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.
If you subscribe to this blog, you may remember last May’s post about our new front sidewalk and the garden that we planted. It’s May again, and the garden looks spectacular. All of the flowers that we planted last year have spread and the strip is a lush bed of purple and blue. I’ve put last year’s photos next to today’s to show the difference. The phlox subulata has spread and is in full bloom. The bugle weed (Ajuga reptans) has spread in the strip between the street and the sidewalk and choked out any weeds. Dusty Millers (Celosia maritima) have matured into big healthy bushes and make great repeat mounds along the length of the flower bed. I trim them and pinch out the flower buds every few days. Otherwise they will flower and die.
This Spring, we had all of the red inserts on the porch-post brackets replaced. That’s another project that has been waiting for twenty-four years, and we are thrilled. John Hassay of Cape Island Woodwork did the work and we’re very pleased. John also replaced a section of porch balustrade for us and two windows which had disintegrated.
Exciting Exhibit at the Carriage House Gallery in Cape May focuses on African American organizations
In the past, Cape May was a segregated town. The United States was a segregated country. In response to this, African Americans formed their own institutions, businesses, and social life. In past years, the Center for Community Arts created exhibits focusing on the black-owned business that once existed in Cape May and on the military contributions of Cape May’s black citizens. This year the exciting exhibit is called Celebrating Community Service: Black Fraternal, Social and Civic Organizations of Cape May County is opening in the Carriage House Gallery at the Emlen Physick Estate, run by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities.
By telling this aspect of American history with personal stories of our friends and neighbors, the Center for Community Arts makes the history much more interesting and immediate, as well as linking our local story to the large themes of the nation’s story.
If you’re coming to visit us at Leith Hall this winter, check out this great exhibit at MAC.
A new exhibit opening at the Carriage House Gallery reminds me of a wonderful evening that Susan and I spent at the Chalfonte last year. We were invited by Bernadette Mathews, the director of the Center for Community Arts in Cape May, to have dinner and see a slide show about a tour that they offer in town. The tour is the African American Heritage Walking Tour of Cape May. It runs twice a week from June through September and is the very best that local history can be. The slide show was an armchair version of the walking tour, to introduce bed and breakfast owners to the tour and urge them to recommend it to their guests.
With every slide, our neighbor, Emily Dempsey pointed out that half of the people in the photo were her relatives. Whether the subject was visiting celebrities or African American organizations, Emily and her relatives were always front-and-center. Apparently, she is related to the entire African American community of Cape May. The tour told the story of the parallel institutions that black people founded during the segregated era of Cape May, and tied their local experience to the larger themes of national history. The tour was filled with wonderful personal anecdotes that made the history of the black community in Cape May vivid and immediate. It was as good as a history tour can get.
If you are coming to visit Leith Hall this coming summer, remember to book this tour. If you are coming to visit us this winter, there’s a great show at the Carriage House Gallery at the Physick Estate that I can recommend.
Great Jazz Festival News! This article by Jack Fichter in the Cape May County Herald announces a new jazz festival in Cape to be held next November. For everyone who misses the old Jazz Festival, this is a welcome announcement. I’ve re-blogged the whole article below.
CAPE MAY — A new jazz festival is coming to the city in November but it won’t be from the former Cape May Jazz Festival. The Exit 0 International Jazz Festival will be held Nov. 9 through 11, Veteran’s Day Weekend, at Cape May’s Convention Hall.
Ramsey Lewis will be headlining the festival with his Electric Band. Lewis is a three-time Grammy Award winner and holds seven gold records.
According to his website, “Lewis has been an iconic leader in the contemporary jazz movement for over 50 years, with an unforgettable sound and outgoing personality that has allowed him to cross over to the pop and R&B charts. The Ramsey Lewis Trio, with bassist Eldee Young and percussionist Redd Holt, became a fixture on the Chicago jazz scene, releasing their debut album, ‘Ramsey Lewis & His Gentlemen of Jazz,’ back in 1956.
Lewis earned his first gold record, as well as a Grammy award for Best Jazz Performance, for their swinging version of Dobie Gray’s hit ‘The In Crowd.’ He returned to the pop charts in 1966 with versions of ‘Hang On Sloopy’ and ‘Wade In The Water.’
Other confirmed artists at press time include Christian McBride and Inside Straight, Henry Cole’s Afrobeat Collective, Ben Williams & Sound Effect and DJ Soul Sister. The complete lineup will be announced by July 5 by the promoter, Spy Boy Productions.
Jazz Festival at Convention Hall
Main stage headliner concerts will be held at Convention Hall on Friday and Saturday nights, along with a Saturday afternoon concert. Participating club venues include: the Boiler Room at Congress Hall, Carney’s, Carney’s Other Room, Cabana’s, Martini Beach, and Cape May Stage at the Robert Shackleton Theater. Ticket packages are being sold by the City of Cape May’s Convention Hall. To order tickets, go to: www.capemayconventionhall.org
The promoter, Spy Boy Productions, has no affiliation with Friends of Cape May Jazz or Cape May Jazz Festival.
At a Thur., June 21 press conference, promoter Michael Kline said he has produced concerts in New Orleans beginning in 1997. Kline said he had worked for WWOZ Radio, “New Orleans’ Jazz & Heritage Station,” which is licensed to the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans.
“I worked there for almost eight years and we produced shows in conjunction with the radio station,” said Kline.
Exit 0 International Jazz Festival spokesperson Victoria Clayton said Kline represents jazz artists nationally and internationally. He is a resident of West Cape May arriving here after Hurricane Katrina.
Kline said one of his challenges to stage the festival was finding open dates available on Convention Hall’s schedule. A Saturday afternoon main stage concert will be held in Convention Hall, he said.
“There will pretty much be three headline concerts Friday night, Saturday night, Saturday afternoon,” said Kline.
He said he was working on a “special surprise” for Sunday afternoon.
For all of our guests who used to visit Leith Hall for Jazz festival – we miss you! Let’s hope that this Jazz Festival will be great.
CAPE MAY FOOD AND WINE CELEBRATION SEPTEMBER 15-19
Cape May’s Food and wine Celebration will be in mid-September and include a whole host of festive meals. The Harvest Food and Wine Dinner will be held at the Carriage House Café at the Emlen Physick Estate . The Chefs’ Dine-Arounds are progressive dinners with each course at a different Cape May restaurant. There will beer and cheese tastings, wine cellar
tours, guided winery tours and self-guided winery tours. This year, there will even be a Scotch Tasting dinner. When you’re too full to move, there will be a lecture by Chef Joseph Poon and a talk about herbs by Lorraine Kiefer. There are another ten events scheduled, which you can find at MAC’s website. Make your reservations at Leith Hall now for this September celebration of delicious excess.
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 week, our guests devoured this cake and a cherry devil’s food cake at afternoon tea. They asked for the recipe for both cakes. This is the orange one, which is flavored with sour cream and orange marmalade and tastes like a Creamsicle pop. The chocolate recipe will follow in a later post. I hope that you enjoy them at Syracuse!
I use a glass tube pan to bake this cake in, so that I can keep an eye on the color, (it has to get golden brown to be fully baked in the center) but you can use any pan that you have. If you use layer cake pans, it will take less time.
Leith Hall’s Orange and Cream Cake
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup softened unsalted butter (one stick)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)
1 tsp. orange extract
½ tsp. lemon extract
¾ cup milk
¼ cup bitter orange marmalade
1/3 cup sour cream
Tube pan, greased and floured
350 degrees 30—35 minutes. Check for doneness and add time if needed.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Beat the butter with the sugar, then the orange marmalade, then the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the flavorings, then the sour cream. Beat in the flour mixture and the milk, alternately to make a smooth batter. Turn into the pan, bake until the cake is golden (darkish brown) and springs back firmly when poked with a fingertip.
I serve this cake right-side up without an icing. You could drizzle an icing made of powdered sugar, orange juice and melted butter on top; or you could sprinkle it with powdered sugar for decoration.