Before coming to High Falls five years ago to reopen the beloved Egg’s Nest restaurant, following the retirement of founder Richard Murphy, Eric Silver “lived in the East Village for many years, on 10th Street,” he recalls. “I was inspired by the borscht that I used to have in at Veselka.” His wife Cristina, who worked in the same neighborhood at the time, also liked to hang out at the renowned restaurant at the heart of the Lower East Side’s Ukrainian community.
When they decided to relocate Ulster County, they found themselves once again commingling with expats and descendants of Ukrainian immigrants who resettled in the Route 209 corridor, mainly around Kerhonkson. Their young daughter’s babysitter’s grandparents came from Ukraine. So, when Russia invaded that country, the Silvers knew they needed to do something to show their solidarity – something of a culinary nature, since that’s their line of work. “My family has Eastern European roots, and I come from a background where there has been persecution. I felt very connected,” says Eric. “Food is not just nourishment; it’s also connection and comfort.”
Borscht hadn’t been on the Egg’s Nest menu before, so Eric went “rummaging around for recipes” until he found one that he liked. By the weekend after the invasion, a big batch was ready, and the Silvers had committed to donating all proceeds of its sales to charities benefiting the people of Ukraine. Their first choice was the Voices of Children Foundation, which provides psychological support to children who have been traumatized by witnessing war. They’re also looking into World Central Kitchen’s Chefs for Ukraine program, which assists in feeding the masses of refugees now fleeing the country.
“Make borscht, not war” was the pitch that the Silvers put out when they announced the initiative on social media. That first batch sold out quickly – and not only because mid-Hudsonites are eager to show their support for the beleaguered Ukrainian people: Hudson Valley One can attest from experience that the borscht is delicious. It’s also vegetarian, and vegan if you ask them to leave out the sour cream garnish. “When we first set out to do it, we had committed to doing the current round. We didn’t know it was going to be so well-received,” Eric says.
“We’ve gotten so much great feedback,” agrees Cristina – and much of it was from local residents of Ukrainian descent. “One woman came in two nights in a row,” Eric relates. “She said it was just like her mother’s borscht – we nailed it.”
So, as of this writing, more batches of borscht are being readied at the Egg’s Nest, with “no end date in mind,” according to Eric. He’s experimenting with variations on the recipe, including cold versions for summer weather, but adds, “I hope this isn’t something that drags on for so long.”
The Egg’s Nest is located at 1300 Route 213 in High Falls. The restaurant is open from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Borscht (and anything else on the menu) can also be ordered for takeout by calling (845) 687-7255. Visit www.theeggsnest.com to learn more.
After your borscht, you can maximize your support for the Ukrainian people by heading right across the street to pick up some dessert at the High Falls Kitchenette. The eatery is participating in a national campaign called Hamentashen for Ukraine, a fundraiser for Polish Humanitarian Action. Your purchase of a peach, strawberry or chocolate hamentash for $3.50 will help the cause.
Here are some more places to put your money where your mouth is to support Ukraine during the coming weeks:
Wednesday, March 9
From 4:30 to 9 p.m., the North Plank Road Tavern at 30 Plank Road in Newburgh will host a Ukrainian Relief Fundraiser, in conjunction with St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Newburgh Jewish Community Center. Representatives of concerned groups will discuss their relief efforts with a formal program at 6 p.m. The suggested donation is $20 at the door. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be passed and a cash bar available. There will also be raffles and a silent auction. All of the proceeds from the evening will be dedicated to Ukrainian relief efforts, including the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and World Central Kitchen. Call (845) 562-5031 or visit www.northplankroadtavern.com for more information.
Friday-Sunday, March 11-13
Blue Mountain Bistro-to-Go, located at 948 Route 28 west of Kingston, is hosting a “Foods of Ukraine” fundraiser to help feed Ukrainian refugees. Ten percent of the gross sales from the weekend will be donated to World Central Kitchen, an organization that is on the ground in Poland and Ukraine feeding refugees fleeing the conflict with Russia. Bistro owners Richard and Mary Anne Erickson have set an ambitious fundraising goal of $10,000. To donate to the effort online, visit https://donate.wck.org/team/411584.
Saturday-Sunday, March 19-20
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Orange County will be selling traditional Ukrainian foods for pickup, with the proceeds going to Catholic charities in Ukraine. Options include $20 for two dozen pierogies, $25 for six pieces of stuffed cabbage, $25 for kolbasa and $10 for four cups or $20 for ten cups of borshch or fried sauerkraut. You’ll need to preorder by Monday, March 14 at (845) 496-5506, and then pick up your order on the weekend at the Church, located at 141 Sarah Wells Trail in Campbell Hall.
Entire month of March
- Rough Cut Brewing, whose headquarters at 5945 Route 44/55 in Kerhonkson was home to the Ukrainian Log Cabin restaurant for over 45 years, will be sending a portion of all beer sales for the month of March to the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Learn more at www.roughcutbrewing.com.
- The Paradox Baking Company is donating ten percent of net sales at Adams Fairacre Farms in Poughkeepsie and Newburgh of its Suzy’s HeartBeet four-inch gluten-free chocolate cakes, which are decorated with roses reminiscent of Ukrainian women’s traditional headpieces. You can also order them on Instagram for local delivery at www.instagram.com/paradoxbakingcompany/?hl=en.
- Upstate Granola is donating all proceeds from online sales of Cashew Coconut Raisin and Blueberry Praline Pecan granola to World Central Kitchen and UNICEF for Ukrainian relief efforts. Packages come in two sizes, with prices ranging from $7 to $12.50. Visit www.upstategranola.com to order.