A Note on Diversity – Exploring My Roots

(From my Jan, 6th, 2003 newspaper column)

With so many black people killed and black churches burning or burned down it is time to revisit this call to embrace our diversity.

I receive a lot of strange things in the mail. I think the oddest thing I’ve received was an unsolicited poster of Martin Luther King. It is a stunning photograph, nearly life-size, and simply a beautiful portrait of a remarkable man. Some branch of New York State’s government sent it to me. Why, I do not know, but I’m glad they did.

I get many comments about it. It hangs on the wall in my book shop window and literally stops traffic. It is so lifelike, people do double-takes. Eight weeks of the year it is covered by one of Thomas Nast’s famous Santa Claus drawings, so if you only come into the village at Christmas time you probably missed it. The rest of the year it hangs there, next to a sign that reads, “Hate is not a family value”.

In the four years it’s been there I’ve only had 2 people say something negative about it. One was the proprietor of a short-lived shop in the Village who said he met the man several times and didn’t like him. Well . . . that’s OK. I didn’t know Martin Luther King, so I can’t say what he was like personally. I  respect him for what he stood for. It was the other comment that was more troubling to me.

One fairly warm day just after I put the poster up, someone I knew called into the open door of my shop, “Hey, Frisbie. What’s his picture doing hanging there? This is an Anglo-Saxon town.” For better or for worse, I have to admit that I’m rarely at a loss for words. (HA! That qualifies me for an honorary membership in the Understatement Of The Month Club! ) This time, however, it was close, but I tersely replied, “I’m exploring my roots.” That remark was meant as an end to the exchange, but anyone with the nerve to ask such a question was not to be silenced. He yelled back, “I know your mother, and I knew your father. Those aren’t your roots.”

What can be done with such an insensitive lout? I quietly explained that I liked the picture and my customers liked the picture, and if he didn’t like it, he didn’t have to come into my shop. His witty retort? “Ah, Frisbie, you know I don’t read. What would I want to buy books for?” With that, he was gone, and I was ticked off. Was it just a bad joke? Or a smart remark half meant in jest? I don’t think so. I know the guy. I think he meant it in all its ugly connotations.

“Exploring my roots.” I use that phrase a lot now. I enjoy ethnic diversity in people and in food, too. Whenever I am cooking a Mexican, Asian, or some other culture-specific dish, that’s what I say I’m doing – exploring my roots. So, on the following Thanksgiving, when 12 or so of my immediate family members were finished with dinner, I offered them some of my sweet potato pie. Now, it wasn’t the stringy, rural Southern dish I remember having in my youth, dark with molasses like the kind I used to bake. No, this is a smooth, refined, almost “white-bread” (if you’ll excuse the expression) version that many people mistake for pumpkin. It doesn’t compare to the real thing, but there is much less of it left over, so I guess everyone else likes it better. Anyway, I mentioned exploring my roots again, and because everyone at the table knew him, I told the story about so-and-so and his Anglo-Saxon town.

Didn’t that liven up the conversation around the table! Everyone had a story to tell about this guy. None of them laudatory. And then my mother floored us with the statement, “He was wrong, you know. You are exploring your roots. My grandmother was born in Africa.”

My mother always had something to say, God rest her soul. This time was no exception. If you knew her, you’d know I didn’t lick it off the wall. Once she was sure she had our attention, she told us the story I’ve condensed below.

She said that her great-grandfather and mother were part of the British colonial presence in Africa. I knew her mother was from England, but little more than that. Anyway, while they were there, they had several children, her grandmother among them. When the fighting with the indigenous people took a bad turn, (that’s not exactly what she said, but there is no reason to perpetuate a 150 year old racial slur that I’ve never seen in print – suffice it to say it was the only term she ever heard to describe those fierce warriors) it was decided the family would return to Great Britain for their safety. On the way home, one sister died on board the ship and was buried in the Indian Ocean. The rest made it home safely and, after a few more branches were added to  the family tree, we were all sitting around the holiday table thankful for their fecundity.

So, while I don’t exactly have African “Roots” (with apologies to Alex Haley) I have ties to the African continent. I also have the sensibility to embrace the diversity of cultures drawn to this melting pot of a country of ours. Heck, only a few generations back, we were part of the wretched refuse ourselves. So, a word to the blowhard bigots out there –  Get over it!

This weekend we have a National Holiday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King. Shortly after that will be St. Patrick’s Day, then Passover and Easter. Before you know it we’ll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo. When you look at the rest of the calendar year, you can see that it, too, is rich with ethnicity. Let us explore it, embrace it, and make peace with it.

Shalom.

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Embracing my spirituality on the Route of Santa Teresa de Jesus

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Many years ago I followed a route through Spain of the Camino de Santiago, the road to Santiago, or Saint James Way – the path of pilgrims that leads from all over Europe to Santiago de Compostella and the Cathedral of St. James in Galicia, in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. I was troubled and unsure of my future, seeking the indulgences from St. James a completed pilgrimage promised.

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The Way is not just for pilgrims. It is a great hike, or bike ride through beautiful scenery populated by the kind and caring folks of Spain’s backcountry. Hostels dot the route and accommodations are plentiful, if sometimes rustic. It has become a tourist attraction and the subject of many books and movies.

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The path I followed led down from the north, through San Sebastian to Pamplona, then Burgos in the Castilla y Leon region and on west to Galicia, stopping at every religious site along the way. The spiritual impact was strong and somewhat unexpected, a phenomena many pilgrims experience – some even before they realize that they are pilgrims – but, for me, the specific places were somehow forgotten, the trip blurred by time to just the glorious highlights.

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So it was with real surprise on my recent trip to Spain following yet another religious path, the Route of Santa Teresa, that my present and past selves stood on the same spot and a flood of spiritual memories engulfed me. The traditional scallop shell design set in the pavement in front of the Cathedral in Burgos triggered the memory – instead of me at the end of my present journey, my old self was a long way from Santiago de Compostella, tired and hungry, but the happiest I can remember ever being.

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I suppose that’s why I take these trips, why I travel at all. Beautiful scenery, great food, warm friendly people, those are all good reasons by themselves, but when taken as a whole, especially when there is a religious theme to my travels, they combine to transcend the material world, leaving me dazzled with the spirituality of the experience. It is an epiphany of sorts, and well documented in all the literature, but still singularly unique to the person experiencing it.

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I saw the me of years ago, paused in front of the Burgos Cathedral, and it was as if he almost saw me too. Then, with a wondrous look of surprise in his eyes I saw he recognized the reason for his pilgrimage – and the surety of its outcome. I remember that eureka moment so many years ago, but not what caused it. Did I see the future me, or feel my presence? I have no idea. Then the old me took up The Way again with a lighter step, one I have to this day.

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Saint Teresa was born Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada on March 28, 1515 in what is now Avila. She was one of the first female saints of the Roman Catholic Church and one of the most famous religious, historical and literary figures in the history of Spain. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of her birth, an art exhibit illuminating her life and achievements titled: Teresa of Avila, a Master of Prayer runs through early November, 2015.
The Catholic Travel Center “The most trusted name in religious group travel”, offers a tour highlighting the life of Saint Teresa of Avila, also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus. From her birth in Avila, Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage site for its amazingly preserved medieval fortifications and buildings, to her death in Alba de Tormes.
For more information see www.spain.info and http://www.turismocastillayleon.com/turismocyl/en

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Gazpacho – Spain’s cool summer soup

richardfrisbie:

I just tweeked the recipe a bit – this is much better. It was a big hit with customers last week. I’m still getting compliments! Enjoy!

Originally posted on Richard Frisbie:

gazpacho3On a recent tour through the Castilla y Leon region of Spain observing the 500th anniversary of Santa (Saint) Teresa’s birth, I consumed a few gallons of the local specialty, gazpacho. This classic summertime cold soup is basically tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables blended together with various seasonings and spices.

What differentiates each chef’s interpretation is what additional ingredients they add, such as celery, onions, watermelon (!!) etc., and what chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, mint or green onions (or tortilla strips!) garnish the top. It can also be served as a smooth, thick, thin or chunky dish. You can see the gazpacho is truly a versatile vehicle for showcasing the fresh abundance of your summer garden.

Here’s a spicy version I’ll be serving at Hudson Valley Dessert Company this summer:

6 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped

3 large cucumbers peeled, coarsely chopped

1 large red bell pepper, seeded…

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Gazpacho – Spain’s cool summer soup

gazpacho3On a recent tour through the Castilla y Leon region of Spain observing the 500th anniversary of Santa (Saint) Teresa’s birth, I consumed a few gallons of the local specialty, gazpacho. This classic summertime cold soup is basically tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables blended together with various seasonings and spices.

What differentiates each chef’s interpretation is what additional ingredients they add, such as celery, onions, watermelon (!!) etc., and what chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, mint or green onions (or tortilla strips!) garnish the top. It can also be served as a smooth, thick, thin or chunky dish. You can see the gazpacho is truly a versatile vehicle for showcasing the fresh abundance of your summer garden.

Here’s a spicy version I’ll be serving at Hudson Valley Dessert Company this summer:

6 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped

3 large cucumbers peeled, coarsely chopped

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

1 large red onion, peeled & coarsely chopped

4 ribs of celery, chopped

1 head of garlic – roasted (cut in half around the equator, drizzle with oil, wrap in aluminum foil and bake @ 350 for 18 minutes. When cool, squeeze garlic out.)

1 bunch parsley, chopped, plus some whole leaves for garnish

2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3 TBS Worcestershire sauce

4 TBS fresh lemon juice

2 TBS Tabasco (or to taste)

Two 46-ounce jars tomato or V-8 juice

Salt & Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Finely chopped yellow, or orange bell peppers and green onions for garnish

Put first 13 ingredients in a large container. Using an immersion blender (or using a counter-top blender in batches) blend to desired consistency. Adjust seasonings, chill and serve. (Don’t forget the garnish!) gazpacho4 This makes approximately 1 ½ gals of soup. Don’t panic – it keeps for a few days refrigerated – but, believe me, this will go quickly for a big party. Or, the recipe can be halved.

Tip: Any leftovers can be used to make wicked Bloody Marys!

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My work as a culinary travel writer

My work as a culinary travel writer, often freelance, takes me many places around the globe, and not so many around the US. This week I’ll be in Spain, just west of Madrid, covering the wines and regional specialties of the Castilla Y Leon section.
I’ll be visiting Avila, “the City of Knights”, Alba de Tormes, villages in the province of Salamanca, Medina del Campo, Valladolid, and Burgos, before returning home next week.
Very capable (and long-suffering) people cover my post at Hudson Valley Dessert Company, but there is no one at Hope Farm Press to answer your questions and fill orders while I’m gone. My apologies for that inconvenience.

Until my return
Richard

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Garlic Oil and other Garlic Tips

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GARLIC TIPS

Burned garlic has an acrid flavor that permeates an entire dish of food. Whole pieces of garlic which have been mashed to release the flavor or thickly sliced garlic may be used in sauteing and will brown or burn less quickly than minced garlic.

GARLIC CAN BE EASILY PEELED
by pressing a clove with the broad side of a large knife until the skin splits and then it can be pulled off. Garlic may also be blanched for 30 seconds which loosens the skin but there is some loss of flavor.

ROASTED GARLIC
is delicious – very nutty and smooth tasting. To roast, simply slice off the top of an unpeeled head of garlic, place cut side up on a square of aluminum foil, sprinkle with olive oil and rosemary (or herb of choice), wrap up the head and roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Elephant Garlic is delicious prepared this way.

STORING GARLIC
Garlic should be stored in a cool place with good ventilation. It does not keep well in the refrigerator.

FROZEN GARLIC
Garlic and be peeled, pureed and frozen for longer storage.

HOW TO MAKE GARLIC OIL
peel and crush 8 cloves of garlic. Put in a glass container. Heat olive oil and pour over the garlic cloves. Cover and when it is cooled, store in the refrigerator. There have been confirmed cases of Botulism poisoning from garlic stored in oil. Make your garlic oil fresh and keep it no longer than two weeks in the refrigerator.

FOR SUBTLE GARLIC FLAVOR IN SALADS
rub the salad bowl with a cut clove of garlic before putting in the salad greens.

HOW TO MAKE GARLIC MARINADE OR SAUCE FOR STEAK OR HAMBURGERS
Sauce can be made by putting the following in a blender or food processor: 1/3 cup Soy Sauce, 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar, 1 Tbsp , 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp coarse grind black pepper, 4 cloves of peeled garlic, and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Blend until pureed. Pour over steak and marinate for 4 to 6 hours. Save the marinade and bring to simmer. Add chopped fresh parsley and serve hot over the steak or hamburgers. Also wonderful over grilled vegetables.

HOW TO MAKE GARLIC VINEGAR
pour 1 quart of boiling white wine vinegar over 10 cloves of freshly peeled and sliced garlic in a glass container with a top. After the vinegar has cooled, store in refrigerator for 3 weeks. Remove garlic and add 3 Tbsp of Black Telicherry Peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and pour into hot sterilized bottles. Cap and label.

GARLIC BREATH
Either eat more garlic and knock ’em dead or eat a handful of fresh parsley. It is said that the chlorophyll in parsley removes garlic from the breath.

GARLIC ODOR ON YOUR HANDS
Rub a cut lemon on your hands. The lemon oil in the skin and juice of the lemon help to remove the odor of garlic.

Ode to garlic . . .

A Tribute to Garlic . . .
All powerful; marvelous seasoning
you are the essence, the incense
which revives and exhilarates,
you are the spur that excites,
stimulates, Garlic
you impel, you cheer;
you are the only condiment. You
are the glorious one, the sovereign
extract of the earth.
G. Coquiot

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Where Saugerties’ Junior & Senior High Schools rank in NYS

Niche.com ranked public high schools across the country using a detailed set of methods to rank 14,431 schools nationwide. To do so it collected 4.6 million opinions from 280,000 students and parents.

Saugerties Senior High School received a C+ grade and ranks 669th in New York State. Saugerties Junior High received a B- and ranks 753rd.

According to high schools website  there are 1,539 public high schools in New York State. “New York ranks as the 3rd state in terms of student enrollment and 4th in terms of total number of schools. It ranks 10th for the student/teacher ratio and sits 29th for the percentage of students on free or reduced lunches.”

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Sharing Secret Family Recipes Among Spanish Friends

On an evening of barhopping during a culinary tour of Galicia’s Santiago de Compostella, a friend and I ended up at O Celme do Caracol, a restaurant (with a good name) that caters primarily to the locals. The owner, German Gonzalez Pose, went to school with my friend.

In a city where a friend of my friend is my friend as well, I was quickly included in the intimacy that old school chums share. In their company, I was amazed how different the city looked from the inside; when one sees it as a native rather than a tourist. There we were, a few guys talking over plates of food, sharing wine, lies, and laughter.

Our conversation that night looped from old school days to lovers – both past & present – and business; real guy talk, but it always came back to food.
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At one point German briefly disappeared, to return with a handful of sardines. He showed off their freshness – the clear eyes and shiny, unbruised bodies. Then he was gone again, this time to cook them so we could taste the freshness – bones-and-all.

“Don’t eat the head,” he told us. “It’s too bitter. It will ruin the taste of the rest.”

His enthusiasm and passion for cooking was infectious; our group grew as old friends and friends of friends were drawn to our table. Like moths to a flame, they couldn’t resist the shy smile and sparkling eyes of our host.

Of course our tasting didn’t stop with fresh fish; German soon brought out several bowls of salt and explained the uses of each. In between tasting and talking, I managed to get the recipe for one of them, and herbed salt:

Start with 2 lbs of Saltina, a large grain sea salt. Add 10 garlic cloves and a bunch of chopped parsley. Wrap in a linen dish towel and dip in boiling water for a couple seconds. When cooled enough to touch, squeeze out the water and remove the mix from the towel. Grind the ingredients together using a wooden mortar & pestle.

This herbed salt, moistened and dried, has a larger crystal that really “pops” in your mouth when sprinkled on vegetables or seafood. It can also be ground more finely, to intensify the flavors.

German is the first chef I’ve met who makes his own seasonings.

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He is truly a generous man. Aside from feeding us, German graciously shared a handful of family recipes. Of course he demurred at first, then smiled, saying “it is a secret family recipe, but I will tell you.”

Then he’d carefully translate Spanish terms and techniques into English for me. By the end of the evening he gave me permission to publish them – for the first time.

Here’s German’s family recipe for the Galician sauce, really an oil, that can be used on many dishes:

First, he said “Take olive oil, garlic, hot and sweet paprika, and simmer it with a whole onion. Then remove the onion.”

When pressed, he elaborated:

One gallon of olive oil, 5 heads of garlic cut in half, and one whole onion – skins and all. Add 100 grams sweet paprika and 10 grams hot. (The paprika amounts can be adjusted depending on the spiciness you enjoy, but should not exceed 110 grams total.) Simmer “a long time” (40 minutes) then cool with the onion and garlic left in until room temperature. DO NOT STIR. (He confided that most people ruin the sauce either by stirring it, or not letting it cool thoroughly.)

After it’s cooled, Gently remove the garlic and onion, pour off the oil and reserve, being careful to leave behind the paprika, which will have settled to the bottom.

Discard the paprika. (It will make the oil bitter if stirred-in.)

The sauce/oil will keep at room temperature; store it in a squeeze bottle and apply liberally to just about any dish you want. (It would also be great as a dipping oil with a good crusty –  think Galician – bread.)

I first tasted it on German’s octopus and potato entree, and have since used it to saute seafood, especially shrimp, and on rice and potatoes. It’s rich, red color and pungent aroma make it an unforgettable addition to many dishes.

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Wrap it up! Easy lunch recipe with Mr. Singh’s Pesto

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The wrap ingredients waiting to be used.

I love the idea of using wraps to hold a collection of leftovers to turn little bits of food into a delicious feast. You know what I mean – that last wedge of uncooked cabbage that wouldn’t fit into the corned beef pot for a St. Patrick’s dinner. Or the five slices of pork tenderloin you saved for a sandwich and forgot about. It’s those little bits and pieces of too-good-to-throw-out but too-little-to-eat food that is “just going bad in the refrigerator.” I save them up to make wraps for lunch on the weekends.

The key to a good wrap is having something to connect all the disparate elements and turn them into a savory unit of good food. Lately I’ve been using Mr Singh’s Punjabi Pesto to add a burst of spicy flavor as it wrangles the singular flavors into a whole. That and cottage cheese provide the moisture and the glue to make a good wrap.

(The all-natural ingredients in Mr Singh’s Punjabi Pesto make for a versatile spread and/or sauce that can be used anywhere you want great Indian flavor without too much heat. I’ve used it in stir-fry, soups and vegetable dips. It is especially nice when used to give some bland ingredients a flavor punch.)

In the pictures here, the top one shows the wrap spread with Mr. Singh’s Punjabi Pesto and the ingredients arranged around it just waiting to be assembled. There’s pork, green onions, cottage cheese and cabbage. (The pea sprouts are out of the picture.) To the side is a finished wrap waiting to be cooked.

I spread the cottage cheese on top of the pesto, and then arranged a few slices of pork in the center of the wrap. They got topped with green onions, cabbage and pea sprouts. A little salt and pepper – and – presto! – the wrap is ready to fold.mrsignspesto 002

One thing I can’t stand is the taste of raw flour. I know the wraps are already cooked, but I can’t get past the rawness factor, so I insist on grilling my wraps before eating them. Besides, it helps to bring all the different ingredients together when I cook the wraps. I use a Panini press to cook mine, but they could easily be weighted down and cooked in a frying pan, or simply baked.

The second picture shows the wraps cooked, looking good with their grill marks, and picking up extra flavor from the garlic salt I sprinkled on them and the aluminum foil they were cooked on. (I hate to clean my Panini press!)

There you have it – a great use for leftovers; one that makes them more elegant than a bunch of little bowls of food, and much easier to pick up and eat. If you don’t mind the extra calories (I do) you could sprinkle these with shredded cheese and pop them under the broiler for a real treat! YUM!

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Getting beyond the Trail vs Train Controversy – Considering the Big Picture

There is a fight going on in Ulster County, NY, with the county planning to rip up the tracks and build a rail trail while their tenant, a tourist railroad, has a lease and operates seasonal theme rides that generate hundreds of thousands of dollars within the local economy. Amid suits and counter suits the big picture is being overlooked.

With one side claiming a Tourist Railroad is most important for local tourism and another claiming it’s the Rail Trail that will bring more tourists, and with neither side proposing a clear path to compromise, perhaps it is time to determine what is best for the future of Ulster County by reviewing our past.

Map of the route of the U&D Railroad

Route of the U&D Railroad from Kingston to Oneonta

The Ulster and Delaware Railroad ran from Kingston Point to Oneonta, in Delaware County, with a spur up to the Greene County communities of Hunter and Kaaterskill. It was an important element in the original development of the tourist industry in the region. The U&D, as it was known, was among the first all season routes into the Catskills, bringing tourists in to fill the huge mountain houses and resorts built to accommodate them. Trains also carried in supplies to enrich the quality of life in the rural Catskills and carried out freight, such as dairy products, bluestone and lumber, to high paying urban markets. In this way the train fulfilled the dual purpose of meeting the needs of the folks who sustained the tourists as well as the tourists themselves. It was a successful and necessary part of rural life in the Catskills.

Beginning with the first hardy tourists, hiking has been a popular outdoor activity in the Catskills. For well more than a century, Catskill hiking trails attracted urban dwellers, which led to the trails being expanded and improved to accommodate even more hikers. The whole Hudson River School of Art was built around the vistas and scenery these trails now lead to. Parks and campgrounds were established even as boarding houses multiplied, all to house the growing number of urbanites who wanted the healthful quality of life the Catskills offered and the idealized nature the artists immortalized. Most arrived by train.

Summering in the Catskills became so popular that the Friday evening train into the region was called the “husband train” as more and more men secured their families in the cool Catskills away from the heat and sickness of New York City summers, traveling by train to spend weekends with their wives and children in “the country”. The same trains also carried freight both ways.

Times changed. After WW II, automobile ownership became commonplace and a vast network of highways was built to accommodate them. Passenger train service into the Catskills ended in 1954. Freight transport followed suit by 1976. Today the only way to get people and goods in and out of the Catskills is to drive. Perhaps now, with all our crumbling infrastructure and highway congestion, it is time to revisit passenger train service into the Catskills.

We currently have the first generation in our memory to rely more on public transportation than automobiles. Millennials are driving 25% less than their age group did just eight years ago. (AARP) They simply don’t feel the need to get their driver’s license, or the attraction of car ownership that their parents did. Yet it is their parents’ generation that is designing their transportation future, and that generation is committing them to a future automobile lifestyle that, for the youth, is fast going out of favor.

Consider this: Discovery Land Company just announced they are investing upwards of 1 billion dollars in Silo Ridge, (siloridge.com) a gated community of 250+/- multi-million dollar homes in Amenia, (Dutchess County) NY. That includes an equestrian center, hiking trails, gardens, tennis and golf courts, and full indoor recreation facilities. They plan for an all-inclusive lifestyle for today’s moneyed Manhattanites, much as the summer folk of a century ago sought in the Catskills. All this is just a short two hours into the rural countryside of upstate New York.

The reason Amenia has more of an attraction than say, similarly situated Phoenicia or even Margaretville for that huge investment and all those jobs, is that Silo Ridge is the last stop on the Harlem Line (Wassaic Station) of the Metro North Railroad. This new urban exodus is planned by train!

In comparison, the millions that may be invested by Crossroads Ventures in the luxury resort/residence complex called the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park (belleayreresort.com) is in a place only accessible by motor vehicle. Besides the congestion on Route 28 caused by delivering all the building supplies and then all the necessities for life in rural Ulster County by tractor trailer trucks, we’ll have all the SUVs delivering the people – every weekend! That’s if Belleayre Resort ever gets built and they still want to drive!

Imagine the success Ulster County could have if, when the generation that doesn’t want to drive has the money to invest in second homes and resort communities, they could consider Ulster County and the legendary Catskills as a place of recreation and putting down rural roots. We already have the name recognition and the recreation in place. We just need a way to access them for people who don’t drive.

If we keep the tourist railroad that draws people and money to our region, and add a passenger/freight train to run up the Route 28 corridor to Belleayre Mountain, our quality of life improves as the traffic diminishes and the investment in a rural lifestyle skyrockets. Jobs for future generations and an expanded tax base to pay for needed services will surely follow. (As an example, Silo Ridge is expected to generate $63 million just in property taxes during the first ten years.) That’s a win/win situation anyone would desire.

Want to add a third “win”? Simply extend the rail trail along the existing train tracks to the Ashokan Reservoir. Connect it to the Ashokan Campus and to a “Water for New York City” interpretive center near the fountains. Finally the Rail Trail has a destination, and it is within Ulster County! Further transport into the Catskills would be by train, easily set up with a station nearby.

You know this is true – hikers will not take a rail trail to their weekend homes, but people riding the train will. Instead of planning for the next 5 or 10 years, we should be planning for the long-term future well-being of Ulster County and the region by promoting passenger (and freight) service from Kingston into the Catskills by train.

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