Friday, May 31

RVA Eats: The Jefferson Hotel

Chef Walter Bundy of Lemaire at the Jefferson Hotel. Photos by Nicole Lang
Throughout the spring, Nicole Lang has blogged for us about her adopted hometown of Richmond, Virginia (aka RVA). Richmond is the site for this year's Summer Foodways Symposium, which will take place from June 20–22. This post concludes Nicole's RVA Eats series. Thank you, Nicole!

I've so enjoyed exposing the people and their passions that help make Richmond and our region so unique.  Summer symposium weekend is almost upon us and I'd like to leave you with a taste of what's to come at symposium headquarters, the Jefferson Hotel

"Old Pompey" is the hotel's unofficial mascot.

The Jefferson, aside from being an historic hotel with all of the accompanying lore—built by a tobacco baron, former home to alligators, resting stop for Elvis; you know, the usual stuff—it also houses, to my mind, the best kept dining secret in Richmond: Lemaire. Long known as an high-end destination, in the last few years Chef Walter Bundy and Lemaire Manager/Wine Director Greg McGhee have embraced a modern and more casual aesthetic, hoping to attract a new generation of devotees, of which this writer is decidedly one.

There are nods to the hotel's history throughout Lemaire and the menus reflect Virginia's many food traditions, with offerings from nearby  shores, forests, fields, and farms. They recently added hyper-local honey—installing bee hives on the hotel's roof—and an on-site vegetable and herb garden. Those herbs feature heavily in both dishes and cocktails (one of my favorite parts of the menu). 

Lemaire's summer cocktails are debuting just in time for the arrival of the SFA Summer Symposium. Greg McGhee and barman Scott Harris invited me to sip a few previews. Scott prepared a Fancy Tequila Cocktail, an Old Maid (kind of like a mojito's cousin, with cucumber and gin), and a Whiskey Peach Smash, which I predict will be a favorite among SFA members. Greg and Scott even consulted the pages of Mary Randolph's 1824 cookbook, The Virginia Housewife, to create a strawberry cordial for thirsty history buffs. I snacked on smoked peanuts and their signature and addictive pimento cheese (its recipe is so guarded, even I could not gain access!). 

Don't fret if you can't make it to Richmond for the sold-out Summer Symposium. you can be there in 'spirit' with your own Whiskey Peach Smash! Cheers, and I look forward to seeing many of you in RVA!

Whiskey Peach Smash
courtesy of Lemaire

4 small peach quarters plus one thin peach slice for garnish
6 mint leaves
2 small pieces of lemon
1 oz. water
1 oz. simple syrup
2 1/2 oz high proof rye whiskey

Muddle all ingredients except for whiskey in a shaker.
Add whiskey and shake.
Strain into a high-ball glass with ice.
Garnish with peach slice.