Shepherdstown is a little place with a lot of history. Harpers Ferry and the Antietam battlefield are literally down the road. The tiny downtown has Civil War era brick buildings filled with mom n’ pop restaurants and shops. But there’s a kind of counterculture side to the town, too.
Locals can be seen playing live music on the street with a cup of coffee or tea in hand - maybe even wearing tie-dye. And there’s a big demand for local, organic foods including a local favorite - a restaurant called Mellow Moods.
When you walk in to Mellow Moods, you might notice the old hardwood floor; dark and even crooked and uneven in some places.
There are chalkboards featuring food jokes, local artists have work hanging on the walls, and you can sit at a table or on a couch.
The smells of frying eggs, fresh, warm bread, vegetables, blended fruits, and different cheeses waft through the air mixing together.
Phil Mastrangelo is the owner and founder of Mellow Moods, which he opened in 2007. Mastrangelo grew up just outside of Shepherdstown on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.
He says he wanted to bring real, organic foods to people in a society stuffed to the gills with processed foods. He started by only serving vegetarian and vegan dishes, but eventually he began offering things like organic chicken and wild salmon.
“I didn’t really want to jump in where everybody else was doing, and everyone else’s menus have 90% meat, 10% vegetarian. I wanted to do 90% vegetarian, 10% meat, and it took off,” Mastrangelo said.
In summer, Mastrangelo gets most of his ingredients from local farmers. That’s how the Red Rice and Hemp Burger came to be - to support a local business.
“The Red Rice and Hemp Burger started with a friend’s shop that was opening up, a hemp clothing store," Mastrangelo explained, "and we wanted to do a special for them to help promote them, and just fell in love with it. And we make our own barbeque sauce, and we grill onions off. We have this amazing ciabatta bread, and the Red Rice and Hemp Burger was our first vegetarian burger.”
The burger is a customer favorite, but Mastrangelo says one of his favorite dishes is a very Appalachian one; his ramp special once a year when they’re in season.
The menu changes from month to month, but it always has a taste of the season -- and the region.
Recipes from Mellow Moods:
Red Rice & Hemp Burger:
- 1/2 cup red rice uncooked (cook well till sticky)
- 1 cup hemp seed
- 2 tbsp olive oil -- Food process cooked rice, hemp seed, olive oil (coarsely chopped)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp freshly chopped garlic
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp onion powder
Mix in well and patty. Making the rice really sticky is the key to this recipe.
Potato Ramp Soup:
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 medium bunch ramps, bulbs, and greens divided
- 1 large leek, trimmed, cleaned well, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- Pinch dried marjoram
- 2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
- 6 cups water
- Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
- 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced to ½-inch cubes
- Freshly ground black pepper
Sweet & Sour Basil Smoothie:
- Juice of 1 orange
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 banana ripe
- 5-7 leaves of fresh basil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup ice
- Blend well