A Catskills Dinner to Celebrate Local Purveyors
A three hour drive from New York City led me through quiet country highways and misty mountains until I finally reached the expansive western Catskills, an area that has quickly become a favorite of mine. The region is far enough to feel secluded and untouched from the sprawl of city culture, but its beauty cannot be denied and it has long attracted a special community of makers, farmers, and visionaries. It is this community that has welcomed me into their homes, studios, restaurants, and farms and most recently, to a special dinner at The Annex in Andes, NY last month.
The Annex, a space that dates back to 1850, has housed many businesses over the last century, but was taken over this past season by Sean Scherer of Kabinett & Kammer, and Alex Wilson and Irene Hussey of Wayside Cider. Together, they used the impressive 19th century space to showcase the best talent of the area through art, shopping, and tastings from May until November; “We wanted it to be an immersive experience that engaged all the senses,” said Alex. After a fruitful collaboration, a gathering was planned to commemorate the end of a successful season in Delaware County where food producers and makers could join and celebrate together. “When you work for yourself in the Catskills, there is not much time to sit back, you always have to be thinking about the next season,” said Sean referring to the intention behind the dinner.
The space was warm and bright despite the lack of electricity and heat. Local Greentree Home Candles filled the room, antique american flags hung from every wall, and each guest brought an impressive dish to add to the spread. Local purveyors including Burnett Farms, Heaven on Main Street, and Evans and Evans Farm, carried in food that perfectly displayed their specific talents, a story behind every plate. The evening was a visual step back in time, but the conversations focused on the vibrant future of this ever expanding region.
“The dinner really was a collaboration – everything at the table was from a local farm,” Alex said. “The soup and bread from Lucky Dog Farm, the cheese from Vulto Creamery and Bovina Valley Farm, even the candles, were made locally from local bees wax. Each course reflecting a different element of the community and representing some of the best produce of the region.”
Over coffee at Russell’s General Store in Bovina, Alex Wilson of Wayside Cider and Sean Scherer of Kabinett & Kammer hatched their plan to collaborate on The Annex: “It was an obvious collaboration, as we have many similarities. Sean is taking something old and forgotten and making it relevant again just as are we with the old and abandoned apples trees on the wayside.”
Construction of the building started in the 1850s, but was halted during the Civil War where it acted as a training space for local soldiers. The building was then completed in 1864 when it became Andes’ first general store.
The Annex sits directly across the street from Kabinett & Kammer, Sean’s antiques store that celebrates oddities through a highly curated lens.
The aroma of roasted chicken filled the space – a plate brought by Delhi based High Meadows Farm, which is best known for its conservation of heritage breed animals and organic produce.
Greentree Home Candles set the 19th century interior aglow. These hand-poured beeswax tapers are created by Jennifer Green in Treadwell, NY, located just 30 minutes from Andes.
Burnett Farms, the Bovina based organic farm, brought a stunning array of late season greens from their greenhouse.
An impressive assortment of local cheese was set out by Jos Vulto of Vulto Creamery in Walton, NY. Jos, an upstate transplant by way of the Netherlands and Williamsburg, started his creamery in 2009 where he creates raw cow’s milk cheese that is now widely celebrated by connoseriors near and far.
Taylor Foster of Heaven on Main Street crafted a delicious dessert of vanilla bean custard, smoked bourbon sugar and chocolate nut granola. It was then expertly served to each table by her young son Duncan.
Alex Wilson and Irene Hussey started Wayside Cider in 2013. Being new to the region, Alex has found incredible ways to partner and collaborate with likeminded creatives: “It’s a great community and it was amazing to bring people together in this grand old space. It almost felt we were merging the past and the future in that moment, it felt quite timeless in the candlelight. I think there is a palpable desire to do something real, authentic and to build a community around that, whether it be food, cider or art – we are super proud to be part of that movement.”
Mark Foster, a Bovina based commercial director who doubles as a small batch coffee maker, served cappuccinos at the end of meal. His coffee, Foster Built Coffee, is fire-roasted in a makeshift barbecue in his front yard and it’s some of the finest coffee I’ve ever had.
“The evening was just beautiful. It was the perfect night and all the candlelight made the 19th century building come to life,” said Sean.