During my visit to New York I travelled up by train from Penn station to the Hudson Valley. The train runs along by the river bank with a back drop of the sheer wooded cliffs of the Palisades on the other side. I've done this trip once before on my way to Rhinecliff but today it's even more beautiful, the trees are just bursting into leaf, white blossoms of the wild pear and an occasional purple pink crab apple, tangles of old man's beard...
We've passed through Yonkers, Croton Harmon, Poughkeepsie, Rhinecliff and next its Hudson. The train is really comfy and clean with lots of leg room and the bonus of a gracious attendant who tells you where to get off, helps you with your bag... and even puts a little footstool down to help you get out.
I was heading to Hudson to meet Mona Talbott who worked alongside Alice Waters at Chez Panisse for many years. She was the founding Executive Chef of the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome, revolutionising the food in the American Academy including establishing a vegetable garden.
Talbott moved back to the US and has recently established a new shop and take-out Talbott and Arding with her partner Kate Arding, a world authority on cheese, who honed her skills at the Neal's Yard Dairy.
Warren St is lined with antique shops and small boutiques selling beautiful things, Talbott and Arding in their midst is a little gem, with an array of local farmstead cheeses in perfect condition and a selection of good things to take out, a few tempting sandwiches on really good bread, seasonal tarts with ramps and cheese, a couple of gorgeous cakes and just a few irresistible cookies and scones. Perfect for a picnic! How lucky are the people of Hudson to have this in the area - with everything of such superb quality.
Don't miss Alan Gray's Seville orange scotch marmalade, one of the best things I've tasted for years.
|Image: Annie Schlechter
And a picnic it was. They brought beautiful beef and horseradish sandwiches, egg sandwiches with pea shoots and radishes on a lovely salty foccaia. It was totally delicious. Gingernut biscuits that I'd kill for the recipe - must ask Mona - they're the best I've ever tasted. We headed for Ironwood Farm where Lauren, Jenny and Aliyah have an organic farm growing fresh sprouts and pea shoots.
These three young women are part of a really interesting growing grassroots movement in the US - small but significant - of young, well-educated, Green Horn, agrarians moving back to the land and starting to grow or farm.
Sadly I wasn't able to spend as long there as I'd have liked to on the farm, I had to rush back to Kennedy airport to catch the plane back to Ireland, but not before I bought the most delicious selection of treats for my picnic on the way home - smoked salmon rillettes with horseradish in a little glass jars, paprika cheese, hard boiled egg with chilli and fennel sea salt, wrapped in a twist of tissue, coconut cookies, a slice of lemon and olive oil cake - can imagine, when I spread all this out on my airline tray I was the envy of all around me.