A tasty getaway to NY’s Hudson Valley
Though autumn is not officially here, many are planning fall getaways. Some people bypass summer vacations awaiting fall, when traffic on roads is not bumper-to-bumper, hotel rates have come down and the scenery is picturesque. One of my favorite fall activities is exploring the Hudson Valley of New York, an easy drive from Connecticut.
Nestled both above and alongside the mighty Hudson River, Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa ( www.buttermilkfallsinn.com), 220 North Road, Milton, N.Y., 845-795-1310, delivers an experience that marries a luxury-boutique inn with a sustainable farm and rejuvenating spa. The country-chic resort blends charming rusticity with modern luxury. Take a stroll through trails with tranquil views of Buttermilk Falls, a swan pond and broad stretches of the Hudson River. The stately 18th century original inn building, where guests are warmly welcomed and given the lay of the land, includes a full-service spa, gym, gardens, working farm and Henry’s at the Farm, the on-site restaurant. The 40-acre organic farm grows fruit, vegetables and herbs for the inn’s kitchens. A flock of heritage chickens are the source of fresh eggs, and other livestock: alpacas, llamas, angora goats and peacocks entertain.
Breakfast at Buttermilk (included with rooms) is in the main inn building’s “Sun Room.” An expansive buffet of juices, cereals, fresh baked good, fruits, tea and coffee are complemented by made-to-order entrees, featuring farm ingredients, such as fresh-harvested eggs from its flock of heritage chickens. The entrée choices for our first day’s breakfast: Spanish eggs, scrambled with onions, tomato sauce and parsley; spiced apple cider French toast with real maple syrup; and fried eggs with smoked Gouda, pastrami and pea shoots. The second day breakfast choices: fried eggs with bacon, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes and micro arugula; chocolate chip waffle with blackberry whipped cream and maple syrup; or chive oil omelet with Swiss cheese.
Henry’s at the Farm also takes advantage of the on-site crops. The menu items marked with a llama icon, include ingredients grown on Buttermilk’s own Millstone farm. Each day, the chef and his team forage for the best the land has to offer, including fresh berries, vegetables, free-range eggs, herbs and even freshly harvested honey from the beehives. The menu celebrates the bounty of the Hudson River Valley, showcasing ingredients grown on-site as well as those sourced from other local farms and artisan producers. The cathedral ceiling adds grandness to the comfortable and rustic dining room. The wine- jug-lighting fixtures sprouting from the ceiling provide the perfect ambiance, as do the large windows and French doors that bring the outdoors in with enchanting tree-top and Swan Pond views.
To begin the dinner experience, I knew I had to order the smoked trout latkes served with pickled cucumbers and dill crème fraiche. What a creative take on latkes. These were followed by perfectly-seared sea scallops with hearts of palm, brown butter and cashews. The description of the lobster ravioli, coupled with the dining room staff’s recommendation, made it a must-have; a 5 ounce lobster tail, sherry cream, asparagus, Shitake mushrooms, oven roasted tomato. I am not a fan of rich and heavy cream sauces; this one is perfectly executed as to not overpower the rest of the dish.
The daily fruit crisp that evening was blueberry/sour cherry, served warm with whipped cream. The topping was just enough so that the fresh fruits remained center stage. Each dessert has a suggested half-pour pairing; the Jorge Ordonez Malaga paired perfectly with the crisp. The house-made ice cream that evening was candy cap mushroom and you have to taste it to believe it. If I didn’t know mushrooms were an ingredient, I would have never known. It tasted like maple candy.
The integration and infusion of the farm’s herbs continues with signature cocktails such as The Millstone Farm Spiced Pear Collins (Greenhook Gin, Millstone Farm Pear puree, clove simple syrup fresh lemon, Prosecco topped) and Candy Cap and Rye (Hudson Maple Cask Rye, candy cap mushroom syrup, orange zest, Riserva Carlo Alberto White Vermouth) Wouldn’t you say these cocktails sound extraordinary?
Inn guests are invited to afternoon Tea in the Sun Room, where a variety of teas and house baked sweet goods are coupled with conversation with other guests.
The spa treatments use organic products and honey, lavender and herbs from the farm. After your treatment enjoy a spa lunch; flavorful wraps and salads to savor poolside. The “Falls Detox” from the juice menu is what you need after your cellulite massage or other service. Celery, cucumber, apples, kale, parsley, ginger, turmeric and lemon is what your newly refreshed body will appreciate.
Just over a half mile from the Inn, on Milton’s Main Street is Frida’s Bakery & Café, (www.fridasbakeryny.com) owned by Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa (named after the owner’s daughter; Henry’s at the Farm is named after the son). Frida’s vibe felt like the informal community center for families, locals and visitors alike. The children’s play area will keep them busy. Artisan breads, pastries and locally roasted coffee and a breakfast and lunch menu (I enjoyed the chicken pot pie and “build your own salad” where you check off items on a list of ingredients) provide the fuel for exploring the surrounding area.
The Meet Me in Marlborough Farm Trail has received acclaim as the region’s No. 1 farm trail. Signs along the road assist in finding the farms, pick-your-owns and wineries. Or, request your guide 845-616-7824. www.meetmeinmarlborough.com Include a visit to New York’s oldest whiskey distillery, Tuthilltown Spirits www.tuthilltown.com Request a Hudson Valley Wine & Craft Beverage map that leads you to wineries, distilleries, cideries and breweries 800-232-4782. Enjoy breathtaking views of the river, a tour or a meal at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park 845-452-9600, http://www.ciarestaurantgroup.com
I was surprised to learn during a visit to the Kedem Winery’s tasting room http://www.kedemwinery.comabout how extensive their wine list is; over 200 wines from New York and around the globe. Until now, I thought the very sweet Kedem wine my family served for the Jewish holidays was the only wine they produced. What a surprise. Watching the video tour featuring the history of the Herzog family—eight generations of winemakers and the state-of-the-art winery and wine making process was a learning experience.
Pan Seared Day Boat Scallops
½ ounce olive oil
4 U-10 Scallops
Salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces butter
1 ounce whole cashews
1 ounce fresh hearts of palm, sliced into thin rounds
1 scallion, julienned
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Sear the scallops on one side until golden brown. Flip them over and sear. Add, butter, cashews and hearts of palm and sauté. Continue cooking until scallops are cooked through and butter is brown and smells nutty. Plate and garnish with sliced scallion. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Makes 1 serving.
Sour Cherry Blueberry Crisp
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Place all ingredients except butter in a stainless steel bowl and mix. Slowly add butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2 ounces butter
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup sour cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Zest of ½ an orange
1 tablespoon corn starch
In a skillet, heat butter. Add blueberries, cherries, sugar, lemon juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil, making sure all of the sugar is dissolved. Add corn starch to thicken making sure it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Place in a buttered ovenproof casserole dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake at 375 degrees until golden brown. Serves 1-2 depending on size of your dish.
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