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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer - The Inn at Little Washington – Bastille Day’s Saporific Celebration

July 14, 2016

By Claudette Veronica Ferron, Vice Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.

"Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, those days of [truffle popcorn] and [gougeres] and [champagne]. Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, you'll wish that summer could always be here."

On July 14, 2016, the Greater Washington, D.C. Bailliage lazed in the radiance of America’s quintessential epicurean master Maitre Honneur Chef Patrick O’Connell, at the Inn at Little Washington. On its annual Bastille Day pilgrimage, the Bailliage traveled to the singular and celebrated citadel of American haute cuisine. Nestled in the pleasant pastures of placid Rappahannock County, Virginia, just a 90-minute drive west of the Nation’s Capital, the realized fantasy of Maitre Honneur Chef O’Connell, is the personification of extravagant warmth, opulent décor, and sumptuous epicurean excellence. Sequestered in the world renowned tribute to fine food and refined living, privileged diners were honored to partake in the consummate mid-summer repast prepared especially for them by the esteemed Chef.

The reputation of Maitre Honneur Chef O’Connell and the Inn at Little Washington for establishing global gourmet and exclusive hotelier standards is unsurpassed. In 2015 the Inn received the Washington Post Dining Guide’s highest score of four stars. Forbes Travel Guide also bestowed its highest honor of five stars on the Inn for an astonishing 25th consecutive year, only one of a select few restaurants worldwide to be so honored. And in 2015 Chef O’Connell was selected for Le Chef Magazine’s Top 100 Chefs in the World list. But this is just a small sampling of the distinguished culinary and hotelier honors and awards bestowed on Chef O’Connell and his fantasy auberge.

The prelude to the spectacular epicurean adventure started with the journey to the culinary quasar. Traveling to the Inn in a privately chartered coach through the bucolic countryside of Virginia, members and guests of the Bailliage were treated to a mouthwatering snack box of tantalizing temptations, courtesy of Chef and Maître Rotisseur Sebastien Lamerre and Chef Rotisseur Mariano Ramos members of the Bailliage of Greater Washington and faculty of the Culinary program of the Carlos Rosario DC Public Charter School. The delicious nuggets of culinary creativity included luscious baby tomatoes filled with a refreshing cactus pad salad; a savory mushroom and piquant Poblano pepper Spanish tortilla with a marvelous chipotle mayo; ravishing Russian salmon rillette with captivating Tobiko caviar, crème Fraiche and toasted baguette; and delectable petite Roulé "Melanzane." A refreshing and fun Conegliano Valdobbiadene Brut Prosecco Superiore DOCG, married with fresh squeezed orange juice, for those choosing to pair a traditional Mimosa with their tempting teasers, accompanied the delightful morsels. The delicious snack box creations were a wonderful prologue to the extraordinary affaire des appétits waiting to welcome discriminating palates at Chef O’Connell’s extravagant epicurean exposition.

Arriving at the sumptuous country auberge, Chef O’Connell’s Straw boatered and sear-sucker suited, white-gloved staff, rolled out the red carpet and "those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer" for Bailliage. Disembarking onto the plush red carpet, each Bailliage guest was cheerfully welcomed into the lavish, flawlessly furnished Inn with dazzling flutes of Gimonnet-Gonet, Brut Tradition, NV (Le-Mesnil-Sur Oger, France). This light but refined champagne with an elegant fruitiness, enlivened appetites during a congenial reception in the regal setting.

Continuing the romance, Bailliage members and guests were seduced by the sensory stimulation of sight, sound, aroma, taste, and touch of the luxurious opulence of the salons, and charmed throughout the tour of Chef O’Connell’s hallowed nave -- his gleaming and immaculate kitchen. While guests to the world renown gallery mingled in the heart of the gastronomic sanctuary, sous chefs and kitchen staff realized the exquisite culinary creations of America’s Pope d’ Cuisine. Maneuvering through the glistening epicurean hive of activity, agile wait-staff effortlessly dazzled guests with the service of indulgent appetizers. Starting with storied chive and gruyère gougères, ethereal puffs of nirvana, enthusiastic members and guest were drawn into a sultry mid-summer dream. Then with a riff on popular party fare, diners were delighted by Chef O’Connell’s elegant chips and dip with piquant pimento cheese and savory country ham. Followed by succulent Asian inspired pork belly skewers with lusciously fresh lychees, all the offerings were designed to prepare palates for a delicious afternoon of gastronomic satiation.

With appetites piqued, photo ops with the generous Chef O’Connell completed, and scintillating repartee refocused with excited expectation, Bailliage members and guests were ushered into the enchantment of the gorgeous dining rooms. Comfortably ensconced the inviting caress of the Inn’s culinary sanctum, diners waited fervently for their summer daydream to resume. And as flawlessly furnished wait-staff glided effortlessly through the dining room devoting themselves to the wishes of discerning guests, the sensual culinary romance continued.
First, a salacious Tin of Sin: a subtle briny American Osetra caviar with salubrious Peekytoe crab and refreshing cucumber rillettes, captured the invigorating nuances of the sea and the decadence of succumbing to temptation. Perfectly paired with a 2009 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils, Blanc de Blancs, Cuvee Gastronome, 1er Cru, (Cuis, France), an ebullient, honeyed-nosed wine with fresh citrus fruit notes, this opening tableau enveloped diners in gastronomic luxury.

Next a titillating Fire and Ice: a succulent and fiery Tuna reposed on a bed of summery watermelon radish topped with a cooling cucumber sorbet, tantalized tongues and tickled taste buds. Artfully accentuated with a 2012 Domaine Weinbach, Riesling, Schlossberg Grand Cru (Alsace, France), a perfectly balanced Riesling with a smokey stone minerality, and melon, apricot, almond and apple blossom layered notes, completed the second course’s sensory sybaritic delight. An indulgent Bourbon-glazed crispy veal sweetbread with an herbaceous garlic polenta and luscious Virginia peaches, caringly coaxed appetites toblossom fully. And when married to a 2014 Domaine Weinbach, Pinot Gris, Cuvee Ste. Catherine, (Alsace, France),a bright, chartreuse tinted white wine, with an apricot and honey nose and tropical notes, palates were wrapped in gastronomic luxury. Voluptuous pan-seared Peking Paradise duck breast, nesting on a divine bed of Basmati rice and sultry tamarind-cherry purée followed. A penultimate culinary triumph that conspired with a superb 2010 L’Arco, Valpolicella Ripasso, (Veneto, Italy) a deeply hued, but vibrant red wine, displaying black cherry, spiced coffee, and cassis notes, and an elegant finish, to crown a sublime savory culinary liaison.

Punctuating the festive affair was the introduction of honored guests, including newly elected Périphérique Bailli Adam Blackwell, Buffalo Bailliage Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Andy Cappuccino, Vice Chargée de Presse Provincial Northeast Helen Cappuccino, and Vice Chargée de Missions Honoraire Scoti Albrecht, who recently transferred her membership from Australia to the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D. C. Diners were thrilled by the presence of such an auspicious gathering of visitors. After the presentation, Chef O’Connell, artfully embellished his exquisite romance d’été with a trio of classic summer desserts en miniature: paradisal peach cobbler, a tantalizingly taste-filled tart, bounteous blueberry pie, a blissful bassinet of mid-summer berries, and an outrageous "Our Minted" ice cream sandwich, a sublime chocolate morceau inlaid with a marvelously mirthful mint ice cream.

Then consummating the summer’s ultimate culinary indulgence, a beneficent Chef O’Connell bestowed a lovely expression of his appreciation upon each guest, his traditional petit maison de papier, filled with delicious tiny confections of fanciful candied ginger and orange peel, delectable chocolate truffles and buttery sweet biscuits. However, before wishing the epicurean shrine adieu, Bailliage members and guests purchased cherished souvenirs of their time with the celebrated Chef, including autographed copies of his latest book– The Inn at Little Washington – a Magnificent Obsession, at the Inn’s Tavern shops. Finally, with the epicurean journey to culinary paradise coming to a close Bailliage members and guests bid an affectionate farewell to the fabulous Inn and Maitre Honneur Chef for another year.
Few gastronomes are fortunate enough to live around the corner from culinary Canaan, but luckily for the members and guests of the Greater Washington D.C. Bailliage, America’s epicurean Eden, is just a few miles away from home. A summer afternoon with Maitre Honneur Chef Patrick O’Connell at The Inn at little Washington is a slice of the divine. Happily, for the Bailliage, it’s an annual delight. Rendezvous des prochaines années!

It is almost impossible to top the experience at the Inn at Little Washington. Providentially, for all Greater Washington D.C. Bailliage devotees, the Grand Induction Ceremony at the spectacular Metropolitan Club adorned in its splendor, will be next to welcome Bailliage members and inductees.

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