Is it just me, or does the Hudson Valley get more delicious every year? From hard apple cider to crisp Cameos, A Tavola to the DePuy Canal House and the BeerFest to Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, here are my Top Ten local food moments of 2012:
Good things come from Bad Seed
In January, Devin Britton and Albert Wilklow licensed Bad Seed Cider Company, and started up production in an old cork-walled apple cooler in Highland. There they brewed a bevy of bottle-conditioned beauties: Dry Hard Cider, Belgian Witte Reserve, Belgian Abbey, Raspberry, Blueberry and IPC (India Pale Cider). Britton, a pro cook, and Wilklow, a sixth-generation farmer, took the goods to the greenmarkets of Brooklyn, a critical incubator of sorts, and the feedback helped them fine-tune the ciders for release to Hudson Valley restaurants and distributors in spring 2013. Look for some extra-special microbatches aged in Bourbon barrels and red and white wine casks.
Valentine’s Day dinner at A Tavola
Chefs Bonnie and Nathan Snow met while working at Sfoglia on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and A Tavola features their labors of love: house-baked bread, handmade pastas, mismatched farmhouse tables sourced from local antique stores. Crispy pork belly confit with pickled apple, arugula, whole-grain mustard and apple cider glaze; sweet potato gnocchi with wild boar ragu; branzino fillet en cartoccio with whipped baccala, melted leeks and black olive pesto; and A Tavola bread pudding with currants, caramel and Tuaca, served hot with a scoop of salted caramel gelato – oh! It was almost like being in love.
The DePuy Canal House returns
“I’d love to keep that kitchen. It’s my studio,” chef John Novi told me in 2011, when the DePuy Canal House closed after 42 years. Well, the father of New American Cooking couldn’t stay away for long: The Canal House reopened in July for weekend bunch, lunch and dinner, serving the bold, fresh fare that garnered four stars from The New York Times’s Craig Claiborne. Novi’s cuisine is excellence with a side of good humor: Munchkin Pumpkin filled with Bocus Pumpkin, served on saffron corn chowder; Carrot Pasta Reel. Make sure to peer into the kitchen, where the magic happens beneath a corona of copper pots.
The wonderful world of Zaraky Pelaccio
In July I spoke with Renaissance man Zakary Pelaccio, ahead of an August 4 salon at bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy in Rhinebeck. We talked about his cookbook Eat with Your Hands and his soon-to-be restaurant at 13 Third Street in Hudson. Starting sometime this winter, he and chef/wife Jori Jayne Emde will serve regional Northeast cuisine made with top-shelf Hudson Valley products. They will grow some ingredients in the 2,500-square-foot garden of their Old Chatham home. I expect great things from the peripatetic Pelaccio.