Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oak Vino is a Wine Lover's Gem, and in Walking Distance

Oak Vino is the seven year passion project for owner and Middletown resident Rinny Shah. From the first sip of wine, I realized we were in no ordinary wine bar. We were in Rinny's happy place, and our palates were reaping the rewards from her dreams of opening a wine bar, and the consistent research she does on each bottle of wine offered in her bar.

When I stepped up to the bar to ponder the wine list before perching on the seat, I saw a familiar friend on the wine list that I don't normally order - Chianti. The first time I drank Chianti was in Tuscany, and it was a common table wine, but so good. It's when I finally understood the meaning of this line: "Going were the water tastes like wine." That's exactly what Chianti was like for me in Italy during a summer abroad taking literature classes. It was also the first time I actually liked red wine, having been plagued with headaches after consuming it at family holiday dinners. I came to realize ... not all wine is the same.

Upon returning from my trip to Italy, I'd order the table wine at Italian restaurants, which is often Chianti. It was not the same. I haven't ordered Chianti since.

Hence my nostalgic sigh, "Oh, Chianti...," when I saw it on Oak Vino's wine list. The woman behind the bar, who I came to learn was the owner Rinny Shah, heard my whisper, and answered "The Chianti is delicious." Shocked that she heard me, I had to order. Two glasses later, I learned her entire start-up story.

Rinny discovered the spot for the bar after a breakfast at The Beacon Bagel. Oak Vino is one of several business in "Market Square", the formerly empty row of storefronts that were available on Main Street for years, yet now hold several new businesses including More Good Syrups and Roosevelt Vet on the Hudson. When the Town Crier signed on, several other businesses fell into place as well. Rinny and her husband Griven Patal, a small business owner of phone stores in Fishkill, love Beacon. Rinny had been meticulously planning for a wine bar in her head while saving up at her corporate job. Due to a personal experience, she quit her job and finally pulled the trigger on the wine bar.

Griven points out that every detail in the bar is Rinny's design. From the reclaimed wood beams, to the wood lining of shelves in the wine refrigerator. She works 80 hours a week, planning the wines, and cooks the sauces and tapas she serves at the bar to compliment the wine. Griven remembers his first days as a small business owner, and is still amazed at Rinny's endurance to create a space so paired with her vision. In fact, Rinny's husband works with her and the rest of the staff on weekends to help close the bar and polish the crystal glasses.

Yes, crystal glasses. Because in Rinny's research, she discovered that wine tastes better in crystal. The glasses need polished every night, and who better to do it than a husband ;)

I can concur that red wine does taste better in crystal. Quite clean and poignant. I will have to try a white wine next! I've been in a few wine bars in my life, and I can promise you that this one is special.


Picture quotes in the ladies bathroom.
"Life goes by quickly. Just be happy.' And "Be free."
Easily done in Oak Vino!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Planting Herbs Despite April's Winter Snow Day

In my new pursuit of meal planning for the week, I'm hitting up Key Foods more often (thought I love Hannaford on Rt. 9 the most for the low prices and great shopping experience), accenting with a little Beacon Pantry or the Beacon Natural Market when I need special things. Today at Key Food, a fresh delivery of bright tulips and herbs had arrived! Normally I get herbs from Adams or Sunny Gardens, but ran out if time last weekend. And at $2.99 for each potted herb, and $5.99 for tulips, I could not resist! I snagged the tulips for a baby present and a housewarming gift, and picked up a planted basil, cilantro, parsley and dill. My only hope is that I can grow these herbs inside. I'll move them out to that empty, official herb garden plot that you see here in the back of this picture.

Spring or bust!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Rumors are True: Fresh Beef and Fish at Beacon Pantry

While out at Quinn's with our friends who turned us onto the Cold Spring Coffee Pantry (a cafe in the mountains of Cold Spring), they also clued us into the fresh beef and fish deliveries at Beacon Pantry on Thursdays! And by "fresh," I mean air sealed packaging maybe a day or two before it's delivered to the store.

One of Beaconite's biggest wishes have been to have a source close by for meat and fish. There is a source in Cold Spring out the back of the Riverview Restaurant on 9D. We usually get our hamburger meat and filet mignon steaks at Hannafords on Rt. 9, and they really are pretty good, yet require planning ahead for shopping, and then a real commitment to eating the steak or fish for dinner, lest you wait too long and the fresh beef goes to waste. This wouldn't seem possible, but stuff happens and you end up cooking something else for dinner sometimes.

I'm trying to meal plan on a Monday mornings and buy groceries throughout the week. So having ground beef and steak at Beacon Pantry is such a help.

So mark your weekly calendars:

THURSDAYS: delivery of meat and fish (like ground beef, different types of steaks, salmon, shrimp, grouper, and can change per week).

MONDAYS: fish and meat are moved to the freezer.

Beacon Pantry is a Facebook page you're going to want to keep refreshing! They post what's going on almost daily.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Keen Natural Dehydrated Whole Food for Dogs at Beacon Barkery

The latest food marvel at Beacon Barkery is this Keen, which I spotted with my little eye while picking up my dog her usual Lamb wet dog food from Merrick. Dehydrated food in a box? Just add water and you have a wholesome meal in 5 minutes? Curious.

Everything I've bought at Beacon Barkery has been spot on, so this may be worth a try. Even though my dog is happy with her current food setup (Call of the Wild dry + Merrick Lamb formula wet + joint supplement + pain meds for arthritis). It was Libby, Beacon Barkery's owner, who I give huge credit to for helping my dog into a new phase of comfort. For years, Gerdy has dealt with "seasonal allergies" but they didn't go away these last few years. Gerdy ate a lot of chicken, and after getting her tested for mange and whatever else, Libby suggested eliminating chicken. Which for Gerdy kind of stunk because she likes to lick my plate of eggs in the morning.

But we took the plunge and went cold turkey with the chicken. Within weeks, a noticeable difference. But, Gerdy was still licking her paws. So I took her to Roosevelt Vet On the Hudson, and right away, based on an earlier incident with Gerdy becoming immobile after a road trip, they suspected arthritis, and that Gerdy was licking joints that hurt :(.....

So with the new food regiment and the meds, I think Gerdy is a happier camper. I could always ask the animal communicator whose flyers I see at Beacon Barkery every time I go.

So many choices at our local pet boutique! Seriously - if you have a need or problem, Libby always seems to have the answer...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vote for A Little Beacon Blog for Best Local Blog!

Okay everyone, this blog is officially running for the "Best Local Blog" for Hudson Valley Magazine. Trouble is - the category doesn't exist yet!! LOL. Even thought there are plenty of local blogging voices. I walk around our town and I love seeing everyone's "Best Of" award magazine cover year after year in storefront windows, and it is such an honor. But blogging is a business too!

So if you like this blog, please vote for it at Hudson Valley Magazine! Here's how it works since there is no official category for it yet: You'll click here, fill in your name, and then scroll down to the bottom of the voting page, and then you'll see a section called "Choose Your Own Category." Type into that box:

Best Local Blog, A Little Beacon Blog


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

It's Time: Planting the Garden with Help from Ruth Stout

Planing vegetables and using Ruth Stout No Work Garden book
It's here! My hyacinths started coming up before the 3 feet snow plop in March (after the one in February), that snowed us all in, all winter. Layers of snow ice sat on top of the eager bulbs for weeks, but it didn't matter. The snow has finally melted and the tulips are pushing through.

In the stores, like at Lowe's and Home Depot and our neighborhood greenhouse Sunny Garden Greenhouse on Rt 9D, the vegi seeds are stocked! This is the year where I pay attention to my mulch, and finish the book one of my neighbors lent to me, Ruth Stout's The No Work Garden. Before reading the book, I'd noticed that the soil under the rotted leaves in the very back of my yard was luxurious. It was so rich. So last Fall, I spread all of our leaves on our garden plot before the snow came.

Ruth Stout No Work Garden Book
Last year's garden became too much to weed. But Ruth Stout's method really did put an end to my weeding last year when I finally got a bushel of hay and lay it down. Not only that, but when my friend nestled his compost and hay around my forever-wilting basil, I never watered it again. And it grew 3x in size.

So, I'm excited. Are you? What are you doing different this year?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Behind the Scenes with All You Knead Bakery, Artisan Bakers

All You Knead Bread
I'm somewhat of a small business junkie. I love stepping into the stores on Main Street and hearing the latest news of how business is going, and what latest tools they are using (like Square or Swipely?). When I lived in Manhattan, I'd do this with the taxi drivers, and boy did I get an earful when taxis were forced to accept credit cards. Hence my fascination with the Uber/Gett high class taxi drama that I wrote an article for: "An 'Open Interview' for Josh Mohrer, GM of Uber Regarding Gett Competition Tactics".

Such was the case when I was buying my weekly bread from Simone at All You Knead Bakery, the artisan bakers who left their digs in the old high school to claim a storefront location on Main Street several years ago. Simone was telling me about how she survived when her business partner and head baker suddenly put in his two weeks notice to quickly retire. Simone didn't know how to bake.

I interviewed Simone for Tin Shingle, my small business community based website and resource for small businesses that I run with my partner, Sabina Ptacin-Hitchen. I got the behind the scenes story of how All You Knead survived, and is thriving on Main Street, local farmers markets and nearby market grocery stores like Adams Fairacre Farms: "Rolling in Dough: When All You Knead Bakery Needed to Learn How to Bake" Talk about a Little Engine that Could! As is the nature of running and building a small business.

Click here for the full interview >