Locavore Sinners & Saints
Remember when ice cream sodas and the like were the only gustatory sins? Those were the days! Now, before I nip into my local supermarket, I glance furtively around the parking lot to make sure no acquaintance catches me in the act. I swear, I do not shop in the big chain supermarket because I prefer its low prices and enormous range of goods. I go because our larder is empty, and everything else is closed. I love the enchanting Chatham Farmers’ Market those few precious hours it is open every week and the storybook-like Kinderhook Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, if I can get there before it closes at mid-day. But somehow I seldom manage to. And, no, I do not have a CSA membership. (Please do not harm my family.) I have no call for a bushel of kale this week nor do I expect to any time in the foreseeable future, and most years, by February, I’m getting kind of tired of rutabagas.
Call me crazy, but I dare to dream of a day when buying local is not a second career, when the price of boutique-farm-raised meats and produce re-enter our atmosphere, and when the means of distribution becomes more consumer friendly. I even harbor fantasies of legislation in Washington that forces Big Meat to change its criminal treatment of livestock—a better world all around if it results in higher prices, hence less meat consumption for all Americans. But I know that’s not enough to get my sorry, CSA-less ass off the fast track to eternal damnation, while all my saintly neighbors make a bee-line for those pearly gates. So to curry favor with the angels, I offer these weekend activities, which, in addition to their inherent Godliness, have the virtue of sounding like lots of fun.
What’s In Your Salad Dressing?
You may have your goody-goody CSA, but I have Dutchess County-based Benedictine monks, whose organic-artisanal vinegars are based on medieval monastic recipes. (So there!) These charmingly packaged, hard-to-come-by vinegars are crafted from different types of wines and spices, as well as local apple cider, and are the only vinegars produced in the Hudson Valley that have been subject to a painstaking, ancient fermentation process. Their flavors include red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, rose wine vinegar, apricot-scented vinegar, pure apple cider vinegar and, for the first time this year, raspberry vinegar and sherry wine vinegar. The monks at Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery takes the work of making all these vinegars very seriously, producing them in small batches and allowing them to age slowly, properly, until fermentation is complete. Their saintly patience is rewarded with vinegars of exceptional delicacy. If you like, you can learn all about the process during the festival and, of course, you will have an opportunity to taste all of the different types while you are there to help you decide which to buy. You may also buy other foods products from this and other monasteries’ farms, gardens, and kitchens, including tapenade, pesto, chutney, tomato sauces, salsas, apple sauce, apple butter, relishes, and dried culinary herbs. If you prefer fresh herbs, you may buy garden-ready potted plants and other perennials from the monastery gardens. There are also artworks by friends of the monastery for sale, and cookbooks that contain basic vegetarian recipes inspired by the frugal and health-oriented monastic tradition of Saint Benedict.
The Vinegar Festival
Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery
246 Barmore Road, LaGrangeville
July 18 & 19, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
From Route 55, take Route 82 2-miles north to Barmore Road on right; from Millbrook, take Route 82 5-miles south
Get Your Local Cold Beer Here!
Here’s a feeling-no-pain way for Irishmen and other green-vegetable-phobes to do their bit for the locavore movement. For the past three years, Terrapin has hosted a local beerfest, featuring over 20 New York State Craft Breweries, including our own Chatham Brewery, and an all-you-can eat innovative pub-grub barbecue. There’s live music from the Malley Bragg Band, door prizes, and, of couse, unlimited samples all the beers.
3rd Annual BeerFest
at Dinsmore New York State Golf Course
5371 Albany Post Road, Staatsburg
Saturday, July 18, 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Ticket $39, all you can eat and drink ($19 designated-driver ticket available)
Calling All Chefs
This first is just for pros, a call to arms: Regardless of what county you live/work in, if you are an ambitious chef, such as Michel Jean of the Stissing House restaurant in Pine Plains (Dutchess County), shown here putting the finishing touches last year on his Provencal Tart, then you must act quickly to partake of this. Each year the non-profit Columbia County Bounty puts together a terrific fund-raising feast, thanks to the inventiveness of the participating chefs and the magic they perform with the donated farm-fresh produce and locally-raised livestock they get to work with. July 20, the deadline for chefs to sign up, is fast approaching. The rest of us can buy tickets to the event on-line now. If you are not a chef, but love partaking of their efforts, this event is lots of fun.
The Taste of the Region Dinner
Main Banquet Fairhouse
Columbia County Fairgrounds
Route 66, Chatham
Monday, August 3, 5 p.m.
Tickets: $75, $50/Bounty members; $25/children 7-12; $10/under 7. Annual Bounty membership: $25/individual; $40/couple. Join on-line.
Fast or Not at All
Here’s someone who has my best interests at heart: the author of Whole Grains for Busy People, Lorna Sass, winner of the James Beard Award, acknowledges that, for some of us, “slow” is not always an option. She will be conducting a 2-hour cooking demonstration at a fabulous, much published private home in Hillsdale this Saturday to benefit the Friends of Roeliff Jansen Community Library. Her demonstration will include, among other things, cooking whole grains in a pressure cooker, and she will also prepare a risotto dish.
Lorna Sass Cooking Demonstration
Saturday, July 18
10 a.m. - noon
Reservations and further information: 518.325.7291