Bon Appétit magazine has a 10-page feature on Hudson eats and drinks in the current (August 2014) issue, with a ten-point sidebar of recommendations from Yours Truly. The issue is available at ShopRite near the checkout, and probably elsewhere.
Some of the biggest ups and downs of the year include:
Biggest Sale of a Small Object: Auctioneer Colin Stair of Stair Galleries in Hudson sold a Tsarist figurine by Fabergé for $5.2 million in October to an undisclosed phone bidder. The figurine was discovered in a Rhinebeck attic.
Wackiest Would-Be Terrorist: County resident (and Kinderhook Elk) Eric Feight was arrested as part of a harebrained plot to build a ray gun intended to beam radiation into mosques, with the apparent crackpot goal of giving Muslims cancer.
Most Avant-Garde New Building in an Historic District: Grigori Fatayev built this handsome black box off Willard Place behind the Allen Street home of painter Tony Thompson. The building now serves as Thompson’s studio.
Most Welcome Threat to Leave the County: Following two catastrophic fires in 2012, and after suing the Town of Ghent for upholding its zoning code in 2013, TCI of NY threatened to move their PCB (mis-) handling business across the river to Coeymans. While many breathed a sigh of relief, reminding TCI to not let the door hit them in the back on the way out, it remains to be seen whether Coeymans will really take on the troubled company. The first weeks of the New Year may provide an answer, as the end date for the postponement of TCI’s lawsuit comes due. The company agreed to drop the suit if they found a new home.
Most Misleading Local Headline: The Register-Star titled an article about the Board of Supervisors voting to keep on pursuing eminent domain against Meadowgreens owner Carmen Nero: “Board Rejects Eminent Domain Resolution.”
Most Pandering Local Headline: For its article about a local engineer who allegedly “zoned out” while speeding a Metro-North train into a fatal accident around a curve at Spuyten Duyvil, Columbia Paper editor Parry Teasdale used this headline: “Germantown Engineer Assists Crash Probe.”
Most Heartening Turnout at a Public Meeting: Hundreds streamed into the Livingston Town Garage for the first public meeting of Livingston Farmers & Families, which is organizing to alter or stop a massive power line project from Upstate to NYC. The meeting featured the political speech of the year, a ripsnorter by farmer and Town Board member Will Yandik, who seems destined for higher office.
Clumsiest Campaign Rollout: The first major media introduction of newly-minted Hudson Valley resident Sean Eldridge, who is seeking to unseat Congressman Chris Gibson, came in the early Summer pages of the New York Times. But the article mainly provided fodder for his opponent. The Times’ revelations about the cost of Eldridge’s Shokan house, with the implication that he and Facebook zillionnaire Chris Hughes had shopped around for a district to run in, were swiftly followed by an Albany Times-Union exposé of how Eldridge’s campaign was paying area residents $100 a pop to focus group attack messages on Gibson.
Most Revealing Comment by an Official Once Thought to Be More Enlightened: Mistakenly thinking that the press and public had left the room, Hudson Development Corporation director Sheena Salvino denigrated citizens who had come out to support the Community Garden as a “mob.”
Most Revealing Comment by an Official Never Thought to Be More Enlightened: County Economic Development tsar Ken Flood shared his unvarnished opinion with Ghent resident Kevin Delahanty that “restaurants in Hudson and Chatham ... don’t provide good jobs except for the owners.”
Worthiest Ideas Gathering Dust on Some Politician’s Shelf: In July, the Columbia County Emergency Management Council proposed a series of sensible, forward-thinking guidelines to prevent major disasters. Little or nothing has been heard about their recommendations in the six months since.
Ugliest Use of Social Media by an Elected Official: Ghent Town Board member Richard Sardo opined in a Facebook post that MSNBC host (and Berkshire County resident) Rachel Maddow “looks very much like an ugly man.” Sardo, who coupled this assessment of Maddow’s looks with his barely-disguised hots for FOX anchor Megyn Kelly, badly lost his Tea Party bid for Town Supervisor against Republican Mike Benvenuto.
Most Gratifying Told ’Ya So: The Valley Alliance was vindicated as the City of Hudson glumly acknowledged the group’s contention that the people, not Holcim, already owned 4.4 acres along the Waterfront. Research by the Alliance demonstrated that the riverfront lands had been improperly sold in the early 1980s without State approval.
Least Merited Award: Hudson Phoenix president John Tonelli was given the Chamber of Commerce’s “Businessperson of the Year” award in June, just months after announcing the arrival of his plastics extrusion business. But Phoenix seemingly never made any hires, and according to a Chamber source the company had “ceased operations” by November.
Least Festive Street Fest: A car show put on by American Glory’s Joe Fierro, with little or no notification to neighbors, shut down the 300 block of Warren Street on a Spring Saturday, but attracted little interest.
Most Hilarious Banter Between Star Chefs: A New York Magazine article about the opening of Fish & Game featured this exchange between the restaurants’ principals, Zak Pelaccio and Jori Jayne Emde:
Foraging for ingredients turns out to have its limitations. Before long, Pelaccio suggests we give up the mushroom hunt. Emde reluctantly agrees. “I mean, I can smell mushrooms though,” she says, then tells me about recently sniffing her way to ramps. “Zak calls me a hound dog.” She gives an animalistic howl. “It’s weird, that’s the sound I make when we’re having sex.”
Lamest Campaign by a Candidate Claiming to be a Skilled Organizer: Hudson’s Victor Mendolia garnered the lowest number of votes of any mayoral candidate in a two-person race in recent memory, possibly in City history. The former City Democratic chair lost his campaign manager in the process of losing to incumbent Bill Hallenbeck, despite Democrats having a massive registration advantage over Republicans, and despite Hallenbeck himself earning fewer votes than his first run. Turnout was almost half of Hudson elections of a decade ago, despite the number of registered voters staying the same. As of August, Mendolia had spent more on restaurant dinners than his campaign had banked up for the Fall campaign.
Most Important Unread Mail: Government records uncovered by Ghent resident Patti Matheney revealed that the Department of Homeland Security had warned local emergency officials of the presence of highly-explosive sodium in the TCI building. But the warning apparently went unheeded, contributing (along with egregious negligence by the company itself) to some 12-15 explosions when water was dumped on the company’s smoldering building. Shamelessly, TCI attorney Bill Better shamelessly tried to use this revelation to deflect responsibility from his client.
Most Confusing Campaign Signage: Road signs for the Taghkanic Republican slate seemed to deliberately conflate 20something candidate Ryan Skoda with his much better-known father, farmer (and sitting Town Board member) Richard Skoda.
Most Concerted Effort to Deny the Obvious: Hudson City Attorney Cheryl Roberts, Alderman Cappy Pierro, Council President Don Moore, and attorney Giff Whitbeck repeatedly attempted to deny that Standard Oil had occupied a key piece of the Hudson Waterfront, even after clear evidence was brought forth to prove it. Roberts, who had incorrectly identified the Standard Oil location, and lectured citizens about being “completely wrong,” even wondered aloud whether oil tanks existed in the 1880s. Moore similarly wagged his finger at the public about “being careful.” Eventually, the Gang of Four could not help acknowleding their mistake, brushing it off with barely a shrug. (Their motivation appeared to be a desire to avoid any investigation into contamination.)
Most Selfish Bogarting of Scarce Public Services: The new Barlow Hotel somehow convinced the City of Hudson to not only build an awning over the sidewalk, but also to grant the business exclusive use of two parking spaces in the 500 block of Warren, ostensibly for loading and unloading of baggage. The request was granted despite the block being the the busiest in Hudson, and there being a vast public parking lot immediately behind the hotel. (This frequent perambulator of that part of the street has yet to see a single guest using the two much-needed spaces for their intended purpose.) The City has not clarified what the criteria are for securing one’s own private parking spaces, but no doubt others would love to get the same special treatment.
Least Dignified Post-Election Email: Claverack resident Chris Lastovicka broke with American election tradition in trashing the Town’s voters in the wake of her partner’s loss of her Supervisor seat. Incumbent Robin Andrews lost by 20 votes to Republican Kippy Weigelt. Lastovicka blamed weekenders whom she claimed did not turn in enough absentee ballots—despite Andrews picking up 60 votes from absentees. No blame was assigned to the candidate herself for failing to take a stand on issues such as TCI or the County Airport, or for opposing both an increase in the State minimum wage and common sense gun regulations.
Most Blatant Media Conflict of Interest: Community radio station WGXC had scheduled an interview with recently-departed Mendolia campaign manager Clay Laugier. But the interview on the @Issue show was abruptly canceled without explanation—the most obvious being that Laugier was likely to be critical of Mendolia—a co-host of the show, on leave at the time.
Most Missed Bar, Bar Owner, and Bar Patron: 2013 brought the sad demise of the Iron Horse bar, its owner Frank Martino, and one of its most loyal patrons—former Hudson Police Commissioner Jeff “Sweeps” Bagnall. Join me in pouring one out tonight, New Year’s Eve, for all three.
Food Studio, David Chicane’s Asian-inflected new eatery in the 600 block of Warren, held a well-attended (if warm) soft opening last Sunday night—which felt very much like the first official day of summer.
Hostess Erika Clark posted the starter menu, below, on Facebook. Our table enjoyed the pickled beet (shungiku) salad, sesame tofu, and diver scallops, each dish fresh and appropriately spicy.
In addition to the Allen Street School, controversial developer T. Eric Galloway is said to be closing in on a deal for at least one other Eleanor Ambos property in Hudson: the vast Pocketbook Factory. Ambos also owns the former Elks Club (the large Italianate building at Union and 6th, which used to have a bowling alley in the basement). There is some indication that she is liquidating her local holdings.
Title insurer Jim Monahan told this site today that contrary to some reports, the title work he has done for the City of Hudson was performed at no charge;and that until very late in the process he was never asked to answer questions about the Standard Oil site. Rather, Monahan says that his brief from the City was relatively narrow, and that he had been unaware of debates taking place at meetings and online over the status of the Standard Oil site until his pro bono work came under fire. He added that in conversation with Crawford & Associates, he was told that they had “not even started” their environmental review of the proposed acreage; and that he does not have an opinion at this point on the ownership of the 4.4 acres identified by The Valley Alliance as likely being owned by the City of Hudson, rather than by Holcim.
Work on Food Studio, a new Asian-influenced restaurant in the 600 block, continues steadily, with hopes of a summer opening.
Four properties owned by artist David Deutsch, who at one point was contemplating an ambitious northside redevelopment plan with architect Teddy Cruz, hit the MLS recently. These include the former Nicole Fiacco gallery (once the VFW), the cinderblock across from the Opera House (formerly Mark McDonald’s 330 gallery, and before that Harold’s Lounge), and the two empty lots between them, which look like one lot. The asking price for all four is $1.6 million.
My preview of Fish & Game, Zak Pelaccio’s new Hudson restaurant which officially opened this week, went live at The New York Observer (not to be confused with The Hill Country Observer) on Thursday—link here. Below are some bonus pictures by Laetitia Hussain:
Chef Zak Pelaccio, builder Peggy Anderson, Jason Wyckoff, jewelery designer Shana Lee
Architect/designer Michael Davis, headhunter Kevin Delahanty, bassist Melissa Auf der Maur
Bartender Kat Dunn serves producer (and Fish & Game backer) Patrick Milling Smith and filmmaker Tony Stone of Basilica Industria
Peter Heilman, who built Fish & Game’s tables, bar, carts, stools et al., dining with his wife at last Friday’s preview dinner
View of the dining room, second fireplace, and carnage.
View toward the lounge, showing the old walls maintained as a ruin, Red Light District wallpaper, and staircase to an upstairs private room.
In December, Tivoli’s Black Swan Pub lost its liquor license after an undercover sting “resulted in documentation of 13 underage purchases,” according to The Kingston Freeman.
Writing in Chronogram, music critic Peter Aaron characterized this as “a dubious bust” which requires the popular pub to lay its hands on $30,000 “to regain its license and get right with the authorities.” Owner Mike Nickerson writes:
“[O]ur license to serve you was suspended by the State Liquor Authority for a number of reasons - underage drinkers got in (the ID’s we were shown seemed to disappear as soon as the cops showed up), an unlicensed bouncer (Licensed bouncers? In Tivoli? Well it’s the Law for the whole state, not just the big cities), and storing liquor and records “off premises” (on the second floor of the Swan, upstairs in a locked office, but considered “off premise” because there is no indoor staircase).
So now the Swan (which does have many fans besides Bard students running up a tab on a parent’s credit card) has launched an online fundraising campaign to try to get those funds together.
The money will go, per Nickerson, to paying a $15,000 fine plus “the purchase of an ID scanner at $2,000, moving the liquor to a new location on the first floor, and registering with the State Department as a Security Company.”
With 11 days left in the campaign, $13,390 has been raised. Donations of $20 or more earn the donor a number of perks. $50 gets the donor a limited edition t-shrit, some partyinvites and a draft beer once the Swan reopens; for $250, you can have a brass plaque with your name on it mounted on the bar for $250. (Less than $20 earns you a “warm fuzzy feeling.”)
Local listings maven, radio personality, and Hudson 3rd Ward Supervisor Ellen Thurston informs this site that Dionysos restaurant in Athens has had its liquor license reinstated by the State Liquor Authority. The plight of the waterfront Italian restaurant with the Greek name had been the subject of a 400-signature Change.org petition. Dionysos will reportedly resume serving wine and booze tomorrow night.
It’s been a light week for posting here, due to other obligations, and also the fact that I don’t like to post just for the sake of posting... That said, here are a few regional tidbits worth reporting:
Chef/author Zak Pelaccio’s much-anticipated upstate restaurant with Jori Jayne Emde on South 3rd Street in Hudson reportedly will be called Fish & Game, with renovations continuing at a fever pace in hopes of opening this winter.
HUMP, a/k/a the Hudson Museum of Photography, opens this Saturday with a solo show by Stephen Johnson entitled Moonman. HUMP is located at 552 Warren Street.
After a hiatus following the death of Don Blasko, his wife Mady has reopened the Turnpike Inn.
In other Town of Ghent drinking news, longtime Kozel’s bartender Ned has stepped down to enjoy some well-deserved leisuretime after many years of solid service. It’s rare to find a real oldschool barkeep of Ned’s caliber around here.
Laetitia Hussain’s recent three-story installation at John Davis Gallery, Sycamorphology has sold and is said to be headed to a publicly-accessible space in New York City.
According to several sources the Laskin family is no longer involved with the operation of TCI of NY, the PCB waste company David Laskin moved to Ghent from Newburgh after a fire there in the 1980s. It thus presumably was just a coincidence that (as several other sources have pointed out) the 165-acre Laskin family compound in Old Chatham went on the market for $3,200,000 on August 3rd—just two days after the most recent and most catastrophic TCI fire.
Also regarding TCI, Albany TV stations and other print outlets are reporting that the August 1st fire has been cleared of any suspicion of arson by the New York State Police, though their official report on the cause of the fire is not complete. The August conflagration was TCI’s second fire of 2012, and occurred in the context of a series of other fires in the Route 9H corridor—one of which was affirmatively deemed an arson. (Since the time of this site’s post on that topic, residents have noted several additional fires on roads just slightly off 9H.)
It’s come to this site’s attention that several Hudson elected officials are unaware that the City has an adopted Comprehensive Plan, which can be downloaded in two parts via this link. The plan straddled the Cranna and Scalera administrations, being developed in 2000-2001 and passed in 2002. Due to the then-raging St. Lawrence Cement controversy, and the City’s decision to hire SLC’s own planning firm as its consultant, the final plan was greatly watered down, but it does include a few useful nuggets; more on that next week, probably.
This Sunday will feature the last farmer’s market of the season in Philmont, according to Sally Baker of PB, Inc. The market’s hours are 10 am to 1 pm.
One of Columbia County’s most serene stretches of unspoiled open land can be found at the border of Claverack and Churchtown. County Route 12 bisects two vast, undeveloped fields—uncluttered by anything but one small barn, a handful of cows, a couple of Percheron horses, and clusters of grazing deer.
So when residents suddenly saw earthworks underway on the north side of CR12, there was naturally some alarm and upset.
However, it now appears that the plans for this valued landscape is not cause for alarm, and maybe something quite welcome. Minutes of the County Planning Board from last February reveal that the Rockefeller-backed Foundation for Agricultural Integrity is establishing a dairy farm there, to be limited to a hoop barn, greenhouse, and farm store/farmstand. “We’ll be able to walk in and get fresh milk and cheese,” said one enthusiastic neighbor on Taghkanic-Churchtown Road, who tipped me to the plan.
With Churchtown having lost its general store some years ago, it also may be nice for this sleepy corner of the County to have something of a gathering spot. It’s sort of a shame to see anything built on this greenspace, but at least this will maintain its pastoral character—rather than being littered with spec homes; and if they’ll serve their cream with a side of coffee, they’ll get my business...
The promoters of Bacon Fest are offering an apology following widespread complaints about last weekend’s first-time event in Hudson. “We apologize if we inadvertently left people feeling disappointed. That sucks and we are sorry,” says the unattributed statement on the event’s website.
Many attendees who did not arrive at the event’s 9 am opening bell did not get much if any charred pig fat, apparently due to organizers and exhibitors underestimating popular demand.
“Lots of people came to Bacon Fest and didn’t get any bacon,” confessed one of the judges on his blog.
After boasting that 3,000 people attended—1,000 for free after the bacon ran out within a matter of hours—and that $3,000 was raised for charity, and that “the streets of Hudson were overflowing with people, most of them wearing bacon t-shirts,” Bacon Fest gets around to expressing its regrets:
“It was never our intention to shortchange anyone on food or fun. Where we exceeded in motivation, enthusiasm and dedication, we fell short on experience. We know better now, and from these mistakes we will build a better executed festival for next year.”
(Note: Hudson-Catskill Newspapers reported attendance in the “hundreds.”)
Looking on the bright side, event organizers further posit that “it was an unintended compliment to the day that festival goers, unhappy with the state of the event, took to the streets to search out other food options and poured into the businesses of Hudson, many for the first time ever.”
But “all that being said,” the statement continues, “the day was not a total success.” Indeed, the one-day festival has been getting raked over the coals on its Facebook page...
“What a disappointment... no bacon smell and some of the vendors didn't even have bacon.”
“I was very disappointed in this festival. I will not attend again. Troy’s Pig Out is much more worth the trip than Hudson. There is NO cover charge and goes for two days without running out of food or Bacon.”
“Very disappointed that when I was in line at 1:00 with advanced tickets , was only offered a 50% refund if we entered.”
We showed up at 10am and were disapointed by the size of the event for the $10 entrance fee. We left and went to the Chatham Fair which was HUGE and fun. I run an event for 1,000 people and use the same tent company and your tent was a 1/4 of the size of our tent. It's such a beautiful location and I expected so much more.”
“Still so angry over this.”
... and in the comments on the Albany Times-Union’s various food blogposts:
Personally, I think that would be a great release for a public relations professor to take and give to a class to rip apart.
This was a complete waste of time; not enough vendors, not enough samples, not enough to make me go back again.
We went to the garlic fest on Saturday, in Bennington. That was AWESOME! Note to baconfest organizers: just copy them.
Vowing to return, Bacon Fest says that “we know better now, and from these mistakes we will build a better executed festival for next year” to continue their stated goal of “work[ing] together to build a better world, especially one fueled by the power of bacon... never underestimate the power of bacon.” *Grunt.*