On April 13th, we celebrated the birthday of our namesake, Thomas Jefferson, who would have been 277 this week! Thomas Jefferson was many things: the 3rd President of the United States, an author of the Declaration of Independence, a statesman, the founder of the University of Virginia, but did you know that he was also America’s first foodie? Jefferson had a passion for both food and wine and was responsible for bringing many of the staples that we consume today to America during his time. We pay homage to Jefferson at our Washington, DC hotel in many ways, including food!

In celebration of Jefferson’s birthday week, we’ve highlighted some of the foods that he has been credited to bringing to the US including how you can make one of his recipes at home!

I Scream, You Scream
Ok, so Thomas Jefferson didn’t invent ice cream, but he is credited with bringing it to the United States. From 1784 to 1789 Jefferson lived in France serving as the American Minister to the country which is where he first had this sweet treat. After returning back to the US he brought recipes and an ice cream freezer to ensure he could enjoy ice cream whenever he wished. During his presidency, he was known for service ice cream at formal White House dinners much to the delight of his guests. Today, we all enjoy this treat and can find it just about anywhere, including on the dessert menu in both The Greenhouse and Quill, located at our downtown Washington, DC hotel.

Fry – Yay!
There’s a reason we have TJ’s Fries on the menu at Quill, located in The Jefferson, DC. Like ice cream, Jefferson was introduced to the “French” Fry during his time living in France. Known to him as pommes de terre frites à cru en petites tranches (potatoes deep-fried while raw, in small cuttings), he brought the recipe back with him to the U.S. and the recipe has been passed down from generation to generation.

Mac & Cheese Please
Long before we were introduced to Mac & Cheese the way we know it today, Thomas Jefferson was planning its introduction to the U.S. As with other notable dishes, Jefferson first tried this dish during his time in France and like he did with ice cream and fries, he brought the recipe back with him and it made its debut in 1802 at a state dinner at the White House. Jefferson loved this dish so much he even sketched out a “macaroni machine” which can be viewed online at the Library of Congress.

We all have our favorite ways of enjoying these dishes and we wanted to share with you how we pay tribute to Jefferson’s Mac & Cheese. Executive Chef Ralf Schlegel’s Truffled Mac & Cheese can be found on menus throughout our hotel and is one of our favorite comfort foods.

Truffled Mac & Cheese
For the Mornay Sauce

¼ cup Unsalted Butter
¼ cup AP Flour
2 cups Whole Milk
1/3 cup Cheddar Cheese
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt, to taste
White Pepper, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
1 Bay Leaf

• Over medium heat, melt the butter & combine the flour
• Add the bay leaf and milk and whisk consistently until brought to a boil, about 5 minutes
• Add the cheddar & Parmesan cheeses until fully combined
• Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste

Start cooking your favorite pasta shape (we use tubetti) but you can use whatever you have on hand.

• In a medium cook pot warm up 3 Tbs of the Mornay Sauce
• Add in 1 spoon of canned truffle slices (if you cannot find canned truffle, you can use 5 drops of truffle oil)
• At this point, if you find that your Mornay Sauce is too thick, add a little bit of the pasta water
• Add in your cooked pasta
• Fill a gratin bowl and generously cover with cheddar cheese
• Bake in the oven at 350° until the cheese is nice and bubbly
• Remove & serve!