The menu unites the elements that inspire Chef John’s culinary muse – fruits and vegetables from the rich soil of Rappahannock County, surprising flavors, bold splashes of color and family traditions – with each plate artfully composed to entice the eyes and the appetite.
Grilled Halloumi and Roasted Beet Salad is a tangy offering of earthy red beets and salty cheese, charred on the grill.
A sunny Yellow Squash Soup takes on a touch of playful attitude, topped with a sassy swirl of parsley-mint pistou.
Cedar Plank Halibut with Lemon Tarragon Butter, Toasted Pine Nuts, Grilled Eggplant and Patty Pan Squash is Chef John’s re-imagining of “surf and turf” – glistening white fish, perched atop smoky eggplant and surrounded by neat wedges of summer squash plucked from the fields at The Farm at Sunnyside.
Mom’s Meatballs with House Made Tagliatelle is a MacPherson family classic, first created by John’s mom, Jan and served at the table growing up in Boston. The meatballs are presented on a nest of tender, fresh pasta ribbons and the rich sauce has a touch of sweetness from brown sugar balanced with just a hint of cinnamon.
The sweet finish starts with a prelude of Basil Mint Lady Grey Ice Cream a recipe created just for the dinner. Luxuriously-smooth ice cream is flavored with handfuls of fresh basil and mint, plucked from the kitchen garden at the Foster Harris House and accented with a perfumed kiss of Lady Grey tea.
Finally, individual Blackberry Frangipane Tarts with Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Ice Cream feature flaky puff pastry studded with plump, inky blackberries and glistening wineberries discovered at The Farm at Sunnyside.
We savor the sweet elegance of the tart and Diane and John join us at the table. The wine flows and we talk well into the night. We finish with a nightcap of Wasmund’s Rye Spirit, hand-crafted at the local distillery down the road – a fitting conclusion to a celebration of good company, edible Virginia and Chef John’s culinary gifts.