Megan’s Top Ten culinary experiences of 2012

Epicurious + CIA = <3

In partnership with the Culinary Institute of America, the Epicurious Online Cooking School launched this summer. The cooking curriculum of your dreams, complete with four to five hours of video instruction by CIA chefs, is all on (I interned at Epicurious this fall, and they are super-excited about the collaboration with the august Hyde Park institution.) So far there’s Mexican with Sergio Remolina; Desserts with Diane Rossomando; Italian Classics with Gianni Scappin; Mediterranean Classics with David Kamen; and many more to come. Forty-nine dollars per course will get you basic mastery of a world cuisine or course, and you can sample Rossomando’s course for free.


The New York State Craft Beer Experience at Terrapin Restaurant

I always look forward to the BeerFest, and 2012, its sixth consecutive year, is actually the first one that I missed. On Sunday, September 23, 100 hopheads sampled 40 beers from 25 New York breweries, complemented by a ten-course farm-to-table tasting menu. Each year, the offerings improve: lagers, pilsners, Hefeweizens, a white IPA, ales flavored with blueberry and pumpkin, barley wines and Bourbon barrel-aged beers and a historic-recipe Rauchbier from Tommy Keegan of Keegan Ales. He and Terrapin chef/owner Josh Kroner plan to move the BeerFest to Kingston Point in summer 2013, and I plan to be there.


The fall harvest – especially the apples

This year’s apples were exquisite. Honeycrisp, Candycrisp, Cameo, Fuji, Gala, Jonagold, Northern Spy, Stayman: I enjoyed them all. The true revelation was Cortland, that red-and-green apple with the russet dots and stout stem. Its flesh is softish, but holds shape when baked; and it stays paper-white when exposed to air. Look no further than this versatile beauty for everything from pies to salads.


Hudson Valley Restaurant Week moves to fall

For the first time ever, diners enjoyed those special prix fixe lunches and dinners courtesy of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week at a time of year that truly celebrated the best of the bounty: November 5 to 18. I have had my quibbles about HVRW in the past (it was in February; it wasn’t actually a week), but I’ll admit that it’s time to stand down. It has introduced me to a few great places that I otherwise wouldn’t have tried, and that’s what it’s all about.


Tasting chocolate with Oliver Kita

There is nothing better than tasting chocolate with the chocolatier who made it. In November, Oliver Kita and I sat in the window of his cozy Rhinebeck shop sampling the Great Estates Collection, a box of milk and dark chocolate ganache truffles inspired by historic Hudson Valley homes. Kita is educated, eloquent and passionate. His motto is “Mind. Body. Chocolate Every Day.” He showed me his recipe book, and retrieved one perfect Honeycrisp apple truffle from a glass display case full of little works of modern art. That truffle captured the essence of an apple pie, fruit and spice, in a finest-quality chocolate shell: one of my best bites of 2012.


Saturday mornings at Adams Fairacre Farms

The Adams family opened a Fishkill location this year, bringing the empire to a total of four stores with Kingston, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie. For their selection of local produce and products, their greenhouses and their topnotch bakeries and deli counters, Adams are the hands-down best grocery stores in the Hudson Valley. Newburgh is my favorite because of Roger Dodge, bakery manager and CIA-trained chef, whose kitchen makes the best cheese Danish around. On Saturdays, the place opens at 8 a.m., and bakers place long rectangular trays full of still-warm Danishes in the display cases. They’re arranged like shingles, each folded nice and neat into a square puff package. Please leave one for me.


Read more about local cuisine and learn about new restaurants on Ulster Publishing’s

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  1. Almanac | Megan Labrise
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