A couple of months ago, we spent a day visiting Mount Vernon in Northern Virgina. Here is an overview of the area plus a recipe for Vanilla Bean Honey Butter.
Mount Vernon is located 15 miles south of Washington D.C. It is home to the iconic mansion of George Washington. The home was first built in 1735 as 1 1/2 story farmhouse by Washington’s father before he took over ownership in 1754. He slowly expanded the house over the next 45 years into the now 21 room 11,021 square foot mansion. You can visit the grounds and take a tour inside the home (no photography inside or in the museum). His brother named the mansion Mount Vernon in 1743 after his commanding officer, Admiral Edward Vernon.
In addition to the mansion, the grounds also house a Museum and Education Center, Gardens and Landscapes, the Tombs of George and Martha Washington, Pioneer Farm, Distillery and Gristmill (open April-October), and Historic Outbuildings.
We started the morning with brunch (available on Saturdays and Sundays) at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant. We enjoyed the Drunken French Toast (Brioche Battered in Grand Marnier Custard), Mount Vernon Breakfast (Apple Smoked Bacon, Eggs, Redskin Hash Browns, Toast),Homemade Macaroni and Cheese (Children’s Menu), and Cornbread with Vanilla Bean Honey Butter. Mount Vernon also has a food court with breakfast, lunch, and dinner options for most of the year (closed January 3-14 in 2016).
Fireplace inside one of the rooms of the restaurant
You will find beautiful views of the Potomac River behind the mansion, plus a nice hill that many children used as an opportunity to roll down. There is a protective brick wall in place to keep the guests from rolling/falling all the way down to the river.
Around the mansion, you will find Historic Outbuildings such as the Kitchen, Gardner’s House, Ice House, Stable, Storehouse, Smokehouse, and Washhouse. Demonstrations take place throughout the year.
The gardens are home to a variety of vegetables, fruits, and flowers.
The animals were the best part of Mount Vernon for Evan. You will find Hog Island sheep, a donkey, cattle, horses, Ossabaw Island hogs, cats, chickens and a camel named Aladdin (during Christmas season). Here is more information on the animals of Mount Vernon.
We did not get a chance to visit this area of the estate, but there is also a four acre Pioneer Farm near the wharf with a 16 sided barn and live demonstrations from April to October.
Mount Vernon is open 365 days with special events throughout the year. Most of the grounds are stroller friendly, but they are not permitted inside the mansion. The museum has a hands-on history center for children from 3-8. Dogs are encouraged and there are even special tours specifically for them in the spring and fall.
I enjoyed the Vanilla Bean Honey Butter on the french toast and cornbread so much that I searched for recipes when I got home. It is actually easy to make. Softened butter is simply whipped with the seeds of a vanilla bean, honey, and a little salt until light and fluffy.
Refrigerate until needed, but bring to room temperature before serving for easy spreading.
Vanilla Bean Honey Butter
Adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped
In a medium bowl, beat together the butter, honey, seeds from vanilla beans, and salt until light and fluffy.
Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (bring back to room temperature to soften.