Get Out of Town: Chatham, Kinderhook, and Ghent
View Where to Eat in Chatham, Kinderhook, and Ghent in a larger map
Unlike Hudson and the Rhinebeck areas, where restaurants may well be the focus of a weekend trip, a visit to Chatham and its neighboring towns, Old Chatham, Kinderhook, and Ghent should perhaps focus on the beautiful farms and products from the region. (It's a good idea to have a cooler in your trunk to collect the goodies you'll want to bring home!)
Not that there aren't excellent options for dining in these towns. There are a few solid cafes in Chatham where you can get a good coffee, breakfast or lunch—Ralph's Pretty Good Cafe, Marisa's Bagels, and Our Daily Bread. However, a special place to start the day would be tiny Mado Patisserie, where owner Madeleine Miller-Delosh makes beautiful, delicate croissants, scones and muffins right before your eyes. She also makes the best tarts in the region, and if you are there, pick some up as well for dessert or a snack later in the day.
Lunch and a Beer
Hang out in the morning in Chatham and at 11am head over to the Chatham Brewing Company (behind Mado and Ralph's) and fill your growler up with your choice of freshly brewed ales, ambers, IPAs and more. You can taste as many beers as you wish and mingle with the loyal customers that hang out there every weekend.
But don't drink too much: for lunch, drive a few miles to the Omi International Arts Center in Ghent for a walk among the 70 outdoor sculptures, and at the end stop by the lovely Cafe in the Fields inside the beautiful visitors' center. The Cafe usually features local products from neighboring farms and will be rotating guest chefs from the region for special, locally sourced lunches.
Not too far from Omi, cows, chicken and sheep (and some horses, a donkey, and Louie the boxer) roam Kinderhook Farm's several hundred acres of rolling pastures.
Visiting the farm is a wonderful experience—everyone is nice, the animals look happy, the farm is beautiful (you can stay there also), and a "souvenir" from the farm store is sure to help you reminisce about it when you get back to the city. I love Kinderhook Farm's eggs, hot dogs, and lamb; the steak we got there the other day was also exquisite.
The second farm that's worth a visit is the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. You can pet the sheep, of course, but a visit to the self-service refrigerators right on the parking lot will get you some light and tangy sheep's milk yogurt, and the award-winning, square-shaped Hudson Valley Camembert (sheep and cow's milk). If they happen to have some sheep's milk ricotta -- apparently it's quickly scooped up by the likes of Thomas Keller -- by all means get it. It will renew your relationship with ricotta.
Dinner and More
At night, Chatham's out-of-towners and locals gather at the Blue Plate, where the regular menu is plentiful, and the daily specials are doubly so. The restaurant is charming, service friendly, the atmosphere is informal, and there is something for everyone in the family—from child to grandparent, from fancy to simple tastes.
After dinner, walk a a couple of hundred feet over to Golden Organics Ice Cream. A newcomer to Chatham, this shop has quickly captured people's hearts and stomachs with wonderfully creamy ice cream made from organic milk. The rather large store, located across the street from charming Crandell Theater, doesn't yet have a proper sign: its name is simply painted on the glass front. They promise to soon start selling other organic goodies such as cheese, eggs and milk.
About the author: Aya Tanaka teaches French literature and critical thinking in and around New York, and writes the Kids Welcome column for SE:NY. She chronicles her New York city and Hudson Valley outings on high chair ny when time permits.