The deciding factor in our debate over whether or not we should elope was, truth be told, our families. We weighed all of our options, made a pro/con list, and ultimately decided that being able to celebrate our commitment with our friends and family was worth all the hassle of wedding planning. In the year that we’ve been at it, we’ve definitely had some bumps in the road. On the upside, there have been some really wonderful moments and I’ve been touched time and time again at how the people we love have come together for us.
This past weekend, I was treated to a wonderful adventure in celebration of our wedding. My grandmother, mother, two of my aunts, and my cousin joined me in Williamsburg, Virginia for an incredible weekend. We met on Friday and worked our way through Williamsburg, focusing mostly on eating. We took in some history, but to be honest, our days revolved around food. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was the first planned activity we took part in. My Aunt Paula used her googling skills and found a restaurant called “A Chef’s Kitchen.” The basic premise of their operation is to bring the instructional aspect of cooking shows to a real audience, who in turn get to watch, learn, and eat.
They serve a five course meal, paired wine. The menu changes each month based on seasonal ingredients, and they make 3/4 of the meal in front of you. You’re also sent home with all of the recipes, so today I’m sharing what was one of my favorite elements to the dinner, their skillet cornbread. The cornbread was the first thing that was cooked in front of us, and it was paired with a lovely arugula salad. The cornbread course followed a corn soup, and afterwards we were served a scallop over a bed of cilantro pesto noodles, succeeded by berkshire pork and ratatouille. The whole thing was topped off with a chocolate terrine with (as my Aunt Jill pointed out in excited whispers) triple layered ganache.
I can imagine that you are already booking your reservations so that you can partake in the TRIPLE GANACHE as soon as possible. I’ve already promised Dan that as soon as we have a free weekend (so, after September) we’ll be taking a trip down there because I just know that he would love everything about it. Other sites in Williamsburg that were a big hit were the Cheese Shop, where I partook in my favorite pass-time- eating cheese, the colonial herb garden, where I got talked into buying a floppy straw hat, and the Fat Canary, where there were signs informing diners that both the water and the plumbing was historic.
I will admit that making this at home proved more difficult than drinking wine and watching them make it. I’m not sure if I just didn’t cook it long enough, if my skillet wasn’t hot enough, or if I bought cornmeal that was too coarse, but it turned out a little off. Even after doubling the cooking time it wasn’t cooked through, so I will have to revisit the dish. Dan still claims it was delicious and suggested that since he doesn’t feel obligated to be nice to me when I don’t deserve it, I have no reason not to believe him. All I know is that I can’t wait to try more of the recipes from Friday night, and I will definitely be going back to A Chef’s Kitchen. This weekend was far better than I could have ever expected it to be, and time spent with celebrating my family was exactly what Dan and I had in mind when we decided to include our families in this crazy wedding.
From left: Jill, Paula, Marlene, Jessie, Cathy, Elena
Source: A Chef’s Kitchen
1 3/4 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp butter
For this recipe, you need a cast-iron skillet, preferably one that is well seasoned.
Preheat your oven to 450, with the skillet in the oven. After the oven is preheated, leave the pan in for an additional 5 minutes.
Whisk together cornmeal, sugar, salt, b. powder, and b. soda. Add the egg and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.
Remove the skillet from the oven and add the butter. Allow it to melt and brown. Swirl it around so that the edges and bottom are coated.
Pour in the cornbread batter and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. Turn out onto a cutting board and serve warm.