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Wednesday, May 28, 2008
House Magazine, Marcus Guiliano, Hudson Valley Restaurant
At Aroma Thyme Bistro, the food is wholesome, the preparations varied, and the taste...delicious.
BY JUDITH HAUSMAN, PHOTOS BY ROY GUMPEL
Eight years ago Chef Marcus Guiliano had a born-again food moment. Overweight and struggling with chronic conditions that he was much too young to be experiencing, he faced surgery for acid reflux. His father had had heart surgery, and his wife, Jamie, was pregnant. He knew something had to change, that taking care of his health had to become his top priority.
While cooking at The Greenbrier Resort, The Broadmoor, Depuy Canal House, and La Tante Claire, Guiliano had, he says, "always been cooking for rich palates and rich pockets." When he changed his personal eating habits, eschewing the very foods he once worked with, he saw dramatic results. "Within 30 days of changing my diet," says Guiliano, "I threw away all my medications." On New Year's Eve 2003, he opened Aroma Thyme Bistro, in his hometown of Ellenville, with the mission of serving delicious food that is distinctly healthy.
"Steak, seafood, and vegan with global influences" is how Guiliano describes his place, where Jamie runs the front of the house. "A customer said it's six different restaurants in one," he jokes.
The Bistro, which has many faithful regulars, has about 65 seats and is conveniently located next door to the Shadowland Theater in the center of town. The treasure inside is a 19-foot-long mahogany bar, discovered in a barn somewhere and restored and installed by a previous owner. The interior is warm pine and a painted green-and-black harlequin design. The works of a different local artist grace the restaurant every month. And Thursday night means live jazz.
Guiliano created a niche in the southern Catskills and has seen the niche grow every year. "It's gotten much easier already," he says. His local resources are ever-expanding and there are more suppliers with more to offer.
His menu contains a dizzying selection that clearly doesn't put limitations on taste. "Healthy and delicious," says Guiliano. "I knew I had to do both."
Wheat intolerant? Ninety percent of the menu is gluten-free. Concerned about fish supplies? Currently all but one seafood selection meets the Monterey Aquarium sustainability checklist. Guiliano feels strongly about wild salmon: "It's a lot of work, just getting the wild Alaskan salmon, and the price can vary widely, but it's worth it. It tastes so much better. I'll never serve Atlantic salmon." His troll-caught, Pacific Northwest albacore tuna, seared and crusted with black sesame seeds, is a trendy hit too.
Vegans look for Guiliano's house-made seiten and organic tofu dishes, while carnivores appreciate Copper Ridge Farm rib eye, a great meatloaf, and Kobe beef cocktail hot dogs. Spice lovers demand his chicken vindaloo and Thai red curry shrimp. For appetizers or for lunch vegetarians can try the thin-crusted whole-wheat Greek pizza or a goat cheese, potato, and truffle combo or a hummus platter along with curried sweet potato soup.
Guiliano serves local fruit and vegetables in season as well as organic, biodynamic, and sulfite-free wines (over 200 selections and an unusual number of half-bottles), 130 beers, and even customizes dishes for raw food enthusiasts.
A cup of java? "When I look at food, I also look at how it's grown and processed, so our chocolate, coffee, and even sugar packets are Fair Trade here," says Guiliano. He even chose Himalayan salt, full of healthful trace minerals, which is extracted with no machinery.
And no one has to give up dessert either. The list includes a dark chocolate fudge tort, a wild blueberry crisp, a bourbon pecan pie, and a farmstead cheese plate. He uses minimal white sugar and cream as well. Says Guiliano, "I want to offer clean, healthy food for everyone with no sacrifice of taste."
Each week Chef Guiliano, with Joe Bevilacqua, hosts "Aroma Thyme Radio," a half-hour program on healthy living, particularly healthy eating, every Thursdays at 6:30pm on WKNY (1490 AM) in Kingston, New York. Available online at www.prx.org/series/24043.
Grilled Kona Kampachi with a Blood Orange–Ginger Salsa
Kona Kampachi is a delicious, sushi-grade yellowtail, sustainably raised in the open ocean off the coast of Hawaii.
2 6-ounce Kona Kampachi/Yellowtail filets
¼ pound spring asparagus
1 tablespoon oil for grilling
For the Salsa
4 blood oranges, peeled and sectioned, all the juice saved
½ teaspoon chopped ginger
¼ cup dry sake
Mix all the ingredients for salsa and let marinate for up to 24 hours.
Coat fish and asparagus with oil. Grill fish until medium-rare and asparagus until soft. Serve fish with salsa and asparagus.