Monday, February 4, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

Hungry the second you wake up? Yeah – me too…

The solution? I find a nice hearty breakfast helps silence the hunger pangs.. And at the Catskill Country Store in Windham, I can get just that – and address my shopping addiction as well – what could be better?
Right – nothing…

It’s a beautiful drive up route 23 to Windham – a nice little ski town featuring a quaint Main Street with all the must-haves: a gallery, a diner, several gift shops and realtors with pictures of “vacation” homes on their window for tourists to drool over and imagine they can afford - yeah, we’ll just quit our jobs, open a Bed & Breakfast and live in the country! Yeah.. right..

Anyway, this homey restaurant also features a country store selling everything from homemade bread and jams to crafts, candles, slippers, art work, books and more. It’s a great place to browse for gifts..

Okay - back to the food..
The Catskill Country Store serves lunch and breakfast – and both are good – but going out for breakfast, to me, is one of the greatest joys in life.. And with menu items like “Gimme Smores” (pancakes with chocolate chips and marshmallows), and “Eggs in Purgatory” (poached eggs in salsa, served over pepper parmesan bread) – who wouldn’t love breakfast?

So I headout to breakfast – and upon my arrival I was seated and given a very large menu. As I took on the task of trying to decide what to get – it all sounds great – I overhear the inevitable “downstate” contingent – just in from their ski condos down the road, donning the latest in fashionable ski wear, filling up before they hit the slopes. Thankfully they are not interested in taking in the ambiance and manage to ingest their food at lightning speed and leave so as not to miss a precious moment on the slopes..

Back to me – so I decide to go as healthy as I can tolerate – 2 scrambled eggs, and rye toast, with a side of lean Canadian bacon.

So I tried to be good – you saw what I ordered.. and yet out comes my dish along with a sizable helping of well-done home fries, all nice and crispy, fragrant with caramelized onions and soft, sautéed red peppers .. I didn’t ask for home fries – they come with the eggs - but you can bet I wasn’t sending them back! Not only are my home fries delicious, but so is the side of marble-rye toast – homemade and addictive.. and the Canadian bacon was yummy too – Breakfast also comes with fresh berries, and a slice of cantaloupe and orange. The coffee isn’t bad either – and features an “endless cup”.

Ahhhh… now I’m all fueled up and ready to hit the slopes!
Wait.. I don’t ski.. Back to the treadmill...

Score! Or Should I say "Voila!"

So here's the scoop:
Don't wait! Get to the Mountain View Brasserie in Greenville, while you can - before the 'food gossip flood gates' open and the masses invade... Mountain View Brasserie IS as good as I hoped... as good as it's predecessor, the Freehold Country Inn... In a nutshell, the food was delicious, the menu was innovative, yet familiar - the presentation beautiful, thoughtful and appetizing.

So here’s the deal - I went, and met the parents there, on a miserably cold night that featured both wind and freezing rain – but you can bet nothing kept us all from going...
Finding the place was easy enough – right on Route 32, near enough to the road to be easy to spot on such an awful night..

Walking in from the cold and rain we found an atmosphere that was warm and inviting, not stuffy or formal. The four of us sat at a table near the window, adjacent to the gas fireplace. The décor is slightly reminiscent of the Freehold Country Inn – country-chic I’ll call it - although the interior is much more modern, as the building is much newer.

So onto the good stuff.. the food!
The menu was a nice size, not overwhelming, yet something for everyone, and there were several specials. We all toyed with the idea of appetizers, but skipped them, not wanting to take anything away from the main course – and possibly dessert.. Although with choices like Smoked Salmon with Dill Cucumber Salad and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Spinach– it was not easy!

As we enjoyed a basket of fresh baguette slices our choice of salad or soup arrived. Three of us opted for the salad, one got the soup – a nice hearty looking cream of mushroom. The salads were delicious and fresh, and the house dressing, a balsamic vinaigrette, was fine.

At this point we decided on a wine - Stormhoek 2005, a South African Pinotage, very tasty – nice, fruity and very drinkable!

And then dinner – the main attraction – arrived! For me - there was no choice – I went right for the Vegetable Risotto with Roasted Shrimp – something I heard was a great dish here – I agree 100%. It was a battle trying not to eat it all - !
And sharing with everyone else at the table was not even an option – everyone wanted some. The rice was perfectly done, and lighter and less “pasty” than other risottos I’ve tried. The vegetables were a nice complement, making the dish less rich. The shrimp were incredibly large and fresh and delicious.

The other dishes were equally good: Crab Cakes with Lobster Sauce and Grilled Center Cut Loin of Pork served with Roasted Apples with Calvados Sauce – yummmm.

Uhhh – so we’re all full – but who can pass up the chance to try dessert? Not us..

We shared: French chocolate mousse – amazingly rich and dark, not too sweet.. And an apple strudel with French vanilla ice cream – not a bite remained on anyone’s plate – enough said..

The service was nice, no one was rushed. The atmosphere pleasant and comfortable. And best of all the food – very good. I know we’ll be back!