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Callicoon Hills: Great Local food done right

Claire Stabbert - Columnist
Posted 5/20/21

For the past four years I have been enjoying Chef JP Medina's food and have been in awe every time. Originally at the Debruce, then a longer residency at the North Branch Inn, JP's next venture is as …

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Callicoon Hills: Great Local food done right

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For the past four years I have been enjoying Chef JP Medina's food and have been in awe every time. Originally at the Debruce, then a longer residency at the North Branch Inn, JP's next venture is as executive chef at the Callicoon Hills. I have never been disappointed, and “as a chef, he has never failed to satisfy” (to quote a pharmacist).

I was recently given a chance to sit down with JP and discuss the menu and details of the Callicoon Hills, slated to open in the coming weeks.

His vision for its restaurant (named the Conover Club, after the trusty Catskills fly pattern) is one aiming to capture some of the magic of the original Hills - with locally-sourced ingredients prepared simply and deliciously - and yet with plenty of skill and technical ability.

But therein lies the rub: how to prepare a technically-driven meal, with perfect execution and attention to detail, and still capture the cozy, laid-back, all-are-welcome Catskills hotel atmosphere? A fortunate peek at the menu revealed a few of the hints at how JP is planning on offering the Classics, but still keeping things fresh and innovative.

Take the trout, for example - always a classic in the Catskills. However, JP's personal twist, leaning on his technical ability and Colombian heritage, will be to bake his trout “en papillote” by wrapping them in corn husks to retain moisture.

The menu will also include steak, chicken, pork chops, burgers, and chicken thigh sandwiches, to name a few. What REALLY blew my mind were the chicken wings. JP will be curing wings with salt, sugar, flowers, and herbs, then cooked twice for a perfect crunchy exterior over a fall-off-the-bone interior: confit first, then breaded in cornmeal before being deep fried. Varieties include their dry-rubbed peach smoked wings, sweet wings with a maple bourbon sauce, and spicy wings flavored with thai chili.

In the mood for breakfast or brunch? Visit the Rise and Shine coffee shop, where you can pick up fresh pressed juice, parfaits from scratch using Tonjes farm cheese, and cold options such as an egg salad sandwich or bacon egg and cheese.

Chef JP is taking no shortcuts, making croissants and english muffins from scratch for homemade breakfast sandwiches. Try their take on bagels and lox, which instead features cold smoked trout with lavender. You can even order any of the appetizers from the Conover Club, like their homemade pimento cheese, house cured olives, and yes - even the wings.

I don't think there could possibly be anything better than great chefs that want to help restore what was originally taking place at the Callicoon Hills. Thank you Chef JP and your team.

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