Archive | 8:38 am

The Greatest River & A Good Salad

14 Jul

The Hudson River. I grew up on the River. We would take daylong boat trips when I was a kid. I remember one Father’s Day when my dad stranded us on a sand bar. I thought it was the greatest day ever… I can’t be sure, but I think my mom was not amused!

For those that don’t know, the Hudson is a tidal river. In fact the river’s original name (in it’s original Native American tongue) meant “river that runs both ways.” The Hudson got a bad rap in the 70s & 80s (thanks GE) for being disgustingly, terribly polluted. As children, our parents would begrudgingly allow us to swim, tube and water ski in the River, but we were hosed off in the yard before ever being allowed back in the house. We also fished, but never caught anything more than disgusting, slimy eels.

While I loved the River it took a stint in the hospital (never, ever, sled after the age of 18, promise me this!) and a wonderful book, Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale to make me truly love the Hudson. Suddenly, I got it. Every train ride home to visit my mom was a journey to be anticipated.

As soon as the train would leave Penn Station I would put down my book and as long as the sun was up, I would just sit and watch, devouring the landscape. For years it’s been my dream to write a guidebook to the sites one can see on this amazing train ride (called the Adirondack it is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest train trips in the world). I also count bald eagles. Yes, the eagles are back and thriving! My best trip ever I saw 12 of them.

The return of the eagles is one happy result of the years of good stewardship of the River that are allowing it a renaissance. Thanks to good people like those sailing the Sloop Clearwater, I bet kids can swim in the Hudson again (without fear of an icy hose shower in the front yard upon returning home).

Last weekend I was hoping to at least stick my toes in the River. The boy and I headed up to the tiny town of Cold Spring. It’s a little town I’ve seen probably more than 100 times in the 13 years I’ve been taking this route. It always intrigued me with it’s little shrine overlooking the Hudson looking out towards West Point (actually, its a church, but I will continue to imagine that it’s a shrine to a saint that protected whalers while at sea). It has beautiful homes and quaint streets. I wanted to go! So go we did, catching Metro North at Grand Central Station (which always makes me feel so glamorous… running across the Great Hall to grab a train with minutes to spare).

Cold Spring did not disappoint. It is a gorgeous River town, clinging to the hillsides carved out over millenia. That day the volunteer fire department was preparing to celebrate their 110th anniversary with a parade and fireworks. The town was atwitter. I was nostalgic. All that was missing was a game where I could win a goldfish and I probably would have cried.

We wandered, poked about in stores, threw stones in the River (which due to the floods further upstate looked a bit like Yoohoo) and finally ate. Boy did we pick right. At the east end of Main Street is a little joint with a serious identity crisis called The Meeting House (this place is so a candidate for Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, serving classic American fare, a dumpling du jour, a raw bar and sushi).

Luckily, we ordered right. I had the Best. Burger. EVER! It was thick and dense, 100% meat, topped with gorgeous cheddar, some lightly sauteed portabella mushrooms and two pieces of applewood smoked bacon. But the real kicker? A few leaves of basil tucked into the lower bun. Genius! Restrained but absolutely delicious. I will be craving this burger for years to come.

It was a wonderful day, but very hot. Even though we walked and walked, we were still feeling a bit full upon return to the city. So we bopped into Trader Joe’s and picked up some stuff to make a light salad for dinner. Butter lettuce, radicchio, raspberries, Salem blue cheese and dill with a dressing of olive oil, walnut oil and a dash of vinegar. It was yummy, light and very, very easy. A simple way to end a day full of happiness.

Image of one of my favorite Hudson River School paintings, Julian O. Davidson’s “The Hudson River from the Tappan Zee, 1871” courtesy of The Hudson River Museum.