The Seasonal Flavors of Ulster County

By Jill Fergus, featured on Gotham

You might know Ulster County—just 90 miles from NYC—for its spectacular scenery and numerous hiking and biking trails, but this Upstate New York destination is also garnering a reputation as a first-rate foodie haven. The area’s abundant natural bounty, especially rich in fall, is showcased through seasonal menus in the county’s many chef-driven restaurants.

Here, farm-to-table isn’t just a culinary buzzword but a way of life. So if you’re looking for a fun food-focused getaway, pack your bags (and your appetite!) for a weekend in Ulster County.

Aroma Thyme Bistro, Ellenville

Chef Marcus Guiliano’s health-conscious cuisine, made from sustainable and organic ingredients culled from 45 area farms, has quite the local following. On a crisp fall day, you’ll appreciate digging into a bowl of organic sweet potato-and-yellow curry soup or a Harvest Moon burger, made from grass-fed beef and topped with local apples. Aroma also carries a top-notch craft beer selection, including Super Kitty from Kingston’s Keegan Ales.

Cafe Mio, Gardiner

Before hitting the trails at nearby Mohonk Preserve, fuel up with a hearty breakfast at Cafe Mio, a casual-chic eatery from chef-owner Michael Bernardo specializing in locally sourced ingredients. With huevos rancheros made from free-range eggs from a farm just down the road and homemade corned beef hash—not to mention seasonal specials like fried zucchini omelets and apple cider mimosas—Cafe Mio is a cut above your typical diner.

Henry’s at the Farm, Milton

Within Buttermilk Falls Inn + Spa, a 75-acre Hudson River estate, this restaurant truly lives by a farm-to-table ethos. It adjoins Millstone Farm, which provides organic eggs, honey, herbs, berries, and vegetables, while meat and poultry come from neighboring farms. Delicious dishes, inspired by fall’s robust flavors, include roasted beet salad with Millstone Farm apples and goat cheese, and maple peppercorn duck maguey, served with shiitake wild rice and Swiss chard.

Main Dining Room at the Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz

One of Ulster County’s most famous resorts is Mohonk Mountain House, a massive Victorian-style castle property built in 1869 in the Shawangunk Mountains that’s especially stunning during fall foliage season. Amid Insta-worthy views, you’ll be treated to seasonal fare from numerous Hudson Valley purveyors, which might include a charcuterie plate of pate, Bayonne ham, and artisanal cheese, and lobster agnolotti with pea tendrils and fennel-tomato jam.

Cucina, Woodstock

Can it really be 50 years since the iconic Woodstock music festival took place on nearby Yasgur’s Farm in Bethel? The legend lives on, but Woodstock has more to offer than a namesake legacy, including an exciting culinary scene at places like Cucina. This popular Italian restaurant excels with farm-fresh dishes (many are gluten free), such as its signature rigatoni served with sausage and peas in a creamy sauce, and pork filet scaloppine with polenta and broccoli rabe.

Wilde Beest, Kingston

Sample creative farm-to-fork fare at this intimate restaurant in Kingston’s buzzy Stockade District, featuring decor accents of industrial-chic lighting fixtures and taxidermied pheasants that wouldn’t be out of place in Williamsburg. Working with local farms such as Hepworth and Northwind, executive chef Chris Turgeon turns out a small but tightly curated rotating menu of seasonal small plates (smoked carrots) and large plates (slow-cooked pork jowl).

Rock Da Casbah, Saugerties

At this funky rock-and-roll themed restaurant in the Catskills town of Saugerties, you can catch live music, sip a craft beer or a local wine from Whitecliff Vineyard, and nosh on locally sourced food that includes plenty of vegan options. The menu runs the gamut from starters like kale salad and pumpkin coconut curry soup to larger dishes like braised short rib with mushrooms and caramelized onions, and rack of lamb with roasted asparagus and garlic fingerling potatoes.

Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room, Big Indian

Long-time favorite Peekamoose, in a renovated farmhouse, is no stranger to serving locally sourced ingredients. After savoring Gramercy Tavern-trained chef Devin Mills’ refined comfort food, such as slow-braised beef short ribs, wild mushroom risotto, and wood-grilled steak with butter-braised leeks and cauliflower gratin, head into the tap room for an after-dinner pint of cider or Catskill Brewery lager—or better yet, enjoy it by the small fire pit on the terrace.

Butterfield at Hasbrouck House, Stone Ridge

The three-year-old restaurant at Hasbrouck House, an 18th-century Dutch colonial stone mansion-turned-tony boutique hotel, is firmly on the radar of serious foodies. Some of the standout seasonal dishes from CIA-trained executive chef Jesse Frederick, long a proponent of utilizing Hudson Valley bounty, include ricotta gnudi with porcini mushrooms and butternut squash and smoked chili-glazed lamb chops with braised turnips and Brussels sprouts.

Main Course Marketplace, New Paltz

Take a lunch break from antiquing or adventuring at Main Course Marketplace, specializing in locally sourced casual fare (Edgwick Farm and Jenkins-Lueken Orchards are just a few of the purveyors it buys from). You can’t go wrong with a blackened chicken salad, mixed with avocado, black beans, radishes, tobacco onions, and candied walnuts, or a smoked turkey sandwich topped with cheddar, avocado, roasted red peppers, and a chipotle aioli.

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