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MaMa’s Café in Stone Ridge, Ulster County, NY

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The Marbletown Multi-Arts building in Stone Ridge bills itself as “a spiritual and creative community center” dedicated to wellness. It’s a nice old 1840s building constructed by “innovative spiritual seekers” (says the Web site), where these days you can take a lesson in zumba, karate, tai chi or yoga, or attend special workshops (coming next: Hypnotic Fables and Narrative Trancework). So, given the general ethos, you’d expect a café that opens within the space to serve fresh, organic, healthy food. And, at the acronymically named MaMA’s Café, you won’t be disappointed. Felisa Sheskin opened the diminutive little lunchtime eatery late last fall. (She and her husband are busy renovating a bungalow colony by day, but Sheskin has a background in the food biz.)

The menu offers sandwiches ranging from peanut butter and jelly for $4 to roast beef with horseradish for $9. Waffles, made with unbleached flour, organic milk and local eggs, include a vegan one and a brown rice and garbanzo version for the gluten-sensitive crowd. Hot dogs are, of course, antibiotic and hormone-free, and come on a whole-wheat bun. Soups, dips and a cheese plate are perfect if you don’t want a lot of food. Two summer rolls, for example — greens, nuts, noodles and tofu wrapped in rice paper — make a good light lunch for a mere four bucks. Slather them in peanut sauce for the messiest and best effect.

roast beef sandwichRoast beef on eight-grain bread

You can get fresh juice made from lemons, apples, carrots, ginger, beets, celery, garlic and greens — “choose any and we’ll pulverize ‘em,” says the menu. Organic coffee, latte or cappuccino suit those who like to go wild with a shot of caffeine. There’s also a range of teas, and hot chocolate in two strengths: “seriously chocolaty” and “not so seriously chocolaty.”

Health food still gets a bum rap, and I admit that hemp milk, lacto-fermented sauerkraut, and such are not staples in my own pantry. But “healthy food” is another story. I stopped by to get a couple of sandwiches and both were terrific, not least because of the bread they’re served on — eight-grain or sourdough from Rocky Hill Bakehouse in Glens Falls. I particularly liked the roast beef on eight-grain, which was generous enough I didn’t mind sharing it. The café was out of horseradish, or at least yoga teacher Ann Robinson, who was manning the counter that day, couldn’t find any (it’s tiny and that kind of place, so be flexible), but the tasty, spicy mustard that Sheskin mixes herself was a good substitute. The chicken salad on sourdough with currants, apple, mayonnaise and olive oil was a winner, too, and only $8.

mama's cafe

Did I mention that the café is tiny? There are a dozen or so seats, including a few high ones pulled up to the poured-concrete counter. On a fine day, you can escape the hurly burly of the village by strolling out to the grassy area behind the fence in the rear. You might find a chair, or you can just plop down on the grass near the sweat lodges and reflect on the healthy nature of dining al fresco on wholesome, tasty food.

» Visit MaMa’s Café in Stone Ridge, NY
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