after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Archive for the ‘in Virginia’ Category

Foster Harris House B&B Raises the Bar

leave a comment »

t says: On our trip to VA (which we made primarily to visit the Inn at Little Washington), g and I stayed at the Foster Harris House Bed and Breakfast.  It was this cute little place run by a husband-wife team (and their son and dog) right down the street from the Inn.  While one could have walked from the Inn to the B&B, there was very little even sidewalk, so we actually drove between the two (all 15 seconds).  Had the weather been warmer, we would have walked it … but it ended up being a little chilly.  As a matter of fact, it snowed the last night we were there – this is what we awoke to:

Disregard the screen in our window - the landscape is pretty!

As you can see, the backyard of the B&B looks out onto nearby mountains and fields.  We actually sat and picnicked on those two chairs you see in the foreground the day before it snowed!  It was like we had two seasons – spring and winter!  It was such a beautiful area.

Aside from setting, Foster Harris House has a few other awesome benefits.  g and I jumped on a Living Social deal, so we stayed in the bomb-diggity suite at like 60-70% off (which didn’t necessarily make it “cheap”, rather, “reasonable”).  The place was spotlessly clean (g wasn’t afraid to use the bathrooms/shower/towels/sheets … and she has very high standards!), and furnished to give a warm, homely feeling throughout the room.  We also had a little sitting “nook” which we sat and sipped wine in as it looked out over the landscape (that’s where I took the picture).  As for the bathroom, it was tastefully adorned with marble and 6 shower heads (1 normal, 1 of those hand-held things, and 4 jets from the walls – 2 at shoulder height, 2 at waist height) – it made it very difficult to go back to “normal” showers when we returned home.  And we read that another room has a jacuzzi!!  The room also featured this fake electric “fireplace” that actually did spew heat, keeping us extra warm and cozy when it was snowing outside (it added a nice fire-like ambience – hoky but cute).

Finally, the owners also prided themselves on providing a dynamite breakfast in the mornings.  John would cook these beautiful three-course meals for all the guests each morning at 9:30am.  g normally feels that such forced socialization is stupid, but the food was pretty and tasty and the meal was low-key (and included in the room rate), so she survived (and then I’d get to talk about the other guests later on behind their backs … I’m mean like that – g refuses to partake in such character assassination). The meals consisted of a fruit-granola-yogurt first course with some frickin-delicious Talula’s-Table-esque scones, a protein-centric second course (e.g. eggs, meat, etc), and a small, sweeter carb-centric final course.  I of course enjoyed the final courses on both days the most:

World's tiniest pancakes! ... out of focus!

Some fancy German pancake.

Now, there were other things we did on our trip, so we’ll share with you two of the funniest things we did.  The first was a visit to a very famous winery …

Anybody watch Real Housewives of DC?

So anyone who’s watched the Real Housewives of DC (I actually haven’t, but g has a little) will know of the Oasis Vineyards, run by those people who crashed the White House parties.  As you can see, they weren’t taking visitors that day …

Another one that we had visited was set up by an Indian man/family with a very compelling story – something about how his mom had sacrificed so much for him to study in the US that he opened this winery and dedicated it to her.  He seemed like a very nice man, but unfortunately his wines were not much better than alcoholic fruit juice.  Sorry – I tell it like it is.  But what was funny is that they had tons of merchandising and also served Indian food!

Butter chicken and samosas with wine?

Unfortunately, like the wine, the food was unremarkable.  Sorry kp.  You better travel down to Narmada Winery and set them straight!

Overall, the trip to VA wine country was splendid.  It really was as relaxing as our trip to Napa.  The quality of the food and wine might not have been as high (with the exception of the Inn), but it it costs 90% less to travel there, and some of the sights are just as impressive, so it deserves some props.  I hope we can visit again with some friends.  I don’t know if we could all eat at the Inn or something, but it’d be a lot of fun to pack out an entire B&B and go vineyard-hopping!

P.S.  We also have a cookbook from the Foster Harris House … and they have the recipe for their scones in there.  It’s go-time!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

3 April 2011 at 2:24pm

Invading the Inn at Little Washington

with one comment

t says: As I had mentioned before, I’ve been pretty busy lately.  Actually, since January, things have been downright crazy.  But then everything came to an end this past Friday.  And now I’m back, baby!

So … what did g and I do to celebrate!?  We had constructed a plan to do our own “most important meal of our lives” (after all, it was a belated Christmas, g’s Birthday, and t’s-done-being-crazy celebration!).  In honor of such a momentous occasion, we decided to go big time.  We left town … we went to Virginia.  What the hell is in Virginia?  Why, the Inn at Little Washington of course!!

Now, the Inn is far more bawler than g and I normally do.  It’s suit-and-tie.  It’s super-fancy decor.  It’s an ultra-attentive, ninja-like wait staff.  And it’s fussily-presented food.  But you know what … we deserved it!

So we booked ourselves a room at the Foster Harris House Bed and Breakfast via a Living Social deal (more details about that later) and we braved the silly DC traffic until we finally made it to dinner …

Let’s dive right in …

3/2010, Friday 8:30pm, Party of 2. And here was our first course!

Introducing ... the world's smallest baked potato!

That’s right!  When our canapes hit the table, we feasted our eyes on “the world’s smallest baked potato”.  It was so cute!  I let g have her pick of canapes first (I’m thoughtful like that) so she went for the tiny baked potato (with sour cream, chives, and bacon bits) as well as that green gin-and-tonic bubble.  On one hand, she said that the potato tasted exactly like a potato, so it wasn’t revolutionary, but it was so cute that it wins big points for pizzazz.  The gin-and-tonic bubble was definitely some sort of molecular gastronomy concoction which g seemed to like very much.  I had the one in the foreground which I believe was a braised pork belly which was absolutely divine.  And to be honest, I completely forget what that friend thing was in the back there (g suspects it was a risotto ball?).  So … it was a fun start.  Nothing mind-blowing … yet …

Mint Pea Soup ... and a familiar sight ... gruyere bread thing!

So, then the soup came down.  It was awesome!  Who would have thought that mint goes with peas (not me!).  And that little cheese puff thing was most certainly a gruyere gougere – very similar to that which we’ve encountered at Talula’s Table.  And it was just as good.  g and I wondered if we could eat it fast enough if they’d give us another like at the pop-up.  But we didn’t want to try to pull a fast one here – we were sure that one of the ninjas wait staff would notice.

For our first course, I went with the lamb carpaccio … but I don’t think you’ll be able to appreciate it:

Curse my iPhone!! Or curse the iPhone operator!!

These were some insanely-thinly-sliced pieces of herb crusted lamb and scoops of Caesar salad ice cream.  That’s right – Caesar salad ice cream.  The ice cream was creamy, cheesy, garlicky, and worked well with the lamb.  I really wish you could have seen it.  I mean, it is kind of gimicky, however, the ice cream serves real purposes: flavor and keeping the temperature of the dish nice and cool. g’s first course (not pictured) was a spicy big eye tuna with avocado, mango, crispy shallots, and a sake-yuzu sorbet.  It looked amazing and tasted wonderful.  It reminded me of some of the bright flavors one would find in a well-made ceviche, but far more substantial, with gigantic chunks of tuna and a yummy yuzu.  Her dish was better than mine – darn!  g’s up 1-0.

So on to my second course:

Mac and Cheese

This mac and cheese was ridiculous.  There were like 8 penne noodles with cheese and panko crumbs atop some Virginia ham (can’t see it) and one of those melted cheese touilles.  And yes … truffle.  Now keep in mind that I’m not one of those people who go ga-ga for truffle – but here – it was being used stupendously!  The cheese was top notch with the creamy texture that a mac and cheese should have (I hate it when it’s a dry-crumbly-chunky cheese).  The noodles were the perfect texture.  The truffle was fantastic and the ham was beautiful … and so it should not come as a surprise that what you see before you is the best mac and cheese that I have ever had.  Period.

Lobster and gnocchi combo!

g’s second course was a fricassee of lobster with potato gnocchi, green grapes and curried walnuts.  I’ll leave it to her to fill you in with the details …  She discreetly passed off her mushrooms which I demolished – they were delicious, too!  But I’d say that I won this one (1-1)!

More Lamb!

My entree was another lamb dish.  At first, I was hesitant that getting two lamb dishes would be ridiculous – but the waiter assured me that the two dishes would be different enough so that it’d still be a great meal.  The lamb tenderloin was spectacularly prepared (I ate one before I took the photo).  The salad had some cucumber, tomato, and [presumably fried] garlic and there was a lemon puree (I forget what the green was – mint?).  Overall, the dish was spot-on – technically perfectly cooked lamb, beautiful flavors, but in the end, nothing blew me away – it was a perfectly prepared lamb … but it was overshadowed by …

Beef Two Ways (and there's a hidden third component off to the left)

g chose a beef two ways – one was a filet wrapped in Swiss Chard, and the other was a pecan-crusted short rib.  But which one was better?  Well, I’m a short rib sucker, so any faithful adsz reader would probably guess that I would have gravitated towards the short rib … But you’d be wrong!  The short rib was amazing – with a nice sweet sauce, a wondrous crust, and pecans – it’s neck and neck with the best short ribs I’ve ever had … but that filet … it was other-worldly.  In short, it was the most tender, flavorful piece of beef I’ve ever had.  g won again! (She always chooses the best entree!)  But how did the Inn pull it off?  How could something like filet actually have flavor beyond just “beef”?  Furthermore, this was no normal “tender” fillet – remember, this was the most tender filet (actually, the most tender piece of meat) I’ve encountered.  What was the secret?  Sous vide!  I guessed it when I tasted it, but had it confirmed by the waiter.  It was!  Amazing!  It makes me want to get one of those Sous Vide machines for our home!  I wish I could better recapitulate the exact flavors for you but the descriptors escape me …

Cheese Plate

g went for a cheese plate dessert.  Mere moments after she ordered, we heard a “mooo” noise. It was coming from the cheese guy.  Imagine a formally dressed dude pushing a large fiberglass cow (i.e. their cheese cart) while using a toy moo-maker (I have no idea what those toys are called).  And, to boot, the guy was hilarious.  He was giddy for cheese  and full of cow-centric jokes.  For example …

“Why do cows have bells?”
“Cuz their horns don’t work.”

Ok … it might not sound funny now, but in the setting of the Inn, this was hilarious.

As for the cheese, there’s no way we’d be able to tell you every single cheese, but we can say that all those selected by their expert were fantastic.  g’s favorite cheese was the gouda (apparently pronounced “Howda”).  We even found the blue cheeses to be approachable and delicious – while normally blues are a turn-off for us.

And finally, I went for a more classic dessert:

A Real Man's Dessert ...

It featured a lemon cake, a chocolate souffle, and a frozen raspberry souffle (more like a frozen raspberry mousse than anything else).  They were all very good and executed well, but to be honest, the cheese was superior … g takes the win 3-1!

So, let’s sum it up …

This was an amazing meal.  There were some impressive sights, from the baked potato and the mac and cheese, to impressive, best-I’ve-ever-had dishes (mac and cheese and the filet).  And while some of the other dishes might not have blown my mind (e.g. the chocolate souffle), ever single dish was executed perfectly; g and I, although by no means “experts”, could not identify any technical errors – I’ll leave that to the chefs and real foodies out there.  The only regret I had was that we missed out on the tour of the kitchen!!!  DARNIT!!  Maybe next time …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

29 March 2011 at 12:32pm