Posts Tagged ‘Sonker Trail’

Downtown Mount Airy Eatery, Down Home Restaurant, Joins the Surry Sonker Trail

Posted on: May 18th, 2016 by 89and52 No Comments

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. – The Surry Sonker Trail has a new member as the Down Home Restaurant came on board in March. Down Home opened in the location formerly occupied by Granite City BBQ and replaced it on this confectionary trail in Surry County.

Sandra Johnson and Bonnie Reynolds run the casual eatery on Main Street in Mount Airy. Both grew up in the area and learned to make sonker from family recipes. Reynolds is the primary sonker maker and Johnson bakes the cakes. But they trade off.

“We’ve made sonker all of our lives at home,” Johnson says. “It’s just a traditional, quick dessert here.”

Similar to cobbler, sonker consists of cooked fruit and a crust. Some have a liquid batter poured on top of the fruit, others have a rolled dough for their crust, and others are prepared on the stove top with a dropped-dumpling crust. Each recipe depends upon family tradition.

Down Home Restaurant makes its sonker by cooking fruit — strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, apples or peaches — on the stove, transferring it to a pan, adding a crust made from a liquid batter and baking it.

“I took one bite of the Down Home Restaurant sonker and almost cried because it brought back so many memories of my granny’s sonker,” says Jessica Johnson, assistant marketing director at the Mount Airy Visitors Center.

The region’s sonker dates to the early 1800s. The dessert was a product of frugal home cooks who didn’t want to waste any over-ripe fruit.

In addition to Down Home Restaurant in Mount Airy, the Surry Sonker Trail includes The Living Room Coffeehouse and Winebar in Pilot Mountain, Putters Patio & Grill in Dobson, Old North State Winery in Mount Airy, Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies in Mount Airy, Rockford General Store in Dobson and Roxxi & Lulu’s Bakery in Elkin.

The trail was created in January 2015 by the Tourism Partnership of Surry County. Each of the seven stops on the Surry Sonker Trail offers a different style of the dessert.

“Trying the food is part of learning about the place where you’re living or visiting,” Sandra Johnson says. “Sonker is native to this region.”

To receive a Surry Sonker Trail brochure map, which has all the info needed to enjoy a day or two along the trail, call (800) 948-0949, or go online at: www.SonkerTrail.org

Down Home Restaurant

Posted on: August 14th, 2015 by 89and52 No Comments

Down Home Restaurant offers homemade breakfast, lunch, dinner, as well as daily specials. Enjoy the large, covered patio for dining! Every Tuesday night from 6 to 8 p.m., Down Home hosts a bluegrass and old-time jam session!

Down Home Restaurant also offers a FULL BREAKFAST all day long as well as many homemade desserts!

Locally owned and operated with the owners on site every day! Family run!

Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed on Sundays.

The restaurant is located in Downtown Mount Airy, at 243 Main Street, Mount Airy, North Carolina 27030

Summer Fun in Mount Airy, NC – “Mountains, Music, Mayberry, Merlot”

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 by 89and52 No Comments

There is plenty of summer fun for the entire family in Mount Airy, North Carolina. This is also a perfect place for girlfriend getaways, family reunions, and romantic vacations!
There are many outdoor recreation opportunities in the cooler forests, our beautiful mountain streams & rivers, local swimming pools and parks, unique shopping, farmers markets, and so much more, you will always find something to do in this area!
Grab a picnic from one of our local markets, produce stands, or delis, and get ready for a summertime adventure in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Swimming
Reeves Community Center: Reeves Community Center is Surry County’s largest recreation center, located at 113 S. Renfro Street in Mount Airy. The facility offers day passes or week passes for visitors, who will receive full use of the facility, including the indoor and outdoor pools, state of the art gym/exercise equipment, and a variety of fitness classes. www.mountairy.org/138/Reeves-Community-Center

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Homeplace Recreational Park: Homeplace, located at 258 Homeplace Park Road in Ararat, NC, features Surry County’s largest pool, as well as a waterslide, separate diving area, a rope swing, and a sloped and carpeted child’s entry area. There is also a snack bar, a campground, miniature golf, picnic shelters, and more. www.homeplacepark.com

pool waterslide
Beechnut Park: Beechnut, located at 315 Beechnut Lane in Mount Airy, NC, offers a family campground, several pools, a zipline, a fishing pond, a snack bar, and more! The campground offers day passes. www.beechnutcampground.com

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Hanging Rock State Park: Hanging Rock State Park, located about 30 minutes away from Mount Airy in nearby Stokes County at 1790 Hanging Rock Park Road in Danbury, NC, features a swimming lake with lifeguards, as well as paddle boat and row boat rentals. The park also offers a campground, rental cabins, many trails, waterfalls, a cave, and more. www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/haro/main.php

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Fishing

With 4 rivers in Surry County, water recreation is part of life here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Pack up your fishing gear and a variety of fishing opportunities – stocked trout streams as well as stocked fishing ponds! If you forgot your fishing gear, don’t worry, we have several options, including Robby’s in Downtown Mount Airy!

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For river fishing, try the Ararat River Greenway Trail/Riverside Park in Mount Airy, only a few blocks away from downtown! The NC Wildlife Commission stocks it with trout and it is known as one of the best trout-fishing spots in the entire area. Also try fishing at Fisher River Park and on the Yadkin River in the Western part of Surry County. For pond fishing, check out Tumbling Rock Reservoir at Westwood Park in Mount Airy, which is stocked with catfish, bass, and more! Also, check out Big Elkin Creek in Elkin, NC. For more information about fishing opportunities, call 336-786-6116.

Canoeing/Kayaking

Surry County has 4 rivers running through our beautiful countryside, and all offer opportunities for fishing and canoeing. We are blessed with pristine streams and rivers nestled in rural settings, protected from development. These waterways run straight off of the Blue Ridge Mountains and feature pristine water conditions!  The Yadkin River, Surry’s largest, flows along the county’s southern border, while the Mitchell River meanders through western Surry, each offering spectacular unspoiled natural beauty. The Ararat River flows through Mount Airy, with an entry point at Riverside Park and a take-out at Tharrington Park. Paddling opportunities are ever-expanding, thanks due to ongoing stream-preservation and reclamation efforts. Call 336.401.8390 for more information.

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Swimming and tubing is recommended only for adults and children with adult supervision who are strong swimmers – river swimming is at your own risk!

Ararat River Greenway Trail at Riverside Park with multiple access points
850 Riverside Drive, Mount Airy, NC 27030
336-786-8313
Greenway Trail information – www.mountairy.org/142/Parks-Fields-Greenways

Kapps Mill Kayak Trips
690 Devotion Road
Thurmond, NC 28683
336-366-2509
rrgallimore@yahoo.com

Yadkin Valley River Adventures
Full-service outfitter with canoe, kayak, and fishing trips. Shuttle service and overnight trips available
Located across from Rockford General Store.
104 Old Rockford Road, Dobson, NC 27017 (call for directions or visit website..do not use GPS)
336-374-5318
www.yadkinriveradventures.com
paddle@yadkinriveradventures.com

Picnics

The sky is the limit with picnic options in this area – from your own homemade packed lunches, featuring local produce from our farmers markets or local produce stands, or call ahead for a box lunch prepared from a local deli! Take advantage of the grills offered at several rental shelters for large gatherings, or simply order take out from your favorite local restaurant and dine in the great outdoors at one of our many parks! Be sure to check out Mill Creek General Store, located at 541 W. Pine Street in Mount airy, who offer take-out or dine-in deli sandwiches and a wide variety of specialty foods and local items. The Mount Airy Farmers Market is held in the parking lot of Mill Creek General Store from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. every Tuesday, from May through October.

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After you pack your picnic basket, head to a local park, such as Pilot Mountain State Park, Riverside Park in Mount Airy, Westwood Park in Mount Airy, Fisher River Park and Dobson Square Park in Dobson, Stone Mountain State Park in the Elkin area, or drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, only 15-20 minutes from Downtown Mount Airy!

Country Drives
Take a drive out to Rockford General Store in the Dobson area, located on 574 Rockford Road. Don’t depend on GPS though – instead visit Rockford General Store’s website for specific directions! www.rockfordgeneralstore.com

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Rockford General Store opened in 1890 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in our former county seat of Rockford. They feature great food inside as well as antiques, hoop cheese, glass bottle drinks, old-fashioned candy, and more! Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns are baked FRESH every single day! They are also the site of the yearly Sweet Potato Festival and the Civil War Living History Weekend.

Surry Sonker Trail

“Sonker” is a delicious deep dish pie-style dessert that is unique to this area! Local historians can trace its roots back to the pioneer days when this area was first settled, and it may have Scottish or Irish origins. Until recently, this type of dessert was only found at family meals, church suppers, and grandma’s table, but now we have 7 restaurants/bakeries in Surry County serving up sonker on a daily basis! Take a trip on our country roads that connect our communities and eat dessert all along the way! Check out the website at www.sonkertrail.org for more information!

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More ideas for country drives:

Take a trip up the mountain on one of our scenic, winding “gap roads” with most ending either on or in the vicinity of the Blue Ridge Parkway! These roads include Piper’s Gap Road, Orchard Gap Road, and more!

Travel on 268 W from Pilot Mountain, through Dobson, to Elkin, for a nice drive through the countryside!

Take the scenic drive to Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County by driving on Hwy 89 E from Mount Airy’s Bannertown community, instead of traveling the main roads!

And don’t forget the ICE CREAM!!!

Here in Downtown Mount Airy, we have multiple locations for delicious ice cream and ice cream treats, such as Hillbilly Ice Cream Parlor (next to Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies); Walker’s Soda Fountain for your favorite shakes, old-fashioned malts, and sundaes; Opie’s Candy Store; and more!

Also, don’t miss Scoops Ice Cream & Such off of Hwy 89 in the Lowgap/Beulah community just outside of Mount Airy. Scoops is a unique ice cream parlor in a refurbished camper van, owned by a metal artist who’s workshop is behind the parlor. There is a three-level deck system with water wheels and sculptures, as well as a sculpture garden and nature path in the forest next door! It is a lovely, hidden treasure in Surry County!

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For more information on Mount Airy, North Carolina, please visit our website at www.visitmayberry.com .

For more information on Surry County, North Carolina, including the cities of Mount Airy, Elkin, Pilot Mountain, and Dobson, visit the website at www.yadkinvalleync.com

Surry Sonker Trail Showcases a Tasty Confection

Posted on: January 27th, 2015 by 89and52 No Comments

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Just Desserts: Surry Sonker Trail Showcases a Tasty Confection

North Carolina’s newest culinary trail showcases a heritage food passed down from generation to generation in Surry County.
The Surry Sonker Trail leads visitors to several places that serve sonker – a cobbler-esque dessert unique to the county. Seven trail stops offer this sweet confection on their regular menu. An additional stop is a pottery studio selling sonker baking dishes and sonker cookbooks.
So, what exactly is this authentic Southern delicacy?
Sonker is similar to a pot pie or cobbler. It comes about by blending fruit and unshaped dough that is sweetened with sugar, molasses, or other secret ingredients. Sonker is also similar to snowflakes in that no two are exactly alike.
“Everyone has their own recipe,” says Carolyn Carter of the Rockford General Store, “and I’ve never had a bad one.”
Sonker’s origins in the county date to the early 1800s. A common belief is it was made to stretch the usage of fruit in tough times, or as a way to utilize fruit toward the end of its ripeness.
A lot of places on the trail, including Rockford General Store, feature sonker that is baked; however, Loretta Flack of Roxxi & Lulu’s Bakery in Elkin has a different philosophy. Her grandmother taught her to cook a dumpling-style sonker in a pot on the stove.
“The dumplings sit on top of the fruit,” says Flack. “When you cut into the dumplings they are like a biscuit inside – fluffy and soft with the flavor of the fruit.”
Not far from Roxxi & Lulu’s Bakery in Elkin is Heaven’s Scent, a hometown bistro featuring a recipe handed down from Linda Darnell, mother of co-owner Jones Darnell.
“Our sonkers are all baked. They have a crust on top, and no crust on bottom,” says Heaven’s Scent co-owner Jeff Taylor. “We do not use a glaze. The butter itself gives it a bit of a glaze. Most people like our sweet potato sonker. That seems to be everyone’s favorite.”
In addition to Heaven’s Scent, Roxxi & Lulu’s Bakery and Rockford General Store, there are four other eateries on the trail. They are: The Living Room Coffeehouse in Pilot Mountain, Putters Patio & Grill in Dobson, Trio Restaurant in Mount Airy, and Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies in Mount Airy.
Another trail stop is Mayberry Pottery in Mount Airy, where visitors can purchase baking dishes and sonker cookbooks.
The most unusual sonker on the trail belongs to Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies. Owners Angela and Randy Shur are natives of Long Island, NY, and have bestowed a northern flavor on this tasty treat. They utilize a crumb-based crust, and drizzle a moonshine glaze over the crust.
“They tease us for being from the North, so I don’t call it a sonker,” says Angela Shur. “I call it a zonker because when you eat ours with moonshine, you go zonkers.”
The trail was created in early January by the Tourism Partnership of Surry County. It aims to spotlight a heritage food at a time when culinary trails are gaining in popularity.
“People travel now to find good food and this ties in nicely,” says Jessica Roberts of the tourism partnership. “We have visitors who have picked up the brochure and said, ‘Oh wow, that reminds me of what my grandmother baked,’ or ‘That reminds me of what my mother made for me when I was growing up.’ We’re getting a lot of good feedback from the trail already.”
That sentiment is echoed at the state level by Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit NC.
“These unique trails bring the history and culture of the state to life through food,” Tuttell explains. “They showcase the diverse landscape of North Carolina by highlighting the customs and local foods that make a visit to our state so special.”
A brochure map has been created by the Tourism Partnership of Surry County to guide folks along the trail. It includes all the key info to enjoy a day or two along the trail.
The brochure map is available at no charge by calling (800) 948-0949, or by requesting a map online at: www.SonkerTrail.org. Also, you can “like” the Surry Sonker Trail on Facebook!

From left to right – Peach “Zonka” at Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies in Downtown Mount Airy, followed by Blackberry Sonker at Rockford General Store.

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From left to right – Peach Sonker (a stove-top version) from Roxxi & Lulu’s Bakery in Elkin, followed by Sweet Potato Sonker with Ice Cream from Putter’s in Dobson

Roxxi and Lulus                                      Putter's Patio and Grill