Published: May 27th 2012August 21st 2010 Video Playlist:
Hudson during winter
The HUDSON VALLEY has become one of our favorite spots. A funky area with many, many small towns - each unique in its own way. An area where we have spend many a weekend just driving and driving - discovering road after road and town after town. It all started with the HUDSON VALLEY SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL in Garrison, NY. A more perfect setting for a Shakespeare production (or any other production for that matter) there probably is not. Nestled on the banks of the Hudson river straight across from the West Point Academy sits a little piece of property with orchards, beautiful lawns and a white tent pitched for a Shakespeare play performance like no other. We made the "trek" up to the venue really not knowing what to expect. We got there and found people sitting around on their blankets/chairs with bottles of wine and picnic baskets. Well luckily they had some food/drinks for sale so we helped ourselves and settled down on the grass with views of the Hudson river as far as the eye can see (bring your blanket, picnic basket and wine and don't overdress). It is truly an amazing setting. Just after dark we were all
On the banks of the Hudson waiting for the Bard!
herded into this tent with seating. You are only a couple rows from the action - no matter where you sit - but here and there you may have a pole or two in your way if you did not pay for the "upgraded" seating. The play itself was magnificent. Awesome actors, twists and turns you did not expect, and as close to the action as you will ever be at any performance of any sort.
Close by is the world-famous THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA (CIA - no not that one) located in HYDE PARK. One of the prettier campuses you'll find location wise since it is located directly on the Hudson river. If you want to be a chef then this is the creme-de-le-creme to study at (in the U.S. anyway). There are several options for exploring this campus from taking classes, walking the campus or just sitting down for a sumptuous meal at one of their 5 restaurants. We walked the halls, looked at all the celebrity chefs who has either taught here or graduated from here and stole a glance at the students as they prepare the food. All the restaurants are a fun experience
Play starting as the sun goes down
since the students does everything from setting the tables, taking orders, bringing food and most important of all preparing the food. We sat down at ESCOFFIER, which is the French restaurant of the campus. We started off with some lobster bisque and Foie gras (really good), moved on to the duck and sole (very average) and finished with the bananas foster that was prepared at our table by our waiter/student. We had some interaction with our server and it's interesting talking to them and even just seeing how nervous these students still are. The campus encourages interaction with the students and providing feedback since this only helps them in the long-run. Overall a very enjoyable experience and a good night for us. The food was not as great as we expected, but it was still pretty good. We spend the night at the BEEKMAN ARMS in the town of RHINEBECK. It is one of the oldest inns still in existence in the U.S. and it was a really neat experience. The front of the inn has a really, really nice old sitting room with a huge fireplace. This just seems like the perfect place for a nice winter evening, big
More Hudson Valley views
fire and glass of brandy - just hanging out (it just gives off that feeling). Unfortunately we were not able to get a room in the main inn so we had to settle for a room in the DELAMATER INN (a nicer, more modern building, but with the same old charm). Rhinebeck itself is a very quaint little town with some excellent restaurants since many of the graduates from CIA stick around and open their own restaurants in the area - so you are always bound to find a hidden gem somewhere. We did breakfast at Bread Alone Bakery in Rhinebeck (omelet, granola bowl was some of the best I have ever had) that does everything organic. It reminded us a lot of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Rhinebeck itself is just a quaint little town with all local stores, which makes for some good shopping.
The area in Rhinebeck has plenty to do - especially in the "old homes" department. SPRINGWOOD MANSION AT HYDE PARK was our stop. We just do these things that most "younger people" don't do. We both love to be knowledgeable so we do all these random things and see all these random things. Springwood
Rivers and Mountains
Mansion is FDR's (US president) home where he grew up at and as always it was pretty incredible to see how he grew-up. Rich, priveledged and ready for great things, but he did have some challenges he had to face on his way up. We saw the FDR PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, which provided some really interesting tit-bits on FDR. We visited the main house with an incredible library and we paid our respects to the Rooseveldt's at the ROOSEVELDT GRAVES IN ROSE GARDEN. We definitely recommend doing the free GUIDED TOUR since once again you just get so much more out of it than doing it all by yourself. As mentioned earlier - don't miss RHINEBECK TOWN FOR SHOPS. Terrapin Restaurant is one of those gems. We happened upon it one day when we drove through Rhinebeck and had a delicious meal. All we remember is the chowder we had that was excellent.
Another one of our favorites that is a little closer to us is Sleepy Hollow. All we knew about Sleepy Hollow in the beginning was the movie. So imagine our surprise when we drove by the highway sign saying Sleepy Hollow is close by. Well
our first encounter was SLEEPY HOLLOW FOR HALLOWEEN. We imagined some rides through the cemetery, etc. Well how pleasantly surprised we were when we got there and found everything very dark and sort of spooky. The entire park in the middle of town was turned into one massive Halloween-haunted house. The fee was kind of expensive, but it was well-worth it. You follow a trail all across the park and there are hundreds and hundreds of volunteers in make-up fulfilling roles from dead people, zombies, prisoners, people riding horses, executioners, etc. It was lots of fun, scary at times, but overall just very well done. Afterwards get a cup of hot chocolate and do a wagon ride through the cemetery. Don't forget to visit the OLD DUTCH CHURCH - a beautiful little church. Behind the little church there are beautiful grounds with graves as far as the eye can see. Some highlights include WASHINGTON IRVING'S GRAVE, ANDREW CARNEGIE'S GRAVE and WILLIAM ROCKEFELLER'S GRAVE. We also absolutely loved FOLIAGE time in Sleepy Hollow. Just a beautiful site when the leaves start turning in October.
We love the area around the Hudson river. Too many towns to name - each with
it's own unique feutures. Our favorite times have just been driving from town to town and exploring. There really is not a bad time to do this - summer, spring, fall, or winter. Take your time and explore all the early mansions along the river and eat some good food.
As always there is gonna be a small section on food since this is what we do. We always find a couple restaurants that we call our "comfort" places. Lefteris Gyro in Tarrytown is our place when we just want to eat good Greek food. A little bit of a drive, but always worth it. Right across the street is Sweet Grass (really good mussels, great "Sweet Grass burger" and a good pulled pork sandwich). Across the river in Piermont is Sidewalk Bistro (red snapper, duck - really good - and creme brulee). In Port Chester you can visit Bar Taco on the canal/river. A newer place with a pretty nice concept. Almost all tacos (ony $2.50 each) and some other sides including corn, plantains and guacamole. Food is cheap and good and the outside patio is a nice place to just hang out. Milonga Restaurant in White Plains
Some Foie gras!
was a little bit of a disappointment. It was advertised as a tappas place and when we showed up it was not really, but we just made it one and ordered a bunch of appetizers (chorizo figs, mussels, roasted duck wrap and a Trivento Malbec wine). The food was ok. In Pleasantville, NY you will find Iron Horse Grill. This is always packed so make reservations. The food was good and the staff extra friendly. When you walk in you feel like this is your local neighborhood restaurant where they have known you for years. We had oysters, pork chop (good), lamb and a passion-fruit desert. And then saving the best for last. BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS. What a place this is. A farm where they grow everything they serve. They only serve what they grow so the menu changes almost daily. But be warned - this is pricey - very pricey. We went for our wedding anniversary so we went all out. We did the 8-course meal with wine pairing. The food was too much - but oh so so so good. We started with veggies on a "stick", fried asparagus, mini burgers served on dry rice, salami,
Veggies "on a stick"
"lollipos, bone-marrow (literally a bone cut in half and clamped so that you can scoop out the bone-marrow), beet salad, bread, palate-cleansers, fish, pasta with a soft-egg, pork cooked 3 different ways, and then desert. Much more than 8 courses at the end of the night and oh what an experience. The waiters are knowledegable, caring, and explain every plate to you. Do this if you can - the variety and flavors will knock your socks off. That is all we have this time around.
In our books we were able to cross off only 5 things in all these trips, but hey slowly but surely we knocking these off. Our things included Hudson Valley, Rhinebeck, the Culinary Institute of America and FDR's Springwood.
130 down and 5,195 to go
From a river with lots of small towns and food fit for a king
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