A Cornucopia of Flavors In the Upper Hudson Valley
After just returning from a wonderful fall foray driving up to the northern Hudson Valley, I could not wait to share the experience. We left Westchester County, got on the picturesque Taconic highway and traveled north. We packed a lot into just a few days and had a fun filled time to eating, drinking and reveling in the spectacular fall colors of the Hudson Valley. Here are the treasures we found.
TASTE NY FOOD STORE ON THE TACONIC, LA GRANGE!
Driving north on the Taconic towards La Grange, N.Y., we saw signs for a Taste NY Food Store along the highway. We pulled in and took a look around. Apparently, this initiative was started by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013 to highlight the artisanal foods and beverages crafted and grown in New York State. There are stores now scattered around the state. It was nicely laid out for easy viewing. There were: jams, cheeses, beers and ciders, produce, New York State plums, butchered meats, take away foods and sandwiches, drinks and coffee. We took a cup with us to the car. Check it out: www.taste.ny.gov/
INN AT SILVER MAPLE FARM, EAST CHATHAM!
We booked several nights at the lovely Inn at Silver Maple Farm Bed & Breakfast along Rt. 295 in East Chatham. Driving up the long tree-lined picket fenced driveway towards the main house, the grounds yielded apple trees and berry trees and colorful seasonal artifacts. A big red barn stood in the background. One step inside and we were enchanted with the country-style décor. A bright, airy reception area strewn with couches and tufted seating, dining tables and library, high barnwood ceilings and lighting. Owner/Innkeeper Jodie Paris has done a meticulous job of decorating this 20-year-old manse, and it is warm and inviting. Jodie herself was a personable host, full of local knowledge to share with us weary travelers, and she also had a good hand in the kitchen when it came to breakfast. The delights ranged from fresh, ripe fruit salad, good bread and muffins for toasting, baked eggs in a ramekin one morning, fresh oatmeal pancakes with blueberries the next, and an enhanced Sunday morning buffet on our final day that included choice of fresh, delicious quiches. Good pastry and coffee, too. The Inn at Silver Maple Farm, 1871 State Route 295, East Chatham, turned out to be a good place to work from during our visit. Phone: 1-518-781-3600. www.silvermaplefarm.com
LE PERCHE BAKERY & BAR, HUDSON!
This eclectic French-themed bistro was recommended by family who had recently made a visit to Hudson, N.Y., and it turned out to be one of our favorites. We liked it so much, we stopped here twice during our stay in the area. We had our first over-the-top lunch here and were charmed by the country-style décor, vintage fireplace and long wooden bar lounge area with bakery display counter. The oversized croissants inside were very appealing, but our lunch palate took us elsewhere. For starters, a bowl of their fresh made herbed Gougeres, French cheese puffs. So tasty! A bowl of fresh Mushroom Soup was a delightful earthy taste of the season. For our main, we shared a big Vietnamese-style Banh Mi stuffed with greens, dressing, ham and house pate. It screamed with flavor! A couple of Peekskill Brewery IPAs helped wash it all down. And for dessert: a fresh made Paris Brest pastry filled with decadent cream. Oh, my! Le Perche is located at 230 Warren Street, Hudson. Phone: 1-518-822-1850. www.leperchehudson.com
CHATHAM BREWING CO., CHATHAM!
On our first evening we decided to take in a few brews at nearby Chatham Brewing Co. on Main Street in Chatham. It is a rustic space, working brewery machinery and gear behind windows, a bar, TVs and table seating surrounding the dining area. There is seasonal outdoor seating, too. The staff at this decade old brewery were friendly and accommodating, helping us with any questions we had, offering tastings and local lore. While Hudson, New York, about 40 minutes away, has certainly come about as a cosmopolitan city, Chatham for now has maintained its country roots. Sitting at the bar at Chatham Brewing was a very pleasant experience. We shared an order of Beer Battered Fish & Chips along with New York State Organic Ketchup as a condiment. A very distinctive flavor that went well with the fries. Their Oktoberfest brew and Hyperbole DIPA helped wash it all down. We spied the house Burgers landing at tables and they looked hefty. Maybe next time. Chatham Brewing Co. is located at 59 Main Street, Chatham. Phone: 1-518-697-0202. www.chathambewing.com
THE SPOTTY DOG BOOKS & ALE, HUDSON!
After an awesome tour at Olana, the Frederic Church estate, we went into town. During our pleasurable walk down Warren Street, the main strip in Hudson, we stepped into The Spotty Dog Books & Ale, a bookshop opened in the old C.H. Evans Firehouse building in 2005. It was bustling. Not only does this shop offer books, there is also a bar for locally crafted beers on tap, wines, assorted café drinks, and bar snacks, too. It was a good place to take a break and the barkeep was quite friendly, helping us select such fine brews as Fiddlehead IPA our of Vermont, and Crossroads IPA out of NY State. Friendly chatter at the bar and reasonably priced. The Spotty Dog is located at 440 Warren Street, Hudson. Phone: 1-518-671-6006. www.thespottydog.com
TALBOTT & ARDING CHEESE AND PROVISIONS, HUDSON!
Step into this charming storefront gourmet shop and you are greeted with a waft of sensory sensations. The bouquet of fresh-made artisanal foods, cheeses and provisions can be overwhelming. We were tempted to try every morsel in the display case. A must stop or food voyeurs! Talbott & Arding, 323 Warren Street, Hudson. Phone: 1-518-828-3558. www.talbottandarding.com
FISH & GAME, HUDSON!
Opened in 2013 by Zak Pelaccio and Jori Jayne Emde, this ‘nose-to-tail’, farm-to-table restaurant housed in a handsomely renovated blacksmith shop, received a great deal of press. The two culinarians had left their successful NYC restaurants: Fatty Crab and Fatty Cue, to re-settle in the Hudson Valley, melding their city sensibility with Hudson’s emerging country ethos. We were unsure where we would finally end up for dinner, so we stopped into the tavern room at its 5:30 opening time to consider the possibilities in town. Two fine glasses of wine helped sooth us as we surveyed the room. It was lovely, indeed, from the inviting dining room with fireplace, the warm tavern room and bar where we were, taxidermy on the walls, to the well-appointed open kitchen that we could see at work from our vantage point. They were offering two menus that night, a prix fixe option for $75 per person (loaded with supplements), and an a la carte tavern menu. We were going to order off the menu at the bar, but after further consideration felt it was not appealing to us. There were $30 dishes on the bar menu. So, we passed, but promised ourselves to return for the prix fixe sometime in the future. Fish & Game, 13 S. 3rd. Street, Hudson. Phone: 1-518-822-1500. www.fishandgamehudson.com
SWOON KITCHENBAR, HUDSON!
This Hudson hotspot had been highly recommended. It is beautiful artsy space with bar and bustling dining room. We decided at the last minute to take in dinner here and were lucky to get a table as we did not have reservations. Swoon was opened by chefs Jeffrey Gimmel and his wife Nina Bachinsky Gimmel back in 2004, after both had worked such pedigree spots at Michael’s and Union Square Café in Manhattan. Hudson was just starting to emerge at the time, the couple recall. At full gear, the whole space gives off an exciting ‘brasserie atmosphere’.
The couple also own Le Perche in town, which we also enjoyed. Off the locally sourced menu, we started by sharing their Corn Salad, a very tasty combination of herbed vegetables. The breadbasket was so very good. The Pan-Roasted Salmon of the day sat on a bed of local mushrooms, Japanese turnips, English peas and fennel reduction. A large, delicious portion of fish and delish! The hearty Kinderhook Farm Pork Chop came with red bliss potatoes, red kale, rhubarb and a mustarda glaze. It was prepared beautifully and full flavored. Our bottle of Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2017 melded well with the mains. My compliments to Chefs Jeffrey and Nina Bachinsky Gimmel for a dining experience well done. By the time we left, the place was hopping. www.swoonkitchenbar.com
THE PEOPLE’S PUB, CHATHAM!
There was a Harvest Festival going on when we got to Chatham late afternoon Saturday. Locals and visitors meandering up and down vintage Main Street doing the shops, picking from the food trucks and stalls, having a good old time. The town was busy. We quickly popped into Bimi’s Cheese Shop (www.bimischeese.com) and could have done some snacks there, but the bustle and line were a bit long. Their grilled cheese offerings were tempting. Instead, we walked into The People’s Pub across the street and took seats at the bar, perusing the long space as we sipped our Fiddlehead brew out of Vermont, and Woodstock Mellow IPA.
The décor is an extraordinary eclectic mix of ‘this & that’, and it all seems to blend together nicely. A picture window looks out onto Main, while there is seating stretching to the rear where there is an open kitchen with a uniformed crew showing off their talents. We shared two mains: a Pub Burger, melted Vermont cheddar, red onion marmalade, shredded lettuce on a soft toasted pretzel bun; and a Beer Battered Fish Sandwich, served on toasted brioche bun, with shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, and Cajun remoulade. Both were very satisfying. The hand-cut fries filled in the gaps. www.thepeoplespub.com
The upper Hudson Valley region has so much to offer, especially this time of year. Can’t wait to return!
(Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking and writing about the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for 30 years. He may be reached at: 914-235-6591. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)