best sandwiches in the Hudson Valley
Thursday, June 19 2014
Early this morning, Gretchen left again for a couple of nights, this time spent down in Manhattan. Among the activities she had planned was attendance at a swanky PETA gathering and an visit to a women's apparel store to shop for new brassieres.
After a pretty solid day of fine-tuning the math details of the webapp I've been working on, I took a little break to gather firewood in the nearby forest, returning with a 110 pound load and so hot and sweaty that I stripped down to nothing and used water from the woodshed rain barrel to take a shower.
Ray had invited me over for dinner, so, after driving around to the nearest Esopus-crossing bridge, I arrived at his place at 7:00pm. As I pulled up, a seamless gutter vendor with an Arab name was finishing his estimate of a job to replace the gutters on the house and garage. It was somewhere between 700 and 800 dollars. When I arrived, the dogs Jack and Bruce (Ray's brother's dog) went nuts and demanded to be let out, and from that moment until I left, Ramona and Jack wrestled, ran around, and played (though occasionally, at least when she was outside, Ramona had to take breaks to defecate, as she was suffering from a bout of loose stool syndrome). Also at Ray and Nancy's house was Sarah the Vegan. I'd brought over a sixpack of assorted beers, but Sarah had made a summery Asian noodle dish and Ray was about to start making gourmet sandwiches.
Before he got cracking on that, though, we sat around talking about various things, particularly all the contractors Ray and Nancy have hired to give estimates for things in need of doing on their house. One of those issues was an infestation of Carpenter Ants in the house's roof ridge. They'd had an exterminator come out and suggest that the solution was to puff poison into all the house's electrical outlets. It sounded like a racket to me, and I gently said so. How, after all, can you tell whether or not an exterminator was successful? Already they claimed that the Carpenter Ants are no longer in evidence. Perhaps they were only infesting the house temporarily in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, which blew off the roofing over the roof ridge, allowing an intrusion of rain water. My theory about Carpenter Ants is that they are always a symptom of an underlying problem that needs fixing. I then related the story of how I'd found extensive Carpenter Ant damage in the wood beneath the door connecting our east deck to our laundry room, damage that probably happened before I'd installed the gutters. By the time I'd found the damage, I corrected the water flow issues and the Carpenter Ants were gone. I told Ray and Nancy that it would be more effective to spend their money correcting problems with the roof than poisoning ants that might not even be there any more.
Ray's gourmet sandwiches were like no sandwich I've eaten in a long time. Evidently he'd developed them over time by trying different techniques and ingredients until he found the ones that resonated perfectly. He actually made two different kinds of sandwiches. One set contained tempeh and was light and summery while the other contained tofu and was rich and spicy, though also carefully balanced with slices of cucumber. "It's impossible to buy a better sandwich in the entire Hudson Valley," I declared. "Did you hear that?" Nancy asked Ray. Based on the banter that followed, it sounded like Ray might be exploring the idea of opening his own food cart. Certain individuals will not be pleased to learn that his intentions are not entirely vegan, even if today's sandwiches were.
It would have been so easy to drive home in my semi-intoxicated state had there been in a bridge across the Esopus there in Hurley. Knowing I'd have to drive all the way up to Route 28 just to find a bridge westward, I stayed a little longer and drank a big glass of water before leaving.
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