1 My partner, Adam, and I opened Vico five years ago.
2 Here we are celebrating the restaurant’s fifth anniversary in May. Adam, on the right, takes care of the front of the house, while I’m in the kitchen.
3 Of course, we couldn’t do it alone - Here’s Karl, my indomitable sous chef, who holds the kitchen together while I’m working in New York City, and while I’m back, as well.
4 Lisbeth, our head server - With her Danish charm and style, she's a favorite of our regulars. We don’t know what we’d do without her!
5 Susan Johnson, our neighbor and regular customer, not to mention an outstanding needlepoint designer - She took many of these photos for us.
6 Occasionally, a celebrity will appear, and while most are discreet, this red-headed doofus on the right barged into my kitchen uninvited. Actually, Conan and Eric, on my left, were my college roommates and wonderful supporters of Vico.
7 This is how we found the place originally.
8 And this is how it looks now - brightened with ragged walls done by my brother, Ken, a talented painter. The photos on the walls are by Joan Damiani, who owns a gallery just down the street.
9 Things can get pretty tight during service hours!
10 The kitchen is open to the bar, so we can greet customers when they come in.
11 A beautiful shot showcasing some of the 18th and 19th century architecture
12 This is where I lived and worked for two years in Italy - the tiny village of Vico d’Elsa in Tuscany, situated halfway between Florence and Siena.
13 We've had a couple of 'dog parades' in which local artists painted dog statues all along Warren Street. This pooch, at our doorstep, is by the artist, Jack Millard and his name is Poochi!
14 The following year, we hosted 'Reflections' by Ali Herrmann.
15 Summer is short and precious in Columbia County, where the winters can be harsh. Here’s our dog, Betty, atop a seven-foot snow bank.
16 And fall is gorgeous, and fun in it’s special way. Here we’re decorated for Halloween. Do you recognize the birds in the window?
17 But by springtime, things begin to stir. The first local products we use aren’t even from a farm. These are ramps, which we forage near our home during their brief season toward the end of April.
18 But there’s nothing quite like summer! This is the deck behind the restaurant, popular on cool summer evenings. Adam decorates with plants and flowers and fresh herbs, which we use in the kitchen.
19 We source just about everything we need from local farms in the summertime and sometimes, even year-round. This beautiful mesclun mix comes from Equinox Farms in the nearby Berkshire Mountians.
20 We acquire vegetables from The Farm at Miller’s Crossing in Hudson. http://www.farmatmillerscrossing.com/
21 These were the season’s first sour cherries from a nearby orchard. I poached them in a rosemary-scented syrup and served them in a Napoleon with grappa-laced pastry cream.
22 Local, grass-fed beef from Grazin’ Angus http://www.grazinangusacres.com/index.html, and wine from the Hudson-Chatham Winery http://www.hudson-chathamwinery.com/, just a few miles down the road from us.
23 This photo, of a Bistecca Fiorentina, is from our beef and wine tasting event, called 'Red, White, and Moo.'
24 Even though we’re hundreds of miles from the ocean, we can still get fresh seafood. This is Job Yacubian delivering a 25lb. sea bass, which he caught off of Nantucket Island.
25 We also get sustainably farmed fish raised in Hudson by Local Oceans. These are branzini, which we prepare in cartoccio (parchment paper) layered with seasonal vegetables.
26 I add a few of my favorite 'essence of summer' dishes to the menu during the season. One, of course, is the classic Caprese salad, with our own mozzarella, local tomatoes, and basil grown in the garden behind the restaurant.
27 Another is the Milanese chop. Though I prefer to substitute pork for the traditional veal, we still prepared it the same way, as Karl demonstrates: We French-trim a bone-in pork loin...
28 ...then cut into chops…
29 …and pound them out to create the classic 'ping-pong paddle' shape, so thin they’re nearly transparent.
30 We then dredge them in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and sauté them in clarified butter.
31 Finally, we top each one off with a salad of arugula and cherry tomatoes with a lemon-champagne vinaigrette. This is the colorful result.
32 My other great summer favorite requires fresh, heirloom tomatoes: Penne alla Checca. The juice of these amazing tomatoes actually makes a sauce, which the freshly cooked penne readily absorbs - served with mozzarella and fresh basil.
33 This cocktail is a cross between a Bellini and a martini: a Bellinitini!
34 But for the grumpy chef working in a hot kitchen, nothing beats an iced cappuccino.
35 If you find yourself passing through Hudson, please drop by and say hello!