Rangeley 102 Mini-Market and Deli, Rangeley, Virginia

I left Winston-Salem after a couple of cups of coffee, headed north on US 220, when my body was sending a couple of signals to stop. Ever obedient, I pulled off onto the exit for Rangeley, Virginia.

You may not have heard of Rangeley. I hadn’t, and the Bureau of the Census seems blithely unaware of its existence. It’s in Henry County, and seems to have been named after John Rangeley, who settled there in the early 19th century, and operated a store and maybe a tannery there on the Great Wagon Road. My guess is that the railroad put paid to Rangeley.

Right away, I was faced with a quick choice of two gas stations.

The top line of Robert’s Bestway read “2 hot dog and fries” vs. “Ribeye Egg Sandwich” for Rangeley 102, so I stopped at the latter. Inside, I looked at the menu with the magic words, “country ham biscuit.” I ordered one and chatted with the employees as I waited for my biscuit.

So much of the taste of food is situational — your mood, your level of hunger, and the atmosphere of the setting. I was in a good mood. I’d had a nice visit with the mini mart folks. It was a beautiful day. I had a couple of likely Campaign for Real Barbecue-worthy places in my sites, and I had remembered to eat on the hood of the car rather than on our new seat covers.

I enjoyed it. It hadn’t arrived with the biscuit hot out of the oven and the country ham fresh off the grill. It had been zapped. But age cannot wither nor custom stale the beauty of a country ham biscuit. Well, it can, but it hadn’t in this case. The generous serving of country ham was of good quality. Not great, mind you, but good, and whatever staleness the biscuit may have suffered was masked by the microwaving. The sandwich was hot and flavorful, with, as the vintners say, notes of ham, salt, and butter.

I may well wind up in Rangeley again. Looking at the map, If I’d exited east toward Fieldale I’d have run into Hylton’s Wood Cooking Grill. It looks like friend Hylton cooks True ‘Cue, exclusively with wood, so I pretty well have to go there. He also has turnip greens rather than collards. I don’t guess I will stop by the 102 again, but it will reawaken a fond memory.

Please let me know if you’re aware of any other untested places in Virginia (or DC or Maryland) that cook exclusively with wood. I’d appreciate it.


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