Friday, May 26, 2017

Sprucing up for the season's start!

Noon, Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, and the town is hopping. There's excitement and a touch of panic in the air as everyone does their last minute spit and polish before the Grand Opening of the Summer Season. In some cases, this is literally true, as a couple of our newest merchants in Southampton Village are putting the finishing touches on their summer pop up shops -- Sydney and I passed one merchant who was installing their sign! Our funny weather (overcast but warm) means that clothing on the shoppers runs the gamut between jeans, boots, and scarves to shorts and flip flops. No one knows what the weekend will bring, but everyone's hopeful for some sunshine!

Chris and I have been putting our own spit-shine on A Butler's Manor, with some exciting changes of our own. First: Goose Creek has gotten a makeover...and now features a KING bed! A little creative work with the wardrobe has allowed us to add a little seating area to the room. What do you think?



Secondly: Check out the new layout of our dining room!

And a fun little change: We've updated the nameplates on the doors to reflect bit more of a "butler" feel (think Downton Abbey). When you visit, take a picture in the hat and post it to Instagram and hashtag us! #abutlersmanor #bowlerized

So that's the news as we begin the Summer of 2017! Watch this space for some other changes to come -- or better yet, book now and experience them in person!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Where to find those "Stately Home & Garden" Tours in the Hamptons

It always feels like High Spring when the cherry trees are in bloom.  Chris is busy putting in all sorts of vegetables, while Sydney crashes through the bushes on squirrel patrol.They are both sooooo happy to be out in the garden.

I was talking to our guest Karen today who wondered if there were any houses or gardens that were open to the public, like the mansion tours you find in Newport, RI. (Or the Downton Abbey tours of Highclere Castle in Berkshire, England.) Sadly, that's not a Hamptons thing; all the houses that aren't historical properties are in private hands, and the only time you'll find them open to the public is for a charitable cause.
With one exception! THIS FRIDAY, May 12, is National Public Gardens Day, and therefore, three of the most beautiful public gardens in our area are offering a free one-hour guided tour. The participating gardens are Bridge Gardens (Bridgehampton)--10:30 AM, Madoo Conservancy  (Sagaponack)--1:00 PM, and Long House Reserve (East Hampton)--3:00 PM.

As to those tours for charitable causes, there are a few of them coming up:

Saturday, June 3: The Southampton Historical Museum's "Insider's Tour" of private homes in Southampton's finest neighborhoods runs between 1:00-4:00 PM, followed by a champagne reception at the Museum's Rogers Mansion. Tickets are $95 in advance, $110 on the day of the tour. For info or to purchase tickets, call 631.283.2494 or visit  southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org

Saturday and Sunday, June 10 & 11: Parrish Art Museum's "Landscape Pleasures" weekend kicks off with a Saturday morning symposium, followed by Sunday's self-guided garden tour of East End gardens and properties. Tickets for the two-day event start at $175 and may be purchased by calling 631-283-2118, ext. 133, or visiting parrishart.org

Saturday, June 17: Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF)'s 31st Annual Garden Tour will feature a self-guided tour of 6+ gardens around East Hampton. Tickets are $85 for the tour, or $175 which includes a pre-tour cocktail party on Friday, June 16, at a private residence. Tickets are available by calling 631-537-0400 or visiting arfhamptons.org

Friday, July 7: Join the annual Friends of John Jermain Library house tour of area home in Sag Harbor between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Tickets are $45 in advance, $50 the day of the tour. More info: 631-725-1396.

Friday, July 14: Westhampton Performing Arts Center's annual house and garden tour and luncheon at the Westhampton Beach Country Club from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM features homes in Westhampton, Quogue, and East Quogue. Tickets are $85 (tour only) or $125 (including the luncheon). Call 631-288-2350 for tickets, or visit whbpac.org.

So grab your idea sketchbook and your garden party hat and make your plans now to come visit us at A Butler's Manor. Take a tour and benefit one of our great causes, then return and spend all the time you like in our English garden, without the crowds...we'll have the tea ready for you!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happiest in the Hamptons--Spring!

Early spring is always such a tough call. The weather may be clear and cool, as it was earlier this week, or it can be drizzly and chilly, as it was today. Or sometimes, we even get a heat wave! In our first year of operation, 2002, we were serving breakfast in the garden this week because temps had spiked to near 80 degrees.

It was the first day of the Spring Sidewalk Sale in Southampton Village, and the merchants on Main and Job's Lane gamely battled the periodic drizzle. Thankfully, the weather seems poised to clear tonight, so that tomorrow's Sidewalk Sale should be a warmer experience! Saw this cute display of merchandise on a recent walk down Main Street, Southampton. Bet this line will sell out fast!

In the meantime, our wood burning fireplace is creating a great place to return to after exploring the area.

Got word of an article just published in Architectural Digest that listed nine of America's most beautiful golf coursesAt the top of the list, of course, is Augusta National in Georgia, where the annual Master's Tournament was recently held. But how gratifying is it to learn that THREE of the remaining eight courses are located right here in the HamptonsShinnecock Hills Golf Club and National Golf Links, next door to each other here in Southampton, and The Bridge in Bridgehampton. Pretty impressive! (And no, sadly, we don't have an in at any of them to get a tee time, alas.)

Chris and I are busy planting, painting, and rearranging to add new touches to A Butler's Manor. In the next few weeks, look for some tweaks in our dining room, Goose Creek, and Villefranche. Watch this space for details!

And here's our new take on the doors to our rooms, playing up our butlering background. Fans of Downton Abbey will recognize the ubiquitous bowler worn by the venerable Mr. Carson. Make sure you take a selfie in the bowler hat when you visit! Extra credit for posting it to Instagram and or Facebook! #abutlersmanor #bowlerized 

This past Wednesday, I had an opportunity to demonstrate some of our signature breakfast dishes at Rogers Memorial Library. The theme I chose was entrees that can be prepared the night before and baked off in the morning. We featured one savory dish and one sweet dish, and our Raisin Bran Muffins. Chris came along to serve out the samples and charm everyone and generally play magician's assistant. It was a lot of fun!

Speaking of creativity in the kitchen, I've been having some fun making some breakfasts I can only really do when the house isn't full...menus that are just too labor-intensive for a full house. This is what was on the menu this morning: Orange Ebelskivers --a filled pancake--with fresh strawberries and Nutella...looks yummy, no? One of the perks of offseason visits!!


Spring is a great time to explore the Hamptons and the North Fork before the crowds get here, and where you stay is an important part of your Hamptons experience. Click here to check out our available rooms. 

Hope to see you soon!





Friday, April 7, 2017

Welcoming Spring 2017!

We opened for the 2017 Season this week. It's early Spring, and that always makes us excited for the new experiences to come. I'm looking at paint chips and ideas for the guest rooms, while the garden has had its spring cleaning, and Chris is happily planning and planting.  He's got himself a little temporary greenhouse in which to start his seedlings, which should be an improvement on previous years when flats occupied floor space all over the office until size and weather permitted their replanting outdoors.
Beginnings of the vegetable garden!

Sydney and Kim in Palm Springs, en route back to the Manor

You'll find a new addition to the staff at A Butler's Manor: Chris and I adopted a dog over the winter. Her name is Sydney, and she's four years old, rescued from a shelter in Mexico! She's probably some mix of breeds, but she's definitely of the hunter class (perhaps Nova Scotia Duck Toller Retriever?) because she is a sweet, mellow little girl...until she goes outside.And then -- if it moves, she chases it. With Sydney on patrol, we should have far fewer squirrels and rabbits in the garden. (Chris figures she earns all her goodies just for that service.)

The first guests of our new season were a lovely couple from the Philly area. John Stango is an artist and he's out here to transition between galleries. His work is fairly large in scale, so the art dealer met them here in the living room to inspect his canvasses. They are fun, bright pop-art pieces and he joked that we could redecorate the Manor with them. What do you think?





In other news, it's always interesting watching transformations in the village. To that end, we're scheduled to try out one of the latest restaurant changes tomorrow night: Job's Lane Gastropub, a completely new endeavor by Billy Oster, who has operated the prime corner of Windmill Lane and Job's Lane as Tuscan House for the past 13 years.  Gastropub promises to offer the best of the Tuscan House plus "Euro-American pub fare." Watch this space for the report!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Butler, Butlers Brand, and how to peek into one of Those Houses

Just saw that I last blogged in mid June. Whoa. Summer sure has a way of getting away from me (which is probably the opposite of how our guests feel, i.e., getting away for the summer).

But here's a taste of what the summer sky looked like last week:


So under the heading of What's New and Exciting: In addition to welcoming awesome guests from near and far, Chris has been active in a new venture called Butlers Brand Concentrated Cleaning Solutions.
The butler on the set
The company was founded by former butler colleagues who saw the need for a completely scent-free, non-chemical, yet highly effective green cleaning product to be used in the estates of the rich and famous...and in the homes of the hoi polloi (that's the rest of us). Chris is a spokesperson for the product, helping to launch it at a "soft opening" about a year ago at the DEMA (Domestic Estate Managers Association) conference in Florida, and contributing blog material, tips, and expertise.

At the Farmer's Market last Sunday
We've been using Butlers Brand Universal Cleaner at A Butler's Manor for over a year now. Admittedly, our housekeepers were wary of a product that didn't have any odor ("how can you tell it's clean if it doesn't smell like [bleach, PineSol, Murphy's Wood Soap, Lysol--name your poison]?") and so we eased into the change by adding a couple drops on doTerra "On Guard" essential oil. The universal cleaner, which comes with a wonderful, heavy duty aluminum spray cannister, is great on hard surfaces such as granite, marble, tile, wood, and stainless steel.

Due to a recent media request for information and video content, Chris spent much of this past Thursday in front of a video camera, shooting short segments about cleaning and maintaining a well-run, healthy home. While some of the shoot took place here in our gardens, much of it took place at the Hamptons Designer Showhouse, shown above. (Yeah, I WISH I had that kitchen too.)  I'm looking forward to seeing the completed videos, and will post them when they're up. Exciting! 

Butlers Brand has launched its website with online ordering capabilities and has so far debuted the product locally. If you're visiting, it's available at Fork & Rosethe Southampton Chamber of Commerce Farmer's Market, and here at A Butler's Manor.

Coastal Living Showhouse, Junior Master Bath
Speaking of showhouses! With all the usual activities that people visit the Hamptons for in the summer, this is one that might get overlooked since it's an indoor activity. (Perfect for that odd overcast day!) For those of us who would love to take a peek into some of the estates here and see how the other half live, a few hours spent wandering through the rooms of a showhouse is about as close as you can come without an invitation to cocktails behind the hedges. And this year there are two showhouses to drool over, both located around Sag Harbor. 

The annual Hamptons Designer Showhouse, which benefits Southampton Hospital, features a cadre of talented designers and decorators who each take a room or a space and transform it. (It is now all the cleaner for having the Butlers Brand crew visit it.) 

The second, which we had an opportunity to sneak off and see the other (rainy) day, is sponsored by Coastal Living Magazine. Unlike the Designer Showhouse, Coastal Living Showhouse's team has coordinated their decorating efforts under one designer to produce a more harmonious finished product that looks all of a piece. (Theme, of course, is beach house.) One of the takeaways? Wallpaper is back in vogue...
Coastal Living Showhouse, Master Bedroom

Coastal Living Showhouse, Kitchen
 Meanwhile back at the ranch... Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, Italian peppers and rhubarb are in full swing in the vegetable garden, so I'm making much use of all of them when planning menus. Our neighbor across the street has taken to putting up a small table of his excess produce with a little sign inviting people to take some...free...but take only what you need. Sweet!






Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ready for my close up, part 3: The result!

We had a pretty crazy week here at A Butler's Manor, and thus it slipped my mind that this was the week when the segment "East End Bed & Bites" on the Fios1 show Restaurant Hunters: Long Island would go live. Then this afternoon I was checking in some repeat guests, a sweet couple from upIsland, who said "Hey! I turned on the TV yesterday and saw Chris!" -- and I had to run off and find the finished product of the filming that took place a few weeks ago.



I truly didn't expect that we would have much more than a mention, so am thrilled with the episode!

Here it is!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ready for my close up: part 2

Update on the shoot for "Bed and Bites," the episode of "Restaurant Hunters" on Fios 1 New York that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

Thursday, April 14: Day Of.

The garden has had its full Spring clean up and the pool is even open. The sky is a bright cloudless blue, so the flowers in bloom look all the more wonderful. It should make great establishing shots, as they say in the biz.  


In the kitchen, we've decided to feature our Zucchini/Cheddar Blintzes with Cherry Sauce, because a) they're different, b) the dish is colorful and should look good on the plate, and c) it is really freakin' yummy, so much so that I am glad there are almost never any leftovers when I make them. 

I agonized over how much to prepare in advance. While the segment is all about food, it isn't a cooking show, per se. So I didn't figure I needed to have all the pre-measured ingredients in little ramekins like on the Food Network that you hold up and say "Add two tablespoons of chopped garlic..." 

On the other hand, grating a zucchini by hand doesn't make for very scintillating TV. 

(Okay, you ask, why not use a food processor? After all, the Barefoot Contessa does. Answer in general: The recipe calls for a cup each of the cheese and zucchini, not a quantity that generally requires my hauling out the Cuisinart. Answer specific to today: Because unlike Ina's kitchen, we don't have electrical outlets on our kitchen island, so using a machine would mean I turn into a wall to work. I'm telling you, this is the sort of stuff that I worry about.)

Just in case, though, I did have my blintz filling and my grated ingredients prepared and pre-measured. And it's a good thing I did, because the Fios team was really pressed for time. In only 2-1/2 hours, they had to set up, shoot bits of the whole house and garden, interview Chris about the origins of our name, do the cooking segment, eat, and tear down. Had I chosen to feature an entree that required baking (which is most of my reperoire), I'd have had to do the Martha Stewart voilĂ - instant-food move of assembling the dish, putting it in the oven, then turning and taking an already-finished perfectly cooked version out of another oven. 

Because the blintzes are filled, rolled and sauced just before serving, it's a good choice for show and tell.  For the same reason, it's something I tend to make off season or midweek if we don't have a full house.

I think it went well. Host Amanda Price and camera wizard Danielle raved over the cherry-sauced blintzes (when they finally got to eat them). But I admit to being nervous about being observed under the microscope, so to speak, while preparing the food. Especially under the tight time constraints. I've decided I'm NOT auditioning for a food show in my next life.

I'm not sure when the episode will air; watch this space for updates. But in the meantime, here's the (simple!) recipe I prepared on camera, which can also be found in A Butler's Manor: The Cookbook.. It is very yum, if I do say so myself.

ZUCCHINI-CHEDDAR BLINTZES 


4-5 servings; 2 blintzes each

1 cup baking mix or pancake mix
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup grated zucchini (about half a medium squash)
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp. vanilla

Filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 oz.  vanilla Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Sauce 
1 cup cherry preserves (I like Bonne Maman), warmed up

Combine filling ingredients until smooth; set aside.

In large bowl, combine zucchini, cheese, pancake mix, milk, vanilla & egg with a wire whisk; mix thoroughly. 

Drop batter by quarter-cupfuls (blintzes will be about 4” diameter) onto a lightly-oiled preheated griddle. Turn over when blintzes began to dry along edges. Cook approx 2 minutes longer, then transfer to a warm plate. (Mix will make approx. 10 pancakes.)

Spread a thick coat of cream cheese on each blintz and roll up. Top with warmed preserves.