Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lobster Rolls and Key Lime Pie in Red Hook

When you think of Red Hook, your first thought might be deserted warehouses, lack of subway access and IKEA. But Red Hook is so much more - it's a relaxed neighborhood full of culinary delights, good bars and scenic spots to chill out overlooking the water.

I visited Red Hook with a group of friends on a recent sunny afternoon, on a quest for lobster rolls and key lime pie. Our first stop was the Red Hook Lobster Pound, manned by this kid who was not afraid to dive right into the lobster tank to show us dinner.

Red Hook Lobster Pound is located at 284 Van Brunt Street - directions are on the website. Our cashier (above, with lobster) offered us the choice of a Maine-style lobster roll (with mayonnaise) or Connecticut-style (with butter.) Most of us choose Maine style per his recommendation, featured below. Delicious!

Since the Lobster Pound does not have seating, we decided to eat at a beautiful little park on the Hudson with views of the Statue of Liberty - Louis Valentino Jr. Park, about a 10 minute walk from the Lobster Pound. This park is very empty, quiet and peaceful, and has a nice, long pier that one can apparently fish on.

Following the park, we made our way to Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie at 204 Van Dyke Street, about a 5 minute walk away.

The Key Lime Pie was amazing, especially this frozen key lime pie on a stick dipped in Belgian dark chocolate, which is called The Swingle. It is an absolute must have!!

After we were practically in a food coma, we decided it was time for some booze. Our first stop was a lovely little wine shop Botta di Vino at 357 Van Brunt Street, where we happened upon a wine tasting. Looks like there are tastings all day on Saturdays, and the staff was extremely friendly and gave us some generous samples.

Finally, we ended our day in this wonderful garden in the back of Home/Made on 293 Van Brunt Street. They have a great wine list (not that I am an expert, but there were lots of choices) and we enjoyed several bottles of chilled white wine on a warm summer day.

We all left our Red Hook adventure feeling like we had truly escaped from New York City, even though we technically hadn't. Red Hook is a low-key, friendly place to enjoy a sunny afternoon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dia Beacon

I can't believe I am just finally getting around to visiting Dia: Beacon. It is one of the coolest museums I've ever been to, located in a little town on the Hudson River called Beacon. Beacon is about an hour and twenty minutes from the city, with trains leaving hourly. As I mentioned in the Cold Spring post, this train ride is beautiful. The Dia has a variety of important works, which you can read about on Dia's Website but if you are not that knowledgeable about art they have works by Warhol - heard of him?

An aerial shot of the museum below (photo courtesy of Dia). You can see the train tracks to the right of the museum, alongside the river. It's easy to walk to Dia from the train- signs are everywhere.

Below is a temporary instillation featuring tons of line drawings by Sol LeWitt, custom made for the Dia space.  I asked the museum guide what would happen when the exhibit was over, as these were drawn right on the walls, and he said they'd be painted over. Kind of sad. Photo courtesy of Dia.

Much of the Dia work revolves around the concept of space, which is why Michael Heizer created these holes in the floor of the museum. I love his quote in reference to this work: "Awe is a state of mind equivalent to religious experience, I think if people feel commitment they feel something has been transcended." Also, check out this very cool shot on Smithsonian Magazine. I'm not sure I have the rights to share.

On the topic of space, this sculpture is meant to feel awkward within its confines (Richard Serra sculpture, courtesy of offmanhattan)

The town of Beacon was nice  - not quite as quaint as Cold Spring but there were definitely some nice features. There was a great little waterfront with a Sunday farmers market and a big grassy area to picnic (with playground for kids.) There is allegedly a roped-off area to swim in the summer on the river.

There was a Puerto Rican Day parade in Cold Spring, same day as the NYC parade.

Finally, I had a delicious white bean & tomato soup at this artsy cafe called The School of Jellyfish

Beacon also has a monthly festival called "Second Saturday" ... on the second Saturday of each month... which is a citywide celebration of the arts. I'll check it out sometime and let you know what that's like!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wave Hill in Riverdale via Bike (or not)

If you haven't heard of Wave Hill, it's a beautiful 28 acre retreat in the Bronx with views of the Hudson River, gardens and lots of grassy space to lay out and relax.

There are a couple of ways to get to Wave Hill - I took the 1 train to 242nd street and biked through residential streets to get there, which takes about 20-30 minutes. The ride is safe and relatively car-less- it involves weaving through the neighborhood of Fieldstone, and crossing the Henry Hudson Parkway via an overpass designed for walkers/bikers. However, the hills in the neighborhood are pretty intense, and my bike is a rusty cruiser from Craigslist that isn't exactly suited for this kind of terrain. If you have Google Maps on your phone, you'll be able to easily figure out how to weave through the neighborhood and cross over the Henry Hudson Parkway (after that, there are signs for Wave Hill.)

I was excited to see some of a Riverdale neighborhood - it's hard to believe that there are homes this big right in NYC (home below):

A little bit of info about Wave Hill - it is an old estate from 1843 that was leased by Theodore Roosevelt as well as Mark Twain. The cost to enter is $8, and as I discovered, once in Wave Hill you cannot actually bike. Therefore, I would probably just recommend taking the Metro-North from Grand Central (a bit quicker) and walking to Wave Hill. I took the train home and it was easy, except I didn't know you need to buy a bike pass (they let me off the hook this time... probably figured with my rusty old bike I didn't know what I was doing.)

The food at the cafe is very good (slightly gourmet sandwiches and salads), and you can eat overlooking the Hudson River. Wave Hill was not crowded- lots of space to lay out and relax in the grass or in Adirondack-type chairs. It was a nice change from parks in NYC which are usually pretty packed with people talking loudly on cell phones.

Some images from Wave Hill:

Where I chilled out, read and slept in peace:

There were lots of beautiful gardens and a few mini trails through the woods (like 10 minute walks) Here's one shot of the pond:

I hope you enjoyed Wave Hill! I'd recommend it when you want an easy escape from the city and a quiet place to read.