A special Thanksgiving

love-opera-victoria-bakerWhenever Thanksgiving rolls around I feel a little performance anxiety. I’m a really bad cook and toiling over a hot stove is, to me, synonymous to spending time in Dante’s Inferno.

My favorite thing to do on the holidays is actually to escape to a place where professionals take care of the culinary details and this year I’m recommending The Inn at Little Washington. Featured in Patricia Shultz’s 1,000 Places to See Before You Die it’s the ultimate destination for a special occasion.

Nestled deep within the Virginia countryside, this establishment has won prizes and awards galore, they are reputed to be one of the finest places to dine in the country, if not the world.

When I last visited, I became obsessed with one item on the menu: the truffle popcorn. Yes, that’s correct, even if it sounds a little off.  A unique fusion of the ordinary and the extraordinary, truffle popcorn will send you to culinary heaven. Truffle popcorn may not be in your Thanksgiving repertoire, but believe me, after a few bites it’s difficult to stop.

I tried to recreate it at home thinking it was a simple recipe, but that’s what separates the kitchen geniuses from the others. They use their magic over unassuming ingredients and make them impossible to copy.

I need not regale you all with the exquisite attention to detail in every room or the farm to table freshness in every dish as these are easily researched by prospective visitors. But the story, or more specifically the determination, behind the Inn is as incredible as the dining.

Patrick O’Connell, the chef and mastermind of this haven of hospitality has created an oasis in the desert. He has taken the town of Little Washington, a tiny, obscure but beautiful place, and put it on the map. Patrick O’Connell has done as Michelangelo said “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

He had a vision, unrealistic as all visions are, and he remained faithful to it until it became tangible. I admire individuals like that. They are few and far between. And his vision continues to grow. When I was last there the place was bustling with activity and new construction.

Before creating his culinary wonderland deep in the countryside, Mr. O’Connell traveled the world, learnt about French cuisine and honed his dream and his taste. But so many talented people, wavering in their vision, take their talent out to the world. Patrick O’Connell allowed the world to come to him. He made a path where there was none and his story has inspired me to see the possibilities in all things impossible.

If you’re looking to make your Thanksgiving, or any other occasion truly special, the Inn at Little Washington, will pamper and spoil you, they will anticipate your needs. Most importantly, they know how to make one fleeting moment last a lifetime.

So, if you’re like me: a foodie who doesn’t feel like cooking, there is no better destination.


Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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