Garlic goes in about a month before the first frost of the season. One clove, planted two inches deep (with four inches between cloves) will grow into one bulb of garlic by next spring. The garlic pictured above is German hard neck garlic and the cloves are huge and juicy. The reason farmed garlic is so much bigger than wild garlic is that every year the largest cloves are planted, yielding bigger and bigger produce. Go to our Instagram feed to see footage of the planting.
I grew up by a London railway line and spent my formative years being shaped by watching people go places. I would wave at the trains chugging past and wish that I could jump aboard. In retrospect, I now see that those poor people were going to and from work and would have loved to have traded places with me, sitting in a backyard reading books. It’s no surprise that I now love trains, traveling and, gasp, I’ll admit here that I even love airports.
We have an aging rail network here in the Catskills that groups have tried to save and its future is uncertain. Lengths of the track were damaged by Hurricane Irene and there are proposals in the works to turn the rails into walking trails. Personally, I think we should maintain the network and get funding to turn it into a set of museums, but I’m obviously biased even though I clearly love hiking. The Rip Van Winkle Flyer, run by the DURR, whose home is in Arkville, has opened for the season judging by its website. On the weekends, the Rip Van Winkle Flyer takes tourists through the mountain from Arkville to Roxbury and back.
Now, the DURR is teaming up with local food producers and The MARK Project in Arkville to run the Tasting Train next Thursday, August 10th from 5pm to 7.30pm. Tickets are priced from $25 to $40. They call it the “Local-Motive”, on which you can try all manner of delicious local fare from producers, cheese makers, artisan bakers, craft beverage distillers, breweries and more. It couldn’t really get any better than sitting on a train and stuffing your face for a good cause. The train departs at 5pm and returns to Arkville by 7.30pm.
One of our first spring crops: a stand of asparagus. There’s nothing like cutting off a fresh stalk and eating it raw, still warm from the sun. Surprisingly juicy, the first bite of raw asparagus is also a satisfying crunch.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had an egg as delicious as this: bright orange yolks, rich, sweet and creamy, almost like a dessert when soft-boiled on toast and in yesterday’s salad! Leigh Melander, a colleague at WIOX and founder of Spillian bought a bucket of eggs into the radio station to share. Leigh says her hens, who are completely free range, are very happy and I believe her. They were presented with some art a few days ago and all flocked around to inspect it.
Part of the lure to the country or Upstate New York, apart from the fresh air, is the local food. It’s worth battling five months of winter for glorious food like this. When wholesome food of this calibre becomes an expensive luxury in the city, it’s time to move upstate where your neighbors bring you eggs, cheese, bread, jam or any number of spring items that they have produced on their homestead. Just the fragrant aroma of a homegrown tomato feels like a miracle.Local, country board meetings are never without something homemade to pass around like goat’s cheese or bread. This second rainy and gloomy day of the week has been lit up like a summer’s day by simple eggs on toast using local bread.
Winter is tough up here, but the spring rewards are like Sunday Best, not taken for granted and savored all the more.
Chicken and Tarragon Pot Pie on the menu at Bull & Garland in Hobart, New York. Deliciously light for a pot pie and buttery with an ethereal crust. You won’t ordinarily get two crusts. We took our pot pie to go, after a filling tour of the exceptional starters, and scored a free crust and some extra mashed potato. This is a pie to love.
Found at the Pakatan Farmers’ Market which runs through November: Holiday Farm Biscuit Co’s sausage pie. This delicious pie comes in two varieties, egg/sausage and chorizo/manchega. Light and crumbly crust with subtly flavorful filling, it’s not so heavy that you’ll feel stuffed afterwards. Served warm, it’s makes the perfect winter breakfast. Get some.
Today Friday 10th through Sunday June 12th, the Catskill Center is hosting Taking Flight: Birding in the Catskills.
Saturday June 11th, the Catskills own live radio event, Catskill Cabaradio will be hosted at the Pine Hill Center, in Pine Hill. Hosted by Elly Wininger, the event will be “an evening of music, drama, local lore, and laughs”, exploring the theme of “Food in the Catskills” with some of the region’s most celebrated and unique residents. In addition to growers, purveyors, chefs and food activists, there will be performances by a crop of regional talent including musician Chris Maxwell, poet and storyteller Margot Farrington, and young Maxwell Barnes, saxophonist. The potluck dishes are some of the best cooking in the Catskills.
Voices of Wisdom Gathering at the Blue Deer Center on June 11th and 12th. The gathering will start on Saturday at noon. People will sit by the fire and each of the two elders will speak in turn, offering the wisdom that they see is needed in that moment. The talks and conversations will be followed by a potluck dinner. The Blue Deer Center is
The 5th Annual Living History Cemetery Tour hosted by Middletown Historical Society will be held at Halcott Cemetery in Greene County near Fleischmanns on Saturday, June 18th. Tour goers will visit eight departed residents, portrayed by local actors, who will talk about their lives, loves and losses. Meet a fugitive “calico Indian;” a little girl remembering her Halcott childhood punctuated by tragedy; a farm couple whose long life together was ended by a charging bull; a young World War 1 soldier who fell to the Spanish flu. Tours begin every 20 minutes starting at 4pm. Reserve a tour time by calling 845-586-4736 by June 15th.
Straight Out Of The Ground Farm is hosting a farm dinner on Saturday June 25th for $55 a person. Make a reservation here.
Amy’s Takeaway in Lanesville is open all weekend this weekend from Friday, June 10th through Sunday, June 12th, 2016, 11am to 7pm with a special menu.
Bebert’s Moroccan Cafe & Grocery opened in Fleischmanns last week. I wrote an article in the Watershed Post about it that you can find here. For the article, I had a tasting of Bebert’s condiments, and Bebert made a delicious Moroccan Potato Cake to go with some iced tea, which I mentioned in the article. The potato cake was delicious and included one of my favorites: peas. Here’s his recipe:
Boil 8 medium potatoes. Peel and mash coarsely. Beat 5 eggs, add to potatoes and mix well. Add 4 ounces of green peas (fresh or frozen). Add 2 slices of preserved lemons finely chopped. Season with 1 teaspoon of paprika, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
Pour mixture into oiled, medium cast iron skillet. Cook in 350F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Invert skillet and serve hot or room temperature.
The “Earthy” at Lazy Crazy Acres Farm‘s Saturday Pizza Night.
If you like a proper British slap-up meal, this Saturday and Sunday May 21st and May 22nd, Arkville Bread Breakfast, home of the best fish and chips in the Catskills will be serving it up. On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, full English breakfast will be served. Plus on Saturday, a full British lunch too. ABB is open until 2pm Saturday and 1pm Sunday.
Full English Fry-Up
Bangers & Mash
Sides include Bubble & Squeak, Heinz Beans, Black & White Pudding
43285 State Rte 28 (on the other side of the tracks at the crossroad of Rte 38)
Arkville, NY 12406
We’ve waited all winter for a lot of things and Pizza Night at Lazy Crazy Acres Farm in Arkville is one of them. You can’t spit in the Catskills without hitting good pizza and Lazy Crazy Acres’ delicious pies are up there with the best, hand made right in front of you in their outdoor oven. Lazy Crazy Acres is a picturesque, rural homestead nestled in Rider Hollow by a roaring brook, with chickens, kittens, a barn, maple syrup for sale ($10 a pint), a kids’ play area, a rhubarb patch and hay rides up to their ridge above the farm that boasts stunning 360-degree views of the Catskill Mountains.
It’s no secret that increasing numbers of people here in the northeast are turning to farming in order to have more control of their food supply and their economy. The average age of the American farmer was quoted as being 54 years old, but that’s bound to lower significantly as young people return to the profession in droves. Not only is the Catskills being enriched by new farmers, but also by entrepreneurs, innovators, producers and artists, all contributing to the local economy in meaningful ways. New Yorkers are moving up from the city to have more space, breathe fresh air, eat better food and re-connect with nature. Laura Silverman and Juliette Hermant moved from New York City to the Catskills, in 2009 and 2012 respectively to do just that. The two met when Silverman “was poking around” in Hermant’s store in Narrowsburg. “I bought a large, 1920s brick building and breathed new life into it,” says Hermant, a painter and photographer. “I filled it with antiques and vintage pieces, 90% of which are local to the Catskills. I set about trying to engage with the community to work on revitalizing the area.”
If you let your rhubarb go to seed every year for two or three years without harvesting, it’ll become so strong and well established that you’ll end up with robo-barb: a fat, thigh-high bush with stalks as thick as broomsticks. It will be worth the wait to eat rhubarb from a three year old plant. I’ve tucked a little one-ounce shot glass from Amsterdam to help with the comparison here (pictured above). Pick stalks that are ten inches long at least. The shorter one here pictured above was taken by accident. Take only half the plant, as you need your rhubarb plant to go to seed before the winter. The best thing about rhubarb is that the animals hate it more than the asparagus, so it goes untouched year after year. Its season varies from April to June and although it’s considered a vegetable, it’s used like a fruit. It can go to seed as early as a month after the first harvest. Some brave souls eat the stalks raw. However, the leaves are poisonous, containing oxalate, so cut them off with at least an inch of the stalk and discard immediately.
Homemade Catskills sandwich: Breadfellows‘ delicious semolina bread, lightly toasted with boiled eggs and last year’s home grown (frozen) zucchini sauteed in butter. Tasty.
61F by the afternoon and bright with wispy cloud cover.
44F at 9am, misty, humid and soaked with overnight rain. More rain in the afternoon.
42F at 8am with heavy rain all morning, and rising to 52F by mid-afternoon.
Bread Alone’s Reuben with gruyere cheese, Russian dressing, coleslaw and pastrami on organic sourdough rye is much less greasy than it looks and remarkably juicy. The coleslaw is quite mild in this sandwich, complementing the flavor of the pastrami, which is not overly salty. The last spectacular sandwich I recommended from Bread Alone disappeared off the Winter 2015 menu just as my review in the Catskills Food Guide went to press and was replaced with something similar. Plus, the Boiceville location where I got the Avocado & Arugula on April 4th has had the arugula removed for the spring menu. All these additions and subtractions keeps us food reviewers on our toes. Grab the Reuben while you can, as menus change frequently.
Hand picking worms off the organic apple trees in a young orchard. Last year was a banner year for apples in the Catskills.
The Phoenicia Diner revamped its roast beef sandwich this year. They toasted the bread, added melted brie to the juicy grass-fed beef making this classic sandwich much more delicious. Moreover, it’s a reasonable size for a sandwich, not a gigantic doorstop that’s a whole day’s worth of calories and enough meat to clog your colon for weeks.
Bread Alone’s cucumber, apple, celeraic, sprouts, arugula pesto comes on organic ciabatta bread, but is much better on wheat. Crunchy, chewy and refreshing all at the same time, if that’s possible: a delicious Catskills sandwich.
Hazelnut bushes in the orchard, planted in 2007, get a chance to properly flourish this spring possibly because they now have a sturdy fence around them. In years past, we’ve only harvested a handful of the nuts that grow in a thick, green, furry casing. The bushes, which can grow into large trees, are self-infertile so it’s necessary to plant at least two together for cross-pollination. The male catkins, pictured above, which produce pollen that they release onto the red female flowers, are a food staple of ruffed grouse throughout the winter. The nuts are a preferred by squirrels, deer, turkey, woodpeckers, pheasants, grouse, quail and jays.
JN: How long have you lived in the Catskills?
RN: Lived in Woodstock for about four and a half years now.
Where did you move from?
I just moved across the river from Rhinebeck.
Did you grow up in Rhinebeck?
No, I grew up in Oklahoma, smack in the middle of the USA, but I have moved quite a bit. I’ve probably lived in about 28 states.