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Monday, March 11 marks the beginning of Hudson Valley’s Restaurant Week lasting through March 24th. The event was kicked off on Tuesday Feb. 19th with a tasting event at CIA chalk full of participating chefs, food photographers and restaurateurs.
What I was most impressed with is that all of the chefs I spoke with worked directly with farms local to the Hudson Valley. They knew the farmer, they knew the quality and it was important to them to draw from the region. Farm to table is no longer a movement, as the word movement would indicate that it will keep moving right along out of here. Rather, farm to table is a genre or perspective of cooking that is laying roots that keep digging in further and further to the soil of the American food scene. Thanks to chefs like Brandon Collins (Swift), Bill Rosenburg (NoMa Social) and March Walker (Birdsall), publications like The Valley Table and institutions like Glynwood it is becoming the defining cuisine of this region.
People travel from around the world to visit the Hudson Valley, take in its beauty, drink the wine and taste the food but Restaurant Week is a focused effort to get the locals out of their cozy homes to support and celebrate the most dynamic food region in the United States right in their own back yard.
The still young Roundhouse in Beacon is participating heavily in Restaurant Week, “We don’t change our menu or shrink portions just because we’re offering a discount (for RW). We want people to come in and get the full experience of Swift.” states Executive Chef Brandon Collins who also sits on the board for RW. Swift is sourcing his meats and veg from local sustainable farms and has received a great response for his efforts. The Roundhouse Hotel is servicing visitors, “mainly from Brooklyn and Westchester.” Collins adds as he continues to share what’s next. “We have over 60 events booked already right now, the patio is opening in the spring. We want to continue to build the name of the restaurant and keep our consistency.”
March Walker, Chef at Birdsall House is slowly taking over Peekskill with the opening of his second effort, Gleason’s. Both restaurants share the same point of view, “Awesome, unpretentious, honest food. Not over-manipulated.” states March. On top of bringing in local meats from Hemlock Hill Farm (Cortland manor) and breads from Bread Alone (Woodstock), Birdsall is making all their own ingredients in house including condiments, sausage, pate and terrine. Birdsall also features 20 beer taps that rotate and often features local brewers like Rushing Duck. Occasionally they are forced to do battle with local wines in fun events like, “Beer vs. Wine” dinners where diners get to vote for their beverage of choice.
If you are looking for a social atmosphere and a great variety of small plates to share and taste from, NoMa in White Plains might be perfect for you. Chef Bill Rosenberg puts focus on sustainable, local ingredients with a decidedly Mediterranean flare. “Spain, Greece and tips of Italy, it’s all in there.” Chef Rosenberg explains. “NoMa is meant to be a social place. We want people to get back to the dinner table and share plates. Being part of restaurant week gives people a chance to go through the whole menu.”
Restaurant week is a great excuse to explore the culinary Hudson Valley. But the best excuse is great food and great people. My personal recommendation is to start in Dutchess County and eat your way down, zig zagging across the river.
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