Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hunt Breakfast on a Kentucky Plantation

Women never look so well as when one comes in wet and dirty from hunting.
-Mr. Sponges Sporting Tour (1853)

We are horsey types, this family, consequently this hunt table design has long been one of my favorites. The hunt breakfasts I have attended have been much larger affairs, not suited to this level of detail, unfortunately.

The room may no longer thrill, it is a tad dated now to be sure but the details of the table are both savvy and clever. The centerpiece of a hunt trophy accented with snaffles and stirrups at the base is fabulous and the antique reproduction pistol-handled knives such a showman's touch on the hunt theme. Not to mention individual decanters and the obligatory but reassuring mint juleps on the sideboard which speak to the Kentucky home of this old dining room.

The hunt is timeless in my hometown: There are, from the top of my head, three very fine family dining rooms in North Salem which have modernized the hunt lifestyle in their rooms but never cast it aside. And then there are those, like these, that sort of hung on, let it be as it was, and as it will always be. It is, as they say, in one's blood. Both cultured sorts warm this heart.

Credit: Valerian S. Rybar for the Tiffany Decorator Show and Tiffany Table Settings, 1960

Now, I have always been partial to the tradition observed before the hunt: Sherry or port in the traditional stirrup cup helps to ward off the cold and is a toast to luck and good hunting. The cup is meant to be held in a riders gloved hand with a carved animal, traditionally that which is hunted, at the base. The carving steadies the cup in the rider's hand if their horse is spooky. All comers are invited to participate in the pre-hunt steadying.

There is always some discord as to whether it helps to ease the pain of a fall or cause one in the first place. We regularly have this same conversation in the jumper rings but many have concluded approaching a five foot jump is no place to find out you had one too many.

Staying hydrated is key to the sport. In planning your hunt and breakfast, be certain there are plenty of liquids. Ah-hem.

It can be a vigorous, weather-beaten ride. One should plan the food accordingly.
Here is a fabulous menu suggestion:

Hunt Breakfast Buffet for 100

Fluffy Scrambled Eggs with Chives

Home Fried Potatoes

Baked Brown Sugar and Dijon Glazed Ham

Savory Crepes of Chicken and Mushroom

Sliced Local Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella

Baskets of Bagels and Fruited Focaccia
Whipped Vegetable Cream Cheese and Sweet Cream Butter
Strawberry Preserves

House-baked Muffins, Coffee Cake, Zucchini and Banana Breads

Yogurt and Granola

Platters of Sliced Fruits and Berries with Honey Lime Crème Fraiche

Country Cookies

Assorted Fruit Juices
Freshly Brewed Regular and Decaffeinated Coffee, Assorted Teas

Bloody Mary

As for the flowers, this is no time for a precious arrangement. Fox hunters, in my experience, do not go in for tiny color coordinated French bouquets, but rather rambling representations of the fields where they have experienced the most cherished moments of their sporting lives. Sterling is also a central facet to the hunt tradition and celebration historically, so use it freely and respectfully: Kindly do not place flower arrangements in the trophies and so on. I have noticed arrangements of this caliber in the past, and they are lovely in the theme:


While I have not been to a hunt breakfast small enough to be served at a table the masterful likes of the Tiffany room at the top of the page, I do believe it is an occasion befitting that care, beauty, and a show-stopping menu. I hope you get the chance to ride, to partake, or better yet, to host. And keep in mind, it very long ago ceased to be about hunting in most hunt clubs; the sport remains the ride.


The Pink Tutu said...

The menu sounds divine!

Deanna said...

Dear Blushing.
Greetings from HomeHaven.
Your post today is very interesting. I feel as if I have been on a Hunt.
Enjoy reading your blog.

Runner Mom said...

Wow! That hunt sounds amazing...and what a menu! Yum!!


Elle said...

I am absolutely the most hideous shade of green with envy, I too am a horsey type and have always wanted to go an a hunt, even the faux type of hunt they now have to host in England...

I love standing traditions like this, and certainly one's that are forged in the south. I find that participating in generations old community traditions sort of lends one a sense of belonging, and comfort as though everything in the world is exactly as it should be.

Thank you so much for sharing!

Mari at Once Upon a Plate said...

You've captured the spirit of a Hunt Breakfast so well ~ I love this!

Great job!

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

Oh what a menu! This is all very elegant -- I've always been attracted to prints of fox hunting - although I don't have any -- I love the "fox hunt" china too -- have you seen it? I do have to admit, I always root for the fox!

Melody said...

Wow! wouldn't you love to have a dining room that large? How spendid it all is.

Christi said...

Wonderful traditions (especially the mint juleps). The menus sounds wonderful.

Christi @ A Southern Life

Liz said...

How fun! I can't even imagine how hungry you would be after such an adventure! :)


The Country Nest said...

The breakfast sounds I am hungry. Nice job it looks like fun.

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

After a delicious and satisfying breakfast like this, I think I would need to take a nap before getting on my horse. :-)

black eyed susans kitchen said...

That party is some major undertaking! The menu is so appealing and the silver is gorgeous. We have hunt parties here too, but with a fancy tailgate theme. Yours is much more grand.

Kristin said...

That menu sounds sooooooo delicious. And I'm always up for a bloody mary!

Anonymous said...

This is the best reading, honestly, your descriptions are so in depth it is almost like being there! The table looks stunning, absolutely beautiful. BTW, we vote for the small libation before the event, we've been told it actually helps prevent injury in many sports and events, as long as it is *small*.

Enjoy your Thursday, this one is stellar!

Julie said...

The food sounds wonderful, and it looks as if you all had great fun...

Thoughtfully blended hearts said...

Yummy food and what a fun event...

Bill said...

This was great fun! Fascinating juxtaposition of vintage and current imagery, impressive menu, and evocative commentary!

It's always a pleasure to stop by your one-of-a-kind blog!

Warmest regards,

nannykim said...

veddy interesting ;-) . I must admit the only times I have ridden anything close to a horse was a Shetland pony...I held the reigns (spelling?) too tightly and he ended up running straight for the fence and then hauling up to a quick stop that nearly flipped me (I was 6-7 years old)...the other time he started running quickly and I had to be rescued. Now my daughter on the other hand loves riding (the real thing).

Your comment section doesn't allow me to tell you which blog I posted my tablescape to--it is at my Spindle Cottage blog.

Anyways an interesting post and I love the "flower arrangements"...oh, and could I have one of those mint juleps?

Sanity Fair said...

I love the hunt style - and so does America (at least the atmosphere of it) - enter Ralph Lauren! Beautiful pictures here.

Maryrose said...

What a lovely post... I loved hearing about the hunt and oh breakfast sounds devine. I visited my daughter in Kentucky when she was in college and early one morning I actually saw a fox in a misty, foggy stunningly green field. Perhaps he was on the run.
Maryrose :)

niartist said...

Oooo, I don't think this is dated. I think it has a timeless sort of elegance that is missing in a lot of rooms done today! Beautiful, indeed! I hope you can stop by and enter your name in the giveaway at Color Outside the Lines. I know you could do some fantastic things with the loot! :) Cheers!

Chari said...


What an interesting post! I'm not very familiar with the long standing traditions of "the hunt"...loved reading about it! Ohhh my...I can only imagine what sit at a table so adorned! And all of those beautiful really IS in the details...isn't it! The breakfast menu sounds divine!!! I'm not sure about the hunting part but I sure can eat! hehe! Would love the experience...thank you for sharing it with us!!!

Warmest wishes,

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Greetings~ ~
The hunt is alive and well here in Pennsylvania also in near by Chester County mostly. I have a friend with a pack of hounds. Is that the correct term? Lots of fox hounds for sure. So nice to meet you.
~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

marty39 said...

I love the tradition that is kept alive and the beautiful tablesetting in the first picture is indeed grand and beautiful. I also really love the picture on the wall. I have a large hunt scene picture and a tapestry pillow hunt scene that I use in my home and love both. Even if we are in the desert, it brings memories of more grander times and traditions. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Marty

LillyB said...

Great blog today! You made me hungry LOL
Have a great day!

Janie's World said...

I always love to see the sharing of a cherished tradition, whether it is shown traditionally or with a new modern twist. At least it has not died out, which I think is so important. Thanks for sharing. It all looks wonderful!

Brenda said...

I am completely out of my element here, but the table looks quite elegant. And the information and traditions are so interesting!

Kitty Valerie said...

Fancy tablescape!

Have a nice Thursday,

Jane said...

What an interesting post! I observed hunts when I lived in Chester County, PA...but alas, I have never had the opportunity to participate. Thank you for taking us through the rituals...

The menu sounds's similar to those we have devoured after regattas. Always special...
Jane (artfully graced)

Dining Delight said...

Interesting and enjoyable post! Can't imagine going on a hunt personally...unless it is a hunt for dishes, LOL! But it would be great to sit down at that table after! Thanks for sharing this!


Pearl Maple said...

wow 100 guests is a big event and just reading the menu makes me hungry. Beautiful decor for the theme, thanks for adding your inspiration to the tablescape party.

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

Ahhh. Yes. a hearty breakfast, a swig and we are off...There are a few hunts around here. Grand tradition!