National Gallery: Cathal Armstrong, and Pre-Raphaelites

English Autumn Afternoon by Ford Maddox Ford 1853

Take a close look at An English Autumn Afternoon, Hampstead – Scenery in 1853, 1854.It is from the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848–1900 on view for a short few months, from February 17–May 19, 2013 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

There is something very special about the glorious painting of a picnic spread before a bucolic scene by Ford Maddox Brown, one of the painters featured in the exhibit. Perhaps the painting reminds one that such picnics are still possible – and that spring is near at hand? Or perhaps it is simply the amount of activity, vibrancy, and excitement in the painting itself that excites the viewer? Or maybe it is simply a good painting that should be admired.

Cathal Armstrong at the National Gallery

Whatever the case, it will certainly get you thinking about your lunch. Chef Cathal Armstrong of Alexandria, Virginia’s mini-empire: Restaurant Eve, Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper, PX, The Majestic, Virtue Feed and Grain, Society Fair, and Bar TNT, has created a very British menu for the National Gallery’s restaurant, renamed The Garden Café Britannia. Here is a sampling of what he has on offer:

an English cheese board (Stilton and farm house cheddar with fig jam); barley and root vegetable salad with fresh herbs and sherry vinegar; English pea salad with pearl onions, mint, and malt vinaigrette; garden salad of field greens, asparagus, red onion, eggs, English breakfast radish, and black pepper red wine vinaigrette; heirloom carrot and white turnip salad with creamy chive vinaigrette; bubble and squeak (braised savoy cabbage, red bliss potatoes, and artisan-crafted English pork sausage); Cornish pasty (traditional English savory beef pie); and cherry sherry trifle for dessert.

Kudos to the National Gallery for engaging another great chef to compliment their terrific gallery shows.

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