Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Brooklyn Gathers in the Catskills

All images © Valery Rizzo

We all left Brooklyn, heading up to the Catskills to gather together for a weekend of good friends, great food and a Southern-style outdoor barn wedding. Our friends Brian and Laura who you may remember from my Sunset Park Shrimp Boil Post, were getting married in the town of Roxbury, New York, an area they had traveled to many times before and wanted to share with all of us. Most of us, including the wedding party all stayed at the Roxbury Motel, a beautiful motel with outrageous 1960's television inspired themed rooms, which turned into  a game of I'll show you mine if you show me yours. The night before the wedding it seemed as if everyone met at the same place for the dinner, the IT place you must eat when you are in the Catskills, Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Housea rustic refurbished farmhouse that serves wood-grilled steaks, seasonal vegetables and has marshmallows you can roast outside around a bond-fire.

Knowing Laura, I knew this wedding was going to be one of those special weddings. You know the ones, where every detail is tastefully designed and extraordinary and where most things are homemade or locally sourced, which has also become a very Brooklyn thing. The day started out with guests parking along the road side and walking across a small bridge above a creek, leading to an open meadow, surrounded by trees strung together with globe lights and The Roxbury Barn in the distance. There was a badminton net set-up and horseshoe for the kids to play with and for the adults a raw oyster bar, which was a boat loaded with fresh local Island Creek Oysters from Duxbury, Massachusetts, served with white wine and garlic scape mignonette.

Cocktails were being served in the barn. All the drinks were created by Laura herself and good friend Holly Sheppard, chef and owner of the fabulous Brooklyn Catering Company, Fig and Pig, who catered the entire event. Cocktails included Cava, The Panty Dropper (a rosey pink cocktail made with vodka, rhubarb syrup, orange, triple sec and topped with purple basil), The Carpet Baggers Wife (cava, currant pureé and elderflower liqueur) and The Love Balm (made with lovage & lemon-balm infused gin, lovage simple syrup, lemon, mint and seltzer). The Lovage and Lemon-balm were both from Laura's garden in Brooklyn. There was also a large wooden canoe outside filled with several really unique and local beers. Hors d'oeuvres included Beet Lollipops, Deviled Eggs, Boiled Peanuts, Lobster with Micro Beet Greens, Canapés and Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches.

Laura also personalized each of the dining tables in the barn with jars of her homemade Pickled Ramps. There were also jars of a popular Southern pickle, Brian's sister Judy and husband Dave's Pickled Watermelon, as well as bottles of crushed Salemme Pepper which Laura loves cooking and seasoning foods with. Dave Salemme, Brian's brother-in-law is part of the Salemme Pepper Company in Connecticut. Laura also baked her heart shaped lavender shortbread cookies for everyone to take home as favors. 

The ceremony took place up a large hill and along a path leading to a forest of towering pine trees. Laura and Brian got hitched in this beautiful natural spot surrounded by a circle of  family and friends.

Afterwards all the guests followed the happy couple, down the hill and back to the barn where the food and dancing begun. Brooklyn, DJ Saasha Foo, spun tunes that had everyone dancing...even me! She specializes in Atlanta Hip Hop, only spins vinyl and can be found doing her thing every last thursday of the month at The Emerson and every first tuesday of the month at Project Parlor, both in Brooklyn.

The show stopper of the evening was from Fig and Pig Catering, which served up a roasted Whole Heritage Pig as well as 16 Hour Brined Fried Chicken, Yogurt and Herbed Potato Salad, Farro with Baby Squash, Purple Cauliflower and Roasted Garlic Dressing, Asparagus Kale Salad with Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette, Heirloom Tomato and Corn Salad with Cotija and Lime Vinaigrette and a Salad of Local Baby Lettuces with Muscadet Vinaigrette.

If that was not fabulous enough, after all the eating and dancing, it was back up the hill which now had a path lit by candles and troops of flickering lightning bugs leading to a spectacular bonfire and Holly still at it, this time with a Crawfish Boil! What a night!!

The next day after our farewells, my husband and I went on a driving trip around the Catskill Mountains. We stayed at Kate's Lazy Meadow (Kate Peirson's place in Mount Tremper) where we saw a bear right outside our cabin window, we ate homemade Rhubarb/Strawberry and Blueberry pie from Mama's Boy in Phoenicia, took walks along creeks, saw many deer (even one with large antlers), wild turkeys, hawks, a hummingbird (as we drank morning coffee), rabbits, woodchucks, taxidermy, vintage cars and trains, wildflowers, visited farmstores (one of my favorites, Lucky Dog Farm Store and Cafe in Hamden) and farmstands, browsed for antiques, met an Australian cattle dog named Arrow and discovered Olde Brooklyn Sodas! I have never even seen these in Brooklyn. There was a Williamsburg Root Beer, Coney Island Cream Soda, Red Hook Raspberry, Brighton Beach Black Cherry, Bay Ridge Birch Beer, Greenpoint Grape Soda, and a Flatbush Orange Soda. I had to try one of dentist won't be too happy about that.

I can really understand why so many people from Brooklyn I know have houses up in the Catskills, it's a really beautiful place with so much history and only a two hour drive back to the Big City.


  1. Dear Valery... for once I am totally speechless! This is ONE FANTASTIC post! I love it all: great photos, great food (this is when I feel sorry for the vegetarians-the hog roast looks almost medieval and magnificent!) great everything, really!

    Your photos are just... absolutely fantastic and they manage to capture the atmosphere! I love everything, Valery! The menu sounds like my kind of thing and... barn dancing! Yes, please!Love it!

    What a fantastic wedding... what a great photographer! And now... I feel hungry and it's not fair!

    Well done! This is great stuff, Valery Rizzo Photographer!

    I only have one thing left to say:"WOW!"




  2. Dear Anna - Huge Hugs to you! You are ONE FANTASTIC commenter!! Love how you related the roast to Mideval Times. Thanks, your the best!! really!!

    xx Valery

  3. What a gorgeous wedding! The photos are wonderful and the food looks amazing. :)

  4. nice pics :D
    All the foods looks delicious.. Nice wedding location..
    Thanks for the share.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Terrific photo journal and wonderful post. You truly captured the reason why we moved up to the Catskills (from Brooklyn, I might add). Thank you for your kind words about our place. We hope to have you around our table again soon.

    (Marybeth/Devin @ the Peekamoose Restaurant + tap room.)

  7. We go to the Catskills every Winter weekend and love it there. I think it is one imperfectly perfect spot. I love "Amy's Takeaway" - Peekamoose -and The Breezy hill B & B.....
    Fantastic images!

  8. Valery please stop posting this utterly gorgeous posts will you??? I only returned from the States in may and you keep making me want to go back! Next time I am over can we head of somewhere like this together so I can get some of these amazing shots, I never find places like this in the US. These pics are stunning - as usual! Bravo xx

  9. My Pleasure Marybeth and Devin, what a wonderful place and life in the Catskills! I can't wait to return and enjoy Peekamoose again.

    Pve- next time I am up I will try Amy's Takeaway and The Breezy Hill, thanks!

    Katie!!!! let's do it, look out America here we come :) Maybe the Georgian Coast, with islands and wild horses, I still need to do that trip...The Catskills again in the fall could be pretty great as well. x Valery

  10. Loved reading your post! And great photography to go with it!

  11. Really beautiful Valery :) you captured it so well