The winter issue of The Valley Table is now available. From the comfort of your home and the warmth of your favorite blanket, join us as we travel near and (really) far to find what's local.
Just in time for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia, tag along with Robin Cherry as she visits the capital city in Eating Local in Moscow and dines on mushrooms, caviar and everything smoked.
Closer to home, road trip to Long Island with Steven Kolpan as he investigates the New York State of Wine. He says these three wineries produce some of the most exceptional wines the country has to offer.
And right in your own backyard, buddy up with Toni Senecal as she dips into the exceptional chocolate of the Hudson Valley. Cupcakes, bonbons, even a beer that tastes like chocolate...yummy.
See what's cooking with farm-to-patient cuisine at Hudson Valley Hospital Center. Visit winter farmers' market and whip up some delicious winter dishes. It's all here, and more, in the winter issue of The Valley Table.
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Lunch at Tarry Lodge
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is the time of year when some of the finest restaurants in New York's Hudson Valley offer three-course meals at bargain prices. This fall over 150 restaurants participated in the promotion offering prix fixe lunches for $20.95 and three-course dinners for $29.95 (excluding beverage, tax and tip).
We decided to dine at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, NY for lunch. The prix fixe lunch menu featured three Antipasti choices, three Secondi choices, and three Dolci choices. All menu items used local ingredients including artisanal cheese from Coach Farm in Pine Plains, apples from Migliorelli Farms in Northern Dutchess County, and organic maple syrup from Crown Maple.
Below is a list of items on the Tarry Lodge Restaurant Week Menu: Antipasti Coach Farm Goat Cheese Truffle with Amba Arugula and Pomegranate Vinaigrette Samaki Smoked Trout with Honey Crisp Apples and Horseradish Cream Duck Liver Crostini with Amba Farms Baby Kale
Secondi Wild Hive Polenta with Roasted Maitakes and Red Wine Sugo Montauk Wild Striped Bass Messinese
Hudson Valley Duck Breast with Lentils, Parsnips and VIN Cotto
Dolci Tarry Lodge and Migliorelli Farm Apple Cobbler Crown Maple Cheese Cake Aborio Rice Budino with Candied Quince
Of the antipasti choices, I tried the Coach Farm Goat Cheese Truffle with Amba Arugula. The arugula and frisée were lightly dressed in a tangy pomegranate dressing and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. The highlight of the dish was the ball of mild goat cheese rolled in poppy seeds. All flavors and textures complimented each other.
The polenta was an excellent entrée -- creamy polenta with a delicious red wine sauce, topped with roasted maitake mushrooms that were roasted to perfection. Maitakes are mushrooms from Japan that have a woodsy taste and rough texture. The taste isn't overwhelming and added a nice touch to the dish.
Tarry Lodge always prepares excellent desserts made with apples so we decided to try the Apple Cobbler. It was served warm and topped with a rich vanilla bean ice cream. The crust was doughy, the apples were slightly sweet and tart, and the granola on top was crunchy. Each bite was savory and just the perfect treat for a chilly fall day.
Quaint colonial homestead turned farm-to-table restaurant, Purdy’s Farmer & the Fish is redefining the way we think of locally grown food. Situated within the 22 acre Purdy Land Trust in North Salem, the premises includes its own working farm where a majority of the kitchen’s vegetable and herb provisions are sourced.
The idea for the restaurant was a collaboration between a fishmonger, Edward Taylor, and graduate of agricultural studies, executive chef Michael Kaphlan (hence its given name) who partnered in their efforts to bring quality, reasonably priced food to the local community.
Inside, guests are invited to sit in the cozy tavern adjoining a beautifully stocked raw bar, or in the main dining room. A warm stone hearth faces each seating area, neatly decorated with patriotic memorabilia that adds a simple touch of country charm to the rustic atmosphere.
The open-beam walls are adorned with historic photographs of farmers and fishermen hailing from the east coast.Chalkboard listings of in-season produce and oysters currently offered on the menu outline the perimeter of a server station, providing an aesthetically pleasing open space between the kitchen and customers.
The food is just as fresh and flavorful as you’d expect, with a predominately seafood driven menu that’s sourced almost entirely from east coast waters. Each piece of fish is expertly executed, flaking off in bites that are tender, juicy and not overly seasoned; a perfect texture accompanying an array of smooth starches and crisp vegetables.
A wide variety of raw bar options, including an impressive selection of east and west coast oysters are a promising choice to start. The curry-scented parsnip and lobster soup has a velvety consistency with ample lumps of meat, and conjures earthy and buttery notes that pair perfectly with a dry white wine.
Both the cod and wild striped bass entrees were presented perfectly, punched up with delightful additions like leek puree and flecks of duck confit.
In all, you can’t go wrong in whatever you end up ordering- Farmer and the Fish has found a way of bringing high quality seafood and local harvest to new heights, making it a welcomed addition to the northern Westchester dining scene.
- Brianna D'Alessio
Restaurant Week at Hudson House
On a chilly Wednesday evening during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, my fiancé and I went to Hudson House in Cold Spring for dinner. Upon walking into the atrium of the building, the restaurant seemed warm and welcoming. The maître d’ took our coats and seated us at our table by a window in a gesture that suggested we make ourselves at home. The room of about fourteen tables was half full, yet it felt cozy not cramped. We encountered a minor incident when my fiancé accidently knocked one of the feet to our table out of place, but our waitress handled it with grace. She quickly fixed the table and took our beverage order with a smile. When she returned with our drinks and complimentary bruschetta with basil, tomatoes and chickpeas, she brought me a small cup of refill, on the house.
To start out, our drinks were superb. I ordered an alcoholic pomegranate fizz, which had an appealing tang accented by the fizzy water. My fiancé ordered a nonalcoholic blueberry fizz, which was sweet and satisfying. We were both impressed by the bruschetta, and our basket required refilling multiple times. The chickpeas were a welcomed surprise as neither of us had experienced them with a bruschetta before. Our appetizers came out steaming in a timely manner. My order of lobster bisque was creamy and thick with chunks of juicy lobster throughout. Coating my stomach with warmth, it was the perfect appetizer to battle the cold outside. My fiancé’s homemade Maryland crab cakes were smooth and tasty. The crab really stood out as soft and tender and the breading was seasoned just right.
As we waited for our entrees, our waitress was on point, returning several times to refill our water glasses, clear our dishes, and set our new utensils for the coming course. I ordered the Chianti braised boneless short ribs, which were topped with caramelized onions and Maytag bleu cheese, and served over a wild mushroom risotto with baby carrots and green beans. The short ribs cut with ease, practically coming apart at the touch. The dish was hearty and filling with the overall feel of comfort food. However, it was my fiancé’s entrée that stood out among the rest. He ordered the breast of chicken stuffed with spinach and goat cheese wrapped with prosciutto, topped with Dijon cream sauce, and served with horseradish-mashed potatoes, and baby vegetables. The chicken was tender and juicy with a plethora of flavors, the most surprising being sweet. Contrasted by the mashed potatoes, the overall effect was pleasant to the taste buds. My fiancé completely wiped his plate clean, with some help from me.
Filled to bursting from our delicious appetizers and entrees, we couldn’t dream how we would have room for our desserts of Granny Smith apple strudel with French vanilla ice cream and bourbon chocolate pecan pie with maple walnut ice cream. However, upon our first bites, we instantly found more room. My strudel was baked to perfection, flaky and sweet. The inner apples were soft and tart, contrasting wonderfully to the sweet ice cream and crust, marking the perfect end to my meal. My fiancé was equally if not more pleased, begging to return to Hudson House for, if nothing else, their pie. Creamy and rich, it was an experience for the taste buds as the flavors of the maple ice cream with the caramel-drizzled, chocolate-filled bourbon pecan pie intermingled brilliantly on the tongue.
After a pleasant evening at the Hudson House, my fiancé and I left feeling warm and satisfied. Happy with our meals, we excitedly decided that we would have to go back again with friends or family so they could encounter the delectable food and atmosphere.
- Emily Sneyd
An Evening at Swift
I’ve lived in the Hudson Valley for most of my life, and in the seven years since returning from four years of college in New Hampshire, not once had I experienced Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. So with my fiancée and parents in tow on Wednesday evening, I made my first foray into the world of discounted culinary adventure. The location: Swift, at the Roundhouse at Beacon Falls in Beacon.
Entering the doors at the Roundhouse felt a bit like stepping from 5th Avenue into a boutique, Manhattan hotel. And yet, the industrial look is just that, a look--the building was otherwise warm and inviting. To the right of the entrance, there’s a cozy lounge with a roaring fireplace and a well-stocked bar. We ignored the call of the fire and headed to our table, one by a window and overlooking Fishkill Creek’s waterfall, visible even in the dark because of a few well-placed spotlights.
During Restaurant Week, Swift is offering four options within each course. Our party size was thus perfect, and without too much deliberation, we ordered one of everything. Before the appetizers arrived, we nibbled on a bit of foie gras (served on celery), as well as some excellent bread.
My lamb roulade (at left) was the nicest looking appetizer of the bunch, and it was delicious. But the star of the first course was the salad--winter greens and butternut squash served with Sprout Creek Farms’ Madeline cheese. The flavors were incredibly balanced and the addition of Marcona almonds provided a satisfying crunch. The other appetizers included a sweet potato soup and a raw oyster dish with potatoes and leeks.
For the entrée, my choice was the red wine risotto (at right). Spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg (“tastes like the holidays,” according to our server), the risotto was perfectly cooked and made for a filling meal. The winter greens on top added color, but not much else to the dish.
The Nantucket bay scallops entrée was Swift’s best all-around effort. The scallops were seasoned and cooked well, the celery root puree was fantastic, and the Brussels sprouts, due to a late sear on a plancha (or flattop grill), could have convinced any detractor to become a fan.
The chicken (sourced locally from Fazio Farms) was the best component of any of the entrées. Extremely moist and tender, pieces of the chicken were passed around the table and no one could get enough. In the fourth entrée, the short ribs lived up to the standard, but the parsnip puree was a bit overpowering.
After a bit of time to catch our breath and finish our beer (Sixpoint’s Bengali Tiger on draft), we were on to dessert, where there was a close race for the top prize, as the pumpkin “cheesecake” and the apple “pie” duked it out.
Both desserts belong in quotation marks, as neither really fit their stated category. The “cheesecake” was really a pumpkin semifreddo (at right) served with crumbled graham crackers, while the “pie” was more like apple empanadas (below) in a cream cheese dipping sauce. After cleaning the plates and licking the spoons, we declared the dessert battle a tie, with two votes for each.
The almond cake with gooseberries was good, but nothing special. The chocolate dessert included an interesting avocado ice cream, but three out of the four of us did not enjoy the combination of yuzu and chocolate.
Overall, our evening was very pleasant. The service was tremendous (my fiancée compared the servers to a SWAT team at one point) and it was nice to meet Chef Brandon Collins, who visited our table at the end of the night. Swift is definitely worth a visit during Restaurant Week, which runs through November 17.
- Justin Satkowski
Behind the Scenes Look at Frankie & Johnnie's
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is almost here! The anticipation is building in Westchester and Rockland Counties. The list is long with restaurants offering cuisines to fit everyone’s taste. The best part: lunches are only $20.95 and dinners $29.95. How can you go wrong? If there were ever a time to venture out to a place you’ve been dying to try, now is the moment!
Recently I stopped in to Frankie & Johnnies Steakhouse. It’s an authentic steakhouse, right in our backyard. Frankie & Johnnies is a family owned business with two other locations in NYC. The one I visited has been in Rye for the past 15 years.
From the moment you walk through the smoky glass doors you feel transported. Wrought iron, dark wood and glass come together and give it a stately, yet modern feel.
Chef Steve Contis (pictured below with front of the house manager Fran Dolan) has been at the helm since they opened their doors. He is a self-taught chef, with an eye on keeping things seasonal and delicious. I happened to be there a few hours before dinner service, so I got to peek in and see the kitchen. I’m always amazed when I see kitchens like this … so tiny, yet big enough for four chefs to produce hundreds of dinners. (It’s all about being organized and efficient.)
Quality and organization is key to Chef Steve. Everyday, he oversees all the ordering of the beef and seafood. He personally checks every order and returns anything that isn’t up to his high standards. Evening specials are created only after he has approved all ingredients. Nothing is pre-packaged or pre-portioned at Frankie & Johnnie’s. They maintain a true steakhouse philosophy. They receive whole shells of beef that are aged and they portion all to order. The same goes for seafood; whole fish are portioned every morning.
For those of you living in Rye, you are probably familiar with the Rye Farmers Market on Sundays. You might find him out and about looking for special vegetables there. Not only does he pick ingredients there, but he also heads up to North Salem as well.
One of their most requested dishes on the menu, and one that will be on the HVRW menu next week, is their Surf and Turf. I’m fond of saying that sometimes you just need to abandon all the fancy things and just go simple. If you have an outstanding ingredient it will sing on it’s own. That is exactly what this filet did. Just a sprinkle of salt, pepper and a blend of special spices that Frankie & Johnnie uses, was it. Seared to a perfect rare and I was in heaven. The outside had a crisp crust and the inside like butter. Served with the filet were gorgeous tender shrimp, bathed in a sauce of butter, garlic and shallots; not over done, just perfectly balanced.
If someone at your table is in the mood for seafood they have you covered. Here is one of the offerings on next week’s menu: Seared Salmon over Crisp Vegetables. Again, simple and delicious!
If you’ve always wanted to give Frankie & Johnnie’s a look, now is the time. My advice: go for the steak, you won’t be disappointed!
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is nearly upon us, kicking off on Monday, November 4 and ending on Sunday, November 17. There will be many wonderful options for us to eat at so many fantastic restaurants. I, for one, look forward to this event each time it comes to us. Most people will tell you that stepping out for dinner tends to be habitual. When you find a restaurant you like, chances are you will go back, and perhaps even become a regular. There is something very comforting about walking in and having the hostess or the server remember you. I would encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, and even perhaps your neighborhood, and try out a couple of new places. What better opportunity than this with the cost of lunch and dinner perfectly priced?
Right after graduating from culinary school, I landed a spot in the Tarry Lodge kitchen. Working under Andy Nusser, the Executive Chef and owner, I have always been proud to say that I was a part of the new beginning of that restaurant, an experience I will take with me forever. There were only a handful of us helping Andy create the new menu back in 2008, including Sam Epps (pictured above) who is now the Chef de Cuisine in Port Chester.
Sam was classically trained in French cuisine at the International Culinary Center (formerly The French Culinary Institute). After graduating, he headed to Italy and worked under Sandra Rossi Lotti at Toscana Saporita. A chance meeting with Mario Batali in 2006 landed him a position in the Babbo kitchen when he returned to the U.S. Starting, as all great chefs do, on the salad station, he quickly jumped to all the positions in the kitchen, including expediting. During the time Sam was at Babbo, Andy had left to open Casa Mono, so it would not be until 2008 that they would work together in bringing Tarry Lodge to fruition. In those very early days, before Tarry Lodge opened, Sam was on the line, Mario La Posta (now Chef de Cuisine in Westport) was on pizza and yes, me, the antipasti girl. It was a crazy fun time back then.
Tarry Lodge has hit its stride. Andy splits his time between Casa Mono in New York City, Tarry Lodge in Port Chester and Tarry Lodge in Westport. Sam, with the reins in Port Chester, is creating some really amazing food. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet up with him to talk a little about the HVRW menu and sample a few dishes he’s going to be highlighting next week.
Sam takes great care in sourcing many of his ingredients from local farms. Using locally grown mushrooms and polenta, he has created a vegetarian entrée: Roasted Hen of the Woods over Wild Hive Farm Polenta with a Chianti Sugo. This entrée can be made vegan by leaving off the shaved Parmigiano cheese. The mushrooms have a rich smoky flavor imparted from the wood burning pizza oven and blend beautifully with the soft organic polenta and sweetly acidic wine reduction. I literally could not stop eating it.
Another dish he shared with me used duck as the star. If you’ve followed me in the past, I’ve mentioned that duck is a favorite of mine, but I find that it can be hit or miss in many restaurants. Either it’s over cooked and dry or undercooked with rubbery skin. Every now and then, all the combinations come together and you have the perfect marriage. This is one of those times. Their duck is sourced from the Hudson Valley and served with a beautifully crisp skin, and thinly sliced. It rests on a fragrant parsnip puree with stunning black lentils. Not only is it a beautifully composed dish, but the flavors come together like a symphony.
If you’ve never been to Tarry Lodge in Port Chester, I highly recommend you give it a try. You will find a wide array of offerings including: thin crust pizzas, house made pastas, rib eye steak, creative antipasti salads and rich cured salumi and meats. There is something for everyone on the menu.