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Berkshire Coop

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At the Farmer’s Wife in Ancramdale, the Son-in-Law Also Rises

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Job Yacubian and Emilie Somerhoff in the kitchen of The Farmer's Wife

Even before Dorcas Sommerhoff opened The Farmer’s Wife, her café and takeout shop in the heart of Ancramdale in 2002, she had spent more than a decade as the go-to caterer for savvy residents of Dutchess and Columbia Counties who craved earthy but sophisticated country cooking for small dinner parties and blow-out weddings. After more than 20 years behind the stove, she and her husband, Chris, a dairy farmer, decided to take a sabbatical on a sailboat and handed over the kitchen to Job Yacubian,  a chef from Martha’s Vineyard for whom she used to babysit. “It’s complicated,” says Emilie Sommerhoff, who is not only Job’s wife but also Dorcas’s stepdaughter. “My father and Job’s father went to prep school together. Job and I have known each other for our entire lives. We dated off and on in high school and in college. Finally, we got married a year and a half ago.”

Rural Intelligence FoodNow the Farmer’s Wife is their baby, and they have re-opened after a two-month “grass-roots” renovation that’s made the space feel larger and brighter. With a mouth-watering menu that both respects and tweaks tradition, they are keeping both locals and weekenders happy with hearty offerings such as a grilled Herondale sausage sandwich with sauteed broccoli rabe and melted provolone on a roll ($7.50) and the BLT club with fried tomato and avocado puree ($7). “But if you want a plain old BLT, or a ham-and-cheese with mayo, we’ll be happy to make that for you, too,” says Yacubian, who is daring his clientele to be more adventuresome at lunch with dishes like ethereal goat cheese gnocchi served with a spicy pork ragu ($6) or slices of rare charred skirt steak served with roasted cauliflower ($10). He likes to add one or two unexpected touches to every dish such as goat’s milk cheddar and roasted pumpkin seeds for an arugula salad with roasted beets ($7.75). He laces his carrot-ginger soup ($5.50) with curry oil and adds lemon zest to a white bean-and-ham soup ($5.75), which makes it surprisingly light and tasting like spring. “Job calls lemon zest his secret weapon,” says Sommerhoff.

Rural Intelligence FoodYacubian—a self-taught chef who began cooking in the mid-1990s on the Vineyard—grew up on a horse farm in eastern Massachusetts so he’s as familiar with country life as his wife, who grew up four miles from their café . “We respect how things have been, but we want to help move them forward,” he says. Sommerhoff, who went to Brown University and then moved to New York to work in publishing, is pleased (if not a little bit stunned) to have come home and gone into the family business. “I’m not the only one who’s come home,” she says. “Kids I grew up with from the Chase and Osofsky families who went away to college have come back to live here, too.”  The couple has filled the Farmer’s Wife refrigerator cases with dairy products from people they know—Ronnybrook milk and yogurt, Coach Farm and Amazing Real Live Food Co. cheeses— as well as prepared salads, quarts of soup ($8) and quiches ($16) for grab-and-go meals. They have two proprietary products with the Farmer’s Wife label—addictive, crunchy cheddar cheese “biscuits” and the Salt Lick dark chocolate bars—and they hope to add more. And for kids, there are always beautifully-decorated, country-themed cookies ($2.75) by the cash register.

Rural Intelligence FoodThe couple see the Farmer’s Wife as an opportunity to bring together old-timers and new ruralists, who are transforming nearby places such as Millerton and Hudson. “Those towns are so different than when I was growing up here!” says Sommerhoff.  “We really want to be a part of the future of this community. We hope we’re a smart reflection of the changes that are happening all around us.”

The Farmer’s Wife
3 County Route 88, Ancramdale, NY; 518.329.5431
Wednesday - Monday 7 a.m. ‘till about 4 p.m
(5 p.m. on Saturday)
Closed Tuesdays

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 03/23/11 at 11:42 AM • Permalink