New on the Hudson Valley Dining Scene: 12 Best Dishes of 2012; 4 Top Chefs; and Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (Editor’s Letter)
A word from Hudson Valley Editor in Chief, Olivia J. Abel
Your table awaits: A waiter at Jack’s Oyster House in Albany prepares for dinner in the 99-year-old dining room
Photograph by Jennifer May
Several months ago I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Lonely Planet travel guide listed the Hudson Valley as number two in their list of the Top 10 U.S. Travel Destinations for 2012. Number two! Only the U.S. Virgin Islands beat us out — and apparently, tropical beaches just aren’t all that because the big island of Hawaii came in at a distant number eight. Of course, the fact that Cincinnati nabbed the number three spot did put the whole list under a cloud of suspicion. Cincinnati? Really? Now don’t get me wrong, Cinci is a charming, and surprisingly urbane, riverside destination. Many years ago I visited several times with my then-boyfriend who was, strangely, obsessed with the idea of relocating from New York City to Cincinnati. (Even the Ohio natives thought this was quite curious; it’s worth noting that he now lives in the Hudson Valley, too.) I actually plan to visit again this year, as one of my dearest friends recently moved back to her hometown for various family reasons.
But I digress. The point is that the Hudson Valley is hot — and everybody knows it. Nowhere else in the country is there a region with such a spectacular mix of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and world-class culture — all just a short drive from one of the greatest cities in the world. And then there’s the dining scene. The Hudson Valley has emerged as one of the most talked-about culinary destinations in the U.S. Farm-to-table? It started here, and we’re still leading the way. With our growing list of wineries (and distilleries) and the most prestigious culinary college in the world in our midst, it is no surprise that so many top chefs choose to call the Valley home.
This month’s dining issue can help you navigate through all our culinary treasures. First, we outline 12 truly memorable meals. These run the gamut from the legendary (the Champagne brunch at Peter Kelly’s Restaurant X and Bully Boy Bar; keeping an eye out for local bigwigs at Jack’s Oyster House in Albany) to the charmingly quaint, like lunch on the patio at Beacon’s Homespun or homemade sausage and pierogies at the rural Quaker Creek Store in Goshen. One of our picks is the communal table at Cucina in Woodstock; just as we were going to press, we noticed that “communal dining” topped Zagat’s new list of the most annoying dining trends (ah, these crazy lists!). I know that many people share this viewpoint, and to be fair, if you don’t feel like sitting with other people, then of course don’t — it would be a most unpleasant experience. But in my humble opinion, every now and then it can be great fun — especially when traveling.
Also in this issue we introduce you to four of our all-star chefs. In a dog-eat-dog world, these guys have staying power, and after reading our article (beginning here), you’ll know why. I’d like to think that we’re responsible for launching chef Eric Gabrynowicz’s meteoric climb up the career ladder by naming his as a Top New Chef in 2008, but I grudgingly have to admit that it’s probably due to his awe-inspiring culinary prowess. We also tell you why 2012 is the year of the potato, remind you why you need to make your reservations for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, and much more.
Olivia J. Abel
Editor In Chief