By Dan Shaw
“Here in the country, when you invite people to dinner, they always ask, “What can I bring?” writes Joan Osofsky in her new book, Entertaining in the Country: Love Where You Eat
(Rizzoli.) Osofsky, who owns the Hammertown
stores in Great Barrington, Pine Plains and Rhinebeck, understands better than almost anyone that friendship and community — not competitive, showy cooking — is the raison d’être of dinner parties and luncheons in our neck of the woods. Indeed, bringing people together is her life’s work. “Entertaining is at the core of the Hammertown style,” she says.
Like her previous book, Love Where You Live: At Home in the Country
, this new volume is our
story. It is filled with recipes, tips, and table settings from neighbors such as Andrew Arrick and Michael Hofemann, who own Finch
in Hudson; Michael Trapp
, who owns an eponymous antiques store in West Cornwall; fashion designer Patrick Robinson and Vogue editor Virginia Smith
of Ancram; Dana Cowan, the former editor in chief of Food & Wine,
who lives in Amenia and who enlisted Serge Madikians
of the restaurant Serevan to prepare and share his recipes for falafel and eggplant dip in the chapter “Cocktails on the Terrace.”
Photographed by John Gruen
of Lakeville and co-written with Abby Adams of Ancram, Entertaining in the Country
is about actualization, not aspiration: the tables are set simply and realistically; the recipes require a minimal amount of time spent in the kitchen, so inviting people over for a meal does not become an ordeal. Sourcing of ingredients is important. “Food has more meaning in farm country,” says Osofsky, who was once a farmer’s wife and provides sources for local produce, meats, cheese, charcuterie, and spirits. And she suggests local shops where you can pick up desserts if baking is not your thing.
Abby Adams and Joan Osofsky. Photos: John Gruen.
Sometimes called the Martha Stewart of the Rural Intelligence
region, Osofsky is not a perfectionist or taskmaster, but a soulful and supportive Jewish mother. She is generous with crediting other tastemakers who’ve influenced her such as Lee Bailey, Mary Emmerling
, and Bunny Williams
of Falls Village, whose An Affair With a House
is still one of the most successful books in the country lifestyle genre 11 years after it was first published.
One chapter of Osofsky’s new book is devoted to the quintessential country party — the potluck supper. But Osofsky doesn’t want to ever pressure friends and family so invitations to her potlucks ask guests if they would like
to bring something. “It would be terribly rude to demand that they do so,” she writes.
Entertaining in the Country
is, quite simply, empowering and embracing. (It has the same down-to-earth sensibility as The Pollan Family Table
by Sharon weekender Corky Pollan and her four daughters.) It will inspire you to bring people you love together around your table. And when your friends reciprocate, it would be the perfect hostess gift to give them.
Book signing with Joan Osofsky and Abby Adams
Sunday, May 28, 2-4 p.m.
555 Warren Street, Hudson, NY