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Wednesday, April 25, 2018
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The Wandering Eye: Tivoli, (Mostly) The Madalin

Our blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his partner Hermes Mallea, an architect, are principals in the M (Group).

OK, we are suckers for proximity when it comes to our restaurants and bars.  If it is close, it doesn’t need to be that good. We’ll be loyal supporters simply because of where it is.. (Discerning, right?).
So imagine our glee* when the Madalin Hotel and its restaurant, Madalin’s Table opened 3 miles south of us in Tivoli. Out our driveway, one right turn and one left and in five minutes we are golden. Easy on, easy off.  Now, the kicker: Besides being close?  Madalin’s Table is really good!  Go figure—Fortuna smiles on us.

The Madalin is an old hotel and bar, built in 1909.  Back when we first arrived in Clermont, it housed the local Tivoli bar.  Even I, in my Drinking Days, knew not to cross that threshold.  The place just screamed “Locals Only”—and the clientele looked un peu rough—the last bulwark against the Bard kids and the fey weekenders. (He who laughs last…) Then three smart guys bought it, mucked it out, fixed it up with charm, and voila!—a real destination, a restaurant to be proud of and a lovely small hotel to foist visitors off on when your guest rooms are full.
The Madalin does not have a B&B vibe.  It is a real hotel, albeit small, with just 11 rooms. Finicky friends have stayed there without complaint; our ‘easier’ friends have only accolades.  Flat screen TV’s, central air, and WIFI—my kind of country.  Hermes stays there all the time and loves it. (Just kidding).
Rural Intelligence StyleWe are not very guest friendly. I just did the math.  Our single guest room takes up 2.25% of our house.  Trust me, that speaks volumes. But hey, bathroom en suite!  And it may not be big, but we spent dough making sure the guestroom has its own heating and cooling zones.  This was after my mother visited and baked one night (her hair was sort of matted at breakfast) and then froze the next (“Are you trying to kill me?”).  Her ‘bread and butter’ present that trip was a new and vast AC system. Beats a garden club cookbook.  Sometime, I’ll tell you about the ‘blackout’ that got us a generator.  “That’s funny, the power is out.” (Wonder who flipped that big breaker in the basement?) “Sorry, Mother, no water without a pump.  A drag, right?  Of course, we could never afford a generator..”  Cue violins. 

B&B’s spook me.  We stayed at one for a wedding in Northeast Harbor and, by Saturday, everyone from our group except us had relocated (no small feat in Maine in July).  The old crone (thick black stockings and black wool schmata – in July) and her hunky/scary son were too weird for words.  Whenever we left, we would close the door to our room door only to find it open when we returned.  I asked the creepy guy to please leave it closed.  “We’re all family here,” he cheerfully responded.  I still shudder…                           
  But, personally, we know the Madalin best as a place to dine. Chef Michael Barillari (a CIA grad) works with local suppliers like Montgomery Place and Migliorelli Farms to keep things seasonal.  This year the wrap around porch was enlarged and the scene in the summer is outside.  Friday nights get a clubby group of table-hopping, fashionable weekenders.  Saturdays the food-savvy full timers predominate.
When the outside is Out of Season, we opt for the bar over the more decorous dining room.  Whether ‘real’ menu or bar menu, we really like the food. Great burgers.  Great fish and chips.  I wish there was an official steak on the menu, but the hanger steak satisfies.  I’m low maintenance, food-wise. A bacon-cheeseburger followed by chocolate cake with ginger ice cream, and I am happy. This isn’t to diminish the Madalin’s ‘fine cuisine’—it’s pretty swell.  I’m just a simple eater.
We are bad about reserving; we sort of spontaneously combust (“OMG. It’s 9:30!”)  and bolt for dinner, usually 10 minutes before—or after—the kitchen closes. If we’re out of luck and Madalin’s Table is full, Tivoli offers options…           
  Luna 61 is organic and vegetarian and very good.  Cute and funky and very Bard.               
Osaka is another favorite—half the time we call ahead and take away.  I’ve always felt like you could be on the Upper West Side in there—you’ll see.  Generic Japanese restaurant design is sort of comforting. 
And Tivoli has a tat parlor—Nice Guy Von Tattoos, for your ink and piercing need. A sushi theme?? 
Santa Fe is the granddaddy of the Tivoli eateries.  Way back when, in the days of really slim pickin’s in these parts, we had friends who’d drive 20 miles to soak up the margaritas and ersatz Mexican cuisine (bean sprouts weren’t on the menu at the Tex Mex places I grew up with).  The place still packs ‘em in.   

Our rural getaways usually begin every Friday night with a call to Broadway Pizza (845-757-2000).  A TiVo’d “Trueblood” or “The Tudors” episode and delivered pizza—country living at its best.
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Our Mexican food idol is Zarela Martinez. Her place on 2nd Avenue, Zarela’s is our favorite Mexican restaurant.  Very, very favorite.  Check out her website and learn about La Cocina Mexicana or buy one of her books.  Her first is a favorite,  Food from My Heart: Cuisines of Mexico Remembered and Reimagined

This morning on NPR, I heard that today is the 50th anniversary of Psycho. You can check out Tony Perkins’ biography, Split Image for some Hollywood dish. 
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Or go directly to our favorite new guest room/bedside tome, Hollywood Babylon – It’s back!  Full of really salacious stuff—I highly recommend it.  Chapters like, “Well Hung Hollywood,” “Whatever Happened to Judy Garland’s Body,” and “We Want Rudi in the Nudi” (Rudolph Nureyev) grab me—what can I say?           
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And go Vegan—or vegetarian—or not.  On this subject, I have no opinion, but I love the cover of this book and like the Measure Free thing. Works for me (in theory). Hippie Kitchen: A Measurefree Vegetarian Cookbook (Measurefree Kitchen Companion Trilogy)

*“so imagine our glee…”
Has everyone glommed onto “Glee?”  How fun is that show?  Something for everyone (gay, straight, physically handicapped, black, Asian, pregnant single teen, or just simply psychotic), with singin’ and dancin’!  Even if it is on Fox, check your PC tendencies at the door, then flip over to your local Fox affiliate (blech) to check it out—my iTunes is full of Glee downloads.  —Carey Maloney             

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