President Grover Cleveland bought a home in Bourne. He called it “Gray Gables”. President Cleveland spent so much of his summers on the Cape that his administration requested funds from Congress to build a special railroad stop. So in 1892 the Gray Gables Railroad Station was completed off Monument Neck Road in Bourne. The Station was to be used only by President Cleveland. President Cleveland enjoyed spending most of his summers on the Cape because he enjoyed the cool ocean breezes compared to the oppressive summer heat of Washington. President Cleveland began calling “Gray Gables” his summer “White House”. He coined the term “summer White House” to be used by future Presidents in describing where they vacationed in the summer.
Besides enjoying the Cape summer weather, President Cleveland loved seafood. His favorites were whole lobsters and oysters stew. Legend has it that he loved Oyster Stew so much that he even had it for breakfast.
The Chef at the “Summer White House” had a daily supply of lobsters bought from various suppliers on the Cape but he only purchased Wellfleet oysters. It has been said that two dozen oysters were the norm at lunch and dinner for President Cleveland.
President Cleveland’s love for seafood, especially lobster and oyster stew, may have been reflected in his 5’11” height and his weight of 300+ pounds.
Here is a recipe for Oyster Stew which may have been the same served to President Grover Cleveland.
This recipe is from Barnstable Association of Shellfishing Cookbook: “The B.A.R.S. Book of Favorite Shellfish Recipes”. This cookbook with delicious recipes is available for purchase at http://shellfishing.org/shop/.
18 raw oysters with oyster liquor
2 T. butter
4 scallions, chopped, and a few for garnish
1 qt. half & half
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Shuck 18 oysters keeping oyster liquor. In a large pot saute scallions in butter until tender. Add remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat until edges of oysters begin to curl, and mixture is hot, but not boiling. Garnish with sliced scallions, and serve with toasted bread or crackers.
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