Embraced by many as “First Lady of the World,” Eleanor Roosevelt — in fact First Lady of both the United States and the State of New York; Chairman of UN Commission of Human Rights; United States Representative to the UN General Assembly; and first Chairman of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women — was, in large part, a daughter of the Hudson Valley.
In addition to her well documented life in Hyde Park after her 1905 marriage to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, her father’s fifth cousin, Eleanor also spent great parts of her childhood in the Hudson Valley at the Tivoli estate of her maternal grandparents, riding her beloved pony at the picturesque stables that are now part of the Kaatsbaan dance center.
After the death of both of her parents, the young Eleanor came to live with her grandmother Mary Ludlow Hall at Oak Terrace, the Hall family’s Hudson River estate in Tivoli. Understandably this was not the happiest time in Eleanor’s life. However, as Blanche Wiesen Cook wrote in her seminal biography Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 1: 1884-1933, “The countryside around Tivoli, which ER loved in all seasons, was a constant joy to her, providing wide-ranging spaces in which she was free to hide, to read, and to be alone inside her own world.” It’s not surprising, then, that after the death of FDR, when Eleanor could have lived anywhere in the world, she chose the Hudson Valley and the serene Val-Kill with it’s lovely stream to be her home and refuge.
It is this legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt that Jane Watson of Green Peas TV — another spirited woman who is passionate about the Hudson Valley and its farmers — is celebrating with her upcoming Dinner at Eleanor’s: A Moveable Feast, a one-of-a-kind farm-to-table foodie experience to be held at Oak Terrace, now a decaying manse on the original Livingston family estate with a spectacular Hudson River view on Sunday, September 18th from 3:30 to 7 pm.
Watson’s Green Peas TV, along with the talent-rich and sustainably-minded Chef’s Consortium, have been making a habit of pulling off glorious locavore Hudson Valley dining experiences in unique settings — the Mid-Hudson Bridge and Bannerman Island, for example — with the proceeds going to local not-for-profit organizations. Dinner at Eleanor’s will benefit The Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill and ARCS, AIDS-Related Community Services. And it will be filmed as the next episode of greenpeastv.com.
As part of the mix, Watson looks for great pairings when she curates her events, pairings of people, foods and wines. Dinner at Eleanor’s: A Moveable Feast celebrates the long relationship between the Roosevelt and Morgenthau families. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and governor of the Federal Farm Board during the FDR administration, and his wife Elinor, were dear friends of the Roosevelts and the Morgenthau family which still owns Fishkill Farms in East Fishkill, will be both sourcing the meal and dining at Dinner at Eleanor’s.
The meal will begin with “historic cocktails,” says Watson, and an exclusive tour of the 22 room Second Empire style mansion which remains virtually unaltered since the 19th century. The five-course dinner — from soup to chocolates — will be served with a Hudson view and prepared in-person and at the peak of harvest time by some of the Hudson Valley’s most brilliant chefs, including Paul Yeaple of Poppy’s in Beacon (a champion of the 2010 Food Network’s “Chopped” cooking competition show); Michel Jean of The Stissing House in Pine Plains; and Noah Sheetz and Rebecca Joyner of Chefs Consortium. Cooking along side the pros will be third generation farmer Ken Migliorelli of nearby Migliorelli Farm.