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.

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!

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!

Hudson Restaurants

Hudson Restaurants star in the 2014 Taste of Hudson

Hudson Restaurants star in the 2014 Taste of Hudson

Hudson Restaurants were the star of the show at this year’s Taste of Hudson event, hosted by BeLo 3rd on Saturday, September 6.  Now in it’s 6th year Taste of Hudson features local Hudson restaurants and caterers and provides participants the opportunity to taste a wide array of cuisines including Indian, Italian, Caribbean and a whole lot more.  Those with a sweet tooth weren’t disappointed either as several of the tasting tables offered everything from delicious home baked cookies to stunningly sinful cakes and decadent brownies.

Hudson Restaurants weren't the only tastes available

The Hudson Standard

Non-alcoholic beverages were available as well, including a new, locally made handcrafted bitters-inspired mixer called The Hudson Standard.  The “shrubs” can be both an ingredient in various recipes for updated classic cocktails or, added to seltzer, a refreshing “adult soda”.

On average each “taste” was a mere $3.  Tickets are sold at $1 per ticket and the Hudson restaurants participating set the price for the item they were sampling.

The event is the perfect opportunity for participants, whether local or from out of town, to be introduced to the wide range of Hudson restaurants and the cuisine they offer.  For the Hudson restaurants the Taste of Hudson event is also a great chance to showcase the chefs’ culinary talents to those who may be unfamiliar with the restaurant or even the type of cuisine they offer.  It’s a “win” for everybody.

Taste of Hudson is held around the same time each year and each year the event draws more and more people, who enjoy sampling the food but also getting out into the community and meeting friends, both old and new, and enjoying the day.  The city of Hudson is the host but the real stars are the all Hudson restaurants, caterers and other vendors who really steal the show.

Put it in your calendar for next year.  Who knows which new Hudson restaurant will be there?

 

Looking Back – Part 2

In the second of the “Looking Back” series we take a look at the transformation of the Dining Room and Edmonds Guest Room, both on the first floor.

The original breakfast room became the Edmonds Guest room.  Part of the old kitchen can be seen in the foreground

The original breakfast room became the Edmonds Guest room. Part of the old kitchen can be seen in the foreground

The Dining Room had a few issues.  First, there was extensive water damage in one corner that was uncovered with the removal of the multi-layers of

Dominated by a large table the Dining Room provided a few challenges during the renovation.

Dominated by a large table the Dining Room provided a few challenges during the renovation.

wallpaper and paint.  Second, the weight assembly of the three tiered window-door leading out to the back porch was completely deteriorated,  allowing only the lowest two windows to be raised.  To get out to the back porch you had to bend in half and try not to hit your head on the sash.

The first issue was addressed by the great plaster master we hired for the project and in no time the corner was rebuilt and ready for painting.

As for the second issue we had a choice: rebuild the original infrastructure of the window or simply replace it with a door.  For simplicity’s sake we opted for the latter option, and while it was unfortunate to lose the lovely architectural detail form – in this case – had to follow function.

Knowing that we wanted a guest room on the first floor and in order to accommodate the mobility impaired our creative architect came up with a solution to transform the existing breakfast room into a fifth guest bedroom.  This involved cannibalizing some of the existing kitchen space in order to expand the existing half-bathroom into a full bathroom and create a bedroom where there was none.

The Edmonds Bedroom, while the smallest, is bright and airy.

The Edmonds Bedroom, while the smallest, is bright and airy.

Once the renovations of both spaces were completed the focus turned on to functionality and style.  Our personal preference at Bed and Breakfasts where

Open and bright, the Dining Room opens out onto the rear porch leading to the gardens and fountain patio.

Open and bright, the Dining Room opens out onto the rear porch leading to the gardens and fountain patio.

we had stayed previously was to not have one large table for all guests.  Hey!  Not everyone is a “morning person”.  So we opted for 5 separate “two tops”, which then gave us the flexibility to create several combinations of table sizes for various combinations of guest party sizes.  The Dining Room is the only room at The Croff House where you will find lace – we re-purposed lace drapery that was in the house when we purchased it.  We put these up in the bay window to provide our guests privacy during breakfast from #6 Willard Place next door.

Edmonds, being the smallest guest room in the Inn, needed to be light and airy.  Since it overlooks the rear garden and fountain patio it also needed to convey the sense of “garden” with out being overly feminine, while at the same time providing all the amenities found in the remaining guest rooms/suites.  We believe we achieved just that.

Spring/Summer 2014 – it’s never too early to start planning

Yes, it’s cold, but Spring/Summer 2014 will be be here before you know it, and it’s never to early to start planning your weekend getaways.

One of our favorite local event venues is Bard College, and their Summerscape 2014 is sure to provide another “eight weeks of opera, music, theater, dance, film and cabaret”.  Offering three very unique spaces the Summerscape series includes a wide variety of performances to appeal to an even wider variety of tastes.

Popular dance, theater, and opera events are the highlights of the Main Stage series.  The Opera series includes both opera as well as Bard Music Festival concerts and operettas .  Cabaret productions take place in the Speigeltent, an indoor/outdoor space that creates the feeling of a traveling show.  Subscribers enjoy wonderful savings when booking complete series.  Can’t decide which is right for you?  Summerscape also allows you to Create Your Own Series and still enjoy up to 25% savings.Croff 8

Of course topping your musical weekend off is a stay at The Croff House.  Enjoy our delicious breakfasts, the beauty of the rear garden and fountain patio, and explore and rediscover all that Hudson has to offer.  Book now for best availability and check out Bard’s Summerscape 2014 event page for more information.

So much to do in September!

Autumn LeavesWondering where the summer went?  Sad to see it go?  You don’t have to!

The Columbia County Chamber of Commerce has assembled a wide range of activities to appeal to everyone!  Apple picking, paddling on the Hudson, historic house and church tours, and SO much more await to help you get more out of the end of Summer.

Why not take a mid-week getaway and have some fun?  The Croff House still has good availability.  Check it out!

Don’t forget – the leaves have already started to change, too!

Our 200th Review on Trip Advisor

200th Trip Advisor Review!

200th Trip Advisor Review!

 

Since The Croff House opened in April 2009 we have had the immense pleasure of welcoming hundreds of guests from all across the globe.  Three months after opening The Croff House was rated the #1 Bed and Breakfast in Hudson.  At the time Hudson was one of the Hudson Valley’s top destinations as new shops, galleries, restaurants and attractions were opening all the time.  Five months after opening TCH was rated the #3 Bed and Breakfast in all of New York State on Trip Advisor, making it to #1 by the end of 2009.  Quite an accomplishment for a newcomer in such a short period of time.

The Croff House held that position for several years until TA discontinued posting that rating category.

All the wonderful reviews helped so many of our guests find us.  The funny thing was that a lot of people would comment at check-in that they read the reviews and were suspicious that we were writing them ourselves – which is a BIG “no-no” on TA.  We assured each one that the reviews were authentic but, more importantly, they had to judge for themselves.

So today we send out a big THANK YOU to every one of our guests who took the time to share all the wonderful things that make a stay at The Croff House and a visit to Hudson so fantastic.  We thank those guests too who pointed out some things they didn’t particularly enjoy – those comments are usually very instrumental in helping us keep our feet on the ground.

Now we look ahead to the next 4 1/2 years and look forward to seeing guests both “repeaters” and new, and sharing with them the special place we call The Croff House.

Putting up (again)!

Homemade Peach Raspberry Jam

Homemade Peach Raspberry Jam

Every year we use fresh, local fruits to create a wide variety of jams, preserves, chutneys and more.  With the opening of The Barlow we haven’t had a lot of time to either shop for the fruit or stand over bubbling pots of sugared fruit.  Until now.

IMG_0283

Peach Amaretto Butter in the making!

Yesterday we went to Eger Brothers farm stand and bought a bushel of peaches.  Shortly thereafter said peaches were peeled and chopped only to be turned into one of our guests’ favorite jams – Peach Raspberry (made even more tasty with a touch of vanilla).  Today the remaining chopped peaches became a yummy Peach Amaretto Butter (less sugar and more intense fruit flavor).

Summer has a long way to go and we have a lot of jars to capture all the season’s best!