By Nancy Armitage
Happy Birthday George Washington! The Huntington family were very patriotic people & they appreciated the work of our very 1st U.S. President. They were all very proud to be American, very grateful for their freedoms in the United States of America. Their Huntington’s ancestor, Samuel Huntington, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Samuel Huntington was a lawyer, Governor of Connecticut, & the President of the Continental Congress. Samuel Huntington knew George Washington & their were many letters shared between the two men. The Huntington family was very proud of that fact. H. E. Huntington & C. P. Huntington both were in numerous genealogy clubs & societies, like New England Society of NY, Society of Colonial Wars, Society of the Sons of the Revolution.
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. He was the 1st President of the United States of America, Commander of the Continental Army, & a gentlemen farmer.
Chatham Artlillery Punch
The story goes that George Washington drank this punch when he visited Savannah, Georgia on May 12, 1791. These are the ingredients for the punch recipe. It was written on our menus at the restaurant called River House Seafood in Savannah, Georgia. My husband tried this patriotic punch & it was delicious!
1 1/2 gallons catawba wine [American red grape variety]
1/2 gallon rum
1 qt. gin
1 qt. brandy
1/2 pint Benedictine
2 qt. Maraschino cherries
1 1/2 qts. rye whiskey
1 1/2 gallons strong tea
2 1/2 lb. brown sugar
1 1/2 qts. orange juice
1 1/2 qt. lemon juice
1 case Champagne
Even after 150 years after George Washington was President, he is still dearly beloved by the American people. Often, the Huntingtons and their private club had parties celebrating in George Washington’s honor. In the Victorian & Edwardian eras, there was much celebration on his exact day of birth. Many luncheons & dinner banquets were given in honor of George Washington at the Huntington’s social clubs, at Union League Club, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Colony Club, The Metropolitan Club, even H. E. Huntington’s Hobby Club. Women would give George Washington parties at home even if their husbands were obligated to attend their club “Washington” celebration.
I was able to review 25 Fancy Dinner Banquet menus of the Mr. Henry E. Huntington’s Hobby Club, New York City. The Hobby Club was Huntington very favorite club. They would meet at a club member home and pick a theme for the dinner party; usually being a 8-10 course elegant dinner. The host would share with the member their collection (books, art, stamps, ephemera, etc.). The themes were Shakespeare theme, Latin theme, Medieval theme, Native American Indian theme, & the like depending who the host was. Mr. H.E. Huntington was a great collector of fancy dinner banquet menus. The guests of the dinner parties would even sign the back of the menus, which made them even more valuable ephemera. Some of these beautiful & clever menus were hand illustrated by Tiffany himself at Tiffany & Co. with the food items written in lovely calligraphy. Illustrations of the theme also on the dinner menu
Menus are a fantastic ephemera item of different time periods. Many facts are given to researchers on a dinner menu: there is a event, a date, a location, and usually a theme. There are food items that match the theme in these formal multi-course dinners. Some of the covers of the menus are beautifully illustrated to define “moments in our US history”. Sometimes, humorous drawing or sketches were drawn by artists to create ambiance & a mood for the event/dinner. Usually the menus included wines & champagnes to match each course of the formal dinner meal. Usually, the 1st oyster course was paired with Sherry, a White wine with chicken or fish course, a Claret red wine with meat course, Roman Punch was popular or Sorbet as a palate cleanser in the middle of the meal, also French Champagne & after-dinner drinks, & cigars also recorded.
Mr. H. E. Huntington was one of the founding members of the Hobby Club in New York. They had a formal dinner in honor of George Washington. This Menu (below) was the Twenty Fourth Dinner of Hobby Club of New York. The dinner was given on February 22, 1917, celebrating our 1st president: on George Washington’s birthday.
The banquet dinner that night was located at Sixty-two East Sixty Fifth St. New York City; this location was probably one of the members homes. If the dinner was located at a social club, it was stated on the menu like Metropolitan Club, etc. Notice the nod to the State of Virginia where Mount Vernon is located (Geo. Washington’s home) & some red colored food in honor of George Washington.
The 24th Hobby Club Dinner Menu (In honor of George Washington):
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Fish: Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce
Entree: Roast Brisket of Beef
Potatoes & Beets
This fancy menu was folded in 3 portions: the formal invitation on one portion, the menu on another page, & a portrait painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (1795) with Washington’s signature underneath. The members of the club also signed the back of the menu, giving researchers even more information about who actually attended the event.
In 1916, the Hobby Club was invited to Mr.Henry E. Huntington’s mansion located at No. 2 East 57 St. New York City. He shared some of his “Washingtoniana” (his collection of everything about George Washington). H. E. Huntington had some Washington letters & other ephemera like menus, & many fine portraits of George Washington (now at the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA). I found one of Mr. H. E. Huntington “Bill Record” ledger for 1916. On Nov. 13, 1916, Mr. Huntington purchased “Washingtoniana” from Wm. H. Miner Co.; I can’t make out the cost which he paid.
At these special parties given on George Washington’s birthday, the menus often stated special dishes made in honor of George Washington & named after him, too. There was “Canapes Washington” (served at a Chamber of Commerce New York dinner), “Consomme Washington” (served at St. Denis Hotel in 1907), Washington Cake (defined in 1923 the Chef de Cuisine cookbook by Vandegeer as “layer cake with meringue or whipped cream”, also “Washington Cake” (Gingerbread made by the Washington family), and “Washington Pie” or tart (Cherry Pie).
Canape Washington (1902)
This patriotic canape was on a Sherry’s Restaurant menu in New York City; a favorite restaurant of the Huntington family. Canape Washington is a crab meat cheese puff; very similar to Canape Lorenzo (popular in San Francisco) with red pepper julienne on top.
3 T. butter
3 T. Parmesen cheese
salt & white pepper
2 t. shallots or onions, sauteed in butter
2 t. flour
1/2 c. -3/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 lb. crabmeat
thin juliennes of red bell pepper on top
16 bread rounds (1″ cookie cutter)
Make the crab spread, by cream butter & Parmesan cheese salt & pepper. Set aside. Saute shallots or onions, add flour & cream to pan, then crab meat. Season to taste. Add Parmesan, butter, then with a spoon, place a mound of crab meat spread on bread rounds, & place on a cookie sheet. Bake 425@ for 12-15 mins, until they are golden brown on the bottom. Serve on a doily lined, silver tray and serve to guests with a cocktail napkin.
The appetizer “Canapes Washington” (1902) was on one of Mr. H.E. Huntington’s menus in his large collection of menus. It was on a banquet Dinner menu for the Chamber of Commerce of New York Cit. The menu was dated May 28, 1902 banquet was located at Sherry’s Restaurant in NYC. H. E. Huntington & Archer Huntington were both members of this club; as was Collis P. Huntington before them. The patriotic menu is as follows:
Chamber of Commerce of New York City Dinner Banquet Menu
Date: May 28, 1902 Location: Sherry’s Restaurant, NYC
1st course: Little Neck Oysters
Soup course: Consomme Rock Ambeau
Hors deouves Course: Canapes Washington
served with a Relish dish of Olives, Radishes, & Almonds
Fish Course: Truite Meuniere (French recipe: saute fresh trout with butter, lemon & parsley (maybe Italian herbs) flour or bread crumbs
served with Pommes Persillade (Parsley Potatoes)
Entree Course: Roasted Leg of Lamb served with French Petit Pois (Baby Garden Peas)
Game Course: Ris de Veau Bigarres a la Touloussaine (Veal cooked in mirepoix & stock /cream sauce made with a roux & veal stock, served with fingerling potatoes)
Vegetable course: Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
Poulty course: Asparagus served with a Roasted Chicken
Salad Course: Salade de Saison (served in the French style after the meal)
For Dessert course: Ice Cream: Glace Lafayette (fancy molded ice cream)
Gateaux (Fancy French cakes like Petit fours)
Cheese course: Fromage (assorted French cheeses usually Roquefort, served with water crackers & nuts & fruit)
Mr. George Washington was a big tea drinker, a kindred spirit for sure! December of 1757, it was recorded that George Washington first ordered tea for his plantation Mount Vernon (Virginia) from England. He ordered large bulk sizes like 6 lb. of each: Hyson tea, Congo (Rose Congo), Green Tea, Gunpowder, Imperial, & Bohea. Rose Congo or Congou is one of my favorite tea made with black tea like Hyson & rose buds & rose petals. It can be made stronger by adding a couple drops of rose essential oil.
Dinner Banquet- “A tribute to the great president of the United States: George Washington & etching portrait of President Washington
Date Feb. 22, 1907 St. Denis Hotel Broadway & Eleventh St. New York City, NY
Dinner Menu in honor of George Washington:
Little Neck Clams,
Cape Cods Oysters
Choice of Green Turtle Soup with Amontillado, or Consomme Washington
Choice of Broiled Bluefin, Maitre d’hotel or Paupiette of Sole, Montmorency with Cucumbers & Potato Persillade
Choice of Larded Tenderloin of Beef, Lafayette or Sweet Bread patties, Rochambeau served with Brussel sprouts & French Peas
Choice Roast Spring Lamb, Mint Sauce or Mallard Duck, Currant Jelly
Pancakes Parisienne [Crepes] & Petit Fours [Iced Fancy Petit Cakes]
Fancy Forms or Napolitian Ice Cream
Cheese course: Roquefort, camembert & Philadephia Cream Cheese served with toasted crackers
What plates did the guests of a George Washington Banquet Dinner eat on? A patriotic plate of red, white, blue, & gold? A fancy Minton (made for Tiffany & Co.) or Red & Gold plate? A Presidential plate with the eagle on it, or a George Washington plate? Well, I found the fanciest of gold “dinner service plates” with the fine portrait image of George Washington in the center. The C & O Chesapeake Railroad had these ornate gold-rimmed dinner plates on their special train to Washington DC. Now you have to understand that Presidents & Dignitaries rode this train (C & O RR). The C & O RR’s destination was the Greenbriar Hotel in West Virginia, where Presidents stayed overnight with their families. By the way, Collis P. Huntington & H. E. Huntington built this Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad from the ground up.
HEH Coll. HEH 17/1 uncat (Mr. H.E. Huntington’s Hobby Club menu collection); HEH Coll. MS Eph E40-95 (H.E. Huntington Ephemera Menu Collection);HEH Coll. HEH MS 4/1-10 (Mr. Huntington’s Bill Record 1916; HEH Coll. HEH Eph E40-157 (all at the Huntington Library San Marino, CA) River House Seafood Menu Savannah, Georgia (Chatham Artillery Punch ingredients), ; http://www.rrcommissary.com (Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Fancy Gold “George Washington” dinner plates)