When I lived in New York City (getting close to about a decade ago now – eek!), I would hear whispers of The Catskills on rare occasion and didn’t pay much attention because, well, nobody did. It sounded like “the country”, and I was an ex-Texan in my early twenties. Who wants to go back to the country when I had New York? If I felt the need to escape the herds and stench of urine, I’d venture to the Hamptons because it was where the pretty, glamorous people of Manhattan went, but there’s a beach and stuff. Nature!
Fast forward to 2015, and The Catskills is on the New York Times list of top destinations. It has been referred to as the “Brooklynization” trend, led by millenials in search of a healthier lifestyle. About 100 miles outside of Manhattan, the lack of direct public transportation that was once problematic is now one of its greatest assets. It allows for crazy cheap real estate, which in turn allows ample space for big dreams and passion projects. The stuff the youth is made of.
“We get together over food, bonfires and conversations. If we don’t grow our own food, we get it from our amazing local farmers who grow the best produce I have ever tasted.” – Jeanette Bronée, Founder of Path For Life
Featured image courtesy of greatnortherncatskills.com
I met Jeanette Bronée months ago while strolling about Downtown LA. She looked so incredibly cool in her casual menswear-inspired ensemble that I felt the need to stop and photograph her. I discovered she has the unfair advantage of innate design sense due to her Scandinavian roots. Nonetheless, she turned out to be one of the loveliest strangers I’ve ever met. The inner glow I sensed was soon validated when I found out she’s a self-nourishment coach and happened to be in LA on a book tour promoting her second book, Eat To Feel Full. She quickly mentioned she’s a former fashion executive (which makes perfect sense) and now resides in The Catskills (also makes perfect sense). She paints a majestic picture of a land full of luxuries money can’t buy.
Sidenote: Jeanette was so modest, she didn’t mention she lives in an amazing home in Bovina that she and her photographer husband designed. (That’s what Google is for though.) It was recently featured in Dwell and is known as “the Bovina House”. Talk about living in style!
Image by Ruby S. Nichols
Image by Torkil Stavdal
New Yorkers, thanks to Jeanette, this is the only guide you’ll ever need for an enlightened road trip to The Catskills. Unlike my past guides, this is more or less in chronological order, assuming you’ll be making the drive up from New York City. Eat, drink, be merry, kids. And in the words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there“.
“I have lived in the Catskills now for about 5 years, but I have been coming here for hiking, camping, skiing and riding my motorcycle for the past 25. I love the Catskills; the landscape is amazing but living here I have fallen in love with the community we have here in Bovina. We get together over food, bonfires, and conversations. If we don’t grow our own food, we get it from our amazing local farmers who grow the best produce I have ever tasted. We have eggs with a yolk so yellow and rich you will never be able to eat an egg from anywhere else again. We have artisanal cheeses and meat from grass-fed, free-grazing, well-loved animals that are well 'harvested'."
Image of Bovina House Kitchen by Torkil Stavdal
Driving up to the Catskills, you’ll want to stop for lunch here, where Linda makes delicious food and fantastic coffee.
83 Broadway / Kingston, NY 12401 / 845.514.3432
Image by Torkil Stavdal
If you need to pick up some good wine for the weekend, stop at Kingston Wine Company to shop and chat wine with Michael, who will be able to tell you about sustainable wines, small vineyards, and producers that make wine in small batches. Hint: I suggest drinking wine from those places.
65 Broadway / Kingston NY 12401 / 845.340.9463
If you’re coming upstate later in the day and miss Grounded, you can instead stop for a snack and sip some wine at this beautiful barber shop turned wine bar.
33 Broadway / Kingston NY 12401 / 845.802.0837
Image of Kingston Brunette Wine Bar by Katie Lobel
Getting onto route 28, you will feel as if you are already in heaven (sort of) and even though you are anxious to get to Bovina, I suggest you make a pit-stop at Scandinavian Grace to check out the Scandi home goods, (aka great design) and catch a coffee and a chat with Fredrik, who is a fellow Scandi and design lover.
2866 Route 28 / Shokan, NY 12481 / 845.657.2759
Image by Erin Lindsay
If you’re coming all the way to Bovina (and I hope you do because it is lovely here), you can stay at Table on Ten and enjoy not only a lovely environment but also indulge in pizza night. They make their own dough and the toppings on the special are what is “in vogue”, or rather, seasonal produce from within a 10-mile radius. And I have to say… I don’t like pizza, never been a fan, and I love this one. They have other menu items made with fresh and local ingredients. Their pizza is now so famous that you need a reservation.
52030 Main St. Route 10 / Bloomville, NY 13739 / 607.643.6509
Image by Torkil Stavdal
There are other places to stay and dine in the area; but no matter where you stay you want to come to Brushland for dinner, too. Let’s face it, you do have at least two nights where you need food. I particularly like their selection of veggie dishes, because they are so rich in flavor and made from farm-to-table, local ingredients. If you’re lucky they may have room for you to stay upstairs, which does make it easy to get home after a nourishing meal. You will hear the place buzzing with conversation and see it full of locals, weekenders and travelers so make sure you reserve a table.
1927 County Highway 6 / Bovina Center, NY 13740 / 607.832.4861
Image by Torkil Stavdal
If you are around on a Saturday morning, you can get freshly roasted coffee from FosterBuilt. The owner might even be roasting while you’re there, and if not, you can still enjoy the fresh coffee from his unique upstate coffee-truck – actually – it is more like a cabin on wheels. If you love old bikes, cars, and motorcycles, ask to see his collection.
Main Street route 6 / Bovina, NY 13740
For a trip back in time, go to Russell’s where Bea makes over-the-top breakfast sandwiches to fill up on for the day, but you might want to be sure to bring your cholesterol meds. The general store is part museum, part gathering spot for locals and weekenders, and part store selling local products.
2099 County Route 6 / Bovina, NY 13740 / 607.832.4242
Image of FosterBuilt Coffee by Torkil Stavdal
Image by Tay Tea
During the day, you can go for tea in Andes at Tay Tea. She is my favorite “crazy” tea-blender, because not only does she come up with some of the best flavors, she also gives her teas names you can’t resist — like Wild Woman and Better Than Sex. The gentlemen can try her Man Tea. She also features handpicked items that she sells so you’ll surely walk away feeling like you were on an adventure.
131 Main Street / Andes, New York 13731 / 917.806.8091
Image by Tay Tea
Further down the street, you will find Clementine, which carries vintage clothes that seem as though they’ve never been worn. I don’t know how Misha finds them, but she does.
Main Street / Andes, NY 13731
Image courtesy of themarthablog.com
If you want to visit the farm stands to get some fresh, organic (and delicious) produce, bring your big market bag and fill up. My favorites are:
Star Route Farm is a diversified sustainable farm, which seems more like a bio-experiment of minerals and microcosms that make the soil better so your food tastes fantastic.
789 county Highway 40 / Charlotteville, NY 12036 / 607.437.9932
Steve Burnett talks about his vegetables as if they are art. But in a way, they actually are art.
1901 Bramley Mountain / Bovina, NY 13740 / 607.832.4799
Lucky Dog farm also has a café where you can enjoy their food, but you gotta swing by Hamden for that.
35796 State Highway 10 (Main Street) / Hamden, NY 13782 / 607.746.8383
Image courtesy of Star Route Farm
You can get the best meat around town if you visit Flaca-Vaca Farm, where you’ll find Simon and Robert loving up their cows so that when they finally are harvested, we all know they had a good life.
You can also pick up some of Kelli Cain’s ceramic bowls and cups here or schedule a visit to her studio in Delhi, where you can see all her beautiful things.
581 Odell Lake Road / Stamford, NY 12167 / 607.222.7654
Image courtesy of kellicain.com
Lastly, you cannot leave Bovina or the Catskills without picking up artisanal organic cheese or moonshine maple syrup from Dan Finn at Bovina Valley Farm. Having done his time in NYC building movie sets, he retreated back to the mountains of the Catskills and started building homes. In fact, he built our house, “the Bovina House”, as part of the team of Denison Builders. After that, he called it quits (not our fault, I hope) and decided to become a full-time farmer. Many cheese lovers are grateful for that because he makes fantastic cheese. But he also makes the best maple syrup around. While you’re driving around the back roads of Bovina, stop by the farm-store to pick some up, along with his Alderney raw milk tome cheese.
77 Huff Rd / Delhi, NY 13753 / 607.746.8192
Image by Bovina Family Farms
ABOUT JEANETTE BRONÉE
Jeanette Bronée founded Path for Life in 2004 in an effort to bring more conscious awareness to our own power for healing. The path for life philosophy is based on how we thrive because nourishment is so much more than nutrition. She teaches that we need to shift our focus from dieting to feeling nourished by not only our food, but also our habits, our environment, and our self-relationship. She developed the unique integrative Online 9-step Path for Life Self-Nourishment Program to help more people have nourishing access to changing the way they eat by changing their habits through mindfulness and food-knowledge. Jeanette is the author of “EAT TO FEEL FULL and nourish yourself for good”. (You may find it on Amazon or in several shops listed in this guide.) An Emotional Eating Counselor and Self Nourishment Expert she works one-on-one with clients and writes articles about the topic of nourishment. She develops nourishing recipes for her blog on Path for Life and she is an inspiring Health Advocate and Motivational Speaker anywhere people care to learn more about how we can change the way we eat by changing our relationship with food so we can eat for health.
Image by Torkil Stavdel