Inn at Little Washington weekend (aka I want to come back in my next life as one of my kids)

As you may have noticed from my blog posts, the Inn at Little Washington is a favorite restaurant of ours, with a combination of stunning food and warm hospitality.  (We always feel treated like family when we go.). This past weekend will be remembered in the family chronicles as the Inn at Little Washington weekend.
Jade wanted to hold a “thank you” party for her friends.  This all started in 7th grade during bar/bat mitzvah year.  She asked for a bat mitzvah party, and we pointed out that since we aren’t Jewish, that would be a tad difficult.  Jim eventually told her that we would throw her the equivalent of a bat mitzvah if she was accepted into Stanford (she didn’t have to go, but she had to be accepted).  Dinner at the Inn at Little Washington with her friends was what she wanted.
We booked both kitchen tables on Saturday night for the late seating and had a limo bus ready to go.  Everyone arrived early (our biggest fear, since punctuality is not her friends’ strong point, as fond as I am of them) and off they went.


All eleven friends elected to spend the night at our house, given the lateness of their return.  (Note:  12 teenagers in one house is not for the OCD amongst you.). Most importantly, everyone (especially Jade) had a fabulous time.  For some reason, no one was particularly hungry at breakfast the next morning.  Can’t imagine why.
Sunday was Marcus’s turn.  For his birthday, we gave him a dinner for 6 at the Inn.  So, Sunday afternoon, he and 5 of his friends piled into a different limo bus (one that was much more limo than bus) and went off to the Inn for dinner.


The three of us decided that we needed a dinner at the Inn as well but made sure we would be seated out of sight lines from the table of 9th graders.  In addition to the always skillful and imaginative food, we were pleasantly surprised to have new dishes to sample—all of which were delectable.
The new dishes included:
Carmelized Catalan Foie Gras Custard, which quite possibly is the best foie gras we’ve ever had:

carmelized catalan foie gras custard

Chilled Maine Lobster with Vichyssoise Puree and American Osetra Caviar

chilled lobster with caviar

Japanese Wagyu Beef Two Ways:  Seventy-Two Hour Braised Short Rib and Ribeye Sashimi with Potato “Noodles” in Fragrant Broth (possibly the best dish of the night, which is saying something!)

wagyu beef two ways

Raviolis of Ginger Scented Sweet Potatoes and Apples with Brown Butter, Sage, and Toasted Pecans

sweet potato and apple ravioli

Chocolate Mint Bomb

mint ice cream in a chocolate bomb

There isn’t a lot more to be said, other than the fact that the Inn could not have been nicer about having 12 high school seniors descend upon them one night and then 6 high school freshmen descend upon them the following night.  Their hospitality and graciousness created two evenings that will not be soon forgotten!

Inn at Little Washington December 2016

Another one of our annual traditions is to go to the Inn at Little Washington after Christmas and spend the night.  While Jim and I usually do it with just the two of us, this year, we took the kids.  (I know—I want to come back in my next life as one of our kids, too.)
The Inn was kind enough to sit us at the kitchen table, which made the entire experience even more memorable.  Unlike many kitchens, especially in New York, the kitchen at the Inn is quiet and serene, at least on the surface.  The stress and tension are definitely there, as it is in every high-end restaurant kitchen, but yelling and profanities are not acceptable behavior.
We started off with a family favorite—truffle popcorn.  As much as I love every dish at the Inn, there are times when I think that the truffle popcorn is all I need to keep me happy.  It truly elevates popcorn so that you’ll never be happy with the movie theatre version again.

truffle popcorn

Next up, was the amuse-bouche.  We were treated to the chip-and-dip served on an (inedible) stone.

In addition, there was a bite of pork belly served with a hoisin sauce.

pork belly

And, finally, there was a brioche with a quail egg and quince jam.  Everything was quite delectable.

brioche

Next up was an oxtail consommé with a miniature grilled cheese sandwich studded with black truffles.  The oxtail consommé used to be part of a regular dish on the menu, and it was one of my favorite dishes on the menu.  This taste brought back a lot of lovely food memories.  Virtually any savory dish can be improved upon with the addition of black truffles, and the grilled cheese sandwich was no exception.  Heavenly.

oxtail consomme & grilled cheese

Another Inn favorite that is no longer on the menu is the fire and ice—seared tuna served on a bed of cabbage “noodles” topped with cucumber sorbet.  We took advantage of its availability that night.

fire and ice

Our son had the carpaccio of lamb loin with caesar salad ice cream.  It’s a favorite of his.

lamb carpaccio

The mousse of foie gras with sauternes gelee and red plum preserve is another family favorite and is often ordered when we are at the Inn.

foie gras mousse

Another past menu item that made a brief return was the roasted pheasant with cabbage

roasted pheasant

Jim took advantage of white truffle season and ordered the spaetzle “risotto” with a poached farm egg and white truffles.

white truffles galore!

Our daughter had the pan roasted lobster with tomato butter, spinach, and garlic custard (among other things):

lobster

The pan-seared diver scallop with artichoke puree, capers, and tomato tartare was excellent,

scallop

And the Inn always does a fabulous job with its version of roasted duck topped with foie gras and served with pickled cranberries (which were amazing!):

roast duck

Here is the delicious pork jowl with braised red cabbage and walnut ravioli:

pork jowl with walnut ravioli

The most amazing dish they served us in an evening of amazing dishes was a black truffle, which they had roasted in the ashes of the fireplace in the kitchen.  It had been wrapped in foil and was warm and sat in its own lovely truffle juice.  It was then sliced and served over a simply dressed salad with the juices poured over it.  Those truffles were one of the most wonderful things I have ever put in my mouth.

roasted black truffles!

Desserts included the painter’s palette of sorbets,

the chocolate mint fantasy,

a chocolate hazelnut mousse tart,

and a honeycrisp apple tart.

While the food is definitely delicious and artistic and memorable, the service is even more exceptional.  The staff always looks happy to see us (they are excellent actors all!), and we are treated like valued guests.  We already are looking forward to our next trip there!

Inn at Little Washington birthday dinner

It was our son’s 15th (!) birthday a couple of weeks ago and, in addition to feeling really old, we celebrated with a dinner at the Inn at Little Washington (at his request).

As usual, dinner was fabulous from the moment we stepped into the restaurant until we were wheeled out of the restaurant in a food coma.

Appetizers included the mélange of the Inn garden’s heirloom tomatoes with marinated fairy tale eggplant and local sheep milk’s feta

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to a tin of sin (American osetra caviar with peekytoe crab and cucumber rillettes)

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to a quartet of Rappahanock oyster slurpees (with sorbets of cucumber, cocktail sauce, horseradish, and wasabi)

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Additional courses consisted of a carpaccio of herb-crusted Elysian Fields baby lamb loin with Caesar salad ice cream

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to a crispy napoleon of chilled main lobster with osetra caviar

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to a pan-seared Maine diver scallop with Jerusalem artichoke purée, capers and tomato relish

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to grilled pepper-crusted black kingfish with shallot confiture and red wine reduction

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to crispy maple-glazed pork jowl with braised red cabbage and walnut ravioli

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to fontina-filled tortelloni on a sweet corn sauté with local shiitake mushrooms and patty pan squash purée

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to a chanterelle mushroom “meatloaf” with celery root purée and angry red sauce

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to a chop of organic milk fed pork with grilled peaches and potato purée

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Dessert included a miniature chocolate birthday cake

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to the Inn’s signature dessert of seven deadly sins (clearly gluttony is the one practiced most frequently here!)

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to a peach tart served with almond ice cream

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It was an incredible meal and a perfect birthday celebration!

with Chef Patrick O'Connell

with Chef Patrick O’Connell

Dinner at the Inn at Little Washington (April 2016)

When our family arrived at the Inn at Little Washington a couple of weeks ago, we were asked if we were celebrating a special occasion (which does happen). This time, however, our response was: “Dinner!”

And dinner that evening was definitely worth celebrating. We started off with the well-known (and delectable) popcorn with black truffles and a series of amuse-bouches. And then the restaurant got down to business. The amuse-bouches that arrived after the first course of amuse-bouches were:

Tempura Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce

tempura asparagus with hollandaise sauce

tempura asparagus with hollandaise sauce

and White Bean Soup with a Chive Gougère.

white bean soup with a gougere

white bean soup with a gougere

All of us had the Mousse of Foie Gras in a Golden Egg Shell with Sauternes Gelée and Blood Orange Rhubarb-Preserve (yum!);

foie gras mousse

foie gras mousse

one of us also had the Carpaccio of Herb-Crusted Elysian Fields Baby Lamb Loin with Caesar Salad Ice Cream (a perennial favorite);

lamb carpaccio

lamb carpaccio

We also all had the Toro with Radishes and Coconut Tapioca Beads and Wasabi Sorbet (the toro was melt-in-your-mouth buttery goodness);

toro with wasabi sorbet

toro with wasabi sorbet

Some of us had the Pan Seared Sea Bass with Roasted Romaine and Sauce Choron (the fish was perfectly cooked);

sea bass

sea bass

Jim and I picked the Inn’s Morel “Meatloaf” with Potato Purée and Jalapeño Ketchup (the fact that I did not regret one moment picking this vegetarian dish over the lamb demonstrates just how good this dish was);

morel "meatloaf"

morel “meatloaf”

The son had the Veal Shenandoah: Prosciutto Wrapped Loin of Veal with Country Ham and Fontina Cheese Ravioli;

veal

veal

and the daughter had the Parsley-Crusted Loin of Jamison Farm’s Lamb with Green Lentils.

lamb

lamb

A quick break to ease the transition into dessert with an Orange-Vanilla Creamsicle with shortbread crumbs;

orange-vanilla creamsicle

orange-vanilla creamsicle

And we finished our lovely meal with the Inn’s Southern Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwich with Bittersweet Chocolate and Hot Caramel Sauce

butter pecan ice cream sandwich

butter pecan ice cream sandwich

and A Painter’s Palette of Sorbets;

painter's palette of sorbets

painter’s palette of sorbets

and the Inn’s Spring Fling: Limoncello Pudding, Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt, Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet

spring fling

spring fling

It was indeed a meal that definitely celebrated dinner!

Dinner at the Inn at Little Washington (again)

I know we were just there in December, but our son wanted to celebrate his excellent report card with a dinner at the Inn, and who are we to say no to that? So off we went in mid-January to enjoy another scrumptious meal (and many congratulations regarding his academic performance).

The kitchen was kind enough to provide an appetizer that wasn’t on the regular menu. It was a seared slice of toro (the fatty belly from the tuna) from Hawaii served with Asian greens and sprinkled with sesame seeds. “Seared” was perhaps a generous description (the kitchen might have waved it over the heat for a nanosecond or two), which is just how we like it. The toro melted in your mouth—it was an incredibly succulent mouthful.

seared toro

seared toro

Next up for our son was seared foie gras–again, generously provided by the kitchen despite the fact that it wasn’t on the menu. This dish was evidently good enough for him not to share.

seared foie gras

seared foie gras

The remaining three members of the family had the golden egg filled with a mousse of foie gras and sauternes gelee. (The mousse is room temperature, which is why the son wasn’t a fan—he likes hot dishes for his meals.) However, none of the rest of us was complaining. This is a relatively new dish on the Inn’s menu, and it is heavenly.

golden egg with foie gras mousse

golden egg with foie gras mousse

Next up for the son was one of his favorite Inn dishes—macaroni and cheese done Inn-style. He was thrilled to see it back on the menu.

mac-and-cheese

mac-and-cheese

The daughter and I had the pork cheek agnolotti bathed in uni butter. I hesitated about ordering this dish, as I do not like sea urchin AT ALL, but Jim encouraged me to get it, and I’m glad he did. The uni provided a subtle flavor to the veal cheek, and the sauce was, of course, delectable.

pork cheek agnolotti

pork cheek agnolotti

Jim, on the other hand, ordered one of his favorite dishes—the tin of sin. Osetra caviar on top of a crab rillettes and served with a side of brioche. For caviar lovers, this is a must try.

tin of sin

tin of sin

For entrees, three of us had the short rib of bison with local mustard greens and gremolata.

short rib of bison

short rib of bison

The daughter chose the cauliflower “steak” with yellow Indian curry.

cauliflower "steak"

cauliflower “steak”

As we paused for breath (and stomach room), we were served with a palate cleanser of the Inn’s version of the orange creamsicle in a dish of shortbread crumbs.

creamsicle

creamsicle

And then came the desserts. The congratulatory dessert was mint chocolate chip ice cream accompanied by chocolate ribbons.

mint chocolate chip ice cream

mint chocolate chip ice cream

The daughter chose a lemon meringue tartlet.

lemon meringue tartlet

lemon meringue tartlet

Jim chose the classic Inn dessert of the Seven Deadly Sins.

seven deadly sins

seven deadly sins

And I had my standby of the Granny Smith Apple Tart.

granny smith apple tart

granny smith apple tart

We emerged from the dinner with all of our taste buds enjoying their food coma. Another fabulous dinner at the Inn!

 

The Inn is located at the intersection of Middle and Main Street, Washington, Virgnia. You can find out more about the Inn at www.theinnatlittlewashington.com.

Inn at Little Washington Over The Holidays

Jim and I have a tradition we’ve done for many years, which is to go spend a night at the Inn at Little Washington between Christmas and New Year’s, just the two of us. (This does not go over well with the kids, who also want to dine there and spend the night, but we ignore their protests.)

The menu has changed a bit since I last blogged about a meal there, so I thought I’d take you through what we had last night.

We started, of course, with one of my favorite dishes there—truffle popcorn. You will never want to have movie theatre popcorn again after having this. The popcorn is tossed with some herbs and spices, but the whole point of this popcorn is that it is topped with shaved black truffle. Yummmmmmm…..

truffle popcorn

truffle popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up were an assortment of amuse-bouches. These included miniature veal cheek sandwiches with homemade chips and miniature pickles;

miniature veal cheek sandwiches

miniature veal cheek sandwiches

the world’s smallest baked potato topped with caviar, “chips & dip,” cucumber rillettes topped with fish roe, and a red wine risotto ball.

assortment of amuse-bouches

assortment of amuse-bouches

Next up was a pheasant consommé accompanied by a chive gougère. The consommé was simply unbelievably fabulous and went onto my list of all-time favorite dishes (it’s a long list with a lot of Inn dishes on it).

pheasant consomme

pheasant consomme

The next course was an egg filled with a mousse of foie gras and port gelée. Not rich and decadent at all…

foie gras mousse in an egg

foie gras mousse in an egg

An old favorite of the Inn’s was resurrected and reformulated–fire and ice, which is now seared tuna served with watermelon radishes in a sesame-ginger sauce and topped with cucumber sorbet. It was like welcoming back an old friend.

fire & ice

fire & ice

I then had a raviolo of spinach topped with—you guessed it—white Alba truffles. Delectable (and so good for you, too!).

spinach raviolo (with truffles!)

spinach raviolo (with truffles!)

Jim had sweet-and-sour diver’s scallops accompanied by a shisito pepper. The sweet-and-sour was restrained and elegant, and the shisito pepper gave the dish a nice contrasting flavor (or so I’m told, I didn’t get a bite of that).

sweet and sour scallops

sweet and sour scallops

The final “entrée” was a short rib of bison that had been cooking for 14 hours, served with mustard greens and topped with homemade onion rings. The slight bitterness of the mustard greens went well with the richness of the bison and the slightly sweet onion rings.

short rib of bison

short rib of bison

The palate cleanser was the Inn’s version of a dreamsicle accompanied with crumbs of shortbread.

dreamsicle

dreamsicle

And finally (not pictured) was a Granny Smith apple tart (for me) and a visit by Faira the Cow and Cameron the cheese maestro (for Jim). And the beautiful cappuccino accompanied by a slice of biscotti.

oh, biscotti!

oh, biscotti!

The Inn was, of course, still decorated for the holidays, with festively decorated trees and garlands and holiday lights. It was a wonderful way to bring the year to an end!

Inn at Little Washington (December 2014)

Every year, Jim and I try and spend one night at the Inn at Little Washington sometime between Christmas and New Year as a way to relax and spend some time together. This year, we decided to bring the entire crew (the kids, our exchange student, and Jim’s mom) to spend the night there. (Gift certificates are wondrous things.)

We stayed at the Claiborne House (named after Craig Claiborne, an influential food reporter and chef). The Claiborne House is an extremely cute, over-the-top decorated two bedroom house, complete with its own well-equipped kitchen. (Although why anyone needs a kitchen when they’re staying at the Inn is beyond me.) As an example of the Inn’s attention to detail, we discovered that the cookie jar in the kitchen is stuffed with cookies made at the Inn. (And they are quite delicious!)

Naturally, we had a lovely dinner. The Inn has changed its format somewhat and now offers three different tasting menus, including an excellent vegetarian one. You can swap out items between tasting menus to suit your own tastes. The portions are small, to suit a tasting menu. Much as we don’t particularly like change, we like this change very much. It matches well to our inclination to taste as many different dishes as possible, you can customize the menu, and you don’t feel uncomfortably stuffed at the end of the meal. It’s perfect for us.

At almost every meal we have there, we start with some off-the-menu appetizers, and I never remember to record them. This time, I did!

To start out, there is a new bartender at the Inn who does an amazing job with non-alcoholic drinks. This is only one example of the many concoctions he came up with that evening. They are sophisticated and delicious and worth trying, especially if you are the designated driver. This is the one time you won’t be sorry to be limited to non-alcoholic drinks!

equally attractive non-alcoholic alternative

equally attractive non-alcoholic alternative

Truffle popcorn is one of my favorite dishes at the Inn. This is no ordinary popcorn. It’s been tossed with a variety of spices and a little butter. But the crowning glory is that as the popcorn is being served, a generous amount of black truffle is shaved on top of it. I could eat nothing but a giant bowl of truffle popcorn and still consider the meal to be one of my favorite meals at the Inn!

truffle popcorn

truffle popcorn

The tasting menu starts with a shot of soup. For some, it was a white bean truffle soup and for others, it was apple rutabaga soup. Both soups are served with a fried risotto ball on the side. My preference was the white bean truffle soup as the apple rutabaga soup was a bit sweet for me, but that was definitely not a unanimous opinion.

white bean truffle soup

white bean truffle soup

apple rutabaga soup

apple rutabaga soup

There are two raw fish dishes being served on the current menu. The first is a sashimi of Japanese yellowtail served with jalapeno peppers and dusted with espelette.

seared japanese yellowtail

sashimi of  japanese yellowtail

The second is ahi tuna tartare served with cucumber sorbet.

ahi tuna tartare

ahi tuna tartare

Both are spectacular, and the quality of the fish is superb.

Next up are Brussels sprouts served with honeycrisp apples, spiced pecans and Madeira-soaked raisins

Brussel sprouts

Brussel sprouts

Beet carpaccio accented with orange and vodka gelée

beet carpaccio

beet carpaccio

A marriage of hot and cold foie gras with sauternes gelée and blood orange marmalade

hot and cold foie gras

hot and cold foie gras

Off the vegetarian menu is a lemon pepper risotto

lemon pepper risotto

lemon pepper risotto

The best new item on the menu is a thinly shaved Australian wagyu beef “shabu-shabu.” The beef is beyond tender, and the shabu-shabu broth has a bite to it that is both unexpected and leaves you wanting more.

waygu beef shabu-shabu

wagyu beef shabu-shabu

This is a truffle-stuffed breast of pheasant on savoy cabbage and braised in champagne

breast of pheasant

breast of pheasant

The vegetarian equivalent is a winter turnip gratin with a quail egg and parmesan broth.

winter turnip gratin

winter turnip gratin

This is a sweet New England bay scallops dish served with candied yams and young coconut. A bit on the sweet side for me with the yams, but the scallops were delicate and wonderful.

bay scallops

bay scallops

The “meat” entrees included a pork chop with sauerkraut braised in Virginia Riesling, local apples and potato purée.

pork chop

pork chop

Duck breast served with foie gras and endive and wild rice.

duck breast

duck breast

And a cauliflower “steak” with yellow Indian curry, green grapes and candied walnuts.

cauliflower steak

cauliflower steak

As a palate cleanser, we were served a cranberry orange sorbet and hickory ice cream popsicle.

palate cleanser popsicle

palate cleanser popsicle

Desserts included a Granny Smith apple tart with buttermilk ice cream

apple tart with buttermilk ice cream

apple tart with buttermilk ice cream

A lemon meringue tartlet

lemon meringue tartlet

lemon meringue tartlet

And the painter’s palette of sorbets

painter's palette of sorbets

painter’s palette of sorbets

Even the lattes are beautiful…

latte

latte

A lovely way to celebrate the end of the year!

Inn at Little Washington birthday dinner

We had my birthday dinner at the Inn at Little Washington a couple of weeks ago. The Inn was kind enough to do a somewhat individualized menu for us, and I feel inclined to gloat about the meal, which was fabulous, even by the Inn’s usual impeccable standards.

We started off, of course, with truffle popcorn. Really, dinner at the Inn would be complete with just a giant vat of this. Who needs a real meal?

truffle popcorn

truffle popcorn

But, no, we had to continue on with a shot of chilled English minted pea soup (which wasn’t exactly not delicious, mind you).

English mint pea soup with Parmesan tulle

English mint pea soup with Parmesan tulle

Served along with these was a Legret champagne, Blanc de Blancs.

Next up was the spicy sesame crusted ahi tuna tartare with cucumber sorbet. The wine was a Pinon Vouvay from Trios Argiles. It was surprisingly good for a white wine. (I know—did I mention I was high maintenance?)

ahi tuna tartare

ahi tuna tartare

The fourth course was a Fricassee of Potato Gnocchi with Wild Morel Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Slivers of Virginia Country Ham. This dish was divine. The wine paired with this dish was a Cadre The Architects Pinot Noir.

gnocchi with morel mushrooms and Virginia country ham

gnocchi with morel mushrooms and Virginia country ham

The entrée was a Jamison Farms Lamb Loin with Potato Puree, Spring Vegetables and an Onion Jam. We served a 1998 and 2001 Rudd Oakville Estate Cabernet side-by-side with this dish.

lamb loin with spring vegetables

lamb loin with spring vegetables

And for dessert, there was A Spring Fling: A Miniature Rhubarb Cobbler, Limoncello Pudding Cake and Strawberry Ice Cream. I prefer fruit desserts over chocolate desserts (which the family members whose names start with J consider heresy), so this was perfect, both seasonally and for me. The wine was a Steindorfer Cuvee Klaus Eisewein.

trio of spring desserts

trio of spring desserts

It was an extraordinarily memorable dinner!

The Late Summer/Early Fall Gastronaut’s Menu at the Inn at Little Washington

We went with some friends who are being transferred to Singapore to the Inn at Little Washington a couple of weeks ago.  We opted to select the Gastronaut’s Menu, the tasting menu being offered.

This time of year is a tough time for restaurants using local ingredients, as summer is drawing to an end but the fall produce isn’t quite fully harvested yet.  Not surprisingly, the Inn managed to combine the best of both and create yet another stunning meal.

We started off with truffle popcorn and Parmesan tuiles.  Honestly, I could eat vats of truffle popcorn and call it one of the finest meals I’ve ever had.  It’s very addicting.

The first official course was eggs in an egg on an egg.  It consisted of Osetra caviar on top of scrambled eggs in a ¾ eggshell.  Simply delightful.

egg on an egg in an egg

The next course was poached Maine lobster with citrus jelly.  The citrus jelly was just acidic enough to counteract the richness of the lobster but not so sour as to detract from the shellfish.  Yum!

poached Maine lobster in citrus sauce

Next up was chicken fried frog legs.  I actually would really like frog legs, if I could get over the fact that they were frog legs.  The meat is rich and flavorful (tastes like (dark meat) chicken!), but we’re still talking an amphibian.  They were delicious if you could get yourself mentally past what you were eating.

chicken fried frog legs

One of the best dishes of the menu was next—the Asian infused black cod.  The cod had been marinated in miso, and it was perfectly cooked—by which I mean that it was cooked all the way through but so delicately that the fish flaked off with a fork.  It was amazing!

Asian infused black cod

Pappardelle pasta with mushrooms and Virginia ham was next.  The mushrooms and the ham gave the dish a “meaty” texture, even though there was not an overwhelming amount of meat.  It was a perfect introduction to the beginning of fall.

papardelle pasta with Virginia ham & mushrooms

The final main course was duck served with fig au jus.  I love duck, so this dish ranked among my favorites that night.  But even Jim, who is not nearly as fond of duck as I am, thought this dish stood out.  The duck was slightly smoky and the fig sauce counterbalanced the heartiness of the duck nicely while not being cloyingly sweet.  It was an outstanding dish.

duck with fig sauce

The palate cleanser was plum sorbet served with a slice of plum on top.  The sorbet made it seem like summer while the plum flavor is definitely a late summer/early fall taste.

plum sorbet

Dessert was blueberry cobbler and lemon pudding cake served alongside a cherry sorbet.  The blueberry cobbler was just the perfect balance of sweet and tart while the lemon pudding cake was divine with its zesty citrus taste combined with the delicate but rich cake.

blueberry cobbler & lemon pudding cake

Another fabulous meal by the Inn!

The Gastronaut’s Menu at the Inn at Little Washington

We introduced some good friends to one of our favorite restaurants, the Inn at Little Washington on Saturday night.  The Inn is located in Washington, Virginia, about an hour and 15 minutes from our house.  It was a beautiful afternoon to drive out to the Inn (sunny and in the 50s), and we were warmly welcomed by the staff when we arrived.  After some deliberation, we opted for the tasting menu (called The Gastronaut’s Menu) with its accompanying paired wines.

We started off with some pre-meal goodies–parmesan tulles and black truffle dusted popcorn (a personal favorite!).  We also were served some delicious amuse bouches—the world’s smallest baked potato, a Valrhona chocolate sandwich filled with foie gras, and a bloody mary gelée.  The introductory courses ended with a shot of white bean soup and a puffed cheese pastry.

amuse boucheswhite bean soup

Next came a quartet of Rappahannock River “Barcat” Oyster Slurpees.  From left to right, they came accompanied with a small scoop of tomato sorbet, cucumber sorbet, cocktail sauce sorbet, and wasabi sorbet.  The wine served with this course was a Veuve Fourny et Fils, Brut Rosé, Vertus, 1er Cru Champagne.

oyster slurpees

The next course (and one of our favorites) was a Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp with House Made Sweet Chorizo and Shishito Peppers on Charred Onions.  The paired wine for this course was a 2009 Quinta de Sant’Ana, Fernão Pires, Mafra from Lisboa, Portugal.

grilled shrimp

Another favorite was the Miniature Filet of Cod Sauté with Lemon Vodka Sauce and Lilliputian Shrimp Dumplings, which was served with a 2007 Verget, Les Clous, Meursault from Burgundy, France.

cod with dumplings

Then came the Maine Day Boat Scallop Sautéed with Tomato Gnocchi, Capers, Brown Butter, and Lemon accompanied by a glass of 2006 Marc Sorrel, Les Rocoules, Hermitage Blanc from the Rhône Valley in France.  I am generally not a fan of white wine, but this wine had a lot of tannin in it and was very rich and dense—much more like a red wine than a typical white, which is probably why it was my favorite white wine of the evening.

scallops

A surprisingly good Roast Pheasant on Savoy Cabbage Braised in Champagne with Truffle Jus followed.  I am not a huge fan of game birds, but this dish minimized the gamey flavor of the pheasant and the savoy cabbage was a nice accompaniment.  It was served with a 2001 Hermanos Pecina, Vendimia Seleccionada Reserva from Rioja, Spain.  This wine was very much like a pinot noir—a red wine but lighter in texture and flavor than something like a cabernet sauvignon.  (Note the firefly on the serving dish–a fun and whimsical touch!)

roast pheasant

The top rated dish of the evening was next:  Blackened Wagyu Rib Eye with Bone Marrow Custard and Red Wine Risotto.  The beef had been blackened with pepper and espresso and was tender, marbled, and divine.  Accompanying the dish was a 2005 Ladera, Howell Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley—a big bold red wine with lots of flavor.

wagyu ribeye

The pre-dessert (or, as the Inn calls it, the palate cleanser) was a Pineapple-Lemongrass Sorbet with Pink Peppercorn Granita.

pineapple sorbet

And the final dish of the night was a Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding and Almond Ice Cream Perfumed with Black Truffle accompanied by a glass of 1994 Blandy’s, Island Bottled Malmsey from Madeira, Portugal.  The Madeira was toffee and caramel colored, and it was amazing that a color like that could come solely from grapes.  It was also rich and sweet and a perfect dessert wine.  (The bread pudding wasn’t bad either.)  🙂

chocolate bread pudding

We eat at the Inn more often than we sometimes are willing to admit in public and have had many wonderful meals there over the years.  This meal stood out even amongst all the other meals.  It definitely deserves an A+.