Monday, January 26, 2009

Mikee's Back

And, all's right with the world. It was a long and well deserved winter break for the Village's own baker, but the ovens are once again turning out gems like this.

We go daily (well, Wednesday through Sunday, anyway). Kids and dogs are usually schnurfling around in the flour dust on the floor. Bard students rotate seasonally behind the counter, and we teeter on the edge of the two-fanny bench near the till in winter, but it's worth it. All the news you'd care to know passes by before noon.

And in summer, oh blessed summer, we move out to the porch. More dogs. More kids. More Bard students all lazing around. A few of us in and out for coffee while we famously pretend to work.

If you need the particulars, that's Tivoli Bread & Baking at 75 Broadway. Wed to Fri, Early to 12; Sat and Sun, Early to 3. 845.757.2253. And don't even think of special ordering a birthday cake. He'd have to owe you big (or love you a whole lot) to submit to that request.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Meet Otto

Otto is a grocer. And his little grocery has turned the lights back on on Main Street, Germantown. As you may have heard, Otto is from Whole Foods, a former VP of Operations responsible for 16 stores in the NY metro area. So why is he in Germantown, you ask?

He wanted to be a chicken farmer. He went looking for land and found a market instead. And it needed him. Desperately. It's been two long years since Central Market went dark, and Germantown has been patiently waiting.

And it is beautiful. Otto has kept the cafe tables and the bar counter facing the street, so you can sit and watch Gtown go by (pick-up after pick-up after pick-up, all with plows, I might add). Ken is back from the Central Market days making great soups daily, and he's in the deli cutting fresh meat to order and making sandwiches and panini (the pickles are surely the best north of White Plains).

New to Gtown is Starlight, the CIA-trained pastry chef (yes, that's her name, and she is delightful). She bakes muffins and desserts daily including Otto's grandmother's own butterscotch glazed cinnamon buns. She's a talented cake baker, from what I hear, and will make special occasion cakes with 3 days notice. In the category of find-of-the-week, she's also making homemade marshmallows. Remember that when you're thinking campfire s'mores this summer.

While all of this makes a breakfast or lunch meet-up in Gtown once again possible, the essence of Otto's Market is groceries. Before opening, Otto did his research (which is why he should be around for awhile). He visited every market in a 50 mile radius. He found out most little grocers don't have much food for sale (but, we knew this). "I had more food in my cupboards than they had on their shelves."

Otto's shelves are packed. A friend of mine (former Germantown organic shiitake farmer) recently checked out behind a guy with a big plastic tub of Cool Whip. Gotta love that. Which pretty much sums up Gtown, and Otto's. Peruse the aisles and you will find locally roasted J.B. Peel coffee next to Maxwell House. Chatham's own Our Daily Bread just down the aisle from Freihofer's. And Fruit Loops shoulder to shoulder with European meusli. There's something for every palate and wallet from basic grocery, to local products, national-brand natural foods, and posh imports.

Gone is the catering, but who has money for that these days, anyway? Otto will happily prepare trays for meetings and gatherings and his cheeses, fresh local produce (in season) and baked goods should get you through, just fine.

And, I must note, the staff are all adults. Adults. With food experience. And they really like Otto. This is a very good sign.

Thank you, Otto. From the jars of penny candy to the grind-your-own peanut butter, the heavenly Chemex coffee to the Financial Times, we really like what you've done. And we won't forget that you are the Village of Tivoli's nearest grocer. The chickens will just have to wait.

Otto's Market is at 215 Main St. conveniently opposite Jim Lawlor's liquor store. Otto's is open Mon-Sat 7-7, Sun 7-3. Phone 518.537.7200.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ghost of Xmas Past

(just passed) In life, I was a Christmas tree.

Now I'm just waiting for the Village pick-up to come along and chip me out of the ice.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Crispy Crunchy Cold

Early this morning the thermometer on the hill east of the Village read -3. Last night was the coldest night of the winter, but tonight is going to give it a run for its money.

Though my upper lip went numb within ten minutes, I had to go down to the river to check the ice. As you well know, the Hudson is the River that Flows Two Ways. On winter days, if you catch the tide coming in, the ice flows up river. And ice is noisy. Scratching and grinding against raw edges.

If you are lucky enough to be down there when the Coast Guard Ice Breaker is chugging up the shipping channel, you'll catch the wake rolling under the ice. Oddest thing. Even the biggest expanses of ice appear to flex and bend over the crests.

Not today. It was beautifully quiet and not a thing moving. The shipping channel was iced over and deep blue and the choppy tidal edge was locked in place too. It'll be early next week before the scratching and crunching begins again.

Get yourself down there and enjoy the silence. And I'll bet there'll be ice boating at Rokeby this weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Goodwill Hunting

A few miles up the road from our little village, there's a thrift worth the drive to Hudson. Goodwill - in a dismal strip mall opposite a Walmart (of course), but inside treasure awaits (and it doesn't smell too bad).

Find-of-the-week, 107 diner ware saucers and 1 cup. I passed. The housewares, electronics, toys and sports gear are all sprinkled with new-from-Target merch. All a bit dinged and dented, but a little elbow grease, some glue and a few carefully applied clamps and you've got yourself... well, something from Target.

It's worth glancing over, but I go for clothes. Descent inventory of Talbots, Ann Taylor, Ralph Lauren hanger to hanger with lesser cousins from Fashion Bug, Lerner and, of course, Target. A good bit of it straight from the retailer (which accounts for the tolerable smell of the store). The cast offs of the good people of Hudson will not yield anything you'd waltz down Fifth Avenue in (for that we thrift in Tivoli), but for country life, it'll do just fine.

The seasoned Goodwill Hunter needs no orientation, but if you're headed in for the first time this primer may help. Clothing is hung by color giving the whole store a cheery rainbow effect. Men on one side. Women on the other. Kids in back. Prices on the overhead sign. Easy. But the thrill of the hunt bumps up a notch when you realize that the little plastic tags get you discounts. Today red tags three-for-one. Blue tags half off. You wander around thinking you've got about $30 draped over your forearm, and it rings up for $12. Happy hunting!

Goodwill is on Fairview Avenue in the Columbia Center strip. Open Monday to Saturday 9 to 8 and Sunday 10 to 7. And parking's no problem, because half the stores in the strip have packed up and left.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bday #3

One of Tivoli's sweetest little residents has turned three, with a party to prove it.

The under 5 set ping-ponged themselves off bouncy toys and eachother in a way that would have landed the under 45 set in the emergency room. Happily the under 45's hung in the kitchen near the coffee urn.

It was a bright moment in an otherwise quiet January. Pink cupcakes all around.