Queen for a Day: Special touches make Mother’s Day more memorable

Sure, you could go out to eat – plenty of restaurants offer nice meals for Mother’s Day. But if you’re looking for an extraordinary gesture to show mom how much you care, options abound, from the classic breakfast in bed to a special stay at a B&B.

At home

Mary Entrup is a municipal judge, attorney, wife to the new president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, Lewis Reed, and the mother of Sam, 11, Max, 6, and stepdaughters Ashley, 21, and Sarah, 18.

“I know the boys won’t want to go to a restaurant where I would want to go,” Entrup said about the changing nature of Mother’s Day festivities as a family grows. “I know they would want somewhere that serves chicken fingers and fries, not a leisurely brunch at one of my favorite places.”

Entrup said she enjoys the breakfast in bed her family serves her for Mother’s Day. And what makes that custom even more endearing is that it can lead, almost effortlessly, to a short nap afterwards. “Lewis has served eggs and hash browns, juice, and the boys probably made the toast,” she said. “I enjoy it. Then I like to go back to sleep for a little while or [take] a little time to myself, and it usually isn’t long before [the boys] want to know what I’m doing – but it’s fun while
it lasts.”

Lee Conway knows all about lavish Mother’s Day grand buffet brunches from his experience with various Hyatt hotels around the country, where he worked his way up to senior executive chef. After 28 years, he left Hyatt and opened Conway’s Catering Company in Maryville, Ill., with his wife, Colleen. But Conway is adamant that preparing a delectable Mother’s Day breakfast does not have to be a grand hotel production. Instead, he said, a simple and thoughtfully presented Mother’s Day breakfast in bed can be a memorable experience for everyone.

“This is time for fun,” he said. “Depending on the ages of the children, plan the menu, shop ahead and consider something simple – fresh fruit, french toast, vegetables such as asparagus, or oatmeal. I have always said that if you are going to go to the work of cooking, then finish it so it looks good, too.”

Conway suggests including special touches by adding fresh herbs such as tarragon or mint to sliced cantaloupe and dressing up a bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar, vanilla, toasted walnuts, heavy cream, sliced bananas and a pecan half on top. Served with Champagne and a few strawberries and presented on a tray with a napkin that prevents dishes and glasses from slipping around and, voila – you have a treat for mom without leaving home.

“Even young children can help squeeze orange juice or put flowers in a vase and be in on the fun – and maybe even learn a little in the process,” he said. “The trick is to do some of the work ahead and to ... be creative. Check out the recipes and change them if you want – add a tomato sauce instead of hollandaise to the eggs. It won’t be eggs Benedict, but you’ll be creating your [own] dish.”

Eating out, with a twist

On the other hand, instead of breakfast in bed, mom might prefer something a bit more unusual, such as a cooking class that prepares Mother’s Day confections or a quick escape to a local B&B. With a modicum of planning, you can formulate your own customized Mother’s Day plan.

Mom can brush up on a few cooking techniques and enjoy a fabulous brunch at the same time at a Mother’s Day Brunch demonstration class at Kitchen Conservatory in Clayton on Mother’s Day from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

“We started this a couple of years ago,” said Anne Cori, president of Kitchen Conservatory for the last 10 years. “We had success with a Valentine’s Day class, which is along the same lines – offering classes on days maybe women don’t want to cook, so we cook for them. They have become very popular.”

Cori said this year’s Mother’s Day menu includes Champagne cocktail, artichoke-crab bisque, goat cheese salad with candied nuts, leek-salmon quiche and caramel molten cake with caramel ice cream. The class offers a chance to watch how it is done, enjoy the food and then go home with
the recipes.

“We change the menu every year and we usually find some great food that moms really like,” Cori said. “Something savory and something sweet, like the caramel molten cake. It’s gooey and this molten cake, which is not the usual chocolate, is all about goo.”

A special weekend treat

Sometimes, a short, sweet respite in another atmosphere, such as at a local B&B, is required to pamper and soothe mom on Mother’s Day. At the Lindenhof Bed and Breakfast in Augusta, Debbie and Bill Schaefer provide a Victorian atmosphere, where, during the 10 years they have owned the spot, they’ve worked to perfect their breakfast menu.

“Most of the time on Mother’s Day, the reservation is set up by a husband and older teenaged children,” Debbie Schaefer said. “In the morning, they can sleep in and come down for breakfast, and mom doesn’t have to do anything but enjoy the surroundings and the food.”

Breakfast at the Lindenhof might include stuffed french toast, sweet Belgian waffles or Havarti cheese soufflés served in individual custard cups, along with sausage or bacon and fruit. “I research recipes from several different sources – I prepare them and then I begin adding my own touches,” Schaefer said.

Of course, it always pays to know something about your mother’s preference. Sometimes that means asking before – long before – Mother’s Day, and sometimes it’s the well-thought-out surprise.

“Like I’ve said before, I think the way we pay attention to the details makes all the difference in a Mother’s Day she will really enjoy,” Conway said.