Friday, February 24, 2012

NYC Ski Daytrip: Mt. Peter

If you're just trying to expose your kids to skiing, there are several easy ski spots not so far outside of NYC, which make for an easy half day trip. We went to Mt. Peter, which was about 1.5 hours from Brooklyn, which means it's completely feasible to leave by 8, and even make it back for a late lunch. (That is, if you don't make stops along the way, like we always do.) And if you do stay there through lunch, they do serve hot dogs and hamburgers--get them from the outside grill...and there is a full bar inside.

Here are a couple of other places--all of them great for beginners.
Campgaw Mountain--this is just 20 miles from the GW Bridge, making it the closest skiing to NYC.
Mountain Creek in NJ
Tuxedo Ridge, NY

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

NYC Daytrip Options: Westpoint, Mt. Peter, and More

A couple of weeks ago we went skiing at Mt. Peter, which is a great option for day trip skiing from NYC. There are free beginner classes, private lessons on the hour (but book ahead if you’re going on a weekend—the 11am is super popular!), just plain old skiing if your kids are ready to be on their own, and there’s a nice bar for the parents to hang out in. Since it’s just a day trip, and the lift tickets and equipment can get expensive, and the slopes aren’t that great for a serious skier, it almost doesn’t make sense for the parents to ski. There’s also a nice outdoor burger and hot dog stand where they do them on the grill…But I digress…so many of our friends don’t know what to do just outside of the city…and I think none of them know about the Westpoint Museum. This is an easy drive and almost on the way home from Mt. Peters. If there’s any interest in military history in your family, this is such a great museum. It really covers all of the wars that Americans have been involved in, and it does it well. And after looking at their site, I've learned they have "what is considered to be the oldest and largest diversified public collection of miltaria in the Western Hemisphere." It's also a lot closer than Gettysburg (not that I'm naysaying Gettysburg--it's just not an hour away from NYC).

Other points of interest in this area:
Blooming Hill Farm, Woodbury Commons, Storm King (opens April 4), Woody’s Burgers, Bear Mountain for hiking, lake swimming, if you’re there in the summer, and Mitsuwa, which is in the post just before this one.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Japan in New Jersey

I know Mitsuwa, the largest Japanese supermarket in the USA, is not a secret. But lots of people I know who live in the New York area have no idea about it, so I have to share it here. We stopped there last night on our way back from a morning of skiing at Mt. Peter, which I will also have to write about later this week. Mitsuwa is right in between the GW Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel, and it is on River Road, which means it's right on the Hudson, and looks straight over to the city. Also on that road are Trader Joes and Whole Foods, so it is almost worth a car rental if you don't have a car, and to spend a whole day loading up  on everything. What's so fun about Mitsuwa is not just the shopping, it's the food court. You can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner there--there are lots of restaurants, and all of the food looked amazing. Seriously, you'll leave there after even just an hour and you'll think you went to Japan, and had access to the non-touristy side of it.

What we loaded up on:
They have a whole aisle just for dried udon and soba and other noodles. There's also frozen versions, and fresh versions, and those have their own aisle too.
The miso paste. An entire 6 foot by 5 foot refrigerated section just filled with miso paste.

The Echigo gluten-free beer! And while we didn't buy the single serving sake, I love the way it looks. Would be a nice stocking stuffer. Of course there are tons of sake options.

The sushi-grade fish, which we ate today for lunch.

The rice, the mochi balls....I could go on, and on.

Make sure before you leave that you buy the Japanese cream puffs, which are $1.50 each, and are seriously out of this world.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Food Stops Off I-91

In the last couple of months, we've had to drive from NYC to New Hampshire and Vermont, and I'm pretty excited about the stops we've discovered, not far off of the highway.

(Update: Unless I've said I've eaten here, I cannot vouch for the food. I have a friend who went to the Miss Bellow's Diner after reading about it here, and she got food poisoning. We didn't eat there--we did just like the way it looked, but still, I will make more of a point of making it clear when we have eaten at a place. I'm so sorry Sue! )

(Near White River Junction, off of I-91)
Farmer's Diner: This is just about 10 minutes off of the highway, and is a great organic-ish/local-ish place to get breakfast or lunch. It's in a shopping center that has a good antique mall (with a toy museum in the basement), and also a place to pick up lots of local cheeses, jams, and maple syrups.

(Near Rockingham/Bellows Falls exit off of I-91)

The Vermont Country Store in Rockingham: This is not the original store, which is much more charming, but this has the same products, and the same massive amount of samples for the taking. Plus delicious Vermont coffee that you can take to go. This is just 5 minutes off of I-91.

Smokin' Bowls: I know, ridiculous name...but apparently the soup is amazing. It is on the same road as the Vermont Country Store above, and is only open as a soup spot during the fall, winter and spring. I think it turns into an ice cream shop in the summer.

Miss Bellow's Falls Diner: A nice old diner in a railroad seems like standard diner fare...but it has a lot of character, and is just 5 minutes off of the highway. (Update: come here to look at the cool diner, but eat at your own risk. Our friend got an awful case of food poisoning from here.)

Knowlton's Kitchen: We didn't go here, but it's just across the river into North Walpole, NH, and apparently, it's a fantastic diner.

(Northampton, MA, right off I-91)
Bluebonnet Diner: we didn't eat here, but the reviews look good. Real maple syrup, landmarked diner.

(Whately, MA, right off I-91)
Whately Diner Fillin' Station: we did eat lunch here and the soups (clam chowder and chili) were totally homemade. The waitress was so excited about them she brought me a taste of each...I ended up getting both. It's open 24 hours and is a chrome "Princess" style diner built in 1960.

Tom's Hot Dogs is in the same town, and gets big thumbs up from Roadfood. The reviews bring up a good point, that there isn't a bathroom, and if it's cold out, you'll be eating in your car, as it's take-out only. But if you're in the mood for a hot dog and great fries, it's good to know about.

If you're driving up in spring or summer, the North Hadley Sugar Shack looks amazing. Maple soft-serve ice cream! Homemade donuts!

(Near Hartford, CT)
Pepe's Pizzeria is in Manchester, and isn't directly off of I-91, but looks worth the 5-10 minutes detour. 

Maine Fish Market, a seafood stop in E. Windsor, CT, a half mile off the interstate.

(The Berkshires-yes, this is a detour--we decided not to take the interstate all the way on the way up, and took the Taconic instead. It adds about an hour to the trip but we wanted to mosey.)
Rubiners in Great Barrington, MA...probably one of the best edited small grocery stores I've been in...and then the cafe in the back, Rubi's, is perfection. Delicious sandwiches (we loved the Reuben) and soups, and desserts.