“Another miracle in Ellenville!” e-mailed a vegetarian-leaning friend when Pleasant Stone Farm, a health food store and organic café, recently opened a branch on Liberty Street, not far from her house. “He has sprouted grain flour and all kinds of unusual stuff — and free Wi-Fi!” she continued, clearly becoming more excited by the minute.
Benoit Turpin, a transplant from Normandy and a Certified Natural Health Professional, launched the original Pleasant Stone Farm in Middletown four years ago. Shelves and coolers in both stores are stocked with the usual nuts, berries, and healthy versions of junk food like veggie dogs (which you can slather with organic ketchup and feel like a real devil). You’ll also find gluten-free granola, sweet potato and beet chips, oils, jams, honey, cookies, frozen foods, an impressive array of teas (including loose ones), really good organic chocolates, and dozens of spices and herbs by weight, including astragalus root powder, chaste tree berries, and a few others that sound like something Harry Potter might need.
In addition to the natural, healthy foodstuffs, there are a bazillion vitamins, tinctures, essential oils, supplements, homeopathic remedies, home care and beauty products and even healthy pet-care products as well as cleansers for your innards: colon cleanse, smoker’s cleanse, and a multi-cleanse for those whose bad habits run the gamut.
But you don’t have to be a gung-ho health food devotee to appreciate the offerings. Why use processed ingredients to cook if you can get natural ones? I always buy loose herbs — it’s cheaper, for one thing, and you can get fresh amounts in small quantities instead of the stuff in jars that have been on the supermarket shelf for who knows how long.
The organic café at one end of the Ellenville shop (motto: “Devoted to your total well-being”) serves super-fresh salads, wraps, paninis (like goat cheese and walnut), and veggie, beef or turkey burgers. No beer or other naughty alcoholic beverages, of course, but if you create your own juice from a selection of celery, beet, apple, carrot, ginger and garlic, you’ll feel virtuous for days. There are also fresh fruit smoothies, and organic tea, coffee and hot chocolate, with iced versions. My turkey and Swiss panini was really tasty, and my Wi-Fi-ing friend loves the egg salad wrap, made from huge brown eggs Benoit’s chickens lay at the family’s small farm, where his wife and six kids help out, all of them radiating a healthy glow.
Check out www.pleasantstonefarm.com for more information about both branches. You’ll find news with headlines such as “Homemade Kombucha Coming to Pleasant Stone Farm!” to which your reaction may be “Hooray!” Or, if you’re like me: homemade what? (Google informs me it’s a fermented tea.) Benoit, who is studying to become a doctor of naturopathy, offers seminars on supplements and other such topics. Oh, I almost forgot to mention: the almond croissant is yummy, especially dunked in organic cappuccino.