The Kitchen. We sat at the Chef's Table to the right of the fireplace. (Photo from TheInnAtLittleWashington.com, picturing Chef/Proprietor Patrick O'Connell, who wasn't actually there that night. His portrait on the far wall includes his Dalmatians, which inspired the kitchen staff's pants and aprons.)
Mélange of Spicy Tofu with Avocado, Crispy Shallots, and Sake-Yuzu Sorbet. Paired with Phillipe Gonet, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Rosé, Brut (N.V.).
This was one of non-vegetarian courses enjoyed by my friends: Potato Wrapped Tuna Wellington with Caponata-Filled Ravioli and Sauce Béarnaise
Wild Mushroom Ragù with Risotto Milanese, Crispy Polenta, and Gremolata. (Risotto Milanese is colored with saffron. The ragù includes porcini, clamshell, and chanterelle mushrooms.) Paired with Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy (2004).
The Inn's signature starter is Parsley Parmesan Popcorn with Shaved Black Truffle. Also pictured here are two items from the amuse-bouche course: "The World's Smallest Baked Potato" on the left, and a parmesan risotto ball on the right. This course was followed by a Shot of Apple Rutabaga Soup (not pictured).
Artichoke Cappelletti ("little pasta hats") with Grilled Red Peppers, Artichokes and Clamshell Mushrooms. Paired with Lopez de Heredia, Vina Todonia, Rosé, Rioja, Spain (2000).
Three of the paired wines. From left: Treana, Marsanne/Viognier, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California (2008); Lopez de Heredia, Vina Todonia, Rosé, Rioja, Spain (2000); Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy (2004)
Beet Fantasia: Three Varieties of Roasted Beets, Beet Mousse, and Citrus Salsa. Paired with Rudi Pichler, Gruner Veltliner, Federspiel, Wachau, Austria (2008).
After Robert Mondavi visited The Inn, he declared Chef/Proprietor Patrick O'Connell to be "The Pope of American Cuisine." O'Connell really ran with that -- guests at the Chef's Table are led into the kitchen in a "processional," where every member of the brigade de cuisine is standing at attention. A busboy dressed as an altar server swings a thurible of incense as you're led to the table, where he then washes your hands in rose water. Throughout the entire meal, the dominant sound in the kitchen is a CD of Gregorian chants. (Here's a photo I found on someone's blog that will help paint the picture for you.) Oh, and that explains the chalice pictured above, in which the ice water was served.
Macaroni and Cheese with Shaved Black Truffle, served with a parmesan crisp. Paired with Treana, Marsanne/Viognier, Paso Robles, Central Coast, California (2008).
Fricassée of Winter Vegetables with Potato Gnocchi Green Grapes, and Curried Walnuts. Paired with Zind-Humbrecht, Riesling, Alsace, France (2008).
Assorted cookies and candies for the road
Citrus Cream with Clementine Granite
A Trio of Desserts: Hot Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflé, Frozen Raspberry Soufflé, and Lemon Pudding Cake. Paired with Mas Estela, Grenache, Vi Dolç Natural, Empordà, Spain (solera 1991).
The dessert station
Craig in the kitchen, with service director Francois
A cook zests lemon
The Vulcan range was custom-designed in France at cost $1.2 million. The copper hood was designed to resemble King Arthur's Tent.
Another view of the kitchen