Art (of) Mexican

Last Sunday, my fella and I road tripped south to Beacon’s Dia modern art museum. To be completely truthful our destination was completely secondary to the fact that we were seeking a good midway point between Albany and Long Island City. You see, one of my 41 paternal first cousins was in town from Ireland and we wanted to get together, along with his son and grandson, to share some time. Because it’s been so damn rainy, I sought out a place where the little guy (he’s 3 – and adorable!) could potentially stretch his legs a bit and maybe inhale some fresh upstate air.

Unfortunately, the rain refused to quit and we instead ran interference between him and the art, some of which beckons to be more fully explored than is actually allowable. 

As we walked through the large galleries taking in the works on display, I was impressed by both the scale of the work and the artist’s sensibility about what might define “art.” Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying here – I’m not questioning whether a pile of broken glass shards is art. I’m just saying that it wouldn’t occur to me personally to create art in that manner.

While there were definitely pieces that caused me to pause and circle, my favorite parts of the experience were the wonderful space and windows looking out to lush green grounds. And, of course, spending time with my family. 

A couple of tips if you visit. First, purchase your tickets online before going. The online system shows you exactly how many tickets are available for each one hour timed entry and there isn’t a convenience fee added. Also, be prepared to circle in the parking lot and do watch carefully for other drivers. There was a fairly high and unexpected level of aggression in the lot.

As we said our “until next times,” to my family, I had what turned out to be a genius thought – stopping for an early dinner on the way home. We had recently heard about a spot which had recently opened in Leeds, Casa Susanna. Some quick research revealed that the restaurant was only minutes off of the Catskill exit of the NYS Thruway. Logging on to Resy, I took the first available seating at 6:00 and off we went.

Casa Susanna is part of a newly refurbished, classic Catskills motel, Camptown. Well, actually, they’re calling it a hotel now, but it would be impossible to fail to notice the property’s more humble origins. We pulled into an empty parking lot a few minutes before opening and, not wanting to be those people, bidded our time until 5:02.

Impatient to get out of the rain and inside again, we stretched our legs to reach the entry from the side near the adorable, but currently unusable outdoor dining space, rather than approach the restaurant from the front door like normal people. No matter, we reached the front and pulled open the glass door and entered the bar, immediately deciding to dine there, rather than at a table.

Bar dining is definitely our vibe, especially when the seats are inviting and the barkeeper is a pro, like Juan Carlos.  

We got comfortable with menus and waters as we perused our options. I had read about a couple of items online and knew we would be taking some advice from those who had already dined here. The smoked cauliflower sounded incredible, particularly since we’d recently been thwarted in our attempts to purchase cauliflower. Seems there’s a bit of a shortage in local supermarkets of this lovely cruciferous favorite! Also a given was the duck leg confit tamal. I mean, how could you not?

Our complete order was as follows: Roasted pepitas to nimble with our fantastic margaritas (traditional for him, the Elote Sour for me), the Tlacoyo de Camote (heirloom blue corn), Quelites, Clothbound Cheddar, Salsa Negra Masa, 2 Verduras (vegetables) the aforementioned Smoked Cauliflower, Sikil Pak, Salsa Seca and the Blue Oyster Mushroom Sope, Black bean Huitlacoche, Fermented Tomatillo and 1 Carne, the Tamal Tonto (heirloom yellow corn), Duck Leg Confit, Fermented Mole Negro, Crema y Pickled Habanero Red Onions.

Without exception, the food was fantastic – fresh, bright flavors and an array of textures came together beautifully to stimulate the palate. My margarita made my tongue tingle in a delightful way, but none of the food was spicy. It was all about balance and I can’t wait to return to sample more of the offerings. My friend, Susie, says the brunch menu is also dynamite. Avail yourself of either experience, or both, and let me know what you think. Or, better yet, let’s go together! This place is a joy and I definitely want to support what they’re doing.

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