We are thrilled, happy, and delirious to announce that our new book is being published as a Kindle ebook on Amazon. It’s called Rome Secrets – Eleven Self Guided Walking Tours. You may remember that we spent a winter stay in Rome a couple of years ago because we had a book contract. That project is finally done and we are very pleased with the product. You can stay home and feel that you are wandering the sunny streets of Rome. There are lots of photographs, gossip, scandal, food, and of course, art, and architecture. Or, you can use it in Rome to guide you through the neighborhoods and make you feel like a real Roman.
The Crab and Craft Beer Festival is one of the most popular events of the whole year.The Cape May Brewery and other suppliers add their best brews. Crab cakes and other shore delicacies are plentiful. There’s music and vendors, and fun. Come stay with us at Leith Hall and take advantage of this great day.
Visit the beautiful grounds of the Physick Estate and experience one of New Jersey’s Top Five Summer Festivals! This all-day festival features local craft beers to wash down favorite summer picnic foods — including steamed crabs, crab cakes, steamed shrimp, potato salad and more. Enjoy live music all day on the outdoor stage. Have fun with jugglers and acrobats, crafts vendors, a farmers’ market and more. Admission to the grounds is free. There will be a charge for food, beverages and some activities. Saturday, Aug. 9, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Free trolley shuttle between Washington Street Mall and the Estate: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (until 8 p.m. back to Mall).
How do you define decadence in Cape May? Put together three of my favorite things – good food, good wine, and a cruise on the A.J. Meerwald. Hawk Haven winery has organized this wonderful event for next August 16th and again on August 23rd. You cruise on the gorgeous oyster schooner A.J. Meerwald. You feast on hors d’oevres provided by the Red Store of Cape May Point (chef Lucas Manteca) and Quahog in Stone Harbor. You quaff (or guzzle) wines from Hawk Haven. It’s a little bit of heaven right here in Cape May. The cost is $109 per person and you call (609)846-7347 to buy tickets.
A new painting of Castelo São Jorge in the parlor at Leith Hall
This is just a brief post to tell you about a change in our parlor atLeith Hall bed and breakfast. A few weeks ago, I went to a yard sale with a neighbor and found a great late nineteenth-century gilded frame for five dollars – and amazing price for a very fancy frame. The outermost molding was broken, so I replaced it and gilded it and ended up with a spectacular frame. Of course, it isn’t a standard size and I had no painting that would fit it. Fortunately, I wanted to make a picture of the Castelo São Jorge in Lisbon, which we visited during last winter’s vacation. The castelo sits on top of the Alfama hill, which was the old Arab city before the Christians conquered Portugal. We were staying on a cliff-top on the opposite side of the old city and could look across the lower town (the Baixa) to the Alfama and the castelo.
The Castelo Sao Jorge is the highest point in Lisbon. The Romans may have built a fort there on an Iron Age site, but if they did, it was obliterated by later building. The Arabs built a medinat (city) or al-qasaba (fort) on the same site, populated by “people of the book” – Christians, Moslems and Jews. The kings of Portugal kept and extended the fortifications until 1755 – the year of the terrible earthquake, tidal wave, and fire that wiped out the center of Lisbon. Much of what we see now was restored in 1910.
Suzie and I took the little yellow number 28 trolley from one extreme end of Lisbon to the other, ending in the Castelo neighborhood. It is a wonderful and sometimes exciting ride, as the trolley just missed hitting buildings in the narrow twisted alleyways. Of course, the trolley is on tracks, so it always just misses the buildings, but it plunges down the face of the cliff and up the hillside lke a cross between transportation and a roller coaster.
We don’t usually let everyone know every time we buy some new furniture at Leith Hall,
but this time we’re very excited to have replaced two sofas. It all started when a guest noted that the wicker setee in the Audubon Suite was not as comfortable as he’d like. So we started a search for a new setee that was Victorian-ish. We found one that has Victorian front legs and is upholstered in a William Morris designed, 1880s pattern, fabric. The new setee is in place and quite comfy.
While we were shopping for that one, we came across a Colonial Revival style, 1890s looking setee that fits on the sitting room wall in the Turkish Suite. So we had to buy it. It is tall enough to snuggle in and rest your head. Just above the new setee is a painting of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain – pretending to be Turkey. The man in the painting who appears to be praying is our Moroccan guide, Rashid, who was actually checking his digital camera battery. His friends had dressed him up in a burnoose, so he looked exotic, though he was a completely modern guy. Come visit us at Leith Hall and try out the new comfy furniture.
Pat Sutton will also offer a session about ruby-throated Hummingbirds that same afternoon starting at 1:00 P.M.. Learn how to create a hummingbird garden.
April 20 is Earth Day
If you bring your garden tools, you can help deadhead, weed and prune the Nature Center’s gardens and participate in Clean Ocean Action’s annual Beach Sweeps. This will be just the beginning of the season’s offerings at the Nature Center and heralds the start of Salt Marsh Safari – beginning April 27 – the Nature Center’s ever-popular exploration of the shore.
Of course, as always, please come stay with us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast.
Cape May’s Craft Beer and Crab Festival hit town last Saturday. The day was gray and intermittently rainy – not ideal beach weather. So lots of people showed up on the lawn at the Physick Estate. There was a long (but fast-moving) line for crabs and crab cakes under the striped tent, and lots of covered seating nearby. There was a small crafts fair – I particularly liked the Guatemalan pottery – pony rides, and a teensy-weensy circus appropriately called the Tiny Circus.
This past winter, Suzie and I went to Iceland to see the Northern lights. We stayed in the Northern Light Inn on a lava field in Southwestern Iceland, very close to the Blue Lagoon. We toured around our corner of the country and spent a few days in Reykjavik as well.
The Blue Lagoon was formed by the runoff from a geo-thermal electricity plant set in a lava field. The runoff contained so much white silica mud that it clogged the pores of the lava and created a shallow warm lagoon. Now it’s a spa and heaven to soak in. As you can see, it’s baby blue set in a landscape of black lava – very dramatic.
The weather at the Blue Lagoon changed every fifteen minutes or so. The sky would be bright blue, then huge hail would fall for a few minutes. Then the sky would be blue again, the rain. Then blue, then snow. All within a couple of hours.
We hired a car and driver who took us on a tour around the Reykyanes peninsula, that is Southwestern Iceland. We visited Gulfoss – a huge waterfall about a third the size of Niagara.
Iceland also has the oldest parliament in the world, running for a thousand years. This is the site of the original parliament – the Althing – where Vikings came together to vote.
Geyser is one of the few words in English that comes from Icelandic. The original Geyser is dormant now, but only a few yards away is Strokkur, which erupts every few minutes.
Reykjavik is the country’s only city, and its historic district resembles a more urban version of Cape May. It’s all Victorian with very similar buildings and gingerbread, only in Iceland the traditional siding is not clapboard by corrugated iron.
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
3/4 cup candied and dried fruit, chopped. (candied citron,
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.