3.24.16 Shooting Stars
More than a year ago, a beautiful and mysterious Frenchwoman asked me to partner with her to open a business in Narrowsburg, NY, a centuries-old hamlet on the Delaware River in Sullivan County. Juliette Hermant had a vision of creating a food destination that would showcase the bounty of our Catskill farms, fields and forests. Together, we dreamed up Fish & Bicycle, a bar, cafe and small grocery meant to serve as a gathering place for the community and a place to learn about our region, not only through the food but through workshops with local artisans, botanists, foragers and gardeners. For months, we have been sweating blood to bring this venture to fruition. My friends, this is a big mountain to climb. We have had to raise the finances to make this happen, and that's still a work in progress. We have had to learn about architectural plans, liquor licenses and LLCs. We had hoped to be open by May, but it's looking more like August...or even September. This is one of the hardest things I've ever done and, trust me, I've done some hard things in my life.
Along the way, we have been incredibly fortunate to have the support of so many friends, old and new. People have volunteered advice and given services for free or heavily discounted. Established restaurateurs—here and here—have invited me to "trail" in their kitchens and bars. (I'll share detais in a separate post.)
And, as these astoundingly beautiful images attest, we were able to work with an extremely talented team of professionals on our first Fish & Bicycle photo shoot. The husband-and-wife team behind the gorgeous blog What Bette Found, photographer Steven Randazzo and prop stylist Bette Blau, along with frequent collaborator food stylist Eugene Jho, spent a couple of days holed up with us in a little cabin upstate to document a few dishes and drinks we plan to serve at our bar/cafe. We used as many local ingredients as we could find at this time of year, including the guinea hen seen above.
Between Juliette's collection of antiques from Maison Bergogne, and the vast options from Bette's prop treasury, the shots took on the sort of richly detailed abundance we hope to offer our customers.
These wild mushrooms were from the store, since they are not yet in season, but we hope to serve them when possible and also educate customers about how to forage for them.
The fish came from a local trout farm and the horseradish spiking the beet crème fraiche was grown in my own garden. The lemons? They'll never be local...unless we build a greenhouse...
Fish & Bicycle will be offering a local grass-fed beef burger, the Narrowsburger, as well as a Plantburger. I'm still finessing the recipe for the latter, but so far it features black beans, red rice, sweet potato and lots of secret spices. My spicy tomato jam will be served alongside.
The Narrowsburger means business. And, no, avocado is not local either. (But the bacon is!)
We have miles to go before we sleep. I am anxious and excited in equal measure. To be this far outside my comfort zone is sometimes exhilarating but more often just plain terrifying. Failure is a definite possibility. But never to have tried at all, that would be worse. Please hold a good thought for us as we slouch toward Bethlehem.
Join us on our journey! We'll be going into construction soon on our 1920s industrial building in Narrowsburg and documenting the process on instagram (@fishandbicycleny) and Facebook.