On the morning of Bobo’s annual colonial food fest at Apple Butter Farm, Max and I were staying with him and Cutlass. We woke to the heady smells of bacon frying, bread baking and coffee brewing.
“Smells divine,” Max said, breathing deeply.
I fluffed the pillows and smoothed the quilt on the bed. “Pace yourself, dear. It’s going to be a jam-packed day in more ways than one.”
In the kitchen, Bobo and Cutlass twirled in a whirl of cheerful activity.
We woke to the heady smells of bacon frying, bread baking and coffee brewing.
“Help yourselves to breakfast,” Bobo said over his shoulder, pointing to a table laden with oven fresh bread slices, a stack of buttermilk pancakes, fried ham, crisp bacon, baked apples, jars of honey and homemade jam and a large pot of coffee. “Hope you slept well. Today’s the big event.”
Bobo was at the sink, a tin tub stuffed with flowers on his right and a phalanx of vases on his left. In true colonial fashion, he styled casual bouquets of hydrangeas, sunflowers, roses, peonies, graceful grasses and leafy branches in pewter tankards, sponge ware pitchers, stone ware pots, copper basins.
Bobo said, “I’ve decided to have the party on the lawn. I’ve ordered the perfect day and it’s just arrived.”
As quickly as Bobo filled the vases, Cutlass hurried them into the garden placing them on small round tables swathed in calico. Five ladder-back chairs circled each of six tables, tucked in among bushes and sheltered by trees. Sun filtered through, dappling the scene with light. The air smelled fresh from last night’s rain and the sky shone a clear, unclouded blue.
Colonial ditties played on fiddles, flutes, fifes, recorders and harpsichords floated through the air on the sound system.
Max and I picked at the sumptuous breakfast, saving our selves for the main event.
At one o’clock, guests started filtering in. After welcoming hugs and air kisses, they were invited to the buffet. The laden table buckled under the food – a cauldron of roasted vegetable soup, a platter of pan fried crab cakes, vine ripened tomato salad, pan seared brook trout, a rack of lamb, Dutch style turkey pot pie bursting with root vegetables under a cheddar biscuit crust, a platter of prime ribs served with horseradish sauce, a huge bowl of mashed potatoes with melted butter and chives, corn pudding, a heap of rosemary and sage rubbed roasted Cornish game hens, game pie stuffed with venison, rabbit and duck, fat squares of cornbread, buttermilk biscuits.
I’m sure there was more but I can’t recall. I was on sensory overload.
A well-dressed woman dripping in pearls stood over the table eyeing the food, big smile on her face. She introduced herself as Gert. “Just yummy!” she said. “Can’t wait to get started!” Soon her plate was brimming with tasty offerings. I filled my own plate and sat beside her at a table next to the gurgling stream. Gert lost no time in savoring each morsel.
Bobo, rushing by, leaned over me whispering in my ear. He rolled his eyes toward Gert. “Be nice to her. She’s the heiress to the biggest commercial baking company in the Northeast. She redecorates each of three houses every few years and I’m her guru!” He sprinted away.
Cutlass offered champagne.
A tall distinguished man dressed in white linen pants, shirt, and straw fedora approached our table and asked, “May I join you ladies?”
Oooooooooo! An English accent! I would swoon if he read me the ingredients on a box of cornflakes.
I said, “You must be the food critic from Flower and Garden Magazine!”
He put his plate on our table and unfurled a napkin. He introduced himself as Herbert. What a delightful companion. And he looked like Colin Firth’s twin!
I asked, “Are you here on business or pleasure?”
“Business,” he said, taking a sip of champagne. “I’m supposed to make the British people wish they’d never lost the Revolutionary War. Marvelous food here!”
I glanced Max’s way. The chairs at his table were occupied. He looked at me, smiled, held up his hands and shrugged. Cutlass had introduced the famous Max Saltwater. Conversation at his table seemed directed toward him. I’m sure the attention put Max in a good mood along with his plate of scrumptious food.
A couple sat down with us and introduced themselves but, frankly, I didn’t catch their names. It was too late. We all ate and ate and ate. Champagne flowed. It became a symphony of conversation and laughter. Soon, I was comatose with rich food.
Late in the afternoon, a hush fell over the guests. Bees buzzed around. The stream babbled. Wind rustled the leaves. The scent of the peonies on our table sweetened the air. I thought I heard soft snoring. My eyes were closed. Maybe it was me.
At some point, the entrees were removed and like magic, the table was now a dessert buffet.
I smelled the heady fragrance of coffee. The table was laden with rich desserts: jam filled tarts, bread pudding with brandy spiked custard sauce, pecan pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie decorated with pastry stars, gingerbread squares with whipped cream.
Twilight fell. Bobo and Cutlass lit candles in pierced tin holders. Fireflies flitted like tiny lanterns. After dinner aperitifs in decanters were placed on the tables along with small, stemmed glasses.
This was only one of the many parties I remember at Apple Butter Farm. And I will be forever grateful to Bobo and Cutlass. What a lovely gift to give – a wonderful memory!