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April 14, 2022

64. A Cidiot's Ballot

64. A Cidiot's Ballot

TJ Eads of Greig Farm, finalist for Chef

The Chronogrammies weren't always reader's choice, but luckily they are now. This episode, Mat reviews Chronogram magazine's 3rd Annual Chronogrammies finalists category by category with his picks for your vote—and why.

From Arts & Entertainment and Retail to Nature & Outdoors, Shelter, Health & Wellness, and even People. You'll hear his top picks including Adams Fairacre Farms, Ashokan Resevoir, Bangallworks, Clermont, Citiot, Giobatta, Graham & Co., Greig Farm, Oblong Books, Olana Historic Site, Pause Dog Boutique, Rough Draft Bar & Books, WKZE and Woodstock Meats. Read the blog post with the full ballot.

Thanks for listening to Cidiot, 2021 Chronogrammie Winner of Best Regional Podcast.

You can vote now—and every day— from April 1-May 15 with just an email address at Chronogram.com under Chronogrammies.

Pictured above is T.J. Eads of Greig Farm, finalist for Chef.

Excited for this vote and this season. Come visit. 

(Send in a voice message via Anchor)



Episode 64: A Cidiot’s Ballot

 “Letter Grades”

Mat: If you’ve been in New York City, you’ve probably noticed that as you walk by restaurants you might see a letter in the window rating the restaurant on a simple white piece of paper in bold A, B or C. The grade is actually an inspection score. 0 to 13 points is an A, 14 to 27 points is a B, and 28 or more points is a C. Grade cards must be posted where they can easily be seen by people passing.  These are not Zagat restaurant ratings, though my father was really into those, these are sanitary safety grades. The fewer points the better, you see, because each point is a violation of something.

Since 2010, New York City has required restaurants to post letter grades that correspond to scores received from these sanitary inspections. Graphic designer Jose Torres hadn’t yet graduated from college when he completed designs for the NYC restaurant grading system for the NYC department of health. Getting an A doesn’t mean you’re a gold Olympian delicious and a B isn’t silver.  Getting an A means no violations. Getting an A means it’s clean. Safe. Well, at least, the days they visited.

This is all very different from the award shows and top 50 lists that I’m used to in marketing, advertising and public relations. Most of those lists and award shows you often pay to submit to , to even be included. There’s also a panel of experts judging you on certain metrics — whether creativity, effectiveness, craft. If you win, you’re the best and if you lose, you of course cry foul that it’s b.s. but these are important metrics for recognition and reward.  I’ve written and talked and thought about awards a lot in my career and you can imagine it’s all over the place in my career book.

On the Amtrak train this week, (yes , I started traveling just a tiny bit again) it hit me that when you’re the customer, the consumer, the participant and not on the creating end - when you’re the diner in the restaurant and not the owner…. awards and ratings are really about not just standing out but establishing standards in a world where the bar changes of what’s good and what’s great.

Seeing a place, a person, an organization, a business you like get an award gives you The warm feeling that you chose wisely, the pride that you’re in good company, the hope that this is the top of what can be— and the reassurance that well, you probably won’t get food poisoning.

SFX: Theme Song

“About The Ballot”

Mat: I’m Mat Zucker and this is Cidiot. Learning to Live and Love Life in the Hudson Valley. Episode 64 A Cidiot’s Ballot.

“The Chronogrammies” Margo Isaacs of Chronogram told me via email “wasn’t always reader’s choice.”

Back in the late '90s, Chronogram had a "Best Of" issue — a mix of readers' choice and editorial choices. It proved divisive, however, with those who didn't win, especially when not chosen by the editorial staff. So they shelved our "Best Of" issue. Fast forward nearly 20 years. Chronogram decided to revive the idea, albeit this time solely as a Readers' Choice Award.

The readers of Chronogram decide who gets a Chronogrammie. According to Isaacs, it has performed better than they ever anticipated, with about 20,000 readers participating annually.

They take on a “more is more” approach to categories, typically hearing from folks asking for new categories and most of the time. And if they believe there are enough businesses to fill the category) they add it category. This happened this year with the Education Category and Physical Therapist sub-category. And I had suggested regional podcast.

The number of categories, says Isaacs, has grown every year.

There’s a lot of energy around the Chronogrammies for them. For example, during the 2022 nominations round they received 109,000 nominations compared to 2021’s 69,000. Just like the nominations round, with your email address you can vote once a day, every day, in every category during the voting round of Chronogrammies (April 1 - May 15). The once a day thing I don’t really get but that doesn’t mean I don’t do it and by all means feel free to.

What great about these award shows is a couple things:

  1. It’s reader driven. So people are voting with their fingers, feet, stomachs, eyes, and in categories like regional podcast and radio station, their ears and hearts.
  2. They’re currency for the businesses. This isn’t just ego - I mean it is — but there are plenty of studies that being 3rd 2nd best or 1st drives business which is crucial for so many. I saw a nice bump in listeners last year after Cidiot won regional podcast. Since I also use it as a badge on the site and in my email signature, It also gives a bit of credibility with potential sponsors or
  3. It’s a discovery vehicle. Maybe you’re not here yet part or full time, but you want to visit. Well, you want good places to visit. An award helps you notice an organization, business or a person — and then it gives you a bit of assurance. Kind of like the restaurant grades in New York. An A doesn’t mean it’s delicious, but it means you probably won’t get sick. 

In this episode is the ballot, with a few callouts in the various categories and sub-categories. I only talk about ones in which I know some finalists or I’ve gotten reliable trusted opinions on. On the Cidiot blog you’ll also find a full list with my picks which might grow over time.

“Regional Podcast” you’ll find as a sub-category within Arts & Entertainment. I’m a little nervous since There’s a lot more competition this year. Murder Cafe. Herd Around the Barn. Views from the Watershed. Kaatskcast.

Okay get your clickers ready. It’s time to vote.


“The Ballot – Part 1 of 3”


Let’s start with a few in this category with a lot of the things to do or where to go.


Olana State Historical Site is tempting for its role in Hudson Valley art history not to mention its striking house, a mix of victorian style with middle-eastern decorative elements. Also on the ballot is FDR Presidential Library, which I still haven’t been if you can believe it.


I know WAMC is tempting and it’s wonderful, but this is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on my friends at indie music station WKZE 98.1 in Red Hook…or I’ve also listen time to time to Radio Kingston.


Thrilled there’s more competition this year, but please vote for Cidiot. Every day you can remember to ;-0



For me it’s Oblong vs Rough Draft. Both carried my memoir for awhile and Brian and I frequent both so I may let the Ouija board decide.


Our friends Victor and Stephanie turned us on to Woodstock Meats which we frequent.


Samuels for its celebrity owners and fun displays of every sentimental favorite.


Adams Fairacre Farms gets our vote.  Mother Earth’s has gotten a bit weird.


Hamilton & Adams! Hear all about it in from owner Andrew Adotta in Episode 60, "Upstate & Chill."

For PET STORE, you know I’m voting for Pause Dog Boutique in Rhineback. Tell Sammy Cidiot sent ya.

REMOTE WORK SPOT maybe depends on where you are: Bangallworks in Standfordville with its awesome design and Citiot in Catskill are my two picks. Also featured in episodes 49 and 52 respectively, I’m not choosing between friends.

Speaking of Friends in HEALTH & WELLNESS category

For barber shop there are my buddies at Pugslys in Kingston. Shout out to Miguel, Antonio and Joel. Stickers are in the mail. And for Vet could only be Nora’s pick Rhinebeck Animal Hospital. They love her and she loves them.

Back with more picks after this break…

[Promo for Podcasting 101 Workshop]


“The Ballot - Part 2 of 3”

Being outdoors is a recurring theme on Cidiot - you heard a lot about it in recent episodes including 62 about managing stress and 55 on mountain-hiking. It’s good for you too.  So here are some good options in the  NATURE AND OUTDOORS CATEGORY.

I didn’t recognize the 5 finalists in bike trail category since the xxxx is the one I know. But as Brian reminds me I don’t really bike. So I turned to a few people who do. There’s a separate rail trail subcategory if you want to vote for Walkill Rail Trail, Hudson Valley or Ashokan. And..[ask beth]

Dog parks are great ways for cidiots to meet people. I’ve heard good things about Gardiner Dog Park place but I’ve been to Rhinebeck Dog Park which is on the border of Red Hook and met a few people there.

The hike category caught my eye since I quickly recognized two of the finalists but then I also remembered in my interview with Sean O’Dwyer about mountain hikes our conversation about what he considers a hike versus a walk. A hike to me was a change in elevation, but to him it’s also has a sense of… danger. Happily, none of these have danger beyond a potentially twisted angle or sunburn.

The walk to Poet’s Walk Rustic Summer House is my vote since Nora and I know it well and you get the benefits of hilly outside and woodsy inside with a surprise little house of a destination along the Hudson River. The Overlook Mountain House ruins is also on the ballot which I am curious about and suspect we’ll try this spring.

There are so many parks and preserves that are great it’s hard to vote. Olana is a classic favorite but I might vote this year for Ashokan Reservoir because it’s newer to us and Brian loves to run it. Minnewaska however, has been a favorite go-to place in at least 2 interviews if I remember correctly.

For picnic spot I have to vote Clermont for its picnic tables along the Hudson and the fact that we’re there nearly every week but I could also see voting for Saugerties Lighthouse which is absolutely adorable with its little in and ability to swim in the water while you have a sandwich.

Ok sunset spot: I did not notice this subcategory last year - probably selfishly consumed with my own. Brian and I LOVE sunsets. Olana State Historic Site is a very high point facing west so that’s probably the hero. Burger Hill in Rhinebeck is also tempting, also facing west at the Catskills, with its rock engravings which explain the mountains you’re looking at, Saugerties Lighthouse would be great too if you can get upstairs. And Walkway over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie is also a fair shot since Sunset out in the middle of the river is really tempting. Oy, tough category.

This is making me hungry so let’s do food.

I’m boycotting al fresco dining, since I think the River Grill at Stewart House in Athens was robbed. Maybe because it’s only opened part time during the year

For BBQ, Smoky Rock BBQ is my vote - I catered from there for Brian’s birthday last summer and it was delicious and great service.

I’m skipping the Buffet category since how did anyone do a buffet during the pandemic but maybe I’ll find the courage this year.

Cheap eats, chicken wings you might find something you know but they all seem great

Coffee Shop is very important to me. Rough Draft Bar & Books could be good because it’s so comfortable to hang out there with a new book. But if you’re already voting for Rough Draft in books, then Half Moon Rondout Cafe in Kingston, and I swear someone told me something good about Twin Ravens in Ellenville. 

There’s a separate Diner subcategory further down the page where you’ll see favorite like Phoenicia Diner, Everready, and the Village Diner in Saugerties.

The CSA subcategory was fun to see. CSAs or community supported agriculture are crucial to our farming community and we’ve joined many over the years and have some favorites like Hearty Roots. In the finalists this year, I’d vote for Greig Farm who I also talk about frequently and we have bought a lot of their delicious produce. Greig Farm is also the clear choice for U-Pick which is under Family Fun. 

Dog-friendly dining - I didn’t know any of these finalists and Nora wants to try them all., especially curiously named Armadillo in Kingston. Could be a friend.

Farm Stand – Oy, how can there not be three subcategories of this for each area? Brian and I will vote for Montgomery Orchards because we’re there all the time and Brian eagerly awaits for its reopening and knows everyone there. There’s also Migroleeli, though, whose fruit and veg you probably recognize since they’re one of the biggest farms in the area. 

Now this is a separate category from Farmer’s Market which needs to be its own episode ….  Rhinebeck is well known on Sundays but the parking is so miserable, I prefer Kingston Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Gluten Free Friendly was a happy sub-category to see- Yum Yum Noodle  has been my go-to but I want to try them all including Garden Cafe Woodstock and of course Sissy’s Cafe Place. I think it’s funny that all these are basically in the Woodstock-Saugerties area.

For Italian , I’m going Giaobatta in Tivoli, of course. Not just because Chef Francesco would otherwise come after me with a carving knife. You know how I love  love love their bolognese but throughout the pandemic we’ve also regularly being doing the takeaway chicken marsala.

New Restaurant - Good Night in Woodstock Brian was supposed to take me for our 20th wedding anniversary but we bailed and just did burgers and martinis at the bar at Gaskins.

Vegan, Vegetarian… yeah, I don’t know…


“Promo for Robinson’s To Do List”

I’m so excited about all the new content happening. On the Cidiot blog there are new posts such as weird history facts and where to stay if you’re visiting the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Berkshires - I mean how can I say come visit if I don’t help you find a place to visit. We have a guest room but yeah, no that’s not going to happen. And I’m finding a lot of new partners to do stuff with. I was talking to Robinson Greig at Greig Farm which you know is like one of our favorite places and he was saying that there’s so much happening and people don’t realize how much goes on behind the scenes running a farm so I was like well maybe you should tell them and he said maybe I should tell them. His to-do list is enormous so in yet another Cidiot exclusive - Rob is going to share what he’s working on this season at the farm - Robinson’s To Do List - there will be chickens, goats, and who nows what will come up. So look forward to that. He and I exchanged hats - trading Cidiot trucker cap for a Greig Farm ball cap - nice logo too and sealed the deal. Just like management consulting.

 Okay, let’s get back to the episode…


“The Ballot - Part 3 of 3”

Ok, last section and Time for a DRINK

There’s a bartender category so you might recognize someone you know too well,

Brewery is a good category since the Hudson Valley has so many great and new ones. I’m holding off since my friend Jamie and I are doing a brewery tour and special episode later this spring though this list is giving us ideas of where we might go.

Martini - Victor says Red Onion has his vote since it’s already gotten a lot of his money

Wine List - Brunette in Kingston down in the Rondout is a really cute wine bar with a great list and a fun place to stop into

In the SHELTER category, under Hotel, I was surprised The Maker in Hudson was not there but very glad to see in finalists Graham & Co. run by Martin & Joe a great boutique hotel in Phoenicia . I also recently put up a WHERE TO STAY blog post on Cidiot.com by the way if you’re visiting and need ideas.

Real Estate Agent - Something must be wrong since Lori Mendelis is not listed as finalist. There must be a VIP ballot somewhere else.

Last for me is the PEOPLE - local celebrities and probably the most important auto mechanic. Check out Chef, where I’m voting for TJ Eades at Greig Farm Market. I get the chicken salad every other week but it’s his meatloaf that is to die far. Gluten-free friendly too.



Thanks for listening. The Cidiot ballot is also a blog post at Cidiot.com. There I’ll do some other choices including Advocacy Organization and some ones I missed. BUT If this is all too much for you, it’s really simple: just go to arts and entertainment / and vote for Cidiot. Frankly, I want this more than you need to do this. If extortion or greed motivates you then by all means reach out. Ah democracy in the country. It’s a beautiful thing. Come visit.