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The End

September 9, 2010

This blog will be discontinued and removed from the e-waves one week from today, on Sept. 16, 2010. We still have our general food blog at


Local Meats Wild and Tame

March 9, 2010

Recently your host had the opportunity to help prepare a batch of Vietnamese pho, a hearty beef noodle soup from Hanoi, in the northern part of the country, with friend Elizabeth Spinzia at her Rhinebeck home.

A variety of beef bones and parts were sourced from Tivoli’s Northwind Farms, who raise all-natural meats on their small farm. The bones simmered for hours with cloves, cinnamon, star anise, and charred onion and ginger to make an aromatically irresistible broth. The following day (after a lovely appetizer of freshly made imperial rolls dipped in peanut sauce), the broth with bits of simmered meat was ladled over thin flat rice noodles.

Oodles of noodles.

Elizabeth scoops rice noodles out of the heady beef broth. Photo by James L. Stevenson.

The table was laden with an assortment of condiments for guests to add themselves: bean sprouts, fresh mint, basil and cilantro, minced hot peppers, hoisin and sriracha sauces, limes to squeeze, and thin slices of freshly cut beef.

raw beef

Elizabeth gets ready thin slices of raw meat that will cook right in the broth. Photo by James L. Stevenson.

Adding condiments

Elizabeth and Jennifer add condiments to taste to their bowls of pho. Photo by James L. Stevenson.

* * *

A week later your host feasted again at the annual game dinner of Northern Dutchess Rod & Gun Club in Rhinebeck. On the menu was a huge array of wild game, some local, some from further afield, but all free-range and natural!

Appetizers included wild duck pate, summer sausage and salami made from venison, a cured ham of wild boar, wild turkey noodle soup, and a spicy alligator jambalaya. wild game

The main menu included pot roast of caribou and moose, saute of elk and venison, stuffed rolled venison loin, wild duck with apples, pheasant with lemon sauce, succulent “wascally wabbit,” wild salmon, wild boar pulled pork (my personal favorite), and stews made with beaver, raccoon and squirrel.

game stews

Front to back: Brunswick stew with squirrel, beaver stew, and raccoon with noodles. Photo by Jennifer Brizzi.

Side dishes of squash, mashed potatoes, green beans and red cabbage went virtually unnoticed.

In Haggis Heaven

February 1, 2010

Last night the second annual Robbie Burns night at the Rhinecliff Hotel was a unique treat. For me it was all about the haggis, which I’d never tried and was longing to sink my teeth into. But there was also some magnificent bagpipe playing from Jeremy Freeman, entertaining story-telling and recitations of poetry by Jonathan Kruk and others, and wonderful food. Not to mention great company (thanks, Elizabeth, Gregory, Kerri!).

First, the heaping pile of steaming haggis was paraded in with much fanfare.

Enter the haggis

Don't believe the cat-food-like appearance. This is truly scrumptious stuff.

Haggis, in a word, is a sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), boiled at length, then minced or grated and mixed with toasted oats, chopped onion, often garlic and/or beef suet, lots of pepper and assertive herbs and stuffed into a sheep stomach or ox bung.  Although the very idea makes many gag, this was really wonderful: zesty, hearty, nutty, seasoned like a good stuffing and reminiscent of a great country pate. I loved it.
The rest of the menu was great too, a rich soul-satisfying cock-a-leekie soup of generous chicken chunks in a leeky broth, a savory beef stew with turnips and mashed potato (“neeps and tatties”), and to end, a perfectly sweet shortbread smothered with lemon curd. Included were generous lashings of Tuthilltown Spirits’ brown liquors (Baby Bourbon was my favorite but all were good) and an assortment of Scottish ales from Bitter and Twisted to The Skullsplitter.

I can’t wait until next year!

Cock-a-leekie soup

Cock-a-leekie soup

Holiday Treats and Tasty Eats

December 8, 2009

My apologies for the long lapse since the last blog entry. Life circumstances, rather than lack of enthusiasm, have kept me from updating it as regularly as I intended.

Fall’s food fests have come and gone, even Rosendale’s late-season Pickle Festival, and now it’s time to eat holiday sweets and cookies and feast with friends and family. This Sunday the 13th from 1:30-4:30 p.m., upstairs at Montgomery Row, you can make your own doughnuts and olive oil, while meeting Judah Maccabee and making Chanukah candles and crafts (876-7666). From 1 to 3 p.m. the same day, at Morton Library in Rhinecliff, there will be a cookie swap from 2-4 p.m.; bring three dozen cookies (876-2903). Not holiday-oriented but perfect for cold weather is the monthly Rhinecliff Fire Co. Ladies Auxiliary Soup Sale at the Rhinecliff Firehouse, the next one on Thursday the 17th from 11:30 am to 1 pm, or while supplies last. They often sell out early so call 876-6149 beginning at 11:15 am to check what’s on the menu and order some warming soup.

This past Friday night we finally got to Flatiron in Red Hook, a place I’ve heard lauded for great food. And it wasn’t lauded in vain, a celebration of exciting tastes and textures: juicy Connecticut oysters, succulently appley pork belly with the slightest crunch on top, assertively beefy rare Flatiron steak with deadly chimichurri, and finally a tidbit of tender and flaky black cod cooked au point with sweet, nutty, thyme-infused crumbs on top, the fish enhanced by a glass of perfect Rapitala Piano Maltese from Sicily.

Looking forward to the opening of O’Leary’s, in the old Tap House/Lenahan & Lopez space, and whatever is coming to “restaurant coming soon” across the little alley from Northern Dutchess Realty. I hear spring will bring a beer and cheese store to Mill Street next to Cesare and Lili; sounds like my kind of place!

Any leads or tips on new or soon-to-open food businesses are much welcomed. It’s heartening to see new businesses opening in this economy and I wish them all well.

On the generosity of orchards…and the enthusiasm of kids

October 7, 2009

Yesterday some Rhinebeck parents cut up a bunch of apples to serve to kids at Chancellor Livingston Elementary School, part of a statewide project focusing on the harvest this week.

Metta Callahan, Sarah Derbyshire, and Sandra Arias cut up pound after pound of apples to show kids how good and good for you local produce can be.

Metta Callahan, Sarah Derbyshire, and Sandra Arias cut up pound after pound of apples to show kids how good and good for you local produce can be.

Local orchards Mead, Wonderland, and Montgomery Place generously gave many, many pounds of luscious, crispy, sweet-tart fruits. Offered to the kids grades K-5 yesterday were gala, cortland, and honeycrisp. Every bite was well-received, especially by some especially ravenous fifth-graders–you know who you are!!

These apple-cutters–along with parents Yunhee McCarty, Catherine Shih, Anne McGrath, and Elizabeth Spinzia, as well as yours truly–had a ball feeding and educating the enthusiastic kids, with a few games thrown in for fun! Thanks to the participating parents, the accommodating Chancellor staff, and the wonderful local orchards who donated so much bounty!

Metta, Sarah, and Sandra cut it up!

Metta, Sarah, and Sandra cut it up!

Glorious Garlicklandia

September 27, 2009

I’ve only missed one or two Hudson Valley Garlic Fests since 1997. Rain or shine, it’s a wonderful celebration of all things Garlic, along with varied and foot-tapping music on several stages, creative crafts, lectures and demos, kid-friendly fun, and great food. Arm of the Sea Theater is always a highlight, even in the driving rain:

Native Americans plant seeds thanks to Arm of the Sea Theater.

Native Americans plant seeds thanks to the stupendous puppets of Arm of the Sea Theater.

One of our first stops is always Gary’s Pickles, killer and not to be missed. We can never decide between sour and half-sour; both are crunchy and wonderful. So we buy a bucket of each. Here my daughter discovers a hybrid to please those who can’t decide, like us:

How do they make a pickle that's half sour and half-half sour?

How do they make a pickle that's half sour and half half-sour?

Some of the most scrumptious, sweet-tangy, pulled pork I’ve had north of North Carolina is from Tim’s, a bit tricky to find but worth the search, available on a bun or a plate, with sauce or without, with coleslaw or without, for seven bucks. It’s truly heavenly even on a stomach already full of pierogies, soft pretzels, and a less wonderful pulled pork specimen; trust me. It is ecstacy-making stuff. We go for the bun, the sauce and coleslaw, all stellar.

Tim's pulled pork is the only thing they sell, and what more could you want in life? Perfect balance of sweet and tang, moist and tender and smoky--heaven on a bun.

Tim's pulled pork is the only thing they sell, and what more could you want in life? Perfect balance of sweet and tang, moist and tender and smoky--heaven on a bun.

In spite of a rainy day and a relatively short visit, we left satisfied with having found everything we sought, which included many heads of garlic in varied varieties: Spanish roja (my personal fave), German red and white, and Italian purple skin. Tasting it raw, whether minced, chunked, or sliced, is de rigeur before making your choices. And soon you feel thoroughly and happily infused with it. Some folks go for other purification or detoxification strategies, whether medical or spiritual, but for me there’s is nothing as cleansing, and pleasing, as tasting crunchy, spicy, bold, raw garlic and having it run through your veins.

Bubby’s Beautiful Burritos

August 17, 2009

A quick visit to Bubby’s, on Rt. 9G in Red Hook, adjacent to Montgomery Place farm stand,

Tiny but mighty Bubby's Burritos

Tiny but mighty Bubby's Burritos

sufficed for a satisfying snack for two little ones. The burritos are giant and fresh but on this particular day the cheesy quesadilla was just the ticket.CIMG0181