Author Archive | ecinet
The makings of a Mexican food
identity in the Hudson Valley
PHOTOGRAPHS BY SAUNDI WILSON
The 1980s were a great time for Mexican cuisine—especially in the Hudson Valley. It was this decade, after all, that saw the Mexican community grow larger and faster than any other immigrant group in the nation. Towns like Poughkeepsie and Newburgh swelled as young men arrived to pick the valley’s apples and wash onions and lettuce grown in its black dirt fields—and the Mexican food followed shortly after. In Newburgh, several Mexican- owned grocery stores sprang up to quell the demand for authentic Mexican-made staples, like corn tortillas and spicy chiles redolent of the arid soils of the motherland. It was in these bodegas, with their teetering shelves piled high with the delights of Mexico, that Mexican-Americans were able to find a little taste of home, though thousands of miles away. What’s more, such pioneering businesses paved the way for the region’s now flourishing Mexican culinary scene and the crowds of gringos ready for freshly griddled picaditas.
In Newburgh, Los Portales’ port-wine-colored awning marks its place as one of about 10 Mexican restaurants now jostling for real estate in the city’s center. Once home to … Read More
A new chapter begins for Montgomery Place Orchards
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROY GUMPEL
On a Tuesday morning this past July, chef Nick Suarez places a routine call to Montgomery Place Orchards to begin a new week of menu planning for his restaurant, Gaskins. Farmer Talea Taylor pauses the jam-making process underway in her kitchen to answer.
“Any idea what you’ll have this week?” the chef inquires. “Plenty of snap peas and a tsunami of black raspberries,” Taylor replies.
With that report, the week’s dishes for Suarez start to take shape. The snap peas are so sweet, Suarez won’t need to blanch them. He will prepare them with pistachios, olive oil, crème fraîche and a sprig of mint. Black raspberries he envisions on top of a lemon polenta cake. If supplies last, maybe they will flavor the ice cream of the week, too. When he swings by the farm stand on Route 9G in Red Hook to pick up his order, Suarez is sure to find another surprise or two that he will add to the menu at the last minute. This is the nature of fieldto- plate food in the making and typifies an exchange, while often improvisational in spirit, advantageous … Read More
Mount Kisco plays host to
an outgrowth of concept eateries
Salmon-Lentil Crepe, from Little Crepe Street in Mount Kisco
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRISTINE ASHBURN
Intuition tells us to start small before going big, especially in the food business. The adage is one held by restaurant owner Bonnie Saran, who opened a string of Westchester eateries in the last six years, collectively known as the “Little Empire” of restaurants. This empire includes Little Spice Bazaar, Little Crepe Street, Little Kabab Station and Little Drunken Chef, all of which are within a stone’s throw from each other on East Main Street in Mount Kisco. There’s also the Little Mumbai Market in Pleasantville.
How Saran ended up owning all the “Littles” is a story in and of itself. She hails from a town near Mumbai, India, where her dad was in the Indian army (she often refers to herself as an army brat) and her mother cooked for various regional concession stands and local movie theaters. “We helped her every morning,” Saran recalls, “starting early around 4 a.m., preparing sandwiches and burgers to be distributed. By 10:30 we were done.” Although her college major was stage and set design, Saran had a strong entrepreneurial … Read More
Continuing an ancient African
rice-growing tradition in Ulster Park
Farmer Nfamara Badjie with a handful of his rice harvest
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MEREDITH HEUER
“I told him, ‘You’re crazy, we can’t grow rice here!’” says farmer Dawn Hoyte with a self-deprecating grin. She’s standing in the grass next to one of Ever-Growing Family Farm’s many rice paddies, the hot sun beating down and the slender, green rice plants reaching up from the water to wave in the welcoming breeze. Not surprisingly, Hoyte has since conceded that her initial assessment was wrong and her husband, Nfamara Badjie, was right. The evidence surrounds her in the couple’s small farm in Ulster Park.
The couple purchased the property in 2013 with the intention of farming it. “But it was so wet—like a swamp,” says Hoyte. Fortunately, Badjie, who grew up growing rice in a tiny village in Gambia, was far from discouraged. Although most farmers would eye the marshy, clay-laden soil with doubt, Badjie knew it was a blessing—a perfect place to grow rice.
Armed with a traditional, long-handled shovel called a “kajandu,” Badjie, his three sons, Malick, 23, Modou, 15, and Abibou, 12, and his good friend and farming partner Moustapha “Tapha” Diedhiou … Read More
A love story
Writer Laura Silverman scratching the surface of the forest floor
PHOTOGRAPHED BY LAURA SILVERMAN
Foraging always came naturally to me. During my Northern California childhood, I would climb over our back fence into an empty lot, pick great misshapen lemons off a tree that grew there and eat them sprinkled with sugar. Walking home from school, my chums and I snacked on wild blackberries, chewed juicy “sour grass” (a type of wood sorrel) and sucked drops of sweet nectar from the purple flowers of a creeping vine that covered our path. I don’t recall how we learned to do this—maybe it was innate—but I do know that I made a deep connection to nature at an early age that lay dormant during the decades I lived in New York City. It wasn’t until I started exploring the Catskills in 2003 that I began to forage again.
Though it’s gaining momentum now, at a time when slow living, “authentic” experiences and environmental awareness have captured the imagination of information-saturated millennials, foraging is not new. Once upon a time, humans survived in the world by roaming widely in search of food and provisions. This ancient practice taps into something … Read More
Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg plants its banner in Kingston
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROY GUMPEL
Brooklyn, Manhattan, Los Angeles and … Kingston? If that grouping sounds jarring to you, then you haven’t been paying attention. In that, you differ from Jonathan Butler, who has been paying very close attention to the Hudson Valley. The most recent outpost of his Smorgasburg market at Hutton Brickyards in Kingston opened this past August, to great fanfare and astounding crowds, and will run each Saturday through October of this year (and, no doubt, will return next spring).
Butler, who is co-founder with Eric Demby of this mini-empire of culinary and craft, has a trio of New York City markets—Brooklyn Flea (debuted in 2008), Smorgasburg (2011) and Berg’n (2014)— and all embody what may be the perfect storm of Millennial aesthetics. The markets function like modern town squares built into the industrial remnants of the city; they’re the places where all things vintage, handmade, artisanal, locally grown and Instagrammable are celebrated and consumed. In Williamsburg, Smorgasburg attracts up to 10,000 visitors on each Saturday and Sunday. The market has earned almost 70,000 followers on Instagram and has been geo- and hashtagged in nearly 93,000 posts. Even if you don’t … Read More
The following restaurants place a dedicated emphasis on using local seasonal ingredients in their menus, creating a distinctly Hudson Valley and Catskills dining experience. Visit them this season to enjoy the region’s freshest flavors, and be sure to pair your meal with a locally crafted wine, spirit or brew.
342 Warren Street, Hudson 518.822.1234
6033 Main Street, Tannersville 518.244.8900
This warm and inviting eatery specializes in legendary wood smoked BBQ and classic American comfort foods. American Glory also offers many vegetarian and gluten free options as well as a line-up of craft brews and spirits. Enjoy music, good times, roaring laughter and hometown comfort foods.
ANOTHER FORK IN THE ROAD
1215 Route 199, Milan
Located just west of the Taconic State Parkway, this casual restaurant offers a devotion to Hudson Valley ingredients and a culinary expertise that shines through each delicious bite. From French toast with warm fruit compote to the North Wind Farm’s herbed chicken, the menu is stocked with local products from nearby farms.
THE ARNOLD HOUSE
839 Shandelee Road, Livingston Manor
At the Arnold, guests will find friendly, warm and lively service and a menu that embraces comfortable accessibility and … Read More
PHOTOGRAPHED BY ROY GUMPEL AT SMORGASBURG UPSTATE, KINGSTON
WHAT’S FRESH • WHAT’S LOCAL
VEGETABLES & HERBS
Arugula • Basil* • Beets • Bok Choy • Broccoli
Cabbage • Carrots • Cauliflower • Cilantro
Collards • Eggplant* • Endive • Escarole
Lettuce • Kale • Lima Beans • Mustard Greens
Okra* • Onions • Parsley • Peppers • Potatoes
Pumpkins • Rutabagas • Scallions • Squash
Sweet Corn • Sweet Potatoes • Tomatoes*
(*until first killing frost)
Apples • Grapes • Pears • Raspberries
SPECIAL THANKS TO PRIDE OF NEW YORK, A PROGRAM OF
THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF STORYHORSE DOCUMENTARY THEATER
Despite the rapidly increasing popularity of the podcast format, the practice of sharing oral histories remains somewhat retrograde and quaint. But if you have the experience of being a party to a storyteller, generous in spirit and candid in word, it can be a truly dynamic encounter.
Restoring this element of dynamism to the oral tradition is writer Jeremy Davidson’s intention in his documentary theater project Storyhorse, which he co-founded with his wife, Mary-Stuart Masterson. Both husband and wife are career actors in stage and screen (with numerous credits too lengthy to list) and cultivated a deeper appreciation of oral histories after moving in 2013 from NYC to the Hudson Valley to raise their children. Davidson, shortly after getting settled in Dutchess County but still commuting to NY and L.A. for work, was struck by that sense of disconnection that many experience when work takes you away from the place where you have chosen to live.
This sense, which Davidson defines as a “spiritual disconnection,” inspired him to reach out to local Hudson Valley farmers, gather their stories and assemble Good Dirt, a multimedia performance happening at Bard College in October. Written by Davidson … Read More