Keeping Food Special
Check out these gourmet stores for some delicious culinary treats from around
the world — and your own backyard
When it comes to food, bigger is rarely better. Sure, you can find bargains galore in the big-box food emporiums — they’re just the place to stock up on basics. But what if you want something that’s not fast-frozen, freeze-dried, or mass-produced? For those times, there’s a better shopping solution — specialty shops, where the ingredients are fresh, the flavors memorable, and the food worth each and every calorie. Such special shops are sprinkled throughout the Valley, tucked away in tiny hamlets as well as in highway strip malls, on sleepy rural byways, and bustling city streets. Here’s a sampling to get you started on your culinary quest.
No ordinary deli, Joe’s Italian Marketplace is a treasure trove of Italian delicacies. The sausage selection alone is breathtaking: there are hot and sweet ones, fennel-flecked ones, and thin ones in flavors like Cajun, Chicken Apple Brandy, Pepper and Onion, Cheese and Parsley, Broccoli Rabe, and Teriaki. There’s also focaccia, stuffed breads (try the one stuffed with goat cheese), specialty meats, and (at the deli counter) savory dishes like stuffed mushrooms, orzo salad, and marinated artichokes. Open daily. 1083 Rte. 9, Lawrence Farms, Fishkill (Dutchess); 845-297-1100.
Walking into Kimms in Kingston is like stepping into a little piece of Chinatown. Korean-born owner Karl Kim originally specialized in Oriental gifts and kitchenware, but began adding food to satisfy customers’ requests. “Food is a difficult item; it’s a very small market,” declares Kim, who nevertheless stocks a wealth of condiments, seasonings, and sauces, not to mention teas, noodles, rices, and sweets. The shop’s geographically diverse offerings include dried shiitake mushrooms from China; sesame candy from Taiwan; papaya pickles from the Philippines; and nato, which hails from Japan and is made of fermented beans. “Right now Thai food is very popular,” he notes, pointing to the six or seven different kinds of Thai curry pastes lining his store’s shelves. Vegetarians may want to check out the Mun Chai Ya (a duck-meat imitation made of wheat gluten), while sushi lovers will gravitate toward the bamboo rolling mats, rice-cookers, seaweed, and other sushi essentials. Closed Sun. 316 Wall St., Kingston; 845-331-3999.
If you’re not lucky enough to have an Italian grandma nearby, Mama Theresa’s is the next best thing. You’ll find all the fixings for a first-rate Italian dinner here, from homemade mozzarella (made fresh every two hours) to gourmet ravioli (pastosa cheese, lobster, spinach, and mushroom), to home-style sauces (marinara, tomato, Bolognese, pesto, and vodka) and sensational sausages (hot, sweet, and cheese and parsley). To top it all off, choose from a mouthwatering array of cookies, pastries, and pies. Visit the store, which is open daily, or log on to www.mama-theresas.com. 357 Old Forge Hill Rd., New Windsor (Orange); 845-568-3375.
Nanci Covello, owner of La Bella Pasta, began making ravioli about 20 years ago. While at first she was simply supplying her mother’s Woodstock-based Italian gourmet shop (Maria’s Bazaar), before long she began selling to many other area stores and restaurants. Covello’s outlet shop, located just upstairs from her factory, routinely carries cheese, lobster, and spinach ravioli, with other varieties (like porcino mushroom, pumpkin, eggplant, and sweet potato) making regular appearances. “We have at least 28 different kinds of ravioli,” Covello notes, explaining that restaurant chefs frequently come to her with special requests. The shop also carries tortellini, a full line of sauces, and a panoply of pastas in flavors like sun-dried tomato, speckled herb, and lemon-pepper. Closed Sun. 906 Rte. 28W, Kingston; 845-331-9130.
New Yorkers know how to eat, a fact made abundantly clear by John Novi’s New York Store. Novi, the chef/owner of the acclaimed Depuy Canal House restaurant, has assembled some of the Valley’s — and the state’s — finest foods. In addition to scrumptious breads and desserts from the Canal House’s pastry chef, the store stocks such delectables as chocolate horse pops from Saratoga Sweets; tomato relish from Grey Mouse Farm in Saugerties; and Mutton Buttons (sheep’s milk cheese with natural edible rinds) from the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Columbia County. Need a dessert? Check out the to-die-for cheesecakes from the Catskill Cake Company (located in Gardiner) or the chocolate treats from the Red Hookâ€“
based Taste Budd’s (its owner was dubbed one of America’s top-10 pastry chefs by Chocolatier magazine). Gift baskets and cookie platters are available; go to www.thenewyorkstore.net
for a peek. Closed
Mon. and Tues. Rte. 213, High Falls (Ulster); 845-687-7779.
If you love mozzarella, then the virtually tasteless stuff in supermarkets just won’t do. What will do, quite nicely, are the 12 varieties of fresh, homemade mozzarella sold at Toscani & Sons Gourmet Italian Deli. The best-selling one of the bunch, says co-owner Georgina Tufano (fiancÃ©e of Dino Toscani) is made from bite-sized pieces of fresh mozzarella that have been tossed in a light olive oil and mixed with parsley, red hot peppers, and minced fresh garlic. The New Paltz institution also carries over 50 different kinds of sausage, as well as Italian cold cuts, olives, olive oils, vinegars, and pastas. Their sandwiches — including sausage and peppers, meatball parmigiano, and grilled chicken with melted pezzi mozzarella — draw hungry fans from across the river, says Tufano. Others flock here for the homemade cannoli, tiramisu, and bread budding. Closed Mon. 119 Main St., New Paltz (Ulster ); 845-255-6770.
Bella Carne is an Italian deli/meat market run by CIA grad Heather Stadler, who studied and worked in Italy for eight years, and John J. Goode Jr., who comes from a family of meat merchants. In addition to a full range of meats (including homemade sausages and handmade meatballs), they offer such treats as rice balls, wet mozzarella, fresh ravioli and pastas, osso buco, fried artichoke hearts, caponata salad, panini sandwiches, and yummy Italian pastries. Stadler makes many dishes from scratch, though “the bread,” she notes, “comes up every day from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.” Ask about the meat boxes, specially priced packages of fresh meats. Closed Sun. 478 Albany Ave., Kingston; 845-331-4523.
Owned by Joshua and Jessica Applestone, Fleischer’s Grass-Fed & Organic Meats specializes in organic and pasture-raised meat and poultry. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of our meats are local, from the tri-state area,” says Joshua, an experienced chef and third-generation butcher. Their beef, he notes, is from cattle that have grazed on grass, as nature intended them to do, rather than on grain. “Grain fattens them up faster, but is not digestible by cattle,” he explains. “We also carry a full line of ducks,” he adds, as well as rabbit, all-natural homemade sausages, cheeses, and holiday items like goose, heritage turkeys, and smoked hams. A varying takeout menu (soups, chilies, rotisserie chicken) is also available. Closed Sun. and Mon. 38 John St., Kingston; 845-338-6666.
Quattro’s Game Farm & Store sells specialty poultry — pheasant, quail, wild and domestic turkeys, Muscovy ducks, chickens — plus venison, sausages, and herbs (in bulk and containers). All poultry is free-range, free of hormones, and raised right on the farm. Open daily. Rte. 44, Pleasant Valley (Dutchess); 845-635-2018.
Owner Richard Van Wie of Van Wie Natural Foods offers a full range of natural meats, including beef, pork, free-range turkey and chicken, lamb, pheasant, goat, goose, rabbit, and duck. His shop also sells seafood. Naturally, no chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics are used and everything is raised locally. Ships nationwide. Visit www.vanwiemeats.com. Open Tues.-Sat. 6798 Rte. 9, Hudson; 518-828-0533.
Food, you could say, is the fuel for the adventure we call life. Adventure in Food Trading Company wants to make sure that this fuel is anything but dull. Here, you can find everything from bison to baklava, frog legs to foie gras, morel mushrooms to
merguez sausages. If you’re searching for an exotic or hard-to-
find item (snake or turtle meat, perhaps?), then your journey is over. For a glimpse of their unusual product offerings, go to www.adventureinfood.com. Closed Sun. 84 Montgomery St., Albany; 518-436-7603.
When you want to feast like royalty, it’s time to stop by the Hansen Caviar Company. At this New Englandâ€“style retail shop, caviar lovers can watch through a window as their selections are packed up, fresh, for them to take home. In addition to caviar from the Caspian Sea, Russia, Iran, and the U.S., the shop offers such delicacies as truffles, foie gras, crÃ¨me fraÃ®che, smoked salmon, and imported cheeses. You can make up your own gift baskets, or choose one of theirs. (The Domestic Caviar Gift Taster, with two ounces each of American Paddle Fish, Keta Salmon, American Hackleback, and Golden Whitefish, is $59.) Open daily; you can also peruse the company’s offerings at www.hansencaviar.com. 881 Rte. 28 West, Kingston; 845-331-5622.
You needn’t be a co-op member to enjoy the Honest Weight Food Co-op’s substantial stocks of herbs, organic produce, and natural groceries. Check out the vegetarian and vegan foods; the local cheeses, yogurt, milk and eggs; and the desserts, which are baked fresh each morning. The co-op even sells natural pet foods. Visit www.hwfc.com. Open daily. 484 Central Ave., Albany; 518-482-2667.
The weather may be bone-chilling outside, but it’s steaming at Hot Stuff of Saratoga. In addition to hot sauces, this red-hot shop sells salsas, mustards, jellies, spices, and snacks. It’s just the place to pick up a fiery Bloody Mary mix, a tongue-scorching red-pepper jelly, or a sizzling Jamaican jerk paste. Stop by the shop, which is open daily, or go to www.hotstuffofsaratoga.com. 10 Phila St., Saratoga Springs; 518-580-0792.
“In this industry,” says roastmaster Nicolo Zarcone, “there is always something to learn and a new wonderful coffee to cup.” The coffees sold at Hudson Valley Coffee Roasters, his brick-and-mortar shop, are indeed wonderful. Try Tanzania Peaberry Coffee, cultivated on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, or Duran Estate Coffee, grown in Panama at an altitude of 5,000 feet. The coffees, each more memorable than the last, are all roasted in one of the company’s two small-batch roasters. A wide selection of teas, cocoas, sauces, and syrups is also available. Gift baskets may be ordered on-line, at www.hudsonvalleyroasters.com. Closed Sun. and Mon. 639 Broadway, Newburgh; 1-888-822-6333.
Owner Barbara Trace’s beautifully decorated Keeper’s Market carries award-winning jams, dressings, condiments, and sundry confections from companies like Stonewall Kitchen, Rothschild Berry Farm, Earth & Vine, A Perfect Pear, and Tulocay’s Made in Napa Valley. “The food is serious, but everything else is whimsical,” proclaims Trace. “I love to see a smile on everyone’s face when they come in.” Unusual gift presentations — in bushel baskets, decorated boxes, pieces of luggage, and other unexpected vessels — are a specialty. Closed Wed.; open Sun. afternoon by chance. 3293 Franklin Ave., Millbrook (Dutchess); 845-677-0740.
The 3,000-square-foot Kitch n’ Kaffe is chock-full of specialty foods, ranging from Indian curry pastes to Swedish Cloudberry Preserves to an entire arsenal of hot pepper sauces. “Almost everything in the store is hard-to-find; that’s our niche,” says owner John Porter, who also offers gift baskets, cooking classes, a top-notch coffee bar, and a thousand or so kitchen tools. Open daily. To shop on-line, go to www.kitch-n-kaffe.com. 985 Rte. 6, Mahopac (Putnam); 845-621-3535.
Owned by Dick and Dena Moran, the Olde Hudson shops in Rhinebeck and Hudson offer fabulous imported cheeses (from Italy, Spain, France, England), dried salamis, Italian olive oils, aged balsamic vinegars, and top-of-the-line prosciutto, among other delicacies. On weekends, there’s fresh mozzarella and ricotta. “I want everyone to enjoy the great foods from around the world that I love, which are hard to find in our area,” says Dena. The Rhinebeck store sells chocolate truffles made by a 14-year-old culinary whiz, while the Hudson shop carries a large selection of imported bath and body products. Gorgeous gift baskets are also available. The Rhinebeck location is open daily; the Hudson shop is closed on Wed. 434 Warren St., Hudson, 518-828-6923; 6423 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck (Dutchess), 845-876-3933.
Owners Joy and Alex Lindsay’s eight-year-old store, Sunset Meadows, has organic and non-organic produce and meats, a wide selection of cheeses, jams, and sauces, terrific soups and stews made from scratch, and many local products like Ronnybrook milk and ice cream from Ancramdale, and Dutch Desserts from Kinderhook (both Columbia). “We also make our own granola and have our own bakery,” adds Joy. Their specialty, she says, is catering to customers’ special requests: “We can’t compete with stores like Price Chopper — we had to be different.” Speaking of the store’s popular gift baskets, she says, “They’re really pretty, and I give everyone their money’s worth.” Will reopen for the season in April. 3521 Rte. 9, Hudson; 518-851-3000.
Owner Barbara Marshall, a refugee from the dot.com world, opened Marshall’s Cheese last June. She stocks about 75 varieties, ranging from standbys like Brie and Gouda to more unusual kinds like IdiazÃ¡bal (a smoked sheep’s milk cheese from Spain) and Selles-sur-Cher (a mild goat’s milk cheese, with a fine charcoal coating, hailing from France). She also carries Hudson Valley cheeses from producers like Dutchess County’s Sprout Creek Farm and Columbia’s Coach Farm. Marshall urges anyone in the neighborhood to stop by for a free taste or two: “People can sample whatever they want,” she promises.
“That’s how they learn about new cheeses.” Gift baskets and cheese platters are also available. Closed Mon. 27 Cedar St., Dobbs Ferry (Westchester); 914-591-1997.
Hassan Jarane opened Mint, his charming cheese shop, just over a year ago, on Christmas Eve. It was a welcome gift for area residents, who appreciate his selection of hard-to-find cheeses. “I’m always looking for rare and unusual cheeses,” Jarane explains, citing Beemster, from Holland, as an example. “What makes it unique,” he says, “is you can taste the crystals of the milk. It’s crunchy.” Beemster is so popular that Jarane can’t always keep up with customer demand: “When I run out,” he laughs, “people get mad at me.” One of his personal favorites is DÃ©lice de Bourgogne, which he describes as “a soft, luscious cheese” from France. He also carries honey-baked pecans (“the best pecans you can buy”), and olives from Peru, Israel, and Lebanon. Closed Mon. 18 Main St.,
Tarrytown (Westchester); 914-703-6511.
About 50 cheeses are available at any one time at The Cheese Plate. The selection is heavy on cheeses made regionally, although there are always some interesting selections from Europe as well. Try the domestic cheese plate for $7 or the imported one for $9. Both include a generous hunk of three cheeses, some bread, and fruit, to which you can add cornichons or olives. The store also sells fine chocolate, fondue pots, picnic baskets, and kitchenware. Water St. Market, 10 Main St., New Paltz (Ulster); 845-255-2444.
True chocoholics can’t get enough of the sweet stuff. For them, there’s Anthony’s Chocolate Dipped Fruit. Anthony’s marriage of luscious fresh fruit — everything from Granny Smith apples to Indian River pink grapefruit — with the fruit of the cacao tree is a match made in heaven. Visit the store, or check out the gift baskets on-line at www.anthonys-cdf.com. Closed Sun. Newton Plaza, Latham (Albany); 518-782-0585. ■