The weeks before the holidays are filled with a pleasurable sense of anticipation. For Martha, the buildup to her caroling party was much longer.
Finally, after two years of renovations, the Summer House, an 18th-century Colonial on her Bedford farm, was complete. The interior sparkled with golden wreaths and ornaments. And the music room, home to a new Steinway & Sons grand piano, was the centerpiece for this gathering of family and friends who love to sing.
Upon arrival, each guest was given a songbook, and soon the house filled with the exuberant voices of friends happy to be gathered around the piano on a crisp winter day. Between songs, the buffet beckoned with its own renditions of holiday classics: oysters on the half shell topped with shimmering mignonette gelee, crudites, teacups of winter-squash soup, pork potpies, and stuffed cabbages.
Another table offered Martha's signature eggnog, rich with cream and laced with rum, bourbon, and Cognac. There were dazzling cookies, a whipped-cream cake filled with mincemeat, and Christmas trees made of stacked white-chocolate stars.
"We sang, we ate, we sang some more, we ate some more," Martha says. "And then we took walks." Bundling up, the guests strolled through a dusting of fresh white snow, a pitch-perfect end to a fine, festive day.
Get the recipes for this menu
White Crudites with Buttermilk Dip
Creamy Winter Squash Soup with Herbed Crostini
Oysters with Mignonette Gelee
Potato Pancakes with Pink Applesauce and Creme Fraiche
Pickled Lady Apples
Smoked Salmon Platter with Fennel Salad
Individual Pork Potpies
Martha's Classic Eggnog
White Cake with Mincemeat Filling and Glaceed Fruit
Passion Fruit and Red- and Black-Currant Pates de Fruits
Cranberry and Pistachio Rochers
Text by Amy Conway