Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Whisky Master of Rappahannock County

Rick Wasmund’s unassuming whisky distillery sits on the banks of the Thornton River, near the Shenandoah mountains in Virginia. Much like pioneering homesteaders of bygone days, he pursues a livelihood that is deeply rooted in the aromas, flavors and yield of the land, perfecting an American classic – a single malt whisky infused with the smoky essence of applewood, cherrywood and oak.

When I arrive at the Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville – the site of a former juice factory – Rick is on his tractor cutting the lawn. His mother Helen greets me and calls him in. He is middle-age and of medium-build with a thick crop of dark brown hair. He wears a navy blue golf shirt and madras shorts. At first look, he is as approachable as your favorite high school teacher or the affable coach that everyone wants to be around. He is, in fact, an entrepreneur, scientist, connoisseur and just a hint of sly fox.

We enter the cavernous distillery, passing a mounted “copper fox” displayed near the door. I’m not sure what to expect from this family-run operation. For Wasmund and company, it is a hands-on business. Like any artisanal product, the process of whisky making requires daily attention. The term “single malt” means that the whisky was produced at a single distillery, and Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky is indeed a one-of-a-kind venture.

Rick takes me first to the malting room, bursting with huge sacks of Virginia-grown “thoroughbred barley.” He instructs me to scoop up a handful and sniff. The barley feels light and feathery and smells of yeast. Malting is a time-intensive process and other distilleries now outsource to commercial maltsters who prepare the barley. But Wasmund wanted to handle the grain.

“We are the only distillery in North America and Mexico that malts its own barley,” he explains. The barley is raked at intervals throughout the day to promote malting, and the activity of what he calls “a magic little enzyme” that turns starch to sugar.

“I put my mother in charge of the Malting Room. She is M.O.M. – Manager of Malt,” he deadpans.

But, I want to understand more than just the process. I want to know how a guy from Rochester, New York wound up in rural Virginia making whisky.

His inspiration was the seductive scent of a wood burning fire. He always had an affinity for the fragrance of different woods. Scotch whisky is traditionally made by exposing barley to smoking peat. After taking a class that explored the customary production method, Rick asked himself, “Why just smoked peat? Why not smoked fruitwood?”

“This may be the only applewood and oak-aged single malt whisky in the solar system … maybe the known universe,” he says of his invention.

He shows me the smoking process. Here, the malted barley is suspended on a grate above a single cast iron wood-burning stove. Soon, we are climbing up ladders, opening vats and inhaling. At some stages of the process, the aroma is enough to make your hair stand on end. But gradually, the product becomes more refined. He leads me up a ladder to an elevated walkway where I can inspect the whisky mash. He stirs the thick stew with a long, homemade wooden paddle, “not purchased at Walmart,” and I note a yeasty aroma. “At this point, it’s similar to beer,” he explains.

He takes me through the stages of distillation and aging. He removes some clear liquid from a metal vat, pours it into a beaker and does a quick calculation of the alcohol content. “One hundred sixteen point seven,” he announces. “That’s moonshine.”

We enter a room filled with barrels made from premium white oak. He removes the lid from a barrel and dips in a ladle, drawing out a stream of copper liquid. Toasted wood chips wrapped in netting hang in the barrel like giant tea bags, infusing the aging whisky with smoky character.

Initially, he staged dozens of experiments, toasting all types of fruitwood chips. “We were committed to making whisky that is different.” He toasted peach wood, cherry wood, apple wood and more, as he sought the right combination. Blends of different wood chips yielded different taste profiles, until he found the most desirable convergence of flavors. By January 2006, Wasmund's pot still was in operation and the result is a distinctive recipe that evokes the indefatigable spirit of its creator and his adopted Virginia home.

Pour a glass of Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky and inspect it with the eye. Appreciate the luminous, golden honey color. Lift the glass to your nose and you’ll discern a slightly sweet, woody aroma and the scent of fruit esters. Swirl it on your tongue and experience the smooth, silken feel and slightly dangerous finish of smoky sweetness.

Rick demonstrates the bottling and labeling process. Working with one other employee, he marks each label with the batch number by hand. Batch 21 is on the convey belt. He describes the crucial step in which the neck of the bottle is dipped and sealed in hot burgundy wax and hand turned, achieving a “jaunty” angle and a signature swirl at the cap.

Our final stop is the Thornton River out back, where Rick talks about how he cleared away foliage and debris that had accumulated over years. It is now a tranquil spot that he is drawn to. When not engaged in the process of making whisky, or relaxing by the river, he is driving his van along the East coast brokering deals with distributors.

As I leave, the family dog, Acacia stands guard over the enterprise.

That evening, I find myself at Foti’s restaurant in Culpepper for dinner, some 25 miles from Sperryville. Lost in thoughts of the day, I almost miss the fact that another patron is signaling me from a nearby table. It is Rick Wasmund, along with his mother and his girlfriend. They are celebrating Helen’s birthday. I step over to the table and we chat for several minutes. He has spent the evening persuading one of the owners of Foti’s to carry Wasmund’s Single Malt Whisky. She was not aware that Rappahannock County had its own whisky distillery and has agreed to pay Rick a visit in the near future. For Rick Wasmund, it is “mission accomplished.”

“We’re going to have some ice cream and then go home to sit by the river and have a glass of whisky,” he says with a gleam in his eye.

Rick Wasmund – a singular guy, continuing to blaze trails for the only single malt, fruitwood-smoked whisky in the known universe, and always in pursuit of the finer things in life.

Recently I traveled through the Virginia countryside, discovering the local food, history and hospitality of what is called “the birthplace of the nation.” I visited The Copper Fox Distillery on Sunday, August 24, 2008.

©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pot Luck Night at the Foster Harris House

How does one define the word guest?

It is Thursday night at the Foster Harris House in Little Washington, Virginia. Technically, the inn is “closed” for the evening, but I’ve booked an extended stay, and fortunately the MacPhersons have not yet kicked me out.

John and Diane have graciously invited me to join them and several friends for a night of food and wine. It promise to be a taste of what daily life is like in this “fertile crescent” region of Virginia that includes farms, vineyards, dairies and a world-famous restaurant.

I knock on the door at the end of the dining room marked “private” and John MacPherson welcomes me into the kitchen. He has shed his chef’s uniform, worn each morning, and is instead wearing a party shirt covered by a kitchen apron. An assortment of ripe red tomatoes and bunches of green basil have been placed on the counter.

The plan is that I will serve as “sous chef” for the meal. I am both intrigued and nervous. I welcome the opportunity to observe John – a highly intuitive chef – in action. I tend to be a “by-the-book” follower of the recipe and I’ve been trying to loosen up my approach to cooking and go with my instincts. So, I’m anxious to see how John operates. Yet, there is nothing so humbling as teaming up with “a natural” in the kitchen. Your bad habits tend to get exposed very quickly. But while there are culinary tasks at hand, it is also a special treat. I do a lot of traveling, and to have an invitation to dinner from the innkeepers is quite rare. John hands me a Foster Harris House apron and sets me up with a chopping station.

“Here’s what I had in mind,” he explains. The menu will be summer at its most glorious – seared duck breasts with a reduction of champagne and white and yellow peaches, vine-ripe tomatoes stuffed with fresh Italian burrata cheese and breadcrumbs and drizzled with basil vinaigrette, and roasted fingerling potatoes. The peaches and herbs are from the Foster Harris House kitchen garden and the tomatoes are from the nearby organic farm. John explains that he usually prepares the duck with a cherry sauce, but the peaches are abundant, so he thought we’d try something different.

I gulp. Already we’re improvising and we haven’t started to cook. “Where’s the recipe??” screams my inner control freak. But, then, John pours me a glass of cold Riesling, and my imagined stress starts to dissipate.

I tackle the tomato assignment and begin carving the tops off and hollowing them out. With the tomatoes prepped, I move on to the basil vinaigrette. John gives me instructions – some oil, some vinegar, and heaps of basil from the garden. Maybe some lemon juice to make it bright. He pulls seven small white ceramic pitchers from the cabinet. I need to make enough so each guest has some to pour over their baked tomato.

Okay. No measurements. Just ingredients. I can handle this. I rev up the blender and get to work, creating an emulsion with the oil and vinegar and dropping handfuls of basil into the device. In my mind, I’m trying to remember the formula for perfectly balanced vinaigrette, and I have no idea how much basil I will need.

At this point, Bill and Joanne arrive, friends of the MacPhersons who were their first guests for the Tour D’Epicure, their series of Virginia cycling adventures. Bill is watching me fanatically work the blender. “Are you going to pulverize everything in this kitchen?” he asks only somewhat facetiously. Sherri and Kevin arrive. They are the innkeepers at the Hopkins Ordinary in nearby Sperryville, Virginia. Sherri brings a homemade ice cream pie made with goat’s milk, and Kevin offers fresh goat cheese he made himself. Sherri and Kevin had worked in the not-for-profit world before opening the Hopkins Ordinary. I talk cheese with Kevin as I continue to work the blender, although the whir is slightly distracting. Finally, I have enough vinaigrette to fill the mini-pitchers. It is a vibrant emerald green color and tastes pretty snappy. Don’t ask for the recipe. I don’t remember it.

John prepares the duck breasts. At this point, it is occurring to me that this is kind of a weekly ritual at the Foster Harris House. Duck on a Thursday night? Don’t you want to just move in? I chop the peaches, even though removing pits from stone fruit is not my strongest skill. Nobody seems to mind and it all simmers into a luscious, golden puree.

John and Kevin are about to plate the meal and he sends me to the garden to pick a handful of lemon thyme. It all smells the same to me, and for one comical moment, I am crouched in the garden with my nose in the herbs trying to pick out the lemon scent.

The gentlemen work as a team, and within seconds the white plates are perfectly adorned. I grab two plates and John stops me. “Take off your apron,” he says. “It’s time to relax.”

We dine on the patio as the sun goes down, in the shadow of an ancient magnolia tree. Everyone raises their glass in a toast to the chefs. There are several excellent bottles of wine on the table, and the food tastes so satisfying because it is truly a community meal in which we’ve all played a part, from the ingredients, to the preparation, to the conversation.

As we are clearing the dishes, Diane says suddenly, “I forgot to turn down your bed!” Morning coffee and the precision turn down service in the evening are all part of the complete experience at the Foster Harris House.

“What? Does that mean no chocolate on my pillow tonight?” I ask.

Diane gives me a hug as I exit the kitchen. “Tomorrow will be 83 degrees and sunny,” she says. “The chocolates are in the drawer at the top of the landing.”

At this point, I realize I have transcended what it means to be a guest at the Foster Harris House and am now an honorary member of the household and their extended epicurean community.

Recently I traveled through the Virginia countryside, discovering the local food, history and hospitality of what is called “the birthplace of the nation.” Pot Luck Night at the Foster Harris House took place on Thursday, August 21, 2008.

©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Coming Home to Chef Patrick O’Connell’s Country Inn

The seasons have changed several times since my last visit. The Inn at Little Washington is framed with late summer flowers and the air is pleasingly warm.

Although it is just 65 miles from densely-populated Washington DC, the Inn seems to exist in another time and place. Think Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, where magic, mythical figures and high adventure rule the night. Having spent the day hiking Shenandoah’s Old Rag Mountain – a strenuous scramble over prehistoric boulders – I am more than willing to succumb to the fantasy.

I am greeted affectionately at the door, as if I’d never been away, and taken to a table in the garden to enjoy a cocktail. Francois serves a sparkling rose wine accompanied by tangy parmesan crisps. The garden is a welcomed respite from the day’s hike, and there is a certain symmetry to the sparkling rose, the lovely flowers and the bubbling lily pond.

When I’ve finished my cocktail, I am escorted back to the dining room for my meal and seated at the same table where I dined during my last visit – a perfect corner location to view the drama unfolding before me. Sophie presents me with the evening’s menu. It reads “A Warm Welcome to Mr. Barritt,” and my eyes widen when I note the “Culinary Types” logo emblazoned at the top of the menu. They’ve done their homework. I am both astonished and flattered.

It is the Inn’s 30th anniversary year. I’ve chosen the Chef’s Tasting Menu with paired wines in order to experience as much as possible of Chef Patrick O’Connell’s famed cuisine. I munch on extraordinarily fresh Tempura Green Beans from the chef’s own garden and gaze in wonder as the procession of exquisite edibles begins.

A Tin of Sin tempts me with briny caviar atop a crab and cucumber rillette, ingeniously presented in an actual caviar tin. The salty black gems pop with the bubbles of the Andre Tissot Cremant de Jura Brut poured by Meredith, the sommelier.

A chilled pink watermelon soup – spiked with tequila – and the color of strawberry ice cream, conjures up refreshing thoughts of a lively summer picnic.

A Quartet of Island Creek Oyster Slurpees, is nothing short of a gastronomic thrill – bracing oysters topped with icy dollops of passion fruit, cucumber puree, wasabi and traditional cocktail sauce. It is accompanied by smooth, chilled Sake.

A sweet Seared Maine Diver’s Scallop is bronze and luminescent white and sits in a pool of Garden Minestrone. A crisp, Potato Crusted Tuna Wellington, with a lively Caponata Ravioli and Sauce Bearnaise is a sassy, post-modern take on the classic dish.

The elegant focal point of the menu is as striking as a trompe l’oeil painting. Pan Seared Four Story Hill Farm’s Pekin Duck Breast offers succulent rare pink slices fanned over a glistening golden sweet corn pudding. Braised cherries add a dramatic, risqué flourish.

As a single diner, I know well there can be moments of self-consciousness in a restaurant when one eats solo, but never once do I feel that I am dining alone. The staff is charming and attentive. I chat with Meredith the sommelier about my encounter with a black bear on the hiking trail that afternoon. Shortly, Sophie returns and says, “So, I hear you met a bear today?” She is from Yorkshire, and we trade anecdotes about historic sites in Virginia. I feel celebrated, honored and right at home. It is easily one of the best dining experiences of my life, where food, service and environment converge in one sublime and joyful experience.

To my left, Sally Murray – resplendent in red – and her husband have come from Alexandria, Virginia to celebrate her birthday. We strike up a conversation over his Napoleon of Heirloom Tomatoes, and they are musing about whether a chef might become bored after thirty years at the same task.

There is still more on the menu. Blushing pink Strawberry-Basil Bubble Tea is sweet, spicy and effervescent. Served with a straw, I almost feel compelled to slurp like a youngster. The sweet finale is a Limoncello Soufflé – light airy, lemony and crowned with a perfect round of frosty lemon ice cream. At last, I am presented with petit fours in a tiny wicker picnic hamper. It is then that I get the question I’ve been hoping for all evening – Would you like to visit the kitchen? I try not to appear too eager, but calmly stand, button my jacket and follow Sophie.

The double doors to the kitchen are swept open to reveal Chef Patrick O’Connell standing at the center of the room. He is tall and stately and wears a long kitchen apron decorated with Dalmatian spots, an iconic pattern at the Inn. He greets me with a generous smile and we spend a few moments conversing, while the refined, purposeful, and choreographed activity of the kitchen plays on all around us.

While I have often heard him referred to as “Patrick,” I address him as “Chef,” the term of respect we used at the French Culinary Institute. He is well-briefed on my background. “I hear you write an online column,” he says, and at this point, I am feeling a bit like I am in the middle of an extraordinary dream.

I decide to put forward the question Sally and her husband have been speculating over. “After thirty years, do you ever get bored?”

He laughs and says that such a thing would be impossible. “No half hour is the same.”

Chef O’Connell talks to me about creating a feeling of “home” at the Inn and his desire to assure that each guest has a “flawless experience.”

“You do that quite well,” I respond.

He tells me that when he began the Inn in 1978, his inspiration was the cuisine of France and he worked to adapt the techniques to achieve an American sensibility. He asks me about my writing. Do you write about New York restaurants, or recipes? I explain that I write about people and food and that I am most successful as a writer when there is a person at the center of the story. I look for the connection between people and food. He seems to approve. Too many reviewers think of the food as a product, he tells me. They don’t think about the connection between the person and the creation.

He inquires as to whether I cook, and I confess that I am probably the best trained amateur to work his way through the French Culinary Institute. He tells me that Dorothy Hamilton, the founder of FCI is expected to dine at the Inn later in the week. He describes another of my favorite instuctors, Anne Willan of La Varenne, as a powerhouse.

Chef is kind enough to pose for a picture, and after that, I decide it is time to leave him to his work. There are still many more dinners to prepare and many more guests to indulge. I’m reluctant to go. I feel right at home.

I leave the Inn grasping the menu, a talisman of all that has transpired. The Virginia summer night sky is lit with a thousand brilliant stars and at that moment, my little universe does indeed seem flawless.

Recently I traveled through the Virginia countryside, discovering the local food, history and hospitality of what is called “the birthplace of the nation.” I dined at The Inn at Little Washington on Wednesday, August 20, 2008.

©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Wine Who’s Time Has Come

America’s third President, Thomas Jefferson was a connoisseur of good wine. He drank it every day, called it “indispensible” to his health and lived well into his eighties.

Thomas Jefferson was a man after my own heart.

Jefferson did much to accommodate this great love, including the creation of an extensive wine cellar at both his mountaintop home of Monticello and his secluded retreat at Poplar Forest in Virginia.

He imported wines from abroad, and closely studied European varietals. In 1774, he even tried to establish a vineyard at Monticello and hired a European vintner to oversee the grounds. The vineyard ultimately failed.

It took more than 200 years, but the winemakers at Jefferson Vineyards in Charlottesville, Virginia finally figured it out. Located on the same land where Jefferson attempted to establish that first vineyard, Jefferson Vineyards has been producing wine since 1981. History does, in fact, reward those who are patient.

I arrive at Jefferson Vineyards after a day of exploring at Monticello. Somehow, I can’t quite complete my picture of the man without a taste of the grapes that bear his name. I am entranced by the austere, smoky green wine bottles decorated with Jefferson’s spidery signature. The label is modeled after a 1787 bottle of Lafitte wine that was discovered in 1985 in a sealed Paris wine cellar and is engraved with the marks of Lafitte and Jefferson.

The Chardonnay Reserve is crisp and sublime and the Viognier has a spicy finish. The Bordeaux-style Meritage is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is reminiscent of the style of wine that Jefferson would have enjoyed during the early days of the new republic. Historic wine, celebrating an historic figure. It is perhaps a taste of the man and the land that was so much a part of his psyche.

To your good health, Mr. Jefferson!

Recently I traveled through the Virginia countryside, discovering the local food, history and hospitality of what is called “the birthplace of the nation.” I visited Jefferson Vineyards on August 19, 2008.

©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Thomas Jefferson’s Vegetable Vision

It is a blistering but bright summer afternoon in Virginia, the kind that might have found Thomas Jefferson inspecting the kitchen garden at his mountaintop estate of Monticello some two centuries ago.

Purple and white eggplants shimmer in the afternoon sun and the Blue Ridge Mountains are luminous against the skyline as I walk among the trellises and rows of vegetable plots and try to imagine the thoughts of America’s third president. It is easy to think beyond the one-dimensional, iconic image of Jefferson on the nickel or the two-dollar bill as I explore the restored garden and the heirloom varieties that are erupting from the soil, even in the 21st century. Jefferson was an architect of American independence, a philosopher, a gourmet and … mad about vegetables? Yes, the author of the Declaration of Independence was – in fact – a localvore. While claiming that Jefferson was the founder of the locally-grown movement might be hard to prove historically, Monticello certainly nourished Jefferson in many ways, and there is a realization that the vegetable garden was an important ingredient in that sense of place.

Jefferson craved vegetables. He ate very little meat and the dinner menu at Monticello featured numerous varieties and preparations of vegetables. Most came from what was quaintly referred to as “the kitchen garden.” Recreated in 1979, it is hardly a modest effort and is the length of three football fields. Of the 27 vegetable plots, 26 would rotate each year. Only the asparagus beds remained constant. He experimented with 300 varieties and more than 70 different species of vegetables. The garden sits on the side of the hill, and offers a dramatic view of what might have appeared on the table at Monticello.

There is an abundance of fragrant herbs …

Poll beans that reach into the sky …

Exotic figs, which thrived in the hot Virginia summers …

Hearty varieties of peppers …

Pumpkins …

And jewel-like heirloom tomatoes …

In the nearby fruit orchard – or fruitery as it was called – peaches were prolific. Jefferson planted 38 varieties and at one point, there were 160 peach trees in the orchard.

I purchase some packets of heirloom seeds for my brother from the gift shop, cultivated at the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants. The center preserves historic plant varieties. The seed packets include Brandywine Tomato, Early Blood Turnip-rooted Beet, Hyacinth Bean, and Bath Cos Lettuce. It is my hope that, next growing season, his kitchen garden in the Tennessee countryside will also burst with the flavors of Monticello’s vegetables and that Thomas Jefferson’s culinary vision might continue to propagate.

Recently I traveled through the Virginia countryside, discovering the local food, history and hospitality of what is called “the birthplace of the nation.” I visited Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello on August 19, 2008.

©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Hand of Friendship, the Art of Breakfast

A framed, counted cross-stitch sampler hangs in the foyer of the Foster Harris House. It depicts a whimsical country cottage with the words, “Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.”

The sampler is partially hidden by a large hat tree, but if you manage to spot it, it tells you a great deal about the owners of this bed and breakfast by the side of the road in Little Washington, Virginia.

The first time I stayed at the Foster Harris House I had a feeling of déjà vu, as if I’d met innkeepers Diane and John MacPherson before. Perhaps it’s their natural warmth and generosity that embraces you from the moment you enter the inn, creating the feeling that you’ve known them forever.

Diane and John are my heroes. Several years ago, they quit their day jobs in California and now live, work and cook in a town of 186 people where exquisite food is the lifeblood of the community – from a renowned five-star restaurant just a block away, to local vineyards and surrounding organic farms.

Diane orchestrates ambiance and amenities. Each room at the Foster Harris House is elegantly furnished yet supremely comfortable. John is the chef who sees artistry in simple ingredients like eggs and bacon.

Diane greets me with a smile and a hug upon my arrival. Within minutes, she presents a glass of chilled Pouilly Fuisse on a silver tray. I unwind on the deck reviewing hiking options for the days ahead. Shortly, John is at the side door and we are chatting about my career journey and his efforts to preserve the abundance of yellow heirloom tomatoes available at the nearby organic farm where they have a share. No sooner is it mentioned, when he offers me a creamy, golden tomato soup with a smoky adobo base and garnished with a perfectly pert basil leaf from the kitchen garden. John then offers bowls to two other guests. The soup is delectable after a long day of travel and practically glistens in the late afternoon sun.

Virginia has been blessed with a series of perfect days, and breakfast is set on the deck beneath a large, green market umbrella. While John works in the kitchen, Diane serves the four-course menu to guests. Each meal opens with an elegant parfait of fresh fruit with vanilla custard yogurt and granola, and there is always a basket of warm scones direct from the oven:

The main entrées are towering, imaginative designs of flavor and texture. Ingredients are impossibly fresh and bursting with color. Can one possibly select a favorite among such creations?

Each morning is better than the day before. New guests whisper to me, “Have you gotten this kind of breakfast everyday?” They can’t quite believe that such exquisite works have been prepared especially for them. When they think they can’t eat another bite, Diane takes special pleasure in announcing a “sweet finish,” perhaps a Lemon Liebchen with Blueberry Coulis, a miniature stack of pancakes sprinkled with slivers of luscious chocolate, a Cream of Wheat brulee or a Strawberry Cheesecake Crepe:

On the night before my departure – over an excellent glass of Bordeaux-style wine – I question John about the sense of place the MacPhersons have created in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. His answers reflect a genuine delight in the guests who visit their establishment and the ability to connect with them for a brief moment in time.

“You get to see them in a place where they are happy and come to celebrate something,” John reflects. “They leave, and they are appreciative and satisfied. It’s a job well done.”

On my final morning, I am reluctantly preparing to return home. I am sitting in the kitchen, as John checks a couple out. I am just within earshot and can hear their conversation.

“Just one night, and we feel restored,” the woman says gratefully.

John responds with an ebullient and spontaneous, “Fantastic!”

The woman will likely pass the counted-cross stitch sampler in the foyer as she departs, but whether she notices it or not doesn’t really matter. Intuitively she knows that the art of friendship is more than just a clever saying, but a way of life at the Foster Harris House.

Recently I traveled through the Virginia countryside, discovering the local food, history and hospitality of what is called “the birthplace of the nation.” I visited the Foster Harris House in Little Washington, Virginia August 18 through 25, 2008.

©2008 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved