Saturday, December 5, 2009
I am spending the weekend Upstate in New Hamburg, NY - ideally for a personal writing retreat - about 1.5 hours outside NYC.
This morning while waiting for my train at Grand Central Terminal I had a Pavlovian urge for a typical breakfast when getting on an early morning Metro-North train Upstate - either a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, or a bagel and cream cheese. As I ate my oatmeal and raisins (What else? But I did mix it up and add walnuts), as well as a banana, I picked up the smell of what everyone else was eating around me. Heck, I could even smell the chives in the cream cheese at the table next to me.
I was graciously hosted by a lovely friend at a huge 100 year-old, 8-room farmhouse on 7.5 acres of rustic wilderness. The house was huge with great views of the Hudson River. It was quite cold and there were snow flurries. I wanted to hunker down in the library and write, but was too excited to get out of the city and wanted to explore. So after a tour of her property (Can't remember the last time I broke a sweat walking around someone's yard), we went for lunch at The Tavern at Highland's Golf Club in Garrison.
The menu was filled with items like Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese, and Egg Omelet with Raclette cheese and Andouille sausage. Why do I do this to myself? The waitress was delightful as I explained my "predicament." We settled on the Kabocha Squash, and black pepper soup WITHOUT the Maple Cream. Incredible! And the pickled vegetables. And the salad with pear slices. The kitchen made me a special rigatoni with chopped vegetables which was quite good. Even the chef came out to check on my special order - he was quite friendly, but I strongly suspected he just wanted to see what a vegan looked like! I think if you address the restaurant as a teammate on this quest for a vegan friendly dish, they go out of their way to help. Had I demanded "No Dairy, No Meat" - I don't think restaurants would be as accommodating. So, I guess there is a certain bit of salesmanship in this quest! I really look forward to coming back to the Tavern to taste some of their menu items. And for a tiny bar, I could not help but notice an exceptional collection of Scotch and Bourbon.
After a mere 2 hours the flurries turned to a full snow fall - perhaps 3 inches or more! Up in the hills of the Hudson Valley when the snow falls it becomes a 360 degree Currier & Ives painting.
As beautiful as the farmhouse was covered in snow, I could not help but think of "The Shining." 100 year old homes creak alot, and more than once I looked over my shoulder for Jack. I wrote a little, watched Alabama beat Florida, and wrote some more. Looking out on 7.5 acres of snow covered trees and farmland sloping down to the Hudson far from Manhattan is an awesome place for a writing retreat. Drinking a hot chocolate made of vegan friendly dark chocolate and rice milk made it perfect!
Oh, and kids: I am listing to a record player. The album side is now complete. That means the 8 songs on side A is now over. I must get up off this chair, and physically turn the record, made of vinyl, over. Now I will place the needle on the B side. Sounds like a lot of work, huh? Well, the difference is this - listening to your iPod is like getting fast food via the drive-thru, while listening to a vinyl record on a record player of bands that broke-up before your father was shaving is like preparing your own cooked meal. Yes it's more work, but 10x more satisfying.