The Amsterdam Restaurant Rhinebeck

by Anne Maxfield on July 24, 2017

Amsterdam restaurant interiorDoesn’t everyone look forward to a new restaurant opening?

The thrill of the chase (am I the first of my friends?).

The anticipation of something new and different (will we have another place to add to our list of favorites—or the old standbys as my mother would say?).

What will we love and look forward to on the menu?

Those are big shoes to fill and the Amsterdam burst into the Rhinebeck dining scene ready to take them on.

Currently it’s open for dinner (but open 7 days a week) with lunch and brunch “coming soon.”

Menu item are seasonal and locally sourced, but thankfully the restaurant doesn’t feel the need to spell out the latitude and longitude of the radishes mixing it up with the pork chop special.

Accidental Locavore Smoked Salmon at the Amsterdam RestaurantWe started out sharing the house-smoked salmon with a big potato pancake (described on the menu as “hash brown”), a dollop of crème fraîche, a few fried capers and some micro-greens for décor. The salmon was delicious, silky with a nice punch of smoke and the hash brown was nicely crisped on the edges and creamy inside.

Accidental Locavore Rabbit Pate at the Amsterdam RestaurantThe house sent over a plate of rabbit pâté with bourbon-soaked cherries. It was terrific and the trio of pickled fennel, shallots and pickles were fun to mix and match with it (note to the squeamish, I can guarantee that you would never guess it was rabbit, so just order it and enjoy).

Accidental Locavore Gnocchi at the Amsterdam RestaurantI’m a sucker for gnocchi, so I had to try the farmer’s cheese gnocchi with mushrooms, asparagus and a nettle pesto. It was a big, hearty serving of tender gnocchi. I’m not sure exactly what a nettle is supposed to taste like but the pesto was good and worked well with the mushrooms and asparagus.

Janet went with the pork chop special. It was a great tasting chop, perfectly seasoned and cooked and according to her “the best pork chop I ever ate!” The chickpea tart that came with it was interesting and unexpected. The only downside was that as much as pork fat is great, this particular chop was incredibly fatty, making the serving only about 6 meaty bites (and we wanted more—a good thing).

We skipped dessert. 4 selections on the menu, three of which had nuts so not for me. You can also opt for some nice cheeses from the area.

Accidental Locavore Spring Cassoulet The Amsterdam RestaurantThe service is young and friendly and if you’re there on a Friday night like we were, the crowd is eclectic with a lot of people looking like they just escaped BK.  For summer, the restaurant opened up the outside space, so you can dine under the stars and toss a few boules in the court between courses.

A second, weeknight dinner, showed a more confident kitchen, consistently turning out really good dishes and according to a friend, a perfectly made Whisky Sour. For me, a small morsel of cheese made a perfect dessert, but it still seems IMHO to be the weak link on the restaurant’s menu.

If you go, let me know in the comments what you think. Enjoy!




Cider Pairings and a Farm Dinner at Angry Orchard

by Anne Maxfield on July 17, 2017

Accidental Locavore Ryan and CiderHow do you feel about hard cider?

While local distilleries have been getting a lot of notice lately, what’s been trending is the move to local cideries.

Cider makers and drinkers will tell you that cider is a preferred beverage because, like wine, it has infinite possibilities, depending on the type of apples used, the fermenting and aging processes, but with a lower alcohol content (allowing you to drink more of it). The more I get exposed to the great cider that is being made here in the Hudson Valley, the more I’m liking it and looking for it on restaurant menus.

I got to sample several different local ciders at a dinner at Angry Orchard. The dinner featured 7 of Angry Orchard’s ciders paired with dishes prepared for the event by visiting chef James Rigato from Mabel Gray Kitchen in Michigan. Impact PR and Communications had invited me as their guest.

Accidental Locavore Cider ViewAngry Orchard would be worth the visit, even without a great dinner. It’s perched on a hilltop in Walden New York, with views out towards the Shawangunk Mountains. Everything is pristine, from the driveway to the picture-perfect barns holding the cidery and the treehouse featured on Treehouse Masters.

We started out with a glass of their rosé cider, Rose for Sal. It was delicious, the perfect aperitif for a summer evening.

As we sat down, Ryan Burk, the head cider maker, talked about how he came to know Chef Rigato and introduced the first cider we’d be tasting, Newtown Pippin, a single variety, unfiltered cider made to showcase the complexity of the apple. It was light and crisp, and a perfect counterpart to the first course—compressed watermelon (more about that later*) with marinated feta, mint and za’atar. It was a great version of a summer staple, delicious and refreshing.

Accidental Locavore Watermelon at Angry Orchard CiderThat was followed by a rapini and cheddar hand pie (think empanada) with country ham and an anchovy butter. The cider for the course, Understood in Motion, vintage 2016, was a collaboration with Eden Specialty Ciders and aged in Calvados barrels for 6 months.

Accidental Locavore Hand Pie at Angry Orchard CiderAfter that, Ryan asked us all to grab a tumbler from the bar and follow him out to the terrace. There he unveiled a barrel, newly mounted on a stand, holding the first tasting of Edu, his ode to Spanish sidra. The tradition is to pour about 2 fingers’ worth into a tumbler from a height to oxidize it and give it a “false” carbonation. We all got our chance to pour our own from the barrel and you could quickly tell who the experienced travelers/cider aficionados were.

Back inside, the Edu went beautifully with one of my favorite courses of the night, Manila clams with a Thai green curry broth. While mussels are often paired with Thai curries, this was my first time having clams in green curry and they were terrific! The cider did a great job of taming the heat from the clams.

Accidental Locavore Clams at Angry Orchard CiderOval Nouveau was the cider for an interesting dish featuring green apples dipped in kimchi and served with dollops of yogurt and candied cashews. It’s fermented in French oak barrels and then aged for 7 months.

Our main course was a braised pork belly resting on a bed of cheese grits with homemade sauerkraut and a radish salad. The pork and grits were rich and tasty and the sauerkraut gave a nice tartness to balance out the dish. Understood in Motion, this one from 2015, was a collaboration with  E.Z. Orchards  in Oregon and fermented in oak was the very drinkable cider that was paired with the pork.

Accidental Locavore Pork Belly at Angry Orchard CiderBefore dessert, we were instructed to fill our glasses with the final cider, Wooden Sleeper, a bourbon barrel-aged cider, and take a walk. We were led into the aging barn lined with wooden barrels containing all the various ciders. After that, it was up to the tree house for dessert, blueberry linzer tart with ginger whipped sour cream and a maple cider honey. Everyone was saying how good it was, but since it had hazelnuts in the crust, we’ll just have to take their word on it. The Wooden Sleeper was a lovely finish to the evening’s ciders and along with the Rose for Sal, one of my two favorites.

Angry Orchard Cider Chef and DessertThe ciders at Angry Orchard are constantly changing and evolving, so what we had at the dinner might not be available (but something wonderful will probably have taken its place). Ryan is constantly moving forward with the ciders, so make plans to visit the cidery and taste what’s new and interesting.

Accidental Locavore Sunset at Angry Orchard Cider

*The secret, Chef Rigato told me, is to cut a big slab of watermelon and vacuum seal it. Going to give it a try and I’ll let you know how it works.


How Do You Save Recipes?

by Anne Maxfield on July 10, 2017

Accidental Locavore Recipe FilesRemember back in the day, when you wanted to save a recipe from a magazine or the NY Times, you either ripped it out or saved the magazine?

And you ended up with huge files that never saw the light of day again.

Never mind used.

One grey and blah Sunday when dinner plans had been cancelled, I ended up cruising through some huge folders of stuff I’d ripped out and saved.

The surprises?

  1. An article on our favorite pizza place in Nice, Le Safari, with a recipe for their Pizza Provençal (my favorite). Hmm, might be time to get a really hot grill going.Accidental Locavore Safari Pizza Recipe
  2. Other interesting finds from past NY Times Food sections, Frank Briuni reviewing 11 Madison Park—two stars in 2005 (and entrees from $26-38) and Le Bernadin getting another 4 stars in his 2005 return visit.
  3. Nigela Lawson doing avocado toast in 2003.
  4. Restaurants come and gone, mostly gone. Lever House, Savoy, Tabla, Veritas, San Domenico, Chanterelle, and still here: Jean Georges, Le Bernadin.
  5. Magazines that haven’t stood the test of time (or the Internet) More, Metropolitan Home, Gourmet.
  6. Wines, tasted and lusted after and one that will always be remembered—a 1992 La Tâche.
  7. Gordon Ramsey making his US television debut. Yes, someone had him first.
  8. Places to go in Croatia, Paris, Corsica, Morocco.
  9. Cheeses, eaten here or to look for in France.
  10. Recipes with almonds and walnuts, sadly not a part of my life anymore.
  11. How to make mayonnaise, yogurt, pork chops with cornichons, salad Niçoise, pasta puttanesca—things I can cook with my eyes closed.
  12. Cooking classes I’ve taken, lots of DeGustibus courtesy of my aunt (merci!)
  13. Big endeavors I need to revisit, like croissants and baguettes.
  14. What was I thinking? Projects were never going to happen, like Verjus-Marinated Black Walnuts.
  15. Post 9-11, what to pack in your “go” bag (haven’t we all learned to make copies of all important documents and store them in the cloud among other places?).

And me? I got a nostalgic reminder of what was important and a much skinnier file, ready to get cooking!

How do you save recipes?


Escarole Recipe: Try This Easy Escarole Salad

by Anne Maxfield on July 3, 2017

Accidental Locavore Escarole Salad RecipeI hate gritty produce.

At the CSA pick-up recently, one of the things Frank brought home was a beautiful head of escarole. It’s something I always like, both cooked and raw, but tend to avoid because it needs careful washing and sometimes I’m just not in the mood (you know what I mean?).

After a leisurely bath and a thorough shower (the escarole, not the Accidental Locavore), it was ready for a simple escarole salad recipe I’d seen in bon appètit. This served 6:

Escarole Salad

  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 6 cups torn escarole (from about 2 heads)
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed capers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup shaved peeled horseradish (or prepared horseradish)

Soak onion in a small bowl of ice water at least 30 minutes (you can do this while the escarole is soaking). Drain and pat dry.

Whisk crème fraîche, oil, lemon juice, and vinegar in a large bowl. Add escarole, capers, and drained onion; season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Top salad with horseradish and season with more pepper, serve and enjoy!

Finished Escarole RecipeMy verdict: This escarole salad was made for dinner with friends. Because there wasn’t a scrap left, it proved to be a big hit. Super simple and really delicious! While the summer may be peak time for escarole, it’s not for fresh horseradish, which becomes a small problem. Imagine how much better this could be with the punch you’d get from fresh (or fresher than what I had) horseradish!

Instead of soaking the onions (which I do a lot these days with raw onions) I had made some pickled red onions and used those instead.

The dressing I made separately so I could do it ahead of time. Check it for taste, remembering that it’s going on bitter greens so you might want to add a bit more crème fraîche and adjust the horseradish accordingly.

It’s a great dressing and would work well on a lot of different greens. Grilled radicchio anyone?