by Megan Labrise
June 12, 2008 01:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
You know. Your skin can sear salmon; a car's interior could roast a chicken (stuffed); and sweaty thighs stick to vinyl seating like bologna to formica countertops.

For all these food analogies, the last thing I want to do in the heat is eat.

I want to swim.

Mercifully, Minnewaska opens for lake traffic this weekend. And the best place to pick up fuel for your freestyle is Joanie's Bistro Mountain Store (3214 Route 44-55 Gardiner). Located approximately six miles west of downtown New Paltz, the deli and grocery sits snugly at the junction of routes 299 and 44-55, just minutes away from cool water bliss.

In its own right, the Bistro Mountain Store is worth the drive. Originally an offshoot of Doug Thompson's Main Street Bistro, the business was purchased in 2006 by New Paltz native and Bistro manager Joan Fall. In her capable hands, this small deli outpost seems to have acquired a dedicated following, evidenced by a steady stream of sandwich-seekers in the early afternoon. According to, the store is the owner-proclaimed "Home of the Crankin' Sandwiches." I am not sure of "crankin'" - being more familiar with the related "cranky" (again, the heat) - but I will say that they are pretty damn good.

As any sandwich aficionado can say, the secret to building a sublime sub is quality components. Cohen's Bakery of Ellenville provides their bagels and breads; cold cuts are exclusively Boar's Head. In my estimation, that's already batting 1.000. Add fresh produce and any of the creamy or spicy house-made condiments and sandwich success is just about a done deal.

Invent your own or order from the dozens of predetermined combinations, named for colorful people, places and things. Evoking former Black Flag front man and spoken word warrior Henry, The Rollins ($7.25) is turkey, avocado, bean sprouts, cheddar, lettuce and tomato on a sub roll. What makes it is a generous schmear of pesto mayonnaise - its heady scent and cool flavor evokes the best of basil plucked fresh from the garden. The sub roll's texture is prime; Cohen bread is not soft, but yielding. The sandwich makers seem to steadfastly follow a scientifically proven meat-to-bread ratio. And they split it into two perfect halves, like the infinitive in that last sentence.

My great admiration for The Rollins leads me to neglect the other options on the blackboard menus in bright, enticing print. For the column's sake, I brought friends and tried The Brother ($7.25) - ruby roast beef, sliced gouda, red peppers and spicy horseradish mayo on a sub roll. For the meat-averse, there was The Minnewaksa ($6.95), which boasted hummus, pesto, Portabella mushrooms, red peppers, lettuce and onions in a tortilla wrap.

Warm sandwiches from the grill are also available, if this heat ever lets up. In a former season, I tried The Awosting ($6.95) - steaming grilled turkey, hot bacon, melted Swiss cheese and red onion on a sub roll, smothered in Russian dressing. The gooey amalgamation came close to compromising the roll. Even without complete collapse, it did get a bit unruly at times, ergo extra napkins. Grandpa's Rocker ($6.95) is grilled pastrami, coleslaw, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on heartier pumpernickel bread. It is a slightly lighter, more refreshing member of the Reuben family.

I usually take lunch to go, so I've thus far skipped Joanie's signature salads. They sound good: No Eggs For You ($6.95), is an ova-free mix of deli chicken, smoked mozzarella, black forest ham, chickpeas, tomatoes, bacon, red onions, cukes, walnuts, craisins and romaine. Hurdy Gurtie Man ($6.95) is Portabella mushrooms, walnuts, crumbled bleu cheese, avocado, tomatoes and sprouts on a bed of baby spinach. There are also two new soups every day, which will sound pretty exciting come November.

For those who wish to eat in, the building itself accommodates about a baker's dozen inside, ensconced among shelves teeming with granola bars and a panoply of potables in the long refrigerated case. More diners, for sure, fit under the umbrellaed picnic tables on the front porch and side lawn. I prefer mine lakeside, in the shade of a tree - a fresh Rollins washed down with a tall honey-sweetened Arizona iced green tea ($.99).++

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