Friday, October 31, 2014

sugarloaf, warwick & pine island.

One of my absolute favorite places to visit at least once a year is the artisan village of Sugarloaf in Chester, NY. My mom has followed the work of some of the veteran presences here since they came in the 1970's and early 80's, while new shops pop up all the time and mostly integrate well into the fabric of the existing village aesthetic. Here are some of my favorite places to visit in Sugarloaf!

The Cornerstones.

Exposures Gallery.
Photographer Nick Zungoli has a way of capture the Hudson and Delaware Valleys at any season like no one I've ever seen. His autumn images in particular are positively transportive. A "do not miss" place.

Mary Endico.
Mary's body of watercolors is extensive and ever-evolving. She has some subtle, linear nature scenes that reminds me of Japanese calligraphy, while many of her large abstract paintings present a warm scaffolding.

Bostree Gallery.
The pottery of the Boswell family is divinely beautiful and runs the gamut from more traditional pieces to some edgy, more contemporary ones. I wanted to buy all of the blue and green pieces--- they were simply stunning.

The Candle Shop.
THE place to go for traditional, homemade candles, which are sold several sizes and dyed in an array colors. While most of the candles are unscented, you can purchase them in one scent, and they are absolutely lovely. I bought a pair of deep mustard colored tapers which look amazing in our dining room.

Rosner Soap.
The plethora of natural, handmade soap options here will boggle your mind. If you can't make a trip up to Sugarloaf, you can order Rosner Soap on-line or head out to Greenport to the White-Weathered Barn, a 2014 CVG Star winner.

The New Kids on the Block.

Visiting this store is a little like stepping inside a physical Etsy boutique. There are a host of homemade gifts, jewellery, etc. by various craftswomen. A funky little place worth stopping at!

Laura's Sweets Specialty Cupcakes.
I adore this place. Their cupcakes are simply amazing, especially the seasonal offerings which rotate.

18th Century Furniture and Three French Hens.
In addition to their adorable chickens which roam about the streets of Sugarloaf, this place has a beautiful, airy feel to it (which is good because it's filled to the brim with amazing furniture ---both custom pieces and antiques--- home goods, and handmade children's clothes and accessories). This is a great place to do your holiday shopping, especially for the trendy little ones in your life.

While you're in the area, be sure to drive south in to the old, pretty town of Warwick as well as Pine Island (which is not in fact an island). I regret not taking pictures of Pine Island but hope that if your travels take you into this region you will take a brief detour here, as rich color of its soil makes for some truly unusual and beautiful scenery. Click here and you'll see why.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

adirondacks, part two: lake placid.

A view of Mirror Lake from our balcony.

Lake Placid has long been a go-to respite for us Nuthatch-Cardinals. While we are hardly the experts on the region, each trip up has afforded us an opportunity to try something new, be it a hotel, restaurant, shop or experience. Here are some of our favorite go-to places we've accumulated over the years.

The Black Bear Restaurant.
(Note: Some of the blog posts on Urbanspoon may reflect a prior ownership at this space). Simple, uncomplicated, Mediterranean-influenced cuisine that will satisfy even your pickiest eater. I ordered the local rainbow trout, which was cooked to perfection with a balanced seasoning that highlighted this delicate fish. What puts Black Bear over the top is the customer service. Every staff member we encountered was totally dedicated to customer service. A slight peccadillo with the placement of the table reservation became an unexpected complimentary round of after drinks. Even a busy crowd made no dimple in the expediency of the service. Siddle up to a lake view table for a romantic date, or bring the whole family for a comfortable and casual environment.
Black Bear Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Personal Expressions.
If you're in need of a little "me" time, head over to Personal Expressions for a cut and color with Karen. Her detail-oriented approach really pays off: Karen did a beautiful job creating dimensional color and matched my existing color with ease. Staff at the front desk were very sweet and gracious. In addition to hair care, they offer a wide range of services. Don't forget to say "hi" to Crush!

Sugar Shack Dessert Company. 
This diminutive little shop is home to some pretty delectable cupcakes and hot chocolate.

Great Adirondack Brewing Company. 
Disregard the scary antique tchochkes that pervade this place and go straight for the beer. They are home to an egalitarian mother of a beer, the Leaf Changer Pumpkin Ale (5.3%) whose equal attention to all her children manifests in just the right balance between spice, pumpkin and well, beer. Leaf Changer is a game changer: even Mr. Cardinal (ever my loveable scrooge of pumpkin-flavored anything) liked it. The Adirondack Abbey Ale (7.0%) was also quite intriguing, with its prominent flavors of clove and banana (which strangely worked well). This beer ended up being sweeter than we expected, so keep that in mind depending on your preferences.

Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood Company on Urbanspoon

Adirondack Decorative Arts and Crafts. 
I simply love this place, which has an extensive selection of regional furniture and home goods. We keeping come back for the pine-scented candles and incense. The quality and quantity of light fixtures here is stunning, with Arts and Crafts style wrought-iron pieces that could even be integrated into a home downstate.

Monday, October 27, 2014

coastal cheap and chic #8: octoburgerfest.

Twice this month I've cried (or feigned) laziness and resorted to Bobby's Burger Palace for take-out. Quite simply, the Pacific Northwest Burger (also known as the Burger of the Month) has laid a hold on me and won't let go. For $8.50, this sumptuous, truly autumnal offering features white american cheese and impeccably marinated cremini mushrooms in a red wine barbeque sauce. Order it while you can, fellow Smith Haven locals, and you won't regret it. I pair it with the Mattebella NV Famiglia, whose Cab Franc presence both cuts and compliments this indulgent burger. (Note: I prefer BBP medium-rare, but it's still quite tasty to consume at medium-well).

adirondacks, part one: 87, 9W and Chapel Pond

There's something about that climb up I-87 that makes one breathe a little deeper, a little more clearly, and with a little more ease. (I suspect half of it is the air quality, and the other half the statuesque multitudes of pine trees interspersed with oak and birch that dot those incomprehensible mountains).

Peeling off 9W into the Keene Valley region provides our first more intimate glance of the region.
Our first stopping point was Chapel Pond.

As I watched Mr. Cardinal show off his third baseman-worthy arm with a few errant pebbles, it truly felt as if we were the only people in the world. 

It was shocking to discover the land mass of the Adirondack Park Preserve: larger than the State of New Jersey! I suppose there's a reason we're called the Empire State...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

autumn in new york: bucket list introduction.

Fall is arguably one of the busiest times of the year for Mr. Cardinal and me, and yet, it's also the season when Mother Nature seems to be beckon us the most. (I think that's the case for a lot of people, right?) So amidst all the craziness, I made a point to sit down for a few minutes in September with a recent issue of C&T (our regional AAA magazine) and scope out some of the beautiful local fall trips that were worth making this autumn. You don't need to go to Vermont to take advantage of the autumn beauty when there is so much to see within our beautiful state (and even neighboring North Jersey). For another thing, it's a lot cheaper--- you can see a lot on a full day trip or even a quick 1 night, 2 day excursion.

Thanks to these convenient little adventures, I've been privy to several peak folliage periods already, while we look forward to Long Island's just beginning. It certainly brings meaningful respite and awe-inspiring beauty into our busy lives!

My bucket list entries will be divided up by the following:
-The Adirondacks, with an emphasis on Lake Placid (Essex County)
-Highway 97 Scenic Byway (Sullivan and Orange Counties)
-Sugarloaf (Chester), Warwick and Pine Island (Orange Counties)
-Northern New Jersey (Warren and Sussex Counties)

I hope this will give you some new ideas for next autumn. Please share with me your own local favorite trip ideas to try next year, Long Islanders!

Friday, October 24, 2014

a bit of ingenuiTEA, part two.*

Among the things that really impressed me during my tea excursion to the Roosevelt Field Mall was how the folks at DAVIDs TEA are committed to building a better tea-drinking experience through their focus on in-house design at all levels.

Storefront. The teas are clearly sorted by type, with more traditional offerings featured on the top shelf, while flavored teas and unique blends dominate the lower shelves. This brings ease for tea purists, adventurers and neophytes alike.

Eco (and wallet) friendly options. Should you choose to get a beverage to-go, you don't have to think twice about tossing their "plastic" cup in the garbage: it's made from corn and is biodegradable. Better yet, bring your own cup: you'll get a discount. (Same for reusing the DAVIDs loose tea tins). Still, my favorite of the eco-friendly options you can find at DAVIDs are these:

Tea Filters. They are unbleached, biodegradable and compostable. The wide mouth and drawstring features, however, are what make this product truly unique.

I've tried many steeping options over the years--- other brands of unbleached sachets, teaballs, infusers, etc. What I have found in the past this is that generally 1) our counter becomes a mess instantly, 2) the tea pokes through and out into the water more than is to be desired, or 3) there are caked-on leaves that need to be scraped off when I'm finished. (Or all of the above).

This little guy eliminates all that hassle.

Even veteran mess-makers like me can keep it together, thanks to the generous opening of the sachet.

Simply pull the drawstring shut, and you're all set!

Form? Meet Function.
If you prefer to watch your tea steep, I recommend The Perfect Tea Mug (with infuser). 

It's a handsome, sleek mug that matches the overall DAVIDs TEA aesthetic.

Simply place the desired amount of tea within the infuser.

The glass lid helps retain the heat, and...

When you're done steeping, it doubles as a container for the infuser! How's that for nice and tidy?

The Perfect Tea Mug and all of its parts are machine-washable (thankfully!) and the angle of the infuser grating makes it relatively easy to clean compared with other infusers I've used in the past.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

a bit of ingenuiTEA, part one. *

My penchant for hot caffeinated beverages being no secret, I'm always scouting out serious purveyors of tea on (and off) the Island. In fact, during our honeymoon in Quebec a few years back, we happened upon a wonderful tea shop in Montreal called DAVIDs TEA. How cyclic (and felicitous!) that this Canada-based shop would later come to open branches in the U.S, with one of their most recent locations being at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City.

On Friday, I had the opportunity to meet with Erika and the team at the Roosevelt Field DAVIDs TEA, to deepen my appreciation and knowledge of tea and experience the unique offerings there.

First up were the samplers, which rotate on a daily basis.  The Cinnamon Rooibos Chai was a beautifully balanced: rich in autumnal spices, and at the same time approachable and calming. The presence of cinnamon provided a pleasant zing that made additional sweetening unnecessary. Afterwards, I tried the Earl's Garden. While I do not gravitate towards perfumed black teas, the Earl's Garden had a strikingly voluminous nose. Lovers of bergamot, this one is for you!

Next, Erika introduced me to the Kenyan Tinderet, a delightful black tea which I was not familiar with. The finely chopped leaves (which resembled coffee grinds) experience an early-onset oxidation process that contributes to the robust nature of this tea. Smooth, round and buttery, with a mild astringency on the finish, it called for a splash of milk.

My tasting concluded with a Forever Nuts Tea Latte. I asked Erika to pick a solid, introductory blend she might recommend to someone who was new to tea and not sure where to start. Though I've been drinking tea my whole life, the intense flavorfulness of that latte still haunts me days later. An herbal tea comprised of almonds, apples, cinnamon and beetroot (for coloring), Forever Nuts would make a great stand-alone tea. In the context of the latte base, however, it became truly exceptional. Suffice to say, I will be finding excuses to make the trek out to DAVIDs for this latte as much as possible.

Thanks again to Erika and everyone at DAVIDs TEA for their graciousness and generosity!

(While this post was primarily focused on the tastings, I was so floored with the innovative in-house designs of the tea accessories that there will be a second post dedicated to those. Form, function and a bit of whimsy can really enhance one's tea-drinking experience!)

 David's Tea on Urbanspoon