Omni Richmond Hotel: More than my home away from home

Home is not where you live, but where they understand you. ~ Christian Morganstern

Executive Chef Dale Ford and Food and Beverage Director Shawn Jernigan
Executive Chef Dale Ford and Food and Beverage Director Shawn Jernigan

I love to feel like I’m at home wherever I am. I also love to seek out new experiences and enjoy local food and drink along the way. When I plan travel, I search for an experience, a place where I feel comfortable. When in Richmond, Virginia, look no further than Omni Richmond Hotel.

Last week I returned to my home away from home and what a homecoming it was! The Omni team prepared for me a stay to remember: a room on the 19th floor with a gorgeous view of downtown Richmond, as well as an amazing food and wine tasting with Executive Chef Dale Ford and Food and Beverage Director Shawn Jernigan. Dale and Shawn are not new to the Omni family, but they’ve only been at the Omni Richmond Hotel for about four months. In that short time, they’ve made significant changes to the food and beverage offerings, including the incorporation of more fresh, local foods and Virginia wine.

2006 Prince Michel Viognier
2006 Prince Michel Viognier

I was treated to a tasting of the new food and wine offerings: shrimp and Anson Mills grits (made with milk, not water) paired with 2006 Prince Michel Viognier; flatbread pizza made with Hanover County, Virginia tomatoes and fresh mozzarella; biscuits made with Kite’s Ham and sorrel from Manakintowne Farms paired with Prince Michel Merlot; bacon-wrapped figs stuffed with Everona Dairy sheep’s milk cheese paired with 2011 White Hall Vineyards Cabernet Franc; and strawberries every way imaginable paired with 2010 James River Cellars Chardonel.

My review of the pairings

Shrimp and Anson Mills grits
Shrimp and Anson Mills grits

Shrimp and grits with Prince Michel Viogner: Truth be told, I couldn’t get enough of the grits. They were by far the best grits I’ve had in my entire life. The shrimp and creaminess of the grits paired perfectly with the tropical fruit and coconut flavors of the Viognier.

Ham biscuits with Prince Michel Merlot: What a near perfect combination! It doesn’t get much better than thick, salty, country ham and a very berry, spicy Merlot.

Kite's Ham Biscuits
Kite’s Ham Biscuits

Bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed figs with White Hall Vineyards Cabernet Franc: I don’t usually eat figs, but Dale had me at bacon…and sheep’s milk cheese. I loved the fatty, salty bacon and nutty, creamy cheese with the dark berry and pepper flavors of the Cab Franc.

2011 White Hall Vineyards Cab Franc
2011 White Hall Vineyards Cab Franc

Strawberries and James River Cellars Chardonel: For those who may not know, Chardonel is a hybrid grape that is a cross between Seyval and Chardonnay. We tasted the Chardonel without food earlier in the tasting and it was a bit sweet for my preference. We tried it again with the strawberries and interestingly, the pairing worked, perhaps because of the wine’s off-dry fruitiness.

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