Oct 132015
 

The Hudson Valley, just upriver from Manhattan, takes Halloween very seriously what with its famous one-time resident, Washington Irving, having written “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” America’s first ghost story. Besides the usual Halloween parades, the towns up and down the river host vampire balls, real haunted house competitions, the Headless Horseman’s night ride reenactments, and tours to the cemetery where the author himself and the once flesh-and-blood Katrina Van Tassel are buried. But best of all is the Great Jack-o’-Lantern Blaze, an artistic spectacle that even grownups can love. If you can’t make it, have no fear. Feast your eyes on Nathan Hoyt’s photos for a virtual tour.

Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman was inspired by a real life Hessian soldier who lost his head to a cannonball during the Revolutionary War and rumored to be buried near the old Dutch church in Sleepy Hollow

The star installation is the Headless Horseman of  Washington Irving’s delirious tale involving a decapitated soldier who haunts a secluded glen on horseback every night in search of his head. The story was inspired by a real life Hessian militiaman who lost his head to a cannonball during the Revolutionary War and is rumored to be buried near the old Dutch church in Sleepy Hollow.

Historic Hudson, the non-profit that sponsors the Blaze, commissioned 240,000 pounds of pumpkins from local farmers for the makings of jack-o’-lanterns that light up twenty-five of the 120 acres that John D. Rockefeller donated for parkland in 1920.

The museum at Cortlandt Manor, once the Ferry House inn and tavern, c. 1750

In Irish lore, the jack-o’-lantern placed outside the doors or windows keeps evil spirits from entering the house. So on the one holiday a year when we mock the specter of death, there can’t be too many of them. .

Jack-o'-lanterns at every turn. The Ferry House at Van Cortland manor once offered food, drink, and lodging to travelers coming south from the Albany Post Road during colonial times.

Jack-o’-lanterns at every turn. The Ferry House at Van Cortland manor, c. 1750, today a museum, offered food, drink, and lodging to travelers on the Albany Post Road during colonial times.

Haunted grandfather clock and a colonial couple outside the Dutch stone manor house. Irving’s tale was kindled by the Dutch settler’s predilection for ghost stories.

Haunted grandfather clock and a colonial couple outside the Dutch stone manor house. Irving’s tale was kindled by the Dutch settler’s predilection for ghost stories.

smiling jack-o-lantern

Some 1,000 carvers, both volunteer and professional are kept busy re-carving and replacing pumpkins as the old ones rot and collapse.

A covered bridge and jack-o'-lantern moon of the Sleepy Hollow legend

The covered bridge and full moon of Sleepy Hollow legend. The Headless Horseman was said to menace anyone who tried to pass through the hollow at the entrance to the bridge, brandishing what looks like the rider’s severed head.

The unfortunate Ichabod Crane, who vanishes without a trace except for his wandering horse, his hat, and a telltale shattered pumpkin, thought by the locals to have been exchanged for poor schoolteacher’s head.

Jack-o’-lantern monument to the unfortunate Ichabod Crane. The character vanishes without a trace during a chase for his life, except for his wandering horse, his hat, and a telltale shattered pumpkin, thought by the locals to have been exchanged for poor schoolteacher’s head.

Colorful graveyard. In American Halloween lore, jack-o'-lantern represent the souls of the dead.

Colorful graveyard. In American Halloween lore, jack-o’-lantern represent the souls of the dead.

Among other attractions, skeletons and rattlesnake bones in a Death Valley scene.

Among other attractions, skeletons and rattlesnake bones in a Death Valley scene.

A towering jack-o'-lantern Frankenstein.

A towering jack-o’-lantern Frankenstein.

A black widow ghoul and her offspring.

A black widow ghoul and her offspring.

 Jack-o'-lantern ghosts and monster spider webs.

Jack-o’-lantern ghosts and monster spider webs.

dinosaur

A blazing dinosaur, nearly life size.

The three witches of MacBeth stirringn their cauldron

The three witches of Shakepeare’s play, Macbeth, stirring their cauldron.

A glowing giant sea serpent in a jack-o'-lantern sea.

A glowing giant sea serpent in a jack-o’-lantern sea.

Jack-o'-lantern cyclops.

Jack-o’-lantern cyclop.

Wide-eyed wonder in the jack-o'-lantern planetarium

Wide-eyed wonder in the jack-o’-lantern planetarium.

 

If you go:

Where: Van Cortlandt Manor, 500 South Riverside Avenue, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520. For GPS, use 525 South Riverside Avenue.

2015 dates: October 2-4, 9-12, 15-18, 21-31. November 1, 5-8, 13-15. Times vary by evening. Tickets go on sale to the public annually September 1. Members of Historic Hudson Valley may purchase earlier.

2015 Cost: Adults $20, children 3-17 $16 (Saturdays $25 and $20). Free for children under 3 and members of Historic Hudson Valley.

For reservations: buy tickets online or call 914-366-6900

All photographs Copyright Nathan Hoyt/Forktales 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 212015
 
Vice Minister of Economic Development, Carlo Calenda, explaining the Made in Italy strategy.

Vice-Minister of Economic Development, Carlo Calenda, explaining his strategy for educating the American consumer about authentic Italian products at the Javits Center’s Italian fashion fair.

I’ve been on my soapbox for years about the fakery of too many products being passed off as Italian when, in fact, they are not. Wisconsin “Parmesan” isn’t parmigiano-reggiano, the true Parma cheese crafted with 800 years of knowhow and tradition behind it. Canned tomatoes are brazenly branded “San Marzano” when they have never been kissed by the Italian sun. It’s the age-old problem of profiteers making off with Italy’s good name — and benefiting from its cachet. No more. Italy has a plan. It’s called the “Made in Italy” campaign and it aims to educate, promote, and protect the genius and high quality of Italian artisanal products abroad. Carlo Calenda, Italy’s Vice Minister of Economic Development, was in New York City today with the new Director of the Italian Trade Commission, Maurizio Forte, and other top officials, announcing the launch of their “Special Fashion Plan for the U.S.A.” Excited as I was to hear this for the fashion industry,  I asked the Minister how the strategy relates to the food sector. “We’ll be working with the F.D.A. to protect our trademarks and geographical indications through official channels,” he said. I’d say that’s very good news.

New York Italian Trade Commissioner Director, Maurizio Forte announces the launch of Made in Italy in New York

New York Italian Trade Commissioner Director, Maurizio Forte announces the launch of Made in Italy in New York

Italy's fashion artisans showcase their work at Milan Unica, Javits Center, NYC.

Italy’s fashion artisans showcase their work at Milan Unica, Javits Center, NYC.

That fine Italian hand: Italian designs on display.

That fine Italian hand: Italian designs on display.

There's a buzz.

There’s a buzz.

Creativity on display.

Creativity on display.

 

Photos by Nathan Hoyt.

 

 

 

May 132015
 
D'Ya Think the Italians Know How to Give a Party?  Arriverderci Pier Paolo!

A few weeks ago a message arrived in my inbox announcing that The Italian Trade Commissioner, Pier Paolo Celeste, is off to a new post in Moscow, and of course, there would be a little send-off. I don’t deny I was feeling sad about his leaving, as we’ll miss the creativity and vigor he brought while in New York City. Here’s to your mission in Moscow, Pier Paolo. Stay warm and in bocca al lupo! — You sure know how to give a party! Photos: ©Nathan Hoyt/Forktales 2015  

May 042015
 
Meating with the Stars at the Food Network Kitchen

When people ask me what I do for a living, I usually hesitate before answering. Writer? Journalist? Chef? Cook? Teacher? Story teller? Food advocate? Environmentalist? All of those descriptives are true for me, as they are for so many of us. Food can’t be separated from its source and what happens to it on its way to our plates. Chefs Collaborative, a nonprofit that educates about a better food system and celebrates the best in American cooking, is made up of hundreds of chefs, cooks, growers, farmers, fisher people, ranchers, cheese makers, artisans, writers, reporters, publishers, educators, activists — and it’s a mighty brain trust. Its […more…]

Mar 192015
 
The Italian Answer to St. Patrick's Day is St. Joseph's, the Gorging Holiday

Just two days after the American Irish whoop it up on St. Patrick’s day, Lenten eating restrictions are lifted once again for the Italians to celebrate Father’s Day, the Feast of Saint Joseph (Festa di San Giuseppe). The foster father of Jesus, symbolic breadwinner, protector of Mary, patron saint of families, orphans, unwed mothers, and the indigent is reverenced with an orgy of eating, drinking—and most importantly, sweet gorging.  Joseph is by happenstance also the patron saint of pastry cooks. My grandfather was named Giuseppe, so this day held special meaning for us. Like other Italians, we celebrated with treats made only for this day, typically bigné (fried eclair with filled with […more…]

Dec 102014
 
To Sotheby's to see TBTW

The other day, I published an article in Zester Daily about the monster truffle that was found in Umbria. What I didn’t say was that it wasn’t until the night before it was to be previewed at Sotheby’s that an invitation landed in my inbox. At close to midnight I was waking my husband up to see if he wanted to play hooky from his work the next morning and take a drive into New York City to look at it. After all, it’s not every day that we have the chance to see a four-pound truffle, even if we wouldn’t be lucky enough to […more…]