Making the Most of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week

by Anne Maxfield on November 6, 2017

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!




The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook

by Anne Maxfield on July 8, 2013

Accidental Locavore Vermont Farm Table CookbookRecently, the Accidental Locavore was sent an advance copy of The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook by Tracey Medeiros to check out and review. Thumbing through it, you’re immediately reminded how extensive the food from Vermont is. Even if you don’t think you know much beyond Ben & Jerry’s (not mentioned, giving room for some lesser-known locals to shine), there are entries from places like King Arthur Flour and 150 recipes to remind you that it’s not all about cheese and maple syrup.

The book is nicely laid out and divided into sections like breakfasts (something I learned last year, that Vermont seems to do really well with), salads, pasta, etc., with an introduction to the farms and farmers before each recipe. Thankfully, Tracey did not lay it out seasonally, which is a form I generally hate. There is a large variety of recipes, some more complicated than others, and while they do lean towards Vermont products, many of them can easily be substituted for what’s in your locale, or if you want the real deal, there is a resource list in the back, with contact information, websites, etc.

Accidental Locavore Ricotta Gnocchi With Garlic ScapesWhile there seemed to be an abundance of winter squash recipes, there were plenty of others I wanted to try (not that I’m against winter squash, it’s just not the right time of year).  There’s a cilantro vinaigrette that looks really good and a recipe for stuffed heirloom tomatoes, that has me counting the days until August! Finally, on yet another rainy day, I decided to go for the ricotta gnocchi, first making my own ricotta. Making the ricotta was a little more complicated (i.e. time consuming) than the last time I did it, but the results were really good and the recipe was easy to follow. The gnocchi came out beautifully and will definitely be made again.

My only complaint about the book, and it’s a minor one, is that the index isn’t as intuitive as I might like it. Or else it’s just surprising that things like peas don’t get a mention, while fiddleheads get beer-battered and fried. That’s got to be the hardest part of writing a cookbook – devising an index that makes everything easily searchable, without taking up space that could be devoted to what you bought the book for – recipes.  And my absolute dream? That when you buy a cookbook, you have access to an electronic version of it. I’m even willing to pay a little extra for that!




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Accidental Locavore Daube de Boeuf Since it was still a little chilly out, a daube de boeuf seemed like the perfect use for the “beef for stew” we had from Brykill Farm.

It’s essentially a French beef stew with wine, olives and orange–easy to prepare, just give yourself some time for marinating the beef. Serves 4 with leftovers.

Daube de boeuf:

  • 4 sprigs  fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 3 strips orange zest (2-3” each) and 2 tablespoons juice
  • I medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1/2 “ slices
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½’ disks
  • 1 bottle red wine (Cotes de Rhone, Cotes de Provence, Burgundy – use something you would drink)
  • 3 pounds stew beef (beef chuck), cut into 1 1/2” cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (if you don’t know about tomato paste in a tube, this is the perfect use for it)
  • ½ cup beef broth (chicken is ok if you don’t have beef)
  • ½ cup Nicoise olives, pitted
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Make a bouquet garni. Take a piece of cheesecloth big enough to hold the thyme, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, and orange zest and tie into a bundle. If you don’t have any cheesecloth, a coffee filter stapled shut or a tea ball will work. Put the bouquet garni, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, wine and beef in a container. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Accidental Locavore Daube MarinatingPreheat the oven to 300 degrees. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Brown the beef on each side (about 2 minutes a side). You may have to do this in batches, don’t crowd the pan! Set the cooked beef aside.

While the beef is browning, put the wine mixture in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low and simmer for 5 minutes. In a small cup, mix the tomato paste into the beef broth. Add to the sauté pan and stir to get all the browned bits mixed in (deglazing). Add this to the pan with the wine. Stir in the meat and the olives. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Cover the pot and put in the oven. Cook 2 hours (if the daube starts to boil in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 275). After 2 hours stir in the orange juice and add salt and pepper if needed. Cook until beef is very tender, about another 30 minutes. Serve over gnocchi, or noodles and enjoy!

My verdict: Really good! There was a little too much orange juice (I probably used more than 2 tablespoons). The next time, I might only cook it for 2 hours, not sure that the additional 30 minutes added anything, but it did give me time to make the gnocchi.