Hangar steak and ceasar salad from Bull & Garland.
the wide views and clean air, the pace of your neighbors and even the traffic, the low light and noise pollution, the quality of friends and community, the quantity of fresh produce and protein—all of that lends itself, whether you’re paying full attention or not, to what we know as quality of life. That in itself is fodder for menu creation.” On a recent visit, Kate and I shared the Cabbage Caesar Salad, a winterappropriate version of the classic, and Hanger Steak with Endive, Blue Cheese, and Anchovies.The steak was tender and prepared to medium-rare perfection; the briny tang of the fermented and cured accompaniments formed a perfect chord of flavors held together by the bass line of locally raised beef. My sevenyear-old son Henry had his favorite, the One-Flip Burger, served with some of the best fries I’ve ever eaten (and a bargain at $10). “We wanted it to be more like a fast-food burger; too often, burgers you get at ‘upscale’ restaurants are so oversized you can’t even pick them up,” says Elbert, who is always there to greet guests and offer insight to the menu. “What inspires us is thoughtful, lovingly made comfort food that tastes good, which also reflects the season we are in.” Breakfast, Burgers, and Books One of the many farms that supplies Table on Ten and Brushland is Star Route Farm, led by Tianna Kennedy, another transplant from Brooklyn whom I met briefly in the early 2000s when I was still a painter with a studio in Greenpoint and she was living in Bushwick and doing a bit of modeling to help make rent. Her story is woven together with those of the restaurants her farm supplies with spectacular produce; it is a complex tapestry woven of people who yearn for a life of unalienated labor. “We all grew up together,” says Kennedy. She leases 12 acres outside Bovina, and supplies 17 restaurants and a 200-person CSA from 12 locations in New York City. Kennedy moved to the Catskills at the same time as Madalyn Warren.Working out of her kitchen in Roxbury on her farm, Straight from the Ground, Madalyn crafts “farmstead” kimchee, for which she grows all of the ingredients. She is a firm believer in the value of probiotics: “We have probably underestimated the degree to which poor digestion is a root cause of many common health problems,” says Warren. Her kimchee can be found at the farmers’ markets around the region in season. Yet another mom-and-pop story begins with Oliver and Melissa Pycroft meeting in London in 2013. In 2014, they quit their jobs to move to a hunting cabin in Shandaken built by Melissa’s great-grandfather. After two decades between them of traveling, working, and living in New York, Paris, London, Costa Rica, Budapest, and Seville, they were ready to escape to the countryside and begin a new, more rural life together. They settled on the idea of starting an English-style country pub and inn, 66 FOOD & DRINK CHRONOGRAM 3/18
and started searching for a suitable property. After looking at places around the Catskills for nearly a year, they chose the MacArthur house in Hobart, where they now operate Bull & Garland. “The rambling 1830s interior, with its quirky rooms and cozy nooks, felt like the country pubs we loved to frequent in England,” says Melissa, “and we imagined the grounds backing onto the West Branch of the Delaware River as the perfect space for a summer beer garden. A local historian told us that the property had been a coach house in its early days along the main road through town. We were also excited to discover that Hobart—a town of fewer than 500 people—has a book village community with five bookstores, modeled after Hay-on-Wye in the UK, and the proximity of the Catskills Scenic Trail just behind the property was also an added bonus for visitors and guests of the inn.” True to form, the pub menu features such savory, comforting staples as Fish and Chips and Scotch Egg (a hardboiled egg enshrouded in sausage, breaded and fried). For dessert, the Maple Sticky Toffee Pudding is a must, but be warned: Share it with at least one person, or it will send you into a sugar coma. Henry and I always fight for the last bite. Table on Ten, Brushland, Bull & Garland, and Straight from the Ground Farm all offer rooms for rent. Another thread in this narrative was sewn by Rob Howard when he introduced me to Cay Sophie Rabinowitz at Plattekill Mountain several years ago. Now an instructor on my Snowsports School staff, Rabinowitz publishes Osmos, an art magazine specializing in photography, and runs an eponymous Lower East Side gallery that specializes in obscure, under-recognized artists. She and her husband, Christian Rattemeyer, a curator of drawings at MoMA, are opening Osmos Station in a renovated garage in the town of Stamford—known as “the Queen of the Catskills”—this spring. They envision a space for visiting artists, curated exhibitions, gatherings, and professional workshops. They will also soon have cross-country skis and bikes for visitors to use on the adjacent Catskills Scenic Trail. Just down the road from Osmos Station, T.P.’s Cafe serves one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. Frequented primarily by locals, T.P.’s also draws transplants and visitors to the region. At a time when political division and online vitriol can be disheartening, to say the least, it’s the kind of place that folks with very different world views can at least agree on some of the more important aspects of life: The pancakes are thin and light; the potatoes are crispy and can be ordered with or without onions; the burgers, made from house-ground beef, are mouthwatering, and they are generous with the bacon. It is a weird and scary time in these Divided States of America. But living, eating, skiing, and just being in the Catskill Mountains of Delaware County reminds me that we remain woven together. We’re connected to each other, to the earth, to water, to the sun, and to the stars. There is some solace there.