by Valerie Nehez
The Café Pongo Cookbook: More Than 220 Recipes from the Hudson Valley by Valerie Nehez is a retrospective of sixteen years of cooking and living in the Hudson River Valley. Written in a warm and humorous voice, the book illustrates through narrative excerpt and recipes the essence of the Upstate New York lifestyle.
Author Valerie Nehez opened her first restaurant at the age of 19, in the virtually abandoned Village of Tivoli. Boarded up and forgotten, the empty storefronts were like ghosts of earlier prosperity. Through blind determination and great food, Nehez won people over one customer at a time. Her first restaurant went from a rickety four table, two crock pot, experiment to serving just under 500 meals a night to see-and-be-seen escaping Manhattanites. Nehez's second restaurant, Café Pongo, became a pivotal meeting place for the community and catered many of its significant events.
Now every storefront on Broadway, Tivoli's main street, hums with activity, including a vegan cafe and a first rate sushi bar. One of two original business people who, bucking doubt and sage advice, decided to invest time and money in the village, Nehez reflects, "Seeing Tivoli's sidewalks alive with people. I feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. The life of the Hudson River Valley stretches backwards and forwards in time. When the steamships left—and the people with them—and the stores were boarded up so many years ago, Tivoli seemed to have died. But now we know that, just like Rip Van Winkle, the town was just taking a nap."
A collection of 220 of her most requested and successful recipes fill The Café Pongo Cookbook. Included are such Pongo signatures as Pan-Seared Penne and Greens with Feta and Pine Nuts, Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict with Garlic Sautéed Spinach, Chicken with Olives and Figs Soaked in Sweet Vermouth, and sweets like Pongaroons, Caramel Apple Pie, and other delights from Café Pongo's famous bakery.
Valerie now travels around the country doing book signings and food tastings. She teaches cooking classes and is a freelance food writer. She finds solace through a daily yoga practice, gardening, and long walks with her dog.
The Café Pongo Cookbook
More Than 220 Recipes from the Hudson Valley
by Valerie Nehez
Simon & Schuster
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created September 2002
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