Welcome to our list of favorite dining destinations in New York's Hudson Valley and Adirondack regions. We visit restaurants, wineries, barbecues, and a smattering of off the beaten path culinary destinations like maple sugar shacks and fromageries. My friends and I have been dining out together weekly for over twenty years. The locations we write about are our favorite destinations. We are not claiming they are the best, just our favorites. The posts are not "reviews" in the classic sense. - we offer only our picks, not pans. We will leave the criticism to others. We are a happy blog. We much prefer a good bistro to "haute cuisine", especially if they also have a nice bar. We prefer a crock of cassoulet and a bottle of Beaujolais to just about anything else. If you enjoy simple home style rustic cooking with a decent (but not too expensive) bottle of wine, then pull up a chair and join us.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Not at all food related, but you might want to know about this:
Natalie Merchant & Hudson Valley Philharmonic together at the Bardavon on October 8th. Tickets go on sale to members only on September 7th and to the general public one week later on September 14th. Based on the buzz I do believe this will sell out to members only during the first week. Not a member yet? Here's one more reason to join.http://www.Bardavon.org/ for more membership info.
d=374&venue=bardavonfor concert info.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Route 9 W
845 795 5400
There are two types of customers at the Ship Lantern Inn. The young couple sitting in the corner, trying to figure out which is the oyster fork, is probably here for the first time. Perhaps they remember coming here with their parents after graduation. It may be the most formal setting they have dined in since their last special occasion, and it is a special occasion tonight; probably someone's birthday.
The rest of the crowd has been coming here for years. More likely decades, like me. It is still a special place for us, but for different reasons. The Ship Lantern Inn, or the Ship, as we affectionately call it, is the home of tradition. It reeks of tradition. It is a proud standard bearer of what was called "continental" dining, a style of menu that all but disappeared thirty years ago. I do not say that pejoratively, but reverentially.
Westport, New York
I've mentioned in these posts before just how difficult it is to make a living running a restaurant in the Adirondacks. The season – for most locations – is July 4th through Labor Day. Depending upon the market you may see some traffic after Memorial Day weekend, and maybe Columbus Day in the fall, but the bills get paid with the money that's made during the nine or ten weeks between the July 4th and Labor Day weekend. Everything else is gravy. That is the reason we have so many “Mom and Pop” operations here with one partner (typically Pop) in the back running the kitchen, and the spouse (usually Mom) minding the front of the house. Add a few staff to handle the weekend extra traffic, but keep the costs down! The restaurant at the Westport Yacht Club – Le Bistro – is just such a place.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Night time temperatures are already chilling the lake, and in a few weeks it will be to cool to swim comfortably. August in the Adirondacks is a transition month, offering glimpses of the weather just around the corner. One morning last week the thermometer read 40º but it was still 80º by noon. Just a taste of September, when the “80º by noon” part will disappear. The farmers markets are out of the early summer favorites like asparagus and peas. The woods are full of blackberries and raspberries, but the blueberry crop – at least around Bullet Pond - was nonexistent this August. Soon the winter squashes and brussel sprouts will make their appearance and the brook trout will decorate the streams with their spawning colors. Hunting season is just around the corner. Hopefully that means some venison sausage hanging next to a prosciutto in the cellar, even if I have to pilfer the venison from a friend who is a better shot. The wild arugula around the house will be put up as pesto, blended with walnuts and olive oil, and frozen in meal size portions. I'll walk over to see if the hen of the woods mushroom is ready for picking, or more likely to find the resident bear decided it was his first. I pray my tomatoes have a few more weeks before the first frost, but the race is on. We have harvested a grand total of one so far from the garden, but I have numerous green fruit on each of the plants. Luckily our friends Dennis and Susan delivered a weekly “care package” cooler from their garden in Esopus, so we have not lacked for veggies this summer – zucchini and patty pan squash, kohlrabi and beets (with tops!), basil and swiss chard, and many different kinds of heirloom tomatoes. It was a feast every weekend. I guess I owe them at least a few drinks, eh? Their weekly deliveries will soon slow to a trickle, with a stalk of brussel sprouts for Thanksgiving dinner being the traditional “finale”.
As much as I love autumn, I hate the thought of summer ending. It is almost time to fill the bird feeders. To everything there is a season.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
Our list is more personal. It's a list of what we really like – why we keep coming back - and what really ticks us off (especially Grumpy), in no particular order.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
763 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Phn 845 452 5924
El Castillo Espanol Restaurant is now closed.
Our Wednesday night crew has been going to El Castillo Espanol for many, many years. In order for a restaurant to become one of our favorites, it must meet a few minimum requirements. First it must have a bar. Stop your snickering; we have a good reason for the bar prerequisite. If all of the stars are in alignment we will have anywhere from four to eight people for dinner each week, coming from Dutchess and Ulster Counties. We need a place to collect and wait for everyone to show up after work. Sitting at a table by yourself is not fun, so we frequent restaurants that also have a bar. Over the years this has caused us to miss out on some very good restaurants for the lack of the said aforementioned bar. One that comes to mind immediately is the old Busy Bee, a wonderful restaurant that we rarely went to. Perhaps if it had a bar would still be open? Or not.
Castillo has a small but very nice bar. If you are the first to arrive you might have to shoo the owners' children off of your bar stool, as the bar area also serves as the TV viewing area after school. Not a problem. We will typically start with a bottle of white Rioja, and more often than not have a platter of appetizers at the bar. This tradition was started by the owners, who almost always bring us out a mixed platter filled with calamari, chorizo sausage, baked clams and sauteed shrimp. For normal people this would be dinner, but we are not normal. Ask almost anyone.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Blue Mountain Lake, New York
Last Thursday the Adirondack Museum staged a celebration of food cooked with smoke and fire. The event complemented the ongoing North Country food exhibit entitled Lets Eat – Adirondack Food Traditions - that the museum has been running all summer. Naturalist Jane Desotell gave two presentations. Edible Adirondack mushrooms was the focus of her first talk. Later in the afternoon she gave a power point presentation on edible wild vegetables of the Adirondacks. John Roe from the culinary program at Paul Smiths gave two presentations on smoking foods, and offered samples of the smoked hens he had prepared at the conclusion of each session. The highlight of the day, at least for me, was the campfire cook-off, which pitted area chefs in a juried competition. Five area restaurants were represented: barVino and Lorenzo's of North Creek, The Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, The Cellar in Long Lake, and Paul Smith's College. Each team was asked to prepare a full meal, using only an outdoor wood fired grill. The competition started at 11 AM, and the meals were to be judged at exactly 1 PM.