Roanoke Times
                 Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: WEDNESDAY, March 14, 1990                   TAG: 9004250185
DATELINE:                                 LENGTH: Medium


Virginia has taste, and quite a range of original, homemade products, according to the Food and Libations Association of Virginia.

This 2-year-old organization grew out of former governor Chuck Robb's "We Have It Made In Virginia" campaign, helped along by Lisa Lafoon of the Virginia Department of Agriculture.

"She felt there was a need for a continuation of the good that came out of that campaign," said Raymond Fearnow of Fearnow Brothers in Mechanicsville, makers of Brunswick Stew. After Robb's governorship, funding was cut, and Lafoon tried to get together a number of smaller companies to form an association to promote Virginia products.

Some of these luscious goodies will be available for tasting and viewing at the FLAVA section at the American Women's Show. Many of these companies have their origins around the kitchen table - tables that strained under grandmother's kettles and cans.

"My grandmother started our Brunswick stew in her kitchen in the early '30s," said Fearnow, who owns Fearnow Brothers with his cousin, George Fearnow. "When relatives from West Virginia and Pittsburg visited, she made it because transportation was so unreliable, and it was something that would keep warm for when they arrived."

Fearnow said that his grandmother, Lillie Pearl Fearnow, first sold it on consignment at the Women's Exchange in Richmond, and then branched out to the local Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers stores. Two of her sons started a cannery in 1946 just to package this Brunswick stew, and over 50 years later, the Fearnows distribute in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and in Food Lion stores as far south as Florida. They will be tempting palates at the show with samples of their product, which contains such wholesome ingredients as chicken, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, lima beans, carrots, onions, parsley and seasoning.

Another generations-old story is Pasta By Valente, from Charlottesville. "My children were raised on pasta," said owner Fran Valente. "My mother-in-law taught me how to make it." Hers, however, is about the healthiest version of pasta your children will ever eat. Fettucine, linguine, tagliarini and angel hair pasta are made with pureed vegetables - like spinach, carrot, beet, tomatoes, and red pepper/pimentoes - and contain no salt, no eggs (except the egg pasta), no oil, no preservatives, and unbleached and semolina flour. Valente even has a lemon pasta which she says is delightful with seafood.

It may, in fact, be a delicious accompaniment to the Blue Crab Bay Company's products. Pamela Barefoot, who said she likes to eat more than she likes to cook, started her company around her kitchen table in April, 1985. She markets seafood seasonings with recipes for clam and crab dip, garlic bread and steamed shellfish. They are products that make cooking easy, she said.

In addition, Blue Crab Bay Company's salf-free, MSG-free and additive-free products include canned clams, herring roe, clam chowder and a seafood marinade.

Chick Cove Herb Farm, located in Deltaville where the Rappahanock River runs into the Chesapeake Bay, is a typical example of the success that FLAVA companies are experiencing. "We've just begun international distribution," said owner Renee Chewning. "We started as a restaurant in 1981 and closed that in 1988. Back then, there was no source for fresh-cut herbs."

So the Chewnings started an herb garden. "The more we used the herbs in the restaurant, the more demand we had for them from customers," she said. Now, Chick Cove Herb Farm markets fresh herb plants, fresh-cut herbs, 16 varieties of herbal vinegars (no blends), herb baking mixes, and herbal jams and jellies, like Raspberry Mint Preserves and Lemon Rose Geranium Marmalade.

Another FLAVA company with panache in the pantry is Rowena's, in Norfolk, approaching its seventh year in business. "We're up to over 2,000 stores nationwide and in Canada," said Cameron Foster, promotional marketing coordinator. "It started out with Rowena Fullinwider doing it for herself, with jams and jellies made from produce from her backyard. She went from church kitchen to rented kitchen and then renovated an old warehouse in Norfolk."

Some of Rowena's specialties include Almond Pound Cake (a family recipe), Sweet and Sour Mustard Sauce, Peach Orange Clove Jam, Carrot Jam (it's been called "carrot cake in a jar"), Steak and Hamburger Sauce, and Lemon Curd ("good over gingerbread, or right out of the jar,"said Foster).

 by CNB