7AM Ride

Here’s the railway I mentioned in my last post. It’s a scenic two-hour trip that runs between Saratoga and North Creek in the Adirondacks. Most trains (especially those in the US) are not worth writing about…but this is another story. 

I mean, how cute is this? White tablecloths, swing music, and those little lamps!

I got on for a 7am morning ride (Ken and Melanie – thanks for driving) in the dome car.

And woke up with a cup of tea. 

Check out these breakfast menus. It was a slow morning so the conductor himself came over to take my order. Wish all trains were this pleasant to ride.

One giant omelette with everything (seriously), peppery home fries, and buttered toast. 

Caught this view halfway through the trip. Serene. Had to stand between cars for the shot…nearly fell off the train.

Best conductor ever. Hope we meet again ^_^

Weekend in the Adirondacks

Have you gone whitewater rafting before? I went for the first time last weekend! I’m not usually an outdoors person but this was so much fun. Even with a sunburn and million mosquito bites, I am already plotting a return trip.

The drive from NYC to the Adirondacks is 5-hours. Or you can take the Amtrak and North Creek Railroad (more on that in the next post) for a total 6-hour trip. We drove up and took the train down, happy to have experienced both. 

I was up there for work (read about it here) and also squeezed in a few more adventures like campfire s’mores…

…and oodles of whipped cream and s’more pie (so many s’more things!) 

…as well as a gondola ride up Gore Mountain.

There was also breakfast at diner in North Creek. I couldn’t decided between eggs-bacon-homefries-toast or French toast…so had both. With an extra side of local maple syrup ;) All of that was fuel for the rafting competition…

Here’s the team I raced with! We had practice lessons the day before, thank goodness. Sadly we did not win (Governor Cuomo won both days)…but we had more than our share of fun rafting down the Indian River.

All in all, a super weekend ^_^ 

Sunday, Wölffer Estate, and Rosé

Does anything feel better than a fun and accomplished weekend? I think not. Hard work (and a bit of luck) really does pay off and I’m excited to start this week strong. Flying to Palm Beach in a bit, back to NYC for a barely a day, and then off to
St. Martin. Can’t sit still, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The above photo was shot this afternoon at Wölffer Estate in the Hamptons. 70F with just enough shade, a bottle of wine and good
company. Wölffer makes one of our favorite table rosé, and today we tasted them alongside the Grandioso Rose 2010 and Noblesse Oblige Sparkling Rose 2008. Sometimes life is just that good.

P.S. Adam Sachs captured rosé perfectly in this Travel + Leisure article. I remember reading that article on this exact afternoon in Paris last summer. There was one paragraph I especially loved (and have all but memorized). It always makes me smile:

“Rosé is kryptonite to clichés. Rosé is all, like, whatèvre.
Tell it that’s not even a real word, and rosé just shrugs and pours
another glass for its hot girlfriend. Let the wine nerds wrestle with
one another. Rosé rolls its eyes and says: Relax, pass the aioli, take a
swim, have another glass and maybe another.”

24 Hours in the Hamptons (and a Taqueria in Riverhead)

A quick overnight jaunt to the Hamptons with Lisa and Maggie, and five edible stops. Hope your week is off to a good start.

1. Water Mill Cupcake Company, where the Carrot Cupcake and…

….Devil’s Food Cupcake with Espresso Buttercream were quickly deemed favorites.

Will be back for the whoopie pies.

2. Southampton Publick House for dinner and beer.

3. Hampton Coffee Company, iced coffee absolutely necessary for the long drive.

4. Tate’s Bake Shop for those beloved, crunchy-all-the-way-through cookies…

….cream cheese brownie squares and….

 …dreamy walnut-studded apple cakes.

5. And finally, Taqueria Mexico which is decidedly not in the Hamptons, but easily the most memorable dining visit on this list.

It’s located in the somewhat dodgy town of Riverhead, a short 15-minutes drive from Southampton, and the tamales are stupendous. They do it with mole poblano or salsa verde, and the best thing to do is get both…

…and then finish with a pair of beef tongue tacos.

Don’t forget guacamole and chips ;)

One Day Upstate: Harney & Sons and Millbrook Winery

9am, Thursday morning. I met Lisa at the corner of 59th and Lexington. She drove west in a super fun Jeep and we were off to Millerton for the day.

We’re both longtime fans of Harney & Sons and have been meaning to make the trip upstate to visit their tea factory and shop/café for years. I’ve written about their tea shop in Soho, but it’s always more exciting to see the original.

The drive is 2.5 hours north. Not bad at all. Especially on a cool fall day with beautiful scenery and good company. Here we are!!! Arrived just before noon with little traffic.

The shop is divided into three rooms, all equally serene. Enter though the tea tasting room where you can refill loose leaf tins and participate in free tea tastings.

Then there’s the shopping room filling with magical trinkets – tea is the focus, but not the only thing offered. There are candles and gavottes, tea-scented lotions and creams.

Tea books and tea pots and tea sets. A candy shop for tea lovers, set on a cozy wooden backdrop. It’s so nice to get out of the city for the day. Helps to keep you sane ;)

The third room is the café. Welcome! Here are the daily specials.

Let’s start with a pot of tea. The Golden Monkey, yes please. A beautiful rounded and balanced black tea with notes of caramel and honey. This is the type of tea you want on chilly days with a good book and warm soup as companions.

We share flatbread brushed with good olive oil and topped with butternut squash, salami and their own lapsang souchong-smoked cheese.

The flatbread crusts were ideal dunking vehicles for my deep bowl of tomato-basil soup, creamy smooth and dotted in chives with cucumbers on the side.

Lisa had a grilled vegetable sandwich with layers of hummus, toasted red peppers, cucumbers, red onion relish, sprouts, and field greens. Don’t forget the chips!

And always save room for scones. Two to a plate, still warm and topped with sugar for the slightest crunch. Clotted cream and raspberry jam on the side.

Another cup of tea perhaps?

From the tea shop it’s a mile drive to the tea factory/headquarters of Harney & Sons. We were given an incredible tour of the place by John Harney himself! Mr. Harney is the founder, the original Harney of Harney & Sons. It’s still a family business (amazing) and we also met his son Mike Harney and Mike’s wife, Brigitte. Their son Emeric runs the Soho store in Manhattan. We saw all the loose leaf teas and ooh and ahh over the fine machinery and packaging department. It was Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory…only tea instead of chocolate. Some of the machines churn out several hundred tea sachets per minute! Watching them go from loose leaves to sachets and into boxes which are then heat sealed and placed into larger boxes was mesmerizing to say the least.

Still digesting all the new things we learned, we drove back south, a twenty-minute to the town of Millbrook, NY…home of Millbrook Winery.

Entrance to the winery…

…a closer look at the grapes.

That would be Lisa’s car on the right – thank you for driving :)

We took a tour of the vineyards (offered hourly) and walked though the wine-making process. They have mighty muscular guys from the CIA handling all the barrels o_O.

Did you ever wonder where wine corks come from?

Grapes are not measured by the pounds, but by the tons.

The winery which currently covers 130 acres of land, was previously an old dairy barn.

And now for the most exciting part…tasting!

We tasted six different wines:

2010 Tocai Friulano – Hudson River Region, Estate Bottled
2010 Chardonnay – New York State
2009 Chardonnay Proprietor’s Special Reserve – Hudson River Region (pictured above)
2010 Pinot Noir – New York State
2010 Merlot – New York State
Hunt Country Red – New York State

And finished on savory nibbles and Extra Virgin Olive Oil from their sister winery – Villa Pillo in Tuscany, Italy. Millbrook is part of a family of four wineries including ones in the North Central Coast of California, Tuscany, and the Russian River Valley.

Don’t forget to visit the upstairs loft before leaving!

This floor is called “Art in the Loft” and showcases local artists from the Hudson Valley community. From the balcony upstairs you can also get a gorgeous view of the vineyards…it’s ahhh so peaceful. Just a few more minutes of relaxation before driving back into our crazy city. Happy weekend!

Harney & Sons
13 Main Street
Millerton, NY 12546
(518) 789-2121

Millbrook Winery

26 Wing Road
Millbrook, NY 12545
(845) 677-8383