Something happened this summer on the Western edge of the Catskills: the once thriving river towns that got rich in the 19th century on logging and the bordellos that served the lumberjacks have stirred back to life, thanks to an influx of New Yorkers looking for an escape plan in these testing times. Having lost their Main Street businesses to Walmart and Dollar General, a tangle of towns along Route 97 from Port Jervis are emerging as prime destinations, thanks to a mix of ambitious new restaurants, specialist boutique stores, and a wealth of river activities that bring the corridor to life in summer.
From Narrowsburg’s excellent The Laundrette with its inventive wood-fired pizzas and salads (think Brussels sprouts with a yuzu jalapeno aioli) and newly-opened Narrowsburg Proper (44 Main Street), a foodie’s emporium of gourmet imports from Europe as well as local farmers and bakers, to oenophile Robin Mailey’s new tapas-style wine store and bar in Callicoon (the soft opening is this weekend), the region is showing a flair for entrepreneurs priced out of New York or jaded by Hudson Valley’s twee vibe. The growing buzz is a credit to pioneers like The Heron restaurant (40 Main Street, Narrowsburg), River Gallery (8 Main Street, Narrowsburg) and clothing boutique Mayer Wasner (57 Main Street, Narrowsburg). They saw the potential before others, and toughed it out through leaner years.
A few weeks ago, the designer Sunrise Ruffalo – wife of Mark – brought her impeccable eye for design and art to a newly-vacant space next to Mayer Wasner, opening Sunny’s Pop just in time for the holiday season. One of several stores in the town specializing in home goods and décor (also check out The Nest, The Mildred Complex(ity) and The Velvet Maple, as well as Dyberry Weaver, which specializes in gorgeous hand-woven and dyed rugs), Ruffalo’s spare, clean aesthetic results in some excellent gift ideas for the Holidays. We invited her to choose her five top gift items:
Concrete Candle Shrine: $70
“Simple design, yet highly attractive in its use of materials and shape. The copper base exaggerates the candle’s flame to add extra flare.”
Maple Peg w/ Leather Strap Wall Hooks, available in tan/natural maple or black/black: $34-$40
“Made of beautiful maple wood, and completely functional in any space for anyone at any age.”
Handcrafted Ceramic Coffee Pour-Over, available in charcoal or white: $135
“Supporting local artists in the Catskills, and a new twist on drip-coffee makes the perfect gift for these chilly months.”
Small Nylon Tote w/ Adjustable Strap, available in coyote brown or black: $88
“This unisex tote is designed for all of your needs with an adjustable strap, storage pouch, and waterproof material. This tote is ready to conquer any city street or country scape.”
Hand-Carved and Spun Porcelain Cups, available in a variety of colors: $40
“Delicately carved cups in hand-mixed glazes ensure a one-of-a-kind cup every time.”