Born of necessity in the colonies, fine-tuned and perfected over the centuries – witnessing civil war, Prohibition, and the marketing genius of Madison Avenue – bourbon continues to this day to be one of the most popular and iconic spirits of America.
In Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey (Viking, 2015), Reid Mitenbuler provides a popularly accessible history of this unique industry and a personal commentary on how to taste and choose your bourbon. Continue reading
Grain Dust Dreams (SUNY Press, 2015) tells the story of terminal grain elevators – concrete colossi that stand in the middle of a deep river of grain that they lift, sort, and send on.
From their invention in Buffalo through a present-day operation in Thunder Bay, Ontario, David W. Tarbet examines the difficulties and dangers of working in a grain elevator – showing how they operate and describing the effects that the grain trade has on the lives of individuals and cities. Continue reading
Potted hop plants are available to benefit the Madison County Historical Society in Oneida, NY for at least a five dollar donation. Hop plants are ready to be planted now.
Available hop varieties include Cascade and “Hedgerow Hops” from the wild stock of the old hop yards near Bouckville, NY where commercial hop growing was introduced to Central New York in 1808. These hedgerow hops are a hardy plant, having survived over 150 winters. Continue reading
Every two years I gather together some friends to make hard cider. None of us have apple orchards. From the time the buds break throughout the summer, until after the first couple hard frosts, we scan the roads and fields of the Adirondacks. We look for abandoned orchards and clumps of neglected trees in yards and inquire with their owners.
Right up until the last gallon goes into the fermenter we have endless debates about the best way to pick our finds. We prattle on about the best timing, their sugar content, texture, and flavors. Inevitably the question is raised: “well, what do you think it is?” Now, a new book has been published that we can turn to in trying to figure that out. Continue reading
Thanks to the FoodNetwork, The Cooking Channel, TLC, and a variety of other shows, a society of foodies has been created and encouraged. Understandably, tourism has become part of the foodie craze – farmer markets are now part of destination shopping.
Museums and historical societies have used food programs as fundraising opportunities and to attract new visitors, with the hope that the program will foster an interest in history, and new members/regular visitors. It’s a great idea, but there are some things to consider. Continue reading
On May 16th, The Middleburgh Library, The Albany Ale Project, and Green Wolf Brewing Company are hosting an afternoon (1 pm to 5 pm) event celebrating beer, brewing, and Middleburgh’s Revolutionary War history.
The day’s activities include a Revolutionary War encampment, colonial brewing and cooking demonstrations, 18th century toys and games for kids, talks on the history of beer and hops in upstate New York and the Schoharie Valley, a Schoharie Valley hops display at the Library, beer samples from Green Wolf and MacKinnon Brothers, and Green Wolf brewery tours. Continue reading
“Something’s Brewing: A Historical Look at Albany Brews & Spirits” is the theme of the 16th Annual Albany History Fair to be held at Historic Cherry Hill on Sunday, May 3, from 1 to 4 pm.
This free event will include an 18th century brewing demonstration by Harvey Alexander, music by Friends Union, house tours, exhibits, and a brewing and agricultural scavenger hunt for families, throughout the afternoon. Continue reading
Have you ever wondered where colonial Americans purchased their food?
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Kenneth Turino, the Manager of Community Relations and Exhibitions for Historic New England, joins us to explore the colonial Boston marketplace. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/019
Historic Huguenot Street is seeking documentation of examples from museums, historic sites, and private collections of 18th-and early 19th-century Dutch-style cupboards known as grote kasten (singular kast).
The documentation and study of these kasten is expected to ultimately be part of an exhibit, symposium, and fully-illustrated compendium planned for 2016. Continue reading
Drawing on archival research as well as interviews with many of the principal players, Thomas Pellechia’s Over a Barrel: The Rise and Fall of New York’s Taylor Wine Company (SUNY Press, 2015) traces the economic dynamism of the Finger Lakes wine region, the passion and ingenuity of the Taylor family, and the shortsighted corporate takeover scenario that took down a once-proud American family company.
In addition to providing important lessons for business innovators, Over a Barrel is a cautionary tale for a wine region that is repeating its formative history. Continue reading
The Delaware Company, a non-profit whose mission is to promote and support the history and historic landmarks of the Upper Delaware River Valley, will host “American Walks Into a Bar: The Role of Beer in the American Revolution” at Henning’s restaurant (formerly The Eldred Preserve) on route 55 outside Eldred, in Sullivan County, NY.
George Washington, as portrayed by Colonial re-enactor Paul Brennan, will host a celebration with beer tastings from several local breweries, 18th century tavern fare, dancing to period music, and a history trivia contest. Colonial attire is optional but encouraged. Continue reading
Empire State Development under the leadership of Ken Adams is the organization which includes ILoveNY (under Gavin Landry), which is responsible for the Path through History, but which has no full time staff. The mission of Empire State Development Market New York (ESD MNY) is:
The Market New York Grant program supports regionally-themed New York-focused projects that promote tourism destinations, attractions, special events and other travel related activities that help achieve the Regional Councils’ long term strategic goals for economic growth, which include attracting more visitors to New York State. Continue reading
Barrels – we rarely acknowledge their importance, but without them we would be missing out on some of the world’s finest beverages – most notably whiskies and wines – and of course for over two thousand years they’ve been used to store, transport, and age an incredibly diverse array of provisions around the globe.
In the new wide-ranging book Wood, Whiskey and Wine (Reaktion, 2014), Henry Work tells the intriguing story of the significant and ever-evolving role wooden barrels have played during the last two millennia, revealing how the history of the barrel parallels that of technology at large. Continue reading
The cover of Historic Amsterdam League’s 2015 calendar is a picture of the former Mohawk Teepee restaurant, built in an abandoned rock quarry adjacent to a waterfall in Amsterdam’s East End.
The Mohawk Teepee was the brainchild of Myron and Lidia Bazar, both natives of Ukraine. Myron was born in Ternopil and Lidia in Boryslav, according to Ukrainian Weekly. Continue reading
With its delicious food and warm hospitality, the Red Apple Rest was a legendary pit stop on the trek from New York City to the Catskills starting in the 1930s. Reuben Freed’s restaurant, staffed primarily by family and friends – or strangers who eventually became family – was in operation for more than fifty years.
Reuben’s daughter Elaine grew up in the Red Apple, and she brings the restaurant back to life in Stop At The Red Apple: The Restaurant on Route 17 (SUNY Press, 2014) of vignettes, interviews, photos, and memorabilia. It’s a memoir, yes, but also an immigrant success story, love story, and memorial to a slice of bygone New York history and popular culture. Continue reading
A man who started in the knitting business in Amsterdam built the lavish structure now known as Villa Balsamo restaurant off Route 50 between Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs.
According to historian David Fiske, Floyd J. Shutts was stymied by Amsterdam officials in 1918 when he tried to add on to his factory on Wall Street. Turned down in Amsterdam, Shutts bought property on Saratoga Avenue in Ballston Spa and opened the Ballston Knitting Company in 1920. Continue reading
Throughout their 54-year marriage, John and Abigail Adams enjoyed hearty, diverse cuisine in their native Massachusetts, as well as in New York, Philadelphia, and Europe. Raised with traditional New England palates, they feasted on cod, roast turkey, mince pie, and plum pudding.
These recipes, as well as dishes from published cookbooks settlers brought from the Old World, such as roast duck, Strawberry Fool, and Whipt Syllabub, are included in this new historical cookbook by Rosana Y. Wan, The Culinary Lives of John and Abigail Adams: A Cookbook (Schiffer, 2014). Continue reading
Undoubtedly, you have heard or read Clement Moore’s famous poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (1822), but have you ever wondered where the traditions of stockings, presents, and cookies come from? And what about jolly old Saint Nick? Who was he and why do we call him Santa Claus?
In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Peter G. Rose, culinary historian of Dutch foodways in North America and author of Delicious December: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats (SUNY Press, 2014), joins me to discuss the origins of Santa Claus, cookies, and more in the United States. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/009 Continue reading
This week on “The Historians” podcast, an interview with Jerry Snyder of Historic Amsterdam League (HAL) on bygone eateries ranging from one of the first restaurants in the Mohawk Valley to be recommended by Duncan Hines, to side-by-side diners frequented by Kirk Douglas’s father, to an unusual fine dining restaurant built in an abandoned rock quarry. Pictures of the dining establishments are found in HAL’s 2015 Amsterdam Icons calendar.
Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
This week on “The Historians” podcast, we look at the importance of farming in New York’s Hudson Valley. Local farm advocate Tessa Edick is the guest, author of Hudson Valley Food and Farming: Why Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell Me That (History Press, 2014).
Listen to the program at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/