Where do you want to fly?
You just know that, with an owner named Patrick James O’Connell, The Inn at Little Washington’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebration would have to be something very special. And the three-starred Michelin-ranked chef surely didn’t disappoint with an entire evening of activities planned Tuesday evening.
Bagpipe player J.R. Arthur leads guests to dinner. The dinner’s fifth course of “Grilled King Lamb Chop Perfumed with Rosemary on Lentils du Puy with Minted Bearnaise.”
Guests began the night over cocktails and canapés (and whiskey tastings!) overlooking the Inn’s great lawn at the foot of the Shenandoah mountains. Irish Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall, who served as the event’s honorary chair, was on-hand to welcome revelers, although it was rescue dog-turned-Inn mascot Luray the dalmatian who stole the spotlight with his freshly knit Irish sweater.
Dancers from the Boyle School of Irish Dance perform for guests. The Inn’s famous truffle-topped popcorn was served during the performance.
A bagpiper then led guests down the block for a live show inside the town’s local theater. There, dancers from the Boyle School of Irish Dance, in addition to accordion and fiddle players, entertained the audience with snippets of both traditional and modern Irish performances. The Inn reciprocated their hospitality by making a donation to the school in honor of the night.
Irish flags adorned The Inn for the night. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) wore their finest Irish garments for the occasion.
Upon returning to the Inn after a leisurely sunset stroll (again, accompanied by a bagpiper), the party then really kicked into high gear. While Chef O’Connell strives to create a self-described “house party” at the property every night, Tuesday was particularly special in that it was hosted in collaboration with Ballyfin, a country house hotel located in the heart of Ireland.
Ballyfin general manager Damien Bastiat addresses guests, as Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall looks on. The dinner’s second course of “Lobster & Savoy Cabbage Terrine with Royal Osetra Caviar and Champagne Butter Sauce.”
Ballyfin owner Fred Krehbiel had traveled, along with chef Sam Moody, to Little Washington, Virginia, for the occasion. And it was then Moody’s turn to shine as he worked with The Inn’s top-rated kitchen team on a seven-course meal that combined influences from both Ireland and Virginia.
Fiddler Haley Richardson and accordion player Sean McComiskey. The program to “St. Patrick’s Cabaret” night performance.
“It was an honor to be part of a master class in hospitality,” said Moody. “We have a strong sense of place at Ballyfin and to find that similarity at The Inn at Little Washington made it the perfect collaboration.”
Ballyfin owner Fred Krehbiel, Ballyfin general manager Damien Bastiat, The Inn at Little Washington owner Patrick O’Connell, Ballyfin chef Sam Moody, and Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall. Guests were treated to whiskey tastings from the Virginia Distillery.
This wasn’t the first time that Ballyfin and The Inn have teamed-up. As part the The Inn’s series of 40th anniversary celebrations last year, O’Connell and his team traveled to Ireland for a similar dinner. In addition to sharing familiar backdrops, featuring rolling green hills and the occasional rainbow, both properties are also members of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux international collection of luxury hotels and restaurants.
The Inn at Little Washington’s Executive Sous Chef Andrew Wright leads the kitchen team through the dining room during the Inn’s “first Saint Patrick’s Day parade.” “Grandmother O’Connell’s Bread and Butter Pudding with Whiskey Ice Cream” served as the final course of the night.
“Sometimes multi-cultural culinary events like this can contribute as much to international diplomacy as world summits,” added O’Connell.
Guests never leave empty handed at The Inn. Gifts for the road were treated to everyone.
The luck of the (American) Irish surely doesn’t hurt either.