Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend in the Hudson Valley

Hard to believe it's been over a month since my last post...things have been happening, changes going on, more on which later, but...

Warren Street, Hudson, NY
...we spent a very lovely couple of days in Hudson, NY, which is about 100 miles north of Manhattan in the Hudson Valley. (Our route takes us over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge!) Hudson is where Chris's great grandparents built a beautiful, sturdy house in 1927, a place he visited all throughout his childhood. Now, with the passing of his parents it belongs to his brother, who invited us to go up and retrieve a few things Chris's dad left him. 

Saturday was overcast and windy and, by the time we got up there it had started to snow, that horizontal snow that makes you glad to be indoors, eating organic beef chili and hand-cut French fries, which we were at the time. We also spent several hours (mostly on Sunday which was by far the better day) strolling up and down Warren Street, the main drag, which is home to I don't know how many antique dealers and galleries and jewelry stores. (Oh, the jewelry! Good thing all my credit has shriveled up like the Wicked Witch of the West, else I'd be in a lot more debt today.) The selection is mind-boggling. It's varied - everything from thrift shops and vintage clothing stores to rare Asian antiques to mid-century modern. Bargains can be found, I suppose, but for the most part the prices -- while not necessarily outrageous -- are definitely set with an eye toward the Manhattanite with a bank account on the lookout for that perfect Empire chaise, the rare original photograph of silent film star Ramon Navarro -- so beautiful and so absolutely contemporary, you'd never imagine it was taken in the 1920's; to the rare bust of Buddha carved from some exotic Asian wood ($100,000 if not for the repair on the Buddha's face -- we could have had it for a mere ten grand.)

Oh, it's not all beyond your reach. There's plenty to be had for more mortal prices, you just have to look. And look. And go back and maybe look again. But it's all gorgeous stuff.

And good food, too. The organic chili (and Chris's organic burger) were lunch at Grazin' (717 Warren St. check out their Facebook page), the first Animal Welfare Approved restaurant in the U.S., housed in an old diner, complete with neon "Open" sign and Formica counter and booths. The beef is raised by a local farmer, who also gets his veggies (organic, natch) from local growers. Very good, if a little on the spendy side. Definitely not what you might be expecting when you see the the sleek, Air Stream exterior of the place.

We had dinner at Mexican Radio, (537 Warren St., which was really, really good and reasonable, to boot. Try the carne asada fries: fresh, homemade French fries, topped with beef tenderloins marinated in chili and garlic sauce; cheese and guacamole, the whole thing drizzled with sour cream and queso. If I had a cardiologist... but I don't! And the place itself is fun: candles everywhere, twinkling lights, spicy orange walls, very comfy.) For a breakfast bite, a sandwich, a cuppa Joe there's Nolita (454 Warren St.) which is reasonable, simple and good!

Great places to look:  Lili and Loo (259 Warren Street, with its two endless floors of housewares, table ware, furniture, candles, clothes and more. And all pretty reasonably priced. Tom Swope Gallery (307 Warren, where the eponymous owner creates beautiful jewelry and sells a wide range of antiquities -- classical, pre-Columbian and Asian. We also love Hudson Supermarket Antiques (310 Warren St., a big barn of a place that probably was, at one time, an A&P Market or something. Now it houses various dealers with very eclectic tastes -- I saw, among other things, beautiful antique kimonos; a very nice handmade silver and turquoise ring, which I almost bought; and a self-portrait in pencil of Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis. Then there's Theron Ware (548 Warren St.) where you'll see the aforementioned Ramon Navarro photo, along with a beautiful, eclectic collection of furniture, artwork and paintings. And Naga North (536 Warren St., home to the hundred grand Buddha as well as a gorgeous collection of hand painted screens and other Asian treasure.

All in all, a great way to feel like you've been on vacation, even though you're only gone a couple of days. And so, back to work...which is going surprisingly well. More on that later...

My New Crush

Jean Dujardin, Academy Award winner for "The Artist"