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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Bringing Local Food to Families in Need

Posted By on Sun, Jun 21, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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Not just for privileged palates, local food is coming to Hudson Valley's food pantries. A new educational program will help families in need, offering free information, cooking demos, and of course, healthy local food on their plates.

Eat Local NY partnered this spring with the Community Food Pantry of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown to bring the program to the community as part of Eat Local NY's "Local Food For All Project." The project helps emergency food outlets make fresh, local, and seasonally grown produce available to children and families in need by connecting them to family farmers throughout New York State.

An educational component aims to raise awareness about the benefits of eating local, healthy food, emphasizing the direct relationship between food and wellness. Interactive workshops, chef-led cooking demonstrations, farm visits, and other resources will help to build the knowledge of food pantry clients as well as staff and volunteers.

Eat Local NY has also partnered with the Food Bank for Westchester to distribute farm-fresh produce to more than 110 families through the Green Thumb Program. The community will learn recipes, basic nutrition, culinary skills, and the value of local food and sustainable food systems.

To learn more and to donate to the project, visit eatlocalny.com/projects or call (914) 400-4113.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

J Rocco's Steakhouse on Route 28

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Mabel Burger at J Roccos Steakhouse

Pan-seared catfish at J Roccos

I have been curious about J Rocco’s Steakhouse & Speakeasy since I first noticed it on Route 28 in Shandaken about a year ago. (It opened in 2010). I had a hunch that it would be Hudson Valley Good Stuff-worthy. When we stopped in around 5pm one Sunday, it was quiet. There was a party of three sitting at a table. The bar belongs in a country song. It’s a sturdy weathered bar with a motorcycle hoisted above it for decor. I’m always a sucker for a chalkboard with specials like “Cowboy Steak” and “Key Largo Fajitas” “Key Lime Pie” scribbled on it.

We started with the mango salsa and chips. The salsa was very good though not very spicy. I had Mad Mark’s $13 special, a pan-seared cat-fish, which came with lemon butter, green beans, and baked potato. It was very tasty. Tom ordered the Ceasar salad with steak. My daughter enjoyed a Mabel Burger with cheddar cheese. We didn’t have coffee or dessert as we were full from dinner, and as we were finishing our meal a party of 13 arrived along with a few other unrelated parties.

We had a nice dinner, and I love the Catskill flavor here! J Rocco’s Steakhouse is a very kid-friendly. Our server was very friendly and helpful.

Get more Hudson Valley Good Stuff recommendations at Vanessa Ahern's blog, HudsonValleyGoodStuff.com

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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Roomier Yum Yum Noodle Bar in Woodstock

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 9:00 AM

A hearty noodle soup creation

More tables = more soup lovers

I have been a fan of Yum Yum Noodle Bar ever since they opened in October 2010, but one drawback of the original was that there were only a few tables and a counter, and it could only hold 24 people. This made it cozy, but we had to get there at 4:30pm on Sunday night to ensure a table due to their popularity among locals.

In February 2014 the restaurant expanded, taking over the space of the former clothing store next door, and can now fit 68 diners. The menu is Asian fusion, and there is something to satisfy just about anybody. They always have eclectic specials. My favorite special is the sweet potato curry stew. They also have the very best vegetable dumplings around! I’ve tried many different dishes here. The chefs use the freshest local ingredients. They offer a lot of different light dishes, such as the Bento Box and pad thai too. If you are in the mood for something a bit heartier, try a soup and get your choice of rice, udon, ramen, or soba noodle or get a stew if it is on the specials board.

We started with cups of the soup of the day which was cream of asparagus with lemon. For my entree I decided to be adventurous and try the barbecued Seitan tacos. (Seitan is a meat substitute, but that tastes like meat, but is much lighter on the stomach). My husband had the pork soup with soba noodles. My daughter enjoyed the kids chicken noodle soup with rice noodles and a cupcake (from Sweet B’s in Red Hook) for dessert. Entrees are in the $7-$12 range, and for the quality of the food, I find Yum Yum Noodle Bar to be budget friendly.

Vanessa Ahern blogs about all the good stuff in the Hudson Valley at HudsonValleyGoodStuff.com

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Enzo's Ristorante & Pizza in Kingston: Gluten-free pizza & family friendly

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Enzo’s Ristorante and Pizza at 207 Boices Lane is one of those places that I have driven by a million times, but never stopped at until two months ago. Earlier this year I went to a kids birthday party at MAC Park and pizza was served. Just as all the kids were getting their slices, one mom presented her son with his very own personal pizza which looked really good. Her son has a gluten-allergy, and she told me that she had stopped by Enzo’s Pizza to pick up a gluten-free pizza for her son so he wouldn’t have to miss out on the pizza. She told me to check out Enzo’s for their food too. I made mental note to try it next time we had a craving for a family pizza night out.

When we finally made it to Enzo’s. It was very lively and crowded so I was happy that the server was able to seat us in a large booth in the back where it was quiet. It’s a very spacious and welcoming dining space.

We ordered a medium pepperoni pizza, Chicken Manhattan for my husband, an antipasto salad, and a grilled chicken salad, and two cups of soup. (I tasted 27 cupcakes at the Gardiner Cupcake Festival as a media judge a few hours prior so I was not very hungry, but I was craving a savory dish). The grilled chicken salad with Sante Fe rolls was perfect: fresh guacamole, very tender chicken over greens. I gave the egg rolls to my husband. We had plenty of pizza to take home as it is thick crust style and filling. Our server was very friendly, and our food came out quickly. While we didn’t try the gluten-free pizza, I have heard that it is very good, and the menu also offers other good gluten-free options. I’d recommend Enzo’s if you are looking for a friendly pizza place with gluten-free options. They also have a micro-brewery there. The bill was $41 which I thought was very reasonable considering the amount of food we ate and the good quality. Do check them out!

Vanessa Ahern writes about all the good stuff in the Hudson Valley at her blog Hudson Valley Good Stuff. Follow HVGoodStuff on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Brio's Restaurant & Pizzeria in Phoenica

Posted By on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato Fries at Brios

The dessert case at Brios

I love going to Brio's Restaurant & Pizzeria for hearty and delicious casual dinners a few times a year. I really love the gourmet pizzas here, but last time I wasn’t really in a pizza mood so I ordered the veggie burger with sweet potato fries, and macaroni salad. It was delicious! My husband had the warm chicken spinach salad with Mexican rice, which came with very fluffy pita bread. He ordered the baked clams as an appetizer, but they were a bit too bready for my taste. I’m not a real baked clam fan though. The kid devoured 2 slices of pizza, and picked out a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting for dessert. The service was fast and friendly. It was hard to say no to dessert, but sometimes I have to be strong!

Vanessa Ahern has been covering all the good stuff in the Hudson Valley on her Hudson Valley Good Stuff blog since January 2009.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Breakfast at the (New) Love Bites in Saugerties

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Artwork by Justin Love at Love Bites

Smoked Salmon Benedict

Open-faced Egg sandwich

Over five years ago, I launched Hudson Valley Good Stuff with a review of a delicious breakfast at Love Bites on Partition Street in Saugerties. Back then it was a tiny cozy European-style breakfast/brunch place with four or five tables. You saw the chef cooking your breakfast seconds after you ordered it. In Spring 2014 Love Bites expanded the space, and it now has over a dozen tables including one table that can comfortably fit a group of eight. Art work by local aritst Justin Love currently adorns the walls. I liked the Rolling Stones portrait the best.

Last week my husband and I had breakfast at their new place. I was happy to see that quite a few of their popular breakfast items remain on the menu. My husband ordered the salmon benedict, and really enjoyed it, and he was hoping for a heartier portion. I ordered the open faced "egg" sandwich, a light and healthy option, which was what I was in the mood for. Love Bites has gluten free, organic, and vegan options on their menu as well. I have heard through word of mouth that the dinners are delicious too. Next time I go I will live a little, and try their carrot coconut french toast.

Vanessa Ahern has been covering all the good stuff in the Hudson Valley on her Hudson Valley Good Stuff blog since January 2009.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Day-trip: Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz

Posted By on Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM

The busy dining room at Mohonk Mountain House

Save room for the dessert table

A while ago Mohonk Mountain House invited me to try a spa service, lunch, and tour the Mohonk Mountain House, and on a dreary June Wednesday I finally took them up on their offer. Getting to Mohonk is an easy drive from Woodstock. I avoided the thruway (87), and enjoyed the scenic route via 209 South and Route 213. The road that leads to (Mountain Rest Road)Mohonk Mountain House is a little hilly, but my old Ford Focus made it without a problem. There is self-parking (free) or valet parking for $5. I drove straight up to valet parking, which is at the doorstep of the resort where I met Katie Martello, assistant director of marketing, who walked with me to the spa. The spa is the newest amenity at resort. It was added on in 2004. There was a bit of activity at the spa, but as it was Wednesday, there was no competition for the steam or sauna rooms. I had a little time before my 10 am massage so I went into the Eucalyptus steam room, and relaxed in stately Women’s Veranda which has really comfortable lounge chairs. I noticed that they don’t have any magazines there, and as iPhones and cell phones are also banned in the spa, I was left unplugged with nothing to read. It was actually very nice to just relax with my fancy tea and stare off into the forrest for ten minutes.

Soon massage therapist, Shiloh came out to greet me, and lead me to the treatment room for my Breathe Deep & Be Well Massage. I chose this massage because my tension creeps up in my neck, shoulders, and chest so I thought this would be extra relaxing, and it was! I started off resting on my stomach, and inhaling the aroma of Eucalyptus, while she massaged my back and arms. She told me that there would be stretching too. Shiloh used Naturopathica peppermint body cream on my hands, which felt wonderful. The 50 minutes went by very fast, and before I could drift away to sleep, it was over. After the massage, Shiloh presented me with a light snack of green grapes and cold Wild Cherry Apple cold drink, and walked me back to the Women’s Veranda. (There is also a co-ed Veranda, by the way).

I brought my bathing suit along so I went downstairs to test out the indoor swimming pool. There were a few women already swimming laps, and young couples lounging in the chairs. The pool is heated, but not super hot so I enjoyed swimming there for 15 minutes, admiring the high wooden beams on the ceiling as back stroked. (If you are not a hotel guest, and just get a spa service for the day, you have the option of purchasing a day pass for the pool and fitness center for an additional $25. This is only possible on midweek days, non-holidays, and off-peak times). Despite the rain, I really wanted to check out the heated outdoor mineral pool. It is about the size of a large jacuzzi, and set right outside the spa among the trees. There were a few women soaking in it, but I just went in for a few minutes. It was lovely, but it started to pour so I went back in to take a shower and get ready for the hotel tour.

Made a few wrong turns in the hotel. (It is easy to get lost here if you don’t know your way around). I made it to the front desk, and met marketing manager Emily McNamara, who showed me around the hotel to the conference area, Lake Lounge, a Classic room, a Victorian Room, a Lake View suite which includes 2 bathrooms, and finally the prestigious two story Mountain View Suite. Rooms start at $299, based on double occupancy (not including taxes and gratuity which are added on so you don’t worry about tipping at all during your stay). The rates include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Afternoon Tea and Cookies, and most resort activities (access to hiking trails, yoga, paddle-boarding, tennis, etc).

After the tour, it was time to enjoy the weekday buffet lunch in the elegant Mohonk Dining Room. Last time I dined here was for my husband’s birthday dinner four years ago. I love buffets, and Mohonk puts on a great one with many healthy options (bean salad, grilled salmon, jerked chicken, skirt steak at the carving station, and my favorite, the soft taco station. It was fun people watching. There were families, couples, groups of conference attendees, and girlfriends seated together. There were a few available tables, but it was pretty crowded. There were many tempting cakes and pies at the dessert table. I really enjoyed the chocolate dulce de leche cashew cake and the lemon poppy cupcakes. I left with a very satisfied belly, and relaxed back and shoulders. The 145 year old Victorian Castle resort has retained its beauty and charm.
Thank you Mohonk Mountain House! I will definitely be back.

Since 2009 Vanessa Ahern has been covering all the good stuff in the Hudson Valley in her blog, Hudson Valley Good Stuff. You can follow Hudson Valley Good Stuff, on Facebook, on Twitter & Instagram.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Boice Bros.' Birthday Bash

Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 8:00 AM

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When Boice Brothers Dairy first opened in Kingston in 1914, Pratt Boice personally delivered his bottled milk on a horse-drawn cart.

Now in its 100th year, the local family-owned company boasts a large dairy plant, dairy store, and ice cream shop—a Kingston favorite. The operation supplies eggs and dairy products to businesses around the Hudson Valley and processes only Hudson Valley Fresh milk, all hormone- and antibiotic-free and sourced from the cows of local farms. Offering 12 delicious flavors of hard and soft ice cream and made-to-order cakes, the Boice Bros. Milk House is the community’s favorite place to indulge.

To celebrate a century of fresh, local dairy products, Boice Bros. Dairy will host its Across the Generations Birthday Bash on July 20. The fun-filled afternoon will dish up live music from local bands such as Saints of Swing and the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston, a children’s lineup of clowns, mimes, and facepainters, and a variety of delicious food and exciting prizes.

And what kind of birthday would it be without a little something sweet? The cherry on top of the cake will be an opportunity to eat the Longest Ice Cream Sundae in the World. Spanning five football fields and weighing over one ton, the Boice Bros. Dairy sundae will make ice cream history.

Bring a spoon and an appetite to the Hudson Valley’s ultimate birthday party, a fundraiser for the Hudson River Maritime Museum and Clearwater Organization’s new education program for fourth graders: The Hudson River Stewards Program. July 20 from noon-4pm at the TR Gallo West Strand Park and Waterfront Promenade in Kingston.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Mid-Hudson Buffet in Kingston: Budget-friendly & kid friendly!

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM

One of the zillion tables at the Mid-Hudson Buffet

We pass through Ulster Avenue in Kingston about ten times a week, and I've been curious about Mid-Hudson Buffet for about 8 years now, but I have never been inside. The generic exterior is not inviting. It has a drab colored green roof, and it is right next to Sleepy's. A few acquaintances have told me that it is worth checking out. One of my friends told me that the thing she doesn't like is that she always ends up eating too much. Well, last Sunday my family decided to take the risk of over-eating.

We arrived at 6:00pm on Sunday. The restaurant was packed with people of all ages. I saw couples, small families, large families, a few men eating solo, crying babies, and lots of food continuously being replaced. I knew right away that this would be a fun family date night. It costs $11.79 per person, and $5.99 for children 10 and under.

The staff is very friendly, and the server came over and took our drink orders right away. We grabbed our plates, and ventured to the buffet. Wow! There area a zillion options here. I would say 60 percent of the dishes are Chinese. You will find sweet and sour chicken, dim-sum, dumplings, fried rice, spare ribs, etc. Then there are small carving station with turkey, ham, and roast beef. I was happy to find a few dishes my daughter would eat: macaroni and cheese, baked spinach, and meatloaf.

Taking my friend's warning, I tried really hard not too over do it. I started with a few california rolls, baked salmon, baked spinach, and then went for seconds and thirds of small things, a slab of roast beef, and a dim-sum. Nothing on the dessert station really tempted me as I didn't have much room left, but they have vanilla soft serve ice cream and sprinkles for the kids, which is a bonus. I would recommend Mid-Hudson Buffet if you are really hungry, and in the mood for good Chinese food, and something extra for a good price. While they do serve many fried foods there, you can find lighter foods too. You can also take-out.

Visit Vanessa Ahern's Hudson Valley Good Stuff blog for more word of mouth finds in the Hudson Valley!

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Depuy Canal House

Posted By on Mon, May 26, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Tasting Plate prepared by Chef John Novi

Tasting Plate #2

vegetarian Tower

Boullabaise at Depuy Canal House

Italian Cheesecake

Writer Vanessa Ahern and Chef John Novi

Depuy Canal House in High Falls, NY has been on my list of Hudson Valley restaurants to visit for a long time so I was delighted when Chef John Novi invited my husband and I for dinner a few Friday nights ago. Our reservation was for 6:30pm and when we arrived, I instantly felt at home. The Depuy Canal House stone house building originally opened as a tavern in 1797. The beautiful place settings with china, creeky floors, and coziness reminded me of being in my uncle’s stone house on a farm in the Loire Valley of France.

I’ve been trying to eat more vegetables lately so it was nice to see a few dishes that highlighted vegetables on the menu. Depuy Canal House is known for their tasting plates, and our first tasting plate had a salami cone with an almond and hummus, and pate. Next, another tasting plate arrived (cauliflower frittata, heart shaped daikon, and red pepper stuffed with spinach). The roasted pepper was roasted just right and somehow melded with the spinach. Chef John Novi, has a way with vegetables.

For my appetizer I had the Arugula and Napa salad. This was no ordinary salad. Part of it was served in a rice paper bowl, which was very soft and chewy, and complemented the citrus dressing well. The roasted beet and cippolini onion made it a very hearty salad. Tom had the Reel of Carrot pasta with ricotta cheese and bolognese sauce for his appetizer. Tom loved it though he kept on saying that it wasn’t really pasta because he said it tasted like tender carrots and the delicious bolognese sauce. (I was so into my salad that I forgot to taste his dish to understand what he meant).

For my entree I ordered the Vegetarian Tower (butternut squash, duxell eggplant, spinach, and mushroom caramelized onion with rhubarb and mirin sauce). As you can see the presentation was beautiful. Tom decided on the Bouillabaise with Thai Tom broth and scrod saute. It was so good, and I was delighted that Tom shared one of those scallops with me. We finished every morsel!

When our server Chris came over with the dessert tray, I had a tough time deciding because everything looked good. I left it up to my husband who picked the Italian cheesecake, which comes from a secret family recipe. After dessert and coffee, we thanked the chef who was busy in the kitchen, and saw a small group of friends sitting at the beautiful table in the large kitchen, with Chef Novi creating his master pieces on the stove nearby. (Note: Groups of up to 12 can dine in the kitchen, but since this is getting to be more popular Chef Novi advises that you reserve two weeks in advance if you want to dine in the kitchen. If there happen to be no reservations for the kitchen table the night you dine, you may be able to dine in the kitchen). I’d definitely recommend Depuy Canal House restaurant if you are looking for a romantic dinner or a place to have dinner in a chef’s kitchen. I didn’t take a photo of the four friends dining in Chef Novi’s kitchen, but they all looked very excited and happy to be there. Wish he could cook in my kitchen. My kids might actually enjoy eating vegetables if he did!

Find out where to eat, play, and recharge your spirit at Hudson Valley Good Stuff, Vanessa Ahern's blog.

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Hudson Valley Events

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Plein Air to Studio

Thursdays, 1-4 p.m. Continues through May 30 — Keith Gunderson, Instructor....
Workshop: Intro to Chinese Brush Painting @ Pelham Art Center

Workshop: Intro to Chinese Brush Painting

Fridays, 6-8 p.m. Continues through May 24 — For the beginner, you will learn the “four gentlemen”, bamboo, plum blossom,...

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