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EATING WITH THOMAS JEFFERSON AT KESWICK HALL

 

By Michael Hepworth

Keswick Hall in Charlottesville is a country club/resort/golf club that just happens to have a restaurant called Fossett’s that is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson’s (1734-1826) personal chef Edith Fossett (1787-1845) during his retirement years at Monticello. This African American woman must have been really good, because her creations are still available at the classy restaurant, and her portrait adorns the dining room looming over the proceedings. She learned the art of French cooking from Honore Julien, the Head Chef in the White House during Jefferson ’s presidential years. Reminding me a lot of an English Country House Hotel, Keswick Hall is about a 20 minute taxi ride from Charlottesville, but a must visit if you are in the area. It is a favorite spot for the celebrities that live in the area such as Sissy Spaceck, John Grisham and Howie Long, as well as visiting entertainers and luminaries to the Charlottesville area. The three sided floor to ceiling windows offer an expansive view of the Virginia landscape, including the Arnold Palmer designed championship golf course.  

We started out with a Green Fried Tomato topped with spring garlic prawns, a very popular morsel in this part of the world, and no doubt a staple at the Jefferson dining table. By all accounts the President was a great fan of macaroni, so next up came a dish of macaroni & cheese topped with soft shell crabs. What made this an interesting tasting experience was the addition of a wild leek or onion known as ramps’ giving a touch of tartness and bitterness to the meal. This is a vegetable in high demand with chefs everywhere, and with only one farm in the world growing it in West Virginia; chefs in the immediate area also have to rely on foragers who roam the local forests. The Monticello Salad dating back to Edith Fossett is a local bibb tossed with pecan oil and fleur de sil grilled apples, pecans and Caramont chevre apple vinaigrette. One of the main signature dishes at Keswick is the Rack of Lamb, crusted with the estates own herbs and cracked mustard boulangere potatoes and a spring spinach smoked tomato glace. An exquisite presentation by chef Craig Hartman who is adamant about using local farms and suppliers and really has no desire to move his skills to a bigger environment. Next visit I will have to go for either the Pan Fried Rainbow Trout and Candied Pork Belly or the Ramp Butter Basted Chop of Polyface Farms Pork. 

 

Fact Sheet  

Keswick Hall

Fossett’s Restaurant

Address: 701 Club Drive , Keswick , Virginia

Phone: (434) 979-3440

Website:www.keswick.com

Open Daily 6-9.30 pm

Also open for breakfast/lunch

 

Monticello

Website:www.monticello.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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