The anniversary celebration continued, a week after Empanada Boy organized a mystery weekend trip. All he told me before we drove out of the city was that I needed hiking clothes and something a little nicer to wear to dinner. As we drove, and I read the directions, I gradually learned that we were heading out to Pine Bush, a little town in the Hudson Valley near the Shawangunk Ridge. We drove up to the Pine Bush House, an old Victorian, built in 1904 and beautifully preserved with stained glass windows and a large, sweeping porch. Empanada Boy had reserved a room hereâ€” the Cabernet room with an elegant four-poster and soft, plush sheetsâ€” for two nights!
The ever-thoughtful EB had also made us a dinner reservation for that night at the local Erie Restaurant. It was a quaint place, just down the road from our bed and breakfast, housed in a former train station hotel. The ceilings were hammered metal, and there were candles on every table. We were the last to arrive, but the chef, Ms. Loretta, was waiting for us. I ordered a whole lobster (for a ridiculously low price of $20), and EB succumbed to the delicious-sounding homemade lasagna. We started with a Hudson Valley Camembert, which turned out to be a little overwhelmed by the flaky pastry in which it was encased. The lasagna was fantastic, with a voluptuous, tangy tomato sauce and beautiful layers of pasta and ricotta. EB couldn’t finish it, though, because he had to help me eat my humongous lobster. The flesh was tasty, but a little overdone in some parts. Even if it had been perfect, I don’t think it could have replaced Dungeness crab as the most delicious crustacean in my mind. (I say it objectively, of course, not just because I am West-Coast bred.)
The best part of the meal came after we felt we could eat no more. EB was disappointed to learn that the restaurant was out of Ms. Loretta’s famed coconut cream pie, so we were planning to forgo dessert. But just after we had told our server as much, she came back out of the kitchen carrying a specially prepared wedding-esque cake. Behind her was Ms. Loretta, and both sang us “Happy Anniversary to You” as they brought the cake to our table. As we had been eating, Ms. Loretta had been baking us our own personal cake! And as it turned out, this was not just any cake. It had a delicious, moist interior with a beautiful crumbly texture and a delectable filling of raspberry preserves. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the kind of service you can expect in New York City!
The next day, after a huge and filling breakfast, we went for a nine-mile hike in Sam’s Point Preserve, part of the Shawangunk Ridge. We ate our leftover lasagna for lunch, as we sat overlooking a stunning waterfall. On our way back that evening, we stopped in the hippie town of New Paltz for dinner. EB had done his research on the town’s top restaurants, and we had selected The Village Tea Room, a longtime local establishment whose online menu seemed to focus on high-quality, seasonal ingredients. We sat outside on the porch (until the mosquitoes drove us in) and ordered what turned out to be a stellar Riesling from the Finger Lakes region of New York. EB started with a boldly colorful cold beet soup, which had distinct flavors of dill and leeks.
EB’s main course was a Guinness Pie, which was only so-so. My main course, on the other hand, was a confit duck leg and thigh, which was super-tender on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside. The meat came atop a bed of squash and alongside a savory, garlicky white bean stew. It was the best meal I had eaten in quite some time. The desserts at The Village Tea Room also looked delicious. EB got rice pudding, but I decided to pass. After all, we had a whole chunk of anniversary cake waiting for us back at the inn.
Pine Bush House Bed and Breakfast
215 Maple Ave.
Pine Bush, NY 12566
88 Depot St.
Pine Bush, NY 12566
The Village Tea Room
10 Plattekill Ave.
New Paltz, NY 12561