It doesn’t take long to leave New York City behind and find red barns, green fields, sprawling farms, and far more relaxed people.
Welcome to the Hudson Valley.
We drove and drove, from Bowmansville, PA to the Hudson Valley. It was a long drive, but I won’t say it was too long a drive, since we cherish the memory of that time in Amish country. And it’s a beautiful drive. (New Jersey, you get such a bum rap. That is a lush green state.) Still, by the time we arrived in the Hudson Valley, we needed the sight of scenic small towns, front porches, brick and stone buildings, and creeks running under bridges.
The Hudson Valley is farm country.
And as many folks at the Hudson Valley potluck explained to us, the Hudson Valley is the breadbasket of New York City. It used to be that all the produce went down to the greenmarkets in Union Square, to feed people in high-end restaurants and other places. Now, there’s a sense of something different. “Why don’t we keep more of it right here?”
As someone told us, “It’s really quite possible to eat an entirely local diet here, most of the year.”
If the Amish country was about tradition and ritual. this area seemed it was filled with wild innovation. Those lamb meatballs with spicy harissa yogurt sauce, for example. The meat was raised and butchered in an old traditional fashion but that harissa sauce certainly wasn’t being served in the Hudson Valley 100 years ago. (And oh my, was it delicious.) The kids didn’t touch the sauce, but as Lucy said the next day, “We kids must have eaten 100 meatballs!”
These pies and crisps were not-traditional, of course, since they were made with gluten-free oats, flours, and non-typical sweeteners. But they were adapted from the recipes of Dana’s grandmother, filled with apples she picked from her backyard trees, and made with Hudson Valley cheddar cheese.
Also, they were delicious.
The Hudson Valley has always been a refuge for artists, musicians, and writers. As someone at the potluck said, “It’s a blessed area. It just draws interesting people.”
This is how Lucy happened to meet Jacky Davis-Sonam, who wrote some of her most favorite books in the world, the Ladybug Girl series. These books are like bibles in our house. Lulu’s spunky, intrepid nature, matched with her compassion, has been a model for our Lulu for years now. Danny and I were blown away to meet Jacky, who is lovelier than I imagined. Lucy was excited too, but she took it all in stride. We happen to know so many writers, artists, musicians, and painters that she thinks almost everyone does something creative.
I imagine that’s the experience of kids growing up in the Hudson Valley too.
We owe so much of the joy of that lovely evening to this wonderful, generous woman, Elizabeth Mitchell. Thank you, thank you, Liz. If you don’t know Elizabeth’s music with her husband Daniel and their daughter, Storey, please go give a listen. For many of us, her music is the soundtrack of our children’s lives.
Lucy was so excited to see Storey, who is a model for her in this crazy vagabond life we have. Plus, she played all evening with Arlo, the son of one of my favorite people, Lisa Moussalli. We have been Flickr friends since 2005. I saw her wedding photos, her growing belly, and Arlo growing older via every social media. To be in the same room was startling at first, then completely natural. Just like all this touring feels now.
The next day, after the potluck, we took a trip to Fleishers, a grassfed and organic meats shop. Jessica attended our potluck the night before - she made those delicious lamb meatballs and talked about the impetus for beginning the butcher shop. Jessica and Josh have a fascinating story but better yet they are still there every day, working to make sure they can find the highest quality meat for everyone in the area. They only sell pastured meats from animals raised on small, local, sustainable farms. Just seeing the lard/offal/pork chili freezer case made me want to live in Kingston. Danny bought one of their t-shirts: bacon gives me a lardon. I had to buy bacon: the gateway meat.
Seriously, I think I could live in the Hudson Valley for Fleishers alone.
The Hudson Valley is the kind of slow-paced place where you just want to sit on a front porch with friends for awhile, eating good food and talking about life.
Danny and I both feel so blessed, meeting all these people and having the chance to take our daughter to these places.
Thank you, Hudson Valley.
We want to send out a huge thank you and acknowledgment of the good companies that have come forward to sponsor this American Road Trip Potluck Tour for us all.
Thank you to these three companies, as well as the companies that might be joining us, for their sponsorship of this tour.