Showing posts with label Sharon Springs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sharon Springs. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Black Cat Cafe

It's tough starting a new job without any vacations days, especially when you want a getaway in the summer. Cooperstown's just a lovely reminder that a break from city life is just a little over an hour away with some tasty options along the route. For us, a typical trip to the Coop means stops by the Beekman 1802 Mercantile, flight of beer at Council Rock Brewery, and dinner at Brooks BBQ. Lunch at the cafe at Ommegang and Council Rock are great options, but when the hunger grumps hit en route, just hit up the Black Cat Cafe in Sharon Springs. 

Blink and you might miss this small, quaint little village down Route 20. Turn right on Main Street and you'll be greeted by the historic American Hotel and the village's charming boutique shops including the Beekman 1802 Mercantile. Dining options are limited aside from the hotel, but the Black Cat Cafe offered just what we needed for lunch. If you're up early enough the cafe has an array of breakfast options including omelets and breakfast sandwiches. For us late risers, lunch is an equally perfect opportunity to sit back and relax on the patio.

This isn't our first stop at Black Cat. We knew ordering a side of Lebanese potato salad and Mac 'n Blaak was a must. The potato salad is simply dressed in lemon, olive oil, parsley, and salt and pepper but so good; these bright, light and fresh flavors were perfect for summer. I'd rather have this all the time than the mayo-laden version. We've pretty raved about everything Beekman related and the same goes for the mac 'n cheese made with The Fabulous Beekman's Blaak Cheese, a semi-hard cheese made with 60:40 mix of goat and cow milk, with Martha Stewart's seal of approval.  Although the mac 'n cheese could have used some salt and pepper, the mild goat cheese flavor came through fabulously and was still distinct enough without being overpowering as some goat cheeses can be. A spoonful was a warm, comforting cheesy bite. 

Of course there's no such thing as too much cheese. As if "as featured on CNN" wasn't intriguing enough, the flavor combos of  the Wild Julia grilled cheese was too good to pass up on: extra sharp cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon, tomato, pepita seeds, and Frank's red hot on white bread. It might look like a lot of ingredients but they all melded together beautifully. Cheese and bacon are inherently a match made in heaven but the added texture and crunch of the pumpkin seeds along with the fresh bite of tomato and zing of hot sauce was like no other. They're all simple ingredients but sandwiched between buttery, toasted slices of bread, and they're transformed to a whole other level. 

Add an orange carrot smoothie and you've got yourself the perfect patio lunch. Stop by The Beekman 1802 Mercantile afterwards for an added bonus. It's conveniently located a few doors down from the cafe. Be sure to stock up on jars of Beekman goat milk cajeta. We've been eating the caramel by the spoonful and can't wait to return to both the Mercantile and Black Cat. It's a winning combo en route to Cooperstown or just on its own. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The American Hotel

As I'm sure you're all aware if you've read the rest of this blog, we are fans of the Beekman 1802 Mercantile in Sharon Springs, New York.  If you've never visited their storefront or had the goat milk ice cream, you owe it to yourself to drop by.  This post, however, concerns the historic American Hotel across the street, and I only mention Beekman 1802 because the hotel was featured during the show, which convinced us to stop in for brunch this morning.

Both of us love heirloom style, historically rich places and things.  Old hotels that used to house former presidents and diplomats are just fantastic, and I love nothing better than looking in the old lodge and ballrooms of those places and picturing the grand parties of a hundred years ago (while we may be using rose colored lenses, it's still fun to pretend).  I used to work in such a place, and actually dealt with a great deal of abuse from the owner of the place solely because the property was so great.

So we were prepared to love this place, we wanted to love the American.  We would have forgiven a lot of issues in a lot of areas just on account of what it was and what it represented in the modern world, not to mention its appearance on the Beekman boys.  Unfortunately, what we experienced simply surpassed what we are willing to forgive in any eatery.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Beekman Birthday

 A few weeks ago, J and I went on an impromptu brew tour to Ommegang Brewery and Council Rock Brewery. On our way to Cooperstown, we stopped by the village of Sharon Springs to visit the Beekman 1802 Mercantile and ever since that pitstop, I couldn't imagine not having a Beekman birthday. So this past Saturday, I spent my 28th birthday enjoying the simple things in life. No boots of beer or giant margaritas this year.

If you watch Cooking Channel, you might recognize The Fabulous Beekman Boys aka Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge from their reality show as city guys who left their Manhattan ways, bought a farm and decided to become full time farmers and raise goats. You might also recognize the Beekman Boys as the most recent winners of The Amazing Race. The Beekmans now make artisanal products from vegetables and goat milk from their farm. They are well-known for their goat milk soap, a product beloved by Martha Stewart. Now they have expanded their lifestyle brand to include edible products like goat cheese and goat milk ice cream. 

Of course I was good on my birthday and had lunch before dessert. My Beekman birthday wouldn't be complete without some Beekman Blaak mac 'n cheese, courtesy of the Black Cat Cafe conveniently located a couple doors down from the mercantile. At $48 a wheel for the Beekman Blaak cheese that is on a giant waitlist, it's a bit steep for my pocket but at $7 for a bowl of mac 'n cheese made with the same cheese at the cafe, it's worth a try. The blaak cheese is a hard cheese that melts beautifully in this mac 'n cheese. My only gripe is that the dish desperately needed salt and pepper but otherwise, an afternoon lunch spent outside on the porch was a perfect way to spend my birthday afternoon. The mac is a small portion so I was glad I ordered a side of Lebanese potato salad, which was mayo-less and a nice tangy alternative to the heavy classic. J of course went with a reuben and gave it a thumbs up. 

The goat milk ice cream is worth the trip alone, and well it was the only thing I really wanted for my birthday. It's that good. We actually stopped by the Mercantile during the day and on our way back to Albany stopped by again in the evening for the Ice Cream Jam. The Beekman 1802 Mercantile was hoppin' on a Saturday night with 80s music and glow sticks, which Brent insisted on giving us to wear. Brent even let me skip the request line and put Safety Dance on top of the DJ list as a birthday present. But the real treat of the night was a half pint of Beekman goat's milk ice cream. If you love the tanginess of goat cheese, you'll love this ice cream. The Beekman's version (part goat milk and cow's cream) is smooth, creamy and rich but that goat's milk gives the ice cream such a unique tangy flavor that you'll want a whole pint rather than the half pint that it comes in. No artificial flavors here so you'll feel that much better eating it. I've tried 3 out of the four flavors and I'd rank the Cateja Caramel Swirl (of course it's a goat's milk caramel) at the top followed by the Tart Cherry Almond Swirl (with sour cherries from the farm) and the classic vanilla flavor. The last of the flavors, fig balsamic, has eluded me but I'm determined to try on the next trip. Also, if you're thinking of brining some goat milk ice cream back to Albany, it travels pretty well in a cooler bag :) The Beekmans will even
offer you ice if you need it.

For more edible Beekman 1802 products, be sure to sample the creamed honeys (from Beekman Farm bees of course); we've picked up jars of lemon creamed honey and rosemary creamed honey. Another favorite of ours is the hickory smoked sea salt. This has been our crack of the summer. We sprinkle it on everything from steaks (the Meathouse kind of course) and simply on fresh cucumber slices for a healthy snack with a smokey flavor. We can't wait to try the Mortgage Lifter Bourbon BBQ sauce, which 25% of the profits are donated to directly help struggling small American farmers. Obviously that million dollar prize from the Amazing Race has gone a long way, yet Josh and Brent remain as community oriented as they were when they first started the business. Not to mention they are as friendly and personable as they are on tv. Josh and Brent are truly the most humble and nice celebrities I've met and to see them behind the scenes at the shop shows how much they care about their business, even after moments of fame. You can't help but smile and want to be their best friends when you meet them. P.S. Read Josh's book, The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoirabout their Beekman journey. It's a great summer read. -R