December 2, 2008, The Daily Mail: Winter Fest to showcase area’s heritage craft foods

The Daily Mail

HUNTER — The holiday season’s gift-giving offers a prime opportunity to share some of the Catskill region’s finest heritage craft foods.

In Hunter on Saturday the first Winter Festival Celebrating Catskill Food & Farms is a chance to learn about the diversity of the intriguing, healthy, and flavorful local products available.

The all-day event is sponsored by the Catskill Mountain Foundation and Pure Catskills, and will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at CMF’s Hunter Village Square facility, at the west end of the municipality, on Main Street, Route 23A.

The Catskill Mountain Foundation — now in its 10th year — is a Hunter-based not-for-profit promoting arts, education, and sustainable living in Greene County’s Mountaintop region, and Pure Catskills is a buy local campaign for the agricultural economy of the greater Catskill Mountains area.

Participating heritage farms and agri-producers in Saturday’s Winter Fest will feature a wide assortment of heirloom and specialty products at prices that can’t be beat in today’s economic times, and will include not only distinctive traditionals such as local cheeses, jams, honeys, and maple products, but also baked goods, teas, Angus beef, fudge sauces, yoghourts, and chocolates, as well as skincare products, wool mittens, heirloom seeds and more.

There will also be a day-long series of presentations and demonstrations by both area farmers and cookbook authors, starting with Sally Fairbairn at 11 a.m.

Fairbairn is author of “A Catskill Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes from the Dry Brook Valley,” one of the Catskill’s more secluded and rustic valleys, located in Ulster County’s Town of Hardenburgh and Delaware County’s Town of Middletown.

Next up at noon is cook Beverly Ellen Schoonmaker Alfeld, author of the “Jamlady Cookbook” and “Pickles to Relish.” A native of Accord, on the southern side of the Ulster County Catskills, Alfeld is now based in the Chicago area and the chance to sit in on her talk should not be missed.

Denise Warren of East Meredith’s Stone & Thistle Farm, in the heart of Delaware County’s Catskill Mountain farm country, is one of the founders of the Catskills Convivium of Slow Food, a farming visibility and benefits group, and will talk on the importance of local food customs and heritage foods at 1 p.m.

Then, at 3 p.m., Delhi, Delaware County-based shepherd Sylvia Jorrin, author of “Sylvia’s Farm: The Journey of an Improbable Shepherd,” will speak. Jorrin’s writing is featured with an excerpt in the book “Farm Aid: A Song for America,” by Willie Nelson.

Lastly, John Verhoeven, of JJF Black Angus, in Greene County’s East Jewett Valley, will discuss the benefits of hormone-free, grass-and-grain fed livestock.

Also, by sharing your favorite recipe during a 2 p.m. “Holiday Recipe Show ‘n Tell,” the day will include a chance to win a gift certificate for a one-day cooking class at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, in nearby Dutchess County’s Hyde Park.

The discussions and presentations will take place in the facility’s Village Square Bookstore & Literary Arts Center, with the Fresh Harvest Cafe & Market, offering freshly made daily cafe selections using local ingredients, and Kaaterskill Fine Arts, also on site.

The list of vendors and participants is an impressive cross-section of the best and healthiest that Catskill Mountain farming has to offer in regional heritage foods and agri-products.

They include Burt’s Mountain Honey, Harpersfield Cheese, Heirloom Botanicals, Hudson Valley Seed Library, JJF Black Angus, Lucky Chocolates, Middlefield Orchard, Organic Nectars, Painted Goat Cheese, Promised Land Farm, RSK Farms, Shandaken Bake, Slickepott Fudge, Slow Food Catskills, Stone & Thistle Farm, Sugar Moon Maple, Summers End Orchard, and Tay Tea.

Because much of the Catskills, including the Greene County Mountaintop region, is in the New York City Watershed, the City works actively with farmers in the region to ensure water quality protection.

Accordingly, the Watershed Agricultural Council — a separate non-profit agency funded by the City, the USDA, and the US Forest Service — has helped support the day’s events, as well as the City itself, directly through its Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

For more information on this culinary Winter Fest, visit or call 518-263-2001.

To reach reporter Jim Planck, call 518-943-2100, ext. 3324, or e-mail [email protected].

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