You just know that, with an owner named Patrick James O’Connell, The Inn at Little Washington’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebration would have to be something very special. And the three-starred Michelin-ranked chef surely didn’t disappoint with an entire evening of activities planned Tuesday evening.
Guests began the night over cocktails and canapés (and whiskey tastings!) overlooking the Inn’s great lawn at the foot of the Shenandoah mountains. Irish Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall, who served as the event’s honorary chair, was on-hand to welcome revelers, although it was rescue dog-turned-Inn mascot Luray the dalmatian who stole the spotlight with his freshly knit Irish sweater.
A bagpiper then led guests down the block for a live show inside the town’s local theater. There, dancers from the Boyle School of Irish Dance, in addition to accordion and fiddle players, entertained the audience with snippets of both traditional and modern Irish performances. The Inn reciprocated their hospitality by making a donation to the school in honor of the night.
Upon returning to the Inn after a leisurely sunset stroll (again, accompanied by a bagpiper), the party then really kicked into high gear. While Chef O’Connell strives to create a self-described “house party” at the property every night, Tuesday was particularly special in that it was hosted in collaboration with Ballyfin, a country house hotel located in the heart of Ireland.
Ballyfin owner Fred Krehbiel had traveled, along with chef Sam Moody, to Little Washington, Virginia, for the occasion. And it was then Moody’s turn to shine as he worked with The Inn’s top-rated kitchen team on a seven-course meal that combined influences from both Ireland and Virginia.
“It was an honor to be part of a master class in hospitality,” said Moody. “We have a strong sense of place at Ballyfin and to find that similarity at The Inn at Little Washington made it the perfect collaboration.”
This wasn’t the first time that Ballyfin and The Inn have teamed-up. As part the The Inn’s series of 40th anniversary celebrations last year, O’Connell and his team traveled to Ireland for a similar dinner. In addition to sharing familiar backdrops, featuring rolling green hills and the occasional rainbow, both properties are also members of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux international collection of luxury hotels and restaurants.
“Sometimes multi-cultural culinary events like this can contribute as much to international diplomacy as world summits,” added O’Connell.
The luck of the (American) Irish surely doesn’t hurt either.