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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Assemblage at Charlottesville

July 26-27, 2008

On Saturday, July 26, 2008, the Greater Washington, D.C. Bailliage, under the inspired leadership of Paul S. Haar, its newly-elevated Bailli, hosted a warm and welcoming Mid-Atlantic Regional Assemblage of La Confrérie de la Chaine des Rôtisseurs at Keswick Hall near Charlottesville, Virginia, attended by members from the Bailliages of Richmond, Périphérique, Baltimore, Chesapeake and Philadelphia.

Georges Muller, the Mid-Atlantic Bailli Provincial, presided over a wonderful champagne induction ceremony. His eloquent and witty prose in recounting the history of La Chaîne was matched only by his superb swordsmanship — not an ear nor a hair were lost in his induction of seven new members and the elevation of four new officers. Georges elevated Peter Caporilli as Mid-Atlantic Chargé de Presse Provincial, Paul Haar as Bailli (Washington, D.C.), Steve Lustig as Vice Conseiller Gastronomique (Washington, D.C.), and Judith Mazza as Vice Chargé de Presse (Washington, D.C.). Georges inducted Dixie Butler (Washington, D.C.) as Dame de la Chaîne, Ellen Kirsh (Washington, D.C.) as Professionnel du Vin, Tony Clifford (Washington, D.C.) as Chevalier, Joseph Khalil as Chevalier (Washington, DC), Lawrence McLernon (Washington, D.C.) as Chevalier, Elisa Malkman (Richmond) as Dame de la Chaîne and Richard Malkman (Richmond) as Chevalier. Dixie, Ellen and Tony were also inducted as members of Société Mondiale du Vin. Georges also awarded Tony Busalacchi, Vice Echanson des Etats-Unis, with the Silver Star of Excellence for his many contributions to La Chaîne.

After the induction ceremony, we strolled out to the patio of Keswick Hall, overlooking the verdant Virginia countryside where we rekindled friendships among the different Bailliages and nibbled on scrumptious passed hors d’oeuvres, including rillettes of beef tongue from The Farm of Many Faces, galantine of Rag Mountain rainbow trout, charred wild onion tart, and duck prosciutto with Shenandoah temptation melon relish; all accompanied by Veritas Vineyards Mousseux Rosé 2005 from Afton, Virginia.

We were then seated in Keswick Hall’s exquisite dining room at tables adorned with beautiful vineyard-themed floral centerpieces and treated to music by a delightful Renaissance trio. Executive Chef Craig Hartman introduced himself and his wonderful seven-course tasting menu matched with superb Virginia wines, in the fine tradition of the renowned Virginia gourmet, Thomas Jefferson.

Our Jeffersonian feast began with foie gras ravioli with vinegar from late harvest Barboursville Malavaxia and local berry salad paired with a Horton Vineyards Petit Manseng 2006 from Orange County, Virginia. This was followed by an ephemeral consommé of Virginia Amish tomatoes with blue crab sausage, and squash blossoms with hand-pulled goat curd paired with a Del Fosse Vineyards Pinot Gris 2006 from Faber, Virginia. Next was a sublime Delmarva striped bass pan-roasted, anointed with goose cracklings and a brandade of roasted celery, heirloom carrots, baby ruby onions and essence of Chincoteague clam.  This was paired with a White Hall Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve 2005, from Albemarle County, Virginia. A divine chicken and cepes “sous vide” with sage gnocchi and summer truffle foam followed, paired with a Pollack Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2006 from Greenwood, Virginia. Next was an amazing sugar-cured chateaubriand of grass fed veal with roasted baby radish, heirloom parsnips and candy turnips, marrow–potato fondue and syrup of Petit Verdot paired with a Blenheim Farm Petit Verdot 2005 from Charlottesville, Virginia. The cheese course was a culinary delight, a trio of raw cheeses from Virginia — Lusk, McClure and Ash chèvre with chestnut honey — accompanied by a Keswick Vineyards Heritage 2006. To top it all off, dessert was Chile’s Orchard’s strawberries made three ways a gelato, a gelee, and in terrine. Chef Craig Hartman was thanked for his masterpiece dinner with thunderous applause and a surprise induction as a Chef Rôtisseur. We then retired for the evening with happy tummies in historic Keswick Hall.

We awoke the next morning for a lovely pastoral drive to nearby Barboursville Vineyards where we treated to a fascinating vineyard tour and barrel tastings by Vice Echanson Honoraire, Luca Paschina. Luca regaled us with his unique Italian panache and charm, first gathering us under a lovely cool shade tree, then leading us to his large stainless steel tanks where he creates his gold medal award-winning wines, and finally to his beautiful tasting room where we sampled some of his young wines accompanied by amuse bouches of fresh goat cheese filled parmesan fricos.

Luca then welcomed us to his critically-acclaimed Palladio Restaurant, where  Executive Chef (and James Beard Award nominee) Melissa Close prepared a succulent four-course lunch accompanied by Barboursville Vineyard’s finest wines. Lunch began with a tuna tartare paired with a delicious Barboursville Viognier Reserve 2006. This was followed by blue potato gnocchi with roasted chicken from Polyface farm near Staunton, Virginia paired with a Barboursville Chardonnay Reserve 2007. Next was a unique grilled Piedmontese beef strip loin and a gorgonzola sformatino which was paired beautifully with a Barboursville Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005. For dessert, we were treated to an apricot Bavarian, served with raspberry coulis.

As we finally called our glorious Chaîne weekend to an end, we embraced each of our fellow Chaîne members (after loosening our respective belts from such fine cuisine and wine) and promised each other that this was only the first of many such events to enhance the brotherhood (and sisterhood) of La Confrérie de la Chaine des Rôtisseurs in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Vive la Chaîne!

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