Ok, have you seen this show that is on? Called The Fabulous Beekman Boys? It is on the Planet Green channel, which is one of these odd channels I get in my odd cable package which Jennifer A. will be happy to fully explain to you how odd it is anytime you want to hear about it.
When I first saw the promos for this show, I figured it would be just like most reality tv shows, people being degraded for the amusement of others. The premise is that Josh and Brent, a couple from NYC, buy a farm in rural upstate New York and madcap hijinx ensue, probably based on their hysterical gayness and proximity to mud or whatever. I really, really don’t care for public degradation, self-inflicted or otherwise. I only gave it a shot because I heard something about it on NPR that made it sound interesting, although I honestly can’t remember what it was at this point.
At any rate, I’m in love. I consider these two to be actual American heroes. Maybe it’s their edit, but far from being portrayed as one dimensional stereotypes, they are seemingly bright, hardworking, ethical, kind, funny and interesting without being schmaltzy or Pollyannas. Certainly they bicker a little, but it is generally over real, seemingly intractable issues that real people have in relationships, like home/work/life balance, not about petty drama and ego, so rampant on TV and in real life. In one episode, they slaughter a pig that they have raised from a piglet, to eat, because that is what you do on a farm. I was prepared for speeches and moralizing and drama, but while it was tense, as it should be when you are taking the life of a living thing, they just did it, because killing an animal yourself is what people who are not hypocrites or vegetarians should be prepared to do. I cried. I vowed to write them a letter, which of course I never did. This is kind of it, I suppose.
The show takes place in Sharon Springs, NY and sometimes they socialize with their friends Doug and Garth, who own the American Hotel (a hotel and restaurant) in the village. I recently had a reason to travel to Cooperstown, NY and had dinner there based the implicit recommendation of my two new heroes.
(This is going to be the end of my fangirl rant, for real, but we also stayed at the hotel. And when we came down from our rooms into the lobby before dinner, Josh and Brent were standing right there, attending some kind of party or reception. Because I’m too cool for school, I did not take a picture or introduce myself. In fact, I immediately looked at the floor and ran into the dining room. I’d like to say I’m shy and respectful of privacy, but really I’m a major social spaz.)
What, you want to hear about some food?
They started us off with some ginger pickled carrots. These were delicious, and a interesting start to the meal. The presentation was kind of rustic. The cut wasn’t uniform and they were on a white plate with no garnish. First impressions and all that, but they were very tasty and free, so you can’t complain.
I like to always try what is local or the specialty of the house. I ordered the Ommegang Beer Battered Palantine Cheddar Cheese. The Ommegang Brewery is in nearby Cooperstown. I believe the cheese is local as well, but I couldn’t handle their truly unfortunate website, so you’ll have to research it yourself. This was easily entree sized. The cheese was good, mild for a cheddar, the batter was a little less crisp than I would have liked. The spiced apple relish was delicious, and a perfect counterpoint to the cheese, but again, kind of rustic, with pretty large, non-uniform chunks, more of an apple salad than a relish.
You have your choice of salad with entree, and I chose the Steak House Salad with marinated red cabbage, crumbled bacon, croutons
and bleu cheese dressing. This was a quality salad, and the presentation was lovely, my crappy phone pictures notwithstanding. This was the third dish in a row that included something I bet they canned, which is really nice.
For entrees, they have a lot of seafood. The menu kind of lacks focus as a whole, and this seafood thing kind of baffles me. I speculate that there aren’t a lot of restaurants in this rural area and they have to be a lot of things to a lot of people. Again, trying to look for something on the menu that was put there with love, instead of what people expect to see in a “fancy” restaurant, I chose the Jaegar Schnitzel served with speatzle and hunter’s sauce. And pickled red cabbage. Lots of it. The schnitzel was flavorful, although a little dry, as was the spaetzle, and a lot more of the delicious hunters sauce could have really improved it. The cabbage was a nice counterpoint to the richness of the sauce and other items, but the ratios were off in favor of cabbage by a lot. So much cabbage.
Dessert. I just want to say that I have basically given up on eating cheesecake, because it is always so terrible. But, again, trying to do the local thing, I ordered the Beekman 1802 Goats Milk Cheesecake. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you this was the best cheesecake I have ever eaten. It was light, intensely flavorful, just perfect. I’m actually ashamed to show you this picture because it doesn’t show the angels singing as I stuff it into my mouth.
Overall, I would give dinner at the American Hotel an A-. The cheesecake alone took it from a B+. This is pretty good coming from me. I gave Chez Panisse a C+.
Breakfast/Brunch at the American Hotel is equally good. You will regret it on your deathbed if you don’t have the Corncake Stack at some point. There is real actual corn in the corncakes. Layers of bacon and granny smith apples. Unreal.
Speaking of made with love, my husband was all like “I love fruit, can you just also bring me some plain fruit?” I would have sliced him a banana, but instead they sent this out:
Brunch at the American Hotel gets a A, and my faith in humanity is further restored. You can’t really ask for more than that.