A hotbed of entertaining since the late 1800s, the Adirondacks remain a great place to host a bit of relaxing merriment. The Adirondacks first appeared on the social scene as an important escape from the rigors of big business and high society for the wealthy industrialists, financiers, and railroad magnates who flourished after the Civil War.
Attracted by the wild natural beauty of the region, the Vanderbilts, Whitneys, Rockefellers, and other titans of industry built Adirondack Great Camps; self-sufficient estates located in the remote mountains, frequently on lakes, where family and guests were entertained in sumptuous style. Buildings were constructed of local materials harvested from the surrounding forests as were most of the ingredients for the lavish meals served.
In those days, as today, guests entertained themselves with outdoor pursuits such as sailing, swimming, hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, and lawn bowling. These activities were complemented by formal afternoon tea and extravagant dinners at the neighbor’s, accessed via guide boats, in full evening dress.
Many of us still enjoy entertaining in that Adirondack style. We relish showing off the natural beauty of the North Country and welcome the chance to indulge in aspects of the Adirondack lifestyle we sometimes take for granted.
House guests mean I have an excuse to spend all afternoon picking and arranging wild flowers. The raspberry patch in the front yard is not just a reminder of the brush we didn’t get around to cutting this past spring; it provides fresh berries for delicious cobbler, desserts, and breakfasts. Our standard wild game stew is lauded as gourmet and simple some’mores enjoyed around the evening campfire bring satisfied groans and accolades.