Brunch at The Hop. Finally.

The HopI’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.

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Pig Roast at Obercreek Farm

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 … Read more

A brief culinary tour of our (not so recent) trip to England and Wales.

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At the beginning of the summer (2013), Matt and I went to England to visit his family and do a little sightseeing. For years we went every other Christmas which means that we hadn’t been to the UK when the weather was warm for ages. Now don’t get me wrong, Christmas in England is magical, with all the fireplaces and fairy lights and mince pies (ok, those are kinda gross). But when you’re driving around it’s a bit difficult when it gets dark at 2pm and the average weather is frozen drizzle.

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Making friends with molds for fun and profit

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Quick, what’s a SCOBY?

If you answered, “Matt, surely it’s an international criminal ring dedicated to evil and fought against by MI5 and James Bond”, well done, you’re almost correct. Go and do a Google Image search for “SCOBY”, and then, if you’re not convinced that the evil criminal masterminds have already won, read on.

I’m writing this while sitting at our dining-room table. At one end are two jars, filled with a light brown liquid, with slices of mold at the top and bottom: that’s kombucha. At the other, another jar filled with string beans, dill and garlic – “dilly beans”. All the jars are covered with pieces of old dishcloth tied with string. I can smell them both quite distinctly. The beans have an earthy, herby smell, faintly sweet. The kombucha is more yeasty, like fresh, live dough or home-made wine.

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Adventures in Cheese

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Last month we stepped into the world of cheese making for the second time.

The first time was a few years ago, back in Brooklyn. The aim was “fromage blanc” which is a very lightly developed, soft cheese, like ricotta. All cheese needs some kind of culture to start the process of acidification, and you can certainly buy them from specialist sellers, but for this recipe we used buttermilk. (We ordered rennet from Ricky Carroll’s rather goofy but comprehensive New England Cheesemaking site.) We had so much difficulty (in Brooklyn!) finding good butttermilk that we ended up, for the first batch, using the dried variety, which is supposed to still contain live cultures. So essentially you warm the milk, add the culture and rennet, wait for the curds to develop, and drain them in cloth (we hung it from the showerhead, like the gonzo rapscallions we are). Anyway, this first batch didn’t so much curd, as curdle. The instructions mentioned a consistency like greek yogurt, and that didn’t happen. It looked more like cottage cheese. Still, we dutifully hung it up and drained it for a day, and carefully tasted it, and decided that we were probably going to do ourselves some harm if we ate it in any quantity, so we tried again. The next batch used fresh buttermilk, and was the correct consistency on curding, and we flavored it with salt, pepper and olive oil and declared that it was good.

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