Gluten-Free Travel in the US Part 2: Welcome to Rural New York!
While most of my 3-week, 9-stop trip to the US this year was spent in cities (reviewed here), a portion of it was in rural New York state, in Ulster and Delaware Counties, visiting places my sister and I knew as children.
We remembered the area as almost another universe, with just one TV channel (if we were lucky) rather than the 3 or 4 we had at home - this was long before the internet, satellite, or even cable TV. So I packed some rice cakes and planned to stock up on safe foods in a supermarket before checking in to our home for the weekend. We stayed in this delightful riverside house just outside of Hobart, and I knew I would have a full kitchen if I needed it.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, this was a completely undeveloped part of the state, with family-run dairy farms, empty fields, and small towns with little economic foundation. Only few hours drive from New York City, it was like another world, with open fields, places to pick berries and apples, and cows everywhere. We loved it in a way only children can – wholeheartedly, despite its flaws.
While the area still has significant economic challenges, I was pleasantly shocked at the options for safe gluten-free eating! Just as in my city travel reviews, there are no affiliate links here. I am just sharing my experiences, to encourage other celiacs try these places too.
Kingston, New York: Meredith’s Bakery
Kingston is the “big city” on the way to our destination, and we stopped there for a night to see what had changed. It looked much the same – the old town buildings had changed owners and businesses, but the buildings remained. Our best find was the Rough Draft bookshop. They carry gluten-free baked goods from Meredith’s (see below), though I opted for just a hot chocolate since I wasn’t really hungry. Great bookshop though – an eclectic mix and a refreshing change from the usual Barnes and Nobles megastores.
Outside of Kingston on the way to Delaware County, we found Meredith’s Bakery. Back when we were little, it was a vegetable stand called the Horn of Plenty, and it sold the most amazing apple pies - they were a staple on our Thanksgiving dinner table. That was before I was diagnosed.
Now Meredith’s sells both gluten-free and non-gluten-free goods, baked in separate facilities and individually wrapped to prevent cross-contact. I spoke with the woman working there and was impressed by how much she knew about celiac disease and the need for care – until she told me of the many people involved in the business who are celiac themselves. No wonder they get it!
I must admit, I went a little nuts at Meredith’s: New York City-style black and white cookies, large and small dark breads that substituted for pumpernickel, and a chocolate chop scone. Everything was delicious. I thought the black and white cookie was the best of all, while my sister raved about the scone. And the breads were perfect for breakfast!
Margaretville New York: The Binnekill Tavern
The Binnekill Tavern was a pleasant surprise, in Margaretville, another town that has seen better days. The food was surprisingly good, and our server answered my questions with confidence. That big bowl of plump and garlicky mussels filled me up and left me satisfied!
As for drinks, my sister ordered some sort of vodka and ginger concoction that reminded me of my Ginger Berry Sundae recipe from my Easy Tasty Gluten Free cookbook. Just look at it. Yummy.
Stamford New York: Gluten-Free Groceries close to home
At the (tiny) headwaters of one branch of the Delaware River stands…a Topps grocery store. Back in the day, it was a Grand Union, and we would beg Mom and Dad to stop there to buy Freihofer’s chocolate cookies and the super-size cans of Campbell’s soup.
Now it’s a Topps, there’s a historic marker at the river, and the store has an enormous section of gluten-free foods. Familiar and trusted brands, like Dr Schär and Enjoy Life. Sorry that the picture is a little fuzzy – I was so excited my hands were shaking!
Quick and delicious breaks in Hobart and Stamford
Unrushed days mean time for multiple tea and coffee breaks. My favorite hot chocolate of the trip was at the Coffee Pot in Hobart: it even came with a cherry on top! I didn’t feel safe eating there – it’s a short-order diner with a single grill – but the hot chocolate was to die for.
In Stamford, we found The Mountain Dog Cafe next to the Topps. They offer a variety of teas and coffees, and the surprise benefit of some brownies from Meredith’s down in Kingston!
The verdict: Much the same, but what a difference!
The scenery was just as beautiful, though there were fewer cows and more TV stations - and the internet, though we didn't really use either except to stream some music. Returning to a beloved place from early childhood made for a lot of oohs, aahs, and trips down memory lane.
But from a food perspective, this part of rural New York is completely different. I was blown away by the choices, and the high quality of gluten free offerings in towns where I least expected to find them. I am normally a pretty brave traveler, especially where I speak the local language, but this trip gave me more hope for exploring the rural US.
If you love the great outdoors, and want to see a part of New York State that is well off the beaten path, I encourage you to visit Delaware County, New York for a few days. Don’t let your celiac disease stop you!