An Irish Insider's Guide To Upstate New York - The Gloss Magazine

An Irish Insider’s Guide To Upstate New York

Róisín Ní Mhórdha has always had a soft spot for Upstate New York, so much so that she moved there last year and now shares her Little Black Book of this spectacular area of natural beauty…

“Ever since first moving to New York in 1999, where I honed my skills in PR and strategic brand communications at the Magrino Agency, I have visited Upstate New York. In particular, a pocket of heaven in The Catskills, just over a two-hour drive northwest from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. It is an area of outstanding beauty, named by its early Dutch settlers, which is steeped in history and has a particular significance to the hospitality and entertainment industry. It was a favourite spot for holiday makers from New York in the early 20th-century and is having a renaissance again. (You may not know that a Catskill’s resort – Mountain Lake Lodge – inspired the film Dirty Dancing). The region attracts an outdoorsy crowd, who come for the hiking, biking, skiing and fishing – The Catskills are considered the birthplace of modern fly fishing with more than 1,500 miles of trout streams.” @roisin_nimhordha


“Callicoon is now home where I work with husband and wife, Sims and Kirsten Foster, founders of Foster Supply Hospitality, a privately owned hotel group featuring award winning properties and restaurants.

Winter is magical here, as is every season, because of its spectacular scenery and “leaf peeping” which attracts a steady stream of  happy diners, browsers and shoppers exploring what this group of villages and hamlets has to offer. Here are my recommendations:

For a budget hotel: “The Yarra is a four-bedroom house offering great value. This intimate and bijoux property has the added benefit of a small restaurant serving breakfast and dinner, with the Australian owner also leading as chef.”

For a boutique hotel: “Nine River Road, in the quaint hamlet of Callicoon, is an eight-bedroom house originally built as a family home in 1884.  It combines a magical setting (leading directly to the crystal clear waters of the Delaware River) and guests can enjoy cosy nights by the wood burning stove or relaxing on the dual swing seats of the first floor outdoor deck. Breakfast is a highlight and features fresh local produce from Windy Willow Farm, Tonjes Farm, fruits and freshly baked goods. It’s very popular for family reunions, small weddings, or for a romantic escape.”

For blowing the budget: “Kenoza Hall is a luxurious experience and the hotel overlooks Kenoza Lake. Guests can opt for its Presidential Suite (ask for room 21) or for a private “Bungalow” each with its own outdoor deck and elegant amenities. The onsite  Hemlock Spa offers treatment rooms, a heated outdoor jacuzzi, barrel sauna and swimming pool.”

A newcomer: “The much anticipated opening of Hemlock Neversink (the hemlock tree is indigenous to the area) this season will provide tailored experiences, with a focus on rejuvenation. I can’t wait to try its spa and dining outlets.”

My ideal weekend: “This wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of the many farmers’ markets which take place each weekend. They’re a great way to get an overview of the booming farm-to-table and craft beverage scene. My favourites take place in Callicoon, Narrowsburg, Livingston Manor and Liberty. What to buy: some of the local honey, gin, or rye whiskey – the latter is the perfect ingredient for a Manhattan.”

For coffee: “Look no further than 2Queens coffee in Narrowsburg and Barryville.  Run by the dynamic duo, Charles – responsible for their clever branding and design – and Martin – who celebrated 30 years as a coffee roaster – it will be no surprise to bump into Hollywood A-listers as you order take away or bags of coffee beans!”

For bagels: “If you think you have had a bagel, then think again. My favourite is the jalapeño pepper and cheddar cheese, one of an array of flavours created by Zach, of Grizzly Bagels, who makes each one by hand and in small batches, a case of when they are gone, they’re gone. You’ll find them at his counter in the great indoor Callicoon Market, along with Early Bird Cookery by Amy Miller, who caters celebrity events and weddings along with weekly private deliveries to customers in New York City.”

For food and homewares: “The two Spruce Home Goods are run by husband and wife team, David and Lori. He is a former chef with Alain Ducasse while she has worked with Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, which means they have exceptional taste and a great edit of food and homewares to shop.”

For brunch: “Head to The Heron, in Narrowsburg, and make sure you order a Bloody Mary here as it truly equals the original recipe from the St Regis in New York. It is the best, all thanks to Marla, the queen of dining hospitality.”

For arty events: “The Catskill Art Centre in Livingston Manor is a very welcome addition to the cultural and arts offering in Sullivan County.  Exhibitions featuring Sol Hewitt’s “Wall Drawing #991 and #992” and James Turrell “Avaar”, respectively, will run until 2027, where Ellen Brooks’ installation “Hang”, will show until the end of 2023. A must see for those interested in contemporary art in an inviting space.”

For books: “One Grand Books founder, Aaron Hicklin, has two stores: the flagship store in Narrowsburg with a second in Livingston Manor. He is the creator of Top Ten Books concept ‘the metaphorical desert island book list’ and has interviewed our very own Sharon Horgan, Cillian Murphy, Samantha Power, and Simone Rocha. He is also founder of the Deep Water Literary Festival, the inaugural event took place in 2018 and I was honoured to help be a part of it.”

For interesting fashion: “For discovering unique, handmade clothing using the finest Japanese linens in particular, Sveta of Pip Squeak Chapeau in Callicoon, and Pam Mayer of Mayer Wasner in Narrowsburg, know how to elevate relaxed clothing by using fabrics from Liberty in London, and also featuring brands such as Atelier Delphine, Lauren Manoogian, Sayaka Davis, and Lar Andersson.”

For pizza: “We are totally spoiled for choice here. When I fancy a pizza I always go to Narrowsburg – the deepest and most narrow section of the Delaware River for the best pizza – for the most delicious thin sourdough pizza at The Laundrette, As Americans love a moveable feast, I’ll then head to Sue of Baked Narrowsburg for an unctuous dessert. Day or night the view overlooking the Delaware is picture postcard perfect.”@baked.narrowsburg

For cocktails: “Sunshine Colony, in Livingston Manor, lives up to its name, all thanks to the charming husband and wife duo, Meg and Kevin, who have created a cosy haven featuring cocktails (order a Negroni), local wines and snacks, ensuring a relaxed atmosphere accompanied by music via vinyl records.”

For dinner: “Order the local trout in double sesame seed created by the Finnish chef, Henning at Hennings Local in Cochecton. The multiple chandeliers in the dining room make for a grand setting which counters the unassuming location above a “gas station”

For antique treasures: “My long time favourite vintage store is Madame Fortuna owned by Allison Ward, who has become a great friend.  She sources the finest antique jewellery, clothing, and homewares from glassware to furniture, to her signature “shell cushions”, you will never leave her shop empty handed! @madamefortuna. Another favourite for quirky bric-a-brac, rare wallpapers and tasteful light fixtures is Lee Hartwell’s eponymous antiques shop in Callicoon.” @leehartwellantiques

For a special treat: “I am transported to San Sebastien in Spain when I dine at Callicoon Wine Merchant with Michelin star perfection on every plate, carefully prepared and presented by chef/proprietor Robin Mailey. The wine selection is also outstanding and is served by the glass or bottle. So if in doubt, Alex is on hand to advise according to your taste and dining choice. It is a very special place which punches above its weight in terms of the bijoux nature of the establishment!”


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