Restaurants

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Crabtree’s Kittle House—Truly Farm-to-Table

Accidental Locavore Crabtree's Chef LippinThere are a lot of restaurants calling themselves farm-to-table, and in a sense, all food is farm-to-table. Some may just have stopped at a processing plant or two and some may have traveled further than you have in your lifetime.

That’s not the case with Chef Jay Lippin at Crabtree’s Kittle House.

Here’s a place where the chef has binders full of notes, for the 40 or so farmers he works with. And that’s not counting the garden beds ringing the property.

It started out when farmers would come to the back door of the kitchen offering to sell their crops. As the numbers and quality of local farms increased, so did the potential for using as much local food as possible.

In the fall Chef Lippin reviews what went well, exhaustively studies seed catalogues (marking them up to the point where one farmer said it looked like a porcupine!) and analyzes everything with each farmer who supplies the restaurant.

All this attention to detail and care is reflected in the food. Along with sourcing as much as he can locally, he’s made it a point to use less-than-perfect food and bits, like green coriander seeds, with spectacular results.

We’ve eaten there a few times and every meal has been memorable.

Recently, I broke with tradition and insisted that my birthday dinner be at Crabtree’s.

Accidental Locavore Crabtree Tap RoomWe opted for the Tap Room, it’s more casual and you have the advantage of being able to order from both menus.

A half dozen Kumamoto oysters and a “perfect” Moscow mule for Frank got us off to a great start.

The kitchen sent up what Jay calls salmon bacon and eggs. It’s maple-smoked salmon on a piece of cornbread and topped with a tiny sunny-side up quail egg. Sweet and smoky it paired wonderfully with an incredible Spanish white that Leo, the sommelier gave us to taste.

Accidental Locavore Crabtree's SalmonI opted for the duck breast, served over puréed fava beans with a black currant compote. I’ve never really given fava beans much thought—too much prep work, but after last night I may have to rethink my stance on them. The duck was perfectly cooked and seasoned and would have been fine on its own or with just the black current compote. However, the fava bean purée just launched it into a whole other dimension–spectacular!

Frank had the hangar steak, also perfectly seasoned and cooked. There was a pile of perfectly stacked onion rings that came with it. Onion rings to me, are almost always a disappointment—too thick and bready, or too thin and flavorless. These managed to have the best of both worlds, thin rings of onions with a batter that was just thick and spiced enough to give them both flavor and character—the best onion rings I’ve had in ages!

We were way too full for desert, but Frank managed to make the most of an almond cake with almond ice cream and almond brittle. I snuck a bite or two because it was so good.

The kitchen also sent over an espresso panna cotta which was almost like a dessert version of a cappuccino—top layer of espresso and bottom layer of cream. Considering how stuffed we were, we did manage to eat a good portion of it.

Accidental Locavore Crabtree's DessertAll our experiences at Crabtree’s have been terrific. While the food is consistently great (I honestly don’t think I’ve had a bad bite there), I also want to give a shout-out to the staff. It is one of the most professional, attentive and friendly groups and they are a big part of what makes it a wonderful restaurant.

 

A couple of notes: Since it was my birthday where we were there this last time, I wasn’t taking pictures, so these photos are from previous visits. Also, the wine cellars there are so incredible, they deserve their own piece, so stay tuned.

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Apple Pie Bakery Café

Apple Pie Bakery CaféThe Apple Pie Bakery Café was always one my favorites at the Culinary Institute of America, or CIA as it’s affectionately known in these parts. I wasn’t the only one and recently they decided to close for a few months to renovate the space. Luckily, during that time croissants, bread and pastries were still available to take out, so life could go on.

The café reopened recently, and we were anxious to see how it turned out.

Now, there’s a whole separate area for take-out, with grab-and-go sandwiches, perfect pastries, breads and more. It’s probably too soon to know how well this will work, but I did manage to snag the last couple of croissants before we went to the main room to have lunch.

The main room has been opened up and is now all sit-down dining. It’s pleasant—light and bright and bustling, even for an early lunch. The tables are small and for some reason, the day we were there, no one wanted to sit where they were originally sent.

They’ve cleaned up the menu, too, with an emphasis (they say) on Americana cuisine, represented by a poke bowl and a fried chicken sandwich.

Apple Pie Bakery Café Soup We split an order of that day’s soup– a loaded potato soup. It came at the same time as the rest of our meal, along with an additional bowl so we could split it. That made the table, which had already looked a little wee, completely overwhelmed with plates, bowls, serving plates, bread plates, cutlery, a water carafe, glasses and full-sized salt and pepper grinders.

The soup was fine, garnished with pieces of bacon, scallions, cheese and sour cream, all to mimic a baked potato.

I went for the quiche of the day, or according to our server, the quiche of the week, which was Boursin cheese and mushrooms. If you’re expecting that classic wedge, you’ve forgotten you’re at the CIA. This was a perfect 4” circle of good crust with a bright yellow filling. Chopped mushrooms and the Boursin were topped with a perfect custard.

Apple Pie Bakery Café QuicheAfter some serious contemplation, Janet ordered the chickpea pita with Marcona almond, red onion, avocado, lemon and cucumber in a whole wheat pita. It came with an “adorable” little brown paper bag full of house-made potato chips.

It’s funny, because for all the times I’ve eaten at the Apple Pie Bakery Café, I don’t think I’ve ever ordered dessert there. Which is probably really stupid, because all the desserts I’ve ever seen in the cases or on other people’s tables are just amazing looking!

Our neighbors had the Signature Apple Dessert, a large green “apple” made from salted caramel mousse, apple cake, apple butter and sprayed Granny Smith Apple green. It looked spectacular and for a brief minute, we wished we’d had one too.

Know that the Apple Pie Bakery Café is only open on weekdays (don’t get me started) when school is in session. One of the improvements they’ve made is that the schedule is on their website, so just check before you head out.

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Silvia Restaurant: Global and Seasonal in Woodstock

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant InteriorIf you’re looking for a restaurant in the Woodstock area, check out Sylvia. Silvia (named for owners Doris and Betty Choi’s grandmother) opened in August on Mill Hill Road.

There’s a big deck (open in warmer weather) and a discreet sign over the door.

Once inside, you’re looking at a big open dining room, an active, open kitchen and a smaller more intimate room with additional seating and a lively bar.

We were seated at a corner table near the bar, where we could see all the kitchen activity.

The star of Silvia’s open kitchen is a massive wood-fired grill (which was one of the deciding factors in ordering that night’s special—a massive pork chop).

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant BBQ BeefWe started with the Grass Fed BBQ Beef. It was shredded beef to wrap in lettuce leaves and garnish with cabbage salad, kimchi, and topped with the traditional miso garlic paste. The beef was tender and flavorful. We all liked it a lot, but being veterans of many Korean dinners, would have liked the kimchi to pack more heat.

Frank ordered the Chicken Liver Toast, which looked great with its decoration of jeweled beets. He loved it, and we all really liked the horseradish mustard that accompanied it.

Although we scoffed at him when he ordered a salad (thinking it was going to be too much food), the Crumbled Caesar was a terrific riff on a Caesar salad. It featured a poached egg on a bed of escarole, studded with crispy shiitake mushrooms, Parmesan crisps and sourdough croutons in a Caesar dressing. We loved the crunch of the shiitakes and Parmesan crisps.  It was, as Frank said, “simply terrific.”

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant Caesar SaladAs I mentioned, the pork chop special caught my eye. It was a massive 22-ounce chop from Chaljeri Meats, one of many local farmers they work with. It was perfectly cooked, tender and delicious, on a bed of grilled red cabbage. A terrific chop!

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant Pork ChopMy friend went for the Pan Seared Arctic Char which came with broccoli rabe, grilled lemon, parsnip chips and charred leeks with a salsa verde. The sweetness of the fish went well with the bitterness of the broccoli rabe and the salsa was a perfect accompaniment to the char.

Frank got the burger, a tower of meat, shredded Brussels sprouts, cambozola cheese (think Brie meets Gorgonzola), caramelized onions with fries and house ketchup. The fries were good as was the ketchup, but he was way too full from the appetizers and salad to really do justice to his burger.

Portions were generous and everything we took home made for a great lunch the next day!

We didn’t have a chance (or the room) to explore the vegetable menu, but there were some very tempting dishes offered, ranging from pan seared Brussels sprouts to grilled shisito peppers and an ash-roasted kuri squash to name a few.

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant Chocolate TorteAfter a fairly meat-centric menu, it was surprising to see the dessert menu veer towards healthy. There are 5 selections, with a seasonal panna cotta, a butternut squash pudding, a raw chocolate torte, a raw cashew key lime pie and a beet chocolate pots de crème. Both the torte and key lime pie are vegan, and gluten free. Frank had the chocolate torte, which looked amazing—dense layers of chocolate. He thought it was excellent! Because it was vegan and gluten-free, a mixture of nuts, dates and coconut oil replaced butter and the other usual suspects, so it was sadly off limits for me.

The restaurant has two main seating areas, we loved our seat in the bar room, it was cozy and surprisingly quiet even with a busy weekend crowd. If you’re with a family or in a larger group, you might want to opt for the livelier main dining room.

 

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Making the Most of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week

Accidental Locavore Burrata for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekHudson Valley Restaurant Week, like other restaurant weeks has been around for a while.

And like other restaurant weeks, there are always places that try to get away with as little as possible (in hopes that you’ll order off the regular menu) and places that strive to please.

We were lucky enough to hit two that went above and beyond.

The first, Caterina DeMedici at the Culinary Institute of America (aka the CIA), was a big surprise! We were invited by a friend of Frank’s to join him and his wife. The first surprise was that we were going to be seven for dinner. He had invited neighbors and other friends, so we had a nice big table with lots of talk back and forth.

The second surprise was that the food was interesting and delicious. You might be thinking, well, it’s the CIA, why wouldn’t it be good, but the last time we ate there, it was a slightly better prepared version of Olive Garden’s “all the pasta you can eat promotion”—lots of pasta, none of it memorable.

Other than the poorly named “Airline Chicken Breast” (which, no surprise, no one at our table ordered), there were a lot of interesting choices on the menu. I started off with the burrata, which came perched on top of arugula and prosciutto, with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Hard to go wrong with burrata, and the creaminess of it worked perfectly with the saltiness of the prosciutto.

Accidental Locavore Pork Chop Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekTo follow, I went with the pork over polenta, with Brussels sprouts and a mustard jus. It was interesting because all three pork chops that were brought to the table were different shapes and sizes– a reminder that school was only in week two. They were good, and the mustard jus was a great accompaniment.

A few nights later, we went down to meet a couple of friends at Crabtree’s Kittle House. Chef Jay Lippin had been on my radio show and to paraphrase, “had me at lamb shanks”. There’s a full review of the restaurant coming up in the December issue of Organic Hudson Valley Magazine.

How many places do you know that have lobster bisque on their restaurant week menus? Crabtree’s does, and Frank ordered it. A big bowl with pieces of lobster and vegetables came to the table and the waiter poured the bisque over it. Delicious!

Accidental Locavore Lobster Bisque for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekI went for the gnocchi, which was browned (something I’ve never tried, but will!) and served with tiny oven-dried tomatoes and other local vegetables. It was gone in a flash!

Chef Lippin sent over a couple of his tuna sushi pizzettas–his take on tuna sushi for us to try between courses. All Frank could do was smile and groan happily. ‘Nuf said?

Accidental Locavore Tuna for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekThe lamb shank had been on my mind for a week or more, and it was great! Falling off the (very large) bone, and once again on a bed of polenta (this time, really tasting of corn) with broccolini and a red wine sauce. It was a huge portion and the leftovers will make a great lunch!

Frank was once again reduced to smiling with pleasure over the pasta with a Bolognaise sauce made with local venison, pork and beef. I was granted a small bite and could see why he wasn’t sharing!

Accidental Locavore Cavatelli for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekDesserts were terrific, and we drove home muttering about eating too much, but loving every mouthful!

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week runs through Friday, November 12th so you still have time to make a reservation.

I’ve got one more dinner planned, Thursday night at The Amsterdam, then I’d better be fasting until Thanksgiving!

 

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Charlotte’s Restaurant in Millbrook

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant GardenThere are some restaurants that are classics, frozen in time–places that seem to have been around forever.

Stalwarts.

A gastronomic tweak here or there to make them seem relevant and business pours in year after year.

Charlotte’s in Millbrook is one of those places.

It’s a cozy combination of rooms, the general impression is of floral chintzes and fireplaces. In the summer there’s a quiet patio where you can enjoy a cocktail or dinner.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant InteriorPatrons of a certain age who have been coming every Friday night with family and friends.

The food is good. There’s nothing that will send you running for the doors, and most likely, nothing that will make you swoon with joy.

If you’ve been missing plates garnished with stuffed tomatoes sporting an erect sprig of rosemary and green beans wrapped with a contrasting carrot ribbon, Charlotte’s will not disappoint. No matter whether they’re described on the menu as fresh, seasonal, harvest, or garden fresh, it’s always the same carefully crafted combination.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant ChickenThe night we were there, my friend went for the pan roasted chicken with the Marsala sauce on the side. She got and enjoyed a nicely cooked chicken served over saffron risotto and accompanied by the aforementioned vegetables.

For whatever reason, I wanted duck that night and they were offering it with a blueberry sauce. That threw me for a loop until the waiter reminded me that duck usually comes with fruit sauce and my friend chimed in that, like her, I could always get it on the side.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant DuckI went for it and got a fine serving of duck breast with the blueberry sauce (living dangerously—not on the side). It was also served over saffron risotto and vegetables but had a crunchy pile of fried onions topping it off. The duck was a little more well-done than I normally like, and the blueberry sauce added to the flavor of the duck.

The dessert menu offers standards like bread pudding, crème brûlée, lava cake and assorted house-made ice creams.

Charlotte’s is open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. Check their website for events, like an upcoming comedy night.

 

 

 

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Jeanie Bean and Family

Accidental Locavore Jeanie Beans InteriorEveryone should have a place like Jeanie Bean’s in their neighborhood. A casual place where you can always grab some lunch to go, or catch up with friends at one of the charming mismatched tables.

The food is always good and the welcome is warm.

They’ve aimed and succeeded in making it a spot for locals. Michael Korda said in his book about the area, Country Matters, that the best place to run into a missing-in-action contractor was the local Dunkin Donuts, but these days I’d put my bet on Jeanie Beans.

People drop in for breakfast or lunch and to drop off the latest batch of birdhouses made from reclaimed barnwood and there’s always someone running into someone they’ve not seen in ages.

Accidental Locavore Birdhouses at Jeanie BeansThere’s a leaning towards all things British, since the owners hail from there, and while fish and chips are always on the menu, it doesn’t keep them from making a good burger or embracing Taco Tuesdays. During the week, there are daily specials and on weekends you’ve got the whole menu to choose from.

Accidental Locavore Candy at Jeanie BeansIn front, there’s a case full of house-made pastries, cookies and recently, good bagels “imported” from da Bronx.  Along the walls are boxes of British essentials – crisps, biscuits, jams, etc. and some local Hudson Valley products. In the freezer there are packages of bangers, containers of soups and other entrees all ready to go home with you.

My go-to is generally the fish and chips. Even when I think about ordering something else, a batch will come out of the fryer and I’ll change my mind (but I usually ask for skinny fries in place of the larger chips). You get 3 pieces of golden fried fish and a pile of fries with tartar sauce and good (recently great) house-made coleslaw on the side and of course, there’s real malt vinegar.

Accidental Locavore Jeanie Beans Fish and ChipsMy friend who hails from the UK always adds a chip butty to her order. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a piece of buttered, soft white bread that you use to make a sandwich with the chips and ketchup.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s an add-on you’re partial to.

Since it’s been getting cooler out, I’ve been leaning towards more comfort food, like their grilled cheese. There are lots of cheeses to pick from and they’re happy to mix and match. Adding some of their local bacon is never a bad idea either.

Burgers are big and tasty, and like the grilled cheese come with your choice of cheese and bacon if you’d like.

Accidental Locavore Jeanie Beans SandwichThere’s a menu full of classic sandwiches, including some specialties like meatball heroes and a Thanksgiving sandwich with turkey and all the fixings.

If you’re up and out early, there are lots of breakfast options. So far, I haven’t made it there before the breakfast cut-off point at 11:00, so I can’t give you the low-down on exactly what you might find there, but I’ve heard there’s a breakfast wrap that includes all the meaty essentials wrapped around eggs.

As Jeanie Bean says, “this is a deli, not a restaurant” so don’t expect tweezer-plated portions, just good solid food served in a cheerful neighborhood spot (and if she’s taking your order, just go with the flow – she knows what you want before you do).

Jeanie Bean and Family, 2411 Salt Point Turnpike, Clinton Corners, New York, NY 12514. Open daily 7-4.

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Panera

My Panera PaniniWhat is it about Panera?
If you think you’re going for good food–fuggedaboutit!
Ditto an Internet connection.
Seriously, why does anyone eat at Panera?
The food is terrible.
The service is thoughtless.
It’s drab, if not dirty.
And the promised wifi is more of a concept than a reality.
Could I be the only person in America that’s never had a good experience at Panera?
The first time we went, it was in Connecticut for breakfast. I don’t even remember what I had, but Frank ordered a bagel with lox and cream cheese and got something that was unlike any bagel he’d ever seen (and not in a good way).
More recently, I met my partner in HudsonValleyEATS.com in the one in Poughkeepsie near Adams. There were three people standing behind the counter. One man helping a customer, the other two chatting.
I waited.
When the man was finished, I went up and asked for an iced tea. “$2.91.” I handed him the money, he handed me an empty plastic cup.
“It’s down on the end.”
“Nice profit margin.”
Took a walk down to the end, found the iced tea, ice, lemon and sugar. Grabbed a lid and a straw, did all the work. Took a sip.
Not happy.

Yesterday, I got suckered into another Panera rendezvous, this time at a different Poughkeepsie location.
The place is crowded and none of the vacant tables have been wiped down. Ugh.
Grab some napkins, wipe down a table, get in line to order food (none of which sounded appealing, but I’m really hungry).
The guy behind the register has to look up the Frontega Chicken panini I asked about.
Smoked chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, onions, chipotle mayo, basil. This is from the photo on Panera’s site:
Sounded about as interesting as the others so I ordered it, “no onions,” and a cup for a drink (see, I’m learning).
The top photo is what I got.
A mud-grey plastic plate with cheese glued to a piece of corrugated paper, LOTS of onions and a couple pallid bits of chicken.
There were black stripes on the bread to make it look like it had been put in a panini press, but the corrugated paper made me think the panini press was more like a microwave…
Because I was hungry, I ate the half-sandwich, hating myself for putting this absolute junk in my mouth.
And the so-called wifi? The whole time I was trying to eat the sandwich, we could not pull up a single page from the web.
We left totally disgusted. The place was dirty. The food was inedible but I was starving. The iced tea once again needed a return trip for more ice, but I just dumped it.
Never again!
“Food as it should be.”
Please, let’s hope not!
If you are a Panera fan, please tell me what it is that you like about it. It won’t bring me back, but I am really curious.
Update: Found this in my bag afterwards:
Accidental Locavore Panera Check So sad that I missed my free treat…

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The Amsterdam Restaurant Rhinebeck

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!

 

 

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Brunch at the Roundhouse

Accidental Locavore Gazpacho BrunchBrunch re-imagined as a serious meal.

When was the last time you had a great meal at a restaurant with a view, or in a picturesque location?

I would have said the same thing until we had the best brunch ever at a restaurant with a beautiful view.

The Roundhouse in Beacon.

It was a risky pick, for part of our monthly brunch group is made up of chef instructors from the CIA.

We’d been there before and while the view of the falls was lovely, the food generally wasn’t.

Accidental Locavore Beacon Falls BrunchBut…there’s a new executive chef there. Terrance Brennan from Artisanal and other restaurants in the city.

It seemed worth a shot.

And it was.

It really was!

Brunch is often the ugly step-sister of restaurants and if that was the case at the Roundhouse, OMG, I can’t wait to try dinner! As a matter of fact, we were almost tempted to linger at our table until dinner.

But we behaved (and will go back).

Our group on this Sunday was tiny. Everyone bailed and we were just a threesome. They’ll be sorry.

We decided to go with the prix fixe brunch—three courses at $28.

Accidental Locavore Eggs Benedict BrunchThere were lots of interesting choices on both sides (prix fixe or a la carte) of the menu. Two of us decided on the cucumber “gazpacho” to start and Frank went with the “sausage and eggs”.

A ladle of pale green gazpacho was poured over a nice-sized mound of peekytoe crab salad. It was cool and delicious, with the sweetness of the crab offsetting the slightly spiced cucumber “gazpacho.” Pickled stems, very thinly sliced croutons and dill made this a dish to remember.

It was something that was repeated throughout the meal—a contrast of tastes and textures, enhancing and elevating even the most common brunch dishes.

I’m not generally a runny egg person, so I picked around Frank’s 65° egg (perfectly poached) and went for the sausage—a nice house-made chorizo and the shards of toast. All good.

For a main course, Frank went with more eggs, this time eggs Benedict, served with a thick slab of pork belly on a slice of their sourdough bread.  It was about as perfect a Hollandaise sauce as I’ve ever had in a restaurant!

Accidental Locavore Rice Bowl BrunchI had the Vietnamese rice bowl, a mélange of grilled chicken thighs with baby bok choy, shitake mushrooms, cilantro and Thai basil served in a bowl of jasmine rice with a slightly spicy sauce. Delicious and just what I felt like eating!

Lynne had the brioche French toast with roasted honeycrisp apples, maple syrup and a delicious blob of what turned out to be cinnamon-maple crème fraîche . Even Frank, not generally a French toast guy, thought it was great!

Accidental Locavore French Toast BrunchBelieve it or not, we managed to find room for dessert.

Frank had the apple gateau, which was made of at least twenty thin slices of apples cooked together and formed into a slab. With it was an amazing whey caramel ice cream and a walnut crumble for crunch.

Since he had the apple, I went for the lemon diplomat. Two thin disks of cookie held a lemon puree. Three meringue dots added some sweetness, while candied bits of black olives and a basil oil added a savory contrast. A lovely mix of savory and sweet, tartness and texture.

Lynne opted for vanilla ice cream, creamy and resting on a cookie disk. Definitely not plain vanilla.

Accidental Locavore Pineapple Panna Cotta BrunchThe house sent over a pineapple panna cotta which may have been a special as it wasn’t on any of the menus we saw. Thin ribbons of pineapple (note to self, next time serving pineapple, hit it with a peeler) mixed with the panna cotta, some pomegranate and a cookie crunch. A great surprise were three leaves of cilantro that had been candied—a lovely touch.

While all the food was just amazing  and we lingered, not wanting it to end, the service was terrific. Our server, Sarah, had answers to all our questions and made great recommendations. Kate, the manager, filled us in on why the servers were so knowledgeable—her sixty-one-point menu questionnaire!

Oh, and yes, the view is still spectacular, but this time not as spectacular as the food.

We can’t wait to go back!

 

 

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An Extraordinary Dessert Experience

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House First DessertDessert, the grand finale of the Chef’s Table at Mohonk Mountain House is truly spectacular and at some point in your life, you deserve it.

After polishing off ten amazing savory courses, including a cheese course with “carbonated” grapes—yup, they distract you by making a preview dessert–little ice cream magic with homemade mini ice cream cones and liquid nitrogen, which essentially turns anything creamy into ice cream in a flash.

While you’re enjoying the cones, two giant strips of matting cover the table. The head pastry chef, Audrey Billups starts the dessert by coming along with a glass full of chocolate sauce which she artistically blobs and smears the length of the surface

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House Dessert BeginningBehind her, another chef with a vial of mango puree, dashing and dribbling alongside the chocolate.

They repeat this, building the dessert by adding crème fraiche, pistachio cream, bits of frozen raspberries, and squares of Amaretto jelly.

Over that are dustings of brown butter crumbs, oatmeal crumble, cocoa, the thinnest sheets of blueberry,  and and and…

When it’s decided that the table is properly decorated (or more likely they’ve run out of space), meringues, gilded and filled with white chocolate and strawberries are placed in front of each diner.

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House Dessert DesignedThat’s followed by a small hockey puck of dark chocolate cake and just when you think they’ve run out of stuff – a blob of frozen chocolate mousse is plopped down and smashed, sending the shards through all the different flavors.

The idea of this dessert extravaganza is to do exactly what your mother told you never to do—play with your food!

Smear the chocolate cake through the mango and chocolate purees and hope to pick up a bit of frozen raspberry on the journey.

Try sticking the meringue with some of the blueberry paper and hmm, maybe the crème fraiche.

Or, what turned out to be my favorite, the brown butter crumbs on almost anything, but especially the frozen chocolate mousse fragments and the chocolate sauce.

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House Dessert DesignedThere’s no one, even in my group of chefs, who isn’t smiling.

And, even after the ten or so previous courses, there’s no one who didn’t clean their place.

Okay, so we do still listen to our mothers.

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http://www.consultormarinho.com/ June 1, 2016 at 6:03 am

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