Back in February, my girlfriend and I readied in the early morning hours for a weekend trip to the North Carolina mountains. We were excited to get away from the city, but equally anxious given the snow overnight. Would the flight make it out?
Sadly, the answer was no as we received news of the cancellation via text from the airline shortly before heading to the airport. I informed our friends and hosts to-be, Evan and Kate, who were seconds away from getting into a taxi for the airport.
We attempted to change our flight, but there were no options outside of a refund. This news did not eliminate our desire to get out of the city. To the contrary, it merely fed the flame even more.
Upstate NY was the clear choice. We jumped on Airbnb.com and Evan and Kate started combing through VRBO.com to locate a spot. Our enthusiasm was met with more bad news. Homeowners either weren’t responding to our inquiries or their rental properties were snowed in from the same storm that canceled our flight. Just when all hope seemed lost, Evan found a wonderful and affordable country home (http://www.vrbo.com/558067) on a 120-acre horse farm in New Paltz, NY. We were on the road heading north within an hour.
We arrived at our destination, La Luna Farm, after dark that Friday. The size of the property was striking, as was the intense light of the moon on the snow-covered terrain.
Our host, Tom, lived in one of the many houses on the property. He was kind, quick to smile, knowledgeable and connected. He told us about the property and the house, gave us a list of places to visit during our stay, recommended several restaurants, and secured us a reservation for dinner that night at The Huguenot (http://www.thehuguenot.com/).
Upon our arrival at The Huguenot, it was easy to see why this restaurant came so highly recommended. It had a wonderful energy and their cocktail and dinner menu looked amazing. Enticed by their handpicked artisan bourbon collection, I started with the Nostradamus, which did not disappoint. At this locally sourced restaurant, I started with the char grilled duck wings as an appetizer and then moved on to the lamb chops. Both were amazing, but the duck wings were heavenly. One of the best dishes I’ve eaten this year. Impressed by the restaurant, we booked a table at the sister restaurant for the next night. Upon our goodbyes, the manager was kind enough to recommend the nearby Water Street Market for antiques.
The hens of La Luna Farm provided us with breakfast the next morning and for the entire weekend. While the hens may disagree, there’s something really wonderful about having access to farm fresh eggs just outside your door. I walked the property in the early morning hours camera in hand (see pictures below). In addition to the hens, there were many horses on the property and a pair of donkeys. The silence and the vast open space covered in several feet of snow created a majestic and tranquil scene.
Soon we were off to Water Street Market (http://waterstreetmarket.com/) for antiques. The market consisted of several antique shops, including the Antiques Barn (http://www.newpaltzantiquesbarn.com/), along with some cafes and art studios. We all left with a “find” or two and were extremely pleased with the prices. The market is definitely worthy of a visit if you are in the area or a daytrip combined with some other activities (i.e., dinner at The Huguenot!).
For my friends and me, food and drinks are a major part of any trip. Thus, for lunch we headed to Café Mio (http://www.miogardiner.com/), which was another of Tom’s recommendations. While the location in a small strip mall didn’t inspire confidence, the food within certainly left us with an entirely different impression. My girlfriend and I split the lamb empanada special and the sinfully good banana and bacon French toast. A bottle of Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider from the Breezy Hill Orchard was a perfect treat given the cold weather outside. If you are within a 45 min drive of this place, come here for lunch! You will not be disappointed.
Dinner on the second evening was at A Tavola Trattoria (http://www.atavolany.com/). Bonnie and Nathan Snow opened this restaurant and they also run The Huguenot just a few doors down Main Street. The two-story restaurant and bar were full and teeming with energy. The food, cocktails and the service were all equal to that of its sibling restaurant. It’s easy to tell that people are excited about coming here. Bonnie and Nathan have created something very special on this single block in New Paltz and I plan to return!
Sunday, my friends and I drive up to the city of Hudson to check out the shops and to grab a late lunch at Swoon Kitchenbar (http://www.swoonkitchenbar.com/menus.html). I stopped in that restaurant a few years earlier, but sadly I was only hungry enough for an appetizer that day. However, given the ambiance and the merit of that dish, I knew I had to come back for a full meal one day. And what a wise decision! The country pate was deliciously smooth contrasting nicely with the delectable crispy artichokes that we ordered. Their Cuban sandwich was the perfect entrée in my opinion.
Hudson has an abundance of amazing antique stores, furniture stores, art studios, pubs, and restaurants running up and down Warren St. However, that abundance often times comes at a price or shall I say with higher prices especially on their antiques. We definitely enjoyed the hunt, but felt the bargains were difficult to find. To no surprise, if you want bargains head to Water Street Market!
Before we left Hudson, we bought a couple organic steaks from Olde Hudson Specialty Food Shop (http://oldehudson.com/) and a bottle of Hirsch Small Batch Reserve Bourbon from Hudson Wine Merchants (http://www.hudsonwinemerchants.com/index.html). We were beyond set for a gorgeous home cooked meal later that evening.
There is so much natural beauty in the Hudson Valley. Add several feet of snow and the place becomes even more magnificent. As we drove from place to place over the course of the weekend, I consistently saw things I wanted to photograph. Monday, I woke up before sunrise and set off with my camera. I started on the horse farm as the orange, fiery sun slowly climbed up over the distant tree-lined horizon. I captured dozens upon dozens of photos as the early morning light caressed the landscape, warmed up the grazing horses and threw sweeping shadows in the opposite direction. After an hour of shooting, I jumped in my car and drove to the places I wanted to capture. The light that morning was extremely accommodating to my cause, sadly the temperature was not. The thermometer registered 4°F in the early morning hours down near the Wallkill River. I could only tolerate being outside for 10 minutes at a time before rushing back to my car to warm up. Thankfully my rental had seat warmers! I would then drive until the next spot grabbed me, which often was only 1-2 minutes away. This process continued for many hours and I felt as if I were on a special journey of sorts.
There’s much to love about New Paltz and the surrounding towns and cities in the Hudson Valley. The La Luna Farm was very special and we were lucky to end up with such an amazing host who instantly made us local with a simple introduction and a handful of recommendations. We plan to return in warmer months to revisit our favorite restaurants and shops and hopefully we can ride some of the beautiful horses at La Luna Farm.
My favorite pictures from the weekend can be found here.