I’m embarrassed to admit it but Matt and I have lived in Beacon for over a year and we just made it to The Hop for the first time. It’s shameful, I know. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s kind of a craft beer mecca, half store, half gastro-pub. They have a tiny bar with a great selection of seasonal beers on tap as well as 5 (only five!) tables where you can sit, drink and eat. Needless to say, those tables fill up fast. Coming from over-crowded Brooklyn, every time we thought about going, I pictured us standing around, stomachs gurgling, glaring at people in order to frighten them into giving up their table. You know, I seriously think I might have PTSD from years of Williamsburg Sunday brunch plans.
This was a typical weekend event from about 1995-2002 (can you see my eye twitching as I write this?), you would wake up Sunday morning, a little hungover but quite peckish. You’d call a few friends, “Hey, come meet me at Teddy’s for brunch”, you’d say. “Sure”, they’d say. “It’s 2pm and I’m still in bed but I can be there in 2o minutes”. You’d imagine sitting at a sunny, window-side table, the steam from your coffee wafting up delicately. Bloody Marys magically refilling themselves as you munch on the perfect poached eggs. In reality, you end up back home 8 hours later, still hungry but now with a limp and a bruise you’re not sure how you got. Twitch, twitch.
Anyway, we finally gathered up our courage and headed over to The Hop last Sunday… and immediately got the last table. Damn, I love it up here. Of course I’d been reading about this place for months so I knew I was going to get the lamb sausage with polenta, poached egg and and kale pesto. Ermahgerd, sogud.
Inspired by The Hop‘s amazing dish (theirs has lamb sausage, kale almond pesto and poached eggs), here is our simplified recipe. Use whatever sausage you like (turkey, pork, lamb or chicken would all work well) or add some drilled tofu for a veggie version. The only sausage I wouldn’t try is seafood since it’s delicate flavor would probably be overwhelmed by the cheesy polenta and the kale.
The harvest weeks of late summer, going into early fall, is when the Hudson Valley really struts its stuff . While there are festivals, fairs, and merry socials all year round, the weekends at this time of year become a whirligig of competing events, all worthy of your time. Last weekend, for example, our options included a beer festival as well as the first Beacon Film Festival. We limited ourselves to just one: the annual Common Ground Farm Pig Roast, at Obercreek Farm.
Obercreek is an old estate sited in Wappinger’s Falls. Tim Heuer and Sam Wildfong, the farmers, came from CGF to start their own farm on the land, and it’s been in operation now for a year. We’ve been buying their boxed Asian leaves from Adams – probably the best prepared salad I’ve ever had. We actually met Tim last year when we attended a class in pig butchering run by Mark Elia and Jennifer Clair at the Mountain Restaurant Supply in Newburgh. And Obercreek Farm will next year take over the CSA from Common Ground Farm, which is taking a few years out to rebuild its farmable land. So it’s a pretty tight-knit community – farmers, restaurants, and stores all know each other well and work with one another’s produce. CGF is focussed at the moment on its educational and benefit programs, so the proceeds from the dinner go to a great cause.
As well as the farmers, we met Obercreek owner Alex Reese, CGF director Michael Kriegh, and many members of CGF and other local institutions were also present – including our local Representative, Sean Maloney, and State Senator Terry Gipson.
Great food, music and fun … here’s a taste.
What ho, and all that, spiffing readers. I’m being especially upper-crust because I wanted to tell you about the scones I made a couple of weeks ago. Let’s take a gander at them first. Have a good look, there you go, feast your eyes.
Alright, that’s enough. Put your eyes away now.
On our spring trip to the UK, I wanted to take Emily out for a right old afternoon tea, with really nice sandwiches, scones, cream, jam, and all that. (You know, the sort of thing that Americans imagine that we Brits have every day, presumably as a break from striding around our castle grounds and whipping peasants.) We managed to find one at Huffkins in Burford (if you visit their site, do look for the amusing “About Our Employees” section) – all piled up on a proper tiered cake stand.
Anyway, I had picked up a jar of clotted cream at our local health food store last week (just let that sink in for a moment. Clotted cream. Health food store. Hm.) and decided on a whim to make scones. After some cursory research, and quickly realising I didn’t have any buttermilk (a requirement for many recipes) I settled on this version from Rachel Allen. I’ve adapted for US volumes and temperature. You can fuss with biscuit cutters and the like, but I like the country-style triangles simply cut from the dough with a knife.
Does the world need another mojito recipe? Yes. Yes it does, because this one has a little something extra that, in my tipsy, slightly slurred opinion, takes it to the next level of yumminess. And no, I’m not suggesting you buy an expensive, impossible-to-find rum. Or scour the earth for special ice made from Himalayan mountain water. In fact it’s something really simple. Mint simple syrup…
We’re growing all this mint on our deck and smelling it seriously put me in the mood for mojitos. I snipped a whole bunch but before I got to muddling, I thought about trying to make a syrup instead. I’m telling you, it’s a revelation. It’s not only intensely minty but you also don’t have to get a mouth full of squashed herbs every time you take a sip. I did still muddle a few leaves but not the massive handful that a good mojito usually needs.