A highlight of our trip was eating in Gadsby's Tavern, George Washington's hangout where his birthnight balls were given, and here where he gave his farewell to his troops. It oozed with history, and the food did not disappoint now as it did not then. The General was fond, like me, of the fish. One of our party ordered a gentleman's "pye," another fish and chips, while another enjoyed a French dip sandwich (in honor of Lafayette). I ordered a spinach salad with seared salmon. Oh my!
Then we had the original recipe of burnt sugar crème brulee that has been served ever since George Washington's day that made my day. It was by far the best creamy dessert ever, the stuff culinary dreams are made of. I would make it every day (without burning the sugar which would be dangerous for me-I might catch myself on fire.), if I had the recipe. It was so fresh and creamy that I suspect they keep a cow out back. No wonder the General kept going there. Just think of George Washington's false teeth biting into this delicacy! No wonder they are in the Smithsonian.
To top it all off, the Tavern was built and owned by one of my relatives, a Wise, and my Harper side attended Washington's birthnight balls there. They have re-enacted these balls without fail for all these years since and even have someone dressed as Mr. Wise attending. I'm sure the crème brulee is served at these occasions since it was at the original balls. So I walked where George Washington walked, and ate what he ate. I think I am an official George Washingtonian.
"And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly having believed in God with his whole household." Acts 16:34 Isn't this how we should pray before meals, rejoicing greatly, then breaking bread?
I could not find their recipe, but this one is probably pretty close. I even looked in Martha Washington's cookbook, but didn't find it there probably because the book was handed down to her from her Custis mother-in-law. Some say that Thomas Jefferson brought back the recipe from France, but you'll have to ask George Washington about that. This recipe is from Disney Diners' Chefs de France.
Disclaimer: I have not tried this yet, but will as soon as I remember to buy 3 heavy cups of creams (I thought my refrigerator was going to have a heart attack after I put two pints of cream and one of Half & Half into it). Let me know if you tried it & liked it.
8 egg yolks
1 c. Half & Half
3 c. heavy cream
1 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
Wisk eggs and sugar. Pour in the Half and Half and heavy cream and mix well.
Add in the vanilla bean or vanilla extract and refrigerate this mixture overnight.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Remove vanilla bean. (I'm singing, "Hey mama, we're going put vanilla beans in our ears..." You remember that song, don't you? You don't?) Pour mixture into individual baking dishes. Place dishes into a cake pan that has been filled with 1/2 inch of water. Place another baking sheet on top of the dishes. This prevents the crème brulee from burning. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 200 degrees.
Remove from oven and chill for 5 minutes. Sprinkle a layer of brown sugar over the tops and place back into oven under the broiler until sugar caramelizes. (I think even I could burn sugar doing it this way without the torch; then again, I could catch the whole house on fire.) Cool and serve. Serves 6 or 1 if you want it all yourself, voila!
Ann VasKamp says that hospitality is not about who has the cleanest house and the best cooking, but it is an open gate of welcome.