WE JUST RETURNED FROM AN ANNUAL shindig put on by one of our favorite farmers out in Orange County’s black dirt. In our experience, farmers, in general, tend to worry a lot—about the weather, soil, taxes, pests, deer—and no matter what the occasion, no matter how happy they are, there’s an edginess, an “I’m sitting on the edge of my seat right now because I may have to leave right away to go fix some machinery that’s sure to break down before I get to eat this delicious dinner” look about them.
Not this time. Amidst the gathering of farmers, a few chefs, artists, writers, everyday working stiffs, spouses and children, the smiles were genuine, the fun, laughter and conversations were sincere. In fact, I may have been the only person there who was at all anxious—in my “I’m sitting on the edge of my seat right now because the magazine is going to print and I still have pages to do and we’re having computer problems” mode. No one—from the folks at the raw oyster bar to those tending to the huge hog on the spit—shared my anxiousness. This was one of those occasions that most folks just don’t want to leave, the kind where you can’t help but say aloud, “These are nice people,” and you have to admit, “This is a nice place to be.”
About this time four years ago we were in fighting trim—politically, that is. We will be taking the upcoming election very seriously (just not on these pages); meanwhile, election or no election, the leaves are already turning, robins are flocking—autumn is creeping down the river a little early this year, it seems, and these next couple of months in the Hudson Valley rank high on the “Things that are good in this world” list. Despite the occasional glitch in the proceedings (like, say, another Ice Age), everybody we know, without exception, loves being in the Hudson Valley this time of year.
And what’s not to like? The list of events in this issue barely hints at the number or scope of things to do, places to go. Foremost, naturally, is Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. That’s right, call it Part 2, or The Sequel, or Revisited, or Redux—we heard from so many chefs and diners following Restaurant Week in March saying they wanted a second one this year that we decided to go ahead with it. Figure that at least for a couple of weeks this fall (November 5–18 to be exact), roughly 200,000 residents and visitors alike will sit down to some of the best lunches and dinners the best valley chefs have to offer, cheap. Then there’s the garlic and pickle festivals, wine tours, farm tours, cheese tours, and workshops on making everything from apple cider to wreathes. The list of things to love about the Hudson Valley in the autumn (beyond the beauty of it all) is almost endless. “All dressed up with no place to go” does not compute around here anymore. “So many places, so much food, and nothing to wear” is more like it.