Everybody likes a little bit of history with their dinner…sometimes.
And sometimes, it seems that Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia is filled with actors speaking in dubious colonial accents and tourists asking directions from the College of William & Mary’s freshmen (mistake, may I say, especially in August), but it is nevertheless one of America’s most beautiful towns. Springtime is my favorite season in Williamsburg because foxgloves and tulips constantly bloom along white picket fences, but the end of summer and fall are just as beautiful, with colorfully blossomed trees and late-burning lanterns. A living monument, Colonial Williamsburg boasts museums, performances, and, of course, tavern fare.
Interest in Colonial Williamsburg has picked up in the past couple months due to an increased interest in revolutionary history (believe it or not!). Your kitchen can take a tip from history and Williamsburg’s firebrand flavor, too. To demonstrate, I’ve assembled this 3-course supper from 1981’s The Williamsburg Cookbook, published by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. For most authentic (and quaint) results, serve your meal with a mug of warm apple cider.
Appetizer: Cristiana Campbell’s Tavern Cabbage Slaw
Seated a little beyond the Capitol building, the Cristiana Campell’s Tavern is best known for its seafood, but this gluten-free slaw goes well with any type of dish.
1 large (2-2½ lbs) head firm cabbage
1 tbsp red pepper, diced
1 tbsp green pepper, diced
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp celery seed
- Remove the hard core from the cabbage head and discard it. Shred the cabbage.
- Add the diced red and green pepper.
- Combine the vinegar, oil, and seasonings and pour over the cabbage. Toss lightly.
Main Course: Crabmeat Ravigote
Although often an appetizer, the ravigote makes nice light meal.
1 lb regular crabmeat
¼ cup tarragon vinegar
3 tbsp pimiento (small, sweet red pepper), drained and chopped
2 tbsp chives, snipped
2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
2/3 cup mayonnaise, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Cleaned crab shells or lettuce (optional; for serving)
Capers (optional; According to the gluten-free grocery guide, B&G makes a gluten-free version)
- Pick over the crabmeat and discard any bits of shell or cartilage; marinate in the vinegar for 15 minutes.
- Drain the crabmeat and add the chopped pimiento, chives, relish, ½ cup of mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the mixture evenly into 6 cleaned crab shells or crisp lettuce cups/leaves; shape into domes.
- Spread with a thin coating of the remaining mayonnaise.
- Sprinkle some well-drained capers over the top and garnish with the pimiento.
- Serve very cold.
Desssert: Fresh Strawberry Mousse from the Luxurious Williamsburg Inn
This dessert was served in honor of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip when they visited in 2009.
1 pint strawberries (or 2 10-oz packages frozen strawberries. Omit the sugar if frozen berries are used)
2 3-oz packages strawberry gelatin
¼ cup sugar
1 pint whipping cream
- Crush the strawberries and drain the juice; reserve. Add enough water to the juice to make 1 ½ cups.
- Bring the juice to a boil and stir in the gelatin; dissolve and cool.
- Add the strawberries and sugar.
- Whip the cream until it stands in soft peaks and fold it into the strawberry mixture.
- Pour the mixture into a 2-quart ring mold or a 1 ½-quart soufflé dish with a 2-inch collar. (Or if you don’t need the fancy shape, a bowl will do.)
- Chill several hours or overnight.
Ever been to Colonial Williamsburg? Do you have any other old-fashioned recipes for us to try? Please share!