Hamptons Epicure: Dutchess County, So Very Hamptons

Dutchess County
Dutchess County, Photo: Stacy Dermont

Having recently returned from Montreal, I’m once again celebrating the beauty of the Hamptons. It’s great here and so convenient to travel to so many other fabu places. I’m particularly reminded of a pilgrimage I made with my husband exactly one year ago.

We went to the annual Hudson Valley Wine & Food Fest held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck. This year’s event will be held September 12 & 13. We’ll be enjoying Sag Harbor’s Harborfest then, so we’re not going back to Dutchess County this year, but we recall our experience fondly.

I remember thinking how exciting it would be to leave our local foodshed behind and deeply explore another.

Like the good foodies we are, we made reservations for lunch that Friday at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park. It was a beautiful day and we snapped some great shots of the expansive CIA buildings, hit the kitchen gadget section of the gift shop hard and made our way to the American Bounty Restaurant. We wanted to eat as locally as possible—as usual. The service was fantastic—from the front desk to the server to the roving supplier-of-buns—so polite and caring. We opened the Wine List and there it was—a taste of home—Wölffer Estate featured prominently. I guess when something is that good; you go out of your way for it. Which reminds me—I have to pick up my latest Wölffer Wine Club shipment from the winery in Sagaponack next week—which is no trouble at all!

The highlight of our trip was a visit to the new distillery Dutch’s Spirits Harvest Homestead Farm in Pine Plains. I loved that this place got rolling during Prohibition, posing as a turkey farm, and just recently, inspired by the artisanal spirits boom, has gone back into full production. And the moonshine tasting and onsite gourmet lunch was nothing to sniff at. Our tour took us inside what is to become a museum space featuring artifacts and displays from back in the bootlegging days. Where was Dutch Schultz from? Long Island. Of course. Did he have dealings with our local bootleggers? Possibly. Another little shot of home.


The Fest itself was not so much our scene. We were expecting something more like Dan’s Taste of Summer events wherein well-dressed people gather under one huge, white tent. The Dutchess County event has vendors scattered throughout fair buildings and tents and it features food trucks around a courtyard.

It was fun but kind of raucous. I’m all for an arena in which I can go unnoticed as I stuff cheese curd into my face, but it was feeling a little less-than-elevated until we walked into the second building. There, smiling at us was Jeri Woodhouse from A Taste of the North Fork in Cutchogue, selling her delish wares. We didn’t buy any because we can get them from the Sag Harbor Farmers Market right down the street every Saturday—but we had a nice chat with her.

It would be facetious to quote Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, but irresistible, so here it is: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.”

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You can now follow Stacy’s adventures on Twitter, @HamptonsEpicure.

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