Thursday, June 22, 2017

15+ Artsy & Cool Things To Do in NY's Hudson Valley

Bannerman's (photo: JCarnegie)
By Jacquelin Carnegie - (New York, NY) All year long, not just during the beautiful fall foliage season, the area surrounding the magnificent Hudson River is ideal for a day trip or weekend get-away. There are several counties on both sides of the river worth discovering, but Dutchess County has some of the most diverse offerings. Explore the spectacular countryside, cultural choices, fairs & festivals, vineyards and farmers' markets. Here's a sampling to get you started:
BEACON - ART & NATURE
Any day of the week, stroll along Main Street to check out the selection of cafés and galleries. Beacon gets even livelier on weekends with its Sunday Farmer's Market, on the riverfront, the Flea Market (April-Nov) behind the post office, and Second Saturday, a citywide celebration of the arts.
Dia: Beacon (photo: Laura Asaibene)
DIA:BEACON
3 Beekman St., Beacon, NY; Tel: 845 440 0100; www.diaart.org
In a beautifully-renovated, 1920's factory building, the Dia Art Foundation’s minimalist art collection, from the 1960’s to the present, takes center stage in wide-open galleries with huge, beautiful windows and skylights. On display are works by such renowned modern artists as Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, and Louise Bourgeois. There are changing exhibitions, gallery talks, and other special events (also a café).
BANNERMAN’S CASTLE - ISLAND TOURS
Bannerman's Island; Tel: 800/979-3370; www.bannermancastle.org (May-Oct)
While in Beacon, explore a picturesque island in the Hudson River that's been off bounds for years. In 1901, Frank Bannerman, a zany Scottish-American munitions dealer, built a quasi-castle and residence for his family on Pollepel Island. Today, thanks to the Bannerman Castle Trust, you can admire the ruins. Pack a picnic and enjoy great views of the Hudson as well as the 20-minute ferry ride there & back. On some Sundays, there's also music. (Reservations required for all tours & special events. The ferry dock for Bannerman's Island is a 5-minute walk from the Beacon train station.)
Hudson River (photo: JCarnegie)
Dine: All along Main Street there are several nice cafés, try the Beacon Bread Company Bistro or Homespun Foods.
Stay: The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls (2 East Main St.) - former factory building turned into a groovy boutique hotel.
Getting There: Drive or train from New York (Grand Central), take Metro-North (Hudson line) train to Beacon. (The museum, ferry dock & Main St. are all in easy walking distance of the train station.)
POUGHKEEPSIE - CULTURAL VISITS & COUNTRY WALKS
Vassar is well known as a prestigious college, but it's a bit of a secret that the lovely campus is open to the public with a fabulous theater and a museum that would please any culture lover.
Vassar
VASSAR COLLEGE:
POWERHOUSE THEATER
124 Raymond Ave., Poughkeepsie, NY; Tel: 845-437-5599; http://powerhouse.vassar.edu
For over 30 years, the Vassar & New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater has fostered and celebrated young playwrights, aspiring actors, directors and designers on stage for six weeks each summer. It's a delightful place to see theater and you can often see famous actors up-close-and-personal performing alongside the up-and-comers.
FRANCES LEHMAN LOEB ART CENTER
Tel: 845/437-5632; http://fllac.vassar.edu
This incredible collection includes fabulous Dutch Masters, Hudson River School paintings, major 20th-century works as well as sculpture and photography.
WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON
(www.walkway.org; 61 Parker Ave., about 4 blocks north of the Poughkeepsie train station. Open: 7am-sunset)  For breathtaking views of the Hudson, stroll or hike across this abandoned railway bridge that's been transformed into a scenic walkway.
Dine: Try The Beech Tree Grill or The Baby Cakes Café.
Stay: Courtyard by Marriott (2641 South Rd/Rt. 9, Poughkeepsie, NY; Tel: 845/485-6336) - friendly staff & a nice indoor pool.
Getting There: Drive or train from New York (Grand Central), take Metro-North (Hudson line) train to Poughkeepsie, then a taxi. (Empire Taxi, Tel: 845/454-4444)
HYDE PARK - HISTORIC SITES & GREAT EATS
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt devoted their lives to the betterment of all Americans. Hyde Park is where FDR grew up and spent most of his life.
ROOSEVELT-VANDERBILT NATIONAL HISTORIC SITES 
FDR's Springwood

4097 Albany Post Rd, Hyde Park, NY; Tel: 800/967-2283, www.nps.gov/hofr
FDR's HOME: It's a patriotic thrill to tour these four sites. You can also stroll the beautiful grounds with miles of hiking trails. (For more information about the guided tours, contact: National Parks Service, Tel: 845/229-5320.) Springwood - The Roosevelt family home. (The President & Mrs. Roosevelt are buried in the Rose Garden.) Val-Kill - Eleanor Roosevelt's private cottage, she came here when she wanted to relax. Top Cottage - FDR's private retreat.
FDR Presidential Library & Museum - Opened in 1941, this is America's first presidential library, built under FDR's direction. There are fascinating artifacts and changing exhibitions.
THE VANDERBILT MANSION (www.nps.gov/vama)
Val-Kill (photo: NPS/WD Urbin)
This magnificent estate was once the home of Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt. Take a guided tour of the mansion and learn about the Gilded Age. Wander around the exquisitely-landscaped gardens and grounds with stunning Hudson River views.
CIA chefs
Dine: CIA (1946 Campus Dr., Hyde Park, NY; Tel: 845/471-6608) - The Culinary Institute of America is a world-renowned cooking school with several dining options: Bocuse (French), de'Medici (Italian), American Bounty, and the causal Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. (Make reservations way in advance; all restaurants close during school breaks, so check ahead.)
Rhinebeck Crafts: Jonathan's
Stay: Courtyard by Marriott in Poughkeepsie.
Getting There: Drive or train from New York (Grand Central), take Metro-North (Hudson line) train to Poughkeepsie. "Roosevelt Ride" (May-Nov) - a shuttle from the Poughkeepsie train station to Hyde Park (reservations required), at other times, take a taxi.
RHINEBECK - ARTS, CRAFTS & BEYOND
Rhinebeck is a lovely area with wonderful fairs and festivals:
DUTCHESS COUNTY FAIR (Aug): Here's your chance to experience a real county fair with 4H Clubs, farm animals, pie contests, carnivals rides, music & more family fun.
RHINEBECK ARTS FESTIVAL (June): This legendary event is often referred to as the Rhinebeck Crafts Fair with 200 top-notch craftspeople, local furniture makers, music, gourmet food & merriment.
HUDSON VALLEY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL (Sept): A great way to sample the local Hudson Valley vintages, craft beers, and culinary offerings.
Fisher (photo: Peter Aaron)
BARD COLLEGE: FISHER CENTER
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Tel: 845/758-7900; fishercenter.bard.edu
About 10 mins from Rhinebeck, this Frank Gehry designed entertainment center on the Bard campus offers a wide-range of events, or just take a tour of the stunning facility.
Dine: Take your pick from every type of restaurant.
Stay: The Beekman Arms  (6387 Mill St.) - Open since 1766; the Clintons stayed here during Chelsea's wedding.
Getting There: Drive or train from New York (Penn Station), take Amtrak to Rhinecliff. (Taxi into Rhinebeck but, at this point, you'll really need a car.)
MORE HUDSON VALLEY ACTIVITIES
DUTCHESS COUNTY FARM FRESH TOURS: In the fall, leave the organizing and driving to someone else on five different, farm-stop itineraries. Whether you want to pick apples, sample artisanal cheeses, visit local wineries and distilleries, taste New York maple syrup and hand-crafted ice cream, buy organic produce or items made from local wool, there's a tour for you! Visit Fishkill Farms & McEnroe Organic Farm, Crown Maple Estate, Hudson Valley Sheep & Wool Farm, Dutch’s Spirits, Harney & Sons Fine Teas and many other charming, scenic spots. (Tours run Sept thru Oct; contact EscapeMaker.)
FARMERS' MARKETS: Download a brochure about farms with fresh produce for sale and head out on your own, but the tours are more fun!
HUDSON VALLEY RESTAURANT WEEK (Nov): With all the fresh produce available, the area restaurants serve some incredibly-tasty, farm-to-table meals. Several also have rooms to book, so add an overnight stay to your meal!
Fishkill Farms
Making Your Trip Easier
Metro-North offers several "get-away" packages to Hudson Valley places and events.
Dutchess County Tourism has tons of info & hotel deals on their site.
These newspapers have info about local cultural events: About Town & Southern/Northern Dutchess News. Art Along the Hudson: Tips on everything that's happening art-wise in the area.
Stewart International Airport: If you'd like to visit the Hudson Valley from Scotland, Ireland, and Norway, good news! Norwegian Air has just added flights into/from Stewart Airport.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Marvelous Mosaic: 15+ Great Ways to Vive La France in NYC


French films at FIAF, Kirsten Dunst, Marie Antoinette  
(©Sony Pictures Entertainment/Photofest: Sofia Coppola)
By Jacquelin Carnegie – (New York, NY)
New York has always been the melting pot of world cultures. Former mayor David Dinkins called the city a “gorgeous mosaic" and, to that end, you can find food, culture, and entertainment from just about every country. If you’d like to experience some French culture right in NYC, here are some terrific ways:

Dine à la Française:
The top-rated French restaurants such as Le Bernardin, Bouley, Daniel, and Jean-Georges are great but a bit pricey. There are plenty of affordable options. When I start to miss la belle France, I head to:

AOC (L'aile ou la Cuisse)
 (photo: Danny Liam Ho)
314 Bleecker St., corner of Grove St; Tel: 212/675-9463; www.aocnyc.com
This is the place to go if you have a hankering for a meal in a French bistro. Classic dishes served in a slightly trendy yet welcoming atmosphere. Whether you’re in the mood for a traditional coq au vin, confit de canard, or saucisse de Toulouse or just want an omelet with pommes frites (fries), you can’t go wrong here. In warm weather, brunch on the back terrace is another delight.

There is no joy in the world like sitting at a café in Paris. Experience that feeling right here in NYC at places you'll discover during French Restaurant Week (July) such as:
West Village: Boucherie (99 7th Ave So; boucherie.nyc)
Mid-Town: Bistro Vendome (405 East 58th St; bistrovendomenyc.com)
Upper West Side: Café du Soleil (2723 Broadway, btw 104-105th St.
www.cafedusoleilny.com)

Live & Learn à la Française:
These French cultural institutions offer wonderful events open to the public—films, plays, lectures, photo exhibits, concerts, and more. Many of the events are free; some have a nominal charge.

French Institute/Alliance Française

Michael Fau & Jerome Deschamps, Courteline en dentelles,
 FIAF (photo: Joachim Olaya)
22 East 60th St.; Tel. 212/355- 6100; www.fiaf.org
Yes, it’s a place to learn French, but FIAF offers so much more. Every week, there are cultural events--from cutting-edge French films, often introduced by the director and/or movie stars, to performances by French rock gods such as Arthur H, or acclaimed French actors like Michael Fau & Jérôme Deschamps. There are wine tastings and talks (in English or with a translator) on topics ranging from French fashion to gardens and décor. And, every fall, the Crossing the Line festival brings acclaimed, international performers to New York. 
La Maison Française at NYU
16 Washington Mews; Tel: 212/998-8750; http://bit.ly/2qmC3UQ
Since 1957, New York University’s La Maison Française has been a forum for French-American intellectual and cultural exchange. During the year, over 100 events take place in this lovely, historic Greenwich Village setting. Leading writers, artists, musicians, and performers present along with scholars in a wide range of fields. On any given evening, you might attend a program by eminent philosophers or prominent politicians.

Maison Française Columbia University
Buell Hall, Columbia, 515 West 116th St.; Tel: 212/854-4482;
Claude Lanzmann & Charlie Rose, Columbia/Maison Française
At Columbia’s Maison Française, distinguished artists, leading faculty members, and academics from around the world address topics ranging from French culture and history to societal trends and global political issues. Notable guests range from renowned composers to famed filmmakers such as Claude Lanzmann, known for the Holocaust documentary Shoah.

French Entertainment Resources In NYC:
Macaroons (photo: Angelina Herman)
For activities: New York in French; For music: Bureau Export. And, if you just want to meet some people who speak French: French New York City
Shop à la Française:
Fabulous French chocolates: François Payard Chocolates & La Maison du Chocolat; Fun, silly gifts: Pylones; Quality skincare products: L’Occitane en ProvenceClassy books: Albertine (972 Fifth Ave, at 79th St.) - Located in the stunning French Embassy building, the bookshop highlights French literature and culture with talks and an annual Lit Festival. Idlewild - Has an extensive selection of French books and also offers language lessons! 
Church Services in FrenchEglise Evangelique Française de New York (128 West 16th St; http://bit.ly/2t3wyNe) & Eglise Evangélique Amour du Christ (250 East 61st St; http://bit.ly/2rxdIw0).
 

Friday, April 21, 2017

5+ Artsy & Cool Things To Do in Brooklyn, New York

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Brooklyn Bridge (photo: DUMBO BID)

Since Brooklyn has become the "hip" NYC borough, gentrification has set in with trendy boutiques and pricey restaurants now the norm. But, somehow, that doesn't take away from Brooklyn's charm. The old neighborhoods are still worth exploring and the new additions just add to the cool factor.

1) Go on a House Tour
A great way to explore Brooklyn's neighborhoods is on an annual, self-guided house tour. You get a peek into beautifully-decorated, private, brownstone homes, and the chance to discover lovely local churches and interesting businesses. The nominal fee is usually used to benefit the neighborhood preservation society and/or a good, local cause:
(photo: Fort Green Association)


Fort Greene (May 2018) historicfortgreene.org
Park Slope (May) parkslopeciviccouncil.org
Prospect-Lefferts Gardens (May) www.leffertsmanor.org
Boerum Hill (June) boerumhillassociation.org
Victorian Flatbush (June) www.fdconline.org
Crown Heights North (Oct) www.crownheightsnorth.org
Bedford-Stuyvesant (Oct) brownstonersofbedstuy.org

2) Visit Artists Open Studios & Galleries
Another great way to explore different Brooklyn neighborhoods is on regularly scheduled Art Walks, when local galleries stay open late, and during annual Open Studio visits:
Drift, Leonard Ursachi, DUMBO
DUMBO Gallery Walk - 1st Thursday, 6-8pm (www.dumbonyc.org) - Whether you're already an art lover or just want to see what's what, 1st Thursday gives you the chance to visit several galleries in one evening while strolling around Brooklyn's way-cool DUMBO section. The galleries often have special exhibitions and receptions; sometimes there's live music or an artist talk. Local bars offer drink specials throughout the night.
Williamsburg - Every 2nd Friday (http://bit.ly/2mqUOVC) - Each month, every 2nd Friday, galleries in Williamsburg stay open late, usually until 9pm or 10pm. Check out the exhibitions and enjoy gallery parties, special events, and performances. Also, dine at cool, local restaurants.
Bushwick Open Studios (Sept) artsinbushwick.org
Greenpoint Open Studios greenpointopenstudios.com
Gowanus Open Studios (Oct) artsgowanus.org

3) Raise a Glass at Breweries, Wineries & Distilleries 

(photo: Urban Adventures)
You'll be amazed at how many artisanal beer, wine, and spirits producers have set up shop in Brooklyn. These craft breweries and distilleries are producing terrific libations. Check out Threes Brewing, Van Brunt Stillhouse, and Rooftop Reds. Or, go on a "Tastings Tour" to sample the goods and learn how the local producers work their magic. Also, enjoy a tasty meal in a trendy local eatery. 
(Urban Adventures: www.newyorkcityurbanadventures.com

4) Chow Down in Brooklyn's Chinatown
While Chinatown--in Manhattan and Flushing, Queens--is well known, you may be surprised to discover that Brooklyn also has a Chinatown in Sunset Park. Chef Chris Cheung, who's worked at such hot restaurants as Vong, Nobu & Ruby Foo’s, recommends: East Harbor (714 65th St, Brooklyn; Tel: 718-765-0098) and Pacificana (813 55th St, Brooklyn; pacificanabrooklyn.com) for dim sum; 8th Avenue Seafood Restaurant (4418 8th Ave, Brooklyn; Tel: 718-633-6366) for fung sah guy (fried spring chicken in garlic sauce).
Chef Cheung (photo: J Carnegie)
For a special treat, head to Chef Cheung's own restaurant in Prospect Park: East Wind Snack Shop (471 16th St, Brooklyn; www.eastwindsnackshop.com) - It's more like a tasty-food boutique than a Chinese restaurant with everything on the menu--bao, dumplings, ribs, spring rolls, etc.--handmade from scratch every day and cooked to order, often by Chef Cheung himself!

5) Celebrate Brooklyn's Cultural Diversity
This melting pot of cultures provides many ways to experience the music, dance, art, and cuisine of different countries without leaving the borough! Partake in activities where you can meet international people and encounter all this marvelous cultural diversity:
Haiti Cultural Exchange (haiticulturalx.org) - Get your Haitian groove on at one of HCX's innovative programs of performances, art exhibits, films, and public forums promoting cross-cultural connections and celebrating Haitian heritage.
Cumbe: Center for African & Diaspora Dance (cumbedance.com) - Experience the joys and rhythms of West African, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Haitian, and Afro-Brazilian dance and music at Cumbe's classes and cultural programs for adults and kids.
(photo: Cumbe)

West Indian-American Day Parade (Labor Day) wiadcacarnival.org - Brooklyn's largest parade with the atmosphere of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. There's music, food, and dance. The parade begins at the corner of Rochester & Eastern Parkway and ends near Grand Army Plaza.
Atlantic Antic (Sept) atlanticave.org - This huge street festival spans four neighborhoods (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill & Downtown Brooklyn) from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue along Atlantic Avenue. It's a celebration of all the diverse cultures that coexist in Brooklyn with food, art, live music, shopping, and fun festivities!

Extra! Extra!: Hilton Brooklyn New York (http://bit.ly/2mdnqFM) - The hotel, located in Boerum Hill, offers a Brooklyn Knowledge Package that includes: two tickets to the Brooklyn Museum & the Brooklyn Historical Society.