Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Summer Feast, Foster Harris House-style

Blue hydrangeas embellish the table, stemware shimmers and candles flicker, casting an ethereal glow. Diane MacPherson puts a whimsical menu at each place setting and fills each wine glass with cold, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. This is the culmination of the visit to the Foster Harris House in Washington, Virginia - a singular dinner created by Chef John MacPherson, which fêtes the edible gifts of the summer season.

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.

I visited the food and wine country of Virginia July 23 – 27, 2009.

©2009 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Beautiful feast. I love the flowers on the table and the food looks incredible.

Julia said...

This looks like an amazing feast!

I grew up just an hour away from Rappahanock county, and can't believe I haven't been there more. It sounds amazing.

Kathy said...

What a beautiful meal! Thanks for sharing it with us. I'd especially like to try the beets.

Anonymous said...

Every course looks stunning, though I admit to being intrigued most of all with the beets and also the halibut course. These are the kinds of memorable meals that would make me book now for next summer.

Foodiewife said...

Your gift of writing is equally as impressive as this beautiful menu. I enjoyed reading every morsel. You make me want to visit there myself!

~~louise~~ said...

T.W. you have painted a rainbow of delicately prepared morsels inspired by utopia.

Thank you so much for sharing, your Virginia trip.

Cakespy said...

Look. At. Those. Desserts. I might have trouble keeping my pinkies out while I dived right in! The ice cream in particular looks dignified but completely delicious.

veron said...! What a feast and so beautiful!