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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hacienda in Goshen, NY

Regardless of our age, women friends with other women are always known as "girlfriends." Sometimes it's funny to me that with a vocabulary available to us of over 171,000 words in the English language and about 25% of them being adjectives, we don't identify our adult friendships with women, regardless of age, years known or other information, any differently than our childhood counterparts, the girls we jumped rope with at recess.  Although, thinking about it a little further, maybe all I really need is better terms for new versus "been my buddy for awhile" rather than anything to do with gender. Sigh.  Labels are silly after all and I wouldn't introduce you to either of them in this manner at all, I'd simply say, "Reader, I'd like you to meet So and So."

Well, a newer friend/acquaintance, a close lady pal who is a mutual friend to us both, and I all decided to meet up for dinner.  One of us requires gluten-free options and so, Hacienda in Goshen, NY was our destination.

I have to admit, I was a bit confused by my GPS since I remembered the restaurant to be visible from Route 17 although I had never eaten there.  I was pleasantly surprised to realize the location is the previous site for La Masquerade and La Nieves - ok, so if you really work at it, you realize I am of a certain age if I remember those spots.  Bottom line, the building is large and modern with ample outside cafe-style seating available in nice weather.

I love the outside decorations; ready for St. Patrick's Day, Mardis Gras, and a nod to Mexican Skull Art and Calaveras, in both female and male renditions.


The interior is bright, fun, clean and welcoming.

Ah the creamy deliciousness that is guacamole.  Prepared right before your eyes, allowing you to both customize the ingredients and ensure the freshness of your order.  Lovely.


Shredded Beef Tostadas.

The best interpretation of this dish I have had to date.  The shells were crisp. The meat was soft to the mouth, yet nicely seasoned.  The lettuce and tomato were chilled as were the rest of the toppings.  Absolutely wonderful.


Camarones.  What a fun word.  Shrimp.  This happy diner enjoyed every last bite so I think it is safe to say it was prepared to her liking.

What do three adults with grown children discuss at dinner? Their parents (two have moms with the same birthday), their families, a little bit about work, hobbies and of course, looking forward to better weather in the Hudson Valley.

Time for dessert:


Something about sharing a sweet something after a meal... above is an example of sweet chimichangas, and below is a mango cheesecake.  Take a moment and try to imagine how decadent these desserts were and I will tell you, they were even better than your imagination.


Well, we even had a brief discussion about politics without anyone's feelings getting hurt and we do span from left to right in thinking, but the difference is we are accepting of the opposing point of view when it can be rationally discussed.  Sprinkle a bit of emotion when discussing our current political officer holders (from local level to the White House) and you could be in for an unpleasant experience.

Hacienda, thank you for allowing us the place to meet up, share thoughts, enjoy wonderful food and drink (did I mention the classic Margarita with extra salt was amazing?) that left us all feeling Fed Well.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gaby's Cafe in Ellenville, NY

For years, if you asked me what my favorite foods were the answer would somehow include pasta and seafood.  Mexican food wasn't even in my top ten because my only experience was home made tacos that included the use of a cardboard yellow box kit.  Nothing wrong with that - I've made that meal countless times for my only family, but the point is, I had no real experience with Mexican food and a bunch of preconceived and false notions that it would be too spicy.  Period. Spicy. Avoid.

Over the last ten years, Mexican food, in general, has moved right up to the top five favorites.  I even have a few Mexican restaurants that I like and use as benchmarks (I won't mention them here because that's not the point) and Gaby's Cafe has been recommended to me countless times, so here we are at Gaby's. The dining room is full, almost to capacity, and we are greeted then seated quite quickly.

It really is mandatory to begin with guacamole.  My preference is for fresh, tableside preparations, and least desirable is something that seems like it was covered and refrigerated for an undetermined amount of time.

Looks pretty darn good, doesn't it? Freshly green, cilantro, tomato, creamy goodness and a full basket of chips.  Ah.

The decor is eclectic fun and the light fixtures include tequila bottles as shades over the bulbs.  

I do not normally order soup at a Mexican restaurant, in fact, I only did it one other time, but this winter night was cold and I simply craved the warmth I knew it would bring.  It was a chicken soup with fresh herbs and I was happily surprised.

I was also craving pork. Although for some reason I imagined it to look different, the taste I wanted was there alongside a healthy serving size of rice, and beans.

My younger son enjoyed classic steak tacos.

The Mr. stretched and flexed out of his regular comfort zone and ordered this giant burrito.  He was pleased with the results and ate every bite.

We watch families celebrate birthdays and special occasions, date night couples and groups that could be friends or relatives, but the common theme is everyone truly seems to be enjoying themselves and their food.  The service was quick and efficient without feeling rushed and the restroom was clean (I feel this is so important, but not always commented on).

Gaby's Cafe provided us with a nice break from our regular routine and though it is a bit out of the way for us geographically, I'll be sure to make the effort to be Fed Well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Crawford Craft in Pine Bush

Brunch? In Pine Bush? In the location that was formerly the Grasshopper on Main Street?  What?

Yes, it's true.  I met one of my dear friends for brunch at Crawford Craft in Pine Bush.  

We were welcomed by one of the owners, Mike Moriarty and the congenial attitude he, as well as his partners, conveyed was refreshing.  While taking our drink order we were offered brunch cocktails including Mimosas or Bloody Mary's.

Here's how it looked:

A more industrial decor punctuated with unique art, contemporary light fixtures and a smaller, reworked bar.  We approved.

The menu:

Certainly some new, modern options and distinguishable from other establishments in town.  We opted for the same thing, the Biscuits & Sawmill Gravy.  The soup of the day was a potato kale and I did consider it as well.

Biscuits & Sawmill Gravy

Biscuits topped with poached eggs then smothered in gravy, topped with a sprinkle of green onion.The portion size was appropriate to large.

It was quite a brisk Sunday so the hearty, warm meal was satisfying.  While I'm not a huge grapefruit fan, I wonder if the grilled grapefruit, or similar dish, could have also doubled as a way to end this particular visit. Next time.

Once the diners thinned out a bit I was able to take a few photos of the eclectic art.

For those who enjoy a craft beer, here are some of the options displayed during our visit:

My friend and I talked about life, our families and of course, the food.  We decided we would go back and it fit in nicely with her New Year's resolution regarding spending more actual time with friends. Overall, the Crawford Craft is a nice addition to the Main Street fare.  Take some time to do some small business shopping and stop in.  It's likely you will leave feeling Fed Well.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Town Hall Eatery in Pine Bush

Finally had a chance to try the Town Hall Eatery in Pine Bush for lunch this past week with one of my favorite girlfriends and partner in crime.  

Ordering at the counter is how it begins and once you pay, you are given a number to display on your table then your food is brought to you.  I ordered the soup of the day (Lobster Bisque) and a hamburger with sweet potato fries.

We chose a table upstairs.  It was a scenic choice and since we were slightly after the lunchtime rush, I was able to take plenty of photos without anyone noticing.

I made an unusual choice for a drink from the cooler by the register...the Shirley Temple seemed fun and colorful. It was just as sweet as you may imagine and in fact, maybe just a smidge sweeter.

Another view of the second floor dining room

The Lobster Bisque

Hamburger with sweet potato fries

Chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries

Not good or bad, but I was unaware of the fact that my soup and burger would be brought out at the same time.  I understand some would very much prefer to have their soup with a sandwich or other choice, but my preference is to enjoy one while hot then the next. The young man who delivered my food did apologize and in the end I sampled a bit of the soup before having it packed up to go.

The burger was juicy and prepared the way I requested.  I appreciated the arugula rather than iceberg lettuce on a brioche bun. The sweet potato fries were delicious with or without the honey-chili dipping sauce.  While I did not sample my friends chicken, she did let me know that it was delicious.

The second floor lighting

I had to wait until the table to my left was empty to take the photo above but felt it was worth sharing the fun fixture of Edison lights...I think of them as large fairy lights.  

We ran into a mutual friend's mom and posed for a quick picture that was later posted on social media.  What's more fun than going out to eat in small town? Well, not just any small town but the one we were raised in...Pine Bush.  

We were Fed Well and yes, I would return for a casual meal with friends or family.  Maybe I'll see you there.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Clemson Bros. Brewery - Middletown, NY

A little holiday shopping with the Mr. after work means we are out and about at dinner time.

"Do you want to go out for dinner?"
"Ok, where do you want to go?"

And we silently run through the choices, the places we would rather not go but will if the other suggests, the chains, the diners, before I offer up two suggestions; one of them Clemson Bros. Brewery in Middletown.

Hmmmm, something different and nearby.

How often is the Head Chef listed on the menu? Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but I love this detail.

I didn't take a photo of the back of the drink menu, but that is where I found the option for the Whiskey Sour in the photograph below.

The Orange County Distillery Rye Whiskey is featured in the cocktail and I must admit, it was so smooth I worried I would want a second.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

The only recognizable driving element to this dinner choice from the Mr. is the chicken.  It is quite out of the box for him, but it made my happy heart flutter to see him try something different.  I had a few bites and thoroughly enjoyed the flavors and textures; crispy crust, lush creaminess, salty bacon and tender chicken.  Yum.

For me, the Brie Burger with Truffle Fries.  

I want to explain to you how utterly perfect those fries were prepared but wordsmithing may not be enough.  You really should go and taste them for yourself.  They are expertly prepared with a tender center, crispy skin and seasoned with precise levels of oil, parmesan, salt and a bit of parsley.  I bet you finish them.

I also enjoyed the Soup du Jour which was a creamy potato with cauliflower.  I did not photograph it, but we were joined by our younger son who had the Stouty French Soup.

More than picture perfect, it was satisfying, tasty and perfect for a December night.

I used to joke that I should include photographs from the rest room when I visit a restaurant becasue it really is an important aspect of our dining experience.  When I see a Ladies Room that makes me want to put on gloves and boots before entering I never want to return to the restaurant and probably would never recommend it.

However, when the Mr. used the Men's Room, he actually returned to the table and told me I had to bring my phone with me to the Ladies Room - just for the sink.


While we ate and talked about the upcoming holiday a well attended "Craft & Draft" ornament painting session was being held in a side dining room.  Clemson Bros. Brewery not only looks hip, the food was great, the atmosphere was laid-back fun and appealing.  I worried we wouldn't fit in with the Millenials, but that's the thing, Millenials don't judge.  

We were Fed Well and are likely to return.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Borland Inn & Brunch House - Montgomery, NY

Fall and Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2016.  A wonderful time of the year.  For the first time, I am able to go to a local restaurant and enjoy brunch for Restaurant Week - an exceptional treat.

I invited my sister to check out The Borland House on Clinton Street in Montgomery on a beautiful Saturday morning.

I love the curbside appeal.  The small menu board is unobtrusive, yet informative and the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week menu is available to peruse before passing through the gate.

Visitors do not have to be guests of the Inn to patronize the dining room.  You will be immediately and warmly welcomed at the door. A musician was preparing to play the piano when I arrived a few minutes ahead of my sister.    

I have to say, both the regular and special menu offered quite an array of choices. I finally made a decision as my sister joined me and first requested black tea.

I truly appreciate the presentation.  The pot was enough for two regular size mugs or to fill this lovely oversized mug as well as a bit to warm it up after I drank about half.

My sister and I had the same exact first and second courses.  We started with the turnip and tomato soup.  The body of the soup was creamy, but bore absolutely no resemblance to the condensed red label soup memories you may have from childhood.  Additionally, I don't know about yours, but my mother never topped mine with a flavorful gremolata.  We made appropriate and continuous mmmmm noises though while we emptied our bowls.

Next, another play on childhood lunch with grilled cheese. However, in this mature version, we enjoyed the crunchy bite of pear, the ooey-gooey stretchy gouda, crispy bacon and a firmly toasted bread.  The perfect bite silenced us as we simply enjoyed our sandwich.

The final course is where we took our own paths.  For my sister, the apple crisp:

While I delighted in the presentation and flavors of the ricotta donuts rolled in sugar:

We not only enjoyed every bite of our meal, but were also very well attended to by our lovely server, appreciated the musical talent of the lovely lady playing the piano and were personally greeted by both the owner and manager during our meal.  Conversations about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday brought feelings of warmth and the comforts of family.

We were Fed Well and I will surely return for more at The Borland House.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cosimo's Brick Oven in Middletown - Remodeled

I've been to Cosimo's a few times over the years and most recently celebrated my sister's birthday on a weeknight with a fairly large crowd. Tonight I was meeting a new friend, sort of a ladies first date and through the years, I have discovered this is quite important to not only maintain long friendships with women but to develop new ones. We women are complex creatures and sometimes we simply find comfort or companionship with someone who shares a particular point of view, or is going through a similar chapter in life, or simply because we enjoy their company.  I have firmly shifted my belief from having that one close confidant (or so I thought she was) to expanding my circle and deciding the level of intimacy with each friendship.

About the restaurant, the interior has been reworked and this is a partial view of the result:

We were immediately greeted by a lovely server who we established some light conversation with before ordering two cucumber martinis.  She was young, enthusiastic, and we chatted about her hair color, which led to her revealing a bit of personal information (she changed her appearance as the result of a break-up) and of course, a few changes to the menu to reflect the altered decor.

Cucumber Martini

In today's restaurant world, a wide variety of options is simply necessary to accommodate the general populations gastronomical needs.  My friend requires gluten-free dishes and I quickly discover, this dietary concern can be quite limiting without a bit of willingness to compromise and forego certain dishes.  However, Cosimo's offers a number of choices which require no thought because no gluten is included as well as gluten-free pizza dough and pasta.

Chicken Scarpariello 
The online menu description: Murray's Chicken, Fennel Sausage, Cherry Peppers and Roasted Potatoes.

Pasta Fagioli 
Hearty Tuscan Bean Soup with Ditalini Pasta and Parmigiano (contains pork) - is the online description and answers the vegetarian question...

I ordered both the soup and an appetizer as my meal.  I was asked how I would like my food to come out and opted to just have both when my companion's main course was ready. Thoughtful consideration and foresight of our server.

Two views of the Stuffed Portobello with Gorgonzola Sauce

The mushroom does provide a steak-like feel and heartiness.  The stuffing consists of caramelized shallots, spinach, and tomatoes.  I especially appreciated the sauce on the side to allow me the option to dip or pour and smother.  Wonderful.

We talk of life - a grand topic which includes a peek at our families, an overview of our work, a bit of criss-cross in the area of mutual friends and of course, food.  A lovely meal with fabulous company.

Our server closes the evening by asking if we are teachers.  She gushed that she made her guess based on the way we were dressed - with clothing that was accessorized with jewelry.  Well, we were sorry to disappoint and without revealing too much about ourselves simply generalized our professions as leaning toward creative fields.  I smile inside when I think of her, she appears to be on a path of discovery and trying to figure it all out.  Hope she has some great girlfriends to talk it over with and be Fed Well.