Butterfly Gourmet in Purcellville
By Nevin Martell
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Perched at the end of a short block brimming with antiques shops and consignment stores, Butterfly Gourmet is worth stopping in while you’re strolling through picturesque Purcellville. A bench, white metal tables and chairs are set outside during warmer months. Inside, the cheery boutique is neatly packed with kitchen utensils and gourmet goodies, including jams, soup mixes, dried pastas and locally sourced hickory syrup.
At the back of the store there’s a small kitchen, where owner and chef Debra Randazzo, 47, teaches cooking classes some evenings and makes up a dish each day for the lunch crowd. She lives just a few blocks away.
Since opening in mid-April
, Randazzo hasn’t repeated an offering. She makes meals based on the season, the weather, what she feels like, and what customers have been requesting. In the past, she has offered turkey panini with blue cheese and apple-cranberry chutney, pumpkin and shrimp soup, and Buffalo wing-style pizza (each $8.50).
The day I ambled in, she had recruited another local, Diane Lyon, to create an offering for her new Gluten-Free Fridays series. Nicely packed in a compartmented plastic foam box, the filling meal ($8.50) began with fresh greens topped with pear slices, marbled Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, walnut bits and a tangy cranberry vinaigrette. The entree was a well-cooked pork chop offset with sweet strings of caramelized onions and half-moons of sauteed soft apples. An unsatisfying, spongy potato flour roll was wedged alongside a jumble of lightly seasoned carrots and peas. A petite sugar-spangled gingerbread mini-muffin was tucked in as a sweet surprise.
The beverage selection is limited to sodas and water, but dessert options are much broader. There are four-bite cupcakes ($3) from
Whisked Away Bakeshop in nearby Hamilton that come in flavors such as spiced carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate-mocha-espresso. A trio of finished-to-order croissants -- plain ($2.50), almond ($3) chocolate ($3) -- that arrive par-baked from Baguette Republic rounded out my treat binge.
As I was browsing the sweets, I noticed the Latin phrase “Alis volat propriis” painted on the rear wall. Meaning “She flies with her own wings,” the inspirational quote sums up why Randazzo opened the shop. A longtime New Yorker with a love for cooking and entertaining, she began taking classes from chef Guy Reuge at Mirabelle Restaurant on the northern shore of Long Island several years ago. When she divorced and moved to Purcellville in late summer 2011, she didn’t know what she was going to do next.
“They say you should always do something you love,” she says. “That way you never work a day in your life.”