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Month: December 2012

Local Wines and Local Chef Featured at the James Beard Annual New Year’s Eve Dinner

Brush with Greatness Alert!!

Break out the Champagne and the poodle skirts, because tonight you’re going to party like it’s 1959. Chef Geoff Johnson, who is known for his eclectic menu at Copper Fish on Broadway in historic Cape May, will be re-creating a few dishes from the vast 1959 winter menu from the Four Seasons that James Beard himself helped conceive.

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Cheff Geoff Johnson

As you foodies know – tonight is the James Beard Annual New Year’s Eve dinner at the late chef and food writer’s home in Manhattan. Cape May wines and only Cape May wines will be served.

Here’s the menu and you too MIGHT be able to still get a reservation. Cost to members of the James Beard Foundation $200/ General Public $250. Dinner is served at 9 p.m. For reservations call 212-627-2308.

Menu

Hors d’Oeuvre

Applewood-Smoked Salmon with Red Onion Marmalade, Anchovy–Caper Rémoulade, and Baby Cucumbers

Swordfish Ceviche with Winter Vegetable Confit

Country-Style Pâté with Mustard Aïoli

Prosciutto, Bosc Pear, and Chive Crêpes

A fine sparkling wine will be served during this reception.

Dinner

Bisque Duo > Maine Lobster Bisque and Roasted Winter Vegetable Bisque with Duck Confit
Hawk Haven Chardonnay 2010

Barnegat Light Dayboat Scallops with Oaxacan-Spiced Chayote Purée, Chorizo, and Blood Orange Reduction
Natali Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2006

War of the Lobster > Monkfish Medallion and Butter-Poached Maine Lobster with Crimson Split Pea Pilaf and Carrot–Saffron Jus
Natali Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Plank Steak au Poivre with Bone Marrow Broth, Wild Mushrooms, and Cape May Sea Salt Oyster
Jessie Creek Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Irish Coffee–Valrhona Chocolate Marquise with Hazelnuts and Spun Sugar
Traditional Champagne Toast


Couple gets engaged at Cape May’s Emlen Physick Estate

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Pictured Here: Staff members at the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) were in on the secret prior to Mike Wulster, 24, right, of South River, N.J., asking Michelle Gallagher, 23, left, of Staten Island, N.Y., to marry him. Shown here, after the proposal, the newly engaged couple celebrates the moment at the gazebo on the Emlen Physick Estate, 1048 Washington St., Cape May, on Saturday, Dec. 15, with visitors to the Estate and MAC staff sharing in the excitement. MAC Director of Visitor Services and Special Events Janice Coyle helped Wulster coordinate his plan weeks in advance, which included placing a sign created by MAC Marketing and Publications Director Jean Barraclough inside the gazebo prior to their arrival, asking, “Michelle, Will You Marry Me?” After the couple took a tour of the Physick Estate, Wulster guided Gallagher into the gazebo, got down on one knee, and popped the question, to which she enthusiastically answered “yes.” They met at Middlesex County College, where they both studied radiology; she now works in Manhattan and he works in Toms River. They have been dating for three years and enjoy visits to Cape May. The Emlen Physick Estate is a beautiful setting for engagements, engagement parties and weddings. The Carriage House Café & Tearoom is available for catering of parties and weddings both on- and off-site. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC) is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all. For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at capemaymac.org. (Photo courtesy MAC)


Places to be on New Year’s Eve

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Coming to Cape May for the holidays? Cape May is open. Come on down and enjoy the quiet, festive atmosphere of a seashore small town that really knows how to celebrate. Let us give you a few suggestions on where to ring in the New Year.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Cape May

So, you’ve checked into your favorite hotel or B&B or guest house and you are looking for some place to celebrate the New Year. Never fear. The New Year’s Eve celebrations are plentiful. They range from the glitz Glitter Ball at Congress Hall’s Ballroom, which is already sold out, to the more sedate, but très élégante Peter Shield Inn. So, let’s take a closer look.

Even if you have missed your chance to ring in 2013 at Congress Hall’s Glitter Ball, you can hang out in the lovely Brown Room and enjoy cocktails there until your dinner reservations at the Blue Pig are ready and then travel downstairs to the Boiler Room, where you can keep the part going all night long. The Boiler Room opens its doors at 9:30 and stays open until 2 a.m. Enjoy the vintage guitar sounds of the Billy D. Trio. For details call 1-888-944-1816 or 884-8422 or visit congresshall.com.

Over on Jackson Street, both the Ebbitt Room, in the Virginia Hotel, and the Mad Batter Restaurant at the Carroll Villa will be hosting New Year’s Eve celebrations.

At the Ebbitt Room enjoy a delicious three-course dinner of your choice hand-crafted by Chef Anthony Micari and delight in the music of live entertainment by pianist Paul Sottile, Jr. Dinner is $75 per person at the early seating (5:30-7:30 p.m.) and $95 per person at the 8-10 p.m. seating. To reserve, call 609.884.5700.

The Mad Batter is serving an extensive menu which offers a four-course dinner, priced at $75 per person, then dance to your heart’s content to the music of Jim Doran. For reservations call 884-5970.

Step one street over to Decatur. The Pilot House, at the corner of Decatur and Carpenters Lane, will feature music by the Open Mic crew which can usually be heard at the P.H. on Friday nights. It’s a great diversity of talent.

At the Merion Inn, right down the street, former piano accompanist for Roberta Flack, Barry Miles, will play until the wee hours of the morning. The Merion offers several seatings for all the family to enjoy beginning at 4:30, otherwise known as the kid-friendly seating. Adults order a la carte from the specially prepared New Year’s Eve menu and kids enjoy a two-course menu for $25. Second seating is at 7 p.m., $85 per person and the final seating is at 9:30 p.m., $95 person. Party hats and noisemakers complimentary. For reservations call 884-8363 or visit merioninn.com.

On the east end of town, Peters Shields Inn (PSI) will offer dinner and live music. Two seatings: 5:30-7:15, $95 per person; and 7:30 at $130 per person. The prix fixe menu includes selections which range from caviar for starters to butter-poached lobster. For reservations call 884-9090 to peek at the menu visit petershieldsinn.com.

Along the beach front, Cabanas, at the corner of Decatur Street and Beach Avenue is touting a “No worries New Year’s Eve” party. You can pick your party. Chooses are: Party One: $25 open bar from 9 p.m. to midnight. Party Two is a $10 cover to get in with a cash bar. Live entertainment will be performed by Doc Hollywood. Tickets can be purchased at Cabanas or online at shopcabanasonthebeach.com.

Marq’s Pub, located in the Marquis de Lafayette Hotel on Beach Avenue, is offering a New Year’s Eve package for $55 per person which includes buffet dinner with preferred seating beginning at 7 p.m., live entertainment by Blondage, cash bar, toast and party favors. Show only is $25 per person beginning at 8:30 p.m. For reservations call 884-3500.

The Ugly Mug up on the Washington Street Mall always has a lively band and some tasty treats.

So that wraps it up. Plenty to do. Always plenty to see and then there’s that beach and those sunsets. Have a great time and Happy New Year!


Their Favorite Things

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Text by Linda Fowler

You check into a high-end hotel where the owner – say Donald Trump or one of the Hiltons – shows up to extend a personal welcome. After sharing some family anecdotes and a few laughs, the hotelier suggests a private tour of his establishment’s source of pride, whether it be the skytop suite or the multimillion-dollar wine cellar.

Lucille and Dennis of the Dormer House

Lucille and Dennis of the Dormer House with their stained-glass window.

Dream on: This kind of camaraderie doesn’t occur at luxe lodgings. But it does, in a sense, at the humbler B&B. A treasured attraction fancied by guests and tourists, such as an heirloom or striking architectural element, is an innkeeper’s rendition of a show-stopper – and cause for conversation.

In Cape May, it could be the antique Wedgwood china at the John Wesley Inn; a 1911 wedding gown preserved at the John F. Craig House, or the Dormer House’s stained-glass window depicting the movements of the sun. Dormer House owner Lucille Doherty says the window even catches the eye of horse-and-carriage guides, who point to it during excursions along Franklin Street.

“There certainly are plenty of inns that feature photos or other family-oriented artwork,” says Jay Karen, president and CEO of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International in Haddon Heights. “They might be on the walls, in the stairwell or in other common areas for guests to enjoy.”

By collecting and inheriting unique items through the years, B&B proprietors are like curators of their own mini-museums, and prize certain acquisitions. Cape May Magazine asked four inn owners to play show-and-tell with their favorite things:

Naughty and nice

Sandy Miller

Sandy Miller and a bisque bathing girl figurine

Sandy Miller, owner of the Windward House on Jackson Street, suspects the scantily-clad diving-girl figurines inside her curio cabinets are tipsy. “I think these girls drink at night,” she observes. “Once in a while I come upstairs and they’ve fallen over.”

Not surprisingly, some depict flappers from the Twenties. Her bisque bathing beauties, also known as “naughties,” became popular collectibles in the years following the death of Queen Victoria, when the strict code of etiquette loosened like an unhooked corset. Meticulously painted, some complete with minuscule fingernails and teeth, these beach babes frequently had real hair and dainty maillot swimsuits of lace and other fabrics.

“They were giveaways,” explains the blue-eyed, silver-haired proprietor. “If you went to a store and bought a set of furniture, when you left the store they always gave you a present, sort of like Cracker Jack, to encourage you to come back and buy more. … It was a very good marketing tool at the time.”

Ranging in size from a few inches to a foot or more, the poised figures fill two display cases and are so numerous that Miller has lost count. The array is the main draw during tours of the inn.
“I always say, ‘We have some guest rooms open on the second floor if you’d like to see them,’” Miller remarks about open-house attendees. “Sometimes they’re older and they don’t want to climb the stairs; they just want to sit. I always entice them and say,” [here she clears her throat] “ ‘In case you don’t want to go upstairs, you’re going to miss out on a wonderful collection. It’s my husband’s collection of Victorian pornography.’ Then they all go, ‘Oh, wow!’ and run upstairs.”
For Miller, the collection’s value is overwhelmingly sentimental. She and her husband, Owen, began shopping for the girls and mermaids, as well as era-complementary artwork, in the mid-’80s. After Owen’s death in 1991, she purchased her largest “nudie” in his memory and for all to see: a statue of a long-haired nymph who holds a scallop shell and graces the Windward’s front garden.

Cradle of liberty

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The butternut cradle at the Henry Sawyer Inn

Thanks to a visit to Cape May by a vacationing couple from Denver, the Henry Sawyer Inn on Columbia Avenue became the new home for a baby cradle carved by Thomas Lincoln, whose son would one day grow up to be President.

“They had amazing things,” Barbara Morris remembers of Miles and Joan Fairchild’s 1992 stay, “and their only daughter wasn’t interested in antiques. They bought the cradle at auction in the Midwest when they were first married… and they had it authenticated through the carver’s markings.

“They said to us, ‘We’d like to have it someplace where it could be more accessible to the public,’” continues Morris, who owns the Henry Sawyer with her mother, Mary. “And they asked us if we would like to have it. We said, ‘Oh, of course.’”

The butternut cradle, believed to have been built around 1800 in Kentucky, converts to a small crib when its rockers are removed. Indentations near the finials suggest it was originally outfitted for a canopy. Its mattress had to be replicated.

The Henry Sawyer was built in 1877 as a residence for Eldridge Johnson, a dozen years after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Visitors today, especially children, are still “always thrilled” to see an object associated with the Great Emancipator, says Morris, who is a professor of English and speech at St. John’s University in Queens, New York.

“I think it’s just a very special part of history,” she adds. “And, as such, it’s something that you cherish.”

Stair case

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The chimney staircase at the Victorian Lace Inn. [source: victorianlaceinn.com]

The “chimney staircase” at the Victorian Lace Inn on Stockton Avenue, when viewed upward from the ground floor, calls to mind the surreal images of M.C. Escher or the floating steps of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But it’s a lot more practical than fantastical.

This quirky architectural innovation was an advanced heating and cooling system for summering Victorians. Placed strategically at the center of the home, with two fireplaces on each level and a window on every landing, the staircase functioned as a chimney by creating a draft.

“It wasn’t exactly an air-conditioning system, but it did ventilate the house quite efficiently,” says engineer and architect Andy O’Sullivan, who owns the circa 1869 inn with his wife, Carrie. In addition, second-floor bedrooms had a louvered door and solid wood door installed on the same jamb so the original occupants, the McIlvaines of Philadelphia, could further control the air flow.
O’Sullivan put his expertise to work some 14 years ago by designing an addition and modernizing the mechanical system and duct work; that meant replacing the staircase windows with hand-crafted, stained-glass light panels bearing the family crest and Irish motifs. Hanging at the pinnacle of the 34 steps, three floors up, is a light fixture resembling a starburst.

When the inn was chosen by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC) to be part of a restoration tour, Carrie O’Sullivan recalls, MAC scouts had difficulty identifying where the commingled addition and other renovations began and ended.

“It’s the only one we know of in town,” says Andy proudly about the couple’s architectural oddity. He gestures to a bench in the entrance foyer, set at the bottom of the stairwell. “One of the fun things is to let people sit there and look up.” historic-endmark