Rachel's Table

Paint the Town Vermilion

For many in the United States, a long weekend extends before us–the unofficial beginning of summer which signals warm weather barbecues and refreshing cocktails.

A few weeks ago, I spent a similar long weekend in Alexandria, VA, a charming off-shoot of our nation’s capital. While there, Mr. Rache and I painted the town. . .vermilion. . .at a restaurant of the same name.

Vermilion

Vermilion

Vermilion promotes food values much like mine: simple and locally sourced, even designating a page to local purveyors on their website. Farms in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania make the list.

Roasted carrots with sesame encrusted goat cheese = the best thing I have eaten in a long time

Roasted carrots with sesame encrusted goat cheese = the best thing I have eaten in a long time

Goat cheese always deserves a close-up

Goat cheese always deserves a close-up

On the menu are seasonal items such as Spring Pea Angolotti and Pennsylvania Lamb with spring carrots.

Spring Pea Agnolotti - peas with toasted hazelnuts and bacon lardons - deceptively light

Spring Pea Agnolotti – peas with toasted hazelnuts and bacon lardons. They managed to make a dish heavy with bacon lardons taste light and fresh.

Pork with quinoa, baby carrots,  roasted artichokes and garlic jus

Pork with quinoa, baby carrots, roasted artichokes and garlic jus

Vermilion doesn’t only apply the seasonal approach to the food menu. Right now, May flowers are in the spotlight on the cocktail menu. I’m sure “Lovely Lavender” is as sweet as its name, but when I sidled up to the bar, I ordered a frothy gin concoction with blueberry flavors.

Purple, frothy, tart, and slightly sweet

Purple, frothy, tart, and slightly sweet

The next day at an impromptu happy hour, I chose a house favorite – the King Street Lemonade. This drink reminded me of a lemon mojito without the rum (and plenty of vodka). On an unusually hot and humid Spring day in Virginia, “refreshing” isn’t an adequate descriptor.

I couldn't write a post about Vermilion without mentioning this dessert. That cherry-infused marshmallow alone is worth the trip to Alexandria.

I couldn’t write a post about Vermilion without mentioning this dessert. That cherry-infused marshmallow alone is worth a trip to Alexandria.

I loved it so much I recreated it at home. Whether you’re having a celebratory barbecue with friends or a lazy weekend at home, your Memorial Day should include one (or three) of these.

Vermilion-Inspired Lemonade

1/2 cup mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 cups seltzer water
2 cups vodka
2 cups fresh lemon juice

Make the sugar syrup: Heat the 1/2 cup of sugar and water over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and simmer 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before using.

In a pitcher, muddle ½ cup mint leaves with the sugar syrup. Stir in the seltzer water, vodka, and lemon juice. (If you like a sweeter drink, add a 1/4 cup of superfine sugar at this point.) Chill.

Pour into ice-filled tall glasses–rimmed with raw sugar, if you wish. (Makes about 10 servings.)

Just as refreshing as the original

Just as refreshing as the original

Vermilion Restaurant

1120 King Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 684-9669

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24 comments

  1. Lemonade was my second-choice for “signs of summer”. It has become my white-slacks beverage — I am waiting until this weekend to kick off lemonade season, and this looks like a delicious way to do it right.

  2. Okay. The fact that I’m not at Vermilion right now is upsetting me. I think I have everything I need to make this lemonade, though… I may be really drunk by the time you see me tonight.

    P.S. – How jealz is DP going to be when she sees that gin-blueberry drink?

  3. Ah! You were in my old stomping grounds!

    “On an unusually hot and humid Spring day in Virginia, “refreshing” isn’t an adequate descriptor.” This reminded me how much I don’t miss the humidity of Northern VA…

    I will definitely be making this…I don’t have enough vodka drinks in my life lately…

    • It was SOOOOO humid that day. And I was wearing jeans and a long sleeved shirt – I had to go to one of Alexandria’s fabulous consignment boutiques and buy a new shirt.

      This particular vodka drink won’t disappoint. Any drink with mint is a favorite of mine.

    • Liquid is my favorite kind of lunch!

      I can’t stop thinking about that goat cheese. It was perfect! As a meat lover, I was embarrassed to have loved those carrots so much.

  4. I want to read a scathing restaurant review one day on “Rachel’s Table”:

    “The carrots were not organic OR local, the ‘rabbit’ was actually chicken, the cocktail was made with mix, the waiter was mean and the doorman pinched me on my way out!”

  5. Sesame . . . sesame encrusted GOAT CHEESE?? Oh my lord, those are 2 of my favorite things EVER. I need some of that right now. Also, it doesn’t help that you’re probably drinking with Jules right now. You are, aren’t you? Huh, huh? So jealous . . .

  6. WOW that all looks amazing! I mean seriously, seriously amazing. Like I want to drive there right now. Without all my kids, because they’ll never eat any of that (more for me!).

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