It seems like we wait forever for the summer months to arrive. When they finally do, we mark them with three holidays. Memorial Day celebrates the anticipation, Labor Day celebrates the memories and, somewhere in the middle-ish, Independence Day celebrates the moment. Depending on whether you are a glass half-full or half-empty type of person, this past holiday weekend was a toss up.
For me, this past long holiday weekend was a familiar, welcomed, long-overdue respite at my good friends Lisa and Doug’s home in the Berkshires. Their home would be the source of nourishment for the mind, body and spirit. Thank you.
The break began with a gorgeous sunset ride up the Hudson—and I do mean gorgeous, as if it was prescribed just for me. I arrived to the station in time for dinner in Chatham, N.Y., at a new favorite restaurant Blue Plate (1 Kinderhook St., 518-392-7711, www.chathamblueplate.net). Pulling up to this quaint restaurant felt like being called home with a dinner bell. I even looked for a hot apple pie on the window sill.
Photos by Kysha Harris
We were seated in the covered porch area overlooking the main streets of Chatham, watching trains occassionally pass in the near distance. The staff milled about as if entertaining guests in their own home. Before you have your first bite or sip, you instantly know you might not want to leave, ever.
While the name might suggest otherwise, the menu at Blue Plate is so much more than one special of the day. It is a combination of local and seasonal ingredients, comfort and whimsy. My eyes danced all over, from soup and salads to the large plates, but first some cocktails with ingredients like rhubarb, watermelon and elderflower. Cheers!
We started our meal with shrimp chowder and the special steamed mussles with lemongrass and ginger. The chowder was light and well balanced. Thank goodness we doubled down on the fresh hot bread to sop up most of the bright mussle broth.
For our entrees, Doug had to return to the Blue Plate meatloaf topped with bacon and served with whipped potatoes, chili glazed carrots and brown gravy. The linguine with little neck clams, fresh herbs, white wine and cherry tomatoes was calling Lisa. Hitting the table, these dishes seemed to exhale and say, “Ahhh.” These were large servings packed with love and great flavor.
Of course, I struggled between grilled brook trout with brown rice pilaf, wilted spinach and lemon shallot drizzle and my ultimate decision, grilled hanger steak with haricot verts, potato wedges and house steak sauce. My stomach was calling for that perfectly-seasoned-and-cooked-to-medium beef and gorgeous sauce.
We did look at the dessert menu at Blue Plate, finding key lime pie and my favorite, pannacotta. However, we decided to reserve it for our next visit along with, for me, tempura haricot verts, grilled lamb sliders and skate (fish) frites.
Dinner at Blue Plate was only the beginning of a great long weekend in the Berkshires with friends. There is still plenty of eating and summer cooking to share, including local coconut and lemongrass ice cream and an 18-hour smoked pork butt. Stay tuned.
Now don’t miss a bite of the new Amsterdam News food section, “#AmNewsFOOD,” by following us on Twitter and Instagram at @NYAmNewsFOOD for all things food in and around Harlem and greater New York City, too.
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl and on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.