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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brotherhood Winery

Next up was a tour of America's oldest winery, Brotherhood, located at 100  Brotherhood Plaza Drive in Washingtonville.

The winery was established in 1839.

You could choose a Traditional or Varietal Tasting for $7. I chose the Varietal and got a sparkling, 2 Rieslings, a Pinot Noir and a Merlot. I was not impressed but I'm from Sonoma and have access to wines that are hard to beat.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fiddlestix Cafe

After our tour of West Point, we needed lunch. We found Fiddlestix Cafe in Cornwall, 10 miles north of West Point.

Fiddlestix is located at 319 Main Street.

The Krusty Krab--crispy quesadilla stuffed with spicy crab, avocado, jack & cheddar cheeses and topped with salsa. It was full of crab and a great deal at $11.75.

Jambalaya Omelette--Firecracker fried shrimp, tomato, onion, spiced balck beans and bleu cheese with toast and home fries for $10.95. The omelette was good but the spice from the shrimp overpowered the dish.

Fiddler's Dream special--turkey, avocado, bacon, bleu cheese, lettuce & tomato in a wrap with pasta and chips for $9.75. Delicious.

I ordered a Boylan's root beer. It was the first time I had Boylan's and I loved it. No wonder, it was made from cane sugar.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

West Point

We stopped for a tour of West Point, the US Military Academy, located on the Hudson River. It's a 4-year co-ed academy. Candidates for admission must be between 17-23 yo, unmarried, intellectually and physically fit and must get a nomination from either a member of Congress or the Senate, the Vice President or the President of the United States. Tuition is funded by the Army, in exchange for 5-year active duty and 3-year reserve status post graduation. Candidates do not need to be from the US. Foreign candidates are funded by their sponsoring nation. 1300 cadets enter the academy each July and 1000 graduate.

Stop at the Visitor's Center to purchase your tour ticket and watch videos on the history of West Point and life as a cadet.

West Point motto--Duty, Honor & Country. 

Board a bus to take either the 1-hour tour ($14) or 2-hour tour (includes the cemetery, $16). Be sure to bring a valid ID--either a driver's license or a passport.

Main Cadet Chapel--a gothic revival architecture hosting the largest chapel pipe organ in the world (23,511 pipes).

The central cadet parade ground 

Prime leaf peeping on campus

West Point is located on the banks of the Hudson at a strategic bend in the river.

West Point Museum--admission is free.

Gold-plated pistol that belonged to Adolph Hitler. 

Copy of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender--World War II.

Interesting stories were told during the tour. One of my favorites was that MacArthur's mother moved into a nearby hotel overlooking the grounds of the academy apparently to keep an eye on him when he enrolled as a student.

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Courtyard by Marriott, Newburgh

Our home for the evening was the Courtyard in Newburgh, 4 Governor Drive.

It's a typical Courtyard: comfortable beds, clean but expensive at $162/night. Free wifi but no free breakfast.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vitanella's Pizzeria

From Kykuit, we headed to Newburgh. We drove back across the Tappan Zee Bridge (no toll in this direction) and drove up Hwy 9W. We were hoping for great views of the Hudson River but it mainly took us through industrial areas. At 7 pm, we hit terrible traffic at Bear Mountain State Park--not sure the source of the traffic on a Sunday evening.

We rolled into Newburgh at 7:45 and barely made it to Vitanella's Pizzeria before they closed at 8 pm. They got good reviews on Yelp.

Vitanella's (429 South Plank Road) is not much of a restaurant. They were still in the process of renovation and there were just a few tables. 

We ordered a spinach and bacon pizza as well as a Caesar Salad ($5.95) to go. The medium pizza (14-inches, $15.95) was large enough for 3 of us to share. The pizza had a white sauce, the crust was thin and chewy but the spinach was frozen and the bacon was not real bacon. What a disappointment!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Kykuit (pronounced Key-koot, Dutch for "lookout") is the Rockefeller estate on the Hudson River. It was home to four generations of the Rockefellers, beginning with John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil.

The Classic Tour lasts 2 1/4 hours and costs $25 weekday, $28 Fri-Sun. It includes the main floor of the house; the subterranean art galleries; the Inner Garden and West Terrace, with views of the Hudson River and the outdoor sculpture collection; and the Coach Barn with its collection of antique carriages and classic automobiles. 

The Grand Tour is $40 regardless of day of tour, lasts 3 hours and includes a visit to the second floor balcony of the house.

There are also Selected Highlights Tours and Timesaver Tours, but unless you're really an art aficionado or are pressed for time, you should choose either the Classic or Grand Tour.

We purchased our tickets 2 weeks in advance and it was a good thing that we did. The tours were sold out when we arrived. Apparently, October is a prime time to tour, especially when it's a beautiful weekend.

We took the Classic Tour at 3:15 pm on a Sunday. 

The parking lot was full so we were directed to the alternate lot next to Phillipsburg Manor. Phillipsburg Manor was a farming, milling, and trading center owned by the Philipses, who rented land to tenant farmers. Today, you can visit it and step back to life in 1750.

It took us 10 minutes to walk to the Kykuit ticket office and gift shop. We turned in our confirmation and picked up our tickets. We then boarded buses that took us to the hilltop estate. Our tour guide was a retired school teacher, very knowledgable but refused tips.

The grand entrance leading to the Rockefeller home.

The home is a 6-story Classical Revival Georgian, completed in 1913. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and tours began in 1994. The basement contains a private art gallery with works by Picasso, Chagall and Warhol. It has the most complete collection of Picasso tapestries in the world.

Oceanus Fountain, modeled after Giambologna's "Oceanus and the Three Rivers" in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, as viewed from the home. 

The Rockefeller estate is situated on the Hudson River.

On the grounds are numerous 20th century sculptures by artists such as Picasso, Moore & Calder.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Sleepy Hollow

Back to New York... From Nyack, we drove back across the Tappan Zee Bridge because we wanted to tour Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate. We had planned on touring Kykuit on our way down from Hyde Park but Bocuse was unexpectedly closed on the day we had planned to visit. We had to shuffle our itinerary to accommodate it. Toll was $5 to drive across the Tappan Zee Bridge eastbound.

Our tour wasn't until 3:15 pm so we stopped in Sleepy Hollow, home to the legendary headless horseman.

The headless horseman is part of their street signs.

Main street in town--decorated for Halloween. There were many Halloween events, including an evening lantern tour of the cemetery, Horseman's Hallow at Phillipsburg Manor (haunted tour, including an appearance by the Headless Horseman), haunted hayrides and the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze with over 5000 hand-carved jack o'lanterns. If we were into Halloween, this would definitely be the town to experience it to the fullest.

The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is the resting place of many noted figures, including Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), a Scottish-American industrialist, steel magnate and philanthropist. For a guy who was worth $310 billion, his gravesite is pretty modest. Then again, he did give away over 90% of his money while he was still alive. People leave coins at his gravesite as a sign of respect.

The Rockefeller mausoleum, on the other hand, is pretty elaborate. It's the largest mausoleum at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. William Rockefeller (1841-1922), his brother John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) and various family members are interred here. Legend has it that William actually built the mausoleum to provide a dignified resting place for his wife of 56 years, Almira. 

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is large and we got lost trying to drive around. We wanted to see Leona Helmsley's (1920-2007) gravesite but ran out of time. Supposedly, it has a stained-glass panorama of the Manhattan skyline. We wanted to see how garish it was. After all, she left $12 million to her dog.

We also didn't have enough time to tour the Union church in Pocantico Hills, just 2 miles away. It has the last work of art by Matisse and 9 windows by Chagall. Admission is $7.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mushroom Foraging

My husband has always wanted to go mushroom foraging. I found this Mushroom Foraging and Tasting Experience offered at the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center. It was inexpensive at just $20/person. The event was held on a Saturday afternoon from 1-4 pm.

It started with a lecture about the basics of mushrooms.

Then we went for a hike for a little over an hour through the oak forest in search of mushrooms.

We found a Death Cap--one of the deadliest mushrooms around. It looked so innocuous.

Coccora--a snow-capped mushroom. It's edible with an eggy flavor.

Boletus, which is edible although for some, it may cause GI distress. I'm not sure I would eat something that turns blue when you scratch it.

The event included a wine tasting

and food pairing.

It was a fun afternoon but I am not going to eat a mushroom I find in the woods, even if an "expert" tells me it's okay. It's way too dangerous.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Olive & Vine

We took a break from Flavor this week when we saw that Olive & Vine's Wednesday night dinner was Cassoulet. Two courses for $25 and there was no corkage. We brought Terra d'Oro Zinfandel, which paired nicely with the Cassoulet.

Amuse Bouche--Cucumber with Olive Genovese

Field Greens with Roasted Pears, Shaft's Blue Cheese & Hazelnuts

Classic Cassoulet of Pork, Duck, Garlic Sausage, Ham Hock & Pancetta with White Beans & Aromatics, Garlic Breadcrumb Crust. This was a rich dish but I was only able to eat half of it. The vegetables were delicious--full of flavor. They were finished with butter but there was no hint of grease and they tasted like they were steamed in broth.


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Alain's French Bistro

We had lunch at Alain's French Bistro in Nyack. It's surprisingly located in a strip mall.

Warm bread with house-made butter and maldon sea salt.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Saute a l'alsacienne, Pan Seared, Mirabelle Plum Sauce--$19. Delicious and so decadent.

Confit de Canard--Crispy Duck Confit, Frisee and Endive Salad, Walnuts, Roasted Potato--$18. Delicious duck confit.

Nicoise Salad--Rare Tuna over Mixed Greens, Tomato, Hardboiled Egg, Basil Vinaigrette--$18. This was a nice salad as well but the foie was still the best.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014


We woke up on Sunday morning to find a clear, sunny day. First up was the Nyack ACADA (Art, Craft & Antiques Dealers Association) Street Fair, which is held on Sundays 3 times/year. The downtown area is filled with stalls selling all kinds of arts, crafts and food.

Nyack Library--beautiful brick building covered with ivy.

Nyack is the birthplace of Edward Hopper. This is his childhood home.

Another notable home in Nyack is that of Helen Hays. Her home was more difficult to find and was hidden behind a tall barrier. She is one of 12 people who have won an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar & Tony). Amazing!

The Nyack Brook served as a landmark on the Underground Railroad.

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