Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Wave of Emotion at Wave Hill!

I rarely post more than once a week (unless on a long trip) but given recent momentous events this past Sunday, I thought it warranted a post...
View over the Hudson at Wave Hill

Just as you drive out of the northwest tip of Manhattan and cross over the Spuyten Duyvil Creek into the Bronx lies a spectacular 28-acre public cultural center and garden that was first built in 1843. Wave Hill was originally built as a "country home" in what is now the bustling urban neighborhood of Riverdale in the Bronx. In the early 1900's, the property was bought by George W. Perkins, a partner of J.P. Morgan; Perkins grew the property from the country house to include several gardens, terraces, a greenhouse, swimming pool and recreational facility.

Three blocks from the Henry Hudson Parkway, Wave Hill is nestled in a perfectly manicured fringe of lush green trees obscuring the beauty that lies within. Once past the threshold, the great lawn opens up before you with picturesque views of the Hudson River and the Palisades beyond.

Wave Hill map courtesy of Robert Loscaro (Wave Hill website)
Descending the Great Lawn, you will see the Conservatory and flower gardens on your right and the Glyndor House and Gallery to your left. Ahead of you is the Pergola Overlook (pictured above) looking out over the Hudson River and out into the distance. Arriving at Wave Hill is possible by car, subway, and Metro North. The Boy and I had made a plan to bike to Wave Hill from Hoboken, a nice 15-mile ride that was perfect for a Fall Sunday morning. The hosts at the front gate were nice enough to lend us a bike lock so we secured our bikes and began our tour of this fabulous estate. The property was impeccably manicured and the day was perfect parts sunny, breezy, and completely sans elbow sweat conditions! Wandering around the grounds, we explored the Elliptical Garden, meandered through the Wild Garden with its gazebo tucked romantically away among the trees, and ended up deciding on a brief hiatus at the Aquatic Garden.

Aquatic Garden
We paused here at the Aquatic Garden primarily (I thought) to enjoy the spectacular lily pond in front of us before heading home. It had the most majestic lily pads I have ever seen; I was certain they were fake. They had grown so large their sides had curled up creating saucer-like platters floating on the surface. But sure enough, upon further inspection, they were real! Accompanying the lily pads were other flora and fauna including koi fish, frogs, flowers, and wild grasses. The whole Garden was surrounded by a vine covered pergola creating an enchanting and picturesque venue.

Turns out that type of venue was exactly what The Boy had planned....as he'd picked this spot to ask me if he could become The Man...and me his bride! I said YES!!!!!!! Best Bike Ride Ever.

After The Boy popped the question!**
**There is a reason this photo is taken from very far away...while we wanted to memorialize the momentous occasion, we did not feel it necessary to capture our sweaty, dirty, helmet headed selves!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Cape Escape

Attending Boston College, we often escaped to the Cape (Cod, that is) for a quick weekend away. From Chatham to Woods Hole, we enjoyed many a day on the beach or ferrying over to the Vineyard or Nantucket. So many great memories!

For Labor Day weekend 2012, The Boy chose a getaway to the Cape, but this was a different one than that of my college years. For over 200 years, Easterners have been frequenting Cape May, one of the oldest seaside resorts in the nation. This charming beach enclave, a 3-hour drive from NYC, is located at the southern tip of my new home state of New Jersey!

Our goal was to leave by 8 AM Saturday, which meant we would leave by 10 AM. At 10:05, Starbucks in tow, we drove out of Hoboken and towards the turnpike. At 10:35, we hit traffic on the Parkway. At Exit 143. We were headed to Exit 0.
Skee Ball...I won (obviously!)
Despite the traffic, our spirits remained high - it was vacation regardless - and we rolled into our first stop, the newly founded Cape May Brewing Company. Opened last July, Cape May Brewing Company is still a small production team, catering mostly to the Cape May and Wildwood areas. Only open on Saturdays from Noon to 4 PM, we stopped by the brewery for a tasting. Located adjacent to the Cape May airport in an industrial row of buildings, the Brewery's minimalist style shows a lot of potential. For $11 a person, we upgraded from the free plastic cup tasting to a commemorative Cape May Brewery glass shaped like a beer can. Legitimately a cool addition to our future bar. From the Saison to the award winning Centennial IPA (Best IPA at the 2012 Atlantic City Beer Festival), we were impressed with the flavor profiles and breadth of their beers. Pick up a growler next time you're in the area or head to Sea Salt where they carry the Saison on tap!

Congress Hall, accommodating visitors since 1816
When The Boy and I go on vacation, we somehow get the perfect mix of adventure, activity, culinary treats, and relaxation all at once. For our Cape May escape, this ranged from skee ball shoot outs to sour salt water taffy bombs, body surfing in the ocean to cruising on our bikes around town. There are too many detail of our trip to list them all so I'll highlight a few dining spots I'd recommend checking out in case you're ever down at the most southern tip of New Jersey. 

  • The Rusty Nail:  Voted one of America's Best Beach Bars by Travel + Leisure magazine, the Rusty Nail does not disappoint. The perfect mix of dive bar, beach side location, quality cocktails, and perfectly greasy variety of scrumptious bar food. We also were lucky enough to enjoy some local Reggae music that played live for us while we sipped our Dark & Stormy's.
  • Sea Salt Restaurant: Located within the Ocean Club Hotel, which admittedly doesn't have the most curb appeal, the cuisine at Sea Salt was beyond our expectations. From a smoked trout with roe appetizer special and the succulent local oysters on a half shell to the pan seared red snapper in pea risotto and squid ink with shellfish entree special, there wasn't one thing we didn't enjoy. Our waitress, who looked like a naive college student, was surprisingly well versed with the menu and quite capable to adeptly describe each dish.
  • Peter Shields Inn: Disclaimer - we stayed here, which was NOT our best move (more on that later), and we only ate breakfast here, which was lovely, but the dinner menu and the presentation of the food that we saw looked pretty appetizing. If nothing else, the setting of the Inn overlooking the beach in this lovely 1907 Georgian Revival mansion is worth a visit. It's BYOB as well, so bring something tasty and try it out.
Peter Shields Inn
Without a doubt, I would go back to Cape May. It offered the perfect blend of upscale at one end of the beach with the right mix of approachable beach shack styling at the other end. Easily surmountable on beach cruiser, this small community offers a little something for everyone looking for a nice beach escape. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Moving on Up....or Out!

Two Thousand Five Hundred and Thirty Calories (2,530 calories) and One Hundred and Seven Fat Grams (107 fat grams.) Every day, twice a day. Whether it's 6:30 AM or 6:30 PM. It haunts me. Port Authority that is.

Last month, three years after moving to New York City, I swapped my Manhattan address for one across the Hudson in New Jersey. I moved to Hoboken, which is a seriously exciting new chapter in my life as I have joined The Boy out there. He's a longtime resident and serious fan of the town and now I'm on the bandwagon as well. From the awesome Pilsener Haus and their recently opened Kolo Club to the fabulous outdoor Pier 13 Boating Club overlooking NYC, which is my favorite Sunday sunset venue, the birthplace of baseball has earned a new aficionado.

View from Pier 13 - photo courtesy of VC
With each move comes some hardship and mine is limited to passing through Port Authority on a daily basis. It's not so much the derelicts blatantly high on bath salts or the unfortunates facing hard times panhandling for bus fare that bother me; it's being inundated on a daily basis with that smell. And no, I don't mean the smell of human "business" - that I'm used to having lived in the East Village. No, I mean the undeniably tantalizing smell curated by the collection of food establishments at PA. Every morning and every evening my nostrils are lambasted by Cinnabon, Mrs. Fields, Auntie Anne's, Carvel, and Au Bon Pain. EVERY DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Two Thousand Five Hundred and Thirty Calories (2,530 calories) and One Hundred and Seven Fat Grams (107 fat grams.) That's a sampling of the assailants infiltrating my olfactory senses. One Cinnabon Classic + one Mrs. Fields M&M cookie + one Carvel Fudge Brownie Dasher + one Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel from Auntie Anne's = 2,530 calories & 107 fat grams. And all while I'm heading to the gym.

Torture. Photo courtesy of ricky_foto's on Photobucket.
Thankfully I have pretty steadfast willpower and am capable of resisting. For now at least. And if that's my only hardship, I think I'll survive. That, or I'll just start commuting on the PATH train.