St Augustine Tastes of Christmas in the Gilded Age

Photo of flowers & tea cake stand by Caroline Hernandez on UnSplashCalling all ‘Foodies’ visiting St. Augustine during the 2017 Holiday Season – this is the year to travel back a century or more to savor Christmas foods of the Gilded Age, inspired by The Lightner Museum’s current exhibit. “Dressing Downton, Changing Fashion for Changing Times,” transports visitors back to the turn of an earlier century, to an era when elaborate dinners, high teas, and traditional sweets were essential Christmas traditions.

The Museum is housed within the historic Hotel Alcazar, built in 1888. Throughout the Christmas holidays you can enjoy a Downton style Afternoon Tea served in their Café Alcazar in the Historic Pool area. The tea, including classic pastries, sandwiches, and organic teas, is offered Sunday – Thursday at 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm, and Friday and Saturday at 2:00 pm. The cost is $55.00 per person and reservations are required. For tickets, call 904-825-9948 or you may purchase them online. The recently renovated Corazon Cinema and Café, across the street from the Museum at 36 Granada Street, also offers a Gilded Age afternoon tea with seasonal savories, sweets, and classic teas. Their tea includes screening of Julian Fellows “Gosford Park”, the inspiration for the Downton Abbey® series. Tea service is offered on Wednesday – Sunday at 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm. The cost is $45.00 per person; seating is limited and tickets are available online.

Victorian Dining Table Photo by Annie Spratt on UnSpashWednesday, December 13, 2017, at 10:30 am, the Lightner Museum will host food historian and James Beard Award-nominated author Francine Segan’s presentation, “The Art of Dining: The Table at Downton Abbey”, in the Casa Monica Hotel Ballroom. Attendees will learn about the traditional dishes Mrs. Patmore and her contemporaries would have sent upstairs for holiday dinners, as well as be schooled in the era’s proper toasts and elaborate etiquette that were required when one was present at these dinner parties. Tickets, $25 per person, may be purchases online.

Later that evening, Ms. Segan, together with Sommelier Anthony Porecellini will present “Gilded Age Dining at the Alcazar Hotel”. The four-course menu will be inspired by archived Alcazar Hotel and Casino menus dating from the 1890s through the 1920s, and will be accompanied by wines associated with the same era. The dinner, from 6:30 – 9:00 pm, will be held in the Historic Pool area. Tickets may be purchased online; the cost is $150.00 per person and diners must be age 21 and over.

Like many people today, the Edwardians expected sweets to be an essential part of celebrating the Christmas holidays. Ms. Segan highlights this tradition in her final presentation on December 14, 2017, at 10:30 am. “Munch, Mingle and Matriculate – A History of Chocolate with Tasting”, will be held in the Casa Monica Hotel Ballroom. She will lead attendees through chocolate’s history, a journey from its origins in the New World to 17th century European society, the Gilded Age, and finally, today. Tasting various types of chocolate will illustrate the role of terroir and processes used to create the chocolate used to create many holiday confections. Cost is $30.00 per person; tickets are available online.

Casa de Solana in St. Augustine’s historic district is just a five minute walk from these events at the Lightner Museum, so give us a call or go online to book your holiday getaway this December. St. Augustine is a Foodie paradise as well as a tropical one. In addition to these special holiday events, you can treat yourselves to tasting tours, pub crawls, and a great restaurant scene year-round, plus our gourmet breakfasts each morning, of course!

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