Monday, January 31, 2011
Nyack is not the easiest place to get to, but most will agree its well worth the train-to-bus trek. Situated on the west bank of the Hudson, to get to Nyack you must take the Metro North Hudson Line to Tarrytown and transfer to the Tappan Zee Express Bus that will bring you across the bridge. We set out to do this, but quickly found the bus, which is supposedly a shuttle, rarely comes on the weekend and doesn't seem to follow any sort of schedule. We ended up taking a cab from the Metro North stop to Nyack which was a little pricey ($30), but split five ways ended up being okay. The lesson here, be ready to pay a little extra for a taxi or be ready to be very patient for the bus. Its green:
One of your first stops should be the Edward Hopper House which is within walking distance from the main drag. This is where the artist grew up and spent almost his entire adult life. Now the space is an arts center that features the works of local artists and come May will have some of his original works back from the Whitney, so maybe postpone your trip until then.
Next up is shopping! Nyack has a fantastic antique mall with vendors that are willing to bargain. If you have just moved or are just in need of decorative knick-knacks, you will be able to find everything you need to outfit your apartment there:
A meal will be on the forefront of every one's mind, and Nyack has plenty of options for the hungry traveler. We hit up the Olde Village Inne which came recommended to us by a friend and native Nyacker. Inside we found a bar full of sports fans watching football and having lunch. Burgers and wings were ordered and devoured and we left full and happy. Our friend also recommended The Temptations Cafe, so that's on the list for the next time I visit.
After lunch go down to the waterfront. Off the shore you will find the ruins of a ship. This time of year is particularly pretty as parts of the river have frozen and seagulls appear to be performing the miracle of walking across water when they stroll on the ice.
The park is a great place to end your day. From the beach you will have a great view of the Tappan Zee and there are benches available so you can sit and look out across the water. Its always nice to be a little contemplative when you travel, even if it is just an hour outside the city.
Monday, January 24, 2011
(photo via Pardon Me For Asking)
The much anticipated Van Horn Sandwich Shop is finally opening in Cobble Hill. I know a lot of us are loyal to our Williamsburg southern favorites, The Commodore and Pies and Thighs, but I suggest an excursion to south Brooklyn to give chef Rick Hauchman's fare a try.
Hauchman, who honed his skills at both Roberta's and Commodore along with proprietor Jacob Van Horn have a shared vision of a place where you can roll in for some southern goodness and stay for the beer and laid back atmosphere. On the menu you will find some familiar items (a pulled pork sandwich and buttermilk fried chicken) and some curiosity-inducing concoctions like the sweet PLT which is a playful, vegetarian-friendly version of the BLT but with deep fried sweet potatoes.
Sandwiches should be coming out of the kitchen as early as this weekend and fingers crossed, they should be busy. Van Horn has been getting a lot of buzz in and outside the neighborhood. Both Hauchman and Van Horn once called North Carolina home, so I foresee a line of hungry southerners around the block as soon as their doors open. Come down this weekend - there is no better way to fight the cold than with the flavors of southern BBQ.
231 Court Street between Warren and Baltic
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
(photo via the Daily News)
My manhunt for equipment rental last week lead me to Gear To Go Outfitters and this guy, Kevin Rosenberg. I perused the extremely user-friendly website, found what I wanted to rent and reached for my credit card. But then I hesitated. Wait a second - Who is this guy? And why isn't he on Yelp?!?
I picked up the phone and called the number that was listed. Kevin himself answered and assuaged my concerns in a peaceful manner. I realized I had no reason not to give Gear To Go a try. So I paid for my snow shoe rental and felt like a champ because through his business, you can rent just about any piece of gear you could ever need, at a very cheap price and he will deliver it to your door. Don't worry about returns - he will come pick up your rentals three days later. For free.
When I met Kevin, I was a little curious why he wasn't famous. Here is this guy, a former lawyer, who switched careers to become a street vendor and renter of outdoor equipment - his business model was, well, kind of fantastic. In so many words, I asked him why he wasn't on the cover of magazines and modestly he told me that it just so happened the Daily News had caught wind of him and a piece on Gear To Go was coming out this week. That's more like it, I thought.
With our salaries and the minimal space our apartments allow us, owning things like tents and skis isn't very realistic. But being a weekend warrior is hard when you lack the proper necessities. Kevin masterfully understood this and came up with a great solution when he started Gear To Go.
If you don't have the internet (ha), you can visit him at his table in Park Slope on the corner of Seventh Ave and Garfield Place. Knowing that I can be outfitted with gear for any outdoor activity makes me feel like Edmund Hillary. Kudos Kevin!
Monday, January 17, 2011
For some light snow activity on an afternoon off, head to Rockefeller State Park in Tarrytown. Just forty five minutes outside of the city, you don't even need a full tank of gas to get there - something I realized was an additional incentive when I noticed current gas prices were nearly three dollars a gallon.
You can do just about anything at Rockefeller State Park: Walk, jog, cross country ski, bird watch. Our poison this weekend was snow shoeing:
When you park you can pick up a map of the area at a near by kiosk and plot your course. The park offers a variety of scenery with trails taking you around a good sized lake, through wooded areas and pastures filled with cows and up hills that exhibit views of the acreage you've just covered.
This won't be a park that reminds you of McCarren or Central as its many trails will keep you busy all day if you allow them to.
Bring an extra pair of socks and maybe an extra pair of pants for this excursion, we all know the properties of snow are usually soaking wet and damp at best. Also, don't forget gloves - that is my signature move, and it usually leaves me feeling a little foolish.
After weeks of it being out of commission, I decided to bring my film camera which reared some great shots and some funky ones:
It was a great afternoon of light exercise combined with camera hobbies, just what I needed after weeks of being snowed in through the holidays.
My finale advisory is to make sure you have some snacks and a great sound track for the car ride home. This trip can be done on just about any day, under any conditions. Even if you were up all until 3am the night before racking up an exponential bar tab - just grab a bagel and hit the road, it will be a great cure all.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
No Pants New York City Subway Ride), making mischief our M.O. these days. I can't get enough.
If its looking like this in the city, I can only imagine how conditions must be upstate. This weekend is the snow shoe expedition I have been planning for few weeks and excited is an understatement. Thank you, winter and thank you, snow.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I was extremely excited this morning to read the San Juan Islands in Washington State were the New York Times' second pick on their list of 41 places to go in 2011. I would like to reiterate their call to action.
Washington is a state filled with nature's secrets. Puget Sound is surrounded by dramatic mountain ranges. Beyond the Cascades are the deserts of Eastern Washington and on the other side of the Olympic Mountain Range is the Olympic Peninsula which I don't even dare try to describe with words (In a massive list of outdoor features rain forests, hot springs and estuaries are just the tip of the ice berg).
And then there are San Juan Islands. I grew up visiting them: Camp Orkila on Orcas Island in the summer with jaunts to Sucia and Jones, Easter Egg Hunts on Blakely Island and Thanksgivings spent putting around the inlets of San Juan Island itself. This archipelago obviously holds dear memories to me, but even now as an adult, I must be careful when I go back as I'm afraid I will cancel my all my plans, plane tickets and credit cards and never return to civilization:
Recently they have become synonymous with Slow Food as they are recognized as having some of Washington State's best organic farms and in the summer you can hop on an inner island ferry with your bike and make a day of riding around sampling fresh produce. If you don't like biking, rent a kayak and go for a paddle, orca sightings are almost guaranteed. If you don't like being on open water, go for a hike up one of the islands' many hills. There are country roads to walk down, ruins to climb, tide pools to wade in and cabins to sleep in. Life in the San Juan's is so vastly different than our own, that I would venture to say a visit there might even be considered exotic.
Oh, and don't even bother with a rental car - hitch hiking is still a safe and wildly practiced form of public transportation. Book your flight now.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
(Photo via Bridge and Tunnel Club)
Manducati's is a discrete Italian restaurant located on the corner of Jackson and 47th in Long Island City, Queens. Its appearance is so inconspicuous from the street that when I brought my mom here she muttered something about wanting to sit with her back up against the wall when we were being seated. Its so funny how imaginative parents can be!
But she had a point, Manducati's ambiance is warm, humble and very Italian. Last night when I visited again, I noticed for the first time the walls were covered with pictures of expensive looking men and priests. Hmmm....
Don't let let this deter you! This eatery is one of those special places that looks totally different on the inside than it does from the outside and the food is unexpectedly delicious. In moments of particularly extreme hunger I find my mind wandering to its menu - specifically the Penne Alla Puttanesca, which is a salty affair of kalamata olives and capers. Their menu is, not surprisingly, Southern Italian and boasts plenty of homemade pasta dishes to order from.
I advise you to go if not for the authentic flavors than for the atmosphere and highly amusing people watching. It feels like you are eating in an old-world relative's den outfitted with a giant fire place and hung with a zillion family heirlooms. And while you work away at your Veal Marsala Scallopini (also highly recommended) you can eaves drop on Italian men recalling the good old days in Ozone Park in thick accents you'd have a hard time finding anywhere else.
Take the G to 21st Street or the 7 to Hunter's Point
Monday, January 3, 2011
I feel like a broken record, but I can't get enough of beaches in the winter. Also, Oyster Bay is my favorite cheap wine so that's literally what inspired me to pick it as a destination. I set out to Oyster Bay in search of a winter beach walk and some sauvignon blanc and found much, much more.
Located on the North side of Long Island in Cold Spring Harbor, Oyster Bay is a cute little town with many attractions. Get off the train, head down to Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and stroll down the dock that stretches deep into the bay:
The town itself is an impressive strip of locally owned businesses and restaurants. Several stores along the main drag are dedicated to selling wares made exclusively on Long Island. Bring some money to pick up a thing or two and support the small businesses.
Canterbury's is an Oyster Bay staple and there you can get what you came for: local oysters. These briny treats will obviously be a highlight, but don't leave without also ordering the fish and chips which are some of the best I can ever remember trying.
If you are on a budget, Bonanza's is a good option and the tiny stand will greet you right as you get off the train. Though they boast Italian Ices as their specialty, the enormous menu also offers up several varieties of hot dogs and other lunch items.
Sagamore Hill National Historic site, which was Teddy Roosevelt's presidential retreat and home until he died. A three mile walk from the center of town, it is now also a wildlife preserve.
A pilgrimage to find the origins of my favorite cheap wine (which turns out to be from New Zealand, whoops) that lead to a great, historical discovery. If you don't feel like bundling up, save this trip for the summer, but make sure not to miss this stop off the LIRR.
You will need an entire day for this trip. Get up early and make sure to leave yourself enough time to hit both the beach and Sagamore Hill while also stopping for a seafood lunch.
Take the E to the JFK/Sutphin Blvd stop and transfer to the LIRR taking the Oyster Bay Branch to the end of the line. Bring good shoes, a bag with some room for any shopping you might do and a pair of binoculars to look out across the water.