Blood on the tablecloth

Detail of a set table, showing a a plate, cutlery and glasses.

'Supper table' (detail) in Mrs Isabella Beeton, Beeton's every-day cookery and housekeeping book, Ward, Lock & Co., London, [ca.1895]. Caroline Simpson Library and Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

Servant ‘butchers’ dinner guest!

In putting on the dishes and taking them off, I shall observe to you a few things, as many accidents have occurred through inattention and want of care. Thomas Cosnett, The Footman’s Directory, and Remembrancer; or, The Advice of Oneimus to His Young Friends. (London, 1835)

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A gentleman’s cellars

Barrells in the cellars at Elizabeth Bay House.

In the cellars at Elizabeth Bay House. Photo Scott Hill © SLM

One of Elizabeth Bay House’s most evocative spaces is its wine cellar, built under the mud-stone floor of the entry hall and saloon. Faint impressions of painted labels –  sauternes, Teneriffe, port, claret, sherry, brandy, are still evident on the arched storage bays designed to hold casks and bottles. The wine cellars were connected to the house with an internal staircase, giving the butler – who was entrusted with the keys – access to the wine store.  Continue reading

A convict’s breakfast

Cooking over the fire at 'Redcoats and Convicts' at the Hyde Park Barracks.

Cooking over the fire at 'Redcoats and Convicts' at the Hyde Park Barracks. Photo © Leo Rocker

Breakfast at the barracks

While Sydney’s ‘toffs’ tucked into a leisurely breakfast – anything from freshly laid eggs to kedgeree, smoked ham or cured tongue, sometimes as late as 11am, the convicts at the Hyde Park Barracks would have had to settle for a dish of dreaded hominy, a porridge made from maize, or corn meal, doled out in the mess halls just before dawn (see recipe below). Continue reading

Repasts from our past – events in July

Two women cooking at 'Redcoats and Convicts' at Hyde Park Barracks.

Cooking at 'Redcoats and Convicts' at Hyde Park Barracks. Photo © Leo Rocker

While we continue fine dining with the Macleays at Elizabeth Bay House, other activities at Sydney Living Museums this month whet the appetite with a chance to experience convict life at Hyde Park Barracks, a glimpse of Sydney’s domestic underbelly at the Justice & Police Museum, and a taste of early Parramatta and colonial gastronomy at Elizabeth Farm. Continue reading