FREE CAPE MAY MUSIC FESTIVAL TICKETS FOR LEITH HALL GUESTS

Get Free Music Festival Tickets

The Cape May Music Festival is coming up soon. If you come visit us to hear one of the

George Gershwin Cape May
George Gershwin

concerts, we’ll provide you with a pair of tickets – free. May 29th, the New York Chamber ensemble will be playing a concert called Music by the Numbers, which will include both George Gershwin (Lullaby, I Got Rhythm, and Someone to Watch Over Me) and Joseph Hayden’s Surprise Symphony.

Cape May Convention Hall on the beach
Cape May Convention Hall on the Beach

Sunday, June 3, the concert will be a tribute to George Mesterhazy, who was Cape May’s beloved jazz pianist. Several of his friends will be playing as well as special guest, Babatunde Lea. We are expecting a huge and enthusiastic crowd at the new Convention Hall.

George Mesterhazy Cape May
George Mesterazy

Just give us a call at (609) 884-1934 or go to our website at www.leithhall.com to make an online reservation. Mention that

Babatunde Lea Cape May beach
Babatunde Lea

you’d like Music Festival Tickets when you make your reservation. Cannot be combined with other offers or discounts.

Share

CAPE MAY BEACH SHORTBREAD COOKIES DOWN THE SHORE

Cape May Beach Shortbread Cookies

These will remind you of vacations in Cape May
Cape May Beach Shortbread Cookies

These cookies look like the sand on the beach in Cape May. The sprinkle of sugar on top even gives them the texture of the sand on the beach in Cape May. The best things about them are that they are stunningly easy to make and the richest cookies you’ll ever eat. I usually make this recipe in a parchment lined 9”x13” pan and cut them into bars for serving at afternoon tea. You could halve the recipe and make them in an 8”x8” or 9”x9” teatime at Leith Hall bed and breakfastparchment lined pan. Or you can roll he dough out (thick) and make cookie cutter cookies.

chocolate teatime treats at Leith Hall b&bIf you prefer, you can substitute lemon extract for the orange, or use vanilla extract for plain shortbread or even coconut extract. I use organic extracts from the health food store because they really do taste better.

 

1 ½ lbs. unsalted butter (3 sticks) melted

2 cups sugar

1 tbs. orange extract

7 cups white unbleached flour

½ tsp. salt

Turbinado or white sugar for sprinkling

Mix flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix melted butter and orange extract. Mix flour mixture and butter together with a pastry blender, a rubber spatula, or a whisk. The idea is to cut the butter and flour together into crumbles, not to press them together into a dough. Dump the mixed crumbles into the lined baking dish. Press into an even layer with your finger-tips. Dock the dough by piercing it all over with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350F/degrees for about 20 minutes. The cookies are done when they are very light gold around the edges. Remove from oven and cut into bars or squares with a sharp knife immediately. Allow to cool in the pan completely before turning out.

I often serve these for tea at Leith Hall b&b. The other treat will always be something chocolate. If my other cake isn’t chocolate, I’ll dip the end of each shortbread bar in melted bittersweet chocolate. During the Summer when we’re sitting on the porch under the awnings, I know that Suzie will stage a insurrection if there’s no chocolate at teatime.

 

Share

OUR B&B RESTORATION

Restoring our Bed and Breakfast

Iris wallpaper in the Iris Room at Leith Hall
The Iris Frieze in the Iris Room

My last blog post was about the new exhibit at the Carriage House Gallery at the Physick Estate describing the restoration and renaissance of Cape May. That reminded me of our own restoration story at Leith Hall bed and breakfast. In 1989, when we bought Leith Hall, we had to decide what we wanted to make of it. A bed and breakfast is whatever the owners want it to be and usually reflects the owners’ interests and tastes. It is always better for the B&B to embody your real interests so that your enthusiasm shows for the guests’ sake and for your long term satisfaction, too.

Why an Authentic Restoration?

The Iris Room at Leith Hall b&b at the beach in Cape May New JerseyI used to work as an Historic Preservationist advising clients on restoring historic buildings. So, faced with a big 1880s house with 1960s furnishings and decorations, Suzie and I had to decide what we wanted our bed and breakfast to look like. We decided to make a Victorian period house. Since I learned what wallpaper, what furniture, and what objects were popular during any decade when I went to school, we decided that we’d make the house look like the 1880s.

Art Wallpaper at the Beach

dragonfly ceiling paper in the Iris Room at Leith Hall bed and breakfast in Cape May
Dragonfly Ceiling Paper in the Iris Room

The clues were in the woodwork. The baseboards, door and window surrounds and newel posts at Leith Hall have chamfered edges and bands of reeding. This style is part of the Aesthetic Movement that was popular in the 1870s and ‘80s, so we bought hand-made reproduction Aesthetic Movement wallpaper for the whole house. We bought Eastlake style (Aesthetic Movement) dressers and armoires, picture frames and decorations.

The Iris Room Dado
The Iris Room Dado

The Iris Room on the first floor is a good example. The wallpaper and ceiling paper are from  a room-set by Bradbury and Bradbury called “Fenway”. The fens are swamps in Eastern England. All of the motifs in the wallpaper: the irises, cattails, fiddlehead ferns, whirlpools, and lightning bolts refer to the swamps. We thought of calling it the swamp room, but no one would rent it! So we called it the Iris Room. The dresser is made of walnut with burl walnut panels in Eastlake style and has a red marble top. The bedside table, rocking chair and side table, the mantelpiece and plates hanging on the walls – all date from the 1880s. Of course the television and the air-conditioning break with authenticity (not to mention the private bathroom) but even a b&b at the beach has to provide guests with modern amenities.  Victorians after all, didn’t bathe much or change their clothes, so even I am not all for authenticity.

Share

Revival at the Beach

This Friday, a new show is opening at the Carriage House Gallery at the Emlen Physick The Carrolls and the Minnix'sEstate. It is about Cape May’s revival during the 1970s and comes from a book by Ben Miller, The First Resort. An article in the Cape May County Herald consists of an interview with Tom Carroll, who was there at the time. Suzie and I were the beneficiaries of the “Cape May Renaissance” since we moved to town in 1989. If Cape May had torn down the Victorian houses to build motels, by now the motels would be thirty years old andSteampunk unfashionable. Instead, we kept our architectural heritage and can re-use it every time Victoriana comes back into fashion.

The latest Victorian Revival is Steampunk. It’s been around for a few years now and is based on the idea- what if technology had continued on the steam-powered, mechanical path of the 19th century, and hadn’t become the electronic world that we have today? Wooden laptop computers, time-machines chairs, lots of leather and lace; it’s a hoot.

The First Resort exhibit will be on all Summer. Come visit us and visit the Carriage House Gallery while you’re here.


Share

SICILY IN CAPE MAY

Beach in Sicily
Taormina

Several years ago, Suzie and I spent a month visiting Sicily. We saw the cities of Palermo and Catania, several hill towns like Ragusa and Noto (which are as cute as hill towns anywhere in Italy) and stayed in beach resorts like Cefalù and Taormina. Siracusa was my favorite place in Sicily, combining great architecture, Greek ruins and very posh stores. It’s sort of the Upper East Side of Sicily.

One part of Sicily that Cape May folk can enjoy that other Americans can’t is Moscato di Cape May WneSicilia. It is a dessert wine that is so aromatic that the whole room will smell like honey and flowers when you pour the wine. Yet, it isn’t dark and oxidized like Sherry or Port or Madeira. Almost unique among dessert wines, it is light and fresh yet sweet and aromatic. It’s more like Sauternes or Icewine than the caramelized wines that we are used to. Unfortunately, it isn’t imported into the United States. I once ordered some from a wine store in Rome, but I suspect they weren’t as law abiding as they should be. I was stumped, then I discovered that there is one place in America that makes Moscato di Sicilia, Cape May

In Cape May, we have Turdo Vineyards. They make a Moscato di Sicilia that will make you feel like you are reclining on a deck chair in Taormina. Or, you can come visit us at Leith Hall and take a Cape May Wine Trail tour.

Share

A PAINTING OF THE ALHAMBRA PRETENDING TO BE TURKISH

The last post about our vacation in Spain reminded me that we have a painting of the same view of a courtyard in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, hanging in the Turkish Suite in Leith Hall. I substituted a picture of Rashid Lamrani, who was our guide in Morocco for the young woman in the photograph. His friends had dressed him up in a traditional burnoose, so he looked very exotic. In reality, he was a very modern young man who had traveled all over the United States.

a painting of the Alhambra in the sitting room of the Turkish Suite in Leith Hall
A Painting of the Alhambra in the sitting room of the Turkish Suite in Leith Hall

We also have a painting of the Todra Gorge in Morocco hanging in the bedroom of the Turkish Suite. If you look for the tiny figure riding a camel at the bottom of the painting – that’s Suzie. You too can see the paintings in the Turkish Suite by coming to visit us.

Todra Gorge with Suzie on a Camel
Share

VACATION PHOTOS

Now that spring is sprung in Cape May, we’re having some work done on Leith Hall this

Donkey Rides in Mijas
Donkey Rides in Mijas

midweek before it gets too busy. Easter is just over, and my mind turns to vacation. For us, vacation is always winter vacation, so I thought I’d share a few pictures of a trip we took to Andalucia, in Southern Spain, a few years ago. We toured most (or all) of the cities of Andalucia. One of these is Mijas, which is one of the “white villages” of Andalucia. It is very convenient to the beach resort of

View ovr Mijas
View over Mijas

Torremolinos and the other towns of the Costa del Sol, so it is often overrun with visitors. Not in January, however.

We’ve also been to the Alhambra in Granada a couple of times. I think that it may be the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen; oddly, in a completely different way than Western buildings. Instead of making the palace bigger and grander than a house, the designers made it more and more complicated. Instead of immense, like the palace of Versailles, it

Down the hill in Mijas
Looking Down the Hill in Mijas

has another courtyard with another set of rooms, and another and another. The result is a palace that is human scale and very pleasant to be in. Versailles is impressive, but not actually pleasant.

A Courtyard in the Alhambra
The Alhambra from the Generalife Gardens
In the Alhambra
Share

THE BEST FLOUR-LESS CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER

Today is Suzie‘s birthday, so I’m posting recipe for the densest, richest chocolate cake ever.

Suzie in Benalmedina Spain

I often make it for birthdays and other special events. It is very short, like a French chocolate cake. It can be topped with some powdered sugar sifted through a paper doily and accompanied by whipped cream.

This cake resembles chocolate fudge when it’s done. You can make it more cake-like by adding 1/4 cup flour to the egg mixture. Of course, they it won’t be flour-less.

Flour-less Chocolate Cake

8 eggs

1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped

½ pound butter (2 Sticks ) cubed

¼ cup strong coffee or liqueur (Grand Marnier is good)

325 F

 8” springform pan for 22-25 minutes or

9” springform pan for 18- 20 minutes

Line pan with parchment. Wrap the outside in foil.

Beat eggs with wire whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Melt chocolate and butter. Adding coffee or liqueur. Fold chocolate and egg foam mixtures together. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth surface. Bake in pan with boiling water half way up (this is a bain marie). Cool in pan then refrigerate overnight.

Share

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson Conquer Cape May

We wanted to share some pictures from the March Sherlock Holmes weekend in Cape May. This time we had one of the actors, Pamela Burke, stay with us. Our guests really got into the mystery and several brought wonderful costumes!  Only in Cape May can a woman look perfect in a bustle and corset. Breakfast was fun with everyone discussing the clues and trying to get Pamela to cheat and give them some under-the-table help. She was good and refused to reveal the secrets.

Sherlock Holmes weekend at Leith Hall
Nancy and Jeff pouring sherry in Leith Hall’s parlor

Denise (in the middle in left picture) changed her outfit several times a day like a true Victorian woman – she looked absolutely wonderful. One of our guests, Jeff, was looking for a Victorian cane and found an entire Victorian morning coat outfit in his size. It looked great and fit perfectly.

To find out more about the Sherlock Holmes Weekends (in March and November every year), you can look at the website for the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities or go directly to their Sherlock Holmes Weekends page.

Share

GELATO IN ROME AND CAPE MAY

 

Gelato in Rome and Cape May

Susan eating gelatoDuring the winter of 2011, Suzie and I spent six weeks in Rome, writing a self-guided walking tour book to be called The Secret Streets of Rome. It will be out next Fall, published by Andover Press in New York. I’ll be posting lots of information about art and architecture, but first things first – Gelato. I don’t know how they do it, but Italians make ice cream so much better than we do. It’s actually much lower in fat than ours, but has much more flavor. The chocolate is very, very dark and extremely strong, the raspberry is dark purple and aromatic with raspberries. My favorite is stracciatella – which is Italian for fudge ripple (it means streaky) and is creamy vanilla with dark rivers of fudge. There are several great Rome ice cream  travel ItalyGelaterie in Rome (of course) though aficionados insist that the best in Italy is in San Gimignano. Our favorite in Rome is the Gelateria del Teatro, located under a stairway to a tiny theater just west of the Piazza Navona.

Happily, for those of you who visit or live in Cape May, we need not despair. There’s a gelateria in Washington Commons (across Ocean Street from the Washington Street Mall) called Cione. For more ice cream, this one American, but organic, handmade, and really, really good, visit Bliss in the Carpenter’s Square Mall (that’s the little building behind Gecko’s in Carpenter’s Street).

 

 

 

 

Share