No picnics today!
No picnics today!
In March 2015, the great-great-great-great-grandson of Aaron Thornley, the builder of White Plains in 1786, visited us from California with his family. That visit has since been recorded as one of our favorite days while living here. They brought stories, pictures, and an interest in learning about this special place in Virginia.
At that time in 2015, we had barely scratched the surface to stabilize and restore the old Thornley home. We knew very little of the stories it kept secret.
This past weekend, they came back to visit, nearly four years and many changes later. It was fun to share the recent restoration and renovation work, much of it drastic, since their last visit. We have stayed in touch with them over the years, and it was fun to build on a friendship of other common interests too.
In preparing for their visit, we debated a simple menu that would highlight some of the small farm producers in the Fredericksburg and King George region. We live in an area with many small sustainable farms that care about the produce they deliver.
After a round or two (who’s counting?) of manhattans and a tour through the house, dinner was served. For the main course, I chose coturnix quail from Sassafras Trail in King George. After years of searcing for a source of quail in Virginia, I found Caroline who does an amazing job raising quality birds.
I chose to prepare them based on an old French recipe, Cailles à la Normande, braised in apples, shallots, Calvados, and cream. Giving the plate a southern twist, I served them over locally grown and ground polenta.
While those little birds can be a challenge to eat, the meat is so rich and plays well with the sweet braised apples and creamy broth. After you’ve initially been polite with a knife and fork, it pays to pick them up to get every last bit of that dark delicious meat.
For dessert, I chose not to bake (gasp!), and I let the Red Truck Bakery steal the show with their Lexington bourbon cake with fresh ginger. It has become a household favorite and pairs well with a little bourbon-whipped cream – or a lot, we don’t judge. It was perfect with a sip of the Mary Hite Bowman Caramel Cream made in Fredericksburg by A. Smith Bowman Distillery.
The evening was a lot of fun. We enjoyed the chance to share the Thornley family’s ancestral home with our guests while enjoying some of Virginia’s finest. We can’t wait for the next visit.
Hopefully we continue to make this old house proud by offering hospitality to strangers and friends, both old and new.