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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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A Summer Culinary Pilgrimage for an Audience with the Pope of American Cooking: The Inn at Little Washington

July 15, 2009

By Bailli Paul S. Haar, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C, and Chargée de Presse Honoraire Jane Wolf, Périphérique Bailliage

On the morning of July 15, 2009, the Bailliages of Baltimore, Périphérique, Richmond and Greater Washington, D.C. started their cars and boarded their luxury buses for a summer culinary pilgrimage to the idyllic Virginia countryside. What was our destination?  It was The Inn at Little Washington, for an audience with Chef Patrick O’Connell, Maître d'Honneur of the Chaine and referred to by Robert Mondavi as "The Pope of American Cooking."

Our "audience with The Pope" was preceded by an induction of Nicholas Doudoumopoulos as a Chevalier in the Washington, D.C. Bailliage and the recognition of Dame de la Chaîne, Ruth Morelli as a Commandeur.  This induction was unique in that Paul Haar, Bailli of the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C, inducted and recognized these members with the prized Chinese Wushu Kung Fu sword of his father-in-law, Lizhi Su, one of the world’s foremost Kung Fu masters, known as "The Flying Sword".

After the induction, we were all treated to "an audience with the Pope" enjoying passed hors d’oeuvres and Cuveé Rene Haton, Damery, Brut Champagne in his glorious kitchen. Wine Director Scott Calvert and the superb staff of the Inn at Little Washington then escorted the happy pilgrims to their tables for what was to be a culinary epiphany. To facilitate new friendships, we all made a point to sit with confreres from other Bailliages. Fortunately, none of us Chaîne pilgrims had taken a vow of poverty, as were about to embark on the guiltiest of gastronomic pleasures!   Chef O’Connell first teased our taste buds with cute boxes of his signature truffle oil popcorn (try this at your local movie theater!). We were then served a delightfully refreshing Demitasse of Chilled Cucumber Soup. This was followed by a sublime mélange of spicy Big Eye Tuna, mango, avocado and crispy shallots with Sake-Yuzu sorbet which was paired with a 2007 Adega Albertal, Albariño, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain. This was followed by wild Green Lipped Mussels baked with herbed butter and perfumed with Pernod which was perfectly paired with a 2007 Domaine du Salvard, Cheverny, Loire, France. Our flight to culinary heaven continued with braised Four Story Hill Farm veal cheek on a nest of baby green beans with Louisiana crawfish tails and truffle vinaigrette paired with a Tuscan Poggio Bonelli, Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy. The angels then tickled our taste buds with the Inn’s own delicious blueberry bubble tea, to prepare us for our sweet surrender to a terrine of pistachio and white chocolate ice cream with blackberry sauce paired with a 1996 Broadbent, Madeira, Colheita.

After this amazing culinary journey, the Chaîne members and guests retired to the beautiful gift shop of The Inn at Little Washington where Chef Patrick O’Connell graciously autographed his award-winning cookbooks. With appetites sated, the bonds of friendship renewed and autographed cookbooks in hand; the Chaîne members and guests boarded their luxury buses, enjoying nibbles and champagne en route to their homes. Our minds were filled with wonderful warm memories of a spectacular luncheon in the Virginia countryside and a delicious audience with the "Pope of American Cooking".

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