Archive for February, 2011
For those of you that follow WonderfulWonders, you know that I very rarely go back to places I’ve already been. Never really sure why, just never felt the strong desire to go back (with the exception of Plymouth, MA). Well, this past weekend we set out to attend the Lake George 50th Anniversary Winter Carnival 2011 in Lake George NY. Interesting that as a child I vacationed in nearby Brant Lake for much of of youth as we returned year-after-year staying with my aunt, uncle and cousins. With Lake George being so close we ventured into the lake community each year to visit many of the area’s local attractions, shop and have dinner in some of the many restaurants.
So while our initial intention was to attend the Winter Carnival, I must admit, I was looking forwarding to “going back” and revisiting the places I enjoyed so much as a child. Heck, I celebrated a milestone in Lake George – I turned 13 and my aunt bought me my 1st bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion! Along with my bat-n-ball that I received every year as my birthday always seemed to coincide with our vacation to Brant Lake and back in the mid/late 1960′s and early 1970′s a bat-n-ball was about as exciting as it got in that community. Looking back now, I LOVED every minute of those times!
We arrived in time for dinner Friday night. Jack‘s American Bistrowas highly recommend by Ron (our inn keeper) so we headed over to headed over to Jacks. We started with the Fried Calamari with the most delicious homemade creamy orange ginger sauce! That sauce was more than wonderful! I enjoyed the Chicken Cordon Bleu ham, with swiss cheese, Japanese bread crumbs, honey-mustard sauce, and mashed potato while my honey enjoyed the Braised Short Ribs pulled off the bone, roasted vegetables, potato “ravioli”, and red wine demi. The food was great and the service was perfect! Thanks to Ron our inn keeper we had a delightful dinner on our first night in the Capitol Region.
After dinner we went back to our B&B, The Manor Inn located on Glens Street, Glens Falls. Ron & Denise the inn keepers of The Manor Inn are great and previous “neighbors” both originally being from Connecticut. This 1921 Victorian inn has 4 bedrooms 2 w/private bath, each decorated with warmth and style. We stayed in the Black & White room with its luxurious antique bedroom furniture featuring a magnificent Queen size bed. We couldn’t have asked for more!
Saturday morning we headed over the Lake George to partake in the Winter Carnival festivities! We were disappointed that there was a high wind warning in affect throughout the day preventing the Hot Air Balloon Tether Rides in the morning, the helicopter rides, the Saratoga Skydiving and especially the hot air balloon moon glow. While those events/activities were cancelled, we were able to completely enjoy ourselves at the remaining events/activities. With those brisk/whipping winds the Chowder Cook-Off was not only tasty but the warm chowder was much needed! The day was filled with car races on the lake, ice diving demonstrations, snowmobiles & ATV having fun on the ice throughout the day, many children’s activities and more. We stopped to admire the various sculptures on display and available for sale. What caught our eye immediately was the simply beautiful eagle by Sculptures by Frank. Frank has been creating his cchainsaw art here in the heart of the Adirondacks since 1990. His mission is to “provide quality hand crafted art at an affordable price.” Imagine our surprise when we discovered him specializing in Bears, Moose’s, Seagulls and Eagles! Well, you all know how much my honey and I enjoy eagle hunting during the winter months here in the Hudson Valley along the Hudson River so, we simply couldn’t resist purchasing the most amazing eagle sculpture!
To complete our Saturday we ventured over to the local park for a dog sled ride! Okay, maybe they weren’t huskies but the thrill was the same!
Sunday was spent trying to find my childhood vacation spot in Brant Lake. Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I spent much of my childhood vacations at Brant Lake. We stayed with my aunt, uncle & two cousins. Every year, usually the last two weeks of July my aunt & uncle rented a cabin known as “The Martha Ray” at Mead’s Cabins. Going back this past weekend was both exciting and a bit disappointing….while I absolutely found Mead’s Cottages, I can’t be certain that I found The Martha Ray which makes me sad. I’m not sure if it is going back in the winter makes it look so very different, or if it’s time, 35+ years can make a difference. I know that some sections have gone private since I was last there and perhaps that in itself has made the appearance different but it was sad none the less. We used to walk straight downs the road past Martha Ray and right on to the beach, now, you can no longer do that from what I can tell, maybe I’m wrong, hopefully I’m wrong and I just missed it! If by chance you too have vacationed at Mead’s Cottage at Brant Lake I would love to hear from you….please share your comments below!
To complete this day filled with reminiscing childhood memories, Sunday evening we had a nice dinner at Mario’s Italian Restaurantin Lake George. What’s amazing is that one night when I was a child (maybe 7, 8 or 9) we had gone into Lake George to have dinner at this very same restaurant. It was there that when my parents turned away from me for only a moment, I somehow wandered to the stairway and fell down what at the time, seemed to be a huge flight of stairs. It was somewhat serious, the ambulance came, took me to the hospital and all I remember was having a bad headache!
And let’s not forget the all important art of shopping LOL! Yes, we all know that we are very good at visiting the local shops & boutiques on our many trips and this was no exception. I love the Indian Teepee Gift shop in Bolton Landing! Be prepared because when you walk in the door you’ll be surprised at how much there is to see in this adorable half-century-old store. Here you will find everything from edible goodies, crafts, toys, plush animals and novelties, plus cozy slippers and flannels to keep the adventurer warm on those Adirondack winter days. The snowy Christmas section will entertain kids even in summer. And there isn’t a better place to scoop up those all-important souvenir sweatshirts! So I had to have a new fleece that proudly shows my love of the beautiful Adirondacks! The Silo Country Store & Restaurant is another gem in the Adirondacks and not to be missed!
As we made our way to Monday (President’s Day) we found ourselves waking to about 5″ – 6″ inches of fresh snow! So what to do in this freshly fallen snow in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains – we decided on snow tubing! Now, I’ve NEVER been snow tubing so we were in for an experience!
We made our way to West Mountain. We were so excited as neither of us had ever been tubing! Our excitement took precedence over our frame of mind as neither of us read about the tubing trails – we didn’t know how many or how high they were. After we purchased our lift tickets we soon discovered there are 6 tubing chutes, four lower 700’ long chutes with a 65′ drop and two upper 1000’ long chutes with a 100′ vertical drop – YIKES! Okay so this was about the time I thought hmmm, maybe I should reconsider. But I didn’t reconsider; instead we started out on the lower chutes and after having “mastered” that, we eagerly ventured to the upper chutes! We of course went down together, meaning we were each in our own tube but my honey was securely holding on to my tube. Apparently going down together is very popular and a common practice (whew, lucky for me!).
Enjoy more pictures!
As always, I wish you days filled with wonder - take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!
OMG! How else can I describe both my Valentine’s Day 2011 (which was a weekend long adventure filled with gifts & surprises) and my exceptional dinner at X2O Xaviars On The Hudson in Yonkers, NY. X2O sits in the water on the only turn of the century Victorian pier that is still in use on the Hudson River. X2O’s Main Dining Salon’s 25 foot vaulted ceiling and 3 walls of glass frame offers views of the George Washington and Tappan Zee Bridges, as well as sunsets over the Palisades.
We (probably more like me) have had X20 on our/my list of places to have dinner for about a year now. Being from Northern Westchester County, traveling down to Yonkers isn’t first on our “can’t wait” to-do list (nothing again Yonkers itself), but, X20 was high on the “must do” list.
My honey surprised me with roses Saturday morning as he informed me that this was Valentine’s weekend! As we set out that morning to go eagle watching/scouting, I had no idea what was in store for dinner or that there even was a dinner in the plan. So, you can image my surprise when I learned we had reservations at 6:30 at X20 Xaviars On The Hudson!
Where to begin…X20 provides the complete package – everything from the magnificent view of the George Washington Bridge/NYC skyline, the most pleasant/friendly servers (Chase was outstanding!) to welcoming conversation with the Maitre D Greg Vann. I was very impressed by the fact that Greg went out of his way to spend time chatting with us, showed us their wine room and overall made us feel welcomed. I think too, his sincere appreciation that we came to X2O was evident in his conversation, again making our experience all the more special! All these elements combined set the stage for what was nothing short of a spectacular dinner.
We started with a nice bottle Riesling as we toasted Valentine’s 2011. I began with the Winter Citrus Salad with Lump Crabmeat Ginger & Miso Dressing which was Blood Orange, Meyer Lemon & Grapefruit with Frisee while my honey started with the Lobster Crepe Mascarpone & Chives Sauce American with Star Anise & Tiny Salad – both were delicious leaving us eagerly anticipating our entrees!
I decided on the Braised Short Ribs of Beef Parsnip Puree and Fried Cauliflower Chili & Onion Crust with Asian Yam Chips. I completely fell in love with the parsnip puree and the fried cauliflower (which came highly recommend by our server Chase) completely exceeded my expectations!
My honey chose the Pan Roasted Hudson Valley Chicken Barley & Apple Risotto with Braised Fennel Foie Gras & Sauce Perigourdine.
Now for those of you that follow my blog and read my post on various places we have dined at, you know that we always share the desert, We decided on the Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake Grand Marnier Ice Cream & Orange Confit! HmmHmm GREAT!
For those that may not be aware, Peter Xavier Kelly (born in Yonkers, NY) owns/operates some of the most critically acclaimed restaurants in the Hudson Valley. He was working in local restaurants at the age 14. While attending Marist College (for Business Administration), his love of the food industry was developed as he held a various jobs in various NY restaurants. He traveled to France to perfect his skills in the culinary world.
In his early twenties, this self-taught chef opened Xaviar’s in Garrison (which was closed and re-opened in its current Piermont location) and began his journey to success. To date, Peter owns some of the most renowned & acclaimed restaurants in New York State, all located in the Hudson Valley, north of New York City. Xaviar’s at Piermont, The Freelance Cafe and Wine Bar, Restaurant X & The Bully Boy Bar, and X2O Xaviars on the Hudson have all received popular praise and the industry’s most coveted awards and accolades. Zagat’s Survey (29 out of 30), New York State Restaurateur of The Year 1998.
Smitten surveyors say Peter Kelly “has done it again” with this “spectacular” waterside venue in Yonkers – voted Westchester/Hudson Valley’s Most Popular – that “more than delivers on the hype” with “knock-your-socks-off” “adventurous” New American cuisine matched with “magnificent river views”; add in a “stellar” wine selection, “seamless service” and a “stunning” room, and even if a handful huff “overpriced”, for most it’s a “triumph” all around; P.S. “try the prix fixe lunch – it’s quite a bargain”, as are the small plates in the lounge.
I’m sure many of you also know that in 2007 Peter appeared on the Food Networks Iron Chef America and beat Bobby Flay in Battle “Cowboy Rib Eye.”
Can you tell we loved it! So now we want to experience the views, and oh yes, the food, during the daylight hours….so, my honey said we’ll just have to go back and do brunch!
As always, I wish you days filled with happiness and “wonder” – take the time to “wonder” what it is that made you smile today!
By now you all know how passionate I am about the Hudson Valley and the vast amount of history that was made right here in our valley. I am excited too that my hometown (Verplanck, NY) played and continues to play a major role in history making.
Much of this blog post will be information currently available on various other websites (see resources below). I’ll do my best to summarize what for me is both historical in scope and personal, as it’s, literally, history in my backyard.
Once again the replica ship of Henry Hudson’s original Half Moon exploration ship from 1609 has docked at the King Marine in Verplanck, NY. This beautiful replica has been docking here during the winter for the past twelve (12) years. The ship is one of only two such replicas in the world.
Now for the exciting news, recently the Half Moon’s captain, Chip Reynolds, hosted a group of filmmakers from the Netherlands who were visiting the Half Moon in consideration of using her for a documentary about Dutch explorers! How exciting the possibility of a documentary featuring this great ship with so much history connected to my hometown! After all, my high school was named after the famous explorer (Hendrick Hudson High)!
“It will be a story about discovering the new world that has never been done before,” said Erwin Godschalk, the film’s producer. Godschalk said the crew should begin filming in May and release the documentary in December. The Half Moon will be needed for about five to ten days of shooting.
Captain Reynolds is also the Director of the New Netherland Museum. The New Netherland Museum operates the Half Moon. When the ship is under way Captain Reynolds uses a crew of volunteers to sail her. He also runs an educational program in partnership with New York State certified educators that integrates history, math, science and writing for fourth and seventh graders who can embark on a one-week voyage.
Watch the video to learn more about the ship and the programs run through the New Netherland Museum, which is the non-profit, educational institution that owns and operates the ship as a traveling museum dedicated to public education about the life in New Netherland during the 17th Century. Reynolds is the director of the museum.
The ship will be here until late March / early April at the King Marine in Verplanck. Randy King, invites residents of the community stop by the marine at 270 6th St., Verplanck, any time to visit the Half Moon. You can reach him at 914-739-3413.
As reported on The New Netherland Museum’s website,”the original Half Moon was the first European ship to document entry into what we now call the Delaware Bay and River, and to explore the Hudson River to its navigable limits and was commissioned on March 25, 1609, for the Dutch East India Company. She was a ship of exploration and the spaceship of her age, designed to take a crew of twenty into unknown and uncharted waters.
Her captain, Henry Hudson, was already a famous explorer of Arctic waters when in 1608 he was hired by the Dutch East India Company to find a northeast, all-water route to Asia. but only a month out of port, the Dutch/English crew of his ship was disheartened after their passage north of Norway was blocked by Arctic ice floes. Many talked of mutiny.
Sitting in his cabin, the concerned captain considered his dilemma and options. A compromise was made. The course was changed and what began as a search for a Northeast passage became a transatlantic crossing to look for a Northwest passage to the rich spice. trade of China. Of course, some think that Hudson’s intention all along was to go Northwest.
Hudson in North America
After reaching the Maine coast and replacing a foremast lost in rough storms during her Atlantic crossing. the Half Moon sailed southward as far as the present day North Carolina Outer Banks. Then, turning northward, Hudson explored the Delaware Bay before arriving at the mouth of a wide river. Could this be a passage to the Pacific Ocean?
Hudson stopped at points on the New Jersey coast before sailing the small ship up the river which today bears the Captain’s name–the Hudson River, but it was soon obvious that it was an inland river, not a west-ward passage. Hudson sailed upriver to present-day Albany before returning down river, and claiming the region for the Dutch.
It would be many years before the significance of Hudson s 1609 voyage to America would be understood, and the Half Moon universally recognized as one of the best known ships of exploration.
America’s Dutch Heritage
Hudson’s voyage had important consequences. In making this historic journey, Hudson claimed the region for the Dutch and opened the land for the settlers who followed. Hudson s voyage, nearly ten years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, led to the establishment, in 1614, of the Dutch trading post, Fort Nassau, at present day Albany, New York. The first European settlements in the States of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania were built by the Dutch beginning in 1624 and formed the Dutch colony of New Netherland, or Nieuw Nederlandt.
By the end of the 17th century, all of New Netherland had become the possession of the British crown. Yet the maps of the region still reflect the original Dutch settlements. Brooklyn, Hoboken, Block Island and hundreds more places take their names from the first Dutch colonists. These names hint at the early Dutch role in establishing our nation, an involvement that continued through to the American Revolution. …..”
As always, I wish you days filled with happiness and “wonder” – take the time to “wonder” what it is that made you smile today!