A Night Away in Cape May

Farm visits are always fun. When we were invited to attend the 4th annual Beach Plum Farm Fall Festival in West Cape May, we immediately packed our bags.

The Beach Plum Farm Festival was held on Saturdays throughout October. It featured a pig roast with executive chef Jimmy Burton from The Rusty Nail, seasonal craft beer from Cape May Brewery, a hayride to the pumpkin field for pumpkin picking, a farm-to-kids educational program, and farm-fresh produce–available for purchase in the new hemlock barn, hand-crafted by an Amish family.

The 62-acre farm grows more than 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, which are used at local Cape May restaurants, including the Ebbitt Room, Blue Pig Tavern and Rusty Nail. (All are owned by Cape Resorts.) We saw chickens (they produce 500 to 600 eggs daily), ducks (they also provide eggs), pigs (the meat is used in the restaurants) and beehives that produce honey.

The night before, we stayed at the historic Congress Hall hotel, which was built in 1816 and is celebrating its 199 birthday this year. Our ocean-view room overlooked the beautiful great lawn with Adirondack chairs; quite charming. A pre-dinner drink was enjoyed by the fireplace in the Brown Room lounge, where we also watched an outside wedding party posing for photographs.

We walked about a block to have dinner at the Ebbitt Room in the Virginia Hotel, where we met executive chef Matthew Crist. He offers a locally sourced farm-to-table menu, featuring many items from the Beach Plum Farm, such as the pork chop with braised cabbage, spaetzle, sweet and sour apples and whole-grain mustard sauce. We opted for the mushroom soup accompanied by a mushroom goat cheese tartine and a beautifully balanced salad of roasted cauliflower, arugula, pumpkin puree, capers, slivers of toasted garlic, chili oil and a lemon vinaigrette. Salmon with crispy skin tasted as if it had just jumped out of the ocean, and was accompanied by cauliflower puree, white beans, shiitakes, spinach and a red wine portobello sauce. Exquisite caramelized sea scallops were cleverly paired with celery root noodles, candied pear and pistachio puree. Grilled broccoli was a side, and a lemon meringue tart was shared for dessert. The dishes were well executed, visually appealing and tasty. For a more casual experience, dine at the bar.

Breakfast was at the Blue Pig Tavern at the Congress Hotel, which  displays a picture of a blue pig over the fireplace. Executive chef Jeremy Einhorn offers classic American dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At breakfast, eggs from the Beach Plum Farm are available.

Cape May is such a charming town with its Victorian houses, carriage rides, antique stores and the walkway beside the beach and ocean. Along with activities at the hotel, events occur year round planned by the The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities. Our only disappointment is that we had but one day to explore the nation’s oldest seaside resort.

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Salmon, with cauliflower puree, white beans, shiitakes spinach and a red wine portobello sauce.

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Lemon meringue tart.

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Fireplace at Blue Pig Tavern.

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Beach Plum Farm herb garden.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

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