The Quogue (rhymes with frog) Delivery

Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil Lunch Recipe

IMG_5945Our furniture goes to the most lovely homes but rarely do I get to see them in person.  Keith makes the  deliveries and usually I merrily send him about his way.  But Sunday I joined him on a jaunt to Quoque, a town, that to me, is all about the best Long Island living can offer.  Sure there are multiple monstrosities masquerading as homes but there are also many terrific looking, normal sized houses that offer families fresh air and sunshine just sixty miles outside Manhattan.

The house we delivered to probably started life as a smallish ranch.  But with the breezeway now a foyer and the former two car garage a den and the roof line altered to cathedral height it is certainly something else entirely today.Red Great RoomMy first advice to any novice interested in my decorating opinions is always to stay clear of jewel tones.  Clearly this delightful great room proves me wrong.  I love how the bold color adds definition to the space and provides a framework for all the diverse objects in this room.  But also note how the glass coffee table, light rug and furniture keep the mood happy.  As does Uncle Bowwow’s portrait to the left of the fireplace!

Next to the sitting area is a large farmhouse table made of old pine barnwood and next to that is a massive island separating the galley style kitchen from the rest of the room.  It looks like it works fine for two–or what happens sometimes I am sure when you have a house in Quogue–twenty!Pine Farm Table

But the whole point of a summer house is not the interior is it?  Sure there are rainy days and evenings spent playing scrabble, but really you want to be outdoors.   And what makes this house so terrific is the fabulous swimming pool just steps from the kitchen.  Who needs the beach?IMG_5957And as if the gorgeous pool wasn’t enough, the landscaping then is the icing on the proverbial cake.  With both sun and a shade perennial gardens there is always something blooming magnificently.IMG_5955


Now let’s talk about lunch.
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Recipe for a Perfect Summer Lunch

Go to the farmer’s market in August and buy the freshest tomatoes, slice and layer with some fresh mozzarella and lots of fresh basil leaves–and I mean fresh when I say it three times. This will not work with tired tomatoes or droopy basil or supermarket cheese.

Top with home made vinaigrette or just use some of Marie’s Original Salad Dressing.  Serve with a loaf of french bread and a nice chunk of good butter.

Because lunch is light dessert (for once) is acceptable;   slice strawberries and toss with chunks of cantaloupe.  Serve with a plate of good store bought or homemade Toll House cookies.

Clearly I am on for the next delivery!

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On Board–My Farmhouse Table

British Cottage is now officially 30!  We opened our first store at 125 West Front Street in January 1986 with a container full of antique English pine bought with the cash buyout Keith received after parting ways with the Tetley Brewing Company.

Neither of us had a background in antiques; it was only by chance we met a Martha Stewart look-a-like from Connecticut at an auction on the grittier side of Gosport, a washed up city on the wrong side of the Solent.  We were looking for furniture to bring back to New Jersey (another part of the package was free shipping) and watched as this petite, middle-aged woman with fabulous hair and an outfit that coordinated with her pumps,  bought every piece of stripped pine that came up for sale.

Waiting to pay at the end, we met her in the queue and just had to ask what the heck was she doing there, like how did she even find Gosport?  She told us that antique English pine furniture was the heart of the “American country” look and all the craze in the states and advised us to buy every piece we could.  So we did.  And thirty years later we still are buying and selling antique pine (as well as a whole bunch of other stuff).

Looking back over the years we have sold some really fabulous items.  But we kept a few too.  This “On Board” feature will be the ones that did not get away.  Objects we’ve known and loved for years–even decades.

For us decorating is not about buying a catalog of matching items, it is all about the hunt, the experience, and the joy of finding an object that fits in a room just so–or doesn’t fit in at all –but you love it so into the mix it must go.  I’ll start with our dining room table.

It is an antique farm table from Ireland that Keith bought from Martin Dearden,  an aristocratic bloke straight out of Dickens, with a large manor home called Pennard House in Shepton Mallet, a little village in Somerset.  That is how you did things in those days.  You would go to a small shop on a High Street and invariably the owner would have a bunch of sheds or barns somewhere else so off you would go through fields and hedgerows to see great masses of furniture in astonishingly bad disrepair and then start making a deal.

The deal would usually involve tea, some biscuits and if it all turned out okay, in the end, a trip to the pub–there is always a pub in these stories.  (Pennard House is still in business today as a wedding and event venue–I’m guessing the antique barns are probably used for dining–and rinking).

Anyway, Keith bought this table from Martin and along with a number of other items it was loaded onto a container that eventually found its way to Red Bank.  When my mother walked into the store, she took one look at the table amongst the other new arrivals and claimed it immediately.  Made in the late 1800’s with three long pitch pine planks and a stretcher base, it has two drawers that reach all the way to the middle of the table and it was a beast to carry up the stairs to her second-story dining room overlooking the Shrewsbury River in Rumson.

Mother of six, friend to all, it is impossible to count the number of parties and holidays we enjoyed around her table–let alone fathom all the meals served on it prior to its arrival in America.  When my mom died, one of my brothers was quick to claim it.  A few years ago he moved to California and the table came full circle back to us, where it is now front and center of the great room above British Cottage.  We are happy to let the parties begin, again, at this fabulous table.