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The Freshman Class of Catskills Eateries

Above: Prime Steakhouse & Spirits welcomes the Windham ski crowd. Photo by Jennifer Strom.

Let’s just pause for a moment and think a grateful thought about Catskills restaurateurs.

First of all, opening a restaurant anywhere takes guts. The effort and responsibility required are enormous; the risks are high. Here, the restaurant business is not a matter of establishing an Arby’s beside the freeway exit, with a central corporate office for support and a steady flow of rubes funneling past. This is the blizzard- beleaguered, flood-washed Catskill Mountains, with winding roads, a widespread populace and uncertain cell service. Yet, chefs and entrepreneurs continue to flock here, trying their hands at rebooting old- fashioned diners, introducing new concepts and embracing ethnic cuisines.

Here’s a sampling of new places whose proprietors joined the fray in the last 12 months.  Read more

Buying Local Food: A User's Guide

Above: Hot peppers come by the pint or the peck at Shaul Farms in Middleburgh. Photo by Richard A. Smith.

Buying Catskills foods year-round is like being on a 12-month-long scavenger hunt. One farmstand has the heartiest greens and another specializes in heirloom tomato varieties.

The best eggs, the ones with the golden-orange yolks, are at yet another stand. The tastiest veal is sold off the front porch of a farmer in the next town, and the mind-blowing raspberries are hidden in a humble greenhouse a few miles in the other direction.

There are many ways to buy Catskills food, from visiting the nearest farmers’ market to arranging to purchase a quarter of a cow months in advance. It’s more complicated than shopping at the supermarket. But the groceries you bring home are fresher, tastier, and often, if you know where to look, cheaper.  Read more

Announcing our Catskills Food Guide

Foods of the Catskills, styled and shot by Toni Brogan and featured on our Catskills Food Guide cover. 

Everybody eats. Whether at our kitchen tables, at a fancy restaurant or out of a car cupholder on the daily commute, every meal we eat represents a choice made. As OnEarth Magazine put it in an article about the Catskills’ growing role as a “foodshed” last year: “With interest in eating high-quality local food higher than at any time since local food was the default, the Catskills are perched on the threshold of perhaps the greatest food-marketing opportunity in North America.”  Read more

Too close to call: Elections around the Catskills hang in the balance

Above: Democratic supervisor Marge Miller and Republican challenger Nelson Delameter, of the Delaware County town of Middletown. In unofficial results from the county Board of Elections, Delameter bested Miller by just 22 votes.

Most of Tuesday's races in local elections were settled decisively. But around the Catskills, there are still a few close races in which voters will have to wait until all absentee and affidavit ballots are counted to be sure of the victor.

The Watershed Post canvassed the county Boards of Elections on Wednesday to find out how many absentee ballots are still outstanding in the region's closest races. Affidavit ballots, which are cast by voters in cases where it is unclear whether the voter has the right to vote in the district, could also have an impact on some of the closest races. 

Not all absentee ballots have been received by the county Boards of Elections yet. To count in the election, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 4, but they will still be accepted until Nov. 12. After the deadline passes, the county Boards of Elections will begin counting absentee and affidavit ballots.  Read more

Election results are in, Catskills

The results of Tuesday's local elections are in -- some expected, some surprising, and some still hanging in the balance as absentee ballots that could decide close races continue to roll in. We posted highlights from local races live on Twitter Tuesday night as they came in; see the Watershed Post's Twitter feed for many election results and links to more news coverage.

Local boards of elections have posted unofficial results and vote counts from each race. To find results from your town, click the link to go to your county board of elections website: Delaware County, Greene County, Schoharie County, Sullivan County, Ulster County.  Read more

NewsShed: Blockbuster Election 2013 edition

Listen to the pumpkin. Photo by Flickr user Tanner Lovelace; published under Creative Commons license.

In small-town America, odd years are where the political action is. On Tuesday, November 5, New York State goes to the polls to elect local officials.

Below, you'll find a guide to some of the Catskills' hottest races, with links to local news coverage, how to find your polling place and look up a sample ballot, and more. Remember, your vote counts -- and nowhere does it count more than in local races, which are often decided by a mere handful of votes.

STATEWIDE

Unless you live under a rock -- which, we admit, is a possibility around here -- you're probably aware that there's a referendum on casino gambling in New York State on the upcoming ballot. Supporters of the referendum say it will bring jobs and a much-needed infusion of cash into the local economy. Others say casino gambling causes more local economic problems that it solves

  Read more

Haunted hills: Our guide to a Catskills Halloween

Above: Pumpkins at Sunfrost Farms in Woodstock. Photo by Flickr user Kat Stan; published under Creative Commons license.

Halloween may not formally arrive until next Thursday, but celebrations of ghoulies and ghosties and all manner of beasties are in full swing this weekend. Gear up as your craziest fantasy (well, maybe your second craziest fantasy) and prepare to pierce the Veil Between The Worlds at any of these shindigs, ranging from rock-on-out to bring-the-toddlers.

DELAWARE COUNTY

The Shire Pub in Delhi is throwing a Halloween costume bash Saturday night, with a wide variety of costume prize categories and dancing to the music of DJ Weazel.  Read more

NewsShed: Better safe than sorry

Earlier this month, schoolchildren across the Catskills learned about fire safety during National Fire Prevention Week. Here's Gianna Muellerleile, daughter of Shandaken ambulance captain Rich Muellerleile, suiting up for the cause. Rich, who sometimes writes a safety column for us, advises sagely: "No matter what calamity you deal with, it is much more easily addressed by preventing it altogether than having to deal with its aftermath." As the kids say: True dat. Photo by Jake Millman.

It's been a gorgeous October, Catskills, but it looks like the cold weather is upon us at last. Time to break out the winter sweaters, fire up the woodstove (safely!), and make sure your kid's Halloween costume isn't too skimpy. (Remember Snowtober 2011?)  Read more

NewsShed: Grand Gorge can't catch a break, and neither can Gumby

Above: The remains of Sundae's, a restaurant on Route 23 in Grand Gorge that was destroyed by an early-morning fire on Monday. It's the second time in a month a business has burned down in Grand Gorge; in the wee hours of September 27, Becker's Tire Service on Route 30 was destroyed by a fire. Investigators say neither fire is considered suspicious. Photo by Jennifer Strom.

Happy Thursday, Catskills -- and happy End Of Shutdown Day, too. Late last night, Congress passed a bill to fund the government until January 15 and raise the debt limit until February 7, so we've got at least a few months of reprieve from all the Sturm und Drang in the Capitol.   Read more

NewsShed: Small government, big drama

Above: Sunset over a Middleburgh field. Photo by Flickr user A Man Called ACME; shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr group pool

Happy Columbus Day Weekend, Catskills. There's plenty to do this weekend around the mountains: Fiddlers in Roxbury, old-timey machines and crafts at Hanford Mills, the massive O+ Festival in Kingston, lots of hikes scheduled for the last few days of Lark in the Park, and more.

The federal government may be shut down, but at the local level, things are mostly chugging along as usual. The Catskill Watershed Corporation has a new president, Stamford supervisor Mike Triolo. Colchester town meetings continue to erupt in drama. Delaware County is looking into passing a bed tax on local hotel stays. Ulster County is pressuring towns to cut their budgets, after promising to take over more of towns' Safety Net costs in the upcoming year. 

Even for Monticello, this week's emergency village board meeting was off the charts in the drama department. The meeting was held to discuss the village's botched demolition of the asbestos-laced Monticello justice court, which resulted in the arrest of six workers by state environmental police. Hat tip to the Sullivan County Democrat for a truly astounding account of the meeting, which includes this gem:  Read more