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Month: November 2012

Annual Congress Hall Christmas Tree Donated by Local Man

Local Man Donates 30 foot Tree for Annual Congress Hall Holiday Celebration

Congress Hall’s Christmas tree is a time honored Cape May tradition. This year’s tree was donated by Mr. John Gerolstein, a local resident of Cape May. Workers cut down the 30-foot Blue Spruce Evergreen on Monday, November 19th and then transported it the short distance to Congress Hall.  The tree is now up on the Grand Lawn in all its’ splendor. The Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place Friday, November 30th. According to Mr. Gerolstein, the evergreen became known to family and neighbors as the “picture tree” because each year the family would decorate it and take their holiday photos in front of it. Those photos are now some of the Gerolstein family’s most treasured.  Mr. Gerolstein estimates the tree to be about 30 years old, although he and his family moved into the house about 18 years ago.  Mr. Gerolstein decided to donate the tree because it has become too big for the yard.  The Gerolstein family spent many holiday seasons in Cape May, and are now happy to contribute to Congress Hall’s annual celebration so other families can enjoy taking photos and creating memories with the “picture tree.”

At left: John Gerolstein, Heidi Belnay (Gerolstein), and Garrett Belnay in front of the “picture tree.”


MAC Christmas Tree Lighting Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Physick Estate

The first of Cape May’s three Christmas Tree Lightings took place Saturday at the Physick Estate grounds. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts event kicks off the holiday season on the Island and  kids were thrilled to see Santa arrive just in time to pull the  switch and light the giant tree. Visitors could also enjoy the Old-fashioned Christmas exhibit in the Carriage House Gallery as well as caroling and refreshments.


Thanksgiving in Cape May

What restaurants are serving Thanksgiving dinner in Cape May?

Let it be known that Cape May is open and ready to welcome any and all who might be looking for a Thanksgiving retreat.

Most of the B&Bs and hotels are open through the holidays and many of our great restaurants are taking reservations. Over at Congress Hall for example you can dine by the fireside in the Blue Pig Tavern. They are offering three delicious courses featuring Butternut Squash Bisque, Roast Turkey with all the fixings, Maple-Glazed Short Ribs with Candied Yams, and Traditional Thanksgiving Desserts from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. for $39 per person. Over in Congress Hall’s Ballroom, a buffet-style dinner is being served from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. for $32 per person. You can enjoy traditional Thanksgiving favorites like Roast Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing and traditional desserts. Reservations for both bountiful events are required. Call 609-884-8421.

Over at the elegant Virginia Hotel on Jackson Street, the Ebbitt Room is serving a Classic Thanksgiving Dinner. The menu features traditional Thanksgiving staples for all to enjoy. Guests only need to choose one item per course from the multi-course Thanksgiving Prix-Fix Menu. ($60 per person, $35 extra for wine pairing per person). Call 1-800-732-4236.

Those staying in the Cape Resorts cottages can have a home-style dinner without all the fuss of cooking it themselves. Ebbitt Room Chef Micari offers two packages – Gourmet Thanksgiving To-Go and A Very Customized Thanksgiving. Gourmet Thanksgiving to-Go allows cottage guests to order a fully-prepared, gourmet, packaged meal to be delivered hot on or before 2pm. If guests choose to eat later, the meal comes with re-heating instructions and a personal note from Chef Micari. (Must be ordered a day in advance; $45 per person).

In the category of A Very Customized Thanksgiving: Select cottage guests are invited to prepare their own Thanksgiving meal at their leisure. Simply pre-order this Thanksgiving meal package prior to arrival and all necessary ingredients will be stocked in the cottage’s kitchen pantries. Menus and recipes will be available in advance with a note and instructions from Chef Micari. ($45 per person). For more information on these packages or to make reservations call 609-884-8421.

Over at Aleathea’s on Ocean Street, located in the historic Inn of Cape May, a select menu is offered to diners, with six items to choose from, complete with whole turkeys carved tableside, served family style and yes, you can take home the leftovers, which as anyone knows are the very best part of any Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Aleathea’s is open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. For reservations call 609-884-5555.

Union Park Dining Room on Beach Avenue, located in The Hotel Macomber, is serving a four-course dinner. Adults $39/children $19. Call 609-884-8112 for reservations.

The Washington Inn on Washington Street, will be open from, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and offering an a la carte menu. For reservations call 609-884-5697.

The Merion Inn on Decatur Street is offering a Thanksgiving Day menu complete with appetizers, several entrees to choose from and desserts. A la carte menu includes two sides with entrée. Full course dinner prices include two sides, plus appetizer and dessert. For reservations and seating times call 609-884-8363 or visit merioninn.com.

The Peter Shields Inn, aka PSI, is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. with three special courses at a prix fixe of $60 for adults and $25 for children. For reservations call 609-884-9090. For a peek at their holiday menu visit petershieldsinn.com.

Off Island, Rio Station in Rio Grande on Route 9 is open Thanksgiving and serving your Choice of ham or turkey – $16.99 Adults, $10.99 Kids. Refills on adult platters, $8.99. Served from 2:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. For reservations call 609- 889-2000.

Well that ought to get your taste buds salivating. If you find a restaurant that we missed, please let us know. In the meantime, start packing your weekender luggage and come down to Cape May for good food, good wine and the best sunsets anywhere around.

Gobble, gobble!!


Growing and Training With Love!

This month’s Good Read: The Dog’s Mind – Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior by Bruce Fogle, D.V.M., M.R.C.V.S. This book is a slow read, since it has so much interesting information which is explained and backed up by research. Also, because the information is a little heavy or technical, while at once extremely interesting – you will want to think about the information rather than skim through it. You will probably go back to sections periodically, even when you have finished reading the book.

***

In August we talked a little about choosing the right breed for your life style and likes, or choosing a “mutt” who will, likewise, fit into your family like a hand in a glove. After choosing your new puppy/dog, you want to infuse all the love you can into growing, training, and adjusting to the family as a full fledged happy member. Your dog will surely thank you for it, as they love you unconditionally.

Guinness and Jamison

First of all, when you get your new puppy/dog home, plan to visit your vet as soon as possible. This is such an important step, whether you are adopting or taking in a puppy or an older dog. You and your new dog need to establish a growing and knowing relationship with your vet, one based in mutual and comforting trust. Your vet will be your dog’s and your best friend! Your vet can discuss and help you with information about vaccines, what’s needed and what’s not needed; parasites and treatment; feeding schedules and dog foods; training and socialization; crating; puppy/doggie proofing your home; grooming; microchips; any common breed specific ailments; and so much more. Any question you may have to make your dog’s welcome into your home the best it can be, your vet can help you with. This is also a good opportunity to find out about items, plants, foods, which may be toxic to your newest family member, for example, no chocolate, no grapes, etc.

Your vet will be able to advise you as to what vaccinations are needed and on what schedule they should be given. Dogs, like people, react differently to shots and checkups and your vet will know the best way to handle your dog’s first visit, and his/her vaccination schedule. The first visit will also help to establish an ease and comfort with future visits.

Our dogs Guinness and Jameson love to go to the vet since they get treats just to get on the scale. Geez, how much easier and more fun can it be! Many dogs need to be treated and checked annually for worms and other parasites. Your vet can also recommend medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Parvovirus can be fatal and your dog should be treated in accordance with your vet’s recommendation. All of this sounds so complicated and scary, but that’s why a relationship with your vet is so very important both for your puppy’s/dog’s health and happiness, and for your peace of mind and happiness.

Snoopy

Your new dog/puppy will be anxious to explore and will find all kinds of things of interest, or things with which to occupy themselves if you are not paying attention – to play with, to chew, and to eat! When we first got Guinness and Jameson, we were in the yard with them, not wanting to leave them by themselves in a new, big yard with lots to explore and get into – like a pond! Before we knew what happened, Guinness started to stagger and became very listless. We didn’t actually see him eat anything or do anything to cause this, but we knew something was suddenly very wrong. We took both dogs to the vet, where we had just been a week or so before for our initial visit. The vet did an x-ray. There was a definite blockage in the digestive system. The vet did a few other tests, questioned us as to what he could have possibly swallowed. We brought them home with instructions to watch both of them closely, and to return the next morning. He improved as the day went on and next morning he was fine. Apparently, he had swallowed a small pear that had fallen from our pear tree. It initially had blocked his digestive tract but then it had digested! He was back to running and exploring with Jameson. This time it was nothing toxic, fortunately, but for a puppy, a digestive problem, nonetheless, and a real scare for us, especially since we thought we were watching! Since he was a puppy, and since I did not actually see him eat the pear, even though I was outside with him, I had no idea what it was until after seeing the vet to make sure it wasn’t a different, more serious problem. Because we had already been to the vet, our vet knew Guinness and Jameson, and Guinness and Jameson knew our vet, making a very scary experience one that we all were able to get through a little better because we knew we were in good hands.

Visiting your vet is the foundation for a good future. When your puppy/dog gets to know your vet, learning friendship and trust, it makes every vet visit to follow an easier, happier experience for you and for your puppy/dog, and a happier healthier dog for loving!

When traveling with your dog, be sure to inquire about a trusted local vet, just in case!

Happy Doggy Thanksgiving, and remember that some table foods may be great for you, but not for your dog and his/her digestive health. Careful about what you feed your dog from your table, and how much, and you’ll all have a much happier holiday!


Mahaney Wins Cape May Mayoral Election by 12

Mayor Edward Mahaney

Dr. Edward J. Mahaney, Jr. was officially reelected  mayor by a 12 vote margin. The Cape May County Clerk’s office issued the final tally for Cape May City Wednesday night.  Mahaney garnered 50.38% of the electorate or 668 votes. Mahaney’s challenger, Rusty Chew was the loser with 49.47% or 656 votes.

The election had been too close to call and the time to receive absentee and provisional ballots was extended by Gov. Chris Christie in consideration of  Hurricane Sandy and the interruption of mail service it caused.

About an hour after the polls closed, City Manager Bruce Macleod announced the results. At that time, Mahaney, who ran against retired Cape May Police sergeant Rusty Chew, was two votes behind – 545-547. However, once the absentee ballots were counted the vote stood at 666 for Mahaney to 647 for Chew.

This is Mahaney’s fifth win and second four-year term.

This municipal election marked the first time it was rolled into the general election. Prior to this year, municipal elections were held in May. The move was voted on last year in an effort to save the taxpayers money.

 


The House that Lobsters Built

We are happy to report that The Lobster House is again open following Superstorm Sandy!

We were dock rats,” said Donna Laudeman, hostess at The Lobster House, remembering her childhood, and that of her brother Keith’s, growing up in the family’s fish and restaurant business at Fisherman’s Wharf.

The party boats draw crowds of fishermen as well as spectators at Schellenger’s Landing in the 1930s. Photo courtesy of the Laudeman family

“Keith and I grew up down on the docks,” she said. “We caught sea bass and eels, swam in the crick, and helped Essie in the kitchen. She was the prep girl – the prep woman, really, she was an older lady, at least to us. Essie was the kindest woman. She always took the time to let us help. She let us slice the hardboiled eggs.”

They also learned valuable skills that helped them prepare for the future roles they would play in the family-owned company – The Cold Spring Fish & Supply Company and The Lobster House.

“I remember us walking into the kitchen at the restaurant when we were seven or eight,” Donna recalled. “It was like home to us. The smell of lobsters steaming and clams made you feel so good.”

Commercial fishing boats crowd the docks along what is now Fisherman’s Wharf in the 1930s. Photo courtesy of The Lobster House

A few of the children’s other pursuits were more adventurous, however, and, on one occasion, at least, caused their parents some concern. The youngsters’ favorite fishing hole was off of the floating dock in front of the restaurant, where the schooner is moored today.

“We were fishing off the dock and I was casting my line and tripped over one of the cleats,” Donna said. “I went in but Keith grabbed my hand. I can remember him saying, though, ‘Don’t drop that rod.’”

The Lobster House docks begin to change the landscape on the waterfront by 1950. Photo courtesy of the Laudeman family

Their parents, Wally and Marijane Laudeman, insisted they take swimming lessons every summer after that. Like many residents, they learned to swim at the Christian Admiral pool under Lifeguard Captain Clete Cannone.

“It was all fun,” remembered Keith. “Imagine growing up in Cape May and your father owns a dock. How much better does it get than that?”

Today, the “dock rats” have become more the “masters” of the Fisherman’s Wharf docks. Keith Laudeman is now the president of The Cold Spring Fish & Supply Company, a job he took over from his father, and Donna is the hostess at The Lobster House, the same job her mother held.

The Lobster House docks today

The family business has prospered under the brother-and-sister team. Today, the operation includes the packing and shipping plant, fish market and take-out, fishing fleet, gift shop, office, and two restaurants – The Lobster House and Raw Bar.

While sales figures are not published, The Lobster House ranks among the top 50 privately owned restaurants in the country. Over the years, it has become a revered landmark for locals, trusted standby for residents, and huge draw for people visiting the Jersey shore.

While secondary to tourism, seafood is big business in South Jersey, and still growing. Commercial fishing boats off-load more seafood in Cape May than in any other East Coast port except Bedford, Massachusetts. Roughly 11 million pounds of seafood are packed out, or unloaded, at Fisherman’s Wharf docks annually. That includes about 500,000 pounds of lobster and approximately three million pounds of sea scallops.

“We’re mainly in the scallop business,” Keith explained.

Fresh scallops being unloaded

A former scallop fisherman, Keith added a fleet of scallop boats to the business to meet a growing demand. The company also buys fresh catch from independent fishing boats. Keith’s younger brother Randy owns a boat and is one of the company’s suppliers.

The operation needs large quantities of ice to provision its scallop fleet and pack its product in, so it makes ice at an ice plant located at the far end of the dock.

“We produce about 50 tons of ice a day, which go to the boats,” Keith said. “One boat needs about 30 tons.”

The company packs and sells its seafood to processors and exporters worldwide. While much of its product stays in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, a lot travels to Europe. France is particularly fond of the Cape May scallops.

The scallop business has become a lot bigger, according to Keith. For a while, the government restricted fishing activity, but now things have improved.

Keith and Donna are the fourth generation in their family to make waves in the fishing industry. Their great-grandfather, Cap Johnson, owned a number of party fishing boats in the 1920s and ‘30s, one of which he named after his daughter, the Vaud J. Vaud went on to marry Jess Laudeman, founder of The Cold Spring Fish & Supply Company.

Born in Philadelphia in 1898, Jess moved to Wildwood in 1926 to start a wholesale fish business. Initially, he operated out of Ottens Harbor in Wildwood. A few years later, he moved to Two Mile Landing, and, finally, in 1939, he relocated to nearby Schellenger’s Landing on land he bought from the Reading Railroad. Today, that property has come to be better known as Fisherman’s Wharf or The Lobster House docks.

The Vaud J. party boat. Captain johnson named this boat after his daughter Vaud, who later married Jess Laudeman.

Starting in the 1920s, commercial and recreational fishing in South Jersey took off. As interest grew, new facilities were built at Schellenger’s Landing and other sites nearby to accommodate the increased boating and visitor traffic. Betting on a new market, the Reading Railroad laid new tracks and ran a “Fisherman’s Special” train between Philadelphia, Schellenger’s Landing and Two Mile Landing. Suddenly, not only did area party boats have much bigger parties of fisherman but Cape May’s wholesale fishing companies had a game-changing express delivery service to an important urban market.

By the mid 1940s, The Cold Spring Fish & Supply Company had become what was then the largest seafood packager in the country. Jess also had taken on George Reading, of the Reading Railroad, as a business partner.

Bateman’s was a small restaurant on the Schellenger’s Landing lot when Jess bought the property. For many years, he leased it out while he built the wholesale fish business.

Vaud Johnson’s family enjoys a day on the water. Photo courtesy of The Lobster House

Jess and Vaud took the restaurant back in 1955, and turned it over to their son Wally, who had just gotten out of the Coast Guard and begun working in the company’s commercial fishing operation.

“My mother told me my grandfather said to my Dad, ‘Here are the keys [to the restaurant]; do something with it,’” Donna said. One of the first things her parents did was rename it The Lobster House.

“We didn’t know anything about the restaurant business,” remembered Marijane Laudeman, Keith and Donna’s mother. “That first year we had six booths with fake red leather seats, five or six tables and a counter that probably seated 12.”

“My parents really started The Lobster House,” Donna said, “They worked very, very hard. Both Mom and my Dad decorated the place. Mom shopped for antiques and, when I was older, I’d go to New York with her to shop.”

Her parents also collaborated on the signature red, white and blue sailor uniforms that the restaurant’s waitresses wear. The wait staff has worn the same outfits since The Lobster House opened.

Today, the restaurant seats 550 people, nearly 10 times the seating capacity of Bateman’s, the property’s original eatery.

The Lobster House’s dining room with its iconic checkered tablecloths

Over the years, family members have developed their own shorthand when talking about the business.

“My Dad never said, ‘I’m going to the restaurant,’” Donna recalled. “He always said he was going to the dock. To this day, Keith and I say – and I say to my children – I’ll be at the dock.’”

Wally took over the Cold Spring Fish & Supply Company, which included The Lobster House, when his father died in 1959. By then, the business consisted of the wholesale fish operation, Fisherman’s Wharf property, fish market and restaurant.

Wally ran the company for nearly 45 years, during which he added features that popularized the restaurant and helped define the business. One addition changed the landscape completely. In 1965, Wally decided to buy a fishing schooner to use as a floating cocktail lounge in the front of the restaurant. He invited Keith and Donna along on a shopping trip, where he found one.

“Keith and I flew up to Nova Scotia with Dad,” Donna recalled. “The boat was up on a railway. It was a working fishing schooner and there were mugs lying around like its crew had just left.”

The schooner, renamed the Schooner American, proved to be a popular addition to the restaurant and waterfront. The company now has a third Schooner American in its place, which was custom built much closer to home, in Tuckahoe, by Yank Marine in 2001.

Wally also added the seafood take-out in 1970 and Raw Bar in 1985. Both offerings have added versatility and appeal to the company’s restaurant operations.

The Schooner American, a cocktail lounge

Keith joined the family business full time in 1981, and worked for his father. He took over when his father died in 2004. Like his father, Keith expanded the business, adding the scallop fleet and buying Tony’s Marine Railway last year.

“Keith has stepped into Dad’s shoes really well,” Donna said. “I look up to him, almost like a Dad.”

Both Keith and Donna held a series of jobs in the company before coming aboard fulltime in their 20s. Keith sold fish, washed dishes and scrubbed the decks of the schooner. Donna worked as a set-up girl in the restaurant and sales clerk in the gift shop, but her favorite job was working on the schooner.

“When I turned 18, I was a cocktail waitress and bartender on the schooner. It was the best job of my life. We had a blast,” she said, so much so, that her father brought her inside to work as a hostess at the desk, the job she holds today.

The Raw Bar

“‘This is where I need you,’ my Dad told me. “ ‘You’re the face of the restaurant. People want to see a Laudeman,’ That made me feel really good,” she said.

Wally often stood next to his daughter at the desk, an image that has sunk deeply into her memories of him.

“My Dad always wore cashmere sweaters,” she said. “I know it sounds strange, but sometimes I smell cashmere and I know it’s him.”

Aside from providing their son and daughter with effective on-the-job training, Wally and Marijane Laudeman instilled a strong work ethic and an unwavering commitment to customer service in their offspring.

“My job is to make sure everyone leaves the restaurant happy,” Keith said.

Donna strives to create a warm and inviting atmosphere at the restaurant like she is welcoming people to her home.

Photograph courtesy of The Lobster House by Meacreations

“My Mom taught me how important it is to be nice, have fun and laugh with our guests,” she said. “I laugh a lot at work.”

The Cold Spring Fish & Supply Company and The Lobster House are icons in Cape May today, as a successful commercial business and a progressive family enterprise. Part of the company’s future was not always as certain, though.

Marijane Laudeman remembers a momentous night in 1955, when The Lobster House was less than a year old.

“I was closing up that night and counting out the money in the cash drawer; we only took cash then,” she explained. “Suddenly I realized we had $500 dollars in the cash drawer. That was a lot of money back then. It was thrilling! I remember thinking, ‘You know what? For two people who know nothing about running a restaurant, we just might make this work.’”

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Cape May Magazine.


Aftermath of Sandy

NOTE to those who would come from gas-starved northern NJ and NY….
South Jersey has no gas lines. If you can get yourself to Cape May County, you can fuel up for the return trip.

Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy has come and gone and once again the storm gods spared the tiny island of Cape May. In a telephone interview today with CapeMay.com, City Manager Bruce MacLeod attributed the good fortune to two things – the eye of the storm passing just north of us 2.5 hours in advance of high tide and wind shifts which kept tidal surges at bay.

“The eye of the storm landed,” said Macleod, “depending on who you talk to, somewhere either at Sea Isle City and Somers Point, which placed us on the southside of the hurricane, which meant the brunt of the winds were on the northern side. That is why communities north of us, like Atlantic, Ocean and Monmouth counties were walloped. The other benefit of being on the southerly side was that the winds shifted from north/northeast to westerly winds, so that when high tide came, instead of 12 to 20 foot tidal surges, which were predicted, the westerly winds blew against the north winds blocking them and we did not see the predicted massive tidal waves.”

When asked if he could put a cost on the pre-storm and recovery efforts, MacLeod said it is still too early to tell. He said all fire, police, and public works personnel were on duty the entire four days [Sunday through Wednesday] leading up to and after the storm hit.” Work crews, he said, are still trying to remove sand from Poverty Beach (at the east end of Beach Avenue) at Wilmington Avenue, where sand is still piled up blocking the egresses at that end. On Wednesday much of the city’s efforts went to removing sand from Beach Avenue at Broadway toward the Cove.

Thus far, MacLeod said the only significant damage to city property occurred at McGlade’s Restaurant “which was breached by tidal surges.”

“We are still in recovery mode,” said MacLeod, “Once clean-up has taken place, we will assess the beach for any possible erosion which may be the result of the storm. Right now it is hard to assess. Where one section of the beach may look as though it has eroded, in reality, the sand may have shifted to another section further up the beach.”

The island opened its bridges to the public Wednesday around 1 p.m. Merchants spent Wednesday taking down boards and tape from their windows and prepared to be open for business for the coming weekend.

Realtor Bill Bezaire from Coldwell Banker Real Estate, located on the Washington Street Mall, posted the following report Tuesday, based on his tour of the island:

You have probably seen all of the newscasts reporting the details of this storm on a city by city basis and the severity of these reports was troubling.

Yesterday and today I drove around Cape May when it was relatively safe to do so in order to give you a first hand accounting of the state of the City. I am happy to report that Cape May survived this storm relatively unscathed. It absolutely amazed me that our town absorbed what this hurricane threw at us with minor cuts and abrasions compared to the lacerations in towns just north of us.

That is not to say that we did not incur some damage. As of 9:30 this morning there was still standing water in the 1600 to 1800 blocks of New York and Maryland Avenues, as well as in the 200 blocks of Congress Street and Windsor Avenue, the Fow tract area and Patterson Avenue/Mt Vernon Avenue.

On Beach Drive in the 1600 block, approximately 5-6 feet of sand washed over the bulkhead and now resides on the street and on the lawns of Wilmington Beach Condos, Victorias Walk Condos, and the 2 houses to the left of those complexes. There is also a fair amount of sand on Beach Avenue in front of the Periwinkle Hotel and Ocean Club Resort as well as in front of the Rusty Nail. It actually appears as if the Rusty Nail had some interior water intrusion.

If you own a property in the “Frog Hollow” area of town, I saw approximately 3 feet of water in that area yesterday but did not revisit those areas last night during the worst tide. This morning it appears as if the water did not get much higher as the high water line on most houses ended in the front yard approaching the building or up to the first or second step of the stairway up to the houses. Unless your house was ground level in Frog Hollow, it seems safe to say that you should not have incurred any flood related damage.

The water that did flood into town from the ocean also appears to have reached no further than Maryland Avenue in East Cape May and halfway up the block at the West or south end. However, the cove beach seems to have taken a beating. It is amazing to that the Cove Restaurant is still standing – it much have taken on a lot of water and certainly a lot of wind.

During the height of the rain late yesterday and early evening, the rain water had no place to go so there was a couple of feet at every street intersecting Madison Avenue that did not already have standing ocean water -Maryland, Idaho, Cape May, Virginia and Michigan Avenues – which made it a little hairy when driving around. Tidal flood waters from the back creeks filled the streets from Washington Street to the Dry Dock on Texas Avenue. Yacht Avenue and the corner of Washington Street, where Riggins Gas Station is located, probably had 3 feet of water and was impassable. The Dry Dock parking lot was covered with water from the back creeks. Even streets in Village Greene had standing water a couple of feet deep at intersecting streets and along the curb lines.

If you were to drive around the City today you would notice a lot of leaves everywhere and limbs and branches strewn about but you would see very few uprooted or toppled trees. You would also notice some houses with gutters, siding, storm doors and the like blown off or hanging loose, but that is the exception and not the norm.

 


Sage Advice

Fresh herbs are more plentiful to the consumer than they have ever been. I remember a time when herbs resided in a kitchen cabinet. Fresh herbs can now be found in the local store and on the kitchen window sill. The difference between fresh herbs and dried is like looking at a painting of the ocean, versus sitting on the beach and absorbing it with all your senses. Dried herbs enhance food. Fresh herbs awaken the dish. Most fresh herbs bear little resemblance to their dried counterparts. There is a nuance and complexity to fresh herbs that explode onto your taste buds. This contrast is never more evident than in the use of sage. In the dried state, sage has the appearance of dryer lint and a musty flavor that scars taste buds every Thanksgiving, often the only time it emerges from the dark corners of the spice shelf.

Sage plants

Fresh sage has a grayish green hue and furry texture that implies a mystery to the senses. The aroma of sage isn’t fully revealed until you rub the leaves releasing the sweet earthy scents trapped within its pores. Sage was revered by the Romans as a medicinal herb. In the middle ages it was so prized by the Britons that it was enshrined in song as one of the four essential herbs alongside parsley, rosemary and thyme. In cooking it has been widely used for centuries in the Mediterranean providing the jump in Saltimbocca, the Italian classic translates as jump into the mouth, and is essential in sausages and poultry stuffing. The last two are the way most American palates are introduced to the flavor of sage.

Sage offers so much more to the palate than seasoning for dried bread and ground pork. One of my favorite combinations is sage and brown butter with butternut squash or roasted sugar pumpkins. The hazelnut tones of the lightly brown butter are exposed in sharp contrast to the musty sweetness of the aromas and flavors exposed when sage’s essential oil are released. These flavors are bridged by the caramel earth tones of winter squash like butternut, acorn or pumpkin. This symphony for the senses makes a wonderful side dish as a vegetable, or mixed in risotto. The squash can be mashed or pureed and used as a platform for braised or roasted meats. A favorite first course for a fall menu is seared scallops on a pumpkin puree with sage and brown butter.

It is of little wonder that sage has become a synonym for wise and knowledgeable as these are the attributes of the cook who can incorporate the unique qualities of sage into their repertoire. This month discover what ancient cultures knew about sage with these recipes for Saltimbocca, Seared Scallop on Sugar Pumpkin Puree with Sage and Brown Butter and Sage and Butternut Squash Risotto. Until next month, Bon Appétit. 

Chicken Saltimbocca

(Serves 4)

  • 4 6-oz. chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsps. marsala wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 Tbsps. olive oil
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Top each breast with two sage leaves, then top with prosciutto slices.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and lightly pound with meat mallet on both sides.
  4. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil.
  5. Sauté chicken in oil , prosciutto side down. Sauté 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown remove to platter and keep warm in oven.
  6. Lower heat on pan and deglaze with marsala. Scrape pan with wooden spoon.
  7. Add stock and reduce by half.
  8. Season with lemon juice and pour over chicken.

Scallops over Sugar Pumpkin Puree with Sage and Brown Butter

(Serves 4 – as a first course)

  • 1 sugar pumpkin, split and seeded
  • 4 u-8 scallops
  • 8 -10 sage leaves, thinly julienned
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt & white pepper
  • 7 Tbsps. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
  1. For puree, split and seed pumpkin.
  2. Roast flesh, side down at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
  3. Cool slightly. Scrape pumpkins and puree with 3 Tbsps butter, salt and white pepper to taste.
  4. In sauté pan, heat oil, sear scallops 4 minutes per side.
  5. Place on plate on top of pumpkin puree.
  6. In same pan, heat butter over medium heat until it starts to foam and brown immediately.
  7. Add sage and lemon juice. Spoon lightly over scallops.

Sage and Butternut Squash Risotto

(Serves 4)

  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash puree
  • 3 Tbsps chopped sage
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup grated locatelli cheese
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 Tbsps. olive oil
  1. In deep sauté pan, heat oil on medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion. Sweat until softened.
  3. Add rice. Coat with oil and lightly toast.
  4. Ladle hot stock over rice until it is covered. Stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed. Repeat until rice is al dente.
  5. Add squash puree. Stir well.
  6. Incorporate butter, cheese and sage season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.