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I love quotes that add meaning to my life. Here are a few to live by:
Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
â€”The Dalai Lama
Rhubarb is a metaphor for finding happiness in your own backyard.
Buy your snacks from a farmersâ€™ market.
Even when he had a garden in Paris, Thomas Jefferson cultivated Indian corn, â€śto eat green in our manner, â€¦as quickly after it left the stalk as possible.
â€”Evan Jones, from American Food
Two Last Meals, Part 2: Breakfast at The Inn at Shelburne Farms
There is a tradition at Shelburne Farms, one of many, that I love. It is the tradition of offering an inn breakfast all through the months when the Inn at Shelburne Farms is open, May through the middle of October. It is a breakfast served not just to inn guests, but to those of us, like me, who are neighbors, and who havenâ€™t followed the urge, yet, to book a room for the weekend and enjoy the late Victorian splendor of one of the most spectacular properties on Lake Champlain. So, instead, we are offered the opportunity to come for breakfast. And what an offer it is!
Catching Up With a Friend
Friends breakfast at the inn to celebrate a birthday or the birth of a child, an anniversary or just to revel in a beautiful summer morning. I decided to do it to catch up with my friend, Susanne Davis, whose connections to the Shelburne Farm property go back several generations.
By the time we made a date, we realized it would be the last breakfast served this year. The inn would close for the season the very next day. Though this was urgency enough to make sure I arrived on time to meet Susanne, I had the distinct feeling as I drove through the stone gates of the Farm estate, that time had slowed down. By the time I announced my intentions to the gatehouse attendant, I was, happily, in another era, one that believed in protocol and a gentler, more graceful way of life.
The Long Drive
The long drive through the rolling fields of the farm, past the massive European stone Farm Barn, where pre-school classrooms, a bakery and cheese-making facility are housed, on past the dairy barns built for the farmâ€™s famous Swiss Brown cows and over a rise that lifts any spirit with a first look at Lake Champlain. Driving along its banks I rolled up to the parking area behind the inn, no longer an inhabitant of the 21st century. Iâ€™ve never clocked the length of the drive, but it must be over a mile in distance, and, at least, 100 years back in time.
Susanne was waiting, with her radiant smile, to welcome me in the dining roomâ€™s spacious reception room with its dark oak bar and tall windows looking out onto the innâ€™s terrace, the formal gardens and lake beyond.
A Private House
We were ushered into the dining room, which I have been in many times, yet each time Iâ€™m at the inn, I have to remind myself that this room was once the dining room of a private house. Two massive white marble fireplaces bookend the space with its black and white marble-tiled floor and red silk drapes. The scale and decoration of the architecture rivals the best of late Victorian splendor. Yes, itâ€™s a grand space, but wonderfully light and airy at the same time. In the morning light, it almost had a delicate feel that mirrored the breeze that blew off the lake and wafted through the room whenever a guest popped in from a stroll around the gardens.
The Breakfast Menu
The breakfast menu included only a few unexpected choices, but that is its beauty. To be sitting in such a luxurious and traditional space and find yourself looking at a menu awash with the latest, hottest, trendiest dishes would be incongruous. Instead, David Hugo, once chef at the inn and now food service manager, has conjured up a menu decidedly dignified and traditional with a little snap to it. The eggs benedict is served with braised greens, as well as homemade whole wheat English muffins, the oatmeal is â€śbruleedâ€ť with the farm’s apples and brown sugar, the granola is served with house-made yoghurt, the omelet and frittata come with Shelburne Farms cheddar. There is kale pesto with the frittata and hen of the wood mushrooms. But, if that isnâ€™t enough to intrigue you, you might choose the last offering on the menu, Ancho Chile and Maple Pork Belly served with steel-cut cider risotto, chive oil, braised greens, barbecue sauce, two eggs any style and O-Bread toast. It was my first choice, but it seemed it was everyone elseâ€™s as well. Instead, I had to comfort myself with the innâ€™s Farmhouse Breakfast of two eggs, any style (I had mine fried), house-made chicken sausage, home fries and O-Bread toast. Not Ancho Chile and Maple Pork Belly by any means, but not shabby either!
Susanne and I said goodbye after a tour of the gardens promising each other a first breakfast at the inn when it opened in the spring. Iâ€™m looking forward to getting there early enough on our next date to have the pork belly, but, maybe after a winter of contemplation, the kitchen at The Inn at Shelburne Farms will have decided on a chic, but not too chic, breakfast idea to include on the menu for a new breakfast season â€“ground venison with cranberry and pork sausage, eggs any style, anyone?
Posted: 11-17-2012SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG’S FEED
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