Archive for February, 2011

Sunday in the Catskills

It was a day of foodie fun and I came away fat, happy and maybe a little smarter…

Sunday morning we attended the Seed and Sow Skill Share organized by the Hudson Valley Food Network (which is organized by Meghan E. Murphy).  The event happened in the greenhouses of Hodgson Farm and Garden Center in Walden.  This drew me across the river and down quite a ways – a whole new area of the Hudson Valley.

So, I’d forgotten how crazy hot greenhouses get.  I used to work in one so you’d think that would forever be burned into my brain, but no.  After about 5 minutes I’d shed all but the most basic layer, but I’d forgotten to make that last layer a tank top or little T, so I was still cooking.  My other half responded by sleeping through the first presentation – he couldn’t help it.  It wasn’t a bad way to spend a clear cold Sunday.

a shitake log and some mushrooms

The first workshop that we attended was on Mushroom Propagation, presented by Marc Eisenson of the MidHudson Mycological Association.   It was an interesting crowd of skinny jeans hipsters (the L train stops everywhere these days!) and backyard farmer types who already seemed to know a lot about growing mushrooms. But even for me, someone who just knows about eating mushrooms, the presentation was interesting and full of good information for all levels.  I have fantasies of growing shitakes and oysters in my basement, but I think there might be a little more work than I’d realized…  Perhaps I could learn foraging instead…

Growing oysters in a laundry basket

During the break between presentations, I wandered outside to lower my core temperature a bit, then visited the various booths of local food/farm businesses set up inside.  The cheese at Sprout Creek Farm continues to delight my tastebuds – I  like them all – and I love that it’s an educational farm.  I ogled the seed packets at Hudson Valley Seed Library – I’ve already bought some this year and am trying to not get out of control with seed-purchasing.  I think I will definitely have to frame the artwork.  There were yummy foods from Karma Road and Moxie Cupcakes available as well.

The next presentation was Integrated Pest Management in the Organic Garden presented by Jay Levine of the Hudson Valley Backyard Farm Company.  While I’m not a huge organic eater, I refuse to apply anything stronger than coffee grounds to my yard, whether I have food planted there or not.   However, it sucks that the Japanese beetles find my climbing roses really tasty…  Jay gave a knowledgeable presentation to a knowledgeable crowd, and came prepared with lots of good photos of examples, and lots of ideas of when to act (panic?) and when to let Mother Nature take care of things.  A little early morning obsession with knocking slow and stupid Japanese beetles into soapy water should take care of my issue.  Sadly, he had not dealt with skunks, which I have learned have recently moved into the woodchuck home under our shack.

We could not stay in the greenhouse any longer, and headed off into the cold air and lunch in Gardiner.  The most exciting part of our afternoon was soon to come.

I’ve enjoyed Hudson Whiskey from Tuthilltown Spirits for at least 3 years, maybe a bit longer, but had never visited.  I have a number of the great little bottles with just a whisper of whiskey at the bottom…  We arrived just in time to join a big group for the tour of the distillery.

A black cat met us at the top of the steps, guided us through the front door – and it only got better!  Cordell was a great tour leader.  I wanted to stay longer!  Tuthilltown is very excited about their upcoming worldwide expansion – they’re bringing in a new still (though the ceiling?) and figuring out how to produce more with their own two little hands.  I’ll be curious what their organization is like the next time I take the tour…  After breathing in alcohol at all stages of production, we moved into the tasting room.  I started with the clear corn whiskey, moved onto the Baby Bourbon (same alcohol after 3 months in the charred white oak barrel), then finished off with a taste of the Manhattan Rye.  The Baby is smooth and lovely while the Rye starts off with a kick, then smooths off as you drink more (isn’t that always the way?).

A box of bottles of deliciousness

I wish them much luck with their worldwide push, but hope they lose none of their personality in the tour or the tasting – it was really great.