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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Beacon Bits -- Echo Reverberates

Echoes can imitate or echoes can leave a lingering trace. But not so for Echo in Beacon, which is a one-of-a-kind store that entices inter-generational purchases for children and adults with a range of heirloom and educational toys, seasonal clothing and accessories for the fashion forward diva. This Echo is unique and stands alone.

Located in Beacon for 16 years at various locations, this eye-catching double-storefront shop found at the intersection of Main Street and Tioronda Avenue (with its neighbors the Howland Cultural Center and Beacon Falls Cafe) has become the epitome of the success that women entrepreneurs brought to this river town, long before the more recent revival that has brought a host of shoppers and visitors who parade the local streets every weekend of the month.

Owner Karen Donohue has the requisite design and marketing prowess that established this niche design haven, reminiscent of the best of Anthropologie (a globally inspired home and clothing store chain) and Hammertown (located in Rhinebeck and Pine Plains), with her personal twist that feels timeless, yet fresh and new; forward thinking, yet retro; tasteful and stylish, yet affordable. 

Step inside and you will be charmed by all that you see. And when you hear the music playing just the right song - you might feel tempted to dance along and feel the enchantment of this whimsical, yet practical store; but don't worry, you'll be invited to do so in the family friendly venue!

Food for thought:  With all the new restaurants and breweries and places to 'hang out' along Main Street, it is nice to know that Echo exists for all the mundane needs of shopping for new clothes or gifting oneself and others with purchases made at this women's boutique and toy store. A community needs the right mix of businesses that provide all the tools to get through life--food, clothing, home goods, necessities, and yes, even some toys and games. Beacon's turning point may have arrived as more of the previously empty store fronts are becoming occupied, but Beacon will be a better and more livable town when keeping this balance in mind. As they say, 'before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water; after enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.'

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Beacon Bits -- Autumn Spark

Early morning chill in the air, white-frosted grass, steamy river, MetroNorth train horns blasting to chase the deer from the warmth of its tracks, all signaled it was time to get out the knitting needles and head north to Rhinebeck for the 35th Annual Sheep and Wool Festival last weekend.
The selection of colorful yarns matched the variety of knitted scarves, hats and shawls adorned by crafters that vied for attention against the riotous blaze of colorful trees on the horizon. Throngs of customers, mostly women, patiently waited for a turn to browse, touch and purchase fiber, fleece, and fuzzy finds at the fair.
Three hours of maneuvering, sampling and occasional purchases later, it was time to head back towards Beacon with a stop at Obercreek Farm, my CSA, to meet Kate, the new manager for the 2016 season, and to pick up my pumpkins. 

The highlight of the brief visit to the farm's roadside stand was tasting freshly picked nasturtiums dipped in Obercreek honey, a unique blend of pepper and sweet that won me over instantly.
It left me with just enough time to rendevous at Zora Dora, closing for the season, to stock up on a few pops for my freezer (Grapefruit-Honey-Ginger, Maple-Cranberry-Walnut, and Pumpkin-Chipotle) to provide some dormant treats for an impending Indian Summer's day.

Food for thought:  The autumn leaves seem to come more quickly with each passing year, but the spark of autumn never fades. I can still remember the crunch of leaves underfoot as a toddler, an October horseback ride in Prospect Park as a teen, turkey shoots and harvest festivals in the Poconos in young adulthood, and the invigorating renewal that the autumn air provides now in mid-life. It's a season that evokes nostalgia more than melancholy; a season that elicits abundance over scarcity; gathering up instead of letting go; and warmth and generosity instead of feeling left out in the cold.

Fiery burning bush
Reveals its hidden true colors,
As if, for the very first time,
Autumn sparks.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Beacon Bits -- Beacon's Signature Dish@The Hop

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a foodie. And one of the pleasures of living in Beacon is the selection of dining experiences it offers, mostly with CIA graduates who have stayed in the Hudson Valley and taken to the start-up nature of Beacon's Main Street. I thought that I should blog about my dining experiences as a feature on Beacon Bits on an irregular-regular basis that features the fare of one of the local restaurants-- not because I am a food critic, but because I want to highlight the unique cuisine that Beacon offers and share my experience of dining alone or dining with friends, and in so doing, highlight what I will call a "Beacon Signature Dish".

So I went to The Hop on a recent Sunday evening after attending a concert and found that it was lively and practically full to capacity. The excitement is palpable -- the sound reverberates off the high-tech features of the renovated space and the effects of potables on tap added to the din. I waited to be seated and found that my wait was quite long. I was a bit dismayed that when a waiter/host approached, he asked the younger couple behind me if they wanted a table; I was overlooked and sensed that invisibility factor that creeps in for a woman of a certain age (or perhaps, the fact that I literally was shorter than the host and the two guests behind me), but I was able to assert myself and ascertain that I had been first in line. I was seated at a table almost immediately and then the experience unfolded as I had originally expected into an evening of comfort food and drink surrounded by other patrons who were clearly enjoying their meals and beverages. I asked the waiter about a 'signature' dish and I couldn't have been more pleased to hear that the "Kale & Lamb Sausage" was probably one of the favorites. I placed my order and asked for an "Oak Hill Red" apple cider on tap, which all spoke to the autumn chill in the air.
As soon as my meal arrived, I did not have any lingering angst about waiting to be seated, it was all worth the wait! The kale and lamb sausage had a spiciness that added a kick to the nutty-texture of a creamy polenta that was floated in a bit of melted butter with some sharp artisanal cheese and poached egg to add to the mix of flavors and melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Added to the mix was the dry-prosecco-like apple cider that provided an acid contrast, which cut the richness of the lamb and polenta; it was a definite keeper and perfect for a Sunday evening supper that greeted my favorite season of the year.
Food for thought:  I believe everyone should look for the 'joy' in life since everything else finds us whether we look for it or not. I also believe it is important to do things alone, whether it is going to the movies or out to a restaurant for a good meal. Everyone needs to feel empowered to indulge in the simple pleasures of life whether or not one is alone or can share the experience with others. Beacon is the type of community that allows one to have solo experiences since every individual adds to the fabric of community life that is being woven into the spirit of the village. There's no need to wait for that special someone to step into the fine dining experiences that are found on every corner......I'll keep you updated on other 'signature dishes' that I explore in the future.