Hudson Valley Foods – Fresh Food from the Source

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Hudson Valley Foods - Fresh Food from the Source

The best chefs don’t mind revealing their sources. When the source for food and wine is the Hudson Valley, it’s often proudly stated on the menu. Beginning just north of New York City, head up the river (and then down again) to discover their favorite organic farm markets, celebrated artisanal cheese makers, award-winning wineries, and the world’s premier culinary college.Pick and choose from this itinerary according to your taste and schedule. You might want to spend an hour or an entire day exploring some of these gems.

With farm fresh foods and restaurants that feature some of the world’s best chefs, you’ll definitely eat well on this trip.Day OneStone Barns Center for Food and AgricultureHead for the Pocantico Hills, 30 miles north of Manhattan, to the sustainable farm and education center at Sleepy Hollow. You can tour the gardens and greenhouse, walk the trails, and dine on outrageously fresh local fare at the Blue Hill Restaurant.Shawangunk Wine TrailBeside the Shawangunk Mountains, about 80 miles north of New York City, 11 family-owned wineries follow centuries-old traditions established by French Huguenot settlers. Each winery is different, offering sparkling wines, vinifera and French/American varietals and blends, and even some beautifully made fruit wines. Choose one or two, as well as a designated driver, and travel along country roads to meet master wine makers. Along the trail, a 30-mile loop, you’ll also find charming B&Bs and restaurants, streams for canoeing and fly fishing, and roadside produce stands.Day TwoBlooming Hill FarmGrowing organic vegetables for nearly 30 years, this small, family operated farm in Blooming Grove produces over 30 varieties of tomato and 24 varieties of greens.

The Jones family supplies chefs from the Hudson Valley to Manhattan, custom-growing produce for many restaurants. You can shop at the retail farm stand, amid 160 acres of rolling hills and forest. About 60 miles north of Manhattan, Blooming Hill also has seasonal farm stands in Mountainville, Nyack and Union Square Green Market, in New York City.DePuy Canal HouseChef-owner John Novi, called the Father of American Eclectic Cuisine by the TV Food Network, opened this High Falls restaurant in 1969.

Creating innovative cuisine with fresh locally grown produce, he soon won four stars (from food critic Craig Claiborne) in a New York Times review. Between courses, you can watch the chefs from a balcony overlooking the kitchen. The Chefs on Fire bistro in the stone cellar serves Italian fare and pizza.

If you want to settle in, make reservations to stay at the Inn. The New York Store, also on the property, features New York–produced gourmet products.Fleisher’s Grass-Fed and Organic MeatsCalled a matchmaker between chefs and farmers by the Times, Fleisher’s sells to some of the finest restaurants in New York City. Along with prime cuts of meat, you’ll find specialties like nitrate-free bacon, homemade sausages, pastured eggs, artisanal cheese and local, organic produce. Located in Kingston, Fleisher’s also offers wine and cheese tasting classes, chef demonstrations, and talks by local farmers.Day ThreeBread AloneThe wood-fired ovens at the bakery in Boiceville produce organic whole grain breads and all natural, handmade pastries. Bread Alone supplies markets from the Hudson Valley to Manhattan and Long Island.

Hudson Valley fans gather on both sides of the river, at the original bakery in Boiceville as well as their outpost cafes in Woodstock and Rhinebeck. At any of the three locations, you’ll enjoy a healthy breakfast or lunch, great coffee, and legendary fruit tarts.The Emerson Resort & SpaAbout ten minutes from Woodstock, you can choose from a full menu of holistic wellness treatments as a day visitor or overnight guest. One of several highly ranked spas in the Catskills, the Emerson also serves fresh local fare prepared by an internationally-renowned chef.

You can dine inside The Phoenix restaurant or al fresco on the streamside deck. Adjoining the Inn, The Country Store’s upscale shops feature Mario Batali cookware and all kinds of culinary gadgets from the Culinary Institute of America’s Masters Collection.Catskill Mountain Country StorePie lovers take note! The homemade pies at this unique gourmet market, bakery and restaurant in Windham were voted best by Hudson Valley magazine.

The emporium also features walking paths and a “looking zoo” with pigs, goats, turkeys, and miniature horses.Day FourOld Chatham Sheepherding CompanyOld Chatham is home to the largest sheep dairy farm in the US. This nationally known producer of handcrafted cheeses and yogurt has state-of-the-art facilities, but farms the old-fashioned way. Fields and pastures are organically managed. Famous chefs across the nation use their products, including Gary Coyle of Tavern on the Green and Terrance Brennan of Picholine and Artisanal in New York City.

You can visit the farm and buy their products at the Shaker Barn, beautifully restored from an original Shaker community near Albany.Hummingbird RanchYou can’t buy little birds here; the farm in Staatsburg is named for the road that leads to it. But Hummingbird offers organic maple syrup and honey products, sold in regional farm markets and stores. Another specialty is culinary lavender, first planted to inspire the bees to make lavender honey. Call ahead to find out about other specialties and store hours.Culinary Institute of AmericaIn Hyde Park, tour the world’s premier culinary college.

You can register online for Enthusiast Programs, ranging from two-hour food and wine tastings to multi-day cooking classes. Make a reservation at one of the five award-winning, student-staffed restaurants. You won’t need a reservation to eat in the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe.

Check out the Hudson River views, and the bookstore featuring epicurean delights, cookbooks, and assorted cooking supplies.Day FiveOak Summit VineyardLocated in Millbrook, the vineyard grows healthy luscious grapes without any herbicides. You can reserve a private tasting session and learn how their award-winning Pinot Noir is created, without any additives, in the true Burgundian style. If you want to splurge, reserve a place at one of their gourmet food and wine pairing dinners.

Follow the Dutchess Wine Trail to find three more wineries nearby.Sprout Creek FarmThis farm in Poughkeepsie makes unique artisanal cheeses using age-old farmstead traditions. You can visit the creamery to watch as cheese is put into molds and rolled into the ripening room. Learn to make your own cheese or buy some at the farm market, which also sells seasonal vegetables. Visitors can also rent the cottage on-site or ride in a hot air balloon over the valley with Blue Sky Balloons.

The cafe has a big old front porch, where you can relax and enjoy some cheese or fresh-made ice cream.Castle on the HudsonDine like royalty, with the option to spend the night, at Tarrytown’s authentic 100-year-old medieval-style castle, surrounded by acres of manicured gardens. The award-winning dining room, Equus, described as “magnificent” in a New York Times review, has a worldwide reputation for excellence. Ask to meet the chef, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, who creates an exciting menu using seasonal, local products.MoreNew York has an abundance of farm markets, u-pick farms, gourmet food shops and fine restaurants. Throughout the state, farmers markets and orchard-side emporiums offer fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods and just-pressed cider.

World-class wineries and craft breweries let you taste and shop at the source. Find information on harvest schedules and tours at Pride of New York (www.prideofny.com) and Uncork New York (www.newyorkwines.org).