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).
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.
Leith Hall Bed and Breakfast Chocolate Cherry Cake
I recently served this rich chocolate cherry cake at Leith Hall at teatime. Our guests asked for the recipe, so here it is. I bake it in a glass bundt pan, but it would work in any ring-shaped pan, or in two nine-inch round cake pans with a frosting or icing.
2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ cup cocoa powder (I use Droste’s, Rademaker, or Van Houten)
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup milk
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla paste
½ cup dried cherries, dusted with flour
1 jar of cherry preserves
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Beat the sugar, oil coffee, milk, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla together. Add the flour mixture and beat in. Fold in the dried cherries. Turn into a greased and floured bundt pan. Place a ring of cherry preserves on top of the batter by teaspoonsfull . As the cake bakes, it will sink toward the bottom. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Check the cake by prodding with a finger. It should spring back and seem fully baked and cakelike. Add time as needed.
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.
I thought that I’d start sharing vacation photographs with you from our Winter trips. Last winter was a trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, but I uploaded the photos somewhere and now have to search for them. So, instead, these are photos from our vacation of a year before. Those of you who have been guests at Leith Hall may know that Suzie and I got a
book contract to write a self-guided walking tour book of Rome. The manuscript is now embroiled in instability at the publishers, but I’ll show you some photos of Rome neighborhoods. The first is the Pincio Park, on the north side of the historic center of Rome.
It is part of the Victorian attempt to bring greenery into the center of the city. Italian cities generally have no public greenery at all; not a blade of grass nor a tree. Then you exit the gates of the city and find yourself in farmland. Rome has always had some private green-space, in the form of noblemen’s villas, but it is an overwhelmingly masonry city. The Pincio is the Central Park, the Fairmount Park, the Grant Park of Rome. One of my favorite places is the Villa Borghese. Scipio Borghese (Skippy to his friends) was a Pope’s
nephew. When the Pope was elected, the Borghese’s were an upper-middle class family. As Nepeto or nephew, Scipio was in charge of letting all of the contracts and making purchases for the whole Roman Catholic Church. With every transaction, Skippy got his cut. By the time the Pope died, the Borgheses were the richest family in Europe. The word nepotism comes from nepeto, or nephew for good reason.
We worked long and hard on this book, spending hours in cafes, sampling countless bakeries, and wandering through beautiful neighborhoods. Life is real. Life is earnest.
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
This is restaurant week in Cape May. Many of our best eateries have prix fixe, three course dinners for $35. This is a great time to sample the offerings at some of the best restaurants in New Jersey – 410 Bank Street and Fresco’s, the Ebbitt Room at the Virginia Hotel, the Sea Salt in the new Ocean Club Hotel and Union Park at the Macomber Hotel, as well as the Washington Inn. Four restaurants even have $25 dinners; Harry’s Ocean
Bar and Grille, Cucina Rosa, The Pilot House, and Carney’s, Restaurant week will run through June 10th, so there’s still time to reserve and feast.
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.