Photograph by Jennifer May
I’ve had lots of memorable meals in the Hudson Valley. Some of these were notable for the collection of friends that was happily gathered around the table; some were significant because they celebrated a special event — a birthday or anniversary or other milestone. In this region, the spectacular scenery can make for an unforgettable dining experience. And there are even those times when a meal lingers in your memory because of some spectacular catastrophe — like the plate of oysters Rockefeller that caused a nasty case of food poisoning.
But mostly, a memorable meal is a combination of great company, stellar surroundings and, of course, fantastic food.
I enjoyed a particularly noteworthy meal at Le Canard Enchainé in Kingston a few years ago. It was a chilly November afternoon when my husband and I drove up to the city and wandered around the historic Dutch section before meeting up with another couple at the très French bistro. I remember descending into the warmth of the dark surroundings, securing a cocktail at the bar, and soon remarking to my companions how it really did feel like we were in Paris. There was the charming, heavily accented waitress (we later learned she actually had been in the U.S. for 30 years) with whom I got to test out my old college French; a picture-perfect steak frites; my first foray into the world of sweetbreads; and a duck confit that our friend still talks about.
But nobody had the cassoulet. I guess we’ll have to return to try their popular take on this classic French stew. That’s just one of the must-try dishes that we feature in this month’s cover story, “10 Can’t-Miss Dishes.” Fondue, lamb with porcini sauce, and Nantucket Bay scallops (with hazelnut chiboust for dessert) are just a few examples of other memorable meals you’ll want to add to your list. Also included in this month’s dining issue is the scoop on Restaurant Week — it’s back, bigger and better than ever (and now, at many restaurants, includes Saturday night dining), plus we look at various cooking classes around the region. While everyone knows that the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park offers up a wide range of top-notch classes, you may be intrigued by some of the smaller offerings that abound. You can have a culinary coach come to your kitchen for a customized class, give Indian food a shot, or even spend your time trying to whip up some Thai temptations.
Olivia J. Abel
Editor in Chief