This past Friday, I texted a friend a photo of myself holding the leashes of two absurdly fluffy chow chows against the backdrop of a greenhouse and some unplanted trees. I figured no context was needed—and lo and behold, I was right. “NO. OH MY GOD. YOU KNOW I KNOW WHO THOSE DOGS ARE. HOLY FUCKING SHIT,” began the first of a flurry of texts in response. For those who follow @marthastewart48, the goings-on at Martha Stewart’s sprawling 156-acre farm in Katonah, New York are the source of endless fascination. Those chow chows, for example, were among the pets who figured prominently in a recent post that’s emblematic of why the 80-year-old mogul’s burner Instagram account has gained a cult following among people who, ordinarily, couldn’t care less about domesticity. “Burying the beautiful and unusual Princess Peony,” she captioned a photo of her gardeners digging a hole. “The four dogs mistook her for an interloper and killed her defenseless little self.” Was that really what a day in the life on Martha’s farm was like?
I’d been wondering as much for eight years or so, when I first discovered @marthastewart48, but my love of Martha goes back way further. The first and only time I ever skipped class, it was to attend a taping of The Martha Stewart Show. (My aunt framed a selfie I took from the audience and gave it to me that year for Christmas.) Back then, it was about flipping through the pages of her magazine and marveling at the fact that someone so, well, perfect, had unabashedly gone to prison—a fact she recently brought back to the public’s attention by selling replicas of a nativity set she made while behind bars.
But for a while now, it’s been all about that Instagram. It’s a bit of a stretch to call it a burner account these days, but the fact that the rogue counterpart to @marthastewart is now verified hasn’t changed the devil-may-care posting style that Stewart’s 1.6 million followers have come to adore. And while the ‘grams follow Stewart across the globe, many of her most iconic posts depict her everyday life on the farm. So imagine my delight when I received an invitation to join Stewart there for “Martha-ritas” on Cinco de Mayo, in celebration of a collection of crystal goblets called—what else?—The Martha, made in partnership with Baccarat.
After an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Manhattan, I arrived to the estate that Stewart has christened Cantitote Corners without any idea what to expect. I had yet to firm up an interview time, and it soon became clear why the Baccarat publicist was so lax: True to her advice for hosts to feel as comfortable as their guests, Martha—as it feels much more fitting to call her from here on out—was keeping things casual. She was so low-profile, it took me a few minutes to realize that she was already there mingling, pomegranate Martha-rita in hand. Her dogs—the aforementioned chow chows named Empress Han and Empress Qin, as well as two French bulldogs named Bete Noire and Creme Brule—were milling about just as freely, blithely unaware of their celebrity status as guest after guest tried to keep them still for photos.
Martha knows her farm has taken on a mythical status. “Well, I hope so!,” she says, smiling, when I ask whether she was aware her Instagram has made the place iconic. “I hope it’s getting more and more.” In fact, she has plans to make sure that’s the case. With so much room to spare—“it goes way down that way,” she waves down the property, “and way over that way”—Martha has endeavored to make her farm home to the world’s largest maze. (Her passion about mazes is palpable; when I start to recommend a New Yorker profile about the world’s foremost maze-maker, Adrian Fisher, she cuts me off: “I read it, of course.”) The biggest maze in the world, she tells me, is a pineapple-shaped labyrinth owned by Dole that stretches three-plus acres in Hawaii. “But this’ll be.. Bigger,” she says, her eyes twinkling. “It’s going to take about five years to plant the whole thing.”
Over the course of the sunny afternoon, there’s just one moment that serves as a reminder that technically, this was all promotion for her collab with the 258-year-old legacy crystal brand. At one point, we all gather around the pool for a spiel in which Martha informs us that she discovered Baccarat when a large collection came along with her purchase of another home in Maine. They featured glasses in all shapes and sizes, but none that were quite up to housing the full glory of a Martha-rita: her signature take on the cocktail, which is made up of Casa Dragones Blanco tequila, fresh lime juice, “real” orange liqueur like Cointreau or Grand Marnier, a little bit of sugar, the best salt she can find, and pomegranate extract that’s been frozen into cubes. After heaping praise on the final crystal product, she gives Baccarat’s pink-haired CEO and president Jim Shreve the go-ahead to smash a piñata filled with citrus-flavored Martha Stewart CBD Wellness Gummies.
Soon enough, it’s time for Martha to teach us all how to make her signature guacamole, which calls for fairly run-of-the-mill instructions until it’s time to scoop out the flesh of a halved avocado. “Put it into a giant molcajete like this, which you bring back from Mexico on the airplane and you have your boyfriend carry it because it’s really heavy,” she says before pausing. “Is that Mexican music?” Getting back to chopping, she makes one of many dry quips: “We tried to get mariachis and they had sore throats.” A few minutes later, her peacocks let out a chorus of shrieks that echo across the estate. Martha mimics them.
The rest of the ingredients—cilantro, fleur de sel, and, most importantly, fresh lime juice—are to be expected. But Martha doesn’t stop there. Emma, a farm employee who’s been teaching her about Latin American cuisine, put her on to her mom’s move: smashing some hard-boiled eggs in with the avocado. Naturally, Martha’s come courtesy of her own farm, but she has some tips for those who aren’t lucky enough to own a large flock of chickens: Put a steamer into a pot with a tight cover, bring the water to a boil just beneath it, and cover it for four-and-a-half minutes. “No matter how fresh or how old,” she says, shouting out the New York Times for teaching her the technique, “the egg peels perfectly.”
It’s time to go, and absolutely no one is ready to leave. Plenty have had a Martha-rita or two too many, but not Martha. “I drink very moderately,” she tells me. “I don’t want to be known as a drinker—I have too much to do! I like to have a couple nice drinks.” When I point out that she recently made headlines for shading Ina Garten's comment about drinking to cope during the pandemic, she brushes it off. “Ina Garten’s a very old friend, and she could do whatever she damn well pleases,” she says. The same, of course, goes for Martha: Who else would quietly set about building the world’s largest maze in their spare time?