Friend of IT Sascha Zuger explains how two New York hotels are exploring their heritage by bringing back vintage menus.
I once sat down to breakfast at La Posada, a beautiful Mary Colter-designed Harvey House hotel in Winslow, Arizona. Looking over the foam of a laughably large cappuccino, I watched an Escher-esque chain of tanker cars shimmy by, stretched from the limit of my vision to the right to disappear into the horizon on the left. My fork sunk deep into baked eggs smothered with peppers, onions, chunks of smoky sausage and medley of cheeses bubbled to a toasty finish, a Harvey classic from the early 20th-century railroad era, and the experience was complete.
A meal can make a memory. And sometimes memories can make a menu. Two multi-generational family-run properties in New York are celebrating big anniversaries this year by featuring vintage eats created with historic century-old recipes.
The Mohonk Mountain House celebrates the resort’s 140-year history by plucking heirloom recipes from over the years to sprinkle throughout their 2009 menu. Down-home classic comfort foods like currant and cinnamon laced steel-cut oats start the day, while sauerbraten with German-style potato pancakes and braised red cabbage offer a hearty evening meal. The signature Mohonk-blend tea makes a nice accompaniment to a vintage cinnamon raisin bread pudding for a midday snack.
Visitors can get the ultimate throwback experience at the annual Fourth of July celebration, with highlights including log rolling, lobster bakes, a children’s carnival with classic early 1900’s games, square dancing, campfire sing-alongs and classic films under the stars.
Further north, the Otesaga Resort Hotel, in adorable “Hometown USA”
Cooperstown, celebrates their centennial this April 17-19 in quintessential 1909 style. Guests can hit the adjacent Farmers’ Museum to prep for their step back in time by milking cows, spinning flax into thread to make rope by hand, watching a pharmaceutical garden and apothecary in action, and trying their hand at playing hoops and sticks, before cleaning up for a more elegant celebration of history. And yes, guests are encouraged to dress the part.
The retro dinner menu offers heirloom dishes like “Rack of Lamb Monte Carlo,” “Chicken Consommé Celestine,” “Seared Beef Tournedos Dian,”
“Poached Halibut with Hollandaise,” and “Coq au Vin with Anna Potatoes,” topped off nicely with sweet-tooth tempters like rhubarb pie, crepes Suzette, and Profiterole with White Chocolate. During the meal, they’ll be serenaded with live music from 1909 or earlier.
The hotel also plans to reinstitute the libations list served on the first opening day a century ago, and plan to pour Rob Roys, Tom Collins, Singapore Slings, Manhattans and an 1899 NYC competition winner, the effervescent Champagne Cocktail.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Packrats rejoice and honeymooners pull out your scrapbooks: The Otesaga Resort Hotel will match prior room receipts for the weekend, and those turning “100 years young” in 2009 stay free.
It looks like some menus just never get old.
Both La Posada and the Mohonk Mountain House have appeared on Traveler’s Annual Stay List of authentic hotels. Click here for the complete list from 2009.
Photos: courtesy Mohonk Mountain House and Otesaga Resort Hotel