The Rapp for Aug. 23

Dems and GOP, but no Fourth Estate

The Rappahannock News’ usual Fourth (Estate) Friday – the monthly public gathering of our staff with all who might be interested in suggesting story ideas or just chatting about the community and its newspaper – is cancelled this month, due primarily to staff vacations. We’ll be back up and running by the next fourth Friday, Sept. 28.

Photo by Francie Schroeder
Photo by Francie Schroeder

Our local political parties are taking no vacations this weekend, however. They’re each sponsoring casual, family-oriented events. The Rappahannock Democrats host their annual two-day Yard Sale at the Sperryville Schoolhouse this Saturday and Sunday. (That’s Jeanne Dixon and Mike Sands pictured here, loading up the truck and checking out the yard sale sign that will be over the Schoolhouse door.) There’s still time today and tomorrow to offer donations; call 540-675-1942.

Saturday’s barbecue at Stuart Field in Amissville is sponsored by the Rappahannock, Culpeper and Fauquier Republican committees, and offers not just food and music but the chance to meet and hear from Rep. Robert Hurt, who’s running for relection to his 5th district seat in Congress, and former governor George Allen, who’s aiming for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jim Webb.

More details about both events, and everything else that’s happening, can be found in the Rappahannock News calendar.

Inn honors Julia’s 100th birthday

Chef Patrick O’Connell (left) celebrates the 100th birthday of Julia Child (center, a life-sized cutout from a photo taken during one of her visits to Dalmation World before her death in 2004) with the Inn’s Child-like wine director Jennifer Knowles (right). Courtesy photo
Chef Patrick O’Connell (left) celebrates the 100th birthday of Julia Child (center, a life-sized cutout from a photo taken during one of her visits to Dalmation World before her death in 2004) with the Inn’s Child-like wine director Jennifer Knowles (right). Courtesy photo

“Oooooo, bon sooiiirrrrrrr! Welcome to my fete anniversaire!” cooed Julia Child, looking dapper in her Dalmatian apron as we entered The Inn at Little Washington Wednesday night. It was world-renowned proprietor/chef Patrick O’Connell’s “Homage to Julia on the Occasion of her 100th Birthday.”

Sadly the actual Child didn’t make it to her centennial gala, as she passed away in 2004, two days before her 92nd birthday. Instead, the part of Child was being played by wine director Jennifer Knowles, who was carefully limiting imitations of the much-loved and much-imitated Child – lest, she said, “I’ll lose my voice after three nights of this!”

Indeed, O’Connell extended his planned one-night soiree to three due to popular demand. And in looking over the menu, we soon figured out why. We were immediately served Une Coupe de Champagne “to toast a life well lived,” and our palates were primed for the first course of La Vichyssoise a l’Oseille, followed by cold mussels with curried mayonnaise.

While O’Connell took several small liberties cooking from Child’s famous two-volume “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” the quiche Lorraine was left to its own brilliance. We asked a waitperson if there was any cream involved? “Mais non!” he lied happily.

Returning home with stomachs throbbing, we looked up Child’s recipe, which included up to four egg yolks, two cups of whipping cream and two tablespoons of butter – all of which were most certainly used by O’Connell and his talented crew.

The lobster and roasted lamb with ratatouille courses were equally delicious and paired perfectly with hand-selected French wines. Our foursome split a French-inspired plate of fromage which was accompanied by a detailed historical oration from maitre fromager Cameron Smith.

“We were surprised and delighted with the enthusiasm from near and far surrounding our 100th birthday tribute for Julia here at the Inn,” said O’Connell. “Her presence was certainly felt. We believe she would have found Jennifer Knowles’ impersonation of her a hoot. We received a number of calls and emails from friends of Julia thanking us and telling us how much she would have loved it.”

– Megan S. Smith

Park Service celebrates turning 96

Shenandoah National Park will celebrate the 96th birthday of the National Park Service (NPS) this  Saturday (Aug. 25) by offering special programs and activities for children of all ages.

Programs will celebrate the role the NPS has played in protecting and preserving our national treasures so that future generations can enjoy them. Young and old can learn about special animals that call Shenandoah National Park home, such as the endangered Shenandoah salamander, stealthy birds of prey and the many vibrant butterflies fluttering among the abundant summer wildflowers. Other activities include nature scavenger hunts, touch table and ranger uniform try-on. A full list of activities can be found online at

“Birthdays are a time to celebrate and we want everyone, especially the children of America, to join the party,” said park Superintendent Martha Bogle. “So visit the park, wander a trail, take in the scenery or join a ranger program.”

Events take place from 9 to 4 at both Dickey Ridge (mile 4.6 on Skyline Drive) and Harry F. Byrd Sr. (milepost 51) visitor centers.

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