When I asked my nine-year-old daughter if she ever heard of the small plate movement, she guessed it had to do with earth’s plates creating an earthquake. While a thoughtful attempt, it is much simpler than that. The small plate movement is about dinner plates … not tectonic plates. Small plates are simply small plates. The movement part is about a group of well-minded nutritionists who are spreading the word about the benefits of eating less at each meal.
Believe it or not, humans are psychologically affected by the size of our plate. Big plate equals more food. Small plate, less food.
Basically, we eat in proportion to the size of our plate. But whether our plate is big or small, we have the same feeling of fullness after eating. So, in light of the desire to use food sustainably and fight the obesity epidemic, there is a movement working to get families and restaurants to drop their average plate size down from 12 to 10 inches. This drop in diameter leads to a 22 percent reduction in caloric intake and a significant reduction in food waste.
The world needs this movement. There has been a rise in the concerns of the future of the global food industry. Our population is growing rapidly, and our diets are getting richer. By 2050, we’ll need to double the amount of crops we grow to meet the demands of human and livestock consumption. In May 2014, National Geographic Magazine began a new series about the future of food. The first article in the series was about how to reach these demands. A team of scientists came up with a five-step plan, and it includes using our food resources more efficiently, shifting our diets, and reducing waste. It states we can all make an impact by “such simple steps as serving smaller portions, eating leftovers, and encouraging cafeterias, restaurants, and supermarkets to develop waste-reducing measures.” Fortunately, in the Hudson Valley many restaurants already joined the bandwagon and offer small plate options, saving people calories and expenses (as well as the oft-wasted leftover).
Tapas, traditionally a Spanish appetizer or snack, have grown as a cuisine worth exploring in our region. Keeping in mind that the Spanish word tapas means cover or lid, there are several theories as to how tapas came into existence. Some say tapas were originally foods that were placed as lids over glasses of sweet wines to avert the fruit flies from the tempting sugars of the drink on a hot summer eve. Another theory says that patrons of Spanish bars would place their small plates of food atop their drinks as they stood (we’ve all been to the cocktail party where we struggled to hold our drink and small plate). However it began, bartenders served drinks with salty meats, such as chorizo, cheeses, and breads, and these small dishes became more and more surprising and elaborate and soon were something that customers looked forward to almost more than the alcohol.
Here in the Hudson Valley, there are plenty of options for delectable small plates and tapas that will satiate your appetite and keep you feeling energized and active this summer. There’s nothing quite like a warm summer night, a cold craft beer, and a medley of tasty food to snack on till you are fully satisfied. The summer is a great time to go taste testing.
Housemade Local Charcuterie Board is perfect to share around the table
Grilled Shrimp Fajita Quesadilla with Queso Fresco
Hard boiled eggs
Here are a few suggestions to whet your palate:
In Rhinebeck, sit outside under the canopies at Terrapin Restaurant or at their fabulous bar and enjoy duck quesadilla wedges, mini burgers, and coach farm goat cheese wontons, among other savory little treats that are all $5 or under. You can’t beat the elegant atmosphere of the Terrapin with tapas.
For a more country atmosphere, head to Peekamoose Restaurant and Tap Room in Big Indian. Set in a restored country farmhouse in the Catskill Mountains, Peekamoose supports local growers and changes its menu frequently to showcase the freshest ingredients available. Peekamoose also offers fabulous small plates, including roasted beet “tartare” served with micro arugula, white truffle oil, and caperberries; brandade ravioli served with tomato confit, kalamata olives, and walnuts; and housemade gnudi with stewed roma tomatoes & parmesan. And you must try their caramelized jumbo scallops!
Enjoy the legendary bounty of the Hudson River Valley by eating some refreshing food at Henry’s Buttermilk Falls at the Farm in Milton. Henry’s sources ingredients from local farms and artisan food producers and purveyors, who primarily practice organic farming and humane animal husbandry. Their own 40-acre Millstone Farm produces the majority of their fresh greens, organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey, and eggs throughout the growing season. Some of their delectable light fare includes chipotle beef chili with cilantro cream; crab cake with fennel slaw; spinach and mushroom strudel; white truffle and Parmesan frites; and pulled pork risotto. The list goes on.
The Hop, a craft beer and artisanal fare restaurant in Beacon, has a fabulous beer selection (over 150 craft beers and a rotating draft list with growlers to take home) with a diverse selection of small plates, featuring local artisan cheeses, chocolates, pickles, and house-made sausages. They use as much local produce as possible. It’s a great place to sample some exquisite beer and food offerings while relaxing with friends.
Boitson’s Restaurant in Kingston offers a huge selection of New York State beers ranging from Keegan Ales brewed in Kingston to Ommegang from Cooperstown. Seasonal cocktails whet your palate for some of their great little foods including deviled eggs; cauliflower wings with Portuguese hot sauce and blue cheese; and fried oysters.
Head to Friends & Family II Hillside Restaurant in Accord and choose from their seasonal small plate menu. Find delights like salmon with an apricot and pistachio yogurt sauce with a bulgur pilaf or a beef braciole with chimichurri sauce. Hillside creates delicious handcrafted dishes made with fresh local ingredients in a casual, inn-like atmosphere.
For a small plate late night menu, check out Bacchus in New Paltz. Select from bar food favorites, like burgers, nachos, and fish and chips, as well as pizzas, chimichangas, and a variety of appetizers.
Jar'd Wine Pub’s
advertising strategy is straight forward
Jar'd is an intimate, funky, and fabulous wine pub in New Paltz. Its energetic space offers a fun experience for patrons. Enjoy a great selection of wine, beer, and small snacks in the creative indoor or outdoor setting. Small plates and appetizers include pulled pork, soft pretzel sticks wrapped with Serrano ham, stuffed piquillo peppers, and Nutella crostini. Their place is comforting and fun and now has a deck overlooking the rail trail. It is a place to really relax and soak in the flavors.
Wherever you begin, get out there and enjoy the diverse foods and drinks of our region. Sit outdoors under the stars, people-watch in a quaint village, and enjoy the harvest of the valley. As you place your order, consider supporting the small plate movement ... better for you, better for the environment!
Author’s disclaimer: You may not want to start supporting the small plate movement on a day you did a seven-mile hike.