Monday, January 26, 2015

Main street eats

 Whenever I set out for a visit to New Paltz, my thoughts are on food and color. One of the tastiest, and most colorful, eateries in the town is Karma Road on Main Street. This vegetarian restaurant, owned by a couple with extensive healthy large-scale kitchen experience, serves smoothies, juices, sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts. There's a deli case with to-go or eat-in options and their menu is HUGE and you can find it on their website. The place has outdoor seating and music that fits the vibe.

Herbal tea, I forget what kind. Karma has an awesome Moroccan mint iced tea, too.

I had the Avocado Explosion sandwich (avocado mash, local sprouts, carrots, and tahini dressing) with a side of veggie slaw. The sandwich was great, but a nice surprise was the slaw. I've never been a slaw person and if the stuff ends up on my plate it usually stays there. Not this time, maybe they use a vegetarian mayonnaise and that's the difference?

Below original art on the walls, dining tables display images from the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in nearby Willow, New York, of which the owners are supporters. The restaurant's wall of windows and high ceilings make this place a light-filled experience. Karma Road is open daily 8am-8pm (but closing at 6pm on Sundays) leaving you lots of time to work through the menu.

Karma Road Organic Cafe:
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary:
New Paltz, New York:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Fun with fungi!

For much of January the temperature has stayed mostly below 20. This is the time to take advantage of  the region's indoor activities, so last week I was excited to learn about a mushroom identifying class hosted by local guide Nathaniel Whitmore at the nearby Cornell Cooperative Extension Education Center in Liberty. Nathaniel is a member of the Delaware Highlands Mushroom Society.

The Tuesday evening presentation was well-attended and Nathaniel is definitely an expert on fungi. He went over mushroom types, anatomy, edibility, dangers, and more. Samples were passed around, some of which he collected before the class, along with guide books. He stressed the importance of not only bringing a book during a mushroom search, but one geared toward the region you're in. Local types include amanitas, polypores, and boletes, which all look familiar if you've grown up in the area.   

Mushrooms are highly variable and this makes identification difficult. A safe type can look the same as one that's toxic. An interesting story Nathaniel told was that though looking for specimens under apple trees is usually a good bet, soil in old orchards may be contaminated by pesticides sprayed decades ago. 


I've been on two of Nathaniel's walks in the past, one in nearby Milford where we identified common plants, and the other in North Branch during which we went a bit further, collecting and cooking specimens into a complete meal. I ate thistle! Specifically the core of the stalk which you boil and serve with butter, salt and pepper. Cooking mushrooms from the wild is pretty foreign to me, but definitely a goal. 

As Nathaniel told us, "There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old bold mushroom hunters." 

Nathaniel Whitmore:
Cornell Cooperative Extension:
Delaware Highlands Mushroom Society: