business. Customers could choose from the hot order menu or purchase prepared dinners to eat at home. But during COVID, the shop turned into a local grocery store out of necessity. Customers were asking to buy products directly off the menu as a way of avoiding the grocery store, which got the Kozichs thinking about expanding their offerings.
“People would ask, ‘Can we just buy the fish raw from the fish sandwich, instead of going to the grocery store?’” Christina said.
When the stone building next door became available, they decided to open up a seafood and meat market, giving their customers the opportunity to buy high-quality fish and meat directly from their expanded market.
“Everybody in the area has to drive to Gainesville or Leesburg to go to Wegmans to get good seafood,” Michael said.
Two sustainable seafood markets — Blue Ocean Market Fresh Seafood in Morehead City, North Carolina, and Harbor Docks Seafood Market in Destin, Florida — will ship their fresh catches of the day overnight to Bluewater multiple times a week. While Bluewater will have some consistent offerings, like salmon and gulf shrimp, they will have a rotating selection of fish based on whatever is migrating at the time.
“It’s fresh, wild-caught seafood,” Michael said.
For their meat offerings, they will have both high-quality and everyday steaks. They will stock pork chops, sausage, and other pork products, as well as chicken from Long Stone Farm in Lovettsville. Some steaks will be sourced from Ovoka Farm in Paris, Virginia.
Bluewater’s meat selection is designed to make small dinner parties and family dinners simple, healthy, and delicious. Pick up what you need and cook it at home — or don’t. If you aren’t comfortable cooking something at home, they will cook it for you at the market.
“When we started catering events in 2013, our goal was to showcase the amazing products be- ing produced in the immediate area and the people behind them,” Christina said. “We will never lose that hyper-local focus. It will always be part of our platform, but we will also be highlighting artisans and farmers, not in the immediate area, who are stewards of the land and waterways, doing their part to responsibly raise and cultivate their products. They supply us with quality items, and our culinary team is inspired to create tasty dishes.”
The Kozich’s favorite part of all of this? “Being a positive part of the community,” Christina said. “Thank you to Upperville for the support,” Michael said. “We wouldn’t be here without them. We hope the residents are proud to have both shops in the area.”
As of the writing of this article, there is no firm opening date. Some of the equipment needed to open the shop has been delayed because of COVID. The Kozichs are keeping their fingers crossed and hope to open the seafood and meat market sometime in mid-August.
The Market at Bluewater Kitchen is located at 9036 John S Mosby Hwy, Upperville, Va. Learn more by visiting themarketatbluewaterkitchen.com.
Empress Pearl Tea
A peaceful oasis in the center of Purcellville, Empress Pearl Tea opened on June 14, giving Loudoun residents a little taste of Taiwan. The powerhouse duo that brought us Petite LouLou Creperie, Dusty Lockhart, and Stefano Frigerio, is back with Empress Pearl Tea as their second restaurant. It is located in the same shopping center as the town’s beloved Petite LouLou and has been met with just as much favor.
“For our first day, our soft opening, we had a line all the way out the door for four hours,” Mark Goings, one of the supervisors, said. “I made 475 drinks in four hours.”
He credits the shop’s popularity to the unique taste of its drinks. The shop’s commitment to staying true to the original taste of bubble tea makes it stand apart from other bubble tea locations. Before opening, the team did bubble tea tastings at other shops, and Empress Pearl Tea’s unique flavor and fun toppings make the drinks all the more exciting.
Bubble tea, or boba, is a Taiwanese beverage. While all of Empress Pearl Tea’s drinks are fully customizable, they offer traditional milk teas, fruit teas, and frappes. Select large or small tapioca pearls in your drink or leave the tapioca out altogether. Or choose flavored tapioca pearls (cherry-strawberry popping pearls, anyone?).
Playful drink lovers can choose a “cookies and cream” or “piña colada” flavored frappe or a delicious “strawberry milk tea.” Traditional tea lovers can select a green jasmine milk tea or a black oolong tea. Customers can even choose the sweetness level of their drink. Fun toppings such as cotton candy can be added to any beverage, making the entire drink a memorable experience. The shop also sells desserts, such as mochi and jellies.
And then there’s the look and feel of the shop that exudes positivity from every corner. Sit in the egg chair and snap an Instagram photo, work on your laptop, read a book, or chat with friends — but whatever you do, it will be done amongst a plethora of plants.
“People like the aesthetic,” Goings said. “There are plants everywhere and so many places to sit and be comfy.”
Empress Pearl Tea is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 737 E Main St., Purcellville, Va.
Locust Hill Farm
Locust Hill Farm, owned by the late Magalen O. Bryant, now run by her grandson Michael Webert, is getting a facelift. A couple of years ago, Michael and his wife Rebecca decided to go direct to the consumer by selling online and offering pick up. But last year, at the start of COVID, they decided to try something new: They planted sweet corn. They added it to the farm stand with the ability to pay on the honor system.
Each day, they picked between 400 and 500 ears of corn and were amazed to sell out in 30 minutes. Between traffic from both locals and tourists, and feedback from the community, their success with the sweet corn made them think about expanding and opening a true farm store.
With the goal of opening in mid-August, they will continue offering beef cuts and sweet corn, along with adding a few other delicious things. They will sell eggs raised by their sons, aged 9 and 6. The money from the eggs will go back into the boys’ chicken business.
They will also be adding beef boxes with a selection of cuts, rather than limiting customers to a whole or half cow. If you don’t have the freezer space but still want to stock your fridge for a few weeks, a box will be a great in-between solution.
In addition to the beef, sweet corn, and eggs, they are planning to grow pumpkins for the fall. They are also talking to local artisans and makers about adding cheeses, fruit, baked goods, and fresh flowers to the store. They are sourcing products primarily from Loudoun and Fauquier counties.
Above all, their mission is to provide quality products and quality meats. They believe it’s important to keep their grass-fed, grain-finished beef affordable by pricing it competitively with grocery stores.
“Those of us in agriculture wake up every morning and face a lot of things that can make your day go pretty hard south,” Michael said. “At times, it can be a very challenging thing to do. We are putting food on people’s tables. Every once in a while you need a lawyer, but three times a day you need a farmer. It is rewarding when customers taste and enjoy what we’ve worked very, very hard to produce.”
Michael loves showing his customers around the farm. When people ask to see a photo of their steer, he shows them pictures and points out the growing corn that feeds the steers.
“It’s also amazing when someone comes to you and says they had the best steak they ever had, and it’s from your steers,” Michael said. “It’s wildly rewarding.”
“I’ve been in [agriculture] my whole life,” Rebecca said. “I am super passionate about farmers and ranchers. To be able to do this and connect people to my food and help them put food on their table in a way that they feel comfortable with is [a joy].” ML
The Locust Hill Farm Store is located at 2152 Zulla Rd, Middleburg, Va. Learn more at locusthill.com.
This article first appeared in the August 2021 Issue.