30 July 2009
Just as all of the reliefs, murals, and monuments in Washington DC commemorate in symbolic detail the pantheon of American history, the smart logo at the restaurant Founding Farmers also pays homage to the nation's foundations. One F looks to the left, honoring the agricultural origins of the land; the other F looks to the right signaling the importance of farming for the future. The figure in the middle of the logo is a corn cob with multicolored kernels to represent the diversity of all of the founding farmers.
The food and the principles behind the restaurant pay homage, too, with nostalgic entrees, clever names, and of course, a list of local farmers and producers. The full range of the menu reflects a sophisticated respect for heritage, history, and - as the slogan says - true food and drink. The pasta is handcrafted using "only the best '00' flour, inspired by Thomas Jefferson;" the "Simply Barackwurst" is from Simply Sausage Farm in Virginia; there is pimiento cheese and tomato jam on the menu, both of which were decidedly the best I've had.
To start, I ordered a drink called "Nice Coat!" (with an exclamation mark) - "A little fresh basil, a little lime juice, a little Blue Coat American Dry Gin, a little love. Nice!" And indeed it was. Just the first nice step in a very nice meal of fried green tomatoes, skillet cornbread, flatbread, butternut squash ravioli, and a fresh fruit tart (peaches) with pristine house made vanilla ice cream.
Dad ordered the Steak and Enchilada; it came with a corn cob in the middle. Two in our party ordered entrees that came with a side of green beans that were remarkable (so remarkable that I can't remember what their entrees were). Sergio ordered the veggie burger, of course. Everything was delicious.
The decor is rustic but refined - a sort of historical hip with agrarian influences. Bird lamps and cloud lamps suggest open air and bucolic notions of farm land; beautiful canned vegetables line the walls. The salads are served in big mixing bowls; the water comes in milk bottles and the water glasses are thick and homely. The entire experience - food, drink, and ambiance - is equal portions new and old, expected and unexpected, clever and plain, all perfectly combined into something at once refreshing, comforting and unique.
Oh yes, and on the window encircling the entire restaurant is a charming relic from Thomas Jefferson - a recipe for Macaroons.
From the Thomas Jefferson Papers
*Pour boiling water on your Almonds & take off the skin.
*Wash them in cold water wipe them well in a towel
*Add whites of eggs from time to time beating them always to prevent them from turning into oil
*Take them out of the water
*Add whites of eggs
*Beat them well with a wooden spoon
*Taste the paste to see if it is too bitter
*Add sugar if you find it too bitter
*Dresser les avec deux couteaux le grosseur d'un noix sur des feuilles de papier.
*Put them in a oven, not too hot but hotter than after taking out the bread.
*You prove proper heat of the oven by holding in a bit of white paper. If it burns it will burn your macaroons. If it just browns the paper it is exact.