WE RECENTLY HEARD FROM AN old friend, a former Hudson Valley resident, an excellent chef and all-around nice guy who moved up to the Adirondacks to find a little more air and less noise and a place where he could set up his own restaurant according to his own principles, bring up his kids and go fishing if he wanted to. As he describes his restaurant on the website, "We believe in supporting [the local] economy by purchasing our provisions from local sources, and by using locally harvested foods that have been preserved by canning or freezing for the off season. We also believe in supporting the local economy by selling our product at affordable prices. We want everyone to be able to afford a wholesome house made meal without going broke in the process." We he says it, he means it.
We haven't yet been up to Saranac Lake or to see our friend John Vargo or visit his little restaurant, The Eat 'n Meet Grill and Larder, be we're going to try, soon, before the snow flies. Every now and then, someone proves that it can be done—that you can be a great chef with a social conscience, that you can have a successful restaurant without serving factory farmed and shipped vegetables and meat, that you can, in short, run a principled business just as well as you can lead a principled life.
One thing I remember about John Vargo was his kitchen at home—quite literally a hole dug into a stone wall. This former Navy guy knew how to do more with less, to put his attention into the food, not the granite countertop.
Which is to say we started it in issue 55 and yes, we are doing a kitchen, still. But it's a moving target. As we should have learned from covering other renovations, it's never just the kitchen—in our case, it involves the laundry and guest bath, too. And then there's the adjoining den and dining room. None of which was a surprise to the designers we met with—who all agreed the time and budget might be stretching a bit. Reality check one.
With the holidays coming, our present kitchen is looking pretty darned good, or so I keep telling Janet.