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Monday, October 29, 2012

Beacon Bits -- Only the Best

I just finished a two-week "stay-cation" in the Hudson Valley. I don't think there is a more perfect time of the year to experience the variation of weather conditions that are invigorating as the leaves go through their medley of colorful changes. I had the full gamut from frost to fog to the finest and clearest of days that suggested the need for a morning wrap, which unfolded during the day as the clouds marked the advancing time to an earlier sunset and need to bundle up once again. But what better time of year than this to have some freedom and lots of choice for a variety of events that are as plentiful as the multitude of apples for the munching. (Oddly enough, to the day of our early snowstorm this time last year, the weather is once again on my mind as I chose to post this blog today while taking an extended vacation day in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy.)
I sampled the annual Woodstock Film Festival at the Upstate Films in Rhinebeck with a viewing of the documentary Chasing Ice, which provides the visual evidence of climate change with James Balog's time-lapse photographs; they convincingly capture the dwindling size of glaciers (EIS.) A picture is worth a thousand words. See it to believe it.

I attended the Friends of Boscobel Applefest on a glorious Sunday afternoon under a tent on the lawn of this historical landmark in Cold Spring. Enchanting. Despite the bee sting.

I went to the Francis Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie for the first time and know that it will be the first of many visits; next time I will take the 2pm tour led by a docent who is an art history major at the school. What an amazing valley treasure!

I made a quick stop at the Apple Pie Bakery at the CIA in Hyde Park and spent a leisurely half-day at the famous Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. Yum :)

I didn't make it to Manitoga, home of designer Russell Wright, because of the flooding deluge of rain on the scheduled day of the hike-tour. (Oddly, it's the second time I didn't make the tour; last year it was canceled by the October snowstorm! Beware 10/29 when making plans for next year!!) But the rainy day was the perfect opportunity to go to the Dia Museum in Beacon for a walk in and around the large installation sculptures housed in the renovated Nabisco box factory; a space with north facing clerestory windows that made the most dreary day bearable with the presence of its inner light and the diffuse autumnal colors through the opaque glass windows to the south, east and west.

In between these wonderful outings and catching up with errands and house projects, other enjoyable local events on Main Street in Beacon included an author's event at BIRE where Trudie Grace, curator at the Putnam Historical Museum, presented a slide talk about the history of Cold Spring (Images of America: Around Cold Spring, and two wine tastings at the Artisan Wine Shop: Wines of the Loire Valley (10/7/12) and Wines of Spain (10/21/12.)
I've already described the classes that CIA grads Tim Buzinski and Mei Ying So host at their specialty wine shop in a previous blog (see 4/6/12 posting), but the joy of watching this
Beacon "power couple" at work is worth mentioning repeatedly.  Both classes allowed their expertise to shine: Tim and Mei had just visited vintners in the Loire Valley, so we saw their personal slide show for a visual representation of the olfactory and gustatory pleasures at hand.

We learned about Sancerre and Vouvray (my favorite), cabernet franc and Muscadet. We sampled and commented and tasted an array of complementary goat cheeses, a marriage made in the Loire valley, and longed for more as we were assured that these wines are particularly appropriate for the autumnal weather and fare.

The encore event took us to Spain where we found out about Tim's passion (yes, above and beyond his usual enthusiasm) for Spanish regional wines including sherry, rioja, malvasia and  regional delights from Galicia, Andalucia and the Canary Islands. I sensed something special was going to happen when the usual six glasses for tasting had multiplied to nine, along with exquisitely paired tapas; the nine glasses were a lot to handle for an evening, but with bottles to go, they will be there for further enjoyment with "big food", friends and family. (I must admit I was too busy to take photos at this tasting.)
I especially appreciate Mei's 'behind the scenes' touches that make the presentation and organization of materials for personalized tasting notes a treasure to keep for future reference.  While the tastings book-ended my vacation, the good news is that there are two more to come: Wines for Holiday Meals (11/10/12) and Sparkling Wines from Champagne to Prosecco (12/5) with food pairings; bound to be true gifts of the season.
Some Food for Thought:
While I was driving along our local roads, such as 9D, from Breakneck down to Bear Mountain on weekends during the month of October, I couldn't help but think -- when or if Indian Point melts down -- I really hope it's not during the height of the annual autumnal pilgrimage of leaf peeping, mountain climbing, apple and pumpkin picking and oompah-pahing during Octoberfest. We would surely go up in a blaze of glory.

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