Rural Urbanity | Community Pages | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Rural Urbanity 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 4:09 pm

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PBI Farmers Market Manager Sebastian McCabe grew up in Philmont and returned after six years in California. “I’m really grateful to be giving back to the community that raised me,” says McCabe, who is working directly with farms to help them find new, more lucrative distribution opportunities. “It’s a selling point for farmers and restaurants for the customers to know it’s locally grown and produced.”

In Philmont, two local restaurants—on either end of Main Street and the culinary experience—are benefiting from PBI’s farm-to-table efforts. Local 111 is searching for the heights that county-grown ingredients can reach. Sourcing from neighboring farms almost exclusively, Local 111’s Executive Chef Josephine Proul does a little bit of everything, from pickling and canning to making sausage and ice cream. “You just have to plan,” Proul says during a busy Sunday brunch rush at the highly stylized modern restaurant. “You have to know how to extend the season and have the customers understand that it’s worth it to wait for it. We’d like to create a whole community of locavores.” They have begun to do just that. Proul says regulars constantly ask if one thing or another is in season yet, as they prepare to enjoy their favorite dish from the year before.

“We specifically wanted it to be locally sourced,” says owner Linda Gatter, who feels dinners are willing to pay a little more when they know that the food is of high quality and the producers are being compensated fairly. “Farming is a hard way to make a living. Let’s keep it in Columbia County when we can. Joe [Proul] has a great relationship with the farmers. It makes the food better.”

Just down the hill in the unassuming Main Street Public House (established 1898), Elizabeth Angello is following the same philosophy of sourcing her ingredients locally while offering a twist on traditional pub fair at a low price point.

Angello also happens to be the mother of Proul at Local 111. While there may be an underlying sense of friendly mother-daughter competition, the two are more allies than competitors due to the differences in establishments and their shared food philosophies. They recently bought a whole pig together (raised locally, of course), and shared the meat between the restaurants.

At the Public House, Angello is trying to heighten the quality of average bar food and, as much as possible, make it healthier. “It surprises people how good, delicious and fresh our food is,” Angello says, sitting beneath the sun at a iron table in the center of the farmers market, in the heart of Philmont.

It Takes a Village
Arguably the most important local well of cultural identity in the storybook village of Chatham ran dry on January 16 with the sudden and unexpected death of Tony Quirino. Quirino was the second-generation proprietor of the historic Crandell movie theater in the center of Main Street. For nearly seven months the Crandell’s doors stayed closed, until, on July 9, a large crowd once again poured past the old arched-window box office and popcorn-filled concession stand. Nostalgic patrons returned to the double-decker single theater to watch Toy Story 3 at the Crandell’s consistent budget price of $5 for adults and $4 for children.

After Quirino’s passing, an emotional local scrum ensued to find a new owner and operator for the theater, built in 1926 by Walter S. Crandell. A group of area residents pooled their resources, made the purchase, then immediately turned around and deeded the Crandell to the over-400-member Chatham Film Club, which has been screening movies at the theater once a month since 1998.

“I think every one in the community is glad,” says Anthony Quirino, who bought the theater in 1961 (the same year he met his wife) and relinquished control to his son Tony in 1985. He says he is sure Tony would be proud of the film club’s commitment to keeping the Crandell as it was.

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