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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Limencello at Orange Inn in Goshen - A Private Repast

Memorial services, wakes, funerals and celebrations of life and remembrance.  Some people will avoid them at all costs.  I don't understand the decision to not attend with the excuse, "I just can't handle it."  Well, the grieving family and close friends can't handle it either and may be looking to you for a little support, a kind word or just the idea that you understand.  When my father died at the far too young age of 46, I was shocked at some of the things people said and "I'm sorry, I can't go, I just can't do it," was among them. Um, really? We're not great at "handling it" either, but no one gets a choice about losing a loved one.  I understand it's not fun and I'm also not at the other end of the spectrum and attending services for everyone I've ever met.  Something in the middle.  Yes, sometimes it really is awful, but showing support and paying respects is just as much a part of life as celebrating the highlights.

I recently attended a service for a man I had never met.  Why? My husband, older son, and brother-in-law are very good friends with the deceased's son-in-law and daughter.  My husband visited the 87 year old gentleman once he had fallen ill and from what I've heard, he was a wonderful soul.  The service was personal and followed by a repast at Limencello at Orange Inn in Goshen. (I haven't eaten there in years and yes, I was also a customer of the "old" Orange Inn before it became Limencello's.)

I anticipated a brief luncheon with maybe a few more stories of the departed.  Approximately 20 guests gathered in one of the private dining rooms and we were offered drinks, wine, coffee and water immediately. I was unsure about what to order but decided on a cranberry and vodka.

Many of those gathered were quite well acquainted and I was a little bit on the outside, but certainly present to support my husband and his friend.  I appreciated the stories, again offered my condolences and listened to the stories of both past and present.  A man has died.  A father, a grandfather, a retired member of the NYPD and Navy.  He lived for 87 well filled years.  Kind of amazing.

Our server brought out several anti-pasta plates for us to share.  The meats were deliciously savory and appropriately salty.  The cheese and tomato slices were flavorful and I probably could have cleared the plate by myself and called it a meal.

A short time later, guests were all presented with a hearty helping of penne a la vodka.  The pasta was firm and the sauce was perfectly pink and creamy.  After another lapse, we were brought fresh salads and I was full.  My stomach simply could not hold another bite, but we were left for a bit of a rest to share more stories and you could feel the tension seep out of everyone.  It was going to be ok.

We were given choices of chicken, salmon or veal for a main course and when the plates arrived I knew I could not eat much more food.  I pushed it around a bit and our host encouraged me to take it home.  It felt a little strange at first, but I would have felt worse about wasting such a lovely dish of food.

Wine continued to be poured, drinks were depleted and our sodas were replaced with cups for coffee and tea.

Dessert.  Oh my.  Who has room?  My stomach will burst, my head is spinning and the bread pudding is beautifully prepared and in front of me with a cup of Earl Grey tea.  I decide I have to at least taste it.

The dessert is well balanced - sweet without being overwhelming - sort of like life.

We gathered together to honor a man's life and support the loved ones he left behind.  We were Fed Well, both physically and emotionally.  No, it's not easy, but when you support each other, it is a little easier to get through.

Limoncello's on Urbanspoon

Kiernan's Pub & Tavern in Pine Bush

It's official, I am one of those small town gals that has lived in the area long enough that I describe where the "new" place is by using the name of the "old" place as a reference.  For example, Kiernan's Pub & Tavern is in the old AJ's.  So, now you know exactly where it is, right?  Well, if you don't, it's actually 66 North Street in Pine Bush.  You know, the road to the Town Park, I mean, Castle Park. Ah, you'll find it.

So, my younger son and I thought we'd check it out.  Turns out, he knows one of the bartenders so I tried to order my latest favorite classic cocktail, the Sidecar.  Thankful for the modern age and the ability of a bartender to check cocktail recipes via Google, he and I were able to select 3 basic ingredients that must be shaken with ice then poured out into a martini or short glass.  His choice to garnish with orange was a nice touch.

Since we are new customers, I have a ton of questions for our server.  I feel bad now, but somethings I just like to know before I order anything.  For example, what's the soup? Lamb stew.  What's in the stew beside lamb?  Potatoes, carrots and celery.  Ok, I'll start with that please.

A generous portion of delicately tender lamb with a hearty amount of carrots and potatoes, the stew could be a dinner portion on it's own with some warm bread and butter.  Delicious and satisfying.  We are off to a great beginning.

Next up, main courses.  I decide on the 8 ounce pub burger without cheese prepared to just medium doneness. Keep in mind, Mr. Marty Kiernan is known for also owning Kiernan's Farm and I am anxious to try the much talked about grass fed beef.

The burger size is generous and as you can see, it is served with a healthy number of onion slices, lettuce and tomato. The pickle is crisp and dill.  The potatoes - they look amazing, don't they?  I wanted them to be better, maybe just slightly more cooked for the interior to just be a bit fluffier and softer.  But, the exterior was beautifully salted and overall, I was quite happy.

For my son, the shrimp skewers.

He cleared his plate and helped me finish my burger.  

I highly recommend the lamb stew if it is available and a burger.  The beef was tender, moist and lived up to my expectations.

I'm sure Kiernan's Pub & Tavern will be well received by the local community and my son and I both see a few familiar faces during our meal.  As long as they are Fed Well, most will likely return again and again. Good luck Kiernan's Pub & Tavern and welcome to the neighborhood.

Kiernan's Pub & Tavern on Urbanspoon

Blu Mango Grill for Lunch - Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Fall 2014

New to Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW), new to Walden and newly added to our list of "go-to-top-of-mind" places.  My younger son and I decide to sneak in one last meal during HVRW and have lunch together at Blu Mango Grill.  Parking and the main entrance are in the rear of the building although you can enter from the plaza next to Dunkin Donuts.

We are seated in the modern main dining room featuring contemporary decorating touches including whimsical light fixtures and a fresh color scheme.  We are given both regular and HVRW menus and ask for green tea to begin.

I like that we are brought a pot and can refill at our own pace.

Next, we are given a food gift.  Lovely surprise.  Chicken Thai Chili Meatballs.  Amazing.  Tender, sweet and well, gone within seconds.

We both ordered the vegetable dumplings as appetizers.  The tender dough is filled with a medley of veggies and served piping hot with a choice of dipping sauces.

 Japanese Vegetable Gyoza

Our server is friendly and talks with us for a moment about upcoming special menu additions, holiday promotions and the ability for local businesses to receive lunch menus.  Unfortunately, I do not work in the Walden area during the week to benefit from this feature, but would highly recommend it for anyone in nearby towns.

Main course for me is the Ginger Tempura Shrimp as pictured above.  The panko crust was crisp and crunchy.  The shrimp were large and succulent and served with a spicy ginger sauce.  

For my son, the Eruption Roll which was described as, "Fried kani roll topped with shrimp, crabmeat and spicy island sauce."  Spicy, most definitely.  He thoroughly enjoyed and finished it.

We talk about his college education, my job, food and restaurants.  We exchange thoughts about our meals and Blu Mango.  I often ask my sons if they would return to a restaurant without me and when the answer is yes, I give the restaurant an additional favorable vote when thinking of writing a review.  So, 2 forks (or sets of chopsticks) up for Blu Mango Grill.

My son orders the fried banana dessert which I have had in the past.  The fruit is deep fried in a thin crepe like wrapping and filled with custard, topped with ice cream and whipped cream.  Delicious without being cloying.

I opt for the mango cheesecake.

The cake itself is mango flavored as well as being topped with fruit and is also served with both vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Heavenly ending to a wonderful lunch.

I settle the bill and think how lucky we are to be Fed Well.  We visit area restaurants fairly regularly and it fulfills not only our appetite, but allows us to spend time together, talk it over and just be. 

Blu Mango on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lunch at Wildfire Grill - Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Fall 2014

A beautiful fall Saturday is reason enough to go our for lunch, but being my sister's Birthday Eve, we had double cause for celebration.  We haven't had a "sister date" in quite some time and so we headed out to the Wildfire Grill in Montgomery.  We've both been here before and looked forward to our return.

While we peruse the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week menus, I also notice the cocktail specials on the blackboard behind the bar.  My sister and I decide on the Pumpkin Bellinis.  Seasonal and sparkly.

After just a few minutes we have made our decisions and yes, we ordered the same exact starters and main course with our only difference at dessert.

We start with the Lobster Bisque which included a lump crab meat patty...

The broth was delicate and while creamy, it was not overly thick in consistency.  The crab meat was sweet and along with the warm slices of herbed bread, served as a nice texture contrast while eating the soup.

We noticed a bridal shower taking place in one of  the dining rooms and hungrily watched as the guest plates were brought past our table.  Everything looked and smelled delicious.  I also hadn't thought of the Wildfire Grill before for private parties.  Great idea!

Our lunch arrives - the BBQ Pulled Pork Quesadillas with french fries!

I am a french fry junkie and know that I will not be able to finish my entire lunch (have to save room for dessert), but I will find a way to make sure I eat every last fry!  The pork is soft and sweetly sauced and we are happy ladies.

We talk of the upcoming holidays, holiday menus (we may try our own version of Pumpkin Bellinis), holiday shopping and seeing each other the next day for my sister's birthday celebration at our mother's house.  The restaurant is filled to capacity.

Our desserts arrive...

For my sister the pumpkin cheesecake

A perfectly sized portion placed over a swirl of maple syrup.

For me, the sweet potato waffle with ice cream also plated over maple syrup:

It was a joyous occasion to spend some time with my sister and enjoy a lovely lunch.  So decadent.

We were Fed Well by the delicious food and time alone to enjoy each other's company.

Wildfire Grill on Urbanspoon

The Lakeview House for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Fall 2014

During Hudson Valley Restaurant Week my family knows it is quite likely they will be invited to join me to try a new area restaurant and this past week was no exception.  The Mr. and I invited our sons to The Lakeview House on Orange Lake.  I was also quite motivated since one of my longtime friends works there and I completely trust her judgment about food.

We were seated in the glass walled dining room I imagine is even more lovely either for lunch or a warm summer night with the sunset in full view over the lake.  Included in our Hudson Valley Restaurant Week menu are suggested local wine, beer and a cocktail selection.  Our younger son asks a few questions before deciding on Keegan Ales Hurricane Kitty and I opt for a Sidecar.  Our drinks are wonderful and I even had a sip of the Hurricane Kitty though I know nothing about beer other than whether or not I like the taste.

First course for me is the artichoke bottom stuffed with crabmeat.

I am quite happy with the flavor, portion size, using the artichoke bottom for ease of eating with a fork and do take advantage of squeezing a bit of fresh lemon juice on top.  Delicious and easily identifiable as crabmeat rather than crab flavored stuffing.

The Mr. begins with one of his favorites - French Onion Soup.

He has probably eaten hundreds of crocks of French Onion soup to date and has strong opinions when it comes to variations and chef interpretations.  He enjoyed the Lakeview House's flavors and proclaimed it to be, "good and traditional."  High praise from a man who is our resident French Onion critic.

Our sons decided to order from the regular menu and so began with classic tossed salad:

The vegetables were crisp and fresh - the plates were left clean.

Main courses

Priest Chokers Pasta - or Strozzapreti with baby arugula, grape tomatoes, homemade meatballs...I have to say I hesitated ordering this dish but trusted my friend when she told us her favorite dishes were steaks and pastas.  I have been burned in the past when ordering pasta in any place other than an Italian restaurant.  In fact, I often think of the movie, "Goodfellas," and worry I will be served egg noodles and ketchup.

I was served a huge bowl of happy.  The serving size was enormous, the spiral tubes of pasta were al dente, the meatballs were tender and flavorful and the cheese melted into the dish with a few turns of the fork.  Sumptuous and satisfying.  

Chicken.  Those who know us know chicken is the way to the Mr.'s heart.  He ordered the Chicken Sevillia which was chicken breast stuffed with Serrano ham, manchego cheese and served with a red pepper coulis.

Another nice size portion meal, the chicken breast was oversized, with a crispy exterior and moist meat.  The Mr. enjoyed his entire entree which was served with rice pilaf and broccoli.

Our sons both opted for 12 ounce steaks:

The understanding we have when dining out together is to let Mom try your dish, "so she can blog about it."  Well, sometimes, I just want to try their food - don't tell them.  The steak was tender and well seasoned and again, the men cleared their plates.

Dessert - our older son ordered 2 servings of key lime pie to go so he may enjoy it at home with his girlfriend who could not join us.  I later found out they gave their review was 2 forks up.

The Mr. opted for the Mudd Pie:

Honestly, the 4 of us could have shared this tremendous dessert after our meal.  

I had the fresh strawberries in Grand Marnier Custard and though you can't see the berries at the bottom, trust me, they were plentiful, juicy and sweet.

We were well taken care of, enjoyed our meals and look forward to returning to the Lakeview House when we can appreciate the setting as well as the fabulous food and thoughtful, attentive service.  Leaving Fed Well, full and with enough Priest Choker Pasta for another meal, I was thankful for dinner out during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

Lake View House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Joseph's Steakhouse in Hyde Park for Fall Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2014

For me, part of the appeal of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week  (HVRW) is the ability to try a new-to-me restaurant and see how it fits.  The price fixe allows for a fairly level playing field, although I do prefer to view menus online before I head out, and I often opt for choices I may not have ever found without HVRW.  

A perfect example is last night’s visit to  Joseph's Steakhouse in Hyde Park.  With just a few clicks of the mouse I was able to learn Joseph’s Steakhouse has a bit of local history as well.  The historic Tea Room was once owned by Eleanor Roosevelt and used to entertain distinguished guests.  The space has other distinct and separate areas including a Tap Room, main dining room and private banquet room.  The online menu confirmed beef would be the star and so the Mr. and I headed to 728 Violet Avenue.

We were greeted and seated within moments in the Tea Room section and I found the Frank Sinatra era background music to be fitting, not only for a steak house, but this Joseph’s in particular.  Our server was pleasant and accommodating and I began by ordering a Sidecar cocktail.  

We both ordered from the HVRW menu and started with the mussels for me and chili for my husband.  

The mussels were sweet and tender, the chili was full bodied with a gentle heat.

For main courses, I had the sirloin topped with Shrimp Oscar.  The beef was well seasoned and prepared exactly medium rare as requested.  The Bearnaise sauce was flavorful without overpowering the delicate shrimp or masking the woodiness of the asparagus.  The dish was flanked by Lyonnaise potatoes and a vegetable medley.  

The Mr. selected the prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes and was not disappointed by the flavor and texture of the meat.  It truly was a memorable meal.

While we ate, we noticed Joseph thoroughly enjoys his time in the front of the house.  He stopped at our table to check in and ask how everything was as well as find out what made me order a Sidecar.  I’ve been noticing their resurgence on the Internet and have been wanting one – this seemed like the right time.  Joseph told us he remembers when they were quite popular and shared the secret is in proper shaking to create a foam.  It was simply delicious.

For our last course, I had the cherry Merlot ice cream which was made at Clancey’s Creamery and the Mr. selected the warm apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream.  

Coffee for him, Harney & Sons tea for me closed out a wonderful dining experience.  The staff, ambiance, cleanliness, history, setting and food all added up to a memorable Monday night opening to Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

We would love to visit Joseph's Steakhouse again - we left happy and feeling Fed Well.

Joseph's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon