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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beacon Bits - Tasty Morsels

I sense that my blogs are starting to be a potpourri, or mélange, or collage of how I am getting acquainted with Beacon and all of its tastings. I think the medley, mixture and assemblage of local businesses and creative entrepreneurs can be summed up in three of the stores that are worth frequenting: Paper Presence, The Beacon Bagel and Zora Dora.

If you need a special greeting card or wrapping paper, or if you are old fashioned enough to still write personal notes, and if you like to find art notebooks and small gifts on impulse that are too difficult to resist, or if you want to special order invitations then Paper Presence (; is a shop you’ll want to visit. Expect to receive a helping hand from the owner, Lydia, who persists with a visual search as she unearths items that seem to match your exact request, even if you have gone onto thinking about your next requested purchase. She’s a great conversationalist and has a good sense of the Beacon community and will indulge your desire to chat as you spend some time browsing, even if you are a modest customer. The cards are quite unique; many of them are made with recycled materials. A friend from Rockland County mentioned finding the perfect card for someone they know who usually requires a lot of special attention. I’m sure Lydia worked her magic to locate the greeting that matched the occasion. Benedictines like their patron saint’s quote, “Listen with the ear of the heart.” I think that is just the kind of ear that Lydia when she listens to her customers at Paper Presence.

Zora Dora ( is a seasonal shop featuring micro-batch ice cream, which offers Mexican-style popsicles known as paletas, in two varieties, either sorbet or milk-based. My first Zora Dora treat last summer was a sorbet tomato, lime, cracked pepper, sea salt combination that was cool, sweet and refreshing and much better than a vine-ripened August tomato. My first treat this summer was a lavender and orange blossom milk-based popsicle that made me buzz as if I were a bee finding its nectar. I’m ready to head on over to get the hybrid chai latte or any of the other palatable combinations that sound odd because they are so different, but the sensibility of the taste buds know better as does the fine art of Steve's, the owner, craftsmanship honed at the Culinary Institute. While the popsicles are featured at the Dia Museum ( and on the Walkway Over the Hudson ( ), a visit to this specialty shop with its simple décor and earth-friendly conservation of electrical lights could easily become a weekly destination. With twelve weeks of summer and over twenty flavors, one could sample them all and then start all over again before the store closes for winter.
The Beacon Bagel ( ) is the dream find for anyone born and raised in Brooklyn or for any of the former Brooklynites moving into town. The bagels are the right size, not too big or not too small; the right texture and they have the right taste with all of the standard offerings (sesame, salt, poppy, egg, pumpernickel, etc.) supplemented with some surprise flavors (cranberry walnut.) I bought a couple of dozen to bring to work with several of the spreads and everyone, including some with much bagel expertise, was quite pleased. Art, the owner, says the spreads are made with Philadelphia cream cheese; I was fooled by the freshness to believe they were made by local organic dairies. The olive spread was particularly flavorful at room temperature. I cannot even begin to describe the variety of bagel sandwiches and the impromptu creations of new varieties named after local folk that are also available in the shop.  While waiting for your bagels, you are surrounded with a gallery of artwork by local artists; not something at all I remember at the bagel shops in Brooklyn, but a signature style of the Beacon community spirit that supports the arts.
Some food for thought: When you have this type of variety of stores, who needs a ‘big box’ venue? When you can have a conversation with the store owners and not feel intrusive and know that they care as much about the town’s success as every newcomer to Beacon does, why would you choose anonymity and the large corporate façade? When you can support local entrepreneurship, why would you spend your money at the strip mall? Why not stop by and see what Lydia, Steve and Art are up to in Beacon? They'll be happy that you did. And so will you.

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