Winter Issue 2018/2019
Van Wyck Gazette
Fishkill • Beacon • Wappingers Falls • Poughkeepsie • Newburgh • New Paltz • Rhinebeck • Woodstock
Van Wyck Gazette
FROM THE PUBLISHER
EDITOR IN CHIEF / CREATIVE DIRECTOR Joseph Caplan
This issue features a great mix of articles appropriate to the season; Robert Pucci expounds upon the Sinterklaas Festival in Rhinebeck, New York.
DESIGN / MEDIA Margot Stiegeler
Rik Mercaldi asks “Are the Velvet Underground just as important as the Beatles?”
CONTRIBUTORS Paige Flori, Adrea Gibbs, Ami Madeleine, David McGorry, Rik Mercaldi, Isabel Minunni, Robert Pucci, Margot Stiegeler
Ami Madeleine profiles bass player Ben Basile “In the Limelight” column. Paige Flori explains “All About Hard Cider” as our guest Contributing Writer. Adrea Gibbs delights with “Songs of Winter” and recounts her time spent as a Radio City Rockette
PUBLISHER Caplan Media Group, Inc., Fishkill, NY
Isabel Minunni shares both her Festive Holiday Wings recipe and Black Forest Cookie recipe.
SUBSCRIPTIONS To receive Van Wyck Gazette by mail visit our website and subscribe www.vanwyckgazette.com
David McGorry narrates how to “Build a Dialogue With Your Marketplace.” Our appreciation to talented Contributing Writer Team, loyal advertiser base and avid readership in the Hudson Valley.
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Hoping you enjoy a festive season!
Table of Contents
3 Sinter Santa Sinter Robert Pucci
6 The Velvet Underground Rik Mercaldi
10 In The Limelight: Ben Basile
12 Holiday Gift Guide
14 All About Hard Cider
18 Songs of Winter
20 Celebrating the Holidays
22 Build a Dialogue with your Marketplace
Hudson Valley Jazz Festival News Our 10th season will start in 2019, and mark a decade of celebrating America’s music and highlighting the Hudson Valley as a region rich in musical talent. Several initiatives are being discussed for this milestone including a yearround series. Beginning in November, and carried through the winter season, will be our “Beyond Jazz” program acknowledging the many artists doing work that bridges traditional jazz with other genres and including multi-media performances. In addition, the festival hopes to launch an educational and student performance feature for the next festival. This add-on project will be cultivated throughout the year culminating in a student-teacher presentation. The Warwick Center for the Performing Arts, 63 Wheeler in Warwick, serves as home base for both this education program and the monthly series and jazz/multi-media series. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and follow “WarwickHudsonValleyJazz” on Facebook for updates. Cover Photograph - Benjamin Raffetseder (unsplash.com) Van W yck Gazette - Winter 2018/19 Issue
Sinter Santa Sinter: A Progression of a Christmas Icon and Celebration Robert Pucci
Photos / Robert DiPleco
It is a cold winter’s night in early December and there are thousands of celebrants lined up on Market Street in Rhinebeck. In the distance there is a rumble, the sound of a parade advancing. Spectators, jockeying for position, make sure that any children in the crowd are out in front where they can see. A white haired man, on a white puppet horse, is coming down the hill leading the parade. He is clad in flowing red robes and accompanied by children wearing crowns and carrying branches. The adults with them are carrying stars on poles. It is a slow procession, as the man on his steed takes the time to engage every child who stares in wonder, while he zig-zags down the street. Sinterklaas has come to town. This celebration of the season is held in the present, yet harkens back to a past when New York was a Dutch colony. Its inhabitants reveled in the holiday honoring St. Nicholas, the Patron Saint of Children. After New Amsterdam became New York, and in the days of the early republic, Saint Nicholas was held up as an Anti-British symbol by John Pintard, the founder of the New York Historical Society. Joining that society in 1809 was a young writer who was penning a satirical history of tall tales chronicling the history of the City. In his Knickerbocker’s History of New York, Washington Irving, while recounting the settling of the city, mentions a Dutch sailor who sees Saint Nicholas riding over the rooftops above the city as a good omen. To quote Irving “now and then drawing forth
magnificent presents from his breeches pockets, and dropping them down the chimneys of his favorites.” The Saint was beloved, but judgmental; he rewarded the good children and punished the bad. Sinterklaas was transplanted to New York by the Dutch and commemorated by Irving. But his personification was really not quite yet settled. Was Saint Nicholas the stern bearded bishop with mitre and scepter, or could he assume a different personality? Irving hinted at his persona as a more spritely, stout and merry man who smoked a pipe. This version of Saint Nicholas was later codified in that great Christmas chestnut T’was the Night Before Christmas. Recited over and over and reprinted over and over again, it shortly became popularized that the once stern bishop was actually a jolly old elf, with a belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly when he laughed. With his sleigh pulled by tiny reindeer who waited patiently on the roof, Saint Nicholas slid down the chimney with a sack of goodies. After the stockings were filled, and with a pipe clenched in his teeth, he placed a finger aside his nose and magically rose up the chimney. It is said that Mrs. Thomas Nast would often read to her husband, an illustrator for Harper’s weekly, as he worked on drawings. Inspired by one such recital of the Clement Moore poem, Nast drew his first Sinter, now Santa Claus, in 1863. The figure gradually refined over the years to morph into the Santa 1655 Albany Post Road, RT 9 Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
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Claus that we now know. Albert Bigelow Paine, in his biography Thomas Nast: His Period And his Pictures, begins his book with a personal recollection of how as a young boy in Iowa he studied with intense interest the images of Santa Claus in Nast’s 1866 double page Christmas cartoon. The four page description of Paine’s experience of wonderment is later recalled when he met Nast and then considered writing his biography. Because the artist was perhaps better known for his patriotic and satirical cartoons Paine hesitated to include discussion of his Christmas pictures. But Paine recalled his boyhood and recognized the resonance. The politicians lambasted in Nast’s drawings would fade away but Santa Claus would remain. In my library hangs a Thomas Nast Christmas picture from 1873. Santa has just emerged from the fireplace. Stepping over the tender he surveys a large Victorian drawing room that is well appointed and reflects the prosperity of post-Civil War America. He is greeted by the cats and dogs of the household as he prepares to fill the stockings which hang above the fireplace. He
“The Coming of Santa Claus” by Thomas Nast Page 4
wears a red robe trimmed with fur, with his long white hair and beard topped by a cap. His sack bulges with toys and sports a jumping jack and a porcelain doll. This vision of Santa Claus was further ensconced in our collective memory by an artist for the Coca Cola Company who created an image of the jolly elf taking the pause that refreshes. Although not quite as pump as Nast’s, that image of Santa Claus, red robed and jolly, hoisting a soft drink aloft, for me represents an unfortunate evolution. The lost sense of community and social gregariousness posited for the season by Irving in his Christmas essay that appeared in his sketch book of 1841. “He who can turn churlishly away from contemplating the felicity of his fellow beings and can sit down darkling and repining in his loneliness when all around is joyful, may have his moments of strong excitement and selfish gratification, but he wants the genial and social sympathies which constitute the charm of a Merry Christmas.” The feasting and fellowship that was further advanced by Charles Dickens became, by the end of that century, a commercial promotion, conspicuous consumption of gifts, especially toys for children. For it was in Nast’s time, in the period of Victoria, that childhood became a protected state of play and exploration. No longer considered tiny adults, children were allowed to go to school and play in nurseries with the toys they received as rewards for their good behavior. Coal in the stocking was reserved for the naughty, a fate my Uncle Jim suffered sometime in the 1920’s. As a child I remember a Christmas where my siblings and I were greeted by Santa Claus. He was standing in our row house in the Bronx arranging gifts under the tree. It would be several years before we would know that our visitor was actually our Uncle Cliff who, at 5 foot 4 and 160 pounds with twinkling blue eyes, was perfectly cast for the role right down to his ho, ho, ho’s. He left by the front door and crossed the street on a skein of snow that had fallen overnight, and then we tore into our presents. We were good children and, for the most part, our wish lists were fulfilled. V an W yck Gazette - Winter 2018/19 Issue
Fast-forward to a meeting held in the Town Hall in Rhinebeck, New York in 1984 where a woman was tasked with creating an event to replace a craft show which had moved away from the village. Jeanne Fleming gathered up the suggestions from the brain-storming session held that night. She decided there was a need to return to a now distant past by creating an Old Dutch Christmas that included a return of Sinterklaas. She saw a need not only to create an event which draws crowds to the village but to correct the focus of their celebration. Children would take the center stage, not to be judged by the stern Dutch Bishop, but be embraced by his love and generosity. They would wear a crown as little Kings and Queens and carry branches which, in turn, carried wishes not for themselves, but for others. Their celebration would be about fellowship and giving, service to others, and not receiving. The celebration has returned after a 10-year hiatus is now known as Sinterklaas: An Old Dutch Tradition in Rhinebeck. In the weeks leading up to the day (December 1, 2018) workshops take place for children to make their crown and decorate the branches. Adults are given stars, a universal symbol that avoids any specific religious connotations, as Fleming wanted to create an event that also celebrates diversity. This promotes the universal appeal to the community and a fellowship which eliminates any denominational divides. The celebration starts on the Rondout in Kingston where a parade takes Sinterklaas to a tugboat where he makes his way across the Hudson to Rhinecliff. A procession then forms with 400 volunteers, some of whom control the puppets, a number of which are as old as the celebration itself. The puppets are refurbished and made now by Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles who first became enchanted by them when they were parade spectators so many years ago. Under the guidance of Jeanne Fleming they became the puppet masters of the celebration. In addition to the puppets there are the Grampuses, who evolved from grumpy members of the town council, dressed in the manner of impish medieval wild men. They dance a la Saint Vitus and play tricks on the children in a slightly mischievous manner. The slow procession ends in the center of town with a ceremony. The adults bow down with their stars to the children, and then raise them up, to create a canopy where the children and Sinterklaas are duly honored. When speaking about the celebration that she created Jeanne Flemingâ€™s voice is full of enthusiasm and pride. She points out that when the parade is taking place and Sinterklaas is making his way down the street the crowd is fully engaged The participants and spectators are in the moment, a moment of joy for the season of fellowship, giving and service. Page 5
Are The Velvet Underground just as important as The Beatles? Rik Mercaldi I realize that this title alone will most likely ignite outrage. How could this relatively obscure group of misfits who never even had a hit record, ever compare to our beloved Beatles? I must state for the record that I am a massive Beatles fan, and as someone who loves richly melodic pop tunes, inspired musicianship and ethereal vocal harmonies, as well as being a musician and a writer of songs myself, how could I not be? In reality, I’m not even really prepared to completely defend the question introduced in my title, but if you’re reading this, it’s obviously peaked your curiosity. So here we go. I believe that there is a holy trinity in popular music from which almost everything we listen to, is descended from. The Velvet Underground are part of this elite and influential group, along with Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Bob Dylan’s poetic influence on the development of lyric writing in popular music has been well-documented, so I don’t really think I need to elaborate too much on that topic. If you enjoy listening to songs where the lyrical content contains any form of thought inducing, abstract poetry, you most likely owe that enjoyment to Dylan. You like him, even if you don’t think you do. Hell, The Beatles were influenced by Bob Dylan! As with Dylan, The Beatles towering influence and impact on music, as well as popular culture, is inestimable. An autonomous unit who wrote and performed songs of such quality, infectiousness, and eclecticism was unprecedented, and the likelihood of us ever Page 6
experiencing anything like them again in our lifetime is highly unlikely. So where does The Velvet Underground fit into this story? Here’s an abridged version of their story for the uninitiated, or a bit of a refresher for the already converted. In their ranks, The Velvet Underground had a fluently literate songwriter in Lou Reed who studied creative writing under the tutelage of the well-known writer Delmore Schwartz while studying at Syracuse University. As a teenager, Reed was enamored with the raw sounds of early rock and roll and doo-wop inspiring him to take up the guitar and play in a succession of bands while developing his craft as a songwriter. He eventually took on a job as a staff songwriter for Pickwick Records, a budget label that churned out sound-alike songs meant to cash in on the latest trends. As his writing progressed, his dissatisfaction with his position grew, and with an inner creativity bubbling relentlessly under the surface, he aspired to bring the sensitivities of a novel to rock music. It was while working with Pickwick that he came into the orbit of a Welsh expatriate and musical prodigy by the name of John Cale. V an W yck Gazette -Winter 2018/19 Issue
Cale had recently moved to New York City and had played viola with minimalist, avant-garde composer La Monte Young in his Theatre of Eternal Music ensemble. Pickwick Records felt like they had a hit on their hands with a song Reed had written and recorded called “The Ostrich”. They wanted to put together a band to help promote the single and brought in John Cale to join Reed in what would become an ad-hoc band called The Primitives. Cale was intrigued by the fact that Reed had tuned all of the strings of his guitar to the same note creating a constant droning sound that was not too far removed from the type of experimental music that Cale was playing at the time. When Reed showed him some of the other tunes he was working on, which included primitive, almost folky versions of songs such as “I’m Waiting For the Man” and “Heroin”, Cale was immediately impressed, and the two decided to work together. Reed’s college acquaintance and fellow guitarist Sterling Morrison was recruited on guitar, and drummer Angus MacLise completed the band’s original lineup. Originally calling themselves The Warlocks, and then the Falling Spikes, it was actually MacLise who suggested naming the band after a paperback copy of Michael Leigh’s notorious sexual subculture expose titled, The Velvet Underground, that they found in the street. Everyone in the group unanimously agreed that this would be their new name. Their first paying gig opening for the Myddle Class at Summit High School in Summit, NJ. was arranged by music journalist Al Aronowitz. MacLise, who Sterling Morrison maintained was “only in it for the art” viewed the idea of being told when to start and stop playing as being a sellout and immediately quit the band. MacLise was replaced by Maureen “Mo” Tucker, the younger sister of one of Morrison’s friends. She immediately added a very
interesting approach to the band, both musically, and visually. Unlike most drummers, Tucker played standing up, with an upturned bass drum, snare, and tom-toms with no cymbals. She also frequently played with mallets, probably as much as she used traditional drumsticks. Her playing, also very unique for the time, found more inspiration from the exotic African drumming of Babatunde Olatunji, and the hypnotic tribal rhythms of Bo Diddley, than from any typical beat groups of the era, and provided the final ingredients that helped to cement the band’s signature sound. In 1965, filmmaker and performance artist Barbara Rubin introduced the band to artist Andy Warhol who seeing the potential of adding music to a multimedia presentation he had in mind, became the band’s manager. Warhol also suggested adding a chanteuse, in the form of a German-born singer, model-actress
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Photo: Courtesy Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library named Nico (born Christa Paffgen). She would sing several songs but would never really become part of the band itself. When Warhol eventually secured a recording contract for the band with MGM’s Verve Records, their first album would actually be titled, The Velvet Underground and Nico. Warhol’s association with the band would not only provide much needed exposure but by listing himself as producer of their first album it would ensure that the band had the luxury of complete artistic control over the recording process not usually afforded to most bands. This freedom was instrumental in allowing the band to create what is now seen as one of the most groundbreaking and influential albums ever recorded. The Velvet Underground and Nico, released in March of 1967, contained not only songs with risqué subject matter (drugs, addiction, sadomasochism) but in the case of “The Black Angel’s Death Song” words that were strung together for the way that they sounded, with total disregard for their actual meaning. By randomly and spontaneously creating a new form of lyricism, the interpretations were subjective, limited only by the imagination of the listener. This form of songwriting had more in common with the avant-garde art movement of Dadaism in the early part of the 20th Century and the cut-method of writing explored by William Burroughs in the 1950’s and early 1960’s than anything that had been done before in the lyrics of a song. Be it the tortured wail and hypnotic drone of his viola, the relentless, pulverizing bass tones, or his sophisticated, cultured classicism and avant-garde leanings, the musicality that John Cale brought to the band, cannot be overestimated. Reed’s modal, free jazz influenced six-string mayhem and feedback experiments sat stridently atop the solid fluidity of Morrison’s guitar and could produce an astonishing array of textures, from the ethereal majesty of “Femme Fatale” to the sonic maelstrom of “European Son”. The band severed their relationship with Warhol not long after the release of their first album, Nico left soon after, and their follow up titled “White Light White Heat” released in 1968, found the band evolving further towards an even more aggressive sound than their debut. Creative differences between Reed and Cale resulted in Cale being fired from the group and was replaced by Doug Yule. The band soldiered on through two more albums until Reed finally decided to leave during sessions for their fourth and final album, “Loaded”. All four of their studio albums are frequently Page 8
included in “Best Albums of All Time” lists and continue to exert a profound influence on successive generations. What The Velvet Underground brought to popular music, along with an eclectic assortment of influences both lyrically and musically, was an absolutely unapologetic approach to creating music in a rock band format, unheard of at the time. It seemed an almost inconceivable notion to form a band without any regard to achieving popularity or success, but only to create music that was uncompromising and true to their vision. This concept, while not cutting-edge in the realms of visual art and literature, was something new, and truly without precedent in rock and roll, which in a lot of ways, was still in its own infancy. The staggering number of artists who’ve been influenced either directly, or indirectly, by The Velvet Underground is a virtual who’s who in pretty much every genre of popular music from rock, punk, post-punk, new wave, goth, alternative, indie, etc. Lou Reed has said that the first Velvet Underground album only sold 30,000 copies in its first five years. Musician and record producer Brian Eno, admittedly a huge Velvet Underground fan, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as having said that the album was enormously important and that “I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!” The Beatles undoubtedly inspired MORE people to play music and form bands, but The Velvet Underground brought a timelessness, darkness, and literary approach to rock and roll that’s as profound, most assuredly as essential, and unquestionably just as important. The Velvet Underground Experience is a riveting multi-media exhibit that is currently being presented at 718 Broadway in New York City through December 30th. As a fan, it’s difficult for me to contain my enthusiasm for this event. The exhibit features a stunning amount of rare photos, concert posters, artwork, memorabilia, and several documentary films, it’s an exhaustive trawl through anything and everything related to The Velvet Underground, as well as a comprehensive examination of the art scene that was taking place in New York City at the time. My friend and I spent over three hours there, and as I’m writing this, I’m seriously considering visiting again. If you have any interest in The Velvet Underground or even just a passing curiosity of what the counterculture was up to in the New York City of the 1960’s, you won’t want to miss this. Van W yck Gazette - Winter 2018/19 Issue
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In the Limelight: Ben Basile Interviews with Local Musicians and Artists of the Hudson Valley Ami Madeleine Van Wyck Gazette: Where did it all start? Ben Basile: I was in sixth grade and, at the time, I didn’t really have a relationship with music. I had never been to a concert, didn’t have a favorite band, and didn’t own a single band T-shirt! My older sister, Carolanne, was already in high school: a place where musical identity defines you. One day, she handed me a stack of cds and said, “Let me know which ones you like, and I’ll burn you some copies.” I remember diving in head first, listening to every cd she gave me. She later took me to my first couple of concerts at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie. I was hooked. 20 years later now things have switched: I’m the one introducing my sister to new bands. And although they’re all scratched up and barely playable, I still have a handful of those cds left. And they changed my life. VWG: How’d you get into playing bass? Ben Basile: I was in tenth grade and my friend Anthony got Page 10
Photo: Brittany Woolsey - www.BrittanyWoolsey.com
a bass guitar as a present. A couple months later, It didn’t really click with him and the bass was collecting dust. Curious about the instrument, I asked to borrow it and check it out. Having grown up listening to ska and reggae music, genres where the bass’ role is very prominent, I was immediately drawn to the strong foundation provided by the bass. Today, my time is split evenly between electric bass and upright bass. If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would still pick the bass. It’s a relatively in demand instrument, and has provided me with many musical opportunities over the years. VWG: What are your bands/groups you perform with? Ben Basile: That’s a loaded question, as a full time musician, I’m involved with many different projects. I’ll list off a few: I recently started an instrumental reggae and ska band called Rukumbine. I lead a funk and soul cover band, In The Pocket, we’ve been around for ten years now. For the past six years, I’ve ran a weekly jazz jam session in Poughkeepsie with a group called The Poughkeepsie Jazz Project. I also play with a ska punk band from Boston, Massachusetts, called Big D and The Kids Table; they’ve taken me all over the world over the past six years. Big D and The Kids Table also has a side project, The Doped Up Dollies, I’ve recorded with them and occasionally perform with them as well. I periodically work as a sideman with local songwriters: Liana Gabel, Michael Hollis, and Dylan Doyle. On top of all that, I perform as a sideman and/or band leader with various jazz groups, with a rotating lineup of local musicians. VWG: Can you say more about the Poughkeepsie Jazz Project? Van W yck Gazette - Winter 2018/19 Issue
Ben Basile: In 2012 I started a weekly jazz jam session in Poughkeepsie, under the name of The Poughkeepsie Jazz Project. We’re currently hosted at Mahoney’s Irish Pub and Restaurant on Main St. The jam session is every Tuesday night, from 7-10pm. Just recently, I’ve teamed up with The ARTBAR Gallery on Broadway in Kingston. We host a jazz jam session that meets the third Thursday of each month, also from 7-10pm. The jam sessions are great for the local music scene and community! Providing a space for beginners, hobbyists, enthusiasts, and professionals to meet and perform together. I’ve met many wonderful musicians and friends over the years from hosting these sessions. It’s really cool to see the network and community grow with each jam session. VWG: What do you like about touring? Ben Basile: Touring is an amazing opportunity which I’m very grateful for. I’ve performed on six different continents over the past few years. It’s pretty intense being in a different city, or country, each night! Traveling really puts life into perspective, and I’m happy to say that I have friends everywhere. But honestly, my favorite part of touring is the food: Spanish tortilla, Belgian dark chocolate, Filipino lechon, a proper full English breakfast, Mexican street tacos… I could go on! VWG: You’re also a music teacher? Ben Basile: Yes, teaching is great, I always enjoy seeing my students grow as musicians! I’ve had many great teachers who have inspired me, so I try to do the same for my students. I mainly teach electric bass and upright bass, but I also teach music theory, improvisation, and beginner piano/guitar/ukulele. VWG: Why do you play music? Ben Basile: I keep at it every day, every week, because I feel it’s important. It’s something that is necessary in the world. I feel like I’m giving back to a community/world that’s given me so much. I’m paying tribute to the artists and teachers who have inspired me. Also, the way I see it is, music helps make the world a better place. If I can help one person escape and live in the moment. I’m gonna do it. One gig, one lesson, one song, one note at a time, I’ll keep playing.
Photo: By Neil Segal
VWG: As a full time musician, is it true you have to be a “starving artist”? Ben Basile: I talk about this all the time. It’s really all about living within your means. I pay attention to where my money goes, and I focus on what I actually need. Sure, there are some sacrifices at times, but for me it’s really all about quality of life and continuing to work on my art. VWG: Anything we can look forward to? Ben Basile: I’m releasing a holiday jazz album! I’ve teamed up with my friend Vince Tampio. Vince is a brilliant trumpet player from Philadelphia, PA. He and I have been worked on several different projects over the years. This time, we’ve recorded a collection of traditional holiday music. The album is called “Season’s Greetings.” The release shows are Friday, November 23rd 7pm at The Backstage Cafe, in Hopewell Junction and Saturday November 24th 8pm at The ARTBAR Gallery in Kingston. The album is also available for purchase at my website: www.benbasile.com Find more about Ben at: www.benbasile.com
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All About Hard Cider Paige Flori Hard cider seems to be popping up everywhere these days. It started in the dark, dusty corner of the local beer and soda store. Then local brands like Doc’s in Warwick started to pop up in grocery stores. Then came the wave of commercial brands beginning with Angry Orchard, owned by Samuel Adams parent company, Boston Beer, Strongbow, owned by Heineken, and Stella Artois Cidre owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Then new, craft cideries began to dot our landscape and seep into the corners of our stores. And the hard cider revolution had begun. Hard cider is apple cider that has been fermented and has an alcoholic content, typically from as low as 2% to as high as 11% by volume, but averaging around 6% alcohol by volume. And while typical commercial versions tend to be sweet, there are a myriad of ciders available that can be described as dry, tannic, farmhouse, hopped, barrel-aged or sour. They can be made from common apples, known as dessert or baking apples, to specialty apples used only for fermenting. Dessert apples, which are the typical varieties that are found in the supermarket and eaten raw, can give a sweet “apple juice” flavor to products, but cider apples, of which there are hundreds of varieties, can give cider many different characteristics. Hard cider has quite a history. It is said such historical figures as Sir Issac Newton, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson drank cider. In the US, apples were cultivated in what is now Boston as early as the 1620’s by William Blackstone (or Blaxton) and hard cider played a pivotal role in the early rural economy. Since apple trees, once established, yielded large harvests, pressing and fermenting was an easy way to preserve the juice. In addition, cider was the basis for other products like apple jack, apple brandy and vinegar, which was then used to preserve other foods. Hard cider was the preferred drink of the earliest Americans as water was often polluted near settlements. Ale was expensive to import from England, a process that was likely complicated by the political climate at the time. Since apples grew so well, particularly in New England, by 1775 one in every ten farms were operating a cider mill in the region. The commonality and usefulness of the product made it a unit of exchange instead of money at the time. Page 14
Hard cider began losing its allure by the height of the industrial revolution, as the population shifted from rural farms to larger cities. Factors like weather and movements like prohibition almost wiped hard cider from our culture, with the exception of some hard-core enthusiasts. Today, with the rise of gluten-free diets and craft brewers and distillers, cider is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. More and more commercial brands are popping up as the cider market share slowly begins to erode the beer market. Cider is now made in almost every state in America, even if the apples are sourced from elsewhere, and it is enjoyed equally by both men and women. With growing popularity, comes some consumer confusion. While most consumers see cider in their supermarkets, beer store and local liquor store, there is often little guidance about what is actually in the bottles. And like craft beer, there are many different styles. To understand how there are different styles coming from apples, which are often thought as high in sugar content, compare the fermentation process to grapes. Also considered a sweet fruit, grapes can produce a myriad of different types of flavors, from crisp and clean, to buttery and oaky, to savory to dry. While there are a few styles of wine that taste just like grape juice, there are thousands of types that simply do not. Hard cider is similar in that respect. Fermentation in both grapes and apples, turns sugar into alcohol. A cider maker can choose to ferment their apples to zero residual sugar, producing what would be perceived as a dry finish. The addition of things like juice, sugar or other flavors can then change that to the cider maker’s taste. Length and vessel in ageing, types of yeast, how and where apples are grown, varieties of apples used and many other factors contribute to the final flavor of a cider. Hard cider has many appealing features beyond the variety of styles. It tends to be lower in alcohol, like a beer, without the grainy bitterness or hoppy flavor profile. Some are dry and complex and can be paired like a wine with many different styles of food, making it a versatile option in a myriad of social situations. Different sized grab-and-go packaging, from single serve 12 oz bottles Van W yck Gazette - Winter 2018/19 Issue
and cans, to sharable 750ml bottles, offer consumers options appropriate for various occasions. Growlers offer consumers yet another way to purchase product. Filled from a tap or draft system, growlers are typically 16, 32 or 64 oz glass, metal or plastic jugs that are designed to house products with some sort of carbonation. This reusable container is often considered the freshest option by many cider enthusiasts, and fills are offered by some cideries, restaurants and select retail establishments. Hard cider on draft is housed in “kegs” which are plastic or metal drums that hold between 20 liters and 15.5 gallons of product which is then drawn from a refrigerated area through the tap system. The product is often tasted and therefore chosen more frequently, creating a faster turnover than it’s bottled and canned counterparts. Time, turnover and temperature control yields less opportunity for oxidation, which, in turn, can give a fresher flavor. To determine the general sweetness and flavor profile of a cider, first look at the bottle. Many cider makers have begun to add a scale so consumers can make choices that fit their flavor profile. Package size can also be helpful. Smaller packages, like cans and 12 oz bottles are often marketed toward relaxing or recreational occasions, where lower alcohol, straight forward, softer, sweeter or fruit forward flavor profiles are desired. Alcohol content can also be an indicator. Higher alcohol content, between 7-11%, can mean drier cider, as that can be an indicator that the cider has been more fully fermented. However, additions after the process, like adding in unfermented juice, can change that. A very low alcohol content, like 2-5% might indicate the opposite. You might see words like “keeved” cider on labels, particularly
Orchard Hill /Soons Farm, New Hampton, NY from areas like France and England. This is an artisan method that stops the fermentation process before all the sugar is consumed by the yeast. Therefore ciders like these will have some sweetness from the residual sugar, but typically more complexity and density than their commercial counterparts.
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Keeved cider originates in the Normandy and Brittany regions of France and tend to have a rich apple flavor, a ton of complexity and a touch of sweetness, making it pair well with foods like blue cheese, crepes and pork, as well as on it’s own. This lower alcohol style is often seen in large format bottles, like 750ml, topped with what looks like a Champagne cork and cage. This style can also be seen in other ciders from the US and Europe. In the Hudson Valley area, there are examples of many different styles of craft cider. One of the oldest and most established brands is Hudson Valley Farmhouse cider, where cider maker Elizabeth Ryan has owned her own orchard since the 1990’s. Her style has traditional English influences with a fresh, new world style. Look for her products on tap and in bottle at restaurants and in higher end bottle shops. Orchard Hill, the hard cider division of the 105 year-old family owned and operated Soons Farm in New Hampton, NY, boasts clean, dry, European-inspired, food-friendly styles of cider made from NY apples. Their newly expanded tasting room, dubbed the “Empire Room” was fashioned from an open pole barn and the woodworking is inspired by Normandy, France styled tasting rooms. The Empire Room houses public music events most weekends with light food and New York State craft cocktails made by an in-house mixologist. Their products are available in bottle, can and on tap at the tasting room, restaurants and retail wine stores. King’s Highway in Millertown, NY has a fruit forward, approachable style with zero carbs and zero residual sugar. The result is an award-winning line of products that are great for social events or food, that is dry and refreshing, with options in eyecatching cans, bottles and on tap. With flavors like Royal Blueberry, Whip Appeal, a guava cider, and Ginger Snap, a roasted ginger and lemongrass style, there is a little something for almost everyone. Treasury Cider in East Fishkill is another orchard-to-bottle cidery at third-generation owned and operated Fishkill Farms, Page 16
with some apple trees that are over 50 years old. The labels on their 750ml bottles include a plethora of information, including apple varieties and sweetness index. They have an on-site tasting room, open from June-October. Pitchfork, a small cider house out of Poughkeepsie, has small batch, handcrafted cider available in 12 oz and 22 oz glass packages. It is unfiltered, so you will see sediment in the bottom of the bottle, and made from apples sourced from the Hudson Valley area. You can find them at liquor stores, and at farmers markets and festivals around the area, often being sampled by the cider maker himself. Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, makes the True Believer and Rebel Reserve line of ciders, available at liquor stores. True Believer is a semi-sweet style cider with a ton of fruit on the front that finishes soft and easy with a clean acidity. Rebel Reserve is a nice contrast, with a dry style that is barrel aged. Pomme Sunday, a new cider house this year, came to the market with and English-inspired product with no carbonation. This “still” cider is made in Catskill with a blend of only 2 apples, both sourced from New York State. The lack of carbonation and dry finish makes it feel like a fine white wine, allowing the complexity to shine through. Try this one with food in place of pinot grigio. Metal House another exciting cider house in the area, uses abandoned orchards in the Hudson Valley as a source for their fruit, which have not been sprayed with fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Using champagne yeast and influenced by the owner’s family’s background in wine making, this product has beautiful, small, dense bubbles and is dry and refreshing. Limited and vintaged, this is a must-try for Hudson Valley cider enthusiasts! With so many styles of hard cider in the area, there are many options out there for those who want to explore the category outside of the common, commercial types. A knowledgeable wine shop with a strong selection is a great place to start. Once you find the styles you enjoy, a trip to the tasting room and speaking with a local cider producer is a great step. V an Wyck Gazette - Winter 2018/19 Issue
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Songs of Winter Adrea Gibbs Music weaves itself into our lives in a way that can create a very personal soundtrack. It is amazing how quickly you can be transported to your college dorm room or that epic road trip or one particular rainy day. Those memories come ﬂooding back and suddenly you are swept away into another time and place…at least for however long the song lasts. For me, I ﬁnd that certain holiday tunes dash me headlong through those recollections like a ride on Santa’s souped-up sleigh into my childhood or places I lived or unique experiences and what have you. Sometimes, I feel like a virtual pinball bouncing from one remembrance to the next with a ﬂagrant disregard for the time – space continuum. In large part, I think it is because working in the world of entertainment and attractions, as I have done my entire career, you more often than not work on the holidays. In fact, when you don’t work on a holiday it feels downright odd. You become accustomed to, for all intents and purposes, being someone else’s gift, of sorts. My ﬁrst foray into entertainment and becoming part of an exclusive set of individuals who liked working at that time of year, was a job at Disneyland. It was as part of the Holiday Parade. I was a Christmas Card. Dressed in a green leotard, green tights, green hat, and (probably) green shoes (or maybe we wore white socks and white shoes to match our white gloves and furry hat trim?), neatly tied together with an oldschool sandwich board featuring a single letter on each side. I took my performance responsibility very seriously. Alongside my fellow cards, we sashayed our way from “It’s a Small World” to the end of “Main Street,” spelling out Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, depending, of course, on which way we were facing, to the masses of people packing the curbs and sidewalks. The parade was designed in such a manner all the different units moved along during the course of a single song. Then, parade stopped and a second number, exclusive to that unit, entertained the smiling crowd. I wonder, now, if the smiles of those witnessing our clever ability to spell out holiday greetings and remain in formation were merely stiﬂed smirks or polite grins from folks wishing Snow White’s seven dwarves or Pinocchio’s marionettes had stopped in front of them, instead. I am fairly certain no one was enthralled with our costumes. Nonetheless, whenever I hear Sleigh Ride I am instantaneously whisked away, compelled to relive the “traveling” choreography that I still, to date, can perform. And have, on occasion. Even with other people watching. You would be surprised at how many times that song shows up as background music in some random location. I am fairly certain there is something Pavlovian underway when I hear the song. I often wonder if my fellow cards are also afﬂicted as such. I had the good fortune to be cast as part of the West Coast Line of Rockettes. We appeared at Shriner’s Auditorium, a stunning theatre ﬁlled with intricate carvings, gold leaf, and a rich history to match. It was my ﬁrst union job, won Page 18
Van W yck Gazette - Winter 2018/19 Issue
via a hard-fought cattle call that was filled with copious tap combinations, an unforgiving number of eye-high kicks under the watchful eye of the equally unforgiving choreographer, and the fact I was the exact right size for the costumes. Being one of thirty-six women representing such a prestigious company in the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular was, in fact, everything the title made it out to be. An incredible show that, for anyone who has ever seen it will agree it is the embodiment of the season. Great music. Fantastic production numbers. Beautiful costumes. Singing. Dancing. A nod to new and old traditions. For me, I am carried right back to the rank and file whenever March of the Wooden Soldiers plays. I can’t help myself. The classic routine wearing pants so well starched they stood at attention on their own in the dressing room without assistance and red cloth cheek circles held in place by Vaseline to create a doll-like face springs forth the moment the tune begins. I am standing on the stage one of thirty-six identical soldiers. The audience is filled with families, each one creating their own holiday ruminations. Marking time in my mind, including the signature fall at the end of the number, I recall the sore muscles, achy feet, and occasional sore behind. The stuff of memories. For me, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year does not conjure visions of Andy Williams, rather being an elf. To be more accurate, a full-body puppet that was an elf. At one point in my theatrical career, I worked for a singing telegram company. Probably the best job I ever had when I came to learning how to audition. To deliver a singing telegram, you had to figure out really quickly how to walk into and take over a room or you would be hard-pressed to deliver your message…literally. During the holidays, in addition to countless office parties, we were hired by Macy’s to perform as elves at their stores throughout the region. It was an incredible amount of work, driving from place to place and sneaking our costumes in and out of countless department stores (not the easiest thing to carry around a huge, awkward duffle bag stuffed with an elf nonchalantly and pretty sure anyone who was paying attention could have figured out what we were doing…then again, there were some amazing sales happening), not-to-mention performing while positioned in a manner not conducive to anyone with an actual skeletal system, and suffering the occasional punch to the noggin by someone who perhaps didn’t realize a full-sized human was inside the elf’s very tall hat. I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself. My parents became elf-chasers, of sorts, at least when we were in their area, always enthusiastically leading the applause among the delighted shoppers. Nothing quite like seeing an incredibly festive elf (or in this case there were two elves) twirling, whirling, and singing Christmas favorites (okay, we were lip-synching, but give us a break, we were puppets) to get patrons in the holiday spirit and
open their wallets. And, yes. I remember that choreography, too. Years later I co-wrote and directed a show entitled A Dickens of a Holiday or How We Got Scrooged that was performed at a melodrama. It was jam-packed with holiday favorites, many with a bit of a twist due to the novel nature of the production. All the characters were dispatched as recognizable personalities and the platform gave way to a smattering of lyric changes, in some cases, and in other instances, those familiar chestnuts lent themselves perfectly to the plot. It was during the third year of producing the show I was suddenly without my pivotal character, Elvis. Christmas Spirits Past, Present, and Future had been created with the King in mind. The role was originated by an amazingly talented man who wasn’t able to commit to the tertiary version. Never mind he was a large African-American man with the voice of an angel. No one ever denied he didn’t embody the man himself. He was perfectly cast, so his not being able to partake was huge (no pun intended, but he would laugh at it) a loss. However, as luck would have it, a real-honest-to-goodness Elvis impersonator expressed interest in playing the part. He was great, although no where near as impressive in either girth or falsetto as the former Spirit, but the audiences ate him up with a spoon. Then it happened. He told me he had taken another job as, if you can believe this, an Elvis impersonator, and wouldn’t be able to finish the run. It was a bit eleventh hour and I was stuck. So, I did the next best thing. I rewrote the character to be Elvira and played her myself. The only challenge to the whole thing was, in spite of my familiarity with the show, I hadn’t memorized the words to any of the Spirit’s songs. Oops. And, this all transpired while on a road trip with my Mom. So, at every opportunity, I played the cassette with the music tracks, singing and driving as Mom coached. It never fails, these days, when I hear Jingle Bell Rock or Blue Christmas, that I don’t see the two of us heading out to Oatman, Arizona, on a desert highway lined with festively strewn cacti wrapped in tinsel, garland, and ornaments. A memory that will always remain near and dear to my heart. Thank you, Mom. Thank you very much. There are other songs, too, that evoke their own Christmas spirits, of sorts. They put me on the balcony of my Hawaii apartment listening to carolers packed in the back of a pick-up trucks, walking through the cinnamon and spice-fragranced air of Hamburg’s Weihnachtsmarkt, even petting reindeer at the North Pole in Alaska, each with a melody line all its own. Music does attach to the heart, not matter the season, and if you are open to listening and allowing those good experiences to be infused with assorted notes, tempos, keys, rhythms, and voices, you may realize your own musical tapestry of the season. On that note, and, yes, pun intended, wishing you and yours a musically, joyous holiday season and wonderful New Year.
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Celebrating the Holidays Isabel Minunni Holidays are a busy, joyful time to celebrate with the ones you love. A time to share your traditions and fill your heart with what the holidays mean. I have a large list of holiday chores; partying, baking, shopping and hosting. It can be a crazy time! One thing I have learned thru the years is always to take the time and seek out what really is important and celebrate that . No matter how big or small your holiday celebration is, I hope your festivities are filled with what makes you happy!
Festive Holiday Wings An easy appetizer for guests that drop by or a great dish to bring to your Holiday Party! 2.5 lbs chicken wings 1-21 oz mixed berry pie filling 4 sprig fresh rosemary ¼ teaspoons freshly grated ginger ¾ teaspoon five spice 2 tablespoon olive oil 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon pepper ½ tablespoon sesame seeds- toasted Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sauce: In a medium sauce pan mix mixed berry pie filling, 1 small sprig rosemary, ginger and five spice. Cook sauce on medium heat until heated through, stirring often. Remove rosemary. On a cookie sheet, place chicken wings, pour oil over wings and season with salt and pepper. Mix to coat all wings. Take 1 cup of prepared sauce, brush ½ of the cup on the top of wings. Cook for 30 minutes, flip wings and brush the other side with the other half cup of sauce, place under broiler to caramelize sauce to wings, about 4 minutes. Place wings into a serving bowl, pour remaining sauce on top, sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with the remaining rosemary. Serve and enjoy Page 20
Van W yck Gazette - Winter 2018/19 Issue
Black Forest Cookies Cookies: 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 cup light brown sugar, packed 1 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature 1 cup good unsweetened cocoa 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup chocolate chips 1 cup dried cherries Butter Cream: 3 cups confectionersâ€™ sugar 1 cup butter 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream Cherries: 30 maraschino cherries 1-12 ounce bag dark chocolate Cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With electric mixer and paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on low speed until incorporated. Then continue to blend on medium high until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time. Add cocoa and gently mix on low speed until well blended. Increase speed until fully mixed. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add mixture to chocolate batter and mix at low speed until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and dried cherries.
Butter Cream: Add butter and sugar to mixing bowl and blend on low speed with whisk attachment until combined. Slowly increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream, continue to mix on medium speed for 1 additional minute. Add more cream if needed for spreading consistency. Cherries: In double boiler, melt chocolate.
Chill dough and cookie sheet in freezer for 1 hour.
Dry cherries on a paper towel.
Drop golf ball size dough onto parchment lined baking sheet.
Dip each cherry into melted chocolate to only coat half of the cherry and set on a piece of parchment paper to let chocolate set.
Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two on cookie sheet. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Once cookies are cooled, pipe a large dollop of butter cream onto top of each cookie. Top each with a prepared cherry. Serve and enjoy!
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Build a Dialogue with your Marketplace David McGorry No matter how successful your business, you can never stop building your brand, evolving your dialogue with the marketplace and communicating about your value. Although this may be challenging it is also a way to learn about your customers and identify new business opportunities. The brand is a living, breathing organism. It has to be nurtured and communicated or, even when it is well known and successful, it can die. There are numerous ways to communicate the brand story these days and the mix of vehicles you use will always be evolving because of new technologies, changes in your business model and changes in customer needs. Fortunately for small businesses, the last twenty-five years has seen the growth of new technologies that make it easier for marketers to speak directly to, and get useful information from, their customers. If you are a local or regional business you don’t need a marketing budget to reach customers when you use Twitter or Facebook. These two options also offer a “two way” dialogue so you can also get feedback that lets you know what interests your target audience. This can help you identify words that can be used as hashtags in Twitter feeds and that will help your reach among people who might be interested in your business. By opening and building a Twitter account, you can provide more topical information and you can begin a dialogue without incurring any expense. This is valuable for experiential businesses Page 22
such as restaurants, sports centers or special events. If you aren’t able to invest in a website, you can use a Facebook page to develop and expand on the content of your tweets. This way you could manage several components of your communication initiative without incurring cost. There are also other options such as Instagram that enable you to provide a more visual experience. If your business is experiential such as a hospitality company, pictures of the rooms and amenities on Instagram followed by the photos of guests enjoying themselves can be helpful in drawing people to something experiential. It is important and valuable to invest in a website as well so there will be a place to put more long-term information that will always be valuable to customers. And, even though it is an expense, the price of maintaining and updating a website is nowhere near the cost of an advertising campaign. If you hire a consultant for a traditional Wordpress website and put in some time and effort, you can even learn to make updates yourself. Depending on the level of sophistication you want, a website could cost up to $100K. A simpler website site could be developed for $20K. Whatever you decide to do there are numerous options to help you define your business and then drive people to it. Twitter can be your most important tool for attracting business. A Twitter link to your Facebook or Instagram site allows you to tell visual stories that are compelling, and the website can provide you with more depth of relevant information. So with your tools in place you now have a dialogue with your customers that helps them understand the value of your business and enables you to find out what your customers like. It is also an opportunity get feedback and ideas from them about what would make your business more attractive. This cycle of communication helps you reach out to new customers and also learn from them about how to grow your business. V an W yck Gazette - Winter 2018/19 Issue
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