Summertime, and the living is easy… Guests walked up the circle drive of the historic Seven Springs farm in King William, VA and were greeted by smooth jazz, courtesy of Carl “Chico” Lester-El and Carlton Blount, and handed a cup of sangria, courtesy of UGK. Mingling with one another, taking in the beautiful 107-acre historic property, refreshing themselves in the shade of the magnolia trees, guests were given an opportunity to stroll around the idyllic estate before being asked into the house for dinner.
Around the tables, the musically inspired food prepared by Carly Herring, executive chef at Buddy’s (Richmond, VA) left UGK attendees with a swing in their step. Taking her inspiration from the jazz standards of the 1900’s through the 1970’s, Carly prepared dishes in which the ingredients acted as musical accompaniment to the culinary harmonies. Cayenne dusted grilled peaches were plated with a crème fraiche quenelle to start the meal a la “Peaches and Cream,” by Percy Wenrich. Henderson Fletcher’s “Hot Mustard,” Tony Bennet’s “Mountain Greenery,” and Duke Ellington’s “Black and Blue” were the musical inspiration for a succulent beef carpaccio topped with black sea salt, arugula, and hot bacon mustard dressing served with a side of olive oil toast points. I won’t go through the whole menu here, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Hello Dolly Cheesecake that was smothered in a decadent Bananas Foster, weaving Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly,” and Dexter Gordon’s “Cheescake” and “Fried Bananas” into the meal.
After the plates and tables had been put away, the chef and a few lucky guests spent the night on the 290-year-old historic property talking into the early morning hours, discussing food, culinary vision, colonial history, jazz music, the list goes on and on. In the morning chef Carly Herring prepared breakfast, which delighted guests with duck confit, poached quail eggs, hollandaise sauce, a potato and merguez frittata topped with a dollop of freshly made pesto, fresh fruit, and a mimosa popsicle. What a way to start the day! Guests were surely reluctant to leave this site of Virginia history, architectural achievement, and recent culinary revelation. No doubt, the memories of this meal on the historic Seven Springs farm will linger with them long after the tables were cleared.