by Barbara Sherf
While most folks were focused on everything Harry Potter on Oct. 21, two dozen supporters of Our Mother of Consolation School in Chestnut Hill were participating in an authentic Colonial Dinner at a private home in Mount Airy.
Mary Grogan Strain, and her husband, Liam, have two boys enrolled at the school. The Strains are history buffs who wanted to develop a different kind of fundraiser to support the school. Liam Strain works for The National Park Service and managed Alexander Hamilton’s home in New York City for many years, including throughout the writing and opening of the hit Broadway musical, “Hamilton.” He even appears in the recent PBS documentary about Hamilton.
And so on a Saturday night 12 ticket holders and another dozen or so waitstaff gathered to consume items taken from the City Tavern cookbook. Mary made the dozen Colonial food items that appeared on the handwritten Consolation Tavern Bill of Fare menu. Some of the items included: Brandywine Duck Pate, Roast Franklin’s Eagle with Madeira Gravy, Long Island Fish Pot Pie, October Venison surprise, Chestnut Currant Stuffing and Yeast Rolls. The fare was washed down with Fish House Punch 1732, a combination of rum, cognac, peach cognac, lemon and lime juice. Tavern Ale, House Hard Cider, wines and water were also available.
The party guests also attempted some colonial tavern songs and card games. And on the bottom of the menu was this quote from Ben Franklin: “In wine there is wisdom. In beer there is freedom. In water there is bacteria.”
For dessert, Strain made Lenape Corn Pudding, Apple Pie and Martha Washington’s Cherry Pie. Strain asked her brother for the use of their Gowen Avenue home because he had a larger dining room to serve the dozen guests. The dozen servers were also dressed in Colonial garb. “It was a real hoot,” Strain said. “My husband made toasts that George Washington made.”
Wyndmoor attorney Peter Amuso, whose three sons attend OMC and whose daughter is a 2016 graduate, thoroughly enjoyed the evening. “The dinner exemplifies OMC: a tight-knit community of parents going all in to lend their talents to support the school,” said Amuso. “Liam is a historian whose expertise is the Revolutionary War, and Mary’s cooking skills are legendary. The fact that all the couples attended in full colonial costume demonstrates our dedication and our commitment to OMC. The evening was tremendously fun.”
The Colonial Dinner raised $400 for OMC. “We auctioned off tickets for $40 per person and limited it to 10 people for space reasons,” Strain explained. “We had a few guests who helped serve and of course my brother’s family since we used their house! So we wound up with about 17 guests. We are planning to charge much more next year!”
Strain plans to come up with a new theme for next year, perhaps based on the hit HBO television series “Mad Men,” set in the ’60s advertising industry. “’Mad Men’ was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves,” Strain said. “I’m thinking of a ‘Mad Men’ dinner with the retro clothes and martinis. Whatever it is, I guarantee it will be a fun evening.”
Personal historian Barbara Sherf lives and writes in Flourtown. She can be reached at CaptureLifeStories@gmail.com.