A Dose of Authenticity

{parade, Hurley, NY}

If life always went as planned, we would have spent last weekend on a little island off of Seattle, celebrating the marriage of two of our dearest friends. It was to be our first real (much needed) family vacation since baby Greta was born, and a long overdue visit to the West Coast which always brings us both a sense of breath and space to handle all this busy city throws our way.

Every time I passed the wedding save the date magnet on the fridge, I imagined walking through quiet streets hand in hand with András (something that happens less now that our hands seem always occupied with the tiny one), Greta tucked against my chest, exploring and inviting the authentic.

The night we were to leave, we spent 6 hours on the tarmac at JFK with Greta in our laps. She ate dinner and fell asleep in our arms and slept like a dream until the captain declared our flight cancelled (don’t ask!). Then she smiled the whole way home in the cab at 1 AM as if we had all just had a very grand adventure. When we woke up the next morning in our own beds, we spent a couple minutes feeling sorry for ourselves and then headed north to a little house in Hurley, NY.

I don’t think I’ve told you all about this yet.

Smack in the middle of writing my book and waiting for baby, we bought a tiny 1930s house in Hurley, New York. Yes, we are gluttons for chaos. It wasn’t so much the house we fell in love with as much as it was the 200-year-old barn.  We imagined turning it into a summer kitchen (for me) and woodworking shop (for András) and a giant grown up playroom in the lofty second level, a project that now seems light years away.

We’ve spent a good few dozen weekends up there, between deadlines and monumental occasions (Greta’s birth) and family visits and birthday parties, tearing down walls and ceilings, painting and priming (and by we, I mean mostly András). We are inching toward our version of country chic, looking out the kitchen window at the empty barn that brought us there.

Usually our weekends there are sweet but storied, full of unexpected obstacles. We eat off of paper plates (gasp, not very green of us, but we reuse them when we can!) and cook every single solitary meal on the little grill I bought András last year. We laugh. At ourselves and each other.  At the absurdity of it all. At Greta bouncing up and down in her Johnny Jump up, her little feet landing over and over on the one small patch of clean, polished wood floor among the mess and mishap we’ve accepted as home.

There is a checklist for this house. There is a deadline. But we don’t live by it. Especially not on a weekend when we’re broken hearted to not to stand by as two people we love make the biggest commitment of their life.  Instead, we gave ourselves a vacation in our own house.

{plant sale, Co Rd 7}

That weekend, I washed freshly picked asparagus in our brand new farm sink. We went to opening day of the Kingston Farmer's Market, and chanced upon a roadside plant stand selling raspberry plants for five dollars. 

{vintage tub, From the Grapevine antiques, Hurley, NY}

We gave our baby girl her first outdoor tubby in an old enamel tub, a gift from our neighbor’s antique shop. We ate the season’s first strawberries and planted our raspberries and walked around barefoot. 

{cucina, woodstock}

We let Greta explore every inch of dirt and grass on her hands and knees and sit in her papa’s lap and eat off his plate at his birthday dinner at Cucina, in Woodstock. 

{lunch: pretzels, Twisted Food, radishes, Migorelli farm, goat's milk ricotta, Acorn Hill Farm}

We cheered for the local Memorial Day parade. We took afternoon naps all together and ate our meals directly from the cutting board on a table made of 2 X 4s. We held hands and let our arms swing up and down between Greta’s singing “Thank you for the world so sweet, thank you for the food we eat…”

We traveled back in time. 

If you and the ones you love find yourself in the Hudson Valley instead of Seattle or somewhere further off, consider yourself lucky. Here are some places you can get yourself a dose of authenticity.

Kingston, NY

The finest of small town farmer’s markets. Get everything from cassis to freshly baked breads, strudels and pies, radishes and greens, wild mushrooms and game and not to be missed sweet, goat's milk ricotta from Acorn Hill Farm. And while you’re there, drop a dollar in the hat for The Queen’s Galley, the organization responsible for feeding all the Hudson Valley’s hungry.

Route 199 and Route 9, Rhinebeck, NY

This 80-year-old fruit and vegetable farm grows over 130 different varieties of fruits and vegetables. They are a regular fixture at both our local market on 14th street in Astoria and the Union Square Green Market, but it's twice as fun to buy direct from the stands that flank their fields. 

Rosendale, NY

Bring your tie-died T's and drive slow as you pull into sleepy Rosendale. If you blink, you’ll pass right by Twisted Foods. This place isn’t fancy; they save the fancy for their four types of pretzel rolls -- Chewy, polished poofs of salted dough shiny from their baking soda bath, with an addictive chew and substance.

Route 209, New York

Somehow, I don’t entirely mind paying the steep prices to keep a 6th generation family farm in business. The Gills own most of the land around Hurley, and sell their seasonal goods by the handful and bunch. Right now you’ll find the last of their asparagus and spinach, season’s first strawberries and the best selection of starter plants from white aubergine to green striped tomatoes that a gardener could wish for.

Woodstock, New York

Cucina is a restaurant with a menu and décor so fine it belongs in any big city, but thankfully it sits on a quiet perch in a rambling restored farmhouse just outside Woodstock.  Minutes from the arresting Ashokan Reservoir (where we city folk get our water), it is sleek by country standards, or any standards. But the food is fresh and fantastic. Service is gracious (even accommodating messy little fingers) and the whole experience is altogether inviting.


Sarah Caron said...

As disappointing as it must have been to not head to Seattle (love Seattle, by the way), this sounds like an amazing and wonderful weekend. I grew up in the Hudson Valley, and love the farming community up there. Best wishes on fixing up your house and barn.

sponge cake press said...

dearest edible living, I was transformed if only for a few minutes. delightful!

Barbara said...

Sounds like a charming house to escape to from the city.

Christine said...

OK, I want to go there immediately. I love small towns. It sounds like it ended up being a sweet time with your family. So glad you posted again!

sarah said...

My apologies for being so remiss on responding to your great comments! I always appreciate them and am so happy to hear from you all. Thank you for the well-wishes. We're getting close to having a livable little retreat. More news from upstate very soon!

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New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.