Our day started at Bartlett House in Ghent, where we had brunch. I devoured a dish of shirred eggs, a baked egg dish consisting of cream, leeks, gruyere and loaded with locally foraged mushrooms.
My sister enjoyed a Shakshuka, another baked egg dish, and my friend had their Burrata BLP, their cheesy version of a BLT. The three of us also shared a tasty Dutch baby pancake with strawberries and lemon thyme syrup. Even though we didn’t have mush-room 😉 left after brunch, we couldn’t leave without grabbing a few of their pastries to go. Spoiler alert: their twice baked pistachio croissant is a pastry lover’s dream.
We then drove down to Hudson Valley Distillers, located in nearby Clermont.
There, we did a tasting of three spirits ($5); led by one of the co-owners who was very knowledgeable and unpretentious in his explanation of each spirit we tried… I have had a couple of experiences with ‘know-it-alls’ at other places so this was much welcomed.
Since three of us were participating in the tasting, we were able to have a taste of all of the spirits on offer which included two kinds of applejack, vodka, two kinds of gin (one aged in the style of old tom gin), and whiskey.
I was happily surprised by their vodka, a gluten-free version of the spirit distilled from local apples that was super smooth (zero burn here), creamy and slightly appley… I was impressed by how nuanced the taste of it was. Never did I think I’d find and like a vodka that could not only be great in a cocktail, but also enjoyed on its own. We’ll definitely be back to stock up on vodka and gin I purchased, as well as try some of their cocktails on offer.
We then ventured to Tousey Winery, as recommended to us during our tasting at Hudson Valley Distillers, located less than 500 yards up the road from them.
We partook in their tasting comprised of five wines of our choice ($6 per person). The woman who guided us was also super knowledgeable and friendly. She told us that The Queen of Clermont, a fragrant and slightly sweet white was being recommended for Thanksgiving dinner, or as she joked, perfect for watching an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Both the white and red wines we tasted were pretty impressive; complex, flavorful, and very drinkable. One of their dessert wines, a crème de cassis, blew us away. The scent of it alone is intoxicating, and the taste is a deliciously smooth, fruity, and sweet treat.
Utilizing locally grown NY state grapes in their wines, and honey from their own bees in their cassis, owners Ben and Kimberly Peacock (sidenote: they should totally name a wine of theirs “The Peacock”), clearly care about producing quality local wines.
Another place worth mentioning is Hudson Valley Brewery, in Beacon. I went there a couple of weekends ago when they were having a couple of can releases as well as a special bottle release. The bottle release was the result of a collaboration with Blue Hill Farm (yes that Blue Hill) which really speaks to the quality of beer being brewed in this super young (less than a year old!) brewery.
So far, I’ve tasted their recent can releases, Subglitch and Multichorus, both super tasty sour IPAs. I recommend following them on Instagram for any upcoming can releases or collaborations.
From mentions of it during the tastings to highlighting it on their menus and labels, all of these places really prided themselves on using locally grown/sourced ingredients; perhaps signaling that the idea of ‘local’ is more than just a trendy label, but that there is an increased appetite to support local producers and local produce in the Hudson Valley (something that I hope continues!).