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Catskills Memories

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There’s nothing like spending a weekend completely unplugged in the Catkills. For years, I spent many a weekend and holiday at my dear friend Austin’s contemporary log cabin on the slopes of Mt. Trempor in Willow, New York. And I like to think fondly of good garden friends in the area: Suzanne Warner Pierot and her astounding astilbe garden and Dean Riddle and his exuberant magic carpet ride of a garden in nearby Phoenicia. No visit to the area is complete without a stop at Craig Thompson’s Shandaken Bake and sampling his perfectly imperfect pies and pastries. A self-taught baker, Thompson began his career making lemon meringue pies based on the paintings of Wayne Thiebaud for the cafe at the Kemper Contemporary Museum in Kansas City. He moved to New York and worked with high-end event-planning companies before settling in the Catskills, where he founded his bakery, which features exquisite pies, cakes, pastries, and tea cakes that are hand-baked with the seasons using local fruits. Craig says he mainly makes within the market season. “I try to make things that are currently being grown,” he says. “That’s pretty much my philosophy, following the growing season.” Thanks to our photographer friends Steve Gross and Sue Daley, we’ve got a lovely story on Craig up our sleeve for a future issue of Country Gardens. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak.

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