If you could, how would you reimagine your life? Have you daydreamed about doing something different? Following your dreams? Maybe that means being a chef or a writer or a dancer or singer. For Laura Silverman, it means co-producing a gathering spot in her Catskills hometown.
Laura and I met via Food52 and I grew to know her through her blog, Glutton for Life. I’ve always admired Laura’s way with words, foods and beverages. She’s a forager, a fermenter, and a glorious photographer. Everything she does is so damn stylish.
And that’s why I am thrilled to see her dream, Fish and Bicycle, moving closer to reality. Laura has teamed with Juliette Herman, the equally stylish owner of a Narrowsburg antiques business. Juliette has the space (a 1920s industrial building), Laura has the food and beverage ideas, all they need is a little support.
I hope all of you, my dear and faithful readers, will take a moment to watch this video and see the dream writ large on Laura and Juliette’s faces. Here is the link to the Indiegogo video (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fish-bicycle-catskills-bar-cafe-grocery#/)
I spoke to Laura the other day about Fish & Bicycle, reimaginings and more. That’s Laura on the left in the photo below, Juliette on the right.
LS: Juliette moved to the Catskills (Narrowsburg, NY) from France and opened this glorious business. We got to know each other, she came to my home, ate my food and drank my cocktails. We started talking about it, about this amazing space and what we could do with it. [Ed. Note: Laura has a reputation. She’s known as ‘The Alchemist’ and she hosts an annual, epic, Bastille Day pulled pork fête.]
CB: I’ve reimagined my career four times. Each time has been terrifying. Each iteration has been informed by the last one. I wouldn’t change a thing. How do you feel, here on the brink of a new career?
LS: I’m a writer. I’m not planning to give it up. I’ll be doing things simultaneously for awhile. I never thought I would be the type of person who would slow down, but I hadn’t really envisioned I would be leaping into something of this magnitude. It’s not about risk, so much, it’s about the enormity of it.
CB: How do you prepare?
LS: I’m working hard to make sure I have the physical strength. You need a lot of stamina. I’ve done some trails [at local restaurants] just to get a sense of the work. Everyone told me ‘It’s hard on the body, long hours, standing on your feet.’ I was kind of relieved that it didn’t kill me. I attribute that to yoga and hiking.
LS: The menu showcases the bounty of farms, forest, and fields. I’m going to try to forage for both the bar and the café. I’ve developed great relationships with our local farmers. We’re creating a Catskill cuisine. I’ve been researching the foods the Lenape Indians ate: They definitely ate the trout and venison and blueberries and the other foods that were here like local eel, fished from the Delaware River. We’ll be offering a fresh, herbaceous, intensely local cuisine.
CB: Tell me a little more about what you envision.
LS: I’ll be behind the bar, and we’ll have a chef in the kitchen. Initially, we’ll just go out with dinner. There will be a small grocery, an open central patio under skylights, a small café and horseshoe bar.
I grew up in a house where my parents did a lot of entertaining. They had all kinds of gatherings in the home. I feel very comfortable and happy when I am in a room of people transported by the food, drink, company and ambiance. I see a community gathering place where people can come to enjoy the bounty of the region in a simple, new way, that educates and inspires and allows them to escape their daily life. The best places, the ones we love to return to over and over do just that – bring people together.
And that glorious cocktail at the top of the page? That’s a Gin Rickey. Here’s a link Laura’s recipe. Summer’s coming!