Thursday, March 24, 2011

Alexandra the Great

I have an enchantingly beautiful friend who is not quite of this era… let me re-phrase. She’s hip, in touch and owns a fabulous pair of over-the-knee boots. However, 18th century blood courses through her veins.
She has a closet filled to the brim with sumptuous 18th and 19th century garments, which she wears whenever an opportunity arises (and sometimes just for folly). I have been lucky enough to be included in a few of her dinner parties where she painstakingly re-creates and hand-writes menus from the Georgian and Victorian periods, going to great lengths to source ingredients which might have been commonplace then, but are practically extinct today. Recently, she and a few kindred spirits, put their heads together and decided to host a Georgian banquet at her gorgeous house in historic Bolton Hill. Alexandra, as she is known, concocted the menu from historic recipe books, many of the courses circa 1745.
One of the guests – a be-medalled Naval Captain – played sommelier, pairing each course with the perfect choice of wines, culminating in a heavenly 10-year old Blandy’s Madeira Malmsey. Another ravishingly good looking and wildly entertaining guest indulged us by bringing along highlights of his silver, a collection guaranteed to send the Queen into minor orbit. Taking pride of place were dessert spoons made in 1850 by Samuel Kirk in Baltimore for one Jerome Bonaparte (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, and son of the infamous Betsy Patterson Bonaparte) resplendent with the Bonaparte coat of arms engraved on the handles.
More than a dinner party, this is the epitome of living life richly with utmost pomp and ceremony. In Alexandra’s own words: “Imagine Oyster Stew from a 1745 recipe served with an 18th-century Annapolis-made ladle. Oh, I am getting a little choked up…”
Oh, I did. On several occasions.
Tile detail on Mantel
Alexandra and I
Almond Pudding (1745)
Stew of Shrimp (1745)
Apple Cider Jelly in Cognac
Dessert Wine
More of the wine selection
Côtes du Rhône
Peanut Soup with Cranberry Sauce and Lardons
The Table
Empty punch bowl
Sweet Lamb Pie (1745)
Roast Chicken
Our fine Sommelier
The hosts – Kyle and Alexandra
George II Master Salt Cellar (1747)
Sauce Ladle, ca. 1830 (Philadelphia – Bailey and Kitchen)
Photographer and Contributor: Philippa Berrington-Blew

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