A new festival in Cape May – The Craft Beer and Crab Festival will be this coming August 11 on the grounds of the Physick Estate. The café patio will be transformed into a food court with crabs (of course), pulled pork barbecue, corn on the cob, and lots of other food. There will be several local breweries represented and music on the outdoor stage, pony rides for the kids, a little Victorian “midway” with games of skill and chance. There will also be a crafts show on the front lawn of the Physick Estate. With all of the games, music, food, beer and crafts show on the grounds, the Physick Estate should be the fun place to be on Saturday August 11th. Make your Leith Hall bed and breakfast reservations now! The water is warmer than ever, the beach is beckoning, and the festivals are festing. Our guests are breakfasting on the porch and Elan is baking for tea
A recent Leith Hall bed and breakfast guest was visiting the many wineries that have opened recently near Cape May. He is a wine expert and was telling us that New Jersey wine is not famous for a reason, but that Cape May county is the exception, that all of the good wine in the state comes from Cape May, that we’re the Napa Valley of New Jersey.
Though I’m originally a New Yorker, I’m not one to scoff at New Jersey’s accomplishments, and good table wine is certainly one of them. A very local favorite is Hawk Haven Vineyards, which gives you the choice of Chardonnay aged in French Oak or Chardonnay aged in stainless steel. I’ve never liked the oaky-ness of California Chardonnay. It always tastes a little too much like turpentine to me Chardonnay aged in stainless however, is refreshing and delicious.
Hawk Haven also produces a small amount of Tempranillo. This is the grape used in Spain to make Rioja, so it’s delicious and fruity and low in acid. A great wine that ages well, and is complex, but without that mouth puckering tannic acid that many big red wines have.
Turdo Winery is one of my favorites. It is so friendly, the wines are so delicious, and you can imagine yourself in Sicily. When Suzie and I spent a month in Sicily a few years ago, we often stopped for a glass of Moscato di Sicilia or Moscato di Pantellerria before dinner. With a great dinner, we could have a great wine like Barolo (which is one of the best red wines in the world) which is made of Niebbolo grapes. Both of these are available at Turdo Vineyards – only a couple of miles from Leith Hall.
Turdo also makes Sangiovese, which is best known as Chianti, fruity and acidic to drink with major meaty dishes like steak or pot roast. They also make a Pinot Grigio which is light and refreshing. I have a classmate who always refers to Pinot Grigio as “eau de pee pee” because it’s usually a yellow wine that’s pretty acidic and not much else. Turdo’s version is good and flavorful.
There are several more vineyards very close to Leith Hall bed and breakfast in Cape May. You can visit them by taking The Cape May Wine Trail offered by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities. A trolley will transport you from winery to vineyard so you don’t have to restrain yourself. In September, the Cape May Food and Wine Celebration offers a debauch of local restaurants and wineries for a taste of the high life. If you visit us at Leith Hall, we’ll be happy to direct you to all of the local vineyards.
You may already know that Cape May is one of the top birding sites in the world. But, what if you’re not a knowledgeable birder? Those other people will know everything about every detail and you will be stuck like an ignorant lummox. Wrong!
The Cape May Bird Observatory has lots of informal walks and talks where the new birder will feel welcome and comfortable. For example, Tuesday June 26 at 10 am, there will be a relaxed photo walk around Cape May Point with Scott Whittle. He is a professional photographer and an instructor for bird photography workshops.
On Wednesday, June 27, at 9:30 am, Mike Crewe and a team of naturalists will lead a group around Cape May Point and the hawk watching platform to see both breeding birds and the visitors just passing through.
June 28, the program is called A Bird Walk for All People at 9:30 am, and they’ll guarantee that you’ll see at least twenty species – and they’ll lend you the binoculars. Contact us for reservations for any of these dates.
Jewish and Siciliano New York
This cheesecake is trying to reproduce one made by an old college friend, Kenny
Kleinrock’s mother. She approached the task as a scientific experiment, trying many variations ’till she found the perfect, the archetypal, the uber-cheesecake. She found that the definitive cheesecake had to have both lemon and orange flavor in it, to cut the extreme richness.
New York Cheesecakes
To make the crust
1 cup. (4 oz) graham cracker crumbs (or 4 whole crackers and food-processed)
1 Tbs. sugar
5 Tbs. unsalted butter melted, plus 1 Tbs. for buttering pan
Combine above and press into bottom of 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 325 f. to 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling
To make the filling
2 ½ lbs. cream cheese at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups (10 ½ oz) sugar
1/3 cup (2 ½ oz) sour cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 egg yolks plus 6 eggs
1 tsp. lemon zest and 1 tsp. orange zest, grated.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, scrape, beat in salt and sugar, scrape. Add sour cream lemon juice, vanilla, and zest. Beat and scrape.
Add eggs one at a time. Beat and scrape.
Bake on rimmed cookie sheet. Bake at 500 F. for 10 minutes. Turn down oven to 200 F. and bake approx 1 ½ hours (instant read thermometer 150 F) Run paring knife around cake. Cool 2 ½ to 3 hours. Wrap in pan and cool at least 3 hours, or overnight
New York and Palermo
When I was a child in New York, you could get Sicilian cheesecake is every Italian bakery. A few years ago, Suzie and I spent a month traveling around Sicily and I was on a mission to find this old-fashioned dessert. Everywhere, I ordered Cassata alla Siciliana, and all’antica. Usually I got a ricotta dessert held together with lime-green jello. Sometimes I got spongecake layered with cannolli cream. Never did I get the old fashioned cheesecake of my childhood. The closest was a Cassata di Ricotta in Palermo, which was a pie with the ricotta and candied fruit filling
Sicilian Ricotta Cheesecake
3 lbs whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
2 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg whites, beaten till soft peaks form
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
1/2-1 tablespoon grated fresh lemon zest
dried pineapple, golden raisins, candied orange rind, etc.)
1 double recipe pie crust
Line a 12″ springform pan with the pie crust. In an electric mixer, beat the ricotta, sugar, flour, egg yolks, lemon zest, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix in the candied fruits. Remove from mixer and fold in whipped egg whites and cream. Pour into crust-lined springform pan. Bake at 425 F. for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 F. and bake for one hour. Turn off oven and don’t open it. Allow to cool in oven for three hours. Then refrigerate.
Just a reminder of our Music Festival Special; we’ll supply your tickets if you visit us for any concert.
There are two great evenings coming up. Both part of the
CapeMay Music festival, but very different. The first is Tuesday June 5, and is a performance by the New York Chamber Ensemble featuring works by Mozart and Mendelsohn. The New York Chamber Ensemble is so moving and their virtuosity is extremely impressive. The setting in the Episcopal Church of the Advent is also so intimate and beautiful that their concerts are always a night to remember.
The next concert is by the Bay Atlantic Symphony orchestra on Thursday, June 7. Jed Gaylin is the conductor and he always explains what the orchestra is about to play, giving you more understanding and insight into the work.
Some classical work that you’ve heard before is suddenly new and fresh and you come away with more appreciation and enjoyment than you ever had before. It even works for difficult music, though this concert will be all very easy to listen to. The June 7 concert will be all Viennese composers; Webern, Hayden, Brahms and Schumann.
The Gaylin family often stays with us at Leith Hall and it is always a joy to see them again.
Give us a call or go online to make a reservation.
A recent Leith Hall b&b guest, Donna B., emailed me for two recipes for treats that we serve at afternoon tea. The first was Cape May bed and breakfast Gingerbread which was in an earlier post, and this is the second – Raspberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake. Of course, you could substitute any other preserves, but then it would be apricot or orange coffee cake.
Raspberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake
2 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Line a 9”x11” baking pan with cooking parchment and spray with cooking spray.
Mix 1 1 1/2 cups of the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil or butter, 1/3 cup sour cream, and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients into egg mixture.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Drop raspberry preserves over batter by random teaspoons full. Combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.
Transfer pan to oven, and bake for about 23 minutes. . Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean or cake springs back when prodded with a finger.
Recently one of our guests at Leith Hall b&b contacted me to request two recipes we serve at afternoon tea. This one, Leith Hall’s Cape May bed and breakfast Gingerbread, is for Donna. It has bits of crystallized ginger in it for an extra sharp bite. Sometimes I ice it with a bittersweet chocolate and butter icing (which I’ll put on almost anything) and sometimes I’ll sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar through a paper doily laid on top of the gingerbread. We always have one chocolate and one non-chocolate treat at teatime. Suzie would never forgive me if I left out the chocolate, and we sometimes have guests who (sadly) don’t like chocolate.
Leith Hall Cape May bed and breakfast Gingerbread
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F Line a 9 “square pan with cooking parchment and spray with cooking spray
In an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Beat into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until the gingerbread springs back when prodded with a fingertip. Allow to cool in pan before serving.
Did you know that wooden house trim is called gingerbread because gingerbread was once very heavily decorated? During the Middle Ages, ginger was fabulously expensive and gingerbread was a desert at Royal and Noble courts. Sometimes, it was ornamented with real gold leaf in elaborate swirls. When sawn wooden ornament was introduced in the nineteenth century, people started calling it gingerbread because it reminded them of Christmas gingerbread houses – which are the last vestige of great medieval gingerbread constructions. Architecture and dessert all in one, my favorite combination
Brave Leith Hall Guests Follow Elan’s Recipes
This past weekend, Roger and Judy, who visit us every year and are so much fun to talk to, asked for the recipe for the pumpkin and apricot cake that I served for tea. The last time they followed one of my recipes (for banana chocolate cake) the chocolate exploded as it was poured into a bowl. Undeterred, they are willing to follow another recipe, no matter what the danger.
PUMPKIN APRICOT CAKE
3 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. each nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
½ c. white sugar
1 c. oil
2 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. dried apricots, cut into small slices
1 c. simple syrup made of 1 c. water boiled with 1 c. sugar
Mix dry ingredients with the oil and pumpkin, stirring until well combined.
Add eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly. Pour into 2 greased and floured decorative bundt pans. I use a silicone fluted bundt ban and a variety of Teflon coated bundt pans.
A Victorian Flower Garden along the Sidewalk
When Suzie and I moved to Cape May in 1989, one of the first projects on our list was to replace the sidewalk in front of Leith Hall and plant a flower garden. Our neighbors have narrow sidewalks with planted verges between the curb and the pavement and between the pavement and the property line. We wanted to replace our sidewalk with a narrow one and plant the verges. It never happened. New bathrooms, new furnace, new water heater, new roof, new porch; all these intervened. This year, twenty-three years later, we finally replaced the front sidewalk. We’re thrilled.
The sidewalk was laid by Mike Mohr of Mohr Masonry. He did a great job, worked really fast and was very easy to deal with. He’s coming back in a while to give the sidewalk a coating to make it resemble the slates next door more closely.
Victorian and native flowers
We’ve just planted the verges with thyme and phlox, sage and snow-in-summer, daylilies
and hostas. It still looks like a sea of mulch with tufts of greenery, but the plants are spreading and will cover the ground soon. The plantings are low growing and low maintenance, which we need; but are also Victorian, which we want. Victorians called Hostas, Funkias, which sounds so much funkier, somehow. The daylilies we planted are the orange, old-fashioned Hemerocallis fulva which the Pilgrims
brought from Europe and have been spreading ever since. Thyme and sage are the kitchen herbs and phloxes (Phlox subulata) and snow in summer (Cerastium tomentosum) are natives. We’ll see how they all do only fifty yards from the beach and occasionally being stepped on.
Memorial Day History in Cape May
Suzie and I just got back from New York where we saw the new Broadway production of Porgy and Bess, which is set in Catfish Row in Charleston South Carolina. Many thanks to SK for the tickets. The show was wonderful and the music was, as always, spectacular. The show, together with Memorial Day fast approaching, reminded me of the first Memorial Day, which is a little known story. Just after the Civil War, freed black slaves in Charleston South Carolina wanted to honor the hundreds of Union soldiers who were imprisoned and died in the Charleston race course. The soldiers had been buried in an unmarked mass grave, so the freedmen cleaned up the site, built a memorial arch and landscaped the grounds. On May 1, 1865, they held a memorial service and supper to honor the Union soldiers.
Confederate groups held services to commemorate Confederate dead, also usually in May. In the North, (in Waterloo, NY) John Logan proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization. The holiday was quickly adopted all over the North, while the south celebrated competing memorials on different days.
Memorial Day had its name changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day in 1967. It was moved to a Monday date along with many other federal holidays in 1968, and became an official Federal holiday in 1971. During Woodrow Wilson’s term, the emphasis of Memorial Day shifted from the Civil War to a more general national holiday, including the Spanish American War and WWI dead. Wilson was the first southern president elected since the Civil War, and was the president who imposed racial segregation in the Federal Government.
From the beginning, Memorial Day has been the occasion for
parades and barbeques, and the tradition continues in Cape May. Memorial Day weekend begins our season of band concerts and Crafts and Antiques Shows on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate. On May 28th MAC will offer the Atlantic Brass band in a free concert to round out the holiday.