From thousands of miles above the earth aboard a plane in my typical aisle seat, I once again open my laptop to unravel the recent days of adventure and exploration. Although the Hudson Valley in New York is a place that is new to me, it will become a repeat place away from home for the next two years as my husband completes his education at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
I have just spent three and a half days primarily in Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park and Rhinebeck, all rather quaint Northeastern towns. Known as the New Yorkers’ getaway or the “New” Hamptons, the Hudson Valley has always been a place for the rich and famous. You can be witness to this while taking a drive along Route 9 with the FDR library and of course the Vanderbilt Mansion, which the Vanderbilts claimed to be just a cottage.
While visiting, I had the opportunity to be graced with great weather allowing for runs along the FDR bridge from Poughkeepsie to the West side of the river as well as spending an afternoon touring the Vanderbilt Mansion only to plan for my Monday morning jog through the same Vanderbilt gardens and along the Crum Elbow Creek.
With one of the most world-renowned culinary institutions as well as a local wineries, cheese makers, and organic farmers, the foodie scene is pumpin’. (See above picture at an organic farmers market in Rhinebeck) I had the opportunity to experience what I would consider the top three in the area: Gigi’s Trattoria, Twist, and Terrapin.
On Friday night, I enjoyed Twist. The restaurant is small nestled among other specialty stores in Hyde Park. The kitchen is open, which I always enjoy, but it is rather ballsy for any operation, as the staff and hygiene need to be spotless. The staff, primarily from the CIA, was definitely used to the spotlight. The food was great from perfectly steamed halibut to a spinach and yellow beet salad to filet mignon sliders. However, the icing on top of the cake was a great homemade banana ice cream with a slide of two slices of bacon hand-dipped in dark chocolate. One of my colleagues asked if I was pregnant after she heard that I had eaten it. However, it was a salty-n-sweet fantasy.
Terrapin is a converted church located in Rhinebeck with both a bistro/bar as well as formal dining. I had eaten at this establishment before, but I always return for two of my favorites. As I had spent a couple of years in Spain, I am a sucker for tapas. This place has everything from great sandwiches, full course meals, and then my favorite a tapa by piece menu (especially great if you are solo waiting for your of traveling buddies). I had the duck quesadilla with a sweet guacamole and two pieces of the mango and Brie crostinis. Delicious!
The last recommendation for a fun, taste bud wowing experience is Gigi’s Trattoria. It is an intimate restaurant with seating for around 75-80 and then a street side patio in the summer. Gigi’s menu is locally inspired Mediterranean cuisine. If you are looking for something light to snack upon, I would suggest the skizza, a thin flat bread pizza. The mama is with various meats, but the traditional margherita is my favorite with plenty of crushed red pepper. Also, for my love of tapas and another European tradition is the tabla (or literally tablet of food served on a wooden tray). I have had the vegetable platter with grilled zucchini, squash, eggplant, asparagus, cheese, nuts, and fig puree crostini. However, I have had my eye on the homemade pastas including the gnocchi.
As I will be visiting this area quite frequently, I hope to be able to find other places perhaps some off the beaten path or even venture into “The City” to experience some of the best in the world such as Le Bernardin or an encore at The Spotted Pig.