When we visited Hudson Valley in New York back in October, we learned that Hudson Valley, the secret Hamptons of the North, is broken down by hamlet, villages, towns, and cities. Millbrook, for example, is a hamlet while Rhinebeck is a town. The form of government determines whether it is a hamlet, village, town, or city. Which, in directly, maybe influenced by population. Our observation revealed that, with regards to population, hamlet is the smallest with city being the most populated.
As we were driving around Hudson Valley, we were surrounded by beautiful countryside, horse farms, orchards, wineries, rolling hills, and a slower paced lifestyle. If you still yearn for the arts and entertainment a big city would have to offer you will still find it through lectures the many local private universities, cooking classes at the Culinary Institute of America, located in Hyde Park, and scores of museums, art galleries, and theatres in the local area.
Hudson Valley is bursting with locally grown vegetables and fruits including Tomann Gold apples (yellow fruit in photo) that grows at a local farm (Liberty Orchards in Highland, NY) and isn’t found anywhere else. Did you know that you can plant sunflowers and cut them when they are young and use as salad toppings? We learned this from Continental Organics, a local sustainable agriculture company, who grows some of the freshest vegetables and herbs, as well as “all-natural” fish, in this area. Sunflower shoots are actually very sweet and add a lot to a salad as do bean sprouts. They are a service-disabled Veteran Owned Small business that is “committed to producing fresh, locally grown, healthy food without the use of pesticides, GMOs or hormones.”
Our visit included stops in Millbrook and Rhinebeck. The village of Millbrook is small but we found a good variety of shops, a few restaurants, a diner, and nice streets to stroll along.
If you are looking for a quick lunch at a unique cafe, we suggest you try Cafe Les Baux on 152 Church Street in Millbrook, NY. Uniquely different, Chef Herve Bochard’s dishes are infused with international flavors to create distinctive fresh and flavorful dishes to satisfy even the most discerning palates. They have an extensive wine list to choose from for that perfect pairing with your meal. Cafe Les Baux is recognized as one of New York’s best restaurants, and has won several local diners’ awards.
They offer home made soups which change daily. We decided to try the Split Pea and Wild Mushroom soups. Both were excellent and full of flavor. With the accompanying bread, it was just enough to hold us over until dinner.
Millbrook has a few other restaurants, such as Aurelia, Mediterranean food, very good kale salad, panzanella, charcuterie plate, house-made gnocchi, Alaskan char. The Millbrook Cafe has a wood-burning oven in the wall where much of the menu is cooked. Simple, family-style ambiance, and with a vegetarian section on the menu. There’s also the Millbrook Diner, on Franklin Avenue, for the typical tuna melt, open-faced turkey sandwich, etc. This hamlet might be small but it has a lot of heart!
There are limited places to stay in Millbrook because it is a small village. You won’t find any chain hotels in the area. When visiting Hudson Valley you want to stay at a Bed and Breakfast add to your experience. Millbrook Country House was where we stayed. It has been around since 2002, however the house, itself, has been standing for nearly 200 hundred years. Located at 3244 Sharon Turnpike, just outside of the town of Millbrook, owners Lorraine Alexander and Giancarlo Grisi, will made you feel at ease with their great hospitality. You will find yourself sitting with Lorraine, a former travel and food writer and editor, and forget the time. Her stories will keep you entertained for hours.
Breakfast is served from 7:00 am to 10:00 am and tea between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm in one of the parlors; where the weather is agreeable, you can enjoy breakfast and / or tea in the gardens. Sit in the parlor and listen to the music, read a magazine, or study the extensive art and antique furniture collection, found throughout the house.
When you stay at the Millbrook Country House, you will be given one of four bedrooms. Each bedroom is decorated with authentic, antique furniture and a handout is given that explains where is piece is from and who designed or created it. It is quite interesting to read about the history of the furniture in each room.
Millbrook Vineyards is a must on your travel through Hudson Valley. Called “the Hudson Valley’s flagship winery” by The New York Times and “a great place to visit” by The Wall Street Journal. Millbrook Vineyards & Winery is conveniently located in the magnificent Hudson River Valley just 1.5 hours from both New York City and Albany. It is glorious to visit any time of year for a tour and wine tasting.
Millbrook Vineyards is open from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m., seven days a week for guided tours and wine tastings. From Memorial Day through Labor Day we are open from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Millbrook Winery is closed for the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Da
While visiting the Hudson Valley region we suggest that you try local wines from Millbook Vineyards and also search out Keegan Ales Mother’s Milk or Sugar Wash Moonshine, all produced locally in New York. Mother’s Milk, a stout, has received high praise and in 2003 was awarded a gold medal at The Hudson Valley Microbrew Festival and in 2010 it was declared one of the top ten stouts in North America by The New York Times.
Rhinebeck, perched along the bluffs of the majestic Hudson River, is larger than Millbrook and falls in the “town” category. It has a deep historic and cultural past, full of historic and scenic resources. With over 400 homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is designated as a National Landmark District, one of the largest and most prestigious in the country.
If you are visiting Rhinebeck and you are looking for restaurants for dinner, we suggest Terrapin on 6426 Montgomery Street. Of course, when in doubt, always ask the locals. That is how we learned about Terrapin. If you eat at Terrapin, make sure you eat in the bar area. They have a full menu and prices are actually cheaper than in the restaurant, with almost the same menu items. There are tables in the bar/cafe area as well as bar stools. A few others restaurants that were suggested to us were Arielle, Calico, Puccini, and Le Petit Bistro.
We stopped in Beekman Arms to have a dessert and coffee in The Tavern. Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn, located in the center of Rhinebeck, offers 73 delight rooms, many with fireplaces in both historic and newer buildings. Beekman Arms, America’s oldest operating inn has 23 rooms, where as the Delamater inn, a block away, has 50 rooms surrounding a garden courtyard. Overhead beams, open hearth fireplace, and wooden decor puts you in the setting of a colonial tavern and a charming bar highlight the Colonial Tap Room. Located throughout the Beekman Arms are several old guest ledgers from tears, take a look at them and learn who has stayed there before you. We spent an hour reading through story after story in one of the ledgers and it kept us captivated. Beekman Arms is just a great place to visit to sit by the fire and drink something hot on a cold night.
The are many shops, dress boutiques, and gift shops to browse in the center of Rhinebeck. It is at the center of the “Great Estates Region” with several historic and excellent sites to visit such as the FDR Home and Library, Vanderbilt Mansion, and the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.
Hudson Valley offers beautiful countryside drives and scenery in the Fall, which is full of color as the leaves change. We were only in the Hudson Valley area for a quick two day trip but we learned so much and fell in the love with the villages and countryside. We also found friendly people everywhere we went. When we were looking for a bottle of wine, the people at the wine stores were very helpful and willing to spend the time helping us. Word of caution if driving at night in Hudson Valley during the fall, watch carefully for deer, as we saw a lot of them along the back roads.