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Asparagus Pesto Linguine. credit Courtesy Gigi Hudson Valley

The Tastes of Spring

Spring 2013   

While January usually kicks off "diet season," the arrival of spring provides an ideal opportunity to think about a healthier lifestyle. Finally we’re moving far beyond the sweets and treats of the holidays, followed by the braised meats and hearty stews of oh-so-cold January, and the "I give up" sentiment of February.

Yes, it’s definitely time to put away the stew pot and pull out the sauté pan or even the grill! The lighter and colorful harvest of spring looks so tasty and refreshing. I’m filling my shopping bags with fava beans, peas, asparagus, mushrooms and tender ramps along with spring lettuces, spinach, baby beets, slim baby carrots and green onions. A sauté of a combination of all with garlic, olive oil and parsley provides a "trifolata" that sings the season. Alternatively, I’ll single out an ingredient like Swiss chard, kale or even some spicier mustard leaves; after a quick sauté I’ll serve the greens piled onto crusty bread topped with a fried egg. So delicious.

credit Mary Anne McLean

Like many that enjoy our dynamic food scene in the Hudson Valley, I’m a strong proponent of eating locally. The reasons are many—while flavor tops the list, health merits and community connection follow right behind. As a registered dietitian, I’m often asked whether eating locally grown food is more nutritious than eating conventional food. Well, it depends. Research has shown that produce picked at its peak has its highest possible nutrient content and certainly its highest level of antioxidants. Once picked, the quality of fresh produce gradually starts to degrade. My commonsense tells me that when I eat a freshly picked perfectly ripe apple, fewer nutrients are lost to oxidation than an apple sitting on a freight car in Washington State.

But really, I favor local food choices because fruits and vegetables picked at their peak of ripeness just taste so much better. That isn’t a surprise. After all, they have not endured long transit times from farm to table, they haven’t stopped off at processing plants to be sorted and then reshipped, they haven’t been gassed with ethylene to prompt an artificial ripeness, and they don’t come from farms whose production methods I know nothing about. In contrast, when I get asparagus from Grieg Farm adjacent to Gigi Market & Café, I know they’ve been just plucked from the ground and the intensity of flavor blows away anything a supermarket can offer. It all adds up to my personal eating equation: local + seasonal = healthy. Furthermore, community support of smaller local farms encourages them to be adventurous and grow myriad varieties of vegetables and fruit, much more than I’ll ever find in the industrial food market. It’s this diverse cornucopia that, for me, makes cooking more interesting and eating more pleasurable.

Many local kids fully understand the good fortune of this exceptional place we call home. I just recently acquired 501c3 nonprofit status for SEED (Smart Eating Every Day), an after-school nutrition education program. Focus groups led last year in Red Hook elementary, middle and high schools clearly showed that our youth are knowledgeable and proud of their agricultural region and feel they are blessed to live in a this mecca of quality ingredients.

This is clearly a reflection of our agricultural gifts and the commitment of so many. I say: let our kids lead the way to a healthier future.

The Gigi Team and I try to share the pleasures of seasonal and local flavors with our customers every day. Recently we started a new "build your own" Skizza™ and salad option at Gigi Trattoria where you choose among local lettuces and vegetables and add on locally raised turkey breast and/or local artisanal cheeses and cured meats. This is an extension of the work I’ve done for years with a popular food outfit in New York City called "Just Salad." While we don’t have a Just Salad branch in the Hudson Valley (yet!), our Gigi "build your own" menu is one more way of helping our neighbors eat locally, tastily, seasonally and, of course, healthily.


Featured Community Businesses

Located on the premises of this original 1790’s salt box is a recently converted stone and wood barn that has become Jingle Bell’s new guest quarters. This 30’ by 50’ space has beamed cathedral ceilings, skylights, lovely antiques, fully equipped kitchen, and private bath. Impeccable grounds with an outcrop of rocks at the foot of which is a lovely pool. Breakfast in former Jingle Singer Juli Cristman’s Country Kitchen.

302 Swartekill Rd, Highland

General civil practice. Two locations.

255 Fair St., Kingston, Phone: 845-331-4100, Fax: 845-331-6930

Main St., Marlboro, Phone: 845-236-4411, Fax: 845-236-3190

Custom cabinetry and furniture made to your specifications. High-end antique restoration. References and photos available on request. 30 years experience. Free estimates at our shop. Please call between 9:00am and 5:30pm, or email us.


We make the old look new! Tile and grout stains and discolorations plaguing you? Call us. Tile and grout cleaning and sealing, and grout color sealing all done with low VOC products. We also provide “zero-dust” hard wood floor maintenance and carpet cleaning. Three average size rooms of carpet cleaning for only $99. Clean is so refreshing! And, it’s easier to maintain. Free estimates. Local references available.


Design, planting, and consultation for original gardens since 1985. Portfolio on request.


A tast of Italy. Italian food store offering a wide range of authentic imported Italian goods. Single or bulk purchases available.

A Standout Among Wedding Venues. Plan the Perfect Ceremony or Reception. You’ve dreamed of this special day for a long time, and our experienced staff will help you transform your wedding into a day to remember. Picture your your ceremony or reception under the majestic Shawangunk Cliffs, with surrounding serene vistas and the astounding beauty of one of the most intimate wedding venues.We look forward to making your wedding dreams come true. For more information on planning, please contact our sales office or submit a request form from our website.

3116 Rte 44/55, Gardiner

Full-service Hudson Valley commercial, digital studio specializing in every aspect of business and web photography, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, holy communions, special events, family & executive portraits, and headshots of models and all people in the arts.


Visit our state of the art dog and cat boarding facilities and see for yourself - they are clean, comfortable and spacious. We feature Raintree cat condos, specifically designed for your kitty's comfort and security. Our grooming facility pampers your pet with natural shampoos and conditioners created for their special needs.

296 Rte 299, Highland

New shop in Milton. Whether it's Shabby Chic, a one of a kind piece of furniture for your home, or a timeless treasure that turns you on, we can fill your needs! We offer artisan quality painted furniture, home decor, accessories, and custom pet portraits. Consider a gift certificate. Find us on facebook.

61 Main St, Milton

Open to the public, it’s “not just for chefs!” Consider this warm, friendly, (and lovely) home  for your retirement. Just 15 residents, ages 62 and up, live in this beautiful complex on 400 acres of gorgeous, well-tended land. A gracious staff is available 24/7. All meals are prepared on premises and served in a wood-paneled dining room (after all, this was the original home of Oscar of the Waldorf). Decorate your room to your taste, travel in your own car, or use our transportation. Large comfortable game and entertainment room, in-house hair dresser and barber.

71 Old Tschirky Rd, New Paltz

Moscow Conservatory trained musicians. Reasonable rates, references.

New Paltz

Join us at our "cornerstone" where people have been having fun for almost 100 years. We serve a variety of lunch and dinner specials including fresh seafood, pasta dishes, and ribs. Children's menus, too. And of course, Stormy's Famous Chili, great soups, salads, & other specialties. Take-out, too.

91 Main St, New Paltz

Massage & Body Treatments. Relax and be pampered with scrubs, wraps and steam baths. Ease away pain and tension with with Specialty Massages such as Foot Bath Reflexology, Hot Bamboo or Thai Yoga Massage. Evaluated and praised by a Forbes Representative from a five-star spa. Let me share my love of this work with you—and those you love—gift Certificates available. Visit our new website for more information.

71 Main St Second Floor, New Paltz

Ralph A. Smith, LUTC and Larry Ratick, LPL Financial Member. Member FINRA/SIPC. We're a full service agency offering Auto, Homeowners, Life & Health, as well as Long-term Care and Medicare Supplement Insurance. IRAs, Pension Plans & Commercial Insurance, too. Call us today. We help you take the long term view of your economic health.

550 Rte 299, Suite 100A, Highland
845-246-1341 or 845-883-4280

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