From top, clockwise: Congress Hall (courtesy of caperesorts.com); a breakfast fit for the “Queen of Talk;” exterior of Blue Pig Tavern
Who hasn’t, at one point in their lives, wanted to live like Lady O? (That would be Oprah not First Lady Michelle Obama although her wardrobe is just as enviable.) With all the material baubles in Ms. Winfrey’s possession, how many of us have taken time to think about what’s on her plate? Certainly, there has been much talk over the years about the expansion and shrinking of her waistline, her relationship with food and intense scrutiny about her struggle with weight but have we ever really pondered what really gets O’s culinary juices flowing? I can’t be the only one who wonders if she prefers to snack on a torchon of foie gras and toasted brioche while watching TV with her dogs or is she a raw cookie dough eater like the rest of us commoners. Given the fact that the world has enjoyed an unnatural obsession with the woman’s body size for years, it’s ironic that exactly what she eats is rarely discussed.
I recently got a chance to eat like Oprah in Cape May of all places.
Yes, in New Jersey. That New Jersey.
VIRGINIA (HOTEL) IS FOR FOOD LOVERS
Last month I was invited to a Scotch and cigar dinner The Ebbitt Room, a warm, gorgeous farm-to-table restaurant in the venerable Virginia Hotel in the quaint bayside town of Cape May. The handsome dining room, outfitted with hand-selected colonial artwork and rich hardwood floors, is charming and inviting in a way that is befitting of the luxury boutique hotel. Executive Chef Anthony Micari’s dining philosophy shows up in his praiseworthy plates that showcase fresh, local ingredients from the restaurant’s Beach Plum Farm. The dinner was a lovely affair that began with a quartet of deviled eggs, each precariously topped with different ingredients. As the dinner progressed (and more Scotch was poured), the arrival of each dish outdid its predecessor (see menu below), but the real treat was yet to come.
Poached Pear and Endive Salad
Candied Pecan, Stilton, Bitter Greens, Cranberry Vinaigrette
Paired with Macallan 12yr
Premium Option: Talisker 25yr
Cinderella Pumpkin Gnocchi
Pancetta, Glazed Apples, Fine Herbs, Maple Butter
Paired with Talisker 10yr
Premium Option: Johnny Walker Blue Label King George V
Espresso Cured Duck Breast
Glazed Baby Carrots, Cippolini Onion Marmalade, Smoked Shallot Jus
Paired with Lagavulin 16yr
Premium Option: Classic Cast 40yr
Maple Smoked Pork Loin
Vanilla Parsnip Puree, Root Vegetable Hash, Roasted Bing Cherry Jus
Paired with Highland Park 18yr
Premium Option: Glenmorangie 25yr
Flourless Chocolate Tart
Smoked Sea Salt Truffle, Blackberry Jam, Candied Orange
Paired with Dalmore 12yr
THE MORNING AFTER
With the memory of the previous night’s spread still on my palate, it was time to head to nearby resort Congress Hall for my “Oprah Treatment”–an aptly-titled day of pampering that started with breakfast at The Blue Pig Tavern (a perennial favorite of both locals and visitors alike where Winfrey and longtime beau Stedman Graham often dine when visiting the latter’s New Jersey family) and ended with a visit to the tranquil Sea Spa where a salt scrub massage and algae mousse treatment lulled me into the sweetest slumber I’ve enjoyed in years. Those who know me understand my deep love of breakfast and the popular eatery did not disappoint. Executive Chef Jeremy Einhorn, a staunch proponent of the farm-to-table philosophy, crafts a menu of classics with special variations that elevate dishes to another level. Fresh-squeezed juice concoctions (try the refreshing, swoon-worthy beet and pineapple juice), pillowy omelets made with eggs from Cape May’s Beach Plum Farm and a host of tavern specialties (the Benedict is a must) make up the rather extensive breakfast menu.
Just a slice of Oprah’s life and I’m officially hooked. I could definitely get used to this life, so give me a call me Oprah and we’ll do lunch–in Cape May, of course.