Catskills vs. Hamptons has never been a debate for me. I wholeheartedly prefer mountains, streams, and hillbillies to beaches, boutiques, and Billy Joel sightings. However, when it comes to food, the Hudson Valley is still coming into its own.
For every summer of my life, I’ve spent at least a week in a tiny Irish resort town way up in the northern Catskill Mountains, where the long-standing inns hold on to their nostalgic, family-style, meat-and-potatoes menus of yesteryear – keeping it real for all the families who’ve vacationed there for decades.
On my Catskills blog, Brooklyn DoubleWide (named for the beloved double-wide trailer my family has shared up there since I was born), I cover all the old-school spots along with all the new food and drink businesses that keep popping up in the Catskills and Hudson Valley. This summer, my top 3 new spots are a lakefront lobster shack, a pasta factory, and chocolate shop.
A New England lobster shack in the Catskills
Tanners Boathouse provides the one element of the Hamptons that I do miss when I’m up in the Catskills: lobster rolls. It’s hard to compete with the freshness of East End seafood, but their generous and juicy lobster rolls are served with major friendliness, picturesque views of Rip Van Winkle Lake, and an adjacent park for kids to play in. Plus, the restaurant is actually a boathouse that rents out canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and inner tubes.
The interior is pleasantly rustic, with red checkered tablecloths and Bob Ross re-runs on the TV, but on a blue-skied day, the prime seating is out front under striped umbrellas and string lights. Also, Tanners Boathouse is on the Tannersville trolley route, so if you’re staying at Scribner’s, you can drink as many ice cold Naragansetts as you want without worrying about driving home. (Just watch yourself on the paddle boards, buddy.)
Local pasta, made the old Italian way
Dining out in the Catskills often involves a long drive, so most of the time, I just want to stay home and cook. My go-to meal involves local vegetables and pasta that’s made right in the Hudson Valley. Sfloglini got its start in Brooklyn, using old-country Italian machinery and techniques to make pasta with a rough, rustic texture to hold sauce better than the slippery supermarket variety. As their company grew, they moved their factory to the quaint river town of Coxsackie.
My family got a little press tour of their immaculate facility and got to see first-hand how they create all the fun colors and shapes that always look beautiful on your plate. They stock lots of pasta varieties (think golden Saffron Malloreddus or wavy-edged Reginetti ) at my favorite local mom-and-pop grocers, Mansion + Reed and Black Horse Farms, but you can also order online or treat yourself to their pasta of the month club, which is currently my favorite subscription service.
Catskill Chocolate: Candy for the road
Catskill Chocolate Co., a gorgeous new shop in the village of Catskill, serves handmade chocolate, candies, pastries, cookies, and cakes, plus house-made gelato with flavors that range from old favorites like mint-chocolate-chip to their own specialties like lemon-almond, malted-chocolate-pretzel, and buttermilk. They’ve got both indoor and outdoor seating if you want to stick around and grab an iced lilac latte or an iced peach green tea, and if you need to bring a little something home from the mountains for your dog-walker/cat sitter/bestie, this is the spot.
Upcoming food + drink events: Catskills and Hudson Valley
Scribner’s Summer Pop-Ups: Through the end of the summer, Scribner’s Catskills Lodge will be bringing in a fun line-up of chefs and serving big flavors in their garden on Mondays and Tuesdays from 4pm to 8pm. Their Summer Garden Pop-up Series is open to all and no tickets are required. Asian-inspired fare from the North Fork’s Kontiki is slated for August 15 and 16; Trinidadian and Jamaican cuisine from Newark’s Kit an’ Kin is coming on August 22 and 23; and on August 29 and 30, Bill Clark, pastry chef and owner of MeMe’s Diner, is teaming up with sommelier Miguel de Leon for a delicious summer finale.
Music, Wine, and Dine at City Winery: If you need a mid-week activity, City Winery Hudson Valley in Montgomery hosts weekly Wine Down Wednesdays, featuring local performers on their patio from 5 to 7pm. There’s no cover, and their wallet-friendly Happy Hour Menu make it the perfect time to check out this picturesque 22-acre property.
Fermentation Festival at Twin Star Orchards: On Saturday August 20, Twin Star Orchards in New Paltz will be celebrating all things fermented and highlighting locally made cider, beer, cured meats, cheeses, kimchi, pickles and more—all of which will be available for purchase at the event. If you can’t make the fermentation festival, the orchards open to the public through November with plenty of weekend activities (and for all you autumn junkies out there, apple-picking starts in September).
Brooklyn restaurant and bar openings
South Williamsburg: Deux Chats, a romantic-looking cocktail bar inspired by Paris’s Art Nouveau brasseries, is now serving cocktails, seafood towers, oysters, and small plates.
Bushwick: Anybody up for a halal blue lagoon? Curry in Handi, a new non-alcoholic bar, pairs mocktails in hurricane glasses with halal Indian dishes like goat biryani, papri chaat, and lasuni gobi (a.k.a. fried cauliflower).
Fort Greene: Oma Grassa has arrived on Fulton Street with salad, pizza, eggplant parm, beer, wine, and zabaione, a cool and custard-like dessert, topped with summer fruit.
Clinton Hill: The folks from White Tiger in Prospect Heights have opened White Tiger Tavern on Myrtle Avenue near Washington, with old favorites (like kimchi fries) and new dishes, too (like Korean-style tacos).
Reopened in Williamsburg: Union Pool is back in business after a fire on July 1 tried (and failed!) to knock them out.