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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Music for the Soul


Art in the Sanctuary

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church-15 South Avenue-Beacon

One block south of Bank Square and Beacon Visitor’s Center,
next to the fire station.
2nd Saturday Event

December 10, 2016

2:30pm, Free Admission*
*suggested donation for the Food Pantry -- bring a boxed cake mix or bag of stuffing 
Br. Josép Martínez-Cubero, OHC- tenor
With Maximillian Esmus- pianist
music by Beethoven, Quilter, Barber, Álvarez, Fauré, Loesser, Schwartz, Carnelia,
hymns and spirituals
Br. Josép Martínez-Cubero is a Benedictine monk in the Order of the Holy Cross, an international Anglican (Episcopal) monastic order. He lives at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY where he serves as the choirmaster, leads retreats, prepares the rotas, and is in charge of music. A tenor, voice teacher, and theatre director, Br. Josép sings regularly with Kairos: A Consort of Singers, teaches private voice lessons at the monastery by appointment, and is available as a director of theatrical events, and as a vocal soloist. Before entering the Order of the Holy Cross, Br. Josép lived in Manhattan for 19 years where he worked as a voice teacher, and theatre director. He founded The Pied Piper Children’s Theatre in 1999 and its adult wing, Delphi Theatre in 2003 at Holy Trinity Church, Inwood in New York City, and served as the Executive and Artistic Director of the organization until his entrance in the order in August 2014. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Br. Josép has performed in operas, oratorios, musical theatre, concerts, recitals, cabarets, and theatrical plays throughout the United States.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Give Vets a Chance

Art in the Sanctuary

Second Saturday Beacon Event

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church- 15 South Avenue-Beacon NY 12508

One block south of Bank Square and Beacon Visitor’s Center, next to the fire station

One block east of Route 9D - parking lot in the rear of the church

Saturday - November 12, 2016 – 4-6pm

A Special Tribute to Veterans with

Puppies Behind Bars Photographer

Peg Vance

Q&A with Peg Vance moderated by local photographer, Rob Penner, Beacon Fine Art Printing

Guest Appearance by President and Founder of PBB

Reception to Follow

Peg Vance has been photographing with Puppies Behind Bars for the past 6 years. She loves it. The photographs are given to the inmates. They are for their personal use as well as to be shared with their families. Her hope is that the images will always remind them of their dedication, hard work and commitment and that the photographs will bring back the love and tenderness they shared with these beautiful animals. Peg is also a letterpress printer and has a studio in Columbia County.

Puppies Behind Bars [] trains prison inmates to raise puppies for wounded war veterans and explosive detection canines for law enforcement. Puppies Behind Bars (PBB) was founded in July 1997 by Gloria Gilbert Stoga. The first 8-week old puppies entered Bedford Correctional Facility in January 1998. Puppies are now raised at four New York State Department of Corrections facilities, including Fishkill Correctional and Down State Correctional Facilities in Beacon, NY.

Come learn about a non-for-profit and its special mission for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, its local volunteer opportunities, and other ways to support this notable organization; PBB has been awarded 4-stars by Charity Navigator.  Find out more about the recently released documentary film, Prison Dogs. And perhaps, come to meet a puppy or two!
Food for Thought: I bypassed writing posts in October (no tricks or treats) because I was busy, busy, busy. One of the highlights of the busy month was attending the Puppies Behind Bars fundraiser in New York City featuring the documentary film Prison Dogs--the best documentary I have ever seen from the human and canine perspective--highlighting three dogs, three inmates and three Iraq/Afghanistan veterans with PTSD. This photography exhibit will make you want to locate the film on iTunes and learn more about this amazing non-profit organization that has Beacon connections at the local Fishkill and Down State Correctional Facilities. If you are a veteran, know a veteran or appreciate a veteran, come and be part of this feel-good, community-oriented event; you will leave as a more hopeful person, guaranteed. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Beacon Bits--Signature Dish@Isamu

I have to admit that I do not eat sushi, but that does not keep me away from Japanese restaurants where my favorite indulgence is a Bento box, the complete Asian meal from soup and salad to main course presented in a visually appealing and efficient manner.
So it was to my delight to find Isamu when I first moved to Beacon. Through the years it has been a restaurant that I have frequented with family and friends or dining alone. There is never a wait for a table and there's always a friendly and peaceful ambience. Even when families with young children are present, I have never witnessed a meltdown; it must be the low light conditions and water fountain that create a calm and mindful atmosphere. Or maybe it's the sight of exotic calligraphy or a creative sushi chef in action at the sushi bar.

Of all the Bento boxes I have eaten at Isamu, my favorite repeat order, the Zen Delight, is a vegetarian choice with stir-fried tofu alongside vegetable tempura and avocado rolls.
I think the picture is worth a thousand bites. Simple tastes and a fulfilling meal. Even when they forget the request to swap the rice to brown rice, it's a winner. Arigatou gozaimasu!

Food for thought: People ask why I don't eat sushi. When I was young, I was told never to eat raw fish by my dad who fished in the fjords of Norway as a boy. Norwegians eat a lot of fish--poached, salted, pickled, even lye-soaked--but I was indoctrinated not to eat it raw. Old habits sometimes never die. But I'm ok with the choices I have in a Japanese restaurant without thinking twice about what I am missing out on. I guess one could say I can live in a both-and world; there are those who appreciate the raw fish and those who don't and they can co-exist without feeling like it is an either-or choice. And that is something to celebrate.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Knit for Charity

A group of knitters who convened at the WWKIP Day on June 16, 2016 at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church created a sculpture that was intended to be on view during the Windows on Main Street event sponsored by BeaconArts; the Windows on Main Street did not happen this year, but the sculpture was still placed in the Beacon Reads storefront window.
"St. Andie" under construction

The sculpture, composed of knitted swatches on a women's wire form, has been dubbed, "St. Andie". She wears a cummerbund with the embroidered slogan, "Knit Us As One", which is the theme of a knitting group that will begin meeting twice a month at St. Andrew's staring Wednesday, September 21st, from 7-9pm.
"St. Andie" stands in the storefront window at Beacon Reads
The knitting group will meet on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays each month and the knitters will select projects to make for charitable groups that solicit donations. St. Andie won't be present at the meeting because she hopes to make the rounds in Beacon storefronts in different locations throughout the coming year. Visit her at Beacon Reads through the end of October and find where she will travel next; she hopes to put on her traveling shoes every two months or so, and hopes to settle down into next year's Windows on Main event.

In the meantime, visit the knitting group. Meet your neighbors. Learn about charities seeking handmade knitted (and crocheted) items. Embark on new projects. No previous experience needed; all levels of knitting are welcome (and those who only crochet as well.) Relax, chat, and let your loose ends unravel as you find support and community with fiber enthusiasts!
Join us September 21st, 7-9pm; 1st and 3rd Wednesdays thereafter

Food for thought:  Knitting knows no gender, nor age. Knitting knows no socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race or tribe. Knitting is an equal opportunity hobby that can quickly become a healthy addiction, one that integrates the brain, builds new neuronal pathways, allows one to engage in breath work and mindful meditation, and stimulates creativity and personal satisfaction as one takes a stitch at a time to produce a multitude of useful objects to wear, use, or gift others. With knitting, the past, present and future is rolled into each ball and skein of yarn. It's all in your hands.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Shhh! We're in the Library - No, It's Ok to Talk About It!

Food for Thought: Of all the organizations that a community can support, the library will always have my vote. Not just when it comes to voting on the library budget once a year. But when you realize that the budget is never sufficient to cover all the costs to keep a library current with the trends that make it a community center with mixed media; libraries are not just about printed matter, but they offer computer access and opportunities to learn from others and network with others and engage in small group projects. Libraries meet the needs of everyone in a community, across the lifespan, no matter the gender, ethnicity, race or political persuasion. Libraries are that place that makes you feel welcome when you arrive in a new town; all you need to do is show up and register for the lifetime of your residency. It's always been my first stop when I've moved from one town to another. It always makes me remember how much I enjoyed my library branch in Brooklyn, only to realize after the building had been razed that it was an Andrew Carnegie treasure; the South Brooklyn Branch of the New York Public Library system was replaced during the upgrading of public buildings when the Great Society campaign offered grants to modernize facilities. It was a shame that there had never been a campaign to save the historic building at the time. When I moved to Beacon, I saw the parallel with the Howland Public Library having been originally located in the historic building now housing the Howland Cultural Center, which still stands, fortunately for us. But I also realize the library is more than a building; it is the connection to all that humanity has known and hearkens all that we will become. We need to support out library; the Howland Public Library is the center of Beacon, both in its physical location, and in the programs and materials it provides to its residents.

Please join the Friends of the Howland Public Library on September 10th to help raise funds for all the 'extras' that the library receives on behalf of its efforts. The Beacon community has been generous with donated items that you will want to purchase and/or usually support, so you will be adding to the community twice. And remember to visit Beacon Reads whenever you can to continue your fiscal support for library funds. It's time to 'pay it forward' and support future generations of library patrons!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Beacon Bits -- There's Work to Do

July was a long and difficult month. Not just because of the high temperatures. Or because of late night television viewing of political conventions. But it was troubling because of the current events and news focusing on acts of violence, reactions to violence, and violence to end violence. It has never been more true that violence begets violence. It surrounds us. I even seemed to notice more reports of local violence in Poughkeepsie and Beacon in the newspaper in the past month. Overall, the type of global and national violence was even more upsetting since it was dominated by racial, religious and ethnic tension, discrimination and bias. So many of us hoped that black and white violence had been left behind in the 60's. But I can remember vividly in 1991 when racial violence erupted in Crown Heights in NYC and how I needed to 'do something'. I was involved with a grass roots project which sought to counter that violence with education, understanding, and re-focusing on the big picture. In the midst of feeling overwhelmed with reports from Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, I found a few left-over t-shirts from the initiative, which focused on cultural awareness. I think a picture is still worth a thousand words, so I offer the images here.

"Project ME to US", Multi-Ethnic Unity and Strength ©

Food for thought: There is no need to preach to those who are trying to live into this reality as we make our individual and collective choices to switch from 'me to us'. Beaconites recognize diversity as a good thing in our community; Beaconites have consciously chosen to live in diverse neighborhoods. But the question to ask is how woven together are we in this community? Do we live in parallel neighborhoods, playing and shopping, meeting and eating, befriending and socializing, separately? Are we more segregated in the mundane activities of daily life than we would like to believe? What work still needs to be done to cross boundaries that would easily blur  the dividing lines so that the fabric of our community life can be strengthened by how we weave all the strands of who we are together? How can we really get to know our neighbors? What small and personal things can be done so that larger goals can be accomplished together? I will be thinking about this a lot as I recognize the need to update the original vision that Project ME to US imagined 25 years ago. Because it is still an 'us thang'. And we have not really understood. At least, not yet.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Beacon Bits -- "HomeTown Grace"

Art in the Sanctuary
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
15 South Avenue
Beacon NY 12508
One block south of Bank Square and Beacon Visitor’s Center, next to the fire station

2nd Saturday Event
JULY 9, 2016
5-7 PM

HomeTown Grace

Photos by Markie Baylash

“A one day show of photographs of the people, events, and sights of my hometown, as seen through the lens and my mind----
of simple grace of my hometown Beacon NY.”

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Status Report

5 years. 100 posts. 21,684 page views. 16 followers who joined the site. Top traffic source Most viewed post "Are You a Friend?" (4/13/14). Average number of posts per year - 20; less than 2 per month. Community-oriented content. Nonprofit organizations. Women-owned businesses. Newcomers to Beacon. Moments to celebrate. Wine and cheese. Sweets and treats. Seasonal musings. Local CSA farms. Signature dishes and personal recipes. Music and art. Shared insights. That's what Beacon Bits is all about. 

Top 10 things to celebrate about Beacon in the last 5 years:
1.      The energy of BeaconArts and its annual events.
2.      Fewer empty storefronts.
3.     Establishment of Long Dock Beacon.
4.     The new facade for Rite Aid.
5.     The improved selection and store design in Key Food.
6.     Green Teens of Common Ground Farm.
7.     The arrival of Towne Crier Cafe.
8.     Bakeries, bakeries and more bakeries.
9.     People moving up to Beacon from Brooklyn (even if they weren't born there)
10.   A better view of Beacon Falls.

Top 10 Items on My Wish list for Beacon in the next 5 years:
1.     Fewer new establishments that focus on alcohol; drinking and driving is a public health issue in communities that are car dependent.
2.     An integrated community calendar to see an overview of all events, especially 
fundraisers, to facilitate awareness and collaboration across nonprofits.
3.    Continued access to free parking with signage that assists drivers to find municipal lots.
4.    An Indian restaurant added to the multi-ethnic food scene.
5.  A state of the art movie theater for independent and foreign films like Jacob Burns Theater (Pleasantville.)
6.   Moderation and finding the middle way when considering new housing developments.
7.   Additional stores that serve Beacon's households (fish store, hardware/variety store.)
8.   The return of Fovea photojournalism gallery on Main.
9.   Improved monitoring of speeding on Main Street.
10. Global connections such as making Beacon-Bergen (Norway) Sister Cities.

Food for thought: The slogan 'life is good' captures the energy of Beacon's community as it has grown into its current vibrant state. It appears that an additional slogan, 'less is more', may also be in order so that future growth does not outpace realistic planning. Beacon has the potential to be a model community that showcases diversity, exemplary race relations and tolerance for religious expression. Realizing this potential is a strong possibility; the odds are in its favor. I will bet on it!

A special thanks to all the new friends that I've met at Artisan Wine Shop, Beacon Sloop Club, BeaconArts, Beacon Reads, Friends of the Howland Library, Flora, Gallery 508 (now closed), Gwenno James, Howland Chamber Music Circle, Hudson Beach Glass, Theo Ganz, the Yanarella Dance Studio and Zora Dora who are all a very important part of my Beacon community.

And a thumbs up for Ben Royce of Beacon Citizen 
who put a link on their website to feature Beacon Bits.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Stay Tuned (WOMS2016)

This year's Windows on Main Street, pioneered by BeaconArts and presented by Rhinebeck Bank, comes to Main Street on August 13 through September 10. As a follow up to the Worldwide Knit in Public Day held at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on June 18th, the group created a sculpture by knitting pieces onto a woman's dress form. The one-of-a-kind result -- "St. Andie" -- is awaiting finishing touches to be a hopeful entry into this year's event. Other than a knitted cummerband to be placed around the hips embroidered with the theme "Knit Us As One", St. Andie is standing tall and is almost ready to go public. She is a lady-in-waiting with hopes of being the 'patron saint' to the planned monthly group that will gather to knit for charitable projects; it is scheduled to begin in stay tuned!
Food for thought: A thoughtful and creative community of knitters gathered together and celebrated the act of knitting as they chatted, shared patterns and projects, noted favorite yarns, and listened to the music of -- and they did so simultaneously with 1015 other events held worldwide across 57 countries! It was great to put Beacon on the map as an official, registered WWKIP day event. So it is sad to report that one of the posters placed on the two-sided placard at the corner of Main Street and South Avenue was missing; the side facing east so that those on Main Street would have easily seen it and may have been curious enough to walk down and visit the six hour gathering. It was peculiar since the west facing poster was still securely attached. It wasn't a windy day. And other posters over the last year remained intact even when windy and rainy. It was a mystery. But one that is noteworthy. It would be a shame to think that someone took objection to a knitting event that had been well-publicized and purposely removed it from the placard, tape and all. Sometimes a mystery is just that. No accusations or negative consequences are intended. Just wanted to share a mystery in case anyone has any information to shed some light.

Knitted Triangle Shawl
(Easy and fast knitting on Size 13 or 15 needles using a textured yarn of your choice)
Caste on 2 stitches. Knit across the first row. Increase one stitch on the first stitch of every row as you knit subsequent rows. Knit by increasing one stitch every row until the desired size is reached. The finished shawl will be a triangle; fringe can be added along the sides that lead to the two-stitch point, i.e.,  the first row.
(The skirt on St. Andie is made of small triangles hung from a point at the longest edge - i.e., sideways.)

Beacon Bits -- Beacon's Signature Dish@Ziatün

If you stand on Main Street long enough, another new restaurant will be opening before your very eyes! For the foodies who like to eat out and explore the world's cuisine, the time is right to join the crowds who are heading to one of Beacon's newest eateries, Ziatün, and extend an 'olive' branch to Middle Eastern cuisine.

When I first entered Ziatün in early June, the restaurant was vacant; it was early evening, betwixt and between lunch and dinner. It allowed me to focus on the simple and stark decor which evokes an exotic feel with its geometric pattern and physicality of texture and color--very pleasing to the eye and complementary to the anticipated palate.

I asked about 'signature' dishes and was told, 'everything' with a special note of attention to the two-sided menu featuring all vegan dishes on one side and meat-pleasing offerings on the other. I sensed authenticity when 50% of the meat dishes included lamb. 

On my second visit when I entered to dine, it was quite crowded, but I was able to sit at the overflow counter that is convenient for a solo diner or a small group of friends. I immediately noticed the music, which I was told was a mix of vintage Persian pieces. I chose Fattoush, a toasted pita with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion salad seasoned with mint, sumac, lemon and olive oil, and I added falafel in keeping with the vegetarian focus. The crunch of the toasted pita, fresh greens, and tart dressing were refreshing and satisfying for a hot summer's evening meal. (The presentation was so pleasing to the eye that I was eager to dig into the salad and I forgot to take a photo!)

On my third visit, I chose the Kofta Kebab, the closest I could get to my favorite 'kibbeh' dish, which is hard to find unless you are dining on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, which I had actually done the end of May. The blend of skewer-broiled ground beef and lamb, flattened and seasoned with a mix of spices, and served with a yogurt dressing and a cucumber-tomato salad and rice. I asked for more tzatziki dressing and felt the rice was a bit dry, but I enjoyed the flavors and the balance of texture and taste, and easily ate the whole plate.

There is no dessert menu as of yet, but the Moroccan Mint Tea and Rose-flavored Lemonade are accompaniments to the varied dishes on the menu, which invite one to return again and again, for the multisensory experience of Middle Eastern cuisine on Main.

Food for thought: I was lucky enough to have Syrian and Lebanese neighbors and friends growing up in my multi-ethnic Brooklyn neighborhood of immigrant families. I watched them tend to the grapevines and rose bushes, pick fresh mint leaves, make their own yogurt (leban), flavor meat pies with spices that were not in my cupboard, offer me pine nuts to taste for the first time, and bake the most delicious cookies filled with ground nuts, honey and dates that were exchanged at Christmas with our Norwegian varieties that were equally special. My mother, who was one of the only woman in the neighborhood who drove a car, was asked at regular intervals to drive down to Atlantic Avenue to visit Sahadi's for shopping expeditions. At that time, it was the only place you could purchase pita bread, if you can imagine that, and it was (and still is) filled with barrels of fruits and nuts, blended spices and special ingredients for those who craved the taste of home. (Now you can also find these specialty food stores in Bay Ridge Brooklyn where the Arabic culture dominates what used to be a Scandinavian haven.) Cuisine that evokes childhood memories and invites us into the world that once seemed foreign and now seems familiar is one that I welcome with open arms in Beacon. Now if we could only get an Indian restaurant on Main Street, I'd be in culinary heaven! Curry-in-a-Hurry anyone?

Tzatziki Dressing
3 cups Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice (or juice of one lemon)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large English cucumber, diced
1 tablespoon salt (or less)
1 tablespoon fresh dill or fresh mint, or both

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Beacon Bits -- 1st Annual "WWKIP" Day

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church - 15 South Avenue - Beacon NY 12508
One block south of Bank Square and Beacon Visitor’s Center, next to the fire station
Saturday June 18, 2016
Noon – 6pm
Knit Us As One
Beacon’s First Annual
World Wide Knit in Public Day
with ambient music for knitting from 1-3pm by Craig Chin

Come knit with us!
Bring your own yarn and needles. Bring extras to share. Bring yarn from home to trade in a ‘yarn swap’. Join one of the knitting circles from beginners to advanced. Teach someone to knit. Learn a new stitch or pattern. Bring projects you want to ‘show-n-tell’. Help to create a ‘knitted sculpture’ depicting the theme ‘knit us as one’. Enter a ‘fastest knitter’ contest to test your skills. Come by to watch others knit. Learn about the ‘Hudson Valley Yarn Cruise’. Help to establish a ‘knitting salon’ group. Just come in to visit our Tiffany stained glass windows.
St. Andrew’s event is official and registered with
Food for thought: Knitting offers an opportunity for community, creativity and healing. Given the times we live in, Beacon's 1st Annual WWKIP day is an opportunity for people to come together to "knit us as one" and to feel the healing power of  one stitch at a time..

Monday, May 30, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Upstaged

Nowadays, we are hearing a lot about democratic socialism and we have formed some opinions about what makes it good for the people. One of my observations from the 'other side of the pond' while visiting friends and family is that there is no 'free ride'; every benefit in a democratic socialist society comes with a cost. But another observation was made during last winter's trip to Oslo after meeting a relative who is 'house chief' for a cultural center sponsored by a large banking firm. Sentralen is a meeting place, workshop and performance venue. It operates as a cultural hub with six performance stages, a restaurant, various kinds of studio space for up to 350 people working for nonprofits, social enterprises, as well as, musicians and artists. The amazing thing is that the project was funded by the bank itself (Sparebankstiftelsen DNB) and continues to be managed by the 'bank', which is a private savings bank foundation, owning 10% of DNB, one of Northern Europe's biggest banks. The DNB Savings Bank Foundation has the main objective of contributing to charities in Norway, small local projects to large national ones, and most of the contributions are related to art and culture.  Imagine that -- a profit making banking institution being invested in the arts as a long-term commitment and investment, and doing so with daring creativity and by engaging all kinds of people and volunteers in local communities! Other than the opening of the performing arts center in downtown Oslo in February 2016, DNB has an art collection loaned to Norwegian art museums; the restoration of old stringed instruments that are used by musicians; and the funding of Oliafur Eliasson's art work in the Oslo Opera House--impressive endeavors since the 2002 formation of the foundation.


After returning to Beacon, it made me sad to think that the bank that held the mortgage on The Beacon Theatre did not have the same prescience to hold onto the property and proceed with the original plans to renovate the theater into viable space with several smaller theaters suitable for film, music, dance, opera, live performance, and studios for nonprofit businesses and social entrepreneurs. (Think the old Beacon High School and BeaHive all rolled into one with a touch of the Bardavon and the Downing Film Center!) Why turn it over to a developer who will garner profit and develop the property as he sees fit, when the bank doesn't need a middleman to do that at all?

I think that's what I learned about the differences in corporations in a social democracy--they give back to the people and build community with their profits. That takes vision and it is always grounded in the common good. And success is bound to follow. No greed needed.

Food for thought: It still amazes me that The Beacon Theatre did not get the funding to restore the building into what it was meant to be. Maybe it was learning about  the Norwegian connection that hooked me on the theater project -- Sonja Henie, the Norwegian Olympic ice skater who turned into a Hollywood movie star performed there. I actually pledged $2700 at the kick-off fundraiser in September 2010. That was what I thought everyone in the community would do. And then to see so much progress on Main Street over six years with restaurants, stores, music venues opening left and right, while the theater renovation stalled, it perturbed me to discover why the theater renovation was never brought to fruition. One wonders if it is really too late to turn it around and get it back on track to be an historic landmark and contemporary performance can only hope.

You can follow Sentralen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Even Beaconites might feel inspired!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Who Moved My Cheese?

I attended a cheese class featuring seven European cheeses with unique wine pairings at Beacon Food Pantry earlier this month. I had heard how wonderful the classes have been and felt lucky to nab one of the last slots for the well-attended (22-seat) event. I sat amidst couples and small groups of family and friends who were ready for an educational, yet social, and what turned out to be a quite lovely evening. (I'd say there was a moment of spontaneous combustion occurring mid-cheese/wine #3 and #4!)

Clockwise from '12" at the top:
Valencay, Brie Fermier/Ile de France, St. Nectaire, Taleggio, Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar,
Parmigiano-Reggiano vs. Pecorino Romano Fulvi, and Cabrales

I learned how Beacon Pantry categorizes their cheese (e.g., fresh, bloomy, semi-soft, washed, firm, hard, and blue) and how to use these groupings to inform purchases (e.g., "I'd like a cow's milk semi-soft cheese a little bit of stink" or "I'd like a hard cheese that is grainy and not too salty.")

The best part of the evening was the banter occurring between Stacy (the owner) and her knowledgeable and comedic assistant whose commentary was informative and joy-filled. The second best was the flow of the tasting itself with its range of flavors and excellent pairings that led to a crescendo as the symphonic notes of the evening came to its stirring completion; I was left wanting more. Always a good sign that the palate, as well as the soul were nourished in such a 'cultured' environment.

At the end of the evening, the question of one's favorite of the seven diverse cheeses was posed. I re-framed the question to 'if I had to live with only one of these cheeses, which one would that be?' My personal choice would be the Ford Farm Coastal Cheddar from the United Kingdom, which I purchased with discount on my way out the door, and ate to my heart's content throughout the course of a week.

All types of classes and food presentations will be ongoing in the coming months at the Beacon Pantry: from butchering to meal prep to raw fish and kids' brunch, offered by the pantry's favorite foodies and experts from the Beacon Community. Check out the calendar.

Food for thought: With all this cheese on my mind, I recalled reading a NY Times bestseller, Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life,  written by Spencer Johnson in 1998. The premise of the book was anticipating how change, the kind of change which is out of one's control, impacts an individual and the kind of response it elicits. It reminds me of all the changes occurring now in Beacon that will continue as the weather gets warmer and more visitors descend on Main Street looking for parking, occupying favorite tables at the local restaurants, shopping in the diverse and unique boutiques, traversing the congested roads lined with hikers and eagerly exploring the new real estate market that is experiencing a mini-boom in a short span of time. In other words, a lot of change. A lot of change imposed on a community with one major road (Route 9D), dense housing, an old infrastructure, a school system fraught with recent upheavals, and a lot of beautiful open natural space that extends from the river, to the mountains and into the sky. It is a bit overwhelming to think of what this changing horizon might look like. It is reassuring to know that the Beacon community does not always want to be passively moved. As Pete would have us singing: 'just like a tree that's planted by the water, we shall not be moved." 

Using the advice of Spencer Johnson, it might be helpful to remember:
Change Happens: they keep moving the cheese
Anticipate Change: get ready for the cheese to move
Monitor Change: smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old
Adapt to Change Quickly: the quicker you let go of old cheese,
the sooner you can enjoy new cheese
Change: move with the cheese
Enjoy Change: savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese!
Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy It Again: they keep moving the cheese

In the meantime, enjoy all the cheese
that you can taste and savor at Beacon Pantry!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Beacon Bits -- Sweet Tweets

#alpssweetshop: Marzipan gone! Jellybeans galore. Milk and dark chocolate eggs, bunnies, lambs, chicks and truffles—who could ask for more?
#alpssweetshop: Easter sweets. Gifts for friends. Treats for children. Munchies for all. So many choices for one day alone. Happy to know it’s here year long.
#alpssweetshop: Hollow. Solid. Filled. With nuts or not. Bite size. Large size. Baskets, boxes, plastic sleeves, tissue paper. Waiting to unwrap one at a time. 

It was another busy morning for my annual pilgrimage to Alps Sweet Shop, a family-owned Beacon business since 1922. It's the closest thing to "Seebode's", a German chocolatier and ice cream parlor in Sunset Park Brooklyn that I remember from childhood. While photos are not allowed to be taken within the Alps' store (what a shame), the website captures all of the varieties of hand-made delights that are available seasonally and for other special occasions. It's certainly a case when a picture is worth a thousand words!
Food for thought: Old fashioned traditions emerge with the crocus and daffodils at this time of the year. Chocolates and eggs. An interesting balance of protein and carbs. But what would we do without the rituals and traditions that warm our heart, bring forth sweet memories, and allow us to indulge once again in the little treats that become associated with each passing season. It's a blessing to have the opportunities to explore new venues that evoke the places that only exist in our long-term memories. It's another chance to greet the community as they seek their own perfect treats to celebrate renewal and rebirth of spring.

Dyeing Easter Eggs with Natural Materials
Collect onion skins throughout the year. Place skins into a pot, nestle the white eggs amidst them and cover with water. Boil and allow to cool in the pot before removing. The longer they sit, the darker the color. Transformative.
Blessed Easter!