Now that it’s officially summer, good old MetroNorth has reduced service to many destinations. The train I took to Poughkeepsie only runs once every two hours. As a result, trains are packed, almost replicating the charms of the NYC subway although I snagged a seat both ways. The most interesting part of the trip was the stop at Breakneck Ridge where hikers get off and vanish into the woods. The hike begins at river level and ascends some 1,500 feet up a steep, rocky ridge. It’s said to be a very strenuous trek with scrambles over big rocks but rewards the hardy with wonderful views of the Hudson River.

Rather them than me

My host, who has a delightful house in Clinton Corners, had intended us to go to an air show at the Rhinebeck Aerodrome, complete with planes from before WWI; also a Jaguar (as in automobile, not the big cat) exhibit.  When we arrived, the faces on a Boy Scout troop who marching out said ‘no dice’; too much wind to fly those tiny, hard-to-manage planes.    

At cocktail hour as my host’s bar was minus vodka, we dropped into Harker House, a Clinton Corners liquor store. Harker sells wines from all over but the hard stuff is particularly interesting as they sell only spirits made in New York State. Their newest offering is an agave spirit from Brooklyn; I’ve always equated agave (think tequila) with Mexico. Harker, closed Mondays and Tuesdays, has nice, very helpful owners.  The vodka, Pick Six, has a label depicting horse racing at Saratoga Springs.

Sunday we went to the grandly-named Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, highly regarded for its science, education and outreach, which occupies a huge tract of land. Walking on a few of the trails, my host, a wildflower expert, pointed out various flora including birdsfoot trefoil, (Ms. Nature here would have said it was a buttercup but no), American ginger and a bluebird, apparently a rarity as swallows have taken over the bluebird houses and evicted the original—and intended– tenants. 

We then pushed onto Poughkeepsie for a late lunch at Brasserie 292, very French with black and white tiles and music in French on the sound system. My tartine with smoked salmon and field salad on a baguette was wonderful and the burger my companion ate also looked great. If you’re in that ‘hood, check it out.

By coincidence, we ate carrots with ginger as part of our dinner the night before. That involved ginger syrup from a bottle but this recipe uses a piece of fresh ginger that probably adds a little more zing. Regardless, it’s easy, quick and a nice twist.

Ginger Honey-Glazed Carrots (courtesy Food Network)

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger

2 tablespoons honey

4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup water

Salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in ginger. Add honey and stir to dissolve. Stir in carrots and toss to coat. Pour in water and cover to steam. Stir occasionally and cook 8 minutes or until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Beverage selection may depend on the main dish but red, white or a good summer rose would go along well. So would iced tea.  Toast native plants and do your bit to deal with climate change. Would love to hear what that bit is.

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5 Responses to Upstate

  1. Jessica Clerk says:


    After a hot ride on Metro North, we all need a bit of blithe and exotic spirits.
    Your blue-bird and flower reportage is lovely.


  2. Eileen says:

    Looking forward to next week’s adventures!

  3. Brigitte Döring says:

    Hi Mari, This piece brought back memories of the early 1980s, when I owned a weekend home in the woods around Cold Spring and took regular train trips along the Hudson. I actually met my husband Bill on that train, while I was in the process of building that house … a lot of water has gone down the river since then … Warm regards, Brigitte

  4. Mary Stern says:

    Hi Mari–Your carrot recipe shouts great==and simple to make. Hope you are good and I love to read your travel blogs.