Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook by Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook
Every year, millions of people visit Colonial Williamsburg's re-creation of eighteenth-century America for the ambience, the education, and the unparalleled experience of glimpsing our prerevolutionary past.
Williamsburg's fascinating form of time travel encompasses not only the architecture and the artisans, but all the details of our rich cultural heritage, including the food. And The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook presents that food, our nation's culinary heritage: from stews and slaws and soups to puddings and pies and pot piesnearly 200 recipes in all. Focusing on Williamsburg's Southern roots and coastal proximity, the dishes owe their inspiration to the distant past, but their preparations have been tailored for contemporary palatesno need to run out and get some suet in which to cook your mutton over the open hearth.
Here are perennial standbys such as Brunswick Stew, Standing Rib Roast with Yorkshire Pudding, Virginia Ham with Brandied Peaches, and Cream of Peanut Soup, as well as Spoon Bread, Lemon Chess Pie, and Mulled Apple Cider. There are also unexpected twists on age-old favorites, such as Oyster Po' Boys with Tarragon Mayonnaise, Oven-Braised Gingered Pot Roast, and Carrot Pudding Spiced with Cardamom.
Just as the historic town of Colonial Williamsburg is a singular adventure in understanding our nation's history, so too this cookbook is a unique appreciation of our culinary history. In April 1772, George Washington, writing about one of the taverns in Williamsburg, noted, "Dined at Mrs. Campbells and went to the Playthen to Mrs. Campbells again" twice in a single week. The hearty fare that George found so enticing is enjoying a profound renaissance, and The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook will enable home cooks to relive the great American culinary traditionthe ultimate in comfort food.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization, directs the ongoing restoration of Virginia's colonial capital so that "the future may learn from the past."
John R. Gonzales recently served as executive chef of the four operating taverns at Colonial Williamsburg, and is currently a consultant for the Virginia Food Service Group in Richmond. He lives in Williamsburg.
Food writer and editor Charles Pierce was trained at the famed La Varenne cooking school in Paris. He is the author of several cookbooks, including Southern Light Cooking and Beach House Cooking, as well as project editor of The Revised Settlement Cookbook. Charles has contributed to Food & Wine, House Beautiful, Fine Cooking, Country Home, and Glamour, among many magazines. He lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.
Read an Excerpt
Chowning’s Tavern Brunswick Stew
The argument will never be settled as to whether this tasty dish cane from Brunswick County, Virginia; Brunswick, Georgia; or Brunswick County, North Carolina, although Virginia's claim is the best documented The recipe is now made with stewed chicken, corn, lima beans, and tomatoes and omits the squirrel, which was originally used 2 chickens (about 3 pounds each), cut into 6 or 8 pieces 4-5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 2 (19-ounce) cans, drained, seeded, and chopped 4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels 3 medium all purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice 2 large onions, thinly sliced 2 caps fresh or frozen lima beans 2 cups fresh or frozen sliced okra 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
In a large pot, place the chickens and add enough water to cover, 2-3 quarts. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is falling off the bones and the broth is well flavored, 2-3 hours. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl and cool.
Skim the broth. Add the tomatoes, corn, potatoes, onions, lima beans, and okra. Season with the salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, pull the chicken off the bones. Add the chicken to the vegetables and taste the stew for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, or sugar as desired, Serve hot in warmed bowls.
"Southern Cooks prize okra for its distinctive flavor and texture. The vegetable cam to the New World from Africa via the slave trade."
Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook 5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
When I was in elementary school, we would drive 800 miles to Colonial Williamsburg for spring break every year. I fell in love with the 18th-century costumes, architecture, ornate silverwork, and Baroque music. We dined at several of Colonial Williamsburg's taverns: Shields, King's Arms, and Christiana Campbell's.
My mom has a first-edition copy of The Williamsburg Cookbook, which I would pore over for hours, soaking up the line art and gross-sounding recipes (turtle soup! calf's head!). The only recipe she ever made regularly was the Bourbon Balls (although she had also tried the cream of peanut soup and the chicken and dumplings).
So when I saw that there was a new edition, "The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook," I was interested to see how the book stacked up against its predecessor. The first (and most obvious) difference is the color photos, both of finished dishes and of Colonial Williamsburg itself (the original Colonial Williamsburg cookbook was sorely lacking in photographs, and was illustrated with line art).
The book opens with a brief discussion of colonial dining habits and "Tavern of Colonial Williamsburg Today" (circa 2001) before launching into appetizers, many of which prominently feature Virginia ham (melon balls, biscuits) and seafood (smoked trout, crabmeat, shrimp). Similarly, "Soups" also owes a debt to seafood, including chowders, crayfish soup, crab soup, and oyster bisque, with the occasional peanut, bean, or pea soup. The Kings Arms Tavern Cream of Peanut Soup was also featured in the original cookbook and in a flyer handed out in Colonial Williamsburg; it was one of my family's favorites during our visits to Williamsburg, and the home version tastes every bit as good as the original. The texture is almost like a thick gravy, made by softening vegetables in stock, then straining the mixture and mixing in smooth peanut butter and cream over low heat.
In fact, many of the recipes in the Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook are taken verbatim from the first edition, right down to the sidebars. Many of the dishes are identical: King's Arms Tavern chicken pot pie, Chowning's Tavern Brunswick stew, Sally Lunn bread, and tenderloin of beef stuffed with oysters, for example. Others have been updated for the better: the bourbon balls now call for melted chocolate in place of cocoa, and have doubled the bourbon (the original called for a scant ¼ cup). The Shields Tavern carrot pudding spiced with cardamom has swapped cardamom for the original nutmeg, ditched the cream sherry and halved the sugar.
The most striking addition to this new version is the number of vegetarian-friendly vegetable and egg dishes, including grilled polenta, carrots glazed with two gingers, bean and corn succotash, mushrooms in cream sauce, and spinach pie. Southern staples such as grits and pickled watermelon rind also make appearances. The most noticeable absence is the lack of any nutritional information about the included recipes; no statistics on calories, fat, sugar or sodium are to be found. Like their forebears, these recipes are quite generous with butter, cream and shortening at times. Also, some of the ingredients may not be readily available in your area (fresh rabbit, scuppernong wine, chutney, cardamom, arrowroot).
Overall, this is a worthy souvenir for those who have dined at one of Colonial Williamsburg's taverns or those who collect cookbooks.
Some of the most inspired (and acclaimed) Italian food in the country is served at
Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, Mario Batali’s flagship restaurant in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village. Diners in this converted town house have come ...
Every once in a while a restaurant changes a city's dining scene forever. In San
Francisco, that restaurant is Boulevard. In 1993 Nancy Oakes first breathed life into a glorious but forgotten beaux arts building —a survivor of the 1906 ...
No one has been more responsible for the recent explosion of interest in bone than
New York City chef Marco Canora. After completely revitalizing his health by integrating bone broth into his diet, Marco began to make his nourishing broths ...
Daiwi, meaning Captain in Vietnamese, is about the life experiences of Chuck Pfeifer. Chuck graduated
from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he played on its football team. He went on to become a MACV/SOG Special Forces ...
In her inspiring New York Times bestselling memoir, It Was Me All Along, Andie Mitchell
chronicled her struggles with obesity, losing weight, and finding balance. Now, in her debut cookbook, she gives readers the dishes that helped her reach her ...
A collection of 120 recipes exploring the flavors of Jerusalem from the New York Times
bestselling author of Plenty, one of the most lauded cookbooks of 2011.In Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi explore the vibrant cuisine of their home city—with ...
Mouthwatering BBQ from a community treasure. Savannah natives and tourists alike have been enjoying Johnny
Harris's famed barbecue since 1924. Photos, stories, and hearty recipes bring the landmark's distinctive history and flavors into the home kitchen. Recipes include entrï¿½es such ...
In 1943, a young and determined Sema Wilkes took over a nondescript turn-of-the-century boardinghouse on
a sun-dappled brick street in historic downtown Savannah. Her goal was modest: to make a living by offering comfortable lodging and Southern home cooking served ...