Thursday, August 15, 2019

Beer from French Migrants and More in Kinderhook NY

photo by Agnes Whitacre 

Once in a while, when reviewing a place, its good to visit more than once and with multiple guest to get the story. In the case of Saisonnaire, a place that gets its name for seasonal workers in France and the beer they inspired, it was the forth time that nailed the story 

Continue here....

Thursday, July 18, 2019

White Heat Hits Connecticut

PHOTO BY: Penny Katz

Entering Community Table from a pretty porch, we passed through a welcoming bar. In an entrance of botanical wallpaper, natural light and soothing shades of almost-there color, a yellow cast of a large moose head emitted a glow from within like something from the Damien Hirst nightlight collection, if such a thing existed.
click here for full review of Community Table, Washington CT.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Art Review

Basquiat x Warhol et al......

Jack Shainman, photo: Mary A. Nelen

Jack Shainman was ebullient. The art he rounded up from private collectors for this summer’s exhibit at The School in Kinderhook, New York was seeing the light of day. Outside in the sunshine, wine was cooling under tents set up on the rolling lawn.

“After so many years, we’re looking at this work with fresh eyes,” said Shainman, raising his arms aloft.

The journey from the Lower East Side in Manhattan, where Basquiat and Warhol’s work was created, to Kinderhook is a good 150 miles and the artists’ collaboration took place 50 years ago. The artwork exhibited under the high ceilings and natural light of The School was revelatory.

In the gallery’s upstairs hallway, Shainman stood in front of a 10-foot black and white mural of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” featuring the original participants as well as logos for Heinz 57 and Camel Cigarettes.

“This was created by Andy to hang in the plaza in Milan where the original painting is,” said Shainman of the artwork, titled “The Last Supper (Camel/57).”

“Here,” he added, “you can see the work, the light, notice Warhol’s skill at drawing the human figure.”

Basquiat and Warhol collaborated between 1984 and 1985 in a working relationship described by Shainman.

“Warhol would begin a work and Basquiat would finish it,” he said, adding that they were very competitive.

A good example of their process can be seen in the following before and after example.

“Untitled (Two Dogs), 1984” is Warhol's acrylic and silkscreen work of ink on canvas featuring stylized versions of dogs, one red and one blue, each relieving themselves.

© 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat /ADAGP, Paris / ARS, New York 2019

“Dog, 1984” features the original dogs, in Warhol’s stylized hand, with an overlay of campy, Basquiat images in oil stick and paint.

© 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat /ADAGP, Paris / ARS, New York 2019

The show is unusual and full of energy, with collaborative works by the pair and important works by each artist individually, including a prized Warhol portrait of Jacqueline Onassis, Campbell’s Tomato Soup boxes made of wood (never before exhibited) and several very large-format works by Basquiat.

Photo: Mary A. Nelen

There are more than 125 pieces in the exhibition as well as three films by Warhol: “Archie and George,” “Edie and Kipp” and “Lou Reed” (each 3 minutes long). Also on display is the PBS American Masters documentary “Basquiat: Rage to Riches,” which iss a behind-the-scenes look at the art world, where dealers and artists describe an '80s art scene of drugs, racism, cash and the rise of the genius that was Jean-Michel Basquiat. Go for the art, stay for the documentary.

Basquiat x Warhol
The School | Jack Shainman Gallery
25 Broad St. Kinderhook, NY

June 1 – Sept. 7, 2019

While the verdant is on the outside at The School, other area galleries and museums are celebrating the natural world inside their walls this summer: 

“Thomas Cole’s Refrain” is a series of paintings by Thomas Cole that chart the course of the  Catskills retreating topography. Luminescent impressionism in the form of bathing nudes by Pierre-AugusteRenoir are up at the Clark. In a wooded glen, 35 drawings that launched Brice Marden’s Cold Mountain paintings, based on poetry by a 9th-century Chinese monk, are on display at 'T' Space. And Peter Dellert’s assemblage and collage titled imMaterial reActions at aMuse Gallery in Chatham combine natural ephemera such as hydrangea blossoms with industrial salvage such as catalytic converters to give chaos its beautiful due.

Seated Bather (detail), c. 1883–84. Photo: President and Fellows of Harvard College

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Renoir: The Body, The Senses
The Clark Art Institute
225 South St.
Williamstown MA
June 8 - September 22, 2019

© Peter Aaron/OTTO

Thomas Cole
Thomas Cole’s Refrain: The Paintings of Catskill Creek
Thomas Cole’s National Historic Site
218 Spring St.
Catskill, NY
May 3 – November 3, 2091

Cold Mountain Study (24): Photography by Bill Jacobson, 2019

Cold Mountain Study in TSpace: Photography by Susan Wides, 2019

Brice Marden 
Cold Mountain Studies
T Space Rhinebeck
137 Round Lake Road 
June 9 – August 11, 2019

Moon Over Mars: Photography by Motoko Inoue
Peter Dellert
imMaterial reActions
aMuse Gallery
7 railroad avenue
Chatham NY 12037
May 31 - June 28, 2019

10 Questions, 1 Guilty Pleasure: Ruth Reichl with answers and a recipe for Blue Cheese to Drape on Spring Greens

Ruth Reichl at Ben Gable Savories, Chatham NY. Photo: Mary A. Nelen

Lunch with Ruth
Mary A. Nelen

Ruth Reichl’s most recent memoir, Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir, reached the top ten on the New York Times Bestseller List the week it came out. At that time, she was on a six-week book tour. 
“It was grueling,” said Reichl over lunch in the sun at Ben Gable Savories in Chatham last week. The author of five memoirs, numerous cookbooks, a novel (and a contract for two more books with Random House), she knows what it takes to sell a book. But even her stamina was strained under traveling conditions that contrasted greatly with her first-class status as editor of Gourmet Magazine.
In her decade in the velvet folds of Condé Nast, no expense was spared. In the beginning. Reichl had an office the size of a city block, a car and driver, a clothing allowance and a budget for hiring the best writers and photographers. But there was a learning curve; she'd never been in corporate management or edited anything but her own work. And, on her watch, magazine publishing began to lose advertising accounts to the internet. Reichl hung in there, enduring publisher after publisher, each with his or her own advertiser relationships. She was out of town on a video shoot when she was summoned back to New York, where she and her staff were convened by Si Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast Publications. To find out what he said, pick up a copy of the book, which offers a wild ride on the roller coaster that is high stakes print publishing in its final days, with the bonus of culinary excess portrayed in loving detail.  
Last week, upon her return from the book tour, Reichl joined neighbors at the Chatham Bookstore where she read from her tale of almost a decade at the helm of Gourmet. A week later, she joined Rural Intelligence for lunch just a few miles from her home overlooking the Taconic Mountain Range. It's where Ruth wrote Save Me the Plums, and My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life.
Reichl and family has been in the region for 25 years. When her son was young, the family came up to a cabin from NYC on weekends. Later, when the Condé Nast money came in, she had a house built.
“You get view lust when you’re here in the country,” she said, flashing a grin.  
A Q&A follows from the lunch, along with a recipe inspired by Reichl's trip to the farmers market early last Saturday morning. 
1. Are you a country or city mouse?
I love it here but I’m New York City through and through. I get more exercise in New York because I walk everywhere. My idea of a vacation is to wander a city, not to go hiking.
2. What food do you have to have when you get to NYC?
Papaya King hot dog. There’s one right in my neighborhood.
3. What’s it like to be famous?
I love it. Most people don’t recognize me and the ones who do are very nice. The other day in Guido’s a woman recognized me and asked me to give her some advice on preparing a cabbage she was holding.
4. Do you think kale is overrated?
I love kale. We get into these crazy phases. Kale was big for a while now it’s cauliflower. Kale got big when they introduced lacinato kale to the market with easy-to-remove ribs.
5. Who would you have play you in the movie version of your life?
Anne Hathaway. [She bought the rights to Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl's 2005 memoir about reviewing restaurants for The New York Times.]
6. What do you do when you are reviewing a restaurant and have nothing good to say?
Just say it, what ever it is, especially if it is a big established place. You want to tell them, “Come on, you guys can do better than that!”
7. What do you think of online cooking instruction where they show a single fry pan with prepped items being thrown in and the dish coming together in an instant?
Brilliant. I don’t like it when Julia Child takes you by the hand.
8. What is your guilty pleasure?
Onion rings.
9. Have you ever been to the Columbia County Fair?
Yes, we went every year with our son Nick when he was young. He stood right next to the blacksmith booth.
10. Should kids learn to cook early the way you did?
Absolutely. Most people don’t cook because they’re intimidated. But if you’re a kid you don’t know that you can make a mistake. People think everything you do is so adorable so it doesn’t occur to you to fail. Then kids think, “This is what I can do for applause!’

Ruth Reichl's Blue Cheese Dressing

One good thing about this cool spring is that it’s been kind to lettuces. Now is the time to get them; the ones in the market this week have been especially lovely. I like to gather a mix of red and green lettuces, some arugula and frisee, toss in a few sliced radishes and perhaps some spring onions (the tiny little scallions have also been very lovely). Then I make this simple dressing, which is substantial enough to turn the salad into a very satisfying meal. (Should you be a fan of iceberg lettuce, this dressing is also very good splashed across a crisp wedge.)
Directions: Smash a bit of garlic into the bottom of a bowl, sprinkle in some good salt and a few grindings of pepper. Add a handful of blue cheese — about a quarter cup — and smash that about until it’s become a paste and absorbed all the garlic and salt. Pour in a few tablespoons of good olive oil and some of the fantastic (and slightly sweet) apple cider vinegar from Carr’s Cider House.
I’ve never found another vinegar that works as well with this dressing, although you can certainly use any apple cider, rice wine, or white wine vinegar. The one thing you can’t use is red wine vinegar; it fights with the blue cheese.
Keep tasting and adding oil and vinegar until you’ve got a dressing that pleases you.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Alumni Reunion Art Exhibition Opening Reception May 31 2019

mad   bad   dangerous to know
mary a. nelen 2019
class of 1979
archival print
12' x 18"

Monday, May 27, 2019

Bobolink for a Chorister --

D. Gordon E. Robertson 

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church...

by Emily Dickinson

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church--
I keep it, staying at Home --
With a Bobolink for a Chorister --
And an orchard for a Dome --

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice --
I, just wear my Wings --
And instead of tolling the Bell, for  Church.
Our little sexton -- sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman --
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last --
I'm going all, along.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Spring Recipe: Persian KuKu with Backyard Greens

photo: Aggie St. Germaine

RECIPE: KUKU, with backyard weeds


    1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
·       2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
·       6 eggs
·       1 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
·       1 teaspoon ground black pepper
·       1 teaspoon baking powder
·       ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
·       ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
·       ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
·       ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
·       ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
·       ½ teaspoon ground rose petal 

11 cup finely chopped wild onion green  
·       1 cup finely chopped garlic mustard
·       1 cup finely chopped fresh dill
·       ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
·       ½ cup finely dandelion leaf   
·       ½ cup finely chopped spring onions, white and green parts
·        Young garlic, 1/4 cup microplane or minced
·       1 tablespoon flour
·       1/3 cup asparagus tips

teaspoon maple syrup
·     ·  Yogurt, for serving  


Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until lightly golden all over, 15 to   20 minutes. Transfer onions to a medium bowl and cool to room temperature; reserve skillet.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk to combine eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder, all of the spices and the rose petal.  Add caramelized onions, all of the herbs, walnuts, dandelion leaves, spring onion, garlic and flour. Fold to combine.

Brush 12-inch skillet with 1/4 cup oil. Add batter, smoothing out the top and pushing it to the sides. Bake until center is set, about 20 minutes, and flip on to a plate.

Meanwhile, place the skillet used to cook the onion over medium heat to make sauce. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, maple syrup, asparagus tips and 2 tablespoons water. Simmer, stirring, until liquid is reduced and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Top cooked kuku with sauce.  Cut into equal pieces and serve warm with lavash and yogurt. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

FISHING IN WINTER: A directory of mongers


 by mary a. nelen

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans. –Ernest Hemingway

Its lunch time and you’re near the beach.You go to the café and order up some oysters with a glass of cold beer or wine. You become happy and make plans.

But can you do this in your sorry land locked state? Become one with a fish monger at the Price Chopper or the Stop & Shop or the Big Y or Guidos. 

Tell them you want wild caught from the Atlantic (if you’re on this coast) tell them you want the lesser known fish, not the salmon/swordfish/shrimp fish that sits at the popular table in the lunch room.

Here is a directory of fish mongers in Columbia, Berkshire, Litchfield and Dutchess County courtesy of my story in 


Fish is wonderful in winter when its most flavorful after foraging all summer. Make friends with a monger. As for ice fishing, that's another story.