Built Vanderbilt

December 12, 2010

It’s a gray, gray day here. Pouring down rain. A little Christmastime snow would have been more festive!


But luckily our traveler’s agenda included some indoor touring of The Marble House, summer cottage of Alva and William K. Vanderbilt.


I felt very tied to this building because of my experience with the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, being a North Carolinian and all, and because Alva was very involved with the women’s suffrage movement (I wrote my Davidson history thesis on women’s rights in the 1860s).



I am not a huge fan of museums, but I absolutely love touring homes! We took the self guided tour through the estate, and it was really well done. Of course the home was dressed elaborately. We were only allowed to photograph in one room –


A lot of the décor reminded me of my parent’s and grandparent’s houses, as they both love antiques and oriental rugs.

You could have said on the tour: “Here is the hard and scratchy rug where Katherine and Laura used to play as toddlers”


At the conclusion of the tour we smelled a curious smell a’floating….


And stumbled upon eggnog and Christmas cookies!!!!!!!!! SPIKED egg nog at that. I don’t like it quite as much without a touch of brandy and rum : )


We shared – sips and bites of both. It was a great lunch appetizer!


In the gift shop I bought a ‘Votes For Women’ mug and tea towel!!


We would have loved to tour the grounds, walk the cliff walk, see the ocean sites, but the weather was just blah and super windy

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So we headed to lunch


The Ocean Breeze Café comes highly recommended by Tina and Mal. Tina raves about their muffins, and it appears the muffins have won many awards!


We were a bit late for breakfast, but the lunch menu was long and impressive as well.

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Everyone got soups to warm up. Chicken Escarole with oyster crackers!


But the sandwiches were out of this world!!


I ordered the Hot Vegetarian – which came with mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, spinach and havarti on a soft, doughy roll. It was so good!!


The pickle, kale garnish (!!) and pile-O-Ruffles were also just what I was craving. Ruffles remind me of my Grandmother Younger!


The boys have been on a corned beef / pastrami kick up here in New England. I’ve had a few bites – it sure pleases the palate!


Of course we couldn’t go to Ocean Breeze without trying their muffins. We bought an Apple Cinnamon to save for tomorrow’s breakfast and got the Blueberry Corn grilled for a bite of dessert.


The muffin was great, but it was even greater drizzled with warm butter and maple syrup!


We’re now back in Boston, after an hour and a half rainy highway. Thankfully there was no traffic this time!

Shout out to any Bostonians who want to venture out in the rain: We’re planning to meet at the Espresso Royale Coffee Shop at 44 Gainsborough at 8PM for a warm nightcap coffee. Let me know if you’re coming please!

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jess @ atasteofconfidence December 12, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Pictures of the house are absolutely gorgeous!


2 Meagan December 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm

KATH – I am missing you by a weekend! I live in NH, but am out in CA doing school (in finals mode right now). BUMMER – maybe sometime we will meet when your trip is not when I am in school!


3 Cathy B. @ Bright Bakes December 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I love that house! Antiques/heirlooms are a huge part of “things I love”…it’s so fun to see the homes of others…possibly one of the reasons it’s fun to read your blog 😉 Your house is always so inviting-looking too!
cathy b. @ brightbakes
p.s.also really like all the gray/rain pictures. Totally can feel the atmosphere of the day!


4 Heather (Heather's Dish) December 12, 2010 at 4:06 pm

that house is so beautiful! and i have to say i’d take some rain or SOMETHING over the seasonally high temperatures we’ve had here in colorado!


5 Lauren December 12, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I remember touring this machine when we visited Newport on our honeymoon. Loved the tour as well.


6 Lisa (bakebikeblog) December 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm

What a beautiful tour indeed!! When we were in London we did a tour of Windsor Castle which was just delightful!


7 Vanessa December 12, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Cool pictures!! Those sandwiches! Oh my goodness. I am now craving pastrami sandwiches and Ruffles. Yum!


8 holly @ couchpotatoathlete December 12, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I am HUGE fan of pastrami sandwiches — way to go Matts for liking them too!


9 Matt December 12, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Two of us from Cambridge planning on coming out to coffee tonight!


10 Kath December 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Another Matt!!


11 Angie @ Musings of a Violet Monkey December 12, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I love that you toured a Vanderbilt home!!! It looks beautiful!

I am feel very connected to the NC Vanderbilts (now surname of Cecil) and the Biltmore; as I used to work both out on the estate AND in the corporate office, for the Cecils, in downtown Asheville. :)



12 Gabriella @ Embracement December 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Too bad I’m not in Boston again until Tuesday. Glad you enjoyed New England :)


13 Natalia - a side of simple December 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Great choice with the Marble House! I’m glad Ocean Breeze lived up to its expectations, they’ve won so many awards for “best of.” I think one day before I graduate I’ll just HAVE to try one of their muffins :) Newport is already missing the KERF crew!


14 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey December 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm

That house is absolutely gorgeous – I secretly think I was supposed to be s outhern country girl in a large estate such as that one.


15 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) December 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I LOVE touring historic homes! It looks beautiful and festive. Lunch looks delicious too!


16 Katy (The Singing Runner) December 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm

The Hot Vegetarian looks delicious! Yummy!


17 Alyssa December 12, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Hi Kath! Been reading for a month or so now and made my first Kath’s recipe original oatmeal this afternoon (your video how-to was super helpful). Made enough to heat up some for breakfast tomorrow, but what I ate already was delish. Glad I found your blog and will continue to follow along :)


18 Kath December 12, 2010 at 4:28 pm
19 Stacy @ Every Little Thing December 12, 2010 at 4:31 pm

That reminds me of Monticello (which I assume you’ve seen plenty of times). Touring old homes is pretty awesome!


20 Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm

brandy, rum, eggnog and Christmas cookies! nuff said. Sounds great to me! :)


21 Lauren December 12, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Those pictures of the house are so pretty!


22 Britney December 12, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I’m planning on venturing out from Somerville!


23 Heather December 12, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I absolutely love Newport – my old company hosted a gala at the Marble House – outside though!

I need to try that restaurant – that sandwich looks fantastic. Enjoy the get together tonight and stay dry.


24 Sarah @ See Sarah Graduate December 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Wow, the mansion looks incredible! I love the Biltmore so I can only imagine what that’s like! :)


25 Faith @ lovelyascharged December 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I’m the total opposite – touring a house will make me go loopy but I could spend all afternoon in a museum! The lunch looks lovely, though, especially that sandwich!


26 stacey-healthylife December 12, 2010 at 5:13 pm

That estate is very impressive.


27 Maddie December 12, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I’ll be there tonight! I’m not another Matt, but close 😉


28 Anne December 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Though I’m forever thankful for the women’s suffrage movement in giving me the right to vote, I’m wondering if you addressed racism in your thesis.


P.S. My family took a road trip from my hometown in Norfolk, VA (I live in Portland now) to Newport my sophmore year of high school. We also visited the Marble House. Are you going to go to Rosecliff? The Great Gatsby was filmed there!


29 Kath December 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Actually my thesis was on the marriage dynamics of Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell, so it was a pretty narrow scope.


30 Allie (Live Laugh Eat) December 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I KNOOOOOOW you were thinking of Nate Archibald in that house :). Don’t deny it!!!!


31 Kath December 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm

No denial here!! <3


32 lynn (The Actors Diet) December 12, 2010 at 5:28 pm

i love house tours! i was excited to see eggnog and cookies – so i can imagine you were too!


33 Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine December 12, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I remember touring Newport probably 10 years ago when we were visiting boarding schools for my older brother. The mansions are GORGEOUS!!


34 Mom December 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm

You both had a lot of fun playing on that scratchy rug, which is actually under my feet as I type this comment.

Looks like a great day. Love the Votes for Women items! (And the gorgeous house.)


35 Simply Life December 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I’m going to try to come tonight!


36 Lara December 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I hope to make it tonight! Sounds like a lot of fun!! (And it will be a great break from studying for finals.)


37 Lara December 12, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Oh, and I cannot wait to meet you, Kath!


38 Jill December 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Tell me KERF, did you eat the kale garnish!!?? :)


39 Kath December 12, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Oh I did!!


40 Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks December 12, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I love the Votes for Women stuff! I want some!


41 Melissa @ I Never Imagined December 12, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I know that Matt and Matt aren’t brothers, but gosh, they look similar!


42 Heidi - apples under my bed December 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm

This estate, or cottage (not quite :)) looks amazing. I love touring houses. Just gorgeous!
Heidi xo


43 hungryforbalance.wordpress.com December 12, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Wish I were closer, I’d love to meet up 😉 Have fun!


44 Caitlin December 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I’m planning to come to coffee! :)


45 [email protected] December 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm

A grilled muffin!? Must try!


46 Sarah December 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I used to work right across the around the corner from Espresso Royale so it will be a welcome excuse to return. Looking forward to meeting everyone.


47 christina cadden December 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Looks like such a pretty place!


48 Amy December 12, 2010 at 6:39 pm

That’s it – I MUST go to Newport to get me one of those mugs! I love them!


49 Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) December 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm

This is so lovely! The rainy day just adds to the charm, I think. 😀

And your sandwich sounds awesome! I love when a veggie sandwich is done right. 😀


50 Meg December 12, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I can’t make it tonight! But I look forward to seeing you in Charlottesville soon!


51 Camille December 12, 2010 at 7:01 pm

What an incredible house! Wow!


52 Alaina December 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Looks like a great tour!! Especially the “tour cap”.

Looking forward to meeting you tonight! Any chance if Larbs knows if parking is easy around that part, this time of night?


53 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I’ve always loved touring historic houses! Those were always my favourite field trips back in elementary school. 😀


54 Namaste Gurl December 12, 2010 at 7:51 pm

I sware your Matt and your sisters Matt could pull off being brother’s :)


55 [email protected] December 12, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Looks like you made the best out of a yucky-weather day. I mostly stayed home in my sweatpants. Enjoy the rest of your time in Boston!


56 Cailin @ Stir Crazy December 12, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Ahhhh! I’m in Boston and would have loved to meet but can’t make it tonight!! Have fun!


57 Erica D @ Gratitouille December 12, 2010 at 8:19 pm

The rain is insane today! I drove about an hour from the central Connecticut shoreline to Kingston, Rhode Island and back today, and I’m glad to be alive!


58 Katie (The Boston Marathoner) December 12, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I went to Mount Holyoke College for undergrad, and “Well behaved women rarely make history” was our (unofficial) motto. Love it!


59 amy December 12, 2010 at 8:31 pm

You never mentioned you’re actually in (Newport) Rhode Island! So many people don’t even know where we are… I’ve been asked if Rhode Island is part of NY before! Just wanted you’re readers to know since you’re doing such a nice review of your time in Newport (RI). I’m biased but we are such a fabulous state!


60 Mary @ Bites and Bliss December 12, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Ohhh that lunch looks perfect! A great way to warm up that’s for sure.


61 Ally December 12, 2010 at 8:58 pm

amy – you are a fabulous state! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Newport so much. My husband and I have been going for years and once I was lucky enough to travel there for work. I love running the cliff walk one direction and then back down Bellevue. Did you do Ocean Drive? The Marble house is beauiful – we’ve also been to Rosecliff and The Breakers a couple times. I prefer the Marble house to Rosecliff but check out the Breakers if you go back. It’s just so phenomenally over the top!
I wish I knew you were going as I would have recommended you to Scales and Shells – definitely one of our favorite restaurants there. The seafood is so fresh and they do everything over a wood grill. We like to get the mussels or clams in the white sauce too. Wow, I want to be there now. Black Pearl is another favorite so I’m glad you found them :) We often bar-hop and share meals at a couple of different places too, its a great way to check out the town…and some of the places are pretty pricey so we’ll try and hit a more expensive place for lunch and make dinner more casual. Did you have a stuffie anywhere?
Where is the Mexican place you went to? It’s not sounding familiar – although I’ll admit we aren’t usually looking for Mexican when we are there – but I’m wondering if it is new. The last time we went was 2 years ago I believe.


62 Kath December 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Scales was a little too far to be walking.

Diego’s was right next to Black Pearl and th Cookie Jar


63 Katie December 12, 2010 at 9:18 pm

That estate looks beautiful. I love touring houses too. But I also like museums.

Tell the other Matt to marry your sister! 😉


64 Kath December 12, 2010 at 9:19 pm

I just did!!


65 Hannah December 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Oh my heavens, a grilled blueberry corn muffin? I think I just died and went to heaven… in my imagination.


66 bitt December 12, 2010 at 10:45 pm

my mom got me that votes for women tea towel too. she’s a women’s history buff. enjoy boston!


67 Jen @ keepitsimplefoods.com December 13, 2010 at 9:44 am

Love touring the Biltmore at Christmas. It’s a magical place.


68 Amber K December 13, 2010 at 11:59 am

I love old homes and museums, as long as I can see them at my own pace. I’m very much a “ok, seen that now, let’s move on” type person.


69 Sara December 13, 2010 at 6:53 pm

That house is gorgeous! It reminds me of my art history class :)


70 Marguerite Kearns December 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

Love the photos of the suffrage items in the gift shop. There are fans of these Votes for Women dishes out there and I’d like permission to reprint them on my blog which is about suffrage history as inspired by my grandmother, a suffragist, though she passed on long before I was born. Let me know. I’d like to pass on the holiday spirit.


71 Kath December 14, 2010 at 10:44 am

Sure, could you please give me a small photo credit to katheats.com? Thanks!


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