Have you been to Rhinebeck? Long before Hudson got cool, Rhinebeck was the destination for a Hudson Valley afternoon of fine eating and interesting shopping. The drive is lovely with many different roads which all lead there in a most scenic fashion, as I’ve experienced it, be it from the north, south or west and generally parking is available and free. It’s worth the slightly over an hour trip from Albany for sure and I recommend it as a terrific day trip for any season.
Yesterday, after an aborted attempt to partake in the offerings at Terrapin Restaurant, Mary Lynn and I decided to try somewhere new and found the specials board at Le Petit Bistro to be quite enticing. At just about 5:00 we made our way inside the cozy dining room and were offered a table in the front window near the door. Although it was a less than warm afternoon, we were very comfortable with the temperature of the restaurant and never felt cold despite our proximity to the door. It was a lovely table.
A chalkboard with the extensive list of specials was presented to us and a short while later a server came to provide details and descriptions of each of the items. We ordered drinks – a cocktail for Mary Lynn and a glass of sparkling rose for me, and made decisions about food opting for a bowl of asparagus soup, a fish taco starter and the sea scallop entrée accompanied by ramp risotto and hericot vert and the Cuban pork plate with black beans and plantains. Then we settled in to catch up with one another and enjoy our meal.
The fish tacos, two to a serving, were delicious with fresh flavors (cilantro!) and an assertively spicy kick. Paired with the soup, they were a perfect starter and very shareable.
Scallops with ramp risotto
Our midcourse salad, served with all entrees, was a traditional French green salad with a simple and tasty vinaigrette clinging to the leaves. I thoroughly enjoyed my entrée. The scallops were beautifully prepared and the accompaniments heralded spring beautifully. Unlike many risottos, cheese wasn’t a component and the result was a far lighter rendition of the dish than typical. I swapped a bite with Mary Lynn for a taste of plantain. I’m not a fan of bananas or plantains unless they’re cooked and my bite was exactly what I was hoping for – caramelized sweetness with a remaining firmness – delicious! We finished with a butterscotch crème brulee and a couple of coffees before walking back to our cars and heading off in opposite directions, satiated with hearts and bellies full.
Terrapin restaurant in Rhinebeck has been around for a long time, maybe 15 years at their current location inside a beautiful old church right on Route 9. Many years ago, I had dinner there with three other people and was completely put off by the service. I don’t remember anything about the food because the experience was so overshadowed by the snippy bartender and the inexperienced server. I vowed never to go back, a promise easy to keep since A. I don’t go to Rhinebeck frequently and B. There are so many other options in that area.
Today, though, I met one of my besties in Rhinebeck for a bite to eat and some catching up. I offered her two options – Gigi Trattoria, where we’ve been happy before, and Terrapin for a fresh chance at making us happy. She checked out their menus and decided on Terrapin and we agreed to meet at about 4:00.
I arrived first and found a seat at the bar, not a challenge with at least half of the bar stools open. Within a minute or two I was given a cocktail menu on my request. I started reading, pleased with the beer and wine selections. I wondered about their carafes and if they were filling them from draft lines and planned to ask whoever took my drink order about the set up. The man two seats away from me finished his drink and ordered another, as I was told by the bartender that she would be “right with me.” She wasn’t.
I changed my mind about the beer I had been thinking of ordering and selected a glass of wine instead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t share my decision with anyone because the bartender had yet to come over to take my order. The man near me began drinking his fresh Patron margarita, inspiring me to look at the cocktail list. I reconsidered my wine choice and began perusing the “available” cocktails. The sour cherry Manhattan caught my eye…
My friend arrived and I shared my menu with her. The bartender told us she’d be right over. She wasn’t.
The man next to us finished his drink and asked for a check. The bartender took care of that. We sat there, me with probably 15+ minutes invested without even the reward of a glass of water, another moment and then picked up our bags and left. I will never, ever, step foot in that restaurant again and this time I mean it.
It wasn’t so long ago that I imagined 5 miles to be farther than I would ever run – it just didn’t seem like a distance that I would ever be able to run. My, how life changes…
On the snowy morning that was Sunday, the Lunar B*tches united and ran one of the most pleasant, even in gusty winds, early spring races in the area. The course weaves in and out of lovely residential neighborhoods on flat roads and starts and finishes at the school where I work.
I’m not a fan of morning running, but with the sun shining and a commitment to taking my time and enjoying the ride, it wasn’t a bad time at all. The snow added a sense of adventure to an already chill day. Dash done – next up: Dodge the Deer.
The first week of spring, arguably the finest season of the year in upstate New York, was the worst week Lark + Lily has ever experienced. When I say “crappy,” I’m being literal, by the way. I arrived at the restaurant Tuesday afternoon and encountered the plumbers who were working industriously to unclog one of our two toilets.* Despite their best efforts, we were unable to open for service until 7:30 which means we lost 2.5 hours of service. Not a great way to begin the week.
That lack of business seemed to set the tone for the week and our numbers were dramatically down each subsequent night from previous weeks. I’ve said before that I didn’t buy a restaurant to make a ton of money, but
obsessively looking at my diminishing online checking account was, said the wine bar owner, sobering.
In addition to the poor week at the restaurant, a fierce early spring cold made for a rough week at home. Quinn, who recently was treated for a mean case of strep throat, came down with a dreadful cough complete with a headache and body soreness. The poor guy was just down for the count. Naturally, he required a lot of coddling and cuddling and he generously returned the favor of my attention by sharing his germs with me. Thanks for the cold, Quinn.
As with any week, there were good things, too. The guests we did have at Lark + Lily, including one who I had only previously “met” online (Hi, Bill!), were great and I believe they all left satisfied with their experience. I went to an awesome wine dinner, ran 20+ miles, including once with both of the lunar b*tches, and hiked a peak (more about that experience soon) in the Catskills. We had some beautiful weather with temperatures that invited bare legs and arms to meet the sun and I got in some quality time at the golf course in advance of the takeover on 4/1 by the golfers. Saturday’s family dinner, an early Easter meal, was an effortlessly delicious treat and provided me with the perfect starter for a killer split pea soup. There was even a brief dining room dance party with Quinn inspired by his favorite Ray Charles song, Mess Around.
I guess it wasn’t really that bad of a week after all, was it?
*Ladies – let’s make a deal, ok? You refrain from tossing personal items in the toilet and I’ll remain open during hours of service. Thanks!
Filed under Albany, Boys, Exercise, family, friends, musings, Normanskill, Observations, Restaurants, running, sick, Spring, stress, Uncategorized
A number of weeks ago one of the lunar b*tches sent me information about a race she said she “wanted to work towards.” Because this is the year I turn 50 and I’m committed to challenging myself in as many new ways as possible, I replied that we should do it – this year. At the time, registration for the Mother’s Day race was being offered at a reduced price, which only increased the appeal of a twelve-mile trail run with ~3500 ft of elevation. We both signed up.
Since that time, I’ve been reading and talking about the Seven Sisters and have gotten a bit nervous about the event. I’ve read about the high incidence of injuries (broken ankles seem prevalent) and have seen the discrepancy between the number of runners who start the race and those who finish the course. As I learn more about the race, my only available response is to make a concerted effort to work harder to prep train. Here’s what I’m working on…
For the first time since 2014, I took my road bike out for a spin a couple of weekends ago and got in a decent ride. I ran out of time and couldn’t complete my usual 20+ mile loop, but I think I got 16 or 17 miles in and I enjoyed it. Winning.
I went for a hike recently – something I seriously haven’t done in years. It was about 7 miles with some clambering and I really enjoyed it. There were some gorgeous views and my childhood love of the woods remains true. I want to do more hiking this summer and hope to convince the Lilly boys to join me. I’ll let you know how that goes!
This past weekend I ran my longest distance ever – nearly 15 miles. The loop I ran was phenomenal with more downhill than uphill and I really loved the 2.5 hours I spent on my feet. No, really, I kept thinking about how the best gift I ever give to myself is time outdoors. How lucky am I to be able to indulge that passion by walking out my door to cycle, hike or run?
In the next 6 weeks I’ll be doing more long runs, hikes and rides, as well as spending some time on vacation probably doing a lot less. We’ll call that tapering. On May 8th I’ll be on that trail doing my best to complete a challenging course with a terrific friend and without injury. Maybe you can have a mimosa for me? Better make that two, one for each of us.
After an active weekend and the theft of an hour, I wasn’t feeling much like cooking. When the opportunity presented to meet Aloysius for dinner it felt like the ideal way to punctuate a weekend and I jumped on it. As we considered a comfortable meeting spot, Woodstock’s Cucina popped into my mind with an undeniable vengeance. A finely mixed cocktail and pasta were exactly what I was seeking and based upon my prior visit with the girls, I knew I would not be disappointed.
I arrived a few minutes later than expected and found Aloysius at the bar enjoying a beer. I took a quick look at the cocktail menu and selected the Orient Old Fashioned, which I believe is the same cocktail I had on my last visit. Bulliet and house made ginger simple syrup simply calls my name, what can I say?
As we caught up and sipped our drinks, I eyed the plate of a gentleman sitting near us at the bar. The tuna served with white beans, micro greens and thinly sliced spicy red peppers helped to seal deal for both Aloysius and myself and we decided to go with the very reasonable 3 course Prix Fixe menu for $33 per person beginning with the tuna as our first course. It was excellent with a hint of heat, beautifully firm beans and tender and flavorful tuna.
We diverged for main course selections with Aloysius going with a pork dish loaded with mushrooms and served with polenta. The taste I had was delicious, but I was really satisfied with the pasta dish I had selected – taleggio filled ravioli with a porcini sauce. The ravioli were delicate and tender and just filled with flavor. Aloysius barely got a forkful.
The pasta, along with the dessert, probably would have been more than enough to eat, but I do like to eat a vegetable, too, so I added a side of broccoli rabe. It was very similar to how I make it, al dente and generously seasoned with garlic.
I finished with a butterscotch, salted caramel confection that I’m pretty sure I had last time around. I inhaled it so quickly that there wasn’t an opportunity to take a photo. This is the dessert of my dreams and if you want to be my favorite, show up at my door with an order of this and you’re in – guaranteed. I’m not willing to wait another 2 years before getting a spoon into this stuff again.
Cucina remains one of my two favorite spots in Woodstock and I’m already mentally trying to arrange a rendezvous with the girls to get there again. Dinner for two (not including the drinks at the bar, but with a beer and a glass and tip set us back $125. This place absolutely rocks.
Filed under Aloysius, Dinner, Eating, friends, Recommendations, Restaurants, road trips, Spring, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York
I know I’m a day late on this Valentine’s stuff, but when a holiday translates into working 7 consecutive days, sometimes things don’t get done. Fortunately, all that I most appreciate has nothing whatsoever to do with candy filled hearts or a single day on the calendar circled with red ink. These are my every day gifts.
- My boys who have heated debates over who’s version of La Vie en Rose is superior – Edith Piaf’s or Louis Armstrong’s.
- My guy who challenges me in more ways than I ever could have imagined.
- My running girls the Lunar B*tches who are willing to run anytime, anywhere.
- My Jeter who is everything a dog is supposed to be.
I love them all.