Away In Our Manger | Sunday Open House

The shepherds said one to another, let us now go even unto Bloomville, and see this thing which is come to pass.
The shepherds said one to another, let us now go even unto Bloomville, and see this thing which is come to pass.

SUNDAY 22nd DECEMBER – 2 pm till 4 pm – OPEN HOUSE AT TABLE ON TEN

• Come see the rooms upstairs, including (but not limited to) the new one.

• Eat traditional English christmas pudding alongside a real, live puddingy Englishman.

• Embroider your pudding with lashings of strange brandy sauce coagulate.

• Guzzle effervescent afternoon Spritz like a Venetian with a designated Gondolier.

• Gaze with wonder at the Table on Ten tree as decorated by Dickensian Bloomville urchins.

• Use the lavatory at no charge whatsoever.

• Get 10% off everything in the Microshop. Assuage your guilt at having thus far ignored Christmas utterly.

• Meet people you’ve met before.

• Do De Vogeltjesdans like Aunt Geertje at Cousin Harald’s wedding.

• Peek inside the bodywork room. Enquire about Vicky’s yuletide Frankincense and Myrrh Full-Body Slapdown.

• Let steeple-bells be swungen.

• Compare your Muck boots to other people’s Muck boots.

• Wonder why somebody doesn’t change the music.

2 till 4. This Sunday – the last before Santa shimmies down your chimney with half a bottle of Creme de Menthe and some VHS tapes of classic Patrick Swayze movies. Please do come. It’s going to be in the near-tropical 50’s, but we’ll provide corners of palm-tree shade and bug repellant. And we promise nobody will look as bored as the Holy Parents (above) hanging out outside the Porta dei Fiori with the frankly enormous Baby Jesus, waiting for Melchior to turn up with the General Tso’s Chicken. Ding-dong merrily! On high! ©

Bring me flesh, and bring me wine. 
Bring me pine logs hither. 
Thou and I will see him dine 
When we bear the thither. 
Don and Barbara, forth they went, 
Forth they went together 
Through the rude wind’s wild lament 
And the bitter weather. 

We’ve Got Some Stuff for You | Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

'Our finest gifts we bring ...'
‘Our finest gifts we bring …’

Blimey, it’s nearly Christmas. Wasn’t it just last Christmas fifteen minutes ago? Swear it was only a couple of weeks back we heard Paul McCartney warbling on about his Pipes of Peace while we were casing Walmart’s jewelry department, eyeballing something nice for Auntie Dorothy in cubic zirconium. And it seems like only yesterday we deflated the 24-foot Frosty the Snowman we’d hung out of the attic AirBnB window and took him off the generator to give his arm a rest. Or was it Mull of Kintyre and we just wished it was Pipes of Peace? Whatever, there’s no denying; ’tis the season to be jolly. It’s all Kenny Chesney’s Away in a Manger by the Urinary Tract Health Formula kitty kibble in Tractor Supply, and that house at the top of Falls Mills is lit up like a night-descent into Macau.

Well, we’ve never been ones to shirk a challenge. The Christmas Tree is in place. It just appeared. Either Katrin snuck it down Bloomville Hill disguised as a bristly refrigerator or it arrived by drone. We’ll be corralling local urchins to refresh the decorations. Food’s getting more festive (big on savoury pies and stuff that makes you want to knock on doors and sing about Good King Wenceslas). Inez dressed Ollie in swaddling clothes and laid her in a manger with just her furry little nose sticking out, but we took her out and back downstairs with a nice bone. We’re bidding on Ebay for a Santa-themed Whac-a-Mole, and there are plans afoot for a festive Table on Ten open house (replete with Christmas Pudding, brandy sauce and Rudolph’s Fizzy Embalmer) allowing everybody to poke about a bit in the upstairs rooms, see what the story is up there. We’ll wipe the pentagrams off the floor and put away the ram’s-horn hats.

In the meantime. If your stockings are looking a little wrinkly round the gusset, we’d love to be of assistance. Whilst we cannot claim to be Frankenmuth Michigan’s ‘Bronners Christmas Wonderland – 7.35 acres of Christmas, Christmas, Christmas!’ we do have our own modest collection of carefully curated items which we’re confident will dangle from Uncle Derek’s mantlepiece with at least as much aplomb as any Bob Cratchit-themed nose-hair trimmer. They run roughly as follows. And there’s more coming in as the month inches towards its crisis. Do pop by to take a closer look! All staff are rigorously trained in elucidating the nooks and crannies of what, where, how much, why, who and how long before?

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1. Table on Ten 100% Irish linen glass-cloths, from the last traditional damask weaver in all of Ireland. Start stiff, get smoother and more powdery with every wash. With Table on Ten woven quietly into the stripe, providing added ‘wink-wink’ cognoscenti appeal. $15

2. Dutch Kitchen Towels. ‘From Holland, where my heart lies …’ Sturdy, resilient, no-nonsense, attractive. Just like the Dutch. Our go-to all-purpose backstage towel at Table on Ten. $13

3. Italian Cotton Supermarket Tote. Hand-luggaged from the co-op in Campo San Giacomo, Venice. As perfect for cappelletti from Rialto as rutabagas from Delhi. $13

4. Same as 1. but in blue. $15

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5. Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. What can we say that hasn’t already been said by Saveur, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal and seemingly every other press outlet this side of Pluto? Best pies ever. Go home and make one. $30

6. But before you do, put this on. Table on Ten lightly branded all-cotton kitchen apron. $45

7. Afterwards, put your creation under this. Simple, elegant individual mesh pie safe. Two sizes, $25  and $30

8. Serve it up with some cheese on this rustic, repurposed actual Delaware County roof slate cheeseboard. $22

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 9. Table on Ten A3 by Irving Farm. Our very own blend of coffee beans, coined on the premises by friends and lovers. Strong enough to blow the snow off your Mucks without causing you to chatter like one of the Chipmunks. $14.50

10. L’Ouvriere Candles by Susan Riesen. 100% beeswax, rendered, dyed and moulded in a Charlotte Valley barn. Light ’em for Christmas, you’ll still be playing Wee Willie Winkie in 2014. Prices range from $20 to $30

11. Porcelain Keepers by Kelli Cain. Hand-thrown vitrified porcelain, different shapes and sizes, make great homes for everything from Santa’s Christmas Eve milk to Grandma’s Boxing Day Tanqueray. Individually priced in the microshop.

12. Take it all home in a Giant Waxed Canvas Bag, hand-crafted by a giant in Brooklyn. Can accommodate the entire household of the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe plus sunglasses and lip balm. $115

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13. Margins Perpetual Lunar Calendar. Fashioned from a 1650’s illustration by ‘last Renaissance Man’ Athanasius Kircher, melding mysticism and arithmetic to predict the hour of moonrise in each phase. $22

14. Margins Night Sky Moon Calendars. Shows what phase the moon is in every day of 2014, giving rise to such rebuffs as ‘I’m sorry not tonight, I’m waxing gibbous’. Zodiac symbols too, for casual pagans. $18

15. Table on Ten Granola. Fashioned on the premises from all sorts of good things (and no bad ones) by ‘first Renaissance Woman’ Inez (No Sugar) Valk. Two sizes $9 and $18

16. Olde Worlde Edison style light bulbs with spectacular filaments. Unravels the ‘what shade?’ conundrum by deploying the ‘no shade!’ solution. Beautiful lamplight in its own naked right. $8

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17. Maldon Salt. From the sea off Essex, England. Delicious crystals, nay shards, of the finest culinary salt. $10.50 by the box, $41.50 by the bucket.

18. Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Lyle’s Black Treacle. Rationing-era Anglo-chic. Mainstay ingredients of two perennial Table on Ten cookies. And the empty cans make glittering pen holders. $6 and $6

19. Frankies 457 Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. From Sicily via Brooklyn. Just brilliant olive oil, no sturm, no drang. $29.50

20. Pure African Shea Butter. Raw, organic. Insanely moisturizing, for your whole body or somebody’s else’s. Could make Tutankhamun look like Posh Spice. $8

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21. Hobart Honey. As local as it gets. Proceeds go to the Hobart Food Pantry, serving people of need within the community as part of the Honey for Hunger program. $12

22. Woods Boiled Cider. Vermont apples, ground, pressed, evaporated from a gallon to a pint to an precious apple elixir. Wonderful base for sodas, chutneys, sauces, desserts, life. Two sizes, $14 and $22

23. Marmite. A miniature legend. The British were weaned on it (which explains a few things). Over butter on toast, under avocado, on a spoon in boiling water, in a crack in the wall, rubbed on your chest to ward off the damp. $9

24. Seneca Culinary Salt Flakes. The answer to the riddle of proximate salt (for our 99% local pies). Evaporated from veins over 1000 feet under the icy crust of New York State. The purest salt and the closest to home. $9

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25.  P&H Brooklyn Soda Syrups. All-natural, small-batch, crafted from whole ingredients by soda elves by candlelight under the McGuinness exit of the BQE. $12

26. Angostura Bitters. Herbal tonic from Trinidad, the full recipe for which is known only to five people, none of whom live in Bloomville. Add a daytime dash to sodas or pies, after-hours several dashes to a Manhattan, Old Fashioned or Pink Gin. Little $10, big $18

27. The Good Home Company Pure Grass Laundry Detergent and Fragrance. It’s what we use for everything in the upstairs rooms. Makes your home smell like you just drove a John Deere around it. In a nice way. $25 fragrant detergent $25 pure fragrance

28. And if you really can’t decide on Cousin Charlotte’s behalf, she can always do it on her own. Table on Ten Gift Certificates, can be used for food, drink, all manner of stuff. $25 and up

And last. But verifiably not least. For that extra-special wall in your life. Huge, original, limited edition Table on Ten prints, printed on archival Hahnemühle William Turner fine art rag by Loupe Digital in New York. Mounted and framed by Rachel Polens. Images below; more from the series available upon request. $1200, framed

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Sweet Cyder | Jane DeWitt Channels Thomas Hardy

Sweet cyder is a great thing,
A great thing to me,
Spinning down to Weymouth town
By Ridgway thirstily,
And maid and mistress summoning
Who tend the hostelry:
O cyder is a great thing,
A great thing to me!

~•~

C. Or was it B? E?
C. Or was it B? E?

There’s that bit in Tess of the D’Urbervilles: the May Dance. Young women are gathered in a field beside The Pure Drop Inn, gussied-up and fortified with cider for the festivities, when three serious young men pass by, mid-way through a walking tour of the valley. Bible students. They make to move on; but one of them, bewitched by this Sapphic vision of country lasses dancing without partners (or perhaps browbeaten by his brother’s recitation from A Counterblast to Agnosticism), pauses. To the others’ consternation, he acquiesces to a brief gambol with the first pretty girl he sees. It isn’t Tess. But he is Angel Clare. Thus, through a conspiracy of neglect, the seeds of tragedy – which will see an aristocrat dead in a seaside boarding house and the most beautiful woman in Wessex hanged at Wintoncester Gaol – are sewn.

Good heavens. What dastardly plots might have been hatched on our own wintry Sunday afternoon in olde Bloomville, when a diverse cluster of country folk assembled at Table on Ten to feast on local cheese and appraise the latest vintages of Delaware County hard cider? What long-fermented opportunities seized, chances gone begging? Who is our Angel Clare, our Alec D’Urberville? And who our Tess?

Cider. In England it’s scrumpy. In Spain, sidra. In Germany they call it apfelwein, sometimes ebbelwoi, in Luxembourg viez. Villagers in the Piedmont region of Italy ask their cheerful locandiere for a cold glass of vin ëd pom. In Denmark – a nation with a proud apple heritage – they manufactured a commercial cider under the name Jizz which, whilst being popular domestically, never really garnered a following in the United States. In Delaware County we’re all about plain hard cider; harder the better. Alchemized in sculleries of Rent War era farmhouses using strictly local apples and all manner of fruity Cabala, it fizzes, stings, pops, gurgles, belches and purrs, with notes of honey, maple, nettle and turpentine. Distill it and you’re talking Applejack. Or maybe you’re not talking. Or walking either. Like maple syrup or moonshine, cider has its own nod-and-wink backroom orthodoxy; a mason jar of honey here, easy on the yeast, hey, watch where you’re stickin’ that two feet of rubber hose. The results range from crystal clear and virginal as milkweed, to foggy as an evening with Jack the Ripper and the colour of an old boot fished from a canal with the foot still in it.

It was the task of three estimable judges (selected by ringleader, Jane DeWitt) – John Gohorel, Greg Mukai and Table’s own Inez Valk – to sample seven batches of local, home-made hard cider and (if they still had sensation in their lips) pronounce one a winner. It was the task of the contestants – Alex Wilson, Dan Finn, Irene Hussey, Jane DeWitt, Ryan Eldred, Rachele Cucciarre, Shawnee Sanders, Lydia Bisaillon – to lobby, bribe, impress and inebriate the attendees (in hope of securing the coveted People’s Choice rosette) without embalming anybody or rendering them blind/incontinent. It was the duty of the attendees – including Brian Crabtree, Kelli Cain, Anna Moschovakis, Jen Kempthorne, Andy Sprague, Jane Curley, Harold Eustis, Anne Gohorel, Alex’s Mum and Trevor Wilson, to succumb to all offerings without leaving the premises horizontal. Linda DeWitt and Melody Eldred did the pouring, Colin Eustis the counting and Rowan Kempthorne delivered each piquant round of elixir to the thirsty laboratory beagles with the easy innocence of a choirboy.

'Eye of newt and toe of frog ...'
‘Eye of newt and toe of frog …’

When all was said and done, the judges were unanimous. Umananous. Umamamush. C! C was the winner! Go {hic} C! And so the Gang of Six responsible for C took home the inaugural Golden Apple trophy, with the People’s Choice award going to … D. We think. Right? Or E? B? Or C again? Oh, and is there still any of that G in the jug over there? Wait, where you going? It’s only 7 o’clock …

Love is, yea, a great thing,
A great thing to me,
When, having drawn across the lawn
In darkness silently,
A figure flits like one a-wing
Out from the nearest tree:
O love is, yes, a great thing,
A great thing to me!

~•~