Upstate with Sara & Sohail of Brushland Eating House
“We are a two-man show, a modern-day mom & pop shop, and we look to this season as a time for recharging.”-Sara Mae Zandi
Stetson visits the power couple in Bovina, NY at their Brushland Eating House to connect with them on the transition from the warm, bustling summer months to the now cold, sleepier winter months. Photography by Noah Kalina. Follow his work here.
Winding down rural roads, preserved post & beam barns and wide pastures bespeckled with cattle, you might imagine that this is the kind of town, as it may seem in constant contrast to New York City, that always sleeps. Save for the few chimneys piping out tiny whispers of wood smoke and the occasional rumbling tractor, Bovina can feel the kind of quiet that you only read about in verse. It is Fall, the last of the ochre leaves have drifted, like parchment from a slick counter, out into the wind and for goodness sake, the tiny hamlet needs a break.
The warmer months, with their gaggle of visitors, clambering for pond dips, is a whirlwind of energy —— for Sara & Sohail of Brushland Eating House, it is ‘season.’ Nestled into a town that for a stint was the dairy capital of the nation, Brushland is now, like the creameries were then, the anchor of Bovina. In the summer months leading to September, early mornings blur into dusk. Wine, bottle by bottle, go empty. Tables, stay full. Upstairs, at the Inn, chess pieces bounce and records blare Sam Cooke. Feet march up and down the stairs with more and more wildflowers picked. It’s Summer, after all, and town is abuzz with revelers.
For the love of homesteading, Sara & Sohail’s life when it’s this warm, looks quite like a Norman Rockwell; a flock of chickens peck furiously at stone walls, their dogs meandering in and out of the feeding frenzy. In the garden, squash the size and color of those in fairy tales, wind in and out of meticulously maintained beds, most of which are teeming with peas and radishes and borage and chamomile. Chores, inn-keeping and food preparation collide with midday swims and watermelon gulping, making for a cacophony that can only be described as ‘happy, delirious chaos.’
In the cool, sleepier months, there must be a reset. Neither a hard button to press nor a changing of the guard, it is about stealing away into peaceful, dim corners of the same spaces that once overflowed with full bellies and joyous laughter. Nodding off again after a coffee in bed, tucking into the patch of light on the guest room floor, kicking a foot onto the desk and leaning back, just for some quick shut-eye before the shop is open. For in a few short months when the hills are awash in a plethora of greens and golds, and the hay trailers rumble past at a furious pace, and guests check in one after another after another, we can fondly look back on the hush that was.