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‘E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle’ – Dante Alighieri
We’re knocking at the door of our first year breaking bread on the corner of Route 10 and River Street. The length of time it takes a dromedary camel to gestate. Astonishing. What an odyssey. We pushed out twelve months ago, not unlike The Jumblies:
They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And everyone cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’
They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’
And here we are. Our pea-green sail is still firmly affixed to its tobacco-pipe mast. We’re still whistling and warbling moony songs in the shade of the mountains brown. And yes, we passed a few nights in a crockery jar. But we’re here. And it feels amazing.
There will likely be a more opportune moment to stand on ceremony and reflect. Or perhaps reflection is better embroidered into the practical, workaday tapestry of present and future. So much to be thankful for; so many to be thankful to. We set out under the flag of collaboration, and we’re still flying it now, a year in, more proudly than ever. Team Table begins at home, with our small knot of hard-boiled, soft-centred Jumblies, beavering away tirelessly within the confines of this great old building. But from there it ripples out to the farms and dairies of Delaware County, across New York State, down to New York City, sets sail across the ocean and rides westward to the sea. The network of support has been simultaneously staggering and humbling.
They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
By way of acknowledging the confluence of two tributaries of celebration – Independence Day and our first year afloat – on the evening of Thursday July 4th we’re rolling up our sleeves, sleeving up our rollers and inaugurating PASTA NIGHT. Yes, that’s a whole night and three letters different from PIZZA NIGHT. Fresh pasta, ribbon upon ribbon. Sauces to be announced; but rest assured, all -vores will be taken into account. We even have fresh air for Breatharians and earth for the soil-eaters. We’ll have salads and ice-cream, wine and beer. There’ll be lights in the trees, the warbly bits from Rigoletto in the air and we might even attempt reenactments of classic scenes from Puccini; Katrin will die of American Spirit consumption, Caitlin will commit hara-kari with a butter knife and Inez will hurl herself off the roof of the pizza oven.
We’ll be kneadin’ and a rollin’ during the day on Thursday and the results will adorn all available airspace within Table on Ten. Please come by and sashay like Salome through the pasta curtains. Then come by again in the evening and eat ’em.
It might get busy. In an effort to avoid the Great Pasta Bottleneck of ’13, please send us a message (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re thinking of bringing a few people, we’ll try to massage the flow as best we can. No worries though; there’s space in the garden to drink wine, relax and enjoy our spandex unitard rendition of Nessun Dorma.
Thursday July 4th 2013
Table on Ten
Food 6 till 9, Drinks till 10
Free limited edition (20) hand-typed 1 year anniversary copies of Edward Lear’s The Jumblies
The Summer Farm Stand. We’ve been barking on about it forever, like boring uncles at a wedding. Its incipient arrival has been dangling off the bottom of the Producers page since triceratops was chased up Webster Brook by a pack of teenage weed-smoking velociraptors. We said it was coming. And we said it again. But the Plague of Water came first. Followed hard upon by frogs, lice, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts and darkness. But these – the routine vicissitudes of a Catskills spring – are behind us since Steve Burnett parted the headwaters of the Little Delaware and we all shuffled across with our Tilsit & Pickled Onion sandwiches. He was last seen storming up Mount Utsayantha muttering something about a planet populated exclusively by monkeys.
This Saturday, 22nd June will mark the unveiling of the Last Harvest Farm Stand at Table on Ten. Yet another sparkling collaboration, on this occasion involving our cherished friends and neighbours Katrin and Jamie Stelmashuck, who have been doggedly tossing seed into the teeth of horizontal tempests all May. There’ll be clusters of their windblown pirat butterheads readily available on the shores of Western Ireland all summer.
Katrin and Jamie live on Bloomville Hill with their kids, Mya and Hans, just up the road from Katrin’s mum and dad Annemarie and Walter Schmid who moved to Valley View Farm from Switzerland 43 years ago; verifiable latterday Bloomville pioneers. Continuing a farming tradition, Katrin and Jamie run their own small vegetable farm – Last Harvest – so close to Table on Ten that that a well-furnished zip-line would see them hurtling through the front door like Navy Seals, their arms burgeoning with russian kale. We’ve sung their praises before, on the subject of egg production on the frost-encrusted tundra. And now we’re taking matters a beautiful step further. Every Saturday morning Jamie will be manning the stand at Table on Ten sharing the the fruits of Last Harvest’s labours, while Katrin is upstairs putting Eggs in their Nests, chipotle into the Almost Guacamole. In a nod to Victorian values, Mya will be featured as chirpy-cockney flower girl and Hans is the perfect size for sending up chimneys. Truly a family affair, straight out of Oliver Twist.
This weekend expect greens. Red russian and curly kale, ruby streaks mustard, mesclun mix, butterhead lettuce, sorrel. Plus rhubarb from a century-old heirloom patch, radishes, dandelion roots. As the summer flourishes, so too will the offerings. A visit to the farm this week saw the first shoots of an abundance that’ll grace the stand in weeks to come. Red and golden beets, carrots, cucumbers, leeks, garlic, red cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, sugar snap peas, green beans, red, white and blue potatoes. And always, always greens.
But no mention of Last Harvest would be complete without a little reflection upon Katrin.
Katrin appeared to us last summer, shortly after we’d opened. She came, like all good things, bearing children and flowers. Within a few weeks she was indispensable. As handy with a mop as with a spatula, she is our Ceres, Goddess of the Harvest, our Liberty at the Barricades, Jean d’Arc, Florence Nightingale, Joan Jett, our Gioconda and our Beatrix Potter. She’s functionally Table on Ten’s Rock of Gibraltar, which is not to say she’s windswept, facing Morocco and covered in primates; rather, she grounds the kitchen with her clarity, artful dodger smarts and boundless work-ethic. She brings a baritone note of common-sense to the symphony when the rest of us are anguishing over the virtues of sow thistle greens over oxeye daisy buds. She samples the chilled milkweed thistle soup and tells us it tastes like mulched grass clippings. And those stories; the ones that begin mysteriously, meander haphazardly and finish dangling in mid-sentence. Heavy on the Marmite and light on the anguish, she educates us on the arcane ‘who’s who and with who’ details of small town life with the empirical tenderness of an indulgent schoolteacher. It is impossible and unnerving to imagine Table on Ten without Katrin. She is woven into the very fabric of the place, each move we’ve made, everything we have been and become. And now I’m starting to cry. Huge tears, like christmas baubles are falling like rain. The ‘u’ and ‘h’ on my keyboard have stopped working and my dog just brought me a squeaky plastic pork chop to make me feel better. It must be love.
Where’s Zev Rovine when you need him?
June 21, 2013. Posted in Events, Inspirers, Producers, The Microshop. Tags: Annemarie Schmid, Farm Stand, Hans Stelmashuck, Jamie Stelmashuck, Katrin Schmid-Shelmashuck, Last Harvest Farm, Mya Stelmashuck, Steve Burnett, Walter Schmid, Zev Rovine.
Friday, June 14th. Losing track of days. Pulled into camp 4 this afternoon and regrouped, having nearly lost Sherpa Farrell to a crevasse in the Khumbu Icefall just shy of West Hurley. He had wandered slightly off route to retrieve a Burnett Farms turnip, a critical element of Team Leader Romano’s Fermented Turnip with Yarrow Vinegar. Farrell knew its absence would throw off the overture to Beaverkill Hatchery Trout with Angelica Goat Cheese and Dill Buds, so when he saw it slip out of Specialist Elsen’s backpack and roll like Marie Antoinette’s head towards a crack in the ice, he took it upon himself to enact a rescue. Unfortunately the crack widened upon his approach, and by the time Team Leader Valk heard his cries, his legs were bicycling air: without his instinctive deployment of a Stone & Thistle duck leg, thrust deep into the rim of the crevasse, he would have been lost. Thank heavens for Team Leader Romano’s inclusion of Agnolotti with Duck Leg and Spring Onion in the expedition inventory! Farrell was ultimately retrieved by forming a human chain and proffering him a sturdy stalk of Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower foraged milkweed (later to be deployed in Milkweed with Bramley Mountain Farm Bone Marrow and Amaranth). It had been a close shave, and it sent a shudder of collywobbles (sadly not on the menu) through the team; a stern reminder that it is exactly when things are going well that Disaster’s ‘black sailed unfamiliar’ appears on the horizon. Whilst praising his heroism, Valk nonetheless took a moment to censure Farrell for his rashness. “No single turnip is worth the life of a team member” she reminded us all, memorably. And how true. Had we lost Sherpa Farrell or – more importantly – the contents of his backpack, there would have been no Smoked Burnett Farms Pork Shoulder with Rhubarb Pie, no Slow-Cooked Pork Loin with Burnett Mibuna nor Townsend Pond Fish Sauce Front Leg. Farrell, it transpired, had been carrying the entire piglet; his loss would have utterly erased all traces of pork from the menu. We moved on, chastened but relieved.
Evening, June 14th. The storm rages without, we huddle within. Sherpas Farrell and Richards check inventory and dress fennel fronds for the Bramley Mountain Bavette Steak. Team Leader Romano experiments with Madalyn Warren Rhubarb Ice, in the form of a frozen knob which we all take turns suckling. Tiredness setting in, Sherpa Schmid-Stelmashuck lifts team spirits with finger plays enacted upon the wall of the tent by candlelight; her ‘Pat the Bunny with ambiguous appendage’ is particularly engaging, bringing smiles to chapped lips. Elsen hand-sifts Little Delaware pine-needles for the saucily titled Black Bottom Spruce Custard, Valk massages Stone & Thistle Duck Breast with Spring Garlic, Black Garlic and Dan Finn Moonshine Maple. Guide Rovine dials in by satellite from base camp with pairing suggestions. Team PINES double-check Harpersfield and Byebrook Farm aged Tilsit and Gouda stocks while Team Table audit the staples; Crystal Valley milk, Last Harvest Farm eggs, Seneca Lake Salt, Cowbella butter. One-by-one we attempt sleep. Forecasts promise all clouds will clear tonight and we will wake to a new, clear dawn.
Tomorrow we ascend.
June 14, 2013. Posted in Events, Inspirers, Journeys, Press, Producers, Recipes. Tags: Angelo Romano, Beaverkill Trout Hatchery, Bramley Mountain Farm, Burnett Farms, Byebrook Farm, Carver Farrell, Crystal Valley Farm, Dan Finn Farm, Emily Elsen, Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Harpersfield Cheese, Inez Valk, Julian Richards, Katrin Schmid-Shelmashuck, Madalyn Warren, Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower, Stone & Thistle Farm, The PINES.
We have wine. After a Sisyphean winter, pushing a rock the size of Bloomville up and down the bureaucratic corridors of Albany, the certificate finally landed at the Post Office a couple of weeks ago. No fanfare, no parting of clouds, no white-bearded deity gazing down benignly from on high. You’d think they’d have sent an emissary, crowned our heads with laurels, handed us a golden pig. No such thing. Still, after months of imploring the faithful to wash down pizza with house-made spruce-tip soda, it was an epiphany just to be able to run round the premises waving the document like we’d discovered the last Willy Wonka ticket.
So we were allowed to sell wine. Which was great; except we didn’t have any. Insert image of Inez in white Pierrot makeup, striped shirt, battered hat with red geranium, miming the pouring of sauvignon blanc into the imaginary glasses of delighted customers, everybody grinning like Julia Roberts on ketamine and doing exaggerated versions of that ‘zut alors! c’est merveilleux!’ finger-kissing thing that french people do.
We called Low Sulfite Zev on the Batphone. The engine of his VW Golf was already purring. He slid right down the pole and hightailed it north, from Brooklyn to Albany to Bloomville on a single macchiato, screeching to a rubbery halt outside Table on Ten only moments before we were due to open the doors for pizza night. As dusk fell, case-upon-case of variously biodynamic, organic, non-sulphuric, low-yeast-no-yeast contraband were surreptitiously shuttled from trunk to basement like a scene from Treasure Island with Cindy in the role of Long John Silver, stamping her wooden leg in delight and squawking “Pieces of Eight! Pieces of Eight” in her best Amazonian Parakeet.
We don’t claim to know a lot about wine. We know what it tastes like and we know what it does; takes an okay afternoon and makes it a better evening. We’ve heard it can do more than that – ask Lot’s daughters – but at Table on Ten we’re making an effort to keep things pretty congenial.
But Zev Rovine does. He knows. Don’t be fooled by the Bushwick beard-and-do and the APC New Standards. This is a man who spends half the year wandering the variously flinty, sandy, chalky and loamy appellations of rural France, hanging with dudes who look like Gerard Depardieu’s dad. Zev can say the word terroir without blushing. He even does that ‘spitting the wine into a plastic bucket after you’ve tasted it’ thing that you thought was the provenance of retired Canadian university lecturers on Butterfield & Robinson bicycle tours (in stark contrast to the Table on Ten crew, slugging down each new offering with all the restraint of a litter of labradors). Zev provides the wines for our friends at The PINES in Gowanus, that’s how we met him. Which is in keeping with the sort-of-happenstance ethos that has evolved at Table on Ten over the past year: to take the instinct of what we believe and augment it with the expertise of friends and colleagues who bring their like-mindedness to whatever new arcana we all find ourselves exploring. In the case of Zev, his championing of small vineyards in rural backwaters of Europe echoes our emphasis on small farms along the dirt roads of Delaware County. Add to that a healthy dose of byiodynamics and organic practices (but almost no sulfites) and it’s the bedrock of a good marriage. Or at least a country romance with strings attached.
The wine list is new and evolving. We made an effort to cover the bases as simply as we could. Solid reds and whites with one or two that are a little more challenging. A delicious, affordable rosé and a french sparkling white. It’s unapologetically not a huge list, but everything on it is artisanal, produced small-scale, with care, patience and the minimum of other stuff – stuff that isn’t grapes – added. Because Zev works with small producers, often quantities are limited; so the list will be constantly changing as we lose some wines and gain others. And, as always, we’re really curious about what everybody thinks. People have been stamping on grapes, fermenting them and guzzling the results since before Uncle Ekhinos drove his ox-cart into a ditch off the old Corinth to Mycenae road around 1600 BC. The Armenians might have been at it even earlier and the Persians and Georgians too. Now you can hop on an 8000 year old tradition right here in Bloomville New York, along the verdant banks of County Route 10. Prepare to roll up your trouser cuffs.
We’re having house guests. It’s very exciting. We’re busily plumping the cushions, vacuuming the rugs, scouring the scale off the u-bends and consigning those foot-crippling pieces of lego to the junk drawer by the sink. It’s going to be a squeeze; we’re putting The PINES in the girls’ bedroom with the My Little Pony sheets and Four & Twenty Blackbirds on the pull-out couch that Auntie Dorothy had her little accident on . If things get really crazy we can whack the fungus off the teepee.
SATURDAY 15th JUNE – 7 in the evening, till everybody’s full
12 course tasting menu, lots of it locally sourced, hand-foraged, grass-fed, spear-slain
$75 a head
Wines by Zev (Biodynamo) Rovine, by the bottle, glass or bedouin goat bladder
If you’ve not had the opportunity to eat at The PINES on their home turf in Gowanus, Brooklyn, you’ve been missing a treat. All sorts of people – many with voices more eloquent than ours – have said so. But that’s beside the point; no need to mourn, because now you can try it in Bloomville. Yes, really. Better still, it’s the product of Brooklyn/Delaware County collaboration; Table on Ten’s network of local farms, dairies, cheesemakers, fishermen, bud caper wranglers, yarrow-pluckers, nettle-whisperers. And again, whilst many of our regulars are familiar with Four & Twenty Blackbirds’ amazing pies, a bespoke, limited-edition, Delaware County dessert is another thing altogether.
If you’d like to join us, please speak up soon. It’s going to be a sweet, tender and tasty hooligan evening. You can come in your muck boots or your vintage YSL muumuu (or both). We’re doing just one sitting, maybe 22 or 23 people. Menu details will be selectively leaked through disreputable sources over the next week or so. But all signs are good. Carver Farrell has been seen rustling through the undergrowth disguised as a duck; Inez Valk’s abandoned Subaru was spotted adjacent to a particularly vigorous stand of Japanese knotweed; dread shots rang out at Burnett Farms last weekend; Emily Elsen was heard moaning ‘wild rhubarb’ from an open window in Crown Heights; Angelo Romano turned up at the Met last week, conducting Das Rheingold with a garbanzo bean.
Please come. We might have a giant bouncy castle and a jell-o wrestling pit. We might not though.
Again, let us know as soon as possible at email@example.com