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Chef Franck

Here’s a video I took when I attended another Manger! Boire! cooking class at Chez Nous, the French bistro in Lee, Massachusetts, last Thursday. This one was all about crepes and galettes (savory buckwheat flour crepes). Chef/owner Franck Tessier first demonstrated the technique of crepe making to our group of about 20 foodies, and then we were served a three course meal. The first course was a delicious shiitake mushroom filled crepe tied up in a little beggar’s purse shape and served on a bed of leeks.

The main course was a galette filled with a poached egg, bacon, cheese and fresh arugula. You can see a picture of this on the Chez Nous blog post from April 24th. I may experiment with this at breakfast soon.

The dessert was a sweet crepe filled with bananas and a Nutella sauce. Two ciders ( one French, one local) were served. In Brittany it is typical to serve French cidre with crepes. With the main course another French wine was poured. They are very generous with their tastings!

Tonight’s Manger! Boire! is all about food from the Lyon region, paired with  two Rhone Valley wines. (Thursday, May 5th, 6:30 pm). As always, if you book a room here at the Inn Thursday night, we will cover the cost of one Manger! Boire! dinner.

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Each April, the Copake Auction in Copake, New York, just 20 minutes south of the Inn at Green River, runs an antique and classic bicycle auction, luring buyers from around the US and Europe with a large selection (over 700 lots this year) of bicycles and related ephemera. This year, the 20th annual sale, starts off with the popular swap meet (6 am – dusk) on Friday, April 15th, where collector bring bicycles and bike parts to buy and sell or swap with each other. Friday afternoon at 2 pm, Chris Brooks will discuss his new book, All About North American Acetylene Gas Bicycle Lamps. And at 3 pm, leaving from the auction house, is the inaugural ‘Ten Mile Ride” open to all. Bring your bikes!

Copake Antique & Classic Bicycle Auction

Saturday morning,  bidders arrive bright and early to claim their seats, and get a last chance to preview the items for sale. The auction begins at 10 am. I have guests at the Inn who come every year for this special sale, adding to, and editing their bicycle collection, and also finding great bicycle related art, prints, sculpture, etc. One year the Inn’s guests included a man bidding for a bicycle museum in Holland!

You can also see pictures of some of the fascinating bikes for sale at last year’s auction on the website of a Burlington, VT bicycle shop, the Old Spokes Home. The Copake Bicycle auction makes a great excuse for a spring getaway to Columbia County!

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The Inn at Green River is convenient to a number of art museums and historic houses in Columbia County, New York, and the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Today the innkeeper took a day off and drove to Pittsfield to see the Escher Show at the Berkshire Museum – “M.C. Escher: Seeing the Unseen”. I have been a fan of Dutch artist, Max Escher’s work for many years, certainly since college, as I was reminded when I saw the vintage printed polyester shirt on display along with some black light posters!

Tessellations and Cardboard - Art in the Berkshires

This is a large show, spread across three galleries. It covers his early work inspired by visits to Italy and his interest in the natural world, on through the work he is best known for, his repeating images of birds, fish and reptiles. It turns out a visit to Spain in the 1930’s where he became fascinated by the intricate interlocking shapes (tessellations) of mosaic tiles was a major turning point. (Not the only artist to be intrigued by those – see my blog about painter Frederic Church’s Olana below.) On display are woodblock prints, some actual handcut woodblocks used to make the prints, water colors and some rare preparatory drawings shown beside the finished prints. Also great fun are the interactive stations where children and adults alike can play with puzzle pieces of his famous shapes. I was not the only adult enjoying those!

Don’t miss the Escher show. It runs through May 22, 2011.

Tessellations and Cardboard - Art in the Berkshires

Also on display is a captivating show of artist, Henry Klimowicz’s works which are constructed of “disused cardboard”. They are playful and at the same time truly beautiful. But hurry, this show ends March 27th.

Escher’s “Metamorphosis III” @2010 The M.C. Escher Company-Holland. All rights reserved. www.mcesher.com

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I encountered wonderful pottery where ever I went last week. First a delightful couple spent several nights at my Hillsdale bed and breakfast, the Inn at Green River. (They originally booked just one night…I guess they liked it!) Nicolas teaches ceramics and sculpture at Marymount Manhattan College. I love his work! The anthropomorphic quality of three legged tea pot shown here

Pottery

also reminded me of the wonderful creature in the Australian animated short film that just won an Oscar, “The Lost Thing“. And Nicolas’ sculptural pieces are beautiful. Here’s one of my favorites. How does he do that? It looks like a piece of quartz, but I am sure it is done with a masterful use of glazes.

Pottery

I then took a short “busman’s holiday” and visited Ithaca, New York, with several innkeeper friends. We stayed at another innkeeper friend’s wonderful bed and breakfast, the William Henry Miller Inn. I highly recommend it, and the breakfasts and late night desserts are a treat! While there we visited the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell College. I thought the exhibits at this small museum were wonderfully curated, and particularly enjoyed – you guessed it – the ceramic exhibit – “Reawakenings: Modern and Contemporary Ceramics from the Shatzman Collection.

Pottery

In my youth, I “potted” and so have a particular appreciation for ceramics. This exhibit includes 20th c. work by German, Scandinavian and Japanese artists, and I thought it was wonderful. But get there quickly, this exhibit ends March 20th, 2011.

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The new Deneen stoneware pottery mugs just arrived at the Inn!

New Deneen Pottery Mugs at the Inn

I have been looking at these mugs at the PAII Innkeeper Conferences for the last several years, and finally took the plunge and ordered 50, yes 50! They come in two colors, butter and sage, with the Inn at Green River logo on each. I chose pale colors that go well with the light, soothing colors on the walls in the inn. I hope you like them.

New Deneen Pottery Mugs at the Inn

These signature mugs retail for $17.95 each. Deneen Pottery makes these handmade stoneware mugs at their pottery in Minnesota, and have been doing so since 1972. (Gee, I was actually throwing pots back in the ’70s, myself, but that’s another story!) You may have seen these mugs at other B&B’s and country inns you have visited. Now you have some more colors to add to your collection! And they are dishwasher, microwave, freezer, oven safe and very durable. Coming to the Inn soon to celebrate a birthday? Let us provide a small cake (see our Specials page for details) and have us gift wrap two mugs as a present for your loved one to remember a special birthday weekend getaway! Won’t they look pretty at your own breakfast table.

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Romance on Valentines or Any Other Day? Still looking for a romantic getaway for this Valentine’s Day? Start by checking in on Sunday at our Berkshires bed and breakfast in Hillsdale, New York, then head 15 minutes up the road to Furnace Brook Winery and Hilltop Orchards for some snow shoeing and wine tasting by their large stone fireplace. Or you could take a Valentine’s Horse Drawn Carriage Ride at Cranwell Resort in Lenox (11 am to 2:30 pm.) Then off to a great local restaurant for a romantic dinner….perhaps by the fireplace at John Andrews Restaurant, or in the candle lit dining room at the Old Inn on the Green.

Romance on Valentines or Any Other Day

After a scrumptious breakfast at the Inn on Valentine’s Day, head out to explore the quaint Berkshire towns of Stockbridge or Lenox but be sure to leave time to reach Bizalion’s in Great Barrington, Massachusetts for a romantic lunch. As Jean-Francois describes it: “melt your love into a rich and delicious amalgam over the intimacy of a fondue pot.” They are serving from 11 to 3 on Valentine’s Day. Let me reserve your pot! And finish a perfect day with dinner and dancing at Castle Street Cafe. My favorite chanteuse, Wanda Houston, is performing with her band, and they are all great musicians!

Don’t forget to stop at one of our chocolatiers for some great locally made confections. My favorites include Catherine’s in Great Barrington and Chocolate Springs in Lenox.

And if you can’t make it for Valentine’s, don’t despair. The Inn at Green River staff can help you plan a romantic stay any time of year! Just call 518-325-7248 or book on-line.

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Although I grew up down hill skiing in New Hampshire, and love the speed and thrill of it, I have come to prefer the more relaxing, but no less invigorating pleasures of snow shoeing and cross country skiing. You can better appreciate the peace and quiet of the country side, the only sound being that of the wind in the trees and perhaps some winter birds, and the sound your skis or snow shoes make against the snow.

Top 5 Places to Cross Country Ski or Snow Shoe

My favorite place for this is Hilltop Orchards in Richmond, Mass. on Route 295, just 15 minutes from my Hillsdale, New York inn. This is also the home of Furnace Brook Winery, so after your trek through the orchards and into the woods, head back to the tasting room with its big stone fireplace to warm up and taste their wines and hard ciders. We can also arrange a guided hike or lessons for you. Hilltop has snow shoes available for rental.

Here in Columbia County, Art Omi (Omi International Art Center) in Ghent is a fabulous place to cross country ski. There is no charge to ski on their 2.5 miles of groomed trails which are open from dawn to dusk daily.  On weekends from noon to 5 pm, you can also stop in at the visitor’s center which has a little cafe. A small selection of cross country skis and snow shoes are available free of charge at the visitors center for your use. And you can see part of the 60 acre sculpture park from the visitor’s center. Here I am in summer posing inside one of the large sculptures, but imagine how this one looks in the snow covered landscape!

Top 5 Places to Cross Country Ski or Snow Shoe

Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, New York, is another great place to ski or snow shoe. There are 5 miles of carriage trails winding through the 250 acre property with fantastic views of the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains. The grounds are open daily from 8 am to sunset. You can borrow our snow shoes. See my November 3, 2010 blog post about Olana for photos of the beautiful views.

Another Columbia County historic mansion, Clermont, (home of the politically and socially prominent Livingston family for more than 230 years) also offers beautiful grounds and a free place to ski and enjoy views of the Hudson and the Catskills, but down by the river’s edge.

Top 5 Places to Cross Country Ski or Snow Shoe, skiing

Last but not least on our list is the Copake Country Club on Copake Lake. This public golf course offers all the necessary equipment for rent (skis, boots, poles, bindings). The cost is $25 if you rent their equipment, and just $10 to ski if you bring your own skis. And their restaurant, The Greens, is great so be sure to plan to eat there after your outing. Trails of varying lengths are groomed and well marked and the views down to Copake Lake are lovely.

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I recently discovered Chez Nous, an excellent French bistro in Lee, Massachusetts (a quick 20 minute drive from the inn). On Thursday nights in the off season, they offer a fun evening called “Manger! Boire!” which means eat, drink in case you have forgotten your high school French! For $30, you can join a group of friendly foodies for an evening of food demonstrations, discussions and wine tasting in a private dining room. I recently attended one about the technique of braising. Chef/owner Franck Tessier demonstrated braising chicken and vegetables, and we were then served a three course meal which included the dishes he had demonstrated: braised baby artichoke ragout, coq au vin, and braised endive. We tasted two red wines which Franck and his wife Rachel had carefully chosen for the meal, a French and a Californian wine, and finished with a delicious Chocolate Pot de Creme (Rachel is the pastry/dessert chef). Is your mouth watering? Book a Thursday night stay at the inn during the off season, now through April excluding March when the restaurant is closed, and I will include the cost of the Manger! Boire! for one person.

French Cooking Classes at Chez Nous

Also, consider getting together a group of your friends for a Sunday morning cooking class in the Chez Nous Restaurant kitchen with Chef Franck. The class runs from 11 am to 1 pm. You will don an apron, be given the recipes, and participate in making the lunch which you will then enjoy. Wine is included. Recent classes have included seasonal French cooking, cassoulet and sausages, pies and tarts, and gratins. Also, your group can choose the theme of the class. The cost is $75 per person, with a minimum of 6 people. So bring some friends, book a weekend at the inn, and I will arrange your group’s cooking class. Available in January, February and April, 2011.

Guest Photos Posted November 13, 2010 | Tags:

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After blogging about my visit to Olana last week, a guest sent me some photos he had taken on a recent visit to the Inn at Green River, including practically the same shot of the porch overlooking the Hudson River. His photo gives you a better idea of how wonderful it must have been to live in the house and relax in the late afternoons on that loggia watching the sun set over the Catskills.

Guest Photos

He also stopped in Poughkeepsie on the way up to visit the inn, and walked across the recently opened Walkway over the Hudson, a former 19th c. railway bridge which has been turned into a pedestrian walkway and is part of the New York State park system. His photo shows the view from the walkway to the next bridge over the Hudson River.

Guest Photos

For more information go to http://www.walkway.org/  Next time you plan a visit to the Inn, first stop in Poughkeepsie and work up an appetite walking across the bridge, then head to Hyde Park just a few miles up Route 9 for lunch at the Culinary Institute of America before continuing north to Green River.

And I would love to share more guest photos on this blog! My thanks to Winston Dong for letting me share these. To see more great photos, go to Winston’s blog

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Olana
Last week a perfect Fall day (warm, sunny, 65 degrees) moved me to grab my camera and drive 30 minutes over to Hudson, New York to visit Olana, the Persian fantasy home the Hudson River School painter Frederic Church built in the late 1800’s. Perched high atop a ridge on 250 protected acres, overlooking the Hudson River and across at the Catskill Mountains, the views from Olana are spectacular. Given his painter’s eye, Church carefully planned the landscaping, planting trees to frame the views of the house one would see traveling up the carriage roads to the house. He even dredged a swampy area to create a lake below the house. The eastern edge of the lake was designed to mirror the views of the Hudson River just to the west.
Olana

And the house itself is most unexpected. Church, his wife Isabel and infant son Frederic had taken a tour of Europe and the Middle East just before starting to build Olana in 1870. He and Isabel wanted to incorporate elements of the design and architecture that they had seen in cities like Beirut, Jerusalem and Damascus. In the 19th century many artists, particularly French, were intrigued by “Orientalism” and incorporated aspects of Eastern Asian and North African culture into their art. Church worked with architect Calvert Vaux for two years “designing and building a home that would be, as he called it, Persian, adapted to the Occident.”*

Olana

The outside of the house is covered in mosaic tiles, and the interiors are painted in bright colors such as purple, orange, gold, and green and intricately stenciled and decorated. The house if filled with furniture, rugs, paintings, sculptures and objects that the Churches collected on their travels. It looks as if they had just left it, unlike many historic houses that are practically empty. Can’t you just imagine relaxing on the porch shown above, enjoying that view?

Visit www.olana.org for more information and a virtual tour of the interior rooms. November through April, Olana is open for tours Fridays and Saturdays, 11 am – 4 pm, and Sundays, noon – 4 pm. During December, holiday house tours, bonfire and Victorian caroling, and Victorian wreath and kissing ball workshops are offered. April through October, house tours are offered Tuesday – Sunday and Monday holidays, 10 am – 5 pm. Over 5 miles of carriage trails traverse the property offering gorgeous views. The grounds are open 8 am to sunset daily year round and there is no better place to watch the sun set!

*See the Olana web site for more information about the Hudson River School of Painting, Frederic Church’s paintings, the house and grounds and a schedule of events.