Monday, May 30, 2011

The Bread at Little Washington

There’s a story behind every loaf of homemade bread, and this one’s got a 5 star tale.

What happens when you’re planning to bake a rustic whole-wheat loaf, and you realize that you’re out of whole-wheat flour? I’m cooking a family dinner with my friend John MacPherson, chef and co-owner of the Foster Harris House bed and breakfast in Washington, Virginia. We think it might be nice to add one of my specialties - a rustic whole-wheat boule – to the menu. The only problem – there’s no whole-wheat flour in the pantry.

What to do? The town of Washington is roughly about three blocks long with just a handful of residents. The nearest grocery store is probably 20 miles away. The obvious solution? You ring up the neighbors and see if they’ll loan you a cup or two of flour. But, there really aren’t that many neighbors …

John picks up the phone, and within minutes we’re walking up Main Street toward The Inn at Little Washington. You may have heard of the Inn - a world renowned 5 star restaurant of some notoriety.

We stroll up to the back kitchen door and knock. Inside, I spot a squadron of kitchen team members, all wearing the signature Dalmatian-spotted aprons. There is a flurry of activity and someone produces a container of whole-wheat flour. Right neighborly.


We saunter back to the Foster Harris House and I begin the bread baking ritual. The boule rises beautifully. The mahogany-colored crust is crisp and the crumb is exceedingly tender.

We dine on the patio as the sun sets, and slather the warm bread with butter and honey. It is an exceptional loaf. It must be the terroir of the whole-wheat flour.

Gladys Kravitz, eat your heart out!

©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

12 comments:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

How lovely to have neighbors with such a well-stocked pantry! I'm sure your bread was a five-star loaf, every bit as good as the bread they bake at Inn at Little Washington.

~~louise~~ said...

Not exactly like chasing down a food truck in NYC but an adventure all the same, T.W.

I bet everyone was delighted you hunted down that whole wheat flour. The bread looks heavenly of course:)

Thanks for sharing and I do hope you are enjoying your long weekend:)

veron said...

wow, such great neighbors..hahaha! And that's some great looking bread. can't wait to hear more!

alfred p said...

I always preferred the second Gladys Kravitz to the first one. Actually, I liked the second Darrin better as well. Although no one ever really explained to me what happened to the first Darrin or the first Gladys. Then, a couple of years later, Ann Marie on "That Girl" got rid of her flip and showed up during the last season with a completely new haircut. As a kid, all of this was very disturbing--I used to worry that I would come home one day to find myself replaced by someone with a much better hairstyle.

Kalyn said...

What a fun story, and your bread looks delicious. In all my years of traveling to D.C. I only ate there once but it was very memorable.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

We almost made it to the Inn at Little Washington once when we were visiting friends in nearby Winchester, Va. It's supposed to be a spectacular place. Your bread looks fabulous.
Sam

Julia said...

I remember when I worked at Biba, next door to the Four Seasons... one night we ran out of foie gras and trotted over to our neighbors to borrow some from them. It's wonderful having good neighbors.

Looks like you've mastered the bread baking!

Barbara said...

Very generous of that Inn, TW. What a fabulous loaf you turned out! Is anything better than the smell of bread baking? Well, perhaps the eating!

Mary said...

It is a magnificent loaf, made better still, by the kindness of strangers who didn't have to help but did. I love the word terroir, T.W. It's not used often enough. I'm familiar with it only because one of our neighbors is a vintner and it is a favorite of his. You would enjoy his company. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Velva said...

It's got to be a wonderful feeling to go down a block or two, and rap on an almost famous restaurant's back door, and borrow ingredients.

Your bread was well worth the effort-it's stunning. I just need a really good cup of coffee.

Velva

lostpastremembered said...

Perfect bread, TW, and great story... I mean honestly, one of the great restaurants in the states and they are good neighbors too? Priceless!

I wonder what would happen if you tried that at Daniel in NYC? They would send you to the psyc ward!

tasteofbeirut said...

What? No recipe? What a tease~:(