Late May is rhubarb season in the Cacapon Valley, and the kitchen staff at Capon Springs & Farms, a resort that specializes in tradition, is making sure guests have the opportunity to savor its sweet-tart taste. Harvested on the Rivermeadow Farm at nearby Yellow Springs, rhubarb will be featured in dishes through the next few weeks -- culminating with its inclusion in strawberry-rhubarb pie in early June, according to Jonathan Bellingham, host and group coordinator for the resort.
Established in the late 1700s, the historic resort has been so steeped in tradition that advertising has hardly been necessary -- many of the same guests have returned annually for generations, and few outside its traditional clientele are aware of its existence.
Now operated into the fourth generation of the Austin family, the resort is benefiting, ironically, from that most un-traditional means of communication -- the Internet, which is allowing it to reach a small audience of traditionalists, the kind of folk who enjoy fresh rhubarb pie.
"So every year around mid-May I look forward to this fresh produce -- one of the first harvested from Capon’s Rivermeadow Farm," Bellingham writes in a blog post to the resort website.
That Bellingham posts to a resort website is in itself extraordinary, for no trace such technology can otherwise be found at the resort. Internet access is available only at a small wireless hub. And telephones and televisions won't be found in any guest room.
What you will find at Capon is the opportunity to indulge in traditional sport -- golf, tennis, horse-shoes, basketball, shuffleboard. Ever played badminton or croquet on a tended court? And there are two indoor ping-pong cottages. (Read: Capon Springs: Things to Do.) Are you ready to indulge? Bellingham and the staff are sharing their recipe for two-crust rhubarb pie, one of many traditional delicacies the resort proffers.
Capon's Old-Fashioned Two-Crust Rhubarb Pie
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
⅔ c. lard
¼ c. ice water
3 c. cut fresh rhubarb
2 T. cornstarch
1 c. sugar
Dash of nutmeg
Sift flour and salt together. Add lard to flour mixture. Mix with fork and hands until crumbly, the size of peas. Add ice water; stir just enough to mix. (Too much working results in a tough pastry.) Divide dough into two parts, reserving a little more dough for the bottom half. Roll each crust 1/8-inch thick. Fit bottom crust into pie pan. Set aside remaining dough. Fill pie shell with fruit. Mix cornstarch with sugar and spread over fruit. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Form remaining crust dough into lattice top. Bake at 350 to 375 degrees for one hour or until rhubarb is tender. Makes one nine-inch pie.