In Partnership with Parachute Home, the 2nd Annual Preserve & Gather Dinner in Bloomville, NY
In the Western Catskills, there is a three month window from the first week of June to the first week of September where we are all but guaranteed there won’t be a frost. In those three months, the hillsides burst with tall grasses and wild flowers and the valleys fill with sweet summer crops. The weeks on either side are less predictable, but come with their own magic. In autumn, the weeks leading up to the first frost are more reflective — they are for harvesting, for preserving, for acknowledging another season gone by. Sometimes, the looming promise of winter subsides for a moment and we are given the space to celebrate this time and this place communally.
The second annual Preserve & Gather Dinner, hosted by And North and Parachute Home, invited forty guests to a 220-year-old farm in Bloomville, NY to indulge in a harvest feast prepared by the team at Brushland Eating House. A menu of braised leeks, ember roasted vegetables, leg of lamb tagine, and bone marrow draped with orecchiette and white beans, paid homage to local growers like Star Route Farm, Stony Creek Farmstead, Homegrown Farmstead, and Chestnut Hill Farm, while wines chosen by Brunette Wine Bar’s Tracy and Jamie Kennard paired as perfectly with the landscape as they did the lamb. Overflowing vesper boards of pickled vegetables, rillettes, and pâte were framed by deep burgundy bouquets of locally harvested dahlias and viburnums from Miko Akasaka of Seasons on the Hudson and bittersweet beeswax tapers from Greentree Home Candle. The meal was set over soft linen runners from Parachute’s Contrast Edge Table Linen Collection and held steady by a 40-foot-long sycamore table crafted up the road by furniture maker and designer John Houshmand. After dinner, guests retreated inside the property’s 1790s farmhouse where cardamom rice pudding, cashmere throws, and a candle-strewn room accompanied the intimate folk music of The Bones of J.R. Jones.
On an unseasonably warm Tuesday afternoon in October, we sat with new friends and enjoyed the simple pleasures of a season. But gatherings like these are far from simple. They are layered by the ideas and the hands that make them possible, by the opportunities they present to embrace a fleeting moment, but to also acknowledge the many moments that created that very one. And for this dinner, with a menu that drew from a year’s worth of Catskills ingredients, set on a century-old sycamore tree, on a centuries-old farm, there are many moments to acknowledge.
Before guests arrived, the Brushland, And North, and Parachute teams worked with local makers to put the final touches on the table. Miko Akasaka of Seasons on the Hudson traveled up from Irvington to create striking arrangements of locally harvested dahlias and viburnums whose berries danced with crab apple branches cut from the property. “Every person involved was a master of their craft and that was the most special part of this dinner,” says Brushland co-owner Sara Elbert.
Parachute’s Contrast Edge Napkins and North Country Vintage rose gold flatware tied flawlessly with John Houshmand’s rustic sycamore slabs. “While our traditional aesthetic is California-cool, we wanted to debut our Contrast Edge Table Linen Collection in an environment that felt conventionally autumnal and cozy. Our first thought was upstate New York,” Brand Marketing Manager Trelawny Davis says of the partnership with And North. “Once we decided on the location, we knew we wanted to work with people who were not only familiar with the area, but also understood the brand and could offer an authentic environment.”
Guests were greeted by Tracy and Jamie Kennard of Kingston’s Brunette Wine Bar, who poured Concord grape cocktails made from the vines that line the barn, and natural sparkling rosé. Tracy describes the Loire Valley pét-nats as reminiscent of “that feeling of waking up before the alarm goes off and getting to steal an extra hour of sleep,” an emotion similar to the one elicited by the event itself.
Before dinner, guests roamed the orchard, cornfields, and artfully built stone walls that connect the 44-acre piece of land. The farm, which has belonged to Scott Quehl since 2003, was given to its original owners by King George the III in 1792 and was operated as a dairy farm for most of its two-hundred-year life. When Scott bought the property, it was meant to be for quick fly-fishing jaunts and family weekends, but he quickly discovered a sense of emotional belonging in upstate New York. Today, Scott works with a local farmer to grow corn, grasses, and alfalfa for nearby dairy farms and has been cultivating apples, pears, and black currants on the property since 2009. His most recent crop of apples was sold to Wayside Cider in Andes.
For Brushland Eating House’s Sohail Zandi and Quality Meats’ Antonio Mora, creating a menu for a dinner like this is as much about the experience as it is the food itself. “For us, the whole feeling of the Preserve and Gather Dinner is centered around a feast and a celebration,” says Sohail. “We like to create lasting food memories and experiences, and not just feed people,” adds Antonio. “It’s the perfect opportunity to do something that encapsulates everything that is good about hospitality.”
The vesper board — a foot-wide plank overrun by items like thick cut bacon, pickled green tomatoes, and saffron deviled eggs — is Brushland’s go-to ice breaker. “People show up and are taken aback by their surroundings — they’re meeting a lot of people they don’t know,” says Sohail. “We want everyone to grab and tear and stuff their mouths. It’s a refocus moment.”
Most of the meal was prepared over fire in the property’s smokehouse, a century-old stone structure that has been largely dormant for the last fifty years. For Sohail and Antonio, utilizing the smokehouse was as much about resurrecting a piece of history as it was a practical way to showcase their bounty. “Cooking with open fire is obviously the most carnal way to cook,” says Sohail. “I think it gets glamorized nowadays but in reality, it just makes a lot of sense. You’re just taking food, seasoning it, and injecting it with heat and smoke. It’s the simplest way to cook.”
As the meal progressed, guests from Venice Beach to Brooklyn, gathered around the table to share rabbit minestrone, ancient grains, and carrot salad. For many, the dinner offered a first glimpse of the region, an opportunity that those hosting did not take lightly. “Who we are as operators and chefs and diners and now Bovinians, is pretty unshakable — it’s our foundation,” Sara says on sharing their terroir and their dining philosophy with newcomers. “We want people to have fun, to meet fellow diners and find commonalities, to nourish all the bellies with comforting food. We make those things our goals both in and out of the restaurant.”
For Antonio and Sohail, honoring the ingredients and the farmers who grew them is one of the responsibilities of being a chef. “It is up to the chef to present it in a way that not only shows respect for the product, but also honors the people that have cultivated and grown it,” Antonio says of dishes like ember roasted vegetables drizzled with honey fermented garlic. “All those ingredients come from the same area — to me this is so exciting and inspiring as a chef. Your mind begins to race thinking of all the combinations and flavors you can produce.”
After dinner, guests made their way inside, where a modestly furnished living room dripped with local foliage, cashmere throws, and candlelight. This past summer, Scott enlisted the help of artist and photographer Emily Johnston, who stripped the interior of the farmhouse down to its bare and charming essentials so the space could speak for itself. The dinner was the first affair of this nature in the house and on the property, but certainly not the last.
A whiskey bar offered guests something to sip on as they indulged in citrus squash merengue and cardamom rice pudding with apple butter. Linen covered euro shams from Parachute made a performance by The Bones of J.R. Jones all the more intimate. “At our core, Parachute values comfort — no matter where you are,” says Trelawny. “And North has mastered making people feel at home in the upstate New York region, even for guests traveling from three thousand miles away. We made a great team because both brands have an appreciation for the art of hosting and creating warm, memorable experiences. And North knew exactly how to incorporate our cozy items both indoors and outside. Our styles complement one another and uphold a greater goal of making people feel at home.”
As the temperature began to drop, guests took their final strolls and made their way back to the Catskills Carriage Bus that carried them from and back to the city. The setting October sun offered a symbolic closing to the afternoon and the season. But for any closure that comes with fall, there is always something born out of gatherings like these: new relationships are made, ideas are seeded, future collaborations are discussed, and for a moment, we are nostalgic and hopeful at the same time.
Thank you to everyone who made this night possible. A special thank you to Brushland Eating House for the incredible food and inspiring hard work and to all of the wonderful makers who contributed their talent to make this dinner so memorable.
Co-Host: Parachute Home
Food: Brushland Eating House
Chefs: Sohail Zandi and Antonio Mora
Transportation: Catskill Carriage
Wine Selection: Brunette Wine Bar
Raw Wood Table: John Houshmand
Beeswax Taper Candles: Greentree Home Candle
Flowers: Miko Akasaka of Seasons Flowers
Rose Gold Flatware: North Country Vintage
Calligraphy: Rae Child
Gift Bag Item: 2 Note Perfumery
Music: The Bones of JR Jones