Hudson Road Trip
There I sit at the dining room table, surrounded by lists, with almost everything crossed off. Checklists for clothing, bedding, toiletries. It hasn’t yet occurred to me that, yes, they do have Advil and detergent in Washington, DC. Best to put together an entire First Aid Kit, JUST IN CASE. But this obsessive preparation keeps my mind occupied and the tears at bay. After all, I am about to be fired. My main job and central preoccupation for almost two decades has been mothering my only daughter. And now, seemingly quite suddenly, she is off to college. I know what you’re thinking. “You will always be her mother. They all come back. She’ll still need you.” Yes, you’re right, of course. But from now on, it will be different. I won’t know where she is at 2am on a Saturday night. There will be no gaggle of boisterous teenagers running amok in my house. I won’t have ready access to my favorite lunch date. And I certainly won’t have an excuse to whip up her beloved Baked Pasta with Turkey Sausage. I find a small cardboard box and fill it with my last run to the Rite Aid: Band-Aids, Dayquil, Nyquil, Neosporin, Tums…shoot, I forgot the hydrogen peroxide. I tape it shut and mark it First Aid. I feel a little, teeny bit better. I’ve done my job. And while I know I will never be ready for her to fly the coop, she is. Absolutely.
Joe and I thought we’d spend a few days sightseeing after moving her in. Just in case, she needed something, we’d still be around. The day after drop off, our plan seemed downright silly. She had things to do and people to meet and we knew it was time to skedaddle. Staying in DC was making us sad and we were too preoccupied to tackle the Smithsonian. On a whim, we decided to hightail it to Hudson, NY. Twenty years ago, when we were feathering our nest, Hudson was an up-and-coming antiques destination. Back then, we spent a magical weekend browsing for mid-century modern furniture (our eighties obsession) and a lazy afternoon at a restaurant whose name I’ve long forgotten, but the lunch of cold cherry soup and organic Belgian beer stuck with us. I’ve been dying to go back. With our newfound freedom, we headed north.
Our first choice of B&B, The Hudson Merchant House, was booked but we snagged the last room available at The Barlow, right on Warren Street, the main drag of town. This is as close as you get to a boutique hotel in Hudson, with 16 renovated rooms, a lobby, even an elevator. Our King Suite could have easily housed a family (pull out couch, plus additional sofa) but we were happy to have room to spread out. We appreciated the Keurig and comfy bed, and, initially perplexed by the multi-spray massaging showerhead, we liked that, too. We stopped by The Hudson Merchant House to check it out, but were brusquely turned down. No tours, and with only four posh rooms in high demand, we were advised to reserve three months in advance. A guest we passed on leaving said it’s the ONLY place to stay. Not necessarily. The Barlow took great care of us. thebarlowhotel.com
Good to know: do not arrive in Hudson on a Tuesday night. Even though the hotel rooms were booked, most restaurants were surprisingly closed. Apparently, Hudson is only happening Thursday through Monday. We headed down the street and found ourselves at the adorable Cafe Le Perche. Mainly a French patisserie, they were offering up moules frites and roast chicken in the serene courtyard in the back. Not the fancy meal we had hoped for at the James Beard Award nominee, Fish and Game (no chance of a reservation there, book WELL ahead), but we were so happy with our find that we returned the next morning for chocolate croissants, strawberry rhubarb pastries and cappuccino.
My husband, who for the first ten years of our marriage was a vegetarian, spent the next ten years making up for his lack of meat. So I knew he would be thrilled to have lunch at Grazin’, the only Animal Welfare Approved restaurant in the U.S. What that means is they are really, really nice to the livestock before it arrives on your plate. I’m only slightly kidding here; they source all their ingredients from Animal Welfare Approved farms to get this singular designation. Everything on the short menu is organic or biodynamic, sustainable and local. They mean it, the farms that grow their food are all within 11 miles, minimizing their carbon footprint. Housed in a renovated vintage 1935 diner, Grazin’s menu sticks to classic diner grub, with one humongous difference. It’s over-the-top yummy. I gleefully watched my husband plow through a a warm disk of goat cheese served atop a fresh green salad that might have been picked that morning. Then onto the “Uncle Dude”, a fat (extremely rare) burger topped with housemade chipotle mayo, local cheddar, bacon and jalapeno relish served on a fresh baked bun with a side of house-cut fries. Even the pickles were homemade. But that’s not all, he finished off my mini grazer (a 4 oz cheeseburger with small fries) and had room for a tall glass of fresh lemonade, a chocolate milkshake and just baked blackberry pie a la mode. I have, frankly, never seen him eat so much at one sitting or enjoy a meal so thoroughly. Chalk it up to clean eating. This is a don’t miss.
Warren Street is not just Antiques Row anymore. A bevy of fantastic boutiques selling all manner of housewares, gifts, handmade jewelry, even makeup (Face Stockholm has a flagship, here) have cropped up since our last visit. It’s a rare thing to find so many interesting independent shops with a distinct point of view and thoughtful merchandising in one town, let alone on one street. As a career retailer, I was impressed. First stop of the day was Les Indiennes. I’m a long time fan of their fabrics and furnishings, and their only retail shop is in Hudson. You’ll find the handblocked textiles they are famous for, plus a large outlet section of deeply discounted pillows, tablecloths, bedding and more. This stop alone makes it worth the trip. Shop Les Indiennes online here.
At Rue de Papier, I dithered over a handmade natural leather messenger bag just long enough to talk myself out of it, (at half the price of similar ones from Il Bisonte, they’re a steal) but snapped up a tiny crossbody just big enough for my phone and a credit card (and one for my daughter, too). Find Rue de Papier on etsy, here.
More shops I loved (and most have an online presence, too):
Head to Rural Residence to set up your country home with linen napkins, pewter chargers, beeswax candles, antique flint glass goblets, Italian stationery and Farrow and Ball paints.
Olde Hudson Market is your stop for picnic supplies: locally made cheese and salamis, a bit of farm fresh produce and pickled everything. We bought The Hudson Standard Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub to dribble into cocktails or seltzer.
Valley Variety’s tagline, “tools for everyday living” is completely accurate if you are in the market for the BEST tools for everyday living. Their assortment of kitchenware, gardening items, gifts, books and accessories is distinctive and highly curated. The expansive space also houses a gallery, cooking classes and occasional pop-up dinners.
Lili and Loo is a veritable emporium. Find everything you could possibly want to feather your nest, including new furniture with a vintage look, linen curtains, silk pillows, handblown glassware plus a fantastic selection of gifts, oddities and scarves.
Before you go, check out ilovehudson.us, an invaluable insider’s guide.
Tags: Hudson, New York, weekend getaway, antiques and antiquing, farm-to-table restaurants