Must I tell you that neither the Alps nor the Apennines, no, nor even Aetna itself, have dimmed, in my eyes, the beauty of our own Catskills? It seems to me that I look on American scenery, if it were possible, with increased pleasure. It has its own peculiar charm – a something not found elsewhere. I am content with nature: would that I were with art!
Cole, one of the founders of the Hudson River School of painting famously made this declaration in the early 19th century soon after returning from a grand tour through Italy and England.
The luscious green hills, mountains, and rivers of New York’s Catskills gave Cole ample cause to be inspired, even in comparison with the more traditionally fawned-over landscapes of Italy and England.
Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, you can see for yourself what Cole is talking about in his beautiful interpretations of the 19th century Catskills.
But let’s not rely too heavily on Cole’s word, because the Catskills are so easy to explore now, and much of the area harkens back to Cole’s time, with little development in-between. To put yourself in the middle of it, head to Bloomville and spend a few days at Table on Ten, where a contemporary group of creative New York City expats are finding inspiration in the Catskills’ rolling hills and unchanged towns.
Table on Ten has lovingly polished up an 1860s boarding house on the edge of Bloomville. That’s just a few years after Cole traveled these same roads. And the current landlord has made a conscious choice to allow the building to proudly show its stately age while putting it back into service as the boarding house it was intended to be.
That landlord is Dutch native Inez Valk, who has made this part of the world her home. In the process she has provided us with an opportunity to dive into the Catskills experience, briefly abandoning our busy city lives.
Table on Ten’s three rooms are all well-appointed, with an aesthetic that is firmly rooted in the building’s history. Each room features a bit of the original (reclaimed wood details, record players and claw foot baths) and a bit of the new (comfy Muji linens, internet radios and Wi-Fi).
The attic suite is more spacious, with an antique, free-standing bath tub, record collection and player, antique rugs, and a comfortable, large bed. I used to own records, but they have not figured in my music media repertoire for many many years. I had forgotten how great it is to put a record on the Victrola and enjoy the music. Okay, Victrolas are a bit before my time, but after we pulled Johnny Cash out of its sleeve, and pulled some drinks out of the ice chest, our Catskills weekend was rolling! A few “throwback” moments like these go a long way towards shocking you into a Catskills frame-of-mind that makes your time at Table on Ten magic!
After settling in it was lunch time and we headed back downstairs to talk to the staff and treat ourselves to some of Table on Ten’s yummy daily specials. We topped it off with and all-American pie from Four and Twenty blackbirds in Brooklyn. The staff are super helpful and great for sending you out into the rolling hills with tips on good things to do, eat and see.
We spent the afternoon exploring the area’s tiny towns–Andes, Bovina, and Delhi–and then made sure we were back in time for Table on Ten’s famous brick-oven pizza night.
Next morning, we headed down for breakfast and treated ourselves to a “Red Egg in a Pan” and “White Egg in a Pan”: two eggs baked in a tomato sauce or in a cream sauce, and served with buttered toast. Also on the menu: homemade granola, very delicious.
Table on Ten is just the right thing for decompressing and getting a much-needed dose of nature in the wonderful rural Catskills.
Table on Ten’s lodgings are very popular and weekends are booked way in advance. But fear not, you can book a Table on Ten room any day of the week, just make a note that the cafe is only open Thursday to Sunday. There are plenty of other great places to eat in the area and the Table on Ten staff will have recommendations, or you can just check out their website. If you want to join in on pizza night Friday and Saturdays, make sure you make a reservation.
Planning a trip the western Catskills? Here is the current weather and what to expect for the next few days.62°mostly cloudy56% humiditywind: 14mph ESEH 76 • L 6077°Mon74°Tue72°Wed75°Thu71°FriWeather from Yahoo!