Tag Archives: Upstate NY

Catskills Weekend: Sept 23rd & 24th

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Saturday, September 23rd and Sunday September 24th: “Gravity is Your Mortar: Stone Wall Building Workshop at the West Kortright Center. Find tickets here. Find more information on their Facebook page.

Learn the basics of building free-standing dry-laid stone walls under the instruction of a stone wall professional with over 20 years experience.
Students will learn how to sort & choose stones, use gravity to create a stable structure, and carve their initials in the new wall.

$200 per person/$180 (WKC members); Ages 17+; Limit: 10 students

Saturday September 23rd: 10am to 12pm. Children’s Book Launch of Fred and the Lumberjack, at the Catskill Interpretive Center. The book is a brand-new picture book about loneliness, finding friendship in unexpected places, and plaid — lots and lots of plaid by local children’s author/illustrator Steven Weinberg, who will read the story and share a glimpse into his drawing process.

The Catskill Interpretive Center, 5096 Route 28, Mount Tremper, NY 12457.

Saturday September 23rd: 1pm to 3pm: Mutual Muses in the Catskills at the Catskill Interpretive Center. Photographer Rudd Hubbell, who’s been documenting the natural beauty of the Catskills since the 1970s, will share his work and a conversation with nature writer Leslie T. Sharpe, author of the new book The Quarry Fox and Other Critters of the Wild Catskills (2017).

Fall Events in the Catskills: The Barn Tour

© J.N. Urbanski 10/8/16 4.15pm

Here’s a chance to explore the fabulous barns of the Catskills. Take a sneak peek behind the historical architecture of our mountains.

On Sunday Oct 1st, 11am to 4pm: The West Kortright Centre will hold its first Barn Tour fundraiser. Take a self-guided tour of the structures that characterize our region’s agricultural heritage and hilly farmland. Get an up-close look at iconic bank and ramp-style barns, the cupolas that decorate and ventilate them, their timber frames, and the stone foundations upon which they are built.

You’ll explore both traditional and innovative dairy operations, horse stables, and repurposed barns. Additional attractions include a fleet of working vintage tractors, amazing chicken coops, beautiful duck ponds, stately draft horses, sloe-eyed cows, and gaggles of geese.

Professor Cynthia Falk, author of Barns of New York: Rural Architecture of the Empire State, will be on-site at the first barn to provide introductory information about barn history and architecture.

Tickets for this event are $16 per person, to benefit the West Kortright Centre. Pre-registration is required to receive directions to the first barn. Go here to pre-register, or for more information, call (607) 278-5454, or visit their website to purchase tickets before 3PM on Friday, September 29th.

© J.N. Urbanski 9.40am

Daily Catskills: 09/19/17

Hot in the sun with hazy sunshine, with a cool breeze ushering the fall and a high of 82F. These last few days of summer end on Thursday. Fall begins on Friday with the Autumnal Equinox.

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Daily Catskills: 09/18/17

Another balmy morning at 65F with the blazing sun chasing fog into the valleys. A high of 82F, hot in the sun with a cool breeze, like summer wants another chance.

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Daily Catskills: 09/16/17

A balmy morning at 65F by 9am. The morning fog rolled away to reveal trees, bushes, forest floor and fields liberally bestrewn with lacy spiders’ webs, as if the forest had been dressed for halloween overnight.

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Daily Catskills: 09/14/17

A high of 75F, humid and overcast with scene-stealing, multifarious clouds leading to isolated showers and a balmy evening. Dashes of red appearing on the landscape like hot pepper seasoning. Moody.

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Daily Catskills: 09/11/17

A high of 74F, warm in the hazy sunshine, but chilly in the shade. Wild leeks, the infamous “ramps”, issue their unique seeds, like tiny, opaque spheres of shimmering onyx.

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Daily Catskills: 08/31/17

A chilly high of 67F, with the sun straining to break through multifarious clouds, gusty winds and a lunchtime shower. August almost goes out with a whimper to the sound of a thousand wood stoves firing up, but the sun comes out at the last minute and turns the clouds into a milky glaze.

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Foraging: Lion’s Mane

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There are several reasons to get excited about Lion’s Mane. First of all, it’s arrestingly beautiful, and when you spot it in the forest it appears to be luminous, as if a beam of light is shining through the forest canopy directly onto it. Lion’s Mane cascades over a log like a dreamy waterfall, frozen in time, with it’s milky stalactites. It’s also called the pom-pom mushroom for the obvious reason.

Second, it can’t really be mistaken for anything else. Some guides tell you to compare it to the poisonous yellow-tipped coral because when Lion’s Mane gets old the tips turn yellow, but the coral grows upwards. Even as a novice mushroom hunter though, I was pretty certain that what I had found (pictured above) was the real thing and that thought was backed up by two others more experienced than I am. (I have just eaten it, so if it’s not, it was nice knowing you.)

Furthermore, you can cultivate Lion’s Mane and it is widely said to have medicinal benefits, like Shitake and Reishi. Experts say that it improves neurological function and alleviates anxiety.

On top of that, it’s utterly delicious, tasting (raw) like a more meaty, fragrant, cooked lobster, with exactly the same texture.

If you’re looking to eat less seafood, you can buy kits to cultivate this exquisite delicacy and grow it yourself. Once you’ve tasted it, it’ll seem like a no-brainer. This mushroom is about 20% protein.

To prepare it, I sliced off the top part that had a lot of forest debris in it. Then broke off about five clumps of the tendrils and washed them thoroughly. (You never know what animal might have peed on it.) Then I separated the tendrils until I had what looked like about almost a cup of loose lobster meat and sweat it in butter. Then I added three beaten eggs and scrambled the mixture. You can see a piece of raw mushroom top left (below).

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Daily Catskills: 08/27/17

After another overnight low of 45F, a high of 74F and sunny with wispy cloud. Hot in the sun; cool in the shade.

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Daily Catskills: 08/18/17

Surprise! More heavy rain. A high of 80F, with oppressive humidity, a heavy blanket of cloud and mist swirling over the mountains like the ghost of summers past. Steamy.

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A Pit Stop at The Forsyth

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When you have frequent summer guests to your rural home, who come from far and wide, Exit 19 in Kingston on Route 87 is a good pit stop for travelers who are hungry, tired or cranky from the long drive. Stylish, comfortable B&Bs are popping up all over this city, which offers some excellent attractions.

I popped into The Forsyth, a charming and elegant B&B in the historic Rondout area of Kingston, for a look around with owner Tamara. Her friend Allison cooked me a crispy-bottomed, fried, runny, local egg, which I mopped up with a date scone and washed down with a cup of Earl Grey. Local eggs are vividly yellow, sweet and creamy. Rondout, in the city’s waterfront area, has a sophisticated vibe and is walkable with historic landmarks, public art, antique stores and restaurants. The Stockade District, just a brief taxi-ride away from the waterfront, has bars and clubs that will suit your house guests from NYC who need their noisy friday night before they settle in for a country weekend. Continue reading

Weekend Links: Food & Drink Edition

© J.N. Urbanski 4.50pm

Come to a party at Ella’s Mercantile in Halcottsville on Saturday August 12th beginning at 4pm.

Booze your way to good health with Laura Silverman’s recipe for a thyme cocktail for Well and Good Magazine: “if you feel the inkling of a late-summer cold coming on, it’s the perfect reason to get out your cocktail shaker”. If you need a reason, that is.

I’ve said it before, Pakatakan Farmer’s Market is full of scrumptious food and beverages like sausage pie, vodka, kimchee, restorative herbs and fresh royal jelly in addition to your farmer’s market staples like meat, vegetables, dairy, baked goods, mushrooms, and more booze. Nearby, just up the road, you will find Outsider’s Cafe for breakfast too.

Peace, love and food trucks in Bethel.

A blueberry pie eating contest in Woodstock next Wednesday.

A Summer Party in Halcottsville

© J.N. Urbanski 2.30pm

On Saturday August 12th at 4pm, Ella’s Mercantile is having a summer party in Halcottsville, a favorite haunt of mine. It’s an exquisitely picturesque haven on a large boating lake, through which the historic railroad (DURR) runs. It’s postcard perfect. I’ve taken watercolor classes there; participated in a plein air painting group (with or without attendant goats); interviewed the reverends of the church for a local publication; exhibited my prints in The Grange and tasted tea with a friend. You can stay at Susan’s Pleasant Pheasant Farm and kayak on Lake Wawaka. There’s even a fledgling Shakespeare Company in the works. The whole village is arguably one of the Catskills most beautiful places. Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 08/07/17

An unexpectedly chilly morning and a rainy afternoon. A 64F high. Migliorelli’s farm stand also sells perfect rainy day Italian desserts like chocolate pudding and crème brûlée for days like this.

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Daily Catskills: 08/05/17

74F by the afternoon, billowing clouds revealing occasional sunshine. Refreshing breeze in the trees punctuated by the annoying buzz of a neighbor’s drone in the distance. Garlic curing in a shady spot.

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The Catskills Tasting Train

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.

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Catskills Trails: Huckleberry Loop

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Back on the trails again, in the pines, welcomed by fresh, dewy cobwebs stroking my face and hands like ghostly fingers warning me that I’m on my own. This time Huckleberry Loop: a very long, meandering trail that intersects with Dry Brook Ridge in two places, that was deserted except for a special neighbor who arrived to walk her dogs along the loop’s road. Sometimes good things happen when you dither in the road with a map.  Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 7/28/17

Morning sun! Misty clouds wafting over head with a warm, gentle breeze and birdsong. Summer’s back for a while, with today’s high almost 80F.

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Catskills Weekend: July 28th & 29th

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EVENTS in the Catskills tonight and this weekend:

Tonight, Friday 28th, there will be music at Wayside Cider in Andes.

Saturday July 29th at 1pm, join trustees at the annual meeting of Woodchuck Lodge, John Burroughs last home built by his brother on the Burroughs’ ancestral home. The board of Woodchuck Lodge works to preserve this historic site and runs its popular Wild Saturday program on the first weekend of every month. Location: 1633 Burroughs Memorial Road, Roxbury, NY 12474. Free tours are also offered on the first weekend of every month from 11am to 3pm.

The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and the Woodstock Land Conservancy are teaming up for a “Bio Blitz” at the Thorn Preserve in which participants can “volunteer to do a bit of citizen science” until 10pm tonight July 28th. The project continues tomorrow July 29th from 9.30am to 5.30pm at 55 John Joy Road, Woodstock, NY. Meet scientists and expert naturalists to study the wildlife, plants and biodiversity at the Catskill Center’s Thorn Preserve, a beautiful 60-acre locale containing a stream, pond, wetlands, forest and open meadow. A great opportunity to get involved. Continue reading

On Mushroom Hunting

After yesterday’s torrential rain, our forest floor erupted with mushrooms, of all shape, size, name and color, like twinkling jewels amidst the undergrowth and quite an extraordinary sight to behold.

Beautiful, ethereal Ghostpipe (or Indian Pipe, pictured above) has proliferated like never before seen in our forest. To see a venerable plant that is ordinarily quite rare, this seems magical. Not technically a mushroom, it’s rather a plant that doesn’t photosynthesize, devoid of chlorophyll and taking its nutrients from a delicate balance of conditions: decaying deciduous leaf matter, conifer trees and an underground fungus network, in perfect measure. It’s pretty much impossible to cultivate because it’s so sensitive and venerated because it’s an analgesic, for physical and emotional pain, that is over harvested. To be presented with such a plant in abundance feels like a gift, so I’ll be harvesting a small amount this year to make a tincture. Continue reading

Daily Catskills: 07/24/17

A high of 62F after a misty morning. Gloomy, chilly afternoon with rain showers except for a brief, sunny interlude at lunchtime.

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Bovina Fashion Week

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Country life is a great leveler. There are American icons in our midst who are asked to sit on boards with people who forget their names and there are enigmatic art directors who hold fashion shows with clothing made entirely from recycled garbage on their 100-acre farm. Who knows what the sheep thought, but a good time was had by the humans in attendance and an essential statement was made about the environment.

Yes, the model pictured above is blurry, but the organizer, Steve Burnett, aka The Bovina Farmer, had a glittering career in New York City before he realized his dreams, so he got everyone drunk on Manhattans. In fact, refreshments for the audience were two whole watermelons and a copper bowl of Manhattans served to us by the illustrious Sir Julian of Richards, he of Tickler fame. The audience was ushered into the event through a dense thicket of balsam fir by the dulcet tones of the bagpipes played by a piper clad in full blue tartan. Once the bagpipes had retreated, musical accompaniment for the show was provided by a world class drummer beating some expert modeling marching orders on metal garbage pails.

There is seriously never a dull moment here in these beautifully eccentric Catskill Mountains.

Catskills Weekend: July 22nd

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Saturday July 22nd

Phoenicia

You may just be able to register in time for Taste the World, at 1.30pm on Saturday – if it’s not sold out – at the Phoenicia Library. Sample a medley of traditional foods that The Recipe Hunters learned to make in the homes of locals from around the world. Hear about the stories of people behind these recipes. ADVANCED REGISTRATION required, please call the library 688-7811. 48 Main Street, Phoenicia, NY 12464.

Hobart

Hosted by Transition Catskills, Hobart Methodist Church is holding a Repair Cafe from 10am to 2pm. Take your broken household items, like lamps, vacuum cleaners, small appliances and clothing to be fixed. Hobart Methodist Church, 186 Maple Avenue, Hobart, NY 13788

Bovina

Gardens of Bovina Tour, hosted by Bovina Historical Society will take place from 10am to 4pm. 124 Bob Hall Road, Bovina Center, NY 13740. This is a rare chance to get an insider’s glimpse of one of the hippest areas in the Catskills. Feel free to bring a picnic lunch.

Arkville

If you are interested in becoming a member of the non-profit Catskill Center, they are holding a members-only event entitled The Hudson River School and the Ice Age with speakers and geologists Johanna and Robert Titus. The Catskills Mountains were once at the bottom of the sea where the Bahamas are now. Found out how they got here, Saturday 22nd, 7pm to 9pm. 43355 State Route 28, Arkville, NY 12406. Membership is $35 for individuals and $50 for families.

Andes

Wayside Cider are hosting a Wallabout Fire Roasted Beef Dinner at 6pm Wayside Cider, 55 Redden Lane, Andes, NY 13731. $60 cash at the door.

Monday 24th July

Pine Hill

The Zephyr in Pine Hill is hosting a trivia game night. from 7pm to 10pm. 302 Main Street, Pine Hill, NY 12465. $5 margaritas and some delicious local eats.