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Nejaime's Wine Cellars

Berkshire Coop

Guido's Marketplace

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Berkshire Organics

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Chez Nous Bistro

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Papa’s Best Batch: Outstanding Barbecue With A View

By Jamie Larson

No matter how long we’ve covered the RI region there are just some places so beautifully bucolic they render us speechless. Papa’s Best Batch, a smoked meat sandwich trailer in Red Hook, New York is plunked down in such a place. Since your mouth will be agape, we recommend filling it with something off Jody Apap’s unique menu.

Behind Greig Farm’s big red barn, with a view of the hazy blue Catskills over yellow fields, and shaded under the lazy green branches of two massive weeping willows, sits a cluster of picnic tables and a shiny chrome 1972 Airstream Land Yacht. The trailer’s exterior glitters as sunlight passes through the swaying curtain of leaves. Inside, Apap builds a smoked brisket sandwich with Asian slaw, Swiss cheese and homemade Russian dressing.

The big Yacht houses a roomy kitchen that’s not too hot the afternoon of our visit. The meat is smoked outside in a handmade smoker, a quaint sheet metal tower with a pitched little cottage roof. Apap is busy, working solo, running from outside order counter to kitchen, and he’s smiling.

“My task is to get people here the first time.” Apap says, pulling halved egg whites out of the smoker. “Once they’ve been here, they come back.”

Apap doesn’t rest on the appeal of the location, though: he’s put together a list of offerings that are not only delicious but special.

“I try to make it so it’s stuff people can’t get anywhere else,” he says, filling his smoked deviled eggs from a piping bag. Only the whites are smoked (lightly) and have a slightly chewy, texture reminiscent of a good smoked cheese. The filling includes homemade mustard, and the combined woodsy flavor is well balanced and refined ($4 for 4).

In addition to the bestselling brisket ($11), Apap’s other sandwiches are well worth a try. There’s smoked chicken with pesto, roasted pecans and sweet red peppers ($9); smoked salmon with cream cheese, capers and red onion (10); and an open face smoked hummus sandwich ($7) made by smoking, then re-rehydrating the chickpeas. That one comes with a couple deviled eggs for good measure.

Apap was a Bard student who couldn’t bring himself to leave. He worked in restaurants as a bartender, but not in the kitchen, and later moved on to the world of software. He always loved to cook, and sold his own maple syrup and jerky at the Greig Farm farmers market. Then, two years ago, between projects, he decided to change directions. He bought the trailer online and renovated it himself. He taught himself how to smoke meat and set up shop, making his own food on his own terms.

“I put my daughter on the bus in the morning and I’m home to cook her dinner,” Apap says as a fitting metric of success. “And I like doing it. It’s way better than hanging out by a computer or bartending.”

Another metric is the people who show up right as he opens, like loyal moths to a porch light flicking on. The bread delivery guy pulls up, drops off, then picks himself up a sandwich here, despite the fact he visits many delis a day.

“Even my health inspector can’t stop raving about it,” says Apap. “I think it’s the combination of flavors. I don’t over smoke anything.”

If you were wondering, the name Papa’s Best Batch isn’t a play on Apap’s name backwards or his fatherhood but a family inside joke, where everything that came out of the kitchen was papa’s best batch, no matter what it was. That certainly still holds true here under the willows.

Papa’s is a great place to grab a sandwich on the go, but do yourself a great service: sit at a picnic table and soak in the surroundings. The combination of view and food are calming and quintessential Hudson Valley.

Papa’s Best Batch
Greig Farm, 223 Pitcher Lane, Red Hook, NY
(914) 388-5202
Open Wednesday—Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 07/18/16 at 09:03 AM • Permalink

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Cantina 229: A Convivial Gathering Space In New Marlborough

By Hannah Van Sickle Barrett

Photos courtesy Cantina 229.

Cantina 229 — a nod to both the restaurant’s address and the New Marlborough, Mass. telephone exchange — is less about the menu, neither Mexican nor Italian, but rather the owners’ vision for a space that would be a destination, a proverbial watering hole-turned-gathering place. Josh Irwin and Emily Rachel splashed onto the dining scene last summer in an experimental capacity, opening the gorgeous 1,500-square-foot post-and-beam barn on their country property for Taco Tuesdays. What began as a simple family tradition — Irwin crafting tacos for up to 25 friends and extended family members on any given week — quickly became a South County destination once word got out. Taco Tuesdays will return this summer, to honor the restaurant’s beginnings, but for the rest of the week Cantina 229 will be showcasing world fare made local.

Josh Irwin and Emily Rachel

Last Friday night I reserved two seats at the bar, a deep, L-shaped construction made of exotic Douglas Fir milled from the property. Bartender Austin Rapisarda welcomed me and my friend Dawn, and mixed up a round of refreshing cucumber margaritas ($12), a pleasing combination of tequila, cucumber-lime slush, and Combier. He explained how he had built the bar over the winter out of remnants of beams found in a burn pile out back and fronted it with original barn doors from the property.

The concept for Cantina comes from the couple’s appreciation for top-notch ingredients, a passion for creating fun food and serving it in a way that encourages diners to share, to experiment, to taste and to enjoy. “We’re taking a worldly menu and making food with ingredients we raise ourselves while supporting the farmers around us” says Irwin.

Cantina’s open-concept kitchen is visible from every seat in the house. With Irwin’s penchant for creating food for tasting and sharing in mind, I ordered an array of small plates that would allow us to understand not only his culinary vision but also the dining experience the couple is hoping to cultivate. We started with rillette croquettes ($12), crispy pulled pork piled atop pickles, cilantro aioli and mustard greens followed with beet tartine ($10), a base of Berkshire Mountain Bakery olive bread, roasted red and golden beets, Rawson Brook chevre and black pesto.

It’s clear that Irwin knows his ingredients; what becomes evident, impressive really, is that he knows the farmers just as well. He raised the pork we were served, his greens were from Jan Johnson at Mill River Farm, and he told us that Susan Sellew, of Rawson Brook Farm, had been out of chevre that morning but had whipped up a batch at his request. A visit to Steve Cunningham’s Berkshire Bounty Farm, just down the road, allowed Irwin to “fill up a bucket, and make up the menu.”

We ordered a second round of drinks, this time opting for the Road Runner ($12), a festive mix of bourbon, Campari, hibiscus syrup and lemon balm from the lawn just beyond the bar. What then followed was a showcasing of Irwin’s culinary magic, punctuated by echoes of his varied experience living in India training with a home chef, learning street curries in Thailand, and making soup dumplings in China. Pork and ginger dumplings ($10) were made with more of Irwin’s own pork served with sesame and scallion dipping sauce. Then came pa jun ($8), a crisp leek, scallion and chive pancake. 

Both Dawn and I were treated to our first experience with bibimbap ($15), a melange of crispy rice, marinated vegetables, kimchi, fried egg, crispy shallots, bap hot sauce and bulgogi beef. Perhaps my favorite was a diminutive serving, two gorgeous bites, of the MA striped bass entree ($24) served with a bright green basil spaetzle from the kitchen garden, baby squash and buttered garlic scapes. 

The atmosphere is lively and convivial yet intimate; The bar seats eight, and there is one centrally located community table, a smattering of two-tops and four giant picnic tables outside. Irwin and Rachel are excited to debut this season, serving dinner five nights a week year round. “There are restaurants and there are places you go to eat; we want to be the latter… a place to socialize,” says Irwin. Despite Cantina’s remote feel, it’s a mere seven miles from downtown Great Barrington and well worth the foray into the “wilds” of New Marlborough.

Cantina 229
229 Hartsville New Marlboro Road
New Marlborough, MA
(413) 229-3276
Open nightly (closed Wednesday and Thursday) , 5-9 p.m.
Sunday brunch beginning at 10 a.m.
Reservations suggested.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/12/16 at 12:04 PM • Permalink

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20 Railroad Public House: New Kid On The Block Is A Fast Friend

By Hannah Van Sickle Barrett

20 Railroad Public House, the eatery marked by a green and white striped awning on iconic Railroad Street in Great Barrington, Mass., is sporting a new moniker and coming alive just in time for the busy summer season. This collaboration between Great Barrington native Ben Downing and Laura Shack of Firefly in Lenox was born of Downing’s “plotting for years to build something with a sense of community.” Not surprisingly “20,” as locals still call it, is doing just that.

Downing, whose first job was working for Dominic Polumbo at Moon in the Pond Farm in Sheffield “one summer many years ago,” has made it a point to connect with local food purveyors. His goal? To make locally sourced, farmer direct produce, antibiotic and hormone free meats, and fish driven fresh from the docks in Boston the focus of what “20” is calling “pub food done right.”

The atmosphere inside is decidedly casual yet updated; an entire wall of exposed brick, punctuated by trendy, metal cage wall sconces, defines the bright dining space. Light streams in through a wall of windows that affords diners a view of life unfolding on Railroad Street. On a recent Friday afternoon at 1 p.m., there were just three tables open in the bustling pub-like atmosphere where I had decided to meet a friend for lunch. I was immediately taken by the day’s blackboard specials, and started with potato croquettes ($9); the appetizer arrived on a white oval plate, atop a generous yet artistic puddle of bright romesco sauce, crumbles of Rawson Brook Farm chevre and a sprinkling of parsley. The presentation was striking, and the accompaniments were just the right pairing of cool and smooth to balance the hot and crunchy indulgence.

There were two additional blackboard specials, both indicative of chef Drew Jacobs’ creative flair and passion for local and seasonally inspired foods: a fried chicken sandwich served with remoulade, bread and butter pickled peppers and a side of potato salad ($14) and a lamb sandwich boasting caper raisin puree and garlic yogurt on a brioche bun with mixed greens ($15).

For lunch, I chose the mussels ($12) from the “Starters and Shared” section of the menu; they arrived in a towering heap, bathed in coconut curry, basil, cilantro, mint and scallions, served with toasted focaccia for mopping up the sweet and creamy broth. I was equally interested in the two versions of the French Canadian specialty on this section of the menu; poutine ($8), featuring house-cut potato frites, cheese curds, Guinness gravy and fresh herbs, as well as the Southwestern poutine ($10), which substitutes tomatillo salsa, pulled pork and cilantro for the cheese curds and gravy.

My friend Patti ordered the Reuben ($14) stuffed with housemade pastrami, Hosta Hill sauerkraut, Swiss and mustard aioli on rye bread, served with house-cut potato fries. The sandwich was ample, piled with tender meat, and the fries were exceptional.

Other menu items that caught my eye were the creative salads — from a kale salad ($9) served with roasted grape tomatoes, creamy manchego dressing, Aleppo pepper and manchego tuile to an asparagus salad ($9) marrying shaved asparagus, roasted asparagus tips, local greens, romesco, foccacia crisp and sherry vinaigrette. There was also a Skyview Farm sweet Italian sausage ($12) from nearby Sheffield, a pulled pork sandwich ($13), a house-ground burger ($15) and a black bean burger ($14). Of particular note is the fact that Jacobs grinds, cures, brines and smokes all of the meats in house. 

As we lingered after lunch, the impressive 28-foot mahogany bar from the 1800s began to fill; bar manager Eric Rudgunas, formerly of John Andrews in Egremont, brings a strong focus on craft cocktails to “20,” and as we were leaving a pile of fresh lemons and limes were being put to good use. His creativity was apparent in both the Borracha Fresa ($11) featuring Chinaco blanco, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, strawberry-rhubarb and lemon, as well as in the Stiggins Daiquiri ($11) made from Cana Brava Rum, plantation pineapple, lime and simple syrup.

For the beer enthusiast, “20” offers 10 taps ranging from a 20-ounce Guinness ($7) and Shacksbury Farmhouse Cider ($9) to Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin IPA ($8.50) and Troegs Cultivator Helles Bock ($6). Additionally, Downing and Rudgunas are working on bringing a strong wine presence to the restaurant. 

Whether for a weekday lunch, an intimate dinner for two or drinks after a show at the Mahaiwe, 20 Railroad Public House is sure to be a hit in an iconic locale that has been turning out food and drinks for nearly 40 years.

20 Railroad Public House
20 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, MA
Tuesday - Sunday, 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.; 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. (bar stays open until midnight)
(413) 528-9345

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/27/16 at 08:52 PM • Permalink

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At Nejaime’s, The Art Of Wine, And The Wine Of Art

By Lisa Green

We’re accustomed to sipping wine while perusing art at a reception. But when the gallery is in the wine store — and there are simultaneously more than 70 fine wines being poured — well, that’s a different type of wine and art happening. On Saturday, June 25, Nejaime’s Wine Cellars in both Lenox and Stockbridge, Mass. will be hosting their free, annual Grand Tasting afternoon, this year enhanced by the presence of renowned local artists and their works.

The new twist comes from Jamie Trie, Nejaime’s marketing director, who had come across a quote from winemaker Robert Mondavi. He said that incorporating “wine, food, and the arts enhances the quality of life.” Trie’s background is in arts promotion, so she was inspired to add another dimension to the grand tasting. This is her first curated show.

Vendors will be pouring wines, spirits and craft beers; Z.Z. and Company Barbecue will be contributing its ‘cue to the selection of cheeses and gourmet foods Nejaime’s will put out. On the visual side, participating artists include Andrew DeVries, Marilyn Kalish, Marguerite Bride, Edward Acker, Kris Galli, Ken Bastard and Alex Kamaroff. Local bestselling author Gina Hyams (The Tanglewood Picnic) will be there, signing her books.

Speaking of Tanglewood, the event falls on the day of Garrison Keillor’s last local broadcast of “A Prairie Home Companion,” and Nejaime’s is mindful of that.

“Our grand tasting is always the kickoff to the summer season,” says Trie, “but we’ve scheduled it to start and end an hour earlier so people can get to Tanglewood in time.” Wine bottles packed, of course.

Nejaime’s Grand Tasting & Art Show
Saturday, June 25, 12-4 p.m.
60 Main Street, Lenox, MA
3 Elm Street, Stockbridge, MA

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/20/16 at 10:04 AM • Permalink

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A New Bright Spot Opens In North Adams

By Amy Krzanik

If you’re looking for a poorly lit watering hole with a handful of blaring TVs, some stale pretzels for snacking and a surly bartender who acts like he’s doing you a favor when he takes your order, you’re really going to hate North Adams’ newest microbrewery and bar.

Bright Ideas Brewing, located on the campus of MASS MoCA, is the brainchild of Northern Berkshire County residents Orion Howard, an oncologist, and Eric Kerns, formerly of the Williamstown Theatre Festival and MASS MoCA. The two met just over a year ago and an idea became a reality very quickly. With the help of brewmaster Chris Post of Wandering Star in Pittsfield, the project went from “nothing to serving beer in about five months,” says Kerns.

The building where Bright Ideas is housed was fully leased when the two business partners inquired, but all tenants relocated within so that the brewery could take over the front space. Bright Ideas’ large wood bar came from the center beams of MASS MoCA’s Building 6, which the museum is renovating on schedule to open next year. Old flooring became tables, and rejected glass from Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s upside down house from 2009’s exhibit Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With now serves as a wall between the brewery and the bar.

Although the taproom had a soft opening in March, and has kept steady Thursday through Sunday hours since then, a grand opening celebration is planned for this coming Sunday, June 19 from 2 to 7 p.m. There will be eight beers available, including an IPA, a brown, a red, ESB, wheat, a gose sour beer and a nonalcoholic root beer. If you don’t already have a favorite (mine’s the Stout with more-than-hints of espresso and chocolate), try the flight and choose four of them to taste.

The event, which will feature live performances by Freddy & Francine from Los Angeles, and Old Sky from Burlington, VT, has been dubbed by Kerns and Howard as an event “for dads, by dads.” “We’re both dads,” says Kerns, “and we thought ‘what would we want to do on Father’s Day?’”

But he hastens to add that Bright Ideas is not only for dads. Kerns says they intentionally created a space that is female-friendly and doesn’t feel like a sketchy bar. In fact, you’ll often find his wife, Molly, manning the taps. “There’s a myth that boyfriends and husbands introduce women to beer,” he says, “but women are the largest-growing population of beer enthusiasts.”
 
The goal, say Kerns and Howard, was to build a “camaraderific” community drinking space, where people could come in to play card games, or to grab dinner from Bon Tricycle, a food cart that takes up residence there during business hours. (Offerings include bahn mi, pulled pork, jerk chicken, cubano or brie sandwiches; 12-hour Cherrywood smoked chicken or brisket; cheese/charcuterie plates; fresh oysters; and pizzas from Williamstown’s Hot Tomatoes.)

Bright Ideas Brewery, Restaurant & Bar
Grand Opening Fest
Sunday, June 19 from 2-7 p.m.
111 Mass Moca Way, North Adams, MA
(413) 346-4460

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/13/16 at 02:07 PM • Permalink

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Former Neighborhood Diner Spruces Up As GB Eats

Photo courtesy GB Eats.

By Hannah Van Sickle Barrett

It is screen door season at GB Eats, the newly rejuvenated and increasingly trendy dining spot at 282 Main Street in Great Barrington, Mass., owned and operated by Chef Pierre Cum and his wife Candice Rischner. The beautifully updated face of the former Neighborhood Diner, owned and operated by Cum for the past 18 years, reflects the extensive Main Street construction project that has just recently concluded with the planting of several New Bradford flowering pear trees along the red brick and poured concrete sidewalk that welcomes diners. From behind an entire wall of eastern-facing plate glass windows that offer a glimpse of the greening Berkshire Hills and newly unfurling red maples in the distance, Cum is turning out plate after plate of gorgeously presented food that reflects a daring foray into myriad regions while locally sourcing ingredients wherever possible; this marriage has resulted in some seriously creative dishes that run the gamut from traditional to edgy.

GB Eats first caught my attention as a coffee connoisseur; the gleaming black and chrome beast of a LaSpaziale espresso machine behind the counter churns out an impressive “Black Eye” ($4), a double shot of espresso in either the house blend Monsoon Malabar or French Roast coffee, both from Chris’ Coffee in Albany. And, just in time for summer, they offer a nitro brew iced coffee: nitrus-infused coffee, cold brewed in-house, before being run off of the tap for a velvety, thick texture not unlike coffee’s version of a Guinness stout. 

On a recent Saturday morning, amidst the din of clinking silverware and dishes, there is a steady stream of buttermilk pancakes ($7.50) coming from the kitchen, served with pure maple syrup from the Catskills of New York and a house-made blueberry compote. The kale breakfast salad ($9) is a favorite, served with bacon, white cheddar and house-made maple balsamic dressing; two variations on Eggs Benedict, one with house-made crab cakes ($12) and the other with house-made French potato cakes as a base ($10), boast the additions of avocado and arugula. My favorite barista/server, Michael, enthusiastically suggests the shakshuka and reports that “people are actually coming in” for this traditional North African dish that was adopted by the Israelis and added to the menu after Cum’s daughter spent a semester abroad in Israel. The shakshuka ($10) comes in a cast-iron skillet brimming with three eggs poached in stewed tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes and feta cheese with a side of toasted ciabatta.

While breakfast is served daily until 3 p.m., there are some equally interesting lunch/dinner items to choose from. The chopped cobb salad ($12) is a refreshing twist on the classic and features grilled antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken breast with bacon, apples, smoked gouda, red onion and boiled eggs. The roasted vegetable salad ($12), featuring roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and parsnips with feta cheese and roasted pepitas on a bed of mixed greens is both impressive and popular; both come tossed in a house-made maple balsamic vinaigrette. There is a grilled brisket sandwich ($11), house made with Black Angus beef, and a Berkshire melt ($10) featuring fresh mozzarella, avocado, tomato and basil pesto on grilled Berkshire Mountain Bakery sourdough. In addition to two takes on a burger, one classic ($11) and the GB Burger ($11) featuring blue cheese and bacon drizzled with sriracha and house-made aioli, the pork banh mi ($10), crab cake Po Boy ($11) and Cali BLT ($10) reflect both Cum and Rischner’s love of travel and desire to keep up with what’s new on the food scene. 

This upscale cafe reflects the many changes happening in Great Barrington; it is also a symbolic collaboration for this husband-wife team who are working together for the first time to create GB Eats. While Cum mans the kitchen, Rischner runs the front of the house and is wholly responsible for all of the house-made accompaniments and baked goods. Her salted caramel cookies are incredible, and they share space on a domed cake plate with a lemon-blueberry version as well as the more traditional chocolate chunk. There is a rotation of fresh pies, currently featuring rhubarb in a nod to the first of the local produce, and the glass case is stocked with house-made carrot cake, cheesecake, and peanut butter pie. Ice cream from The Scoop, in Lenox, is also featured; on this day they were offering two flavors, Chai Tea and Oreo Espresso. 

The vibe in GB Eats is decidedly upbeat; a series of bold art prints by Robert Peterson and Menashe Kadishman line the walls of the 55-seat dining space. They’re the work of Rischner’s father, printer and publisher Adi Rischner, formerly of Styria Studio in SoHo. The clean lines and bright colors in these works reflect the fresh and unique eatery where they hang. 

GB Eats is well worth a visit. Its location in the Barrington House puts the restaurant right in the center of downtown Great Barrington and all this bustling town has to offer. 

GB Eats
282 Main St., Great Barrington, MA
(413) 528-8226
Beginning Memorial Day weekend, open every day 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/17/16 at 11:05 AM • Permalink

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Hudson Valley Food Tours: Sampling The Region’s Food Scene

On the tour: Sunflower Cafe’s signature Sunflower Salad. Photo: Jennifer Brizzi.

By Andrea Pyros

You may think you’ve got your farmers’ market and post-farmers’ market lunch game down, but Jennifer Brizzi, owner and operator of Hudson Valley Food Tours (HVFT), believes there’s much more we can learn about our region’s food scene. With her Culinary Crawls walking tours of Hudson Valley hotspots, Brizzi has devoted herself to bringing people who love to eat and explore, together with the people growing and producing our area’s amazing food, to the benefit of both.

Raven & Boar Farm offers samples at Rhinebeck Farmers Market. Photo: Jennifer Brizzi.

It was last spring when Brizzi, a Rhinebeck local and professional food writer, launched Culinary Crawls in Rhinebeck. She’d take small groups to the outdoor farmers’ market where she’d arranged for them to speak with farmers and vendors. Then her tour would continue on through the village to visit restaurants and shops, including stops at Krause’s Chocolates, Smoky Rock BBQ and others.

She envisioned it as a way for people to meet and interact with each other, to sample amazing food and, most central to her vision,  to allow her guests to learn from the people making and serving the food. “I love to travel,” Brizzi says. “I wanted to create a traveling experience for people, so they get to know the culture of the Hudson Valley area, and so they can immerse themselves in it and talk to people and experience the area in a way you can’t if you stay in a chain hotel and eat in a chain restaurant.”

Her Rhinebeck Crawls were so successful that, this spring, Hudson Valley Food Tours will expand to offer walking Crawls in Hudson and Beacon. Brizzi has hired Pete Ramos, a Culinary Institute grad, to run the Rhinebeck tours, and she plans to staff up in other locations as well. She’s also begun arranging longer Savor/Art & Food Tours, where food and beverage tasting stops will mix with stops at art galleries and centers, so guests can meet artists and even share meals with them.

HVFT president Jennifer Brizzi and Dutchess Tourism vice president Lydia Higginson on the Crawl. Photo: Camryn Lomicky.

Even if you’re familiar with the area’s food and art scene, Brizzi promises something new and interesting, and she welcomes guests from near and far.

Hudson Valley Food Tours
Crawls in Rhinebeck, Beacon & Hudson
Art & Food Tours in Poughkeepsie, Rondout Valley & Millerton
Private tours also available upon request.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/09/16 at 04:08 PM • Permalink

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Popup Tuesday Dinners At Rivertown Lodge Start March 29

By Lisa Green

There’s something sort of magical, a little Brigadoon-like, about popup dinners. Whether its Outstanding In The Field, PlaceInvaders or a Dinner in White, they are happenings that are here and gone in a matter of hours. The food may be the centerpiece, but it’s the temporal nature of the events that adds the allure.

Gabriele Gulielmetti and Rachel Sanzone of Bonfiglio & Bread. Photo by Jersey Walz.

A series of popup dinners at Rivertown Lodge in Hudson, New York, will be no less special for the goal of adding some excitement to your Tuesday night, and who can argue with that? On March 29, the Lodge will team up with Gabrielle Gulielmetti and Rachel Sanzone, owners of Bonfiglio and Bread, who will create a Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean themed dinner.

Gulielmetti has created a three-course-plus menu “of the food we like:” cecina (chickpea pancake) with condiments including a smoked cashew sauce, preserved lime and hibiscus spread, smoked sweet potatoes with black garlic and calabrian chilies (and more); lamb kibbe, a spicy seafood stew and a dark chocolate mousse to finish, at a prixe fixe of $45.

“Our plan is to do a different popup every Tuesday night, and we’re starting with Bonfiglio because we love what they do so much,” says Rivertown Lodge co-owner Ray Pirkle. “We want to celebrate our local chefs and ask them to do something they’re not necessarily known for, but are passionate about.”

The bar at Rivertown Lodge.

The popups are also intended to offer more variety to weeknight diners who find themselves doing the “where do you want to go I don’t know where do you want to go” refrain. “We have a pretty good amount of choices,” says Pirkle, “but it’s sometimes hard to find something different midweek.”

More than anything, though, the increasingly frequent collaborations between chefs, bakers and restaurants are about cooperation and friendship, Gulielmetti says. “This is a small community, and most of the people who are excited about what they’re doing want to be excited about what everyone else is doing, too.”

Two additional popups with Bonfiglio & Bread at Rivertown Lodge are scheduled for April 19 and May 17, and Pirkle and co-owner Kim Bucci are talking to other chefs to make the popup dinners a regular thing. After the first one, the prix fixe will be set closer to the $30 mark. Reservations are required for table seating but walk-ins will be welcome to eat at the bar.

“For us, it’s a big production; we fill up our lobby with tables and really make it a special event,” says Pirkle.

Bonfiglio & Bread Popup Dinner @ Rivertown Lodge
Tuesday, March 29, 6-10 p.m.
731 Warren Street, Hudson
$45
To reserve, email kim@rivertownlodge.com

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/22/16 at 10:13 AM • Permalink

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Daughters Fare & Ale: Sausages, Sandwiches And Specialty Beers

By Jamie Larson

When seasoned, professional-grade craftsmanship combines with thoughtfully balanced artistry, you get the most beautiful things. At Daughters Fare and Ale in Red Hook, New York, they’re also delicious.

From sandwiches and salads to prepared foods and their house-cured meats, Daughters owners Ryan McLaughlin and Rachel McPherson are pulling from their impressive NYC culinary backgrounds to sculpt a menu that is a mouth-watering revelation even to those of us accustomed to eating (and writing about) the best quality food our region has to offer.

“What we can bring to Red Hook is superior quality food and beer that might be more difficult to get up here,” McLaughlin says.

But let’s first address the name of the place, since it tells us a lot about this couple. McLaughlin and McPherson have four young daughters: seven-year-old Mabel, two-year-old Aviva and seven-month-old twins Ruth and Grace. They moved to Red Hook and opened their first-ever business while McPherson was pregnant with the twins. Their intention was to slow down.

“Having twins in the midst of all this was pretty crazy,” McPherson admits, “but we had to do it now.”

The couple met while working in the kitchen at Blue Hill in the Village. They then went to (the now closed) Eighty One before first daughter Mabel came along. McLaughlin worked at The Vanderbilt before moving up to Hudson where he became chef at Swoon Kitchenbar.

“As any cook knows, there comes a point where you have to get off the line,” McLaughlin says, “and we wanted to do something together.”

You can taste the couple’s impressive resume in the food. In the kitchen of their unassuming but spacious South Broadway storefront, McLaughlin is really working some magic. He makes four types of sausage, including Marguez, Kielbasa, Toulouse, and Boundin Blanc, now used by a number of local restaurants. There’s Gravlox that looks like a massive red jewel, guanciale (cured pork cheek that tastes like the best pancetta you’ll ever have), meatballs, chicken liver mousse, bacon for a perfect BLT and so much more, all available by weight.

But it’s not just about meat. McLaughlin loves preparing vegetables, as well, and Daughters’ vegetarian offerings are equally mouth watering. And, of course, the meat and veggies are all sourced locally from Starling Yards, Kinderhook Farm, Sawkill Farm, Northwind Farms, Lovers Leap and Common Hands.

If you just want to hang out in the beautiful bright space, get a No. Six Depot coffee (out of West Stockbridge), but you’ll be tempted by the Speck sandwich featuring broccoli rabe, ricotta and red onion on an everything baguette. Or you can get that Merguez sausage on grilled flatbread with nappa slaw and raita, salmon tartine, or a beautiful chicken salad. The chef’s favorite sandwich is a BLT with Daughters bacon, tomato jam and greens. All of the bread comes from Our Daily Bread in Chatham and they offer gluten-free loaves. On Fridays, Daughters serves burgers and that’s not something you want to miss out on. Surprise, surprise—the burgers are crazy good.

If all this food wasn’t enough, Daughters also offers one of the best high-end craft beer selections you’re going to find in the region. The six-beer tap menu is killer and so are the offerings in the takeaway cooler. If you’re a beer aficionado, you may find the following information vitally important: Daughters is the only location where you can buy cans and bottles of Other Half Brewing beer outside of the Brooklyn brewery’s taproom. When Other Half releases a new limited-release batch, there are early morning lines around the block. The only way to avoid that line is to come to Daughters (it goes fast here, too). If that’s gone by the time you get there, you’ll probably find something else from Other Half on tap.

The pair is working very hard to balance extremely busy home and work lives all while putting out some truly next-level food.

“Daughters, food and beer, that’s basically our life,” McPherson says. “And we’d like to share it with everybody else. We want to be a part of this community.”

Daughters Fare and Ale
7466 S. Broadway, Red Hook, NY
(845) 835-8365
Tuesday - Thursday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Friday, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. -  5 p.m.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 03/06/16 at 04:31 PM • Permalink

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Knead To Know: Take A Class In Bread Making

Bread making is one of those activities that can feel intimidating. The yeast, the kneading, the waiting …it just seems easier to go out and buy bread at one of the many good bakeries and farms in the Rural Intelligence region.

But there’s really nothing like making your own, and the folks over at the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation want to take out the fear factor and instill the fun. They’re hosting a hands-on bread baking session on Saturday, Feb. 20 from 12:30 to 4 p.m.

“We want to demystify bread for people who always think it’s too difficult to make,” says Leslie Reed-Evans, executive director of the WRLF. “It will be an informal session, more of a ‘doing together,’ and opportunity to share and make bread as a group.” She and Kathy Chesney, the foundation’s education/program director and a long-time bread maker, will instruct.

During the class, which is open to bakers of all experience levels, participants will be guided in the making of two kinds of baguettes (“which are really quite simple,” Reed-Evans insists). One requires a longer rising time, while the other is an herb and onion quick bread you knead right in the bowl, something you could make as you’re preparing dinner.

While the bread rises, the class will make butter and other toppings to slather on the fresh-baked loaves.

The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation’s mission is to conserve the rural character of Williamstown, and educational programs and workshops such as this one help connect us to our rural heritage. In celebration of its 30th anniversary, the foundation is planning a series of “unplugged” events (last week it was a basket-making workshop).

Space is limited and registration is required. Don’t forget to bring your favorite apron.

Bread-baking Workshop at Sheep Hill
Saturday, Feb. 20 from 12:30-4 p.m.
671 Cold Spring Rd., Williamstown, MA
$10; $5 WRLF members
Check the website to reserve a spot, or call (413) 458-2494.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/16/16 at 02:42 PM • Permalink