Painting a “Painted Lady”

According to Wikipedia, the term “Painted Lady” was coined in 1978 by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their 1978 book Painted Ladies – San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians.  The post continues, “The best-known groups of ‘Painted Ladies’ is the row of Victorian houses at 710–720 Steiner Street, across from Alamo Square park, in San Francisco. It is sometimes known as ‘Postcard Row’.”  Hudson has it’s own row of “Painted Ladies” on Willard Place and one of them, The Croff House at 5 Willard Place, is about to get a makeover.  Just prior to the inn being sold in 2008 the owner at the time contracted to have the house repainted from the all-over white to more closely stay in keeping with the style of the houses of the period and with the inn’s next door neighbor.  The house at 4 Willard Place, having been completely renovated, had been painted in an elaborate Painted Lady style.  But while the painting at #5 was completed quickly, the quality of the work was not especially good and the years and weather took its toll.

Beginning in March contractors began scraping the old paint away, beginning the process of the house’s exterior makeover.  During the scraping patches of wood repair on the 1875 clapboard siding also were completed, and now the painting can begin in earnest.  The biggest challenge in the execution of the Painted Lady style is the selection of proper colors that work together to highlight the intricate details of the woodwork and carving details of the exterior, an important feature of the Second Empire Victorian style.

The color palette that has been selected for the re-painting is not a large divergence from the current color scheme.  While The Croff House is currently painted using three colors (green, rust and tan), the new color scheme includes five colors (see photo below)

Curious to know what the “new” inn will look like?  Stay tuned!

Food, glorious food!

Warren Street at Night

As the years go by Hudson becomes more and more of a foodie destination, attracting visitors seeking the perfect blend of farm-to-table cuisine and fresh, local ingredients.  At The Croff House guests are always asking us for our recommendations, which can be found here.  For us the challenge is to stay on top of all the new and most noteworthy openings and, as often as possible, to visit those restaurants ourselves to be able to provide a true personal recommendation (or sometimes – not!).  We’ve added two new eateries to The Croff House’s list of recommended places: Aeble and Wunderbar.  But first, a note.

As Hudson’s popularity continues to rise and the number of visitors to Hudson continues to rise, so too do the prices in Hudson’s restaurants.  While most guests on vacation are willing to splurge for that special occasion or once-in-a-while meal out, we recognize while many of them are looking for excellent food they are also looking for fair value.  As such, we have reconfigured our recommendations on The Croff House website accordingly.

Aeble is the newest addition to Hudson’s vast restaurant offerings.  As described on the restaurant’s website the chef, “lets the seasons inform his dishes and sources almost exclusively from the regional bounty of the Hudson Valley”.  It doesn’t get much more farm-to-table than that.  Menus change monthly and daily specials reflect the freshest of what’s available in the Hudson area including produce, meats and seafood.  The cuisine is simple, fresh and beautifully presented without a lot of fussiness or pretense.  The cocktail and wine selection, like everything else at Aeble is well thought out and uncomplicated.  The decor, too, reflect the owner’s approach to dining out: clean simple lines with a Danish/Scandinavian ambience; not distracting from the restaurant’s purpose – the food!  We’re thrilled to be able to recommend Aeble to our guests.  Quite frankly we think they’re going to be seeing a lot of us, too!

Wunderbar Bistro has been a Hudson staple for years, but we recently just discovered it.  Boasting a relatively new chef, the menu offers everything from Chicken Caprese to homemade Fish and Chips to an unbeatable Meatloaf.  Daily specials make choosing even harder.  Wunderbar is a local favorite, and the bar is usually filled with Hudsonians catching up on the latest town gossip, but what keeps people coming back again and again is the fresh and flavorful food.  The full bar offers a full range of martini’s, mixed drinks, wine and beer at very reasonable prices.  If you’re just looking for a quick bite Wunderbar’s amazing chicken wings will hit the spot, or how can you go wrong with bacon-wrapped shrimp?  Wunderbar is our personal “go to” place for a perfect night out.

Thanks Hudson Valley Magazine – “Forget AirBnB…”

“Forget Airbnb, these eight homes away from home are the real deal — with a real meal.”

Thanks Hudson Valley Magazine for the fantastic piece on The Croff House in the July 2017 edition, one of 8 Bed and Breakfasts in the Hudson Valley worthy of note not only for the inn’s splendid architecture but for the equally splendid breakfasts as well.  The article highlights the many features that make a stay at the inn memorable.  Visitors to Hudson have a wonderful selection of bed and breakfasts from which to choose, all of them unique in their own special way.  Now, with the continued growth of AirBnB, legitimate properties like ours are under further pressure to differentiate themselves to the traveling public.  Almost all, if not all, AirBnB properties only provide lodging and minimal, if any, interaction with either the owner or a manager.  Certainly no breakfast is provided, and guests choosing to stay at one of these properties may be under the impression that the low price tag still provides them with the same amenities and personalized service they might receive at a real bed and breakfast.  This article demonstrates all that our guests receive when booking a stay at The Croff House – from our beds and guest room amenities, to common rooms, to our three-course freshly prepared breakfast.

So as the article points out staying at The Croff House is “the real deal”  – don’t be fooled by cheaper imitators!

In A New York State of Wine

hudsonchathamwinery

The Hudson Chatham Winery is located just a short drive from The Croff House

Wine Enthusiast is out with the latest scores for New York State wines.  Hudson Chatham Winery received some terrific scores for several of their outstanding wines.  New York State wines are often overlooked by most consumers either at wine shops or restaurants, which is unfortunate because wines from the Empire State can be quite good as evidenced by the WE scores.  The Finger Lakes region has long been known for excellent wines like reisling and other colder climate varietals.  Long Island has a tradition of wine making that dates back centuries.  The Hudson Valley, long known for excellent farming (many of the top restaurants in New York City get their fresh produce delivered from farms just a few hours north), is becoming more and more well known for high quality wines.   Each year/vintage gives the winemakers opportunities to hone their creations and each year more and more of these wineries are being recognized by wine critics and enthusiasts from all over the world.

If you haven’t had the chance to sample New York State wines there are several within a short drive from The Croff House that offer complimentary tastings.  We’re convinced that once you try them you will, like us – and Wine Enthusiast – , agree they are quite delicious!

What’s in a name?

Hudson Opera House

Exterior of the Hudson Opera House

Visitors to Hudson enjoy walking up and down our main street, Warren Street, which boasts beautiful and historic architecture throughout.  One of the more significant buildings is the Hudson Opera House and the history of the building’s use is rather noteworthy.

Built in 1855, the building was designed by local architect Peter Avery. For more than a century, it housed various civic offices, including the Post Office and Police Station, and was home to the Franklin Library and the First National Bank of Hudson.  Shortly after City Hall moved further up Warren Street in 1962, the building was sold to an out-of-town developer.  For nearly thirty years it sat vacant, decaying and accumulating debris. During this time, lower Warren Street was virtually abandoned and considered by many to be a lost cause.

Today the building is undergoing the final phase of full restoration.   When complete, the performance hall will be

Hudson Opera House

Interior performance space at the Hudson Opera House

adapted for modern use, creating a unique, intimate and flexible 300-seat theater to provide contemporary programming reflective of today’s audiences.  For the first time in the building’s history, the performance hall will be accessible to all, including those who, because of age or disability, are unable to use the historic staircase.  he character of the historical building will be retained. The current proscenium arch and raked wooden floor stage were late 19th century additions, and will be preserved.  The historic fabric will also be retained, and new elements will be sensitively incorporated to retain the overall historic character of the spaces.

A “new” facility deserves a new name and, as such, the Hudson Opera House has added Center for the Arts to it’s title, expanding the scope of the programming being offered.  When you are next in Hudson the renovations will be complete.  Make it a destination while exploring Warren Street.

Apples! Apples! Apples!

Apples

Apples

New York State is know for apples.  Just outside Hudson there are many apple orchards for “U Pick” family fun.  Farm stands are overflowing with all varieties of apples.  Restaurants have apples on their menu in salads, main dishes and – of course – desserts.  So it’s no surprise that one a guest-favorite fruit course in Fall features apples!  But, as with most of our dishes, we put our own twist on the dish to make it special.  This is great on oatmeal, pancakes, french toast, or even ice cream.  So here’s a great recipe to make use of all those apples:

 

 

Poached Spiced Apples with Butterscotch Crunch Topping (serves 4)

For the apples:

4 Firm apples (Granny Smith works really well), peeled and cored

3 Tbsp. water

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/3 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/8 Tsp. Ground Allspice

Pinch of Ground Clove

[as an alternative McCormick makes an “Apple Pie Spice” blend that saves time]

For the topping:

1/3 cup Butterscotch chips

3 Tbsp. oatmeal

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

  • Cut the apples into bite size pieces, not too small
  • Put the water and brown sugar into a medium saucepan over medium heat
  • Add the apples, stir and bring to a simmer and cover
  • Let simmer for 7-10 minutes until the reach the desired consistence (they should have a little “bite” in the center)
  • Remove from the heat, uncover and allow to cool

While the apples are cooling:

  • Place the butterscotch chips in a small food processor or chop by hand into small bits and place in a medium bowl
  • Place the oatmeal and brown sugar in the food processor and pulse 5-7 times, just to cut the oats down a bit, and add to the chips
  • Stir to combine

Serve cooled/warm apples over vanilla yogurt or the flavor of your choice and sprinkle the topping over the apples to taste.  Leftover topping can be kept in a plastic container or storage bag and used for later.  You can also make a large batch of the topping and put in small mason jars and give it as gifts!

So if you think you’ve run out of ways to use all the apples around, try this recipe.  We also have a great recipe for Honey Ginger Poached Pears – email me at russ@thecroffhouse.com for the recipe.

It’s Apple Time!

It’s that time of year again when we bid adieu to Summer, which brought us great weather, great guests and LOTS of tomatoes!  Fall, however, brings cooler temperatures – save for the odd “Indian Summer” we may experience – beautiful foliage, long sleeves, and, yes, apples.  However, the apples we’re talking about aren’t the red or green variety.  We’re talking about the Apples that are black and square: AppleTV.  The Croff House is pleased and excited to announce that we have upgraded all of our original AppleTV’s (the “first generation”) with new, more advanced AppleTV’s (the “second generation”), thus providing our guests with a whole host of channels not previously available.

AppleTV

AppleTV second generation

Currently The Croff House provides DirecTV complimentary in all guest rooms/suites.  While 100’s of channels are available, premium content – such as HBO, Showtime and more – was not.  Until now.

So what’s so exciting about the new AppleTV?  The new AppleTV’s will provide access to an outstanding array of movies, news, music and international programming, thereby significantly increasing the content available to guests.  Channels such as HBO, Netflix, Vimeo, Hulu, WatchESPN, all major US and international news agencies, and more can be accessed with the push of a button.  Guests will be able to access their own accounts for any of the subscription channels directly from their AppleTV.  In addition to being able to access content through the AppleTV, guests will also have the ability to access content from their iOS devices through Apple’s AirPlay.

To find out more about what the AppleTV can do click here.

The upgrade to the new generation of AppleTV reflects our commitment to providing guests of The Croff House with everything they need for a memorable visit and an exceptional experience.

Trip Advisor Hall of Fame

Trip Advisor Hall of Fame

The Croff House Bed and Breakfast

We were informed today that The Croff House is being inducted into the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame.  As described in the press release issued by Trip Advisor, The ‘Hall of Fame’ was created to honor those businesses that have earned a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years.”  The press release goes on to say:

“Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years is a remarkable feat. TripAdvisor is pleased to induct five-time award winners into the ‘Hall of Fame’,” said Marc Charron President, TripAdvisor for Business. “By putting a spotlight on businesses that are focused on consistently delivering great service to customers, TripAdvisor not only helps drive an improvement to hospitality standards around the world, it also gives businesses both large and small the ability to shine and stand out from the competition.”

Since the day The Croff House opened, April 10, 2008, we have always dedicated ourselves to providing the best guest experience possible from the moment the guest first contacts us, throughout their stay, and even after they have returned home.  Visitor’s to the inn expect a high level of customer service, with personal touches and attention to detail in all areas of the property: our bed linens, our facilities and common areas, our guest services, and – most importantly – our breakfasts.  Everything we do is to ensure that a stay at The Croff House is exceptional.

Being inducted into the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame follows a very rigorous process:

When selecting Certificate of Excellence winners, TripAdvisor uses a proprietary algorithm to determine the honorees that takes into account the quality, quantity and recency of reviews and opinions submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period as well as business’s tenure and ranking on the Popularity Index on the site. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

We are so thankful for all our guests, but especially the 266 who have taken the time to share their experiences with future visitors.  Yes, we realize the 266 includes the less than 5-Star reviews, but constructive feedback helps us identify areas for improvement and ensures we are maintaining our high standards and commitment to providing superior customer service at all times.

Cheers to the next 266!

Getting to Hudson

Getting to Hudson with historic charm

Getting to Hudson with historic charm

A new mode of travel for getting to Hudson will harken back to yesteryear, a time when the journey was part of the experience.

For 90 years the S.S. Columbia served as a passenger steamer between New York City and various Hudson Valley ports along the Hudson River.  The oldest passenger steamer in the United States, the S.S. Columbia was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.  In 2006 preservationist Richard Anderson came up with the idea of restoring the vessel, which had been decaying at an industrial pier in Detroit.  Even though Anderson died in 2013 his plans for the Columbia were kept afloat (pun intended).  In September 2014 the S.S. Columbia began the journey to New York, where she will be refitted and returned to service along the Hudson.

You can read more about the history and status of the S.S. Columbia project here.

So if you’ve been waiting for some way of getting to Hudson that doesn’t involve driving and avoids Amtrak your wait may soon be over.

Homemade Soap

Homemade Peach Raspberry Jam

Homemade Peach Raspberry Jam

Homemade soap – a winter hobby.  As many guests know I make jams, preserves, chutneys, salsas and the occasional pasta sauces during our summer months.  With the bounty produced throughout the warmer months by a host of wonderful local farms I am able to keep busy during our not-as-busy times during the Spring, Summer, and Fall.  Guests of The Croff House enjoy purchasing these to take home for themselves or as gifts for others.

Then came “old man Winter” and I had to come up with a hobby to keep my busy during our much slower period.  Lo and behold – homemade soap.

Homemade soap

Homemade soap

Now making homemade soap is not as difficult as it may sound 9i say this even though I am still working on my own technique).  All you need is water, lye (dangerous stuff), oils, scents and colors and you have the ingredients for making soap on your own.  There are a lot of “cookbooks” out there that take you from the easy (melt and pour) methods to the elaborate (lye and water mixed into various fats such as olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil and even beef tallow).  To these you can add natural exfoliators such as oats, poppy seed and even sand.  The combinations are seemingly endless.

The melt-and-pour method is great for kids, and a wide variety of melting soaps can be found at Amazon for a very reasonable price.  Essential oils are readily available at many heath food stores.  Lone Star Candle Supply also sells fragrance oil blends and color blocks that can be used in the production of soap as well.  Homemade soap created using the melt-and-pour method takes only as much time as it takes for the block of soap to be cut up, melted, colored and fragranced and re=poured.  It’s a great rainy day activity for kids and a fun “take home” gift for a slumber party.  Make the soaps at night and the next day they are ready to take home!

Granular lye

Granular lye

The more complicated method is the process of dissolving lye in water, melting fats, combining them at the right temperature, stirring them until the appropriate consistency and pouring the soap into the molds.  While more time consuming (and a touch dangerous) making soap using this method is much more satisfying as it give you the sense you are actually making soap yourself, not just melting someone else’s.  The “recipes” also use natural additives like goat’s milk, shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera and more to really exercise your creativity.  Once the soap has “cured” usually within a few weeks, it is ready to be used.

A gift basket that includes your own homemade soap is so much more appreciated because it allows you to add a personal touch to make the gift even more special.

Unlike the jams and such, we won’t be selling our homemade soap at The Croff House, which is okay.  You’ll be making your own at home in no time!  Have fun!