Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's On the Menu at Cold Spring?

For years we could only speculate about the culinary delights served to visitors and guests at the Cold Spring Hotel.  Newspapers prior to 1881 give few particulars about the hotel table.  But after the second hotel building was constructed adjacent to the old hotel and other improvements made, many news articles attest to the Cold Spring Hotel’s fine reputation for its cuisine.  Correspondents who dined at the hotel noted:  “excellent cuisine” (1881); “the bill of fare included everything palatable and healthful, and the beauty of it is that the supper was but a specimen of the every-day cuisine of the hotel” (1884); “the table [is] abundantly supplied with a variety of well cooked and well served viands” (1888); “the table is all that any person might wish for” (1888); “the table is bountifully supplied with appetizingly cooked food” (1891); “the cuisine cannot be excelled” (1891); and more.  High praises - but what particular foods and dishes did the patrons actually eat?

According to an 1888 Harrisburg Telegraph article:  "The table will be abundantly supplied with fresh meats and vegetables, daily, from Harrisburg markets, also from the farm connected with the park, which also furnishes fresh milk, cream, butter, eggs, etc."  Circulars from the 1890's advertising the Cold Spring Resort similarly state:  "The Table is supplied with the best of everything in season.  Our own farm, connected with the Park, furnishes fresh milk, cream, eggs, poultry, etc.  The best creamery butter will be constantly supplied for table use."  In the 1880's and 1890's the farm at Cold Spring included a stable, a chicken house, a pig sty, apple and peach orchards, a vineyard, grain fields and vegetable gardens, all of which would have supplied food for the hotel table.  Other food supplies, such as flour and cornmeal from the mill at Lickdale, were reportedly brought by wagon over Second Mountain.  This information reveals some of the staple foodstuffs the hotel cooks had to work with - but what specific dishes did they prepare for visitors and guests? 

We pondered over possible menu items based on the aforementioned information and culinary dishes suggested by menus from the 1880’s and 1890’s from similarly classed hotels in Harrisburg, Lebanon and Reading, some of which were owned and operated at times by the various owners and managers of the Cold Spring Hotel.  Then we came across the following 1892 ad:

Ad stating "Chickens and Waffles will be served"
Reading Times - May 9, 1892

Also we found a Reading Times article describing the annual Fall outing of the Reading Press Club in 1897, a train excursion to various points of interest, including a stop at Cold Spring where the newspapermen and their families enjoyed a dinner of “chickens and waffles and all the desirable concomitants prepared with a lavish hand.”  By its numerous mentions in social news of the time, chickens and waffles was a popular dish served at banquets and large gatherings.  And it was served more than once at the Cold Spring Hotel.

After years of contemplating about the culinary delights served to visitors and guests at the Cold Spring Hotel, imagine our excitement when recently we came across a news story describing the Schuylkill County Bar Association’s annual dinner excursion, to Cold Spring, in July 1888.  Included was the following detailed menu for the “elegant dinner” they enjoyed:

Cold Spring Hotel Dinner Excursion Menu
as printed in the
Harrisburg Telegraph - July 20, 1888

If anyone has additional information on foods served at the Cold Spring Hotel, or a hotel menu, or knows the names of persons who worked in the hotel kitchens or dining rooms (or was employed in any other job at Cold Spring), we'd appreciate hearing from you.  Post a comment or contact us at email.

No comments:

Post a Comment