A weird and wonderful phenomenon has spread across Cape May County over the last few years. It began with wineries, which are part of New Jersey’s efforts to encourage agriculture in The Garden State. Cape May Winery started the movement. It’s owned by the Craig family which also owns the wonderful Washington Inn, Lucky Bones, and Love the Cook; so they know about food and drink. Located on Townbank Road in North Cape May, they have a charming building and a great tour.
Willow Creek Winery in West Cape May is also nearby. It is the prettiest winery around. It features flowerbeds, beautiful grounds, and a very impressive building. You can also eat and drink outside and they frequently host craft shows and other events. While you are there, you can also visit Beach Plum Farm – an organic farm, next door.
Cape may has become the place for the thirsty vacationer to drink.
Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery on Seashore road is one of my favorites. Among other things, they grow Tempranillo grapes, which is what Rioja is made of in Spain. Tempranillo is dry red wine but isn’t very tannic, so your mouth won’t pucker and shrivel when the wine is young. Hawk Haven is also very informal and fun, with entertainment and food on the crushpad every weekend.
My favorite wine comes from Turdo Vinyards, which is just on the North side of the Cape May Canal. It is a small, house-size, winery and makes wine from Nebbiolo (think Barolo) grapes, from Nero d’Avola (the grape of Sicily), as well as others. Their wine is very good and brings back memories of trips to Italy.
Natali Vineyard and Jessie Creek; are both on Route 47 in Cape May Court House. I’ve been told by my guests that Cape May is called the Napa of New Jersey – and these two wineries offer wines for every taste. Whether you want sweet or dry, easy or tough, light or heavy, you can find a wine to love.
You already know that Cape May is a great town for dining out, but this week, it’s even better.
It’s Cape May Restaurant Week June 2 through 9, and you can get three course prix fixe meals at some of Cape May’s best restaurants for $35 . These are outstanding places like the Cajun, Creole and Caribbean 410 Bank Street – where $35 is a small part of their regular price. Or you can dine at the delicious Merion Inn, which is one of my favorites.
Think of dining at Union Park. It’s one of Cape May’s most elegant places – with a wide variety of seafood as well as short ribs and steak. I remember once dining at Union Park and all the plates arrived under silver domes, and were revealed at once. I’m a sucker for that kind of presentation.
Another great choice is Tisha’s on the Washington Street Mall. They have a broad menu of seafood, steaks, and chicken, and they really know how to cook.
More good news! Leith Hall has a Restaurant Week Special to encourage you to visit, and we look forward to seeing you again.
This year’s Cape May Music Festival kicks off on Sunday May 26 with the Atlantic Brass Band in the Victorian bandstand in Rotary Park playing Americana to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend.
Then, the festival continues two days later, on the 28th, with an innovative concert called Chamber Jazz, by the New York Chamber Ensemble. It will include works by Duke Ellington, Astor Piazzolla, Roy Orbison, as well as Mozart and Rossini. Suzie and I will be there and are eagerly anticipating a great evening.
Out third concert will be the most easy to listen to classical music – the most accessible – Viennese. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will be at the Church of the Advent on My 30th at 8 P.M., playing Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, and others.
I made this teatime treat this past weekend and four different guests asked for the recipe. I’m happy to share it.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
350 agrees F.
line a 9×13 baking pan with cooking parchment
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at aa time. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture in parts, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Turn about half of the batter into the baking pan.
I make these blueberry muffins for my guests whenever I make scrambled eggs with cream cheese and dill. When I can get them, I use wild blueberries from Wyman’s. Otherwise, I use fresh or frozen cultivated blueberries.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbs. Baking powder
½ tsp. Salt
½ cup sugar
¼ cup melted butter
1 tsp. Lemon extract
1 cup blueberries
Beat the egg, then beat in the milk, butter, lemon extract. Mix the flour and baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix the dry into the wet ingredients util incorporated but not more. Mix in the blueberries. Portion into paper lined and cooking-sprayed muffin cups. Bake at 375 F. for 10 minutes on top shelf, then 10 minutes on bottom shelf. They should spring back when fully baked. If they don’t spring back, leave them in the turned-off oven for 3 to 5 minutes to firm up.
This general recipe also works for any other kind of muffins. Leave out the lemon extract and blueberries and replace with vanilla paste and chocolate chips for chocolate chip muffins. Or replace with orange extract and dried cranberries, or replace the sugar with light brown sugar, the lemon with vanilla, and the fruit with rum soaked raisins for rum-raisin muffins. Or substitute coconut extract and shredded sweetened coconut. Vanilla, a finely chopped apple and cinnamon will make apple muffins.
Cape May has been named the best Beach on the Jersey Shore. An article by Joe Atmonavage quotes on NJ.com “As the farthest point south on the Shore, Cape May is the crown jewel of the region with gorgeous beaches and a quaint town center filled with gingerbread Victorians and colorful red and breakfasts.” the Travel Chanel post read. “Bring your binoculars to the beach to spy the playful dolphins jumping in the wake.”
Cape May storm – Through October 9, there’s an exhibit at the Carroll Gallery at the Physick Estate in Cape May. The show is really interesting. It’s about the storms that have hit Cape May since it’s founding, but the reason I’m particularly interested is, it includes one of my paintings. The exhibit organizers invited a number of Cape May artists to submit paintings on the theme of storms, and the Mid-Atlantic Center will auction them off at the end of the exhibit. So, feel free to buy it. You can even buy it now for the suggested reserve price. Forty percent of the proceeds will benefit MAC. Also feel free to make a reservation at Leith Hall bed and breakfast to enjoy Cape May’s beaches, restaurants, and culture.
P.S. Not only is this one painting is on exhibit, but I have an upcoming show of my paintings at the Carroll Gallery in Cape May for the last three weeks in October. I’ll hang about
Murder mystery. Good news to share with our guests. Suzie’s sister, Rena, has just had a book published! I’ve read it and it’s really entertaining and charming. It’s called Murder Beach and is a murder mystery with a ghost, set in California near San Francisco. Rena has moved to Cape May County from the San Francisco area and is now working on the sequel to Murder Beach.
You can buy the book in paperback or as an e-book on Amazon at
The Music Festival makes late May and June one of the best times of year in Cape May! This year, the Atlantic Brass Band will perform in the bandstand. It’s free. The bandstand is new, beautiful, and authentically Victorian. May 28, at 7 P.M., they’ll perform rousing American Music to celebrate Memorial Day weekend.
Tuesday, May 30, at 8 P.M., the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra chamber players will perform Mendelssohn and Brahms in the beautiful Episcopal Church of the Advent. Then, two days later, on Thursday June 1, at 8 P.M., the New York Chamber Ensemble will play chamber music with little known instruments like the hurdy-gurdy, and the Hardanger Fiddle. Their program will include Vivaldi’s Spring from the Four Seasons, and a different Mendelssohn selection.
On June 4, at 8P.M., Avi Wisnia will play Bossa Nova, Jazz, Pop, and Folk music at the First Presbyterian Church
Thursday June 8, at 8 P.M. Is the concert that Leith Hall co-sponsors. The Bay Atlantic Symphony will play three works by Handel and one by Respighi. I love Handel (it’s my exercise music at the gym) and this concert will use the pipe organ of the church.
So, look up the music festival on the net https://www.capemaymac.org/cape-may-music-festival , pick your favorite kind of music, and make your reservations at your favorite Cape May bed and breakfast today!
This recipe is for Jackie. I serve these little chocolate cakes for teatime, using two silicone baking pans that make small straight-sided cakes. It would work as well in cupcake pans, or in two nine-inch cake pans, or in a Bundt pan. I like to soak cakes in a little simple syrup (one third cup sugar and one third cup water, brought to a boil plus a little vanilla) but it isn’t necessary.
Chocolate Cakes for Tea
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup Dutch process cocoa (I use Droste’s or Van Houten)
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 ½ tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp espresso powder or coffee extract
1 cup milk
½ cup canola oil
1 Tbs. Vanilla extract
1 cup water.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Beat the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla extract together. Beat the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Beat in the water. Pour into greased pans. (greased and floured if not using silicone pans).
Bake 30-35 minutes for 9” layers, or about 12 minutes for cupcakes or mini-cakes, about 40 minutes for a bundt pan. I test them before the estimated time. Cake will spring back when touched if it is done.
I top each little cake with chocolate icing made of 1/3 cup butter melted with 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate.