Category Archives: Dedication to Warren Watrel

Hudock’s Custard Stand 544 Salem Quinton Road Salem, NJ 08079

For a step back in time to a slower time and relaxing during the summer, Hudock’s Custard Stand is for you.

Going to Hudock’s is a step back in time to long warm summers and enjoying nature that surrounds us.

The hamburgers and fries are amazing! Especially when dining outside on the picnic tables.

Dining on a Shoestring in the New York City area

Hudock’s Custard Stand

544 Salem Quinton Road

Salem, NJ 08079

(856) 935-5224

https://www.facebook.com/people/Hudocks-Custard-Stand/100064101820444/

https://www.menupix.com/menudirectory/menu.php?id=3000080

Open: (Seasonal) Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-10:00pm (will close in October)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46799-d5555493-Reviews-Hudock_s_Frozen_Custard_Stand-Salem_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I love this classic little Jersey food stand! Talk about character!

The one thing about Hudock’s Custard Stand is that it is a piece of New Jersey nostalgia to a time when things were just a little slower and when you visit, they still are. When people come here to dine, there is not a cellphone in site and people sit in the chairs or at the picnic tables and just talk to one another. Or admire the beautiful views of the surrounding farms. On a warm sunny day, there is nothing like a cup of ice cream or a footlong hot dog to make you forget your troubles.

Where you order food at Hudock’s

Hudock’s keeps things simple and friendly when you…

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Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Nine Walking the Fancy Food Show (three days of testing, tasting and talking) June 12th-14th, 2022

Summer Fancy Food Show 2022

https://www.specialtyfood.com/shows-events/summer-fancy-food-show/

After a two-year hiatus, the Summer Fancy Food Show came back to New York City. It was funny to see it come back the way it did with all the publicly. I even got a special email from one of the women coordinating the event making sure that I am attending the show. They give you such a hassle with the form to sign up for the show. You have to give so much information to get in, but I figure that most people try to get in thinking it is a ‘eat a thon’ event when there is no way of doing that without getting sick.

After coming to this show and many other industry shows like it, you realize that you need to pace yourself when you are sampling items. I learned this since my first show back in 2003 (I can’t believe that I have been coming to this show for almost twenty years) that you need to take your time and come back to the booths for a second time in case you want an extra taste.

If you go down your first aisle and sample everything, you will never make it at this show. You need to look at the booth, see what the vendor is displaying and if it looks interesting and then think about sampling. With the number of cookies, crackers, candy, snack foods, ice cream, pizza and sauces, it can overload your body and you will feel it later in the afternoon. It can be a system overload.

I broke the visit up into the full three days and tried to get to the show all three mornings and afternoons. I found that the show was not as big as the one back in 2019 but things were just getting back up to speed with us trying to put COVID behind us. It was tough because some people still insisted on wearing masks which is tough when you are at a food show. Like everything else, pace yourself.

After three days of sampling and tasting and talking with vendors from all over the world, some looking for distributers and some just looking to get a foothold in the market or just get the word out, there were many food merchants that stood out amongst the others. I wanted to share them with grocery shoppers who will see these products on shelves all over the world.

I was very impressed by the Foreign Pavillon this year. I could not believe that so many people came from abroad for the show because I was not sure what to think after a two-year absence of the show. There was a lot of unique products and some excellent packaging but the one thing that really surprises me is that most of the representatives of these companies are not that social with anyone.

Most sit there and look at their cellphones. In the past if there was a major soccer game going on between two countries represented at the show, you would see a lot of commotion. Since the show was pretty quiet on Sunday and then on Monday morning, the booths were quiet as well. There were still a lot of standouts at the Foreign Pavilions.

In the French Pavillion, some of the best products came from Maison Francis Miot, champion Jam, Candy and Confectionary maker. The products were bar none the best ones I tasted at the show.

Maison Francis Miot products were “Best in Show” to me

https://www.francis-miot.com/

I tried their artisan fruit spreads, strawberry and blueberry jams and the Mystere du Chef, a mixture of different fruits. These jams were just spectacular and what intense flavors. They use only the freshest fruits and mixed with cane sugar and then they are cooked in small batches. Trust me, you can taste the complex flavor of the jams when spread on an English muffin.

Their Strawberry jelly is one of the best I have ever tasted

If you thought the jams were amazing, their candies were just as spectacular. They gave me a small goody bag of mini jars of jam, Coucougnettes, a grilled almond that is made by hand and rolled in an almond paste flavored with raspberry and ginger and Fruit Paste tubes, which are fruits cooked in copper bowls, dried and cut up into cubes and candied with cane sugar. Talk about heavenly candies!

The Raspberry Coucougnettes is to the left and the Fruit Cubes to the right have the most intense fruity flavors

When you bite into the Raspberry Coucougnettes, it is like biting into a piece of heaven. You can taste the fresh raspberry in each bite and the cane sugar really brings out the flavor of the candy. The Fruit Cubes were the perfect bite of sweetness where you really could taste the fruit flavors of each one again accented by high quality sugar. There was a lot of care put into these candies. These were some of the best items that I enjoyed at the show.

Another vendor who products I enjoyed was in the Vietnamese Pavillon. The beverage maker, Vinut, has a delicious line of fruit juice beverages. When chilled, these drinks have an amazing flavor.

Vinut Beverages

I tried both the Passion Fruit and the Mango flavors and was most impressed by the Passion Fruit which was sweet and tart at the same time. I also liked the colorfulness of the packaging. The flavors were very bold and when well chilled, the flavors really come out with each sip.

The Passion Fruit Drink by Vinut is wonderful

Another wonderful beverage came from the Korean Pavillon by GEO Enterprise, a distributer of Korean food products. One of the brands that they distribute to the United States is a line of beverages by Smart Framing Creator (SFCBio). This line of Sparkling Fruit Waters has such a refreshing flavor to them. They taste like a fizzy fruit water that bursts in your mouth when you sip them.

I tried both the Sparkling Melon and Sparkling Plum flavors, and both had very interesting tastes. They were refreshing and light, but you could still taste the fruit flavors with each sip. The plum had a nice sweet and tart taste to the flavor. These would be perfect with any Chinese or Asian food meal to accent the rich flavored sauces.

Smart Farmer Creator beverages by SFCBio

There were many American Beverage companies at the show as well sampling their drinks. Several of them stood out amongst the rest for their unique packaging and interesting flavors. I really enjoyed the Mango and the Green Tea that I tried at the show. It was rather unusual that the pearls stayed in form at the bottom of the drink. I loved the exotic flavors that they offered in their selection.

Pobble: Popping Bubble Tea

https://www.myinotea.com/

Inotea’s Pobble Popping Bubble Tea

The Lorina Artisanal Lemonade Crafters I have had before but some of the flavors I had not sampled. I have bought the Lemonade many times, but Pink Lemonade had a sweeter and tarter flavor to it. I also like the packaging for these drinks.

Lorina Artisanal Lemonade Crafters

https://us.lorina.com/our-products/artisanal-lemonades/

The Chi Forest beverages also have many exotic flavors not known to the American palate, but their flavors cater to the growing population wanting to try something new. The Iced Teas are light and really refreshing and the sparkling drinks have a nice bite to them. The White Peach flavor is just wonderful. It is light, sweet and very zesty. I am surprised that these drinks are not more popular with their interesting combination of flavors.

Chi Forest Iced Tea and Sparkling Water

https://m.yamibuy.com/en/p/chi-forest-ice-tea-450ml/1020066281

Chi Forest Ice Teas

Chi Forest Sparkling Drinks

Of the American beverages, one of the standouts is the Hawaiian Iced Tea by NOH Foods. This delicious and refreshing iced tea is flavored with cane sugar, which is the only way sodas should be flavored. There is a big difference between them, and products flavored with high fructose corn syrup. There is a certain sweetness that cane sugar gives to drinks that make them standout and the Hawaiian Iced Teas just have a better-rounded flavor. That and the founder and his son are both really nice and I can tell take a lot of pride in their product.

Hawaiian Iced Tea

One beverage that stood out for both its taste and its packaging was Inner Love’s Foods Lemonblueade.

https://www.innerlovefoods.com/wholesale

The small bottle of refreshing juice I realized was also a cleansing drink and a real pick me up. An all-natural version of a power beverage, this sweet drink is full of vitamins and nutrients and whose sweet flavor gives you a burst of energy. I was surprised how this one tiny bottle gave me so much energy for the rest of the visit of the food show.

This refreshing drink is a real pick me up in one gulp

I LOVE the logo for Inner Love Foods products. I think this would make a great tee-shirt

In the Ice Cream Category, the one standout and a place that I love to visit when I am in Rhinebeck, NY is Del’s Dairy Barn, who sell Del’s Ice which is made from milk from the cows on the owner’s farm.

This dense and creamy ice cream is now available in pint commercially and should not be missed. The Lemon Curd and Lavendar Blueberry ice creams are the standouts from Del’s. Any flavor from Del’s is a real treat. If you have time, take a trip up Route 9 in the Hudson River Valley and stop and get a couple of scoops if it is not available in your local grocery (See DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com):

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1832

Del’s Dairy Farm

Del’s Packaged Ice Creams

Del’s Packaged Hard Ice Creams are now available in the grocery stores. Still take time out to visit Rhinebeck, NY to their restaurant on Route 9 in the Hudson River Valley.

I thought the Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches were also very good and had delicious flavors. The only problem that I had with these wonderful little treats was the sheer cost that they must sell at retail in stores. You are going to have to go to a very high end store to find these. This is the problem I have with gourmet ice cream sandwiches. They taste amazing but with the perceived value and cost, even these unique treats are going to need to find a very well heeled customer.

https://www.nightingaleicecream.com/find-us

The Gourmet Ice Cream sandwiches

There were many standouts in the Candy Category some with packaging and some with taste and some with both. It depended on who the product was trying to cater to and the way it was presented.

Toybox Candies I did not get to try as they were not handing out samples and I could not taste them, but the packaging was really colorful, and I could see this product catering to an eager child or the child within us. The products jumped out at you with bright colors and flashy cartoons, and they were the type of candies that young children could buy for themselves with their allowances or give each other as gifts.

Toybox Candies

http://toybox.com.tr/en/products

Other items for kids that were not in the Candy Category but had creative packaging to make children say “Buy me” was Food Paint. These whimsical packaged toppings are all natural and made with organic fruits and no artificial colors or flavors. Noshi’s Kids Food Paint was one of those items.

Noshi for Kids Food Paint

https://noshiforkids.com/

These small tubes fit into a child’s hands and come in Sketchup (Ketchup for hamburgers and fries), Raspberry, Grape and Mango fruit purees perfect for pancakes, waffles and for toast and fruit flavors strawberry, peach and blueberry toppings for ice cream.

The Fruit Pures at Noshi Food Paint

When I talked with the owner of the company, he said that he created this when his kids did not like the flavors, colors and tastes of the commercial brands plus they did not want to fuss with the adult brands. I found the packaging fun and playful.

In the Baked Cookie Category, there was many different flavors and textures that stood out amongst the rest. There were soft cookies, hard cookies, vegan cookies and gourmet cookies. I ate my way through dozens of vendors trying all sorts of baked treat loaded with butter and sugar and then others that fit the roll with no eggs and flour.

From the Spanish Pavillon on my last day, I was able to take a sleeve of cookies from Gullon, a Spanish baking company and sample them at home.

I munched through a package of the ‘Dueto’, sandwich cookies with chocolate flavored filling which were delightful. More of a tea cookie then soft cookie you would find in the States, these sugary light cookies are filled with a creamy milk chocolate spread. They are simple and sweet and make a perfect accompaniment with coffee and tea or for a great snack.

The ‘Dueto’ cookies with a chocolaty center are a delightful tea biscuit type cookie

One of the standouts of the show in the Cookie Category was Rule Breaker, a vegan cookie brand that used chickpeas as its main ingredient and there was a lot of all natural ingredients as their flavorings. You could tell though that these were not made out of flour and eggs, but the consistency was they were chewy and sweet and their rather unusual flavors.

I got to see them a third time my last day of the show and they gave me all sorts of samples that I was able to try at home. My standouts are the birthday cake with the sweetness of those sprinkles inside and the Chocolate Chunk Blondies with their chocolaty sweetness with pieces of chocolate inside.

Rule Breaker Bites

https://www.rulebreakersnacks.com/

I recommend Rule Breaker for those of you who are gluten intolerant and want a guilty pleasure. These are sweetened with natural ingredients and making treats that don’t leave anyone out. These soft cookies and bites make the perfect treat.

Another product from Hawaii was very impressive as well. The Honolulu Cookie Company. These delicious mini cookie shortbreads are sweet, rich and buttery and have the most amazing snap when you bite into them.

There were two I tried when they were offering me samples, the Pineapple Macadamia made with fresh pineapple juice and the Chocolate Chip Macadamia. Both had the richest flavors and after one or two of them was more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. You could really taste the pineapple flavor in the cookies. The packaging is a gift it itself and would make the nicest host present.

Honolulu Cookie Company

https://www.honolulucookie.com/

Honolulu Cookie Company products

Another delicious baker was Bisousweet Confections who make the most delicious Doughnut Muffins. These wonderful, sweet treats are a hybrid between a muffin and a doughnut and have the most amazing consistency.

Bisousweet Confections-Doughnut Muffins

I sampled both their Maple Apple flavor and their seasonal flavor or Pumpkin both which were soft and chewy and had a nice sugary consistency. The flavors were wonderful. I can see that the pumpkin ones will be very popular going into the fall.

One cheerful standout in the cookie category was Smiley Cookie.com, which were freshly baked, hand-iced sugar cookies. The cookies were made fresh daily in their factory and could be adapted at the holidays.

Smiley Cookie.com

https://smileycookie.com/

These sweet and crunchy cookies can brighten up anyone’s day. If this treat was given up with a restaurant bill or to a guest leaving a restaurant, it would cheer them up immediately. Not only do they look good it is the most optimistic dessert I saw at the show.

There were plenty of entrée, appetizer, pizza and ethnic items to choose from at the show, but you have to face reality that most of the sauces began to blend into one another and there are only so many dumplings you can eat before they all taste alike.

Still there were many that were a step above the others in quality, flavor and how nicely they cooked up at the show. I had several favorites that I went back to their booths more than once or had to try all the other items in their selection.

Wei-Chuan U.S.A. Inc. out of California had some of the best Chinese appetizers at the show. This is one of the booths that I visited three times to try their products. Their Vegetable & Pork Potstickers cooked up nicely and the filling had so much flavor accented by the soy dipping sauce they had on the side.

https://www.weichuanusa.com/

The Chicken Egg Rolls were loaded with fresh vegetables and ground chicken that were nicely spiced and fried to perfection. Their Hong Kong Style Cha Shu Buns were my hands down favorite with the sweet pork filling and the soft outside rice bun. They pulled apart so nicely.

https://www.weichuanusa.com/en/2-60001.html

An American twist to a French appetizer came from a newer vendor at the show Gougeres Artisanal Cheese Puffs. These soft, pillowy puffy little bites light and chewy when you bit into them, and I liked the Classic Gruyere that I sampled.

https://www.gougerecheesepuffs.com/

I had sampled more than a few when visited the booth with enjoying their sharp cheesy flavor. The owner told me that he made these all the time and that they had been popular at parties, and he decided to open it as a business. He made a good choice.

Holy Perogy offered delicious and perfectly cooked potato dumplings that had been lightly fried out.

https://holyperogy.info/

They were the perfect size to be eaten as an appetizer or as a side dish. I had sampled the Fried Onion and they had such a nice flavor of the well-spiced potato mix accented by the onions. Needless to say, their booth was very busy and did not get to try the others.

Geefree offered a selection gluten free appetizer that were really wonderful. The mini quiches I sampled were well cooked and had a nice buttery taste to them. The Rice Balls were wonderful and were crisp on the outside and moist and tasty inside.

https://www.geefree.com/

The last standout appetizer that really impressed me was the Cheese Fundy Crispy filled cheese bites.

Rosti Stuft Spuds recently changed their name to Crispy Inc.

https://urosti.com/products/stuffed-baked-potato/

These delightful little fried circles of Ham & Swiss Cheese deserved a second sampling. They were crispy on the outside and soft and stringy on the inside with the nicest combination of cheese and spices. They tasted like a combination of potato coquette and a stuffed potato patty. It was another very popular booth.

The old packaging for the product that stood out so much at the show

https://urosti.com/our-flavors/

One of the standouts in the Pizza Category was Milton’s Craft Bakers Cauliflower Crust Pizza. There is no other word to describe their pizzas but delicious. I never thought that I would like a crust made out of cauliflower, but it is light and crisp, and the sauce has so much flavor to it. It has the most amazing consistency when baked and has a nice selection of toppings. It was a pizza product that stood out at the show.

Milton’s Craft Bakers Cauliflower Crust Pizza

https://www.miltonscraftbakers.com/cauliflower-crust-pizza-vegetable

For slightly heavier appetizers and entrees, there were many different and interesting vendors at the show but two really stood out to me.

Nuka Baklava were sampling several products at the show.

https://www.nukadistribution.com/

This Los Angelos based American company has a complete line of Greek savories and sweets with Baklavas, Rolls and Turkish Bagels. The one product that I sampled and enjoyed was their Pastry with Cheese Filling (The Su Borek). This entree was filled with a tasty cheese filling between the layers of buttery pastry. Each bite has a nice crispiness from the layers of crisp pastry and the light flavor of the cheese filling that bakes up golden brown.

‘Su Borek’, Pastry with Cheese filling

One American favorite, the Hot Dog, was showcased perfectly by the Tandem Foods.

https://www.tandem.bg/eng/products/krenvirshi

Their hot dogs have a combination of pork, beef, lard and spices where the quality is so different from the average hot dog in size and flavor. I sampled both the plain frankfurters and the Pork and Cheese, and quality of the meat mixture and spiciness showed in the flavor of each bite.

My standout show favorite was the lobster products from Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company, an American company based in Maine. The company uses a combination of fresh sweet lobster and traditional family recipes to create their appetizers, soups, Lobster Sandwiches and pasta entrees.

https://www.hancockgourmetlobster.com/

The vendors were really nice and let me sample their Lobster Grilled Cheese, small bite sized sandwiches filled with chopped lobster and mixed with Cream, Parmesan, Swiss and Romano cheeses tucked into slices of sourdough bread. They were cooked in butter producing a mouthwatering crisp appetizer where you could taste the sweetness of the lobster, the crunchiness of the buttery bread and the combination of cheeses accenting the lobster meat. it was the best appetizer at the show.

The Mini Lobster Grilled Cheese is the perfect treat for a holiday party

They also have an impressive line of products that include Lobster Sandwiches, Lobster Bisque, Lobster Mac & Cheese and Lobster Ravioli each dish filled with locally caught lobster meat.

The standouts in the Candy Division of the show were many. There were so many wonderful candy makers and chocolatiers that were featured at the show. They came from all over the country and the world.

One vendor stood out for both taste, design and packaging were from American made from New Jersey was Biens Chocolate Centerpieces. These are more than just a gift of candy but a work of art and a very special gift to someone.

Biens Chocolate Centerpieces

https://www.bienscc.com/

The centerpiece designs on display were elegant and richly decorated. The chocolate was nicely decorated, and each bite was like heaven. The truffle chocolates had a soft filling and topped with stripes of chocolate.

The Biens Chocolate Centerpieces are just as wonderful to look as to taste.

Another decorative Chocolatier is Mae Fine Foods whose chocolate truffles look almost like jewels in a presentation box. These flavored truffles are a sweet delight inside and out.

https://maefinefoods.com/

I had sampled the Passion Fruit Mango and the White Chocolate Lemon and offered contrasting flavors of both white and milk chocolate. The Passion Fruit and Mango offer a sweet fruity flavor inside each bite of the chocolate. You can taste the tartness of the lemon in the white chocolate.

The chocolate bon bons look as good as they taste

The beauty of the chocolates is in their appearance and packaging. Each of the candies are handmade and individually decorated. The outside looks like a surrealist painting that has been air brushed on. They glow beautifully in the packaging.

Scamps Toffee is a small batch company of delicious toffee products, toppings, chocolate barks and a toffee popcorn that is out of this world. The ladies that run the company gave me all sorts of samples to take home including the Milk Chocolate Toffee, the Dark Chocolate Toffee, the Milk Chocolate Bark and the Toffee Popcorn.

Scamps Toffee and Sweets

https://www.scampstoffee.com/

The wonderful candies and toppings from Scamps Toffee

The toffees have such a rich and crunchy texture with the tastes of coffee and caramel with a delicious chocolate topping. I sampled the toppings, and they had such a nice flavor that accented the pretzels that they were sampled with at the booth. The popcorn is topped with a combination of chocolates and caramel that gives it a sweet and crunchy feel and a very nice complexity with each bite. It puts a new spin on traditional caramel corn.

https://www.barofchocolates.com/

Miss Maude’s Theater Bar was chocolate bar with unique flavors such as Butter Popcorn, Raisins and Chewy Caramel. I was able to sample a few of the flavors and thought it was such a nice concept.

The Miss Maude’s Theater Bars are a real treat for any movie

Another fun treat with the guilty pleasure of fresh fruit and chocolate was Karinat Frozen Fruits from Argentina distributed by Heinlein Foods. These fresh frozen strawberries and raspberries have a wonderful crunch to them and burst with the fruit flavors and semi-sweet chocolate.

Karinat Frozen Fruits

Food stuffs with peanut butter seemed to be very popular at the show this year and I sampled some unique and tasty candy from Parfait Fine Delicacies.

Parfait Fine Delicacies Peanut Butter Cups

Riddle_UK

Their peanut butter cups rivaled anything from Reese’s and put a new spin on them but their Riddle Bars with wafers layered with peanut butter and then enrobed in milk chocolate had a nice snap to them when you bit into them.

The Riddle Bars are amazing

Sanders Candy is a very old-line American firm from Michigan whose chocolate, hot fudge and caramel toppings I have tried many times at the food show or have been given as gifts. When I was at the show this year, I was able to sample some of their chocolates.

https://sanderscandy.com/

My fan favorite was the Small Batch Sea Salt Caramels with their rich taste from the dark chocolate and the complex mix of the salt and caramel giving a sweet and savory flavor. Each bite has a nice snap of the chocolate and gooiness of the filling.

The Dark Chocolate Sea Salt caramels are amazing

Kravy Foods “The Good Stuff” was an impressive vendor with lines of candies and snack foods that not only tasted good but had eye-packaging. I was really impressed with this New York City based company with their extensive line of sweets and snacks. Before I left the show on Tuesday, they loaded me down with samples that I could try on my own and I will tell you I impressed by both the quality and taste.

https://www.kravyfoods.com/

I was munching on the vanilla Choc-Mallows while I was walking around Manhattan and talk about an energy boost. These sweet little marshmallows are dipped in white chocolate and then dipped in colorful sprinkles with a crunchy outside and soft chewy inside. They hold up well in the hot weather and make the perfect pick me up snack.

Kravy’s Cho-Mallows

Kravy’s Hazelnut Popperz

The Hazelnut Popperz are these puffy and crunchy snacks have the taste of milk chocolate enrobed in the savory hazelnuts that tasted like they had been roasted to a crunchy consistency. They are quite addictive.

Kravy’s Falafel Bites

I saved the best for last as these Falafel Bites are salty and garlicy and have such a wonderful crunch that these chips become addictive. I was not able to try all the flavors, but they make a wonderful dipping snack or just enjoy a bag on the go. One thing I can say about Kravy’s products is that they are not boring. Rich flavors and nice packaging are the perfect snack every day.

I never miss a chance to visit the Italian Pavillon to see what was being imported from my ‘Mother Country’ and see the innovations have been created in Europe.

The Granarolo Company has the sharpest line of Cheese Crisps that I tasted at the show.

https://www.granarolo.com/product/cheese-snack

Home

These circular snacks were extremely pronounced in flavor (they were too sharp to be eaten alone) and would a great snack with wine or a cocktail. I tried both the Classic Cheese and the Pizza flavored, and both could be paired with a red or white wine.

These delightful sharp flavors are the perfect cocktail snack

Another snack with intense flavors was the lines of puffs and crisps were Vegan Rob’s.

The assortment of snacks and the quality are fantastic. Their spicy products the Dragon Puffs and the Dragon Chips had a nice kick to them with a combination of garlic and onion power with sea salt accented them. With each bite, you could experience the spicy flavor and feel the burning sensation in your mouth.

Dragon Crisps that give a spicy sensation to your mouth

The Cheddar Puffs had a nice bite to them and a crisp crackle. The sharpness of the Cheddar Cheese could be tasted as I ate the whole bag at one sitting (small bag). These addictive little puffs are made with Sorghum Grain Meat and Sunflower oil giving them a slightly different consistency than a traditional doodle.

Vegan Rob’s Assorted Puffs delicious flavors

The great flavoring will have you eating the whole bag at one sitting too.

One of my favorite gourmet vendors of the Fancy Food Show is Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn.

https://jodyspopcorn.com/

I have watched this company grow over the last fifteen years and have been sampling Jody and her husband’s popcorn for years. Their caramel corn, double Cheddar and the Funetti with the festive colors are some of the most delicious popcorns at the show every year.

The secret of Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn is the kernels they use. Each of the pieces have the same appearance to them and the same size. It is the variety of popcorn kernels they use keep it looking consistent with the packaging and the eating. You won’t see small, popped kernels in the bags. Don’t miss their holiday flavor like the Halloween Funetti and the Christmas Candy Corn.

A local popcorn vendor from New Jersey that I enjoyed was Pop Time Popcorn whose flavors are interesting as well.

https://www.poptimesnacks.com/

I really enjoyed the Spicy Dill Pickle with the flavors of dill, vinegar and onion powder to accent the fresh popcorn. Another standout was their White Cheddar with the sharp taste from the cheese. I also like their cheery packaging.

Don’t miss Pop Times wonderful, flavored popcorns especially the Spicy Dill Pickle

One popcorn vendor took flavoring to a new level with the Cookie Pop and Candy Pop Popcorn from Snax-Sational Brands, who use name brand treats to flavor their popcorn.

http://snaxsationalbrands.com/

When the vendor closed on Tuesday for the show, they let us take all the samples we wanted to try at home, and this gave me a chance to really taste their products. Talk about interesting mixes! I sampled the Sour Patch Kids with its super sweet taste with the chewiness of the popcorn, the M & M Minis with the colorful chocolaty M & M flavors, the Twix Bar with the light peanut butter and chocolaty flavor and the Orea Cookie where you could taste the creamy filling.

Don’t miss these interesting flavors at Cookie & Candy Pop

Talk about innovative flavors, engaging packaging and an overall sweet tasting popcorn that is truly melt in your mouth good!

I love Cheese Popcorn and it is always my hands down favorite to order when out and sample when at the shows. It takes a real art to get that sharp cheese flavor right.

https://bellespopcorn.com/

Belle’s Gourmet Popcorn did an excellent job with their Extra Cheddar popcorn.

The Belle’s Extra Cheddar was one of the best in the show

Talk about a nice cheesy flavor in each bite and heavy enough coating to lick off your fingers. That is the sign of a good cheese popcorn. Their Extra Buttery and White Cheddar are just as good as well.

One of the closest to homemade popcorns that I tasted at the show was from Pop Zup, who packaged their popcorn like you were going to the movies.

https://popzup.com/

I enjoyed their Butter me Up Popcorn and the Maple Cinnamon Toast Popcorn had a marvelous, sweet flavor. You could really taste the Maple Syrup which was a nice twist in lieu of a caramel corn.

Don’t miss the sweet and savory Maple Cinnamon Toast Popcorn from Pop Zup

Another savory product I enjoyed was the Friendly Grain Crisps from Ava Organics.

https://www.avaorganicsfoods.com/

These crisp little circles were crunchy and delicious. I enjoyed the Vegan Cheddar, and the Bacon Habanero crisps the best.

Like Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn, another show favorite of mine that I have followed for years is John Wm. Macy Snacks.

John Wm. Macy’s Family Bakery

https://www.johnwmmacys.com/

This New Jersey based company has a selection of crisp crackers, bites and breadsticks have an amazing crunch to them and come in various cheese flavors and sweet flavors accented with cinnamon. These crackers and twists are perfect as a snack or with cocktails. My favorites have always been the Sharp Cheddar twists and the Asiago & Cheddar Crisps.

The Asiago & Cheddar Crisps are delicious and have a nice bite to them

When the show was over, I stopped by the booth and Mr. Macy was cleaning up and left a lot of bags of his products out for people to take which they were by the handful. Having met him at the shows since the early 2000’s, I asked if I could take one of the big bags left which he was happy to do. That is a good businessman, and I enjoyed the whole bag on my own. I loved munching through the bag while working at the computer. I love to hear the loud sounds of the crunching.

Koeze Brands has a wonderful product called “Zestos” which are a seasoned tortilla chip with a sweet, salty and spicy taste.

‘Zestos’ Seasoned Tortilla Chips by Koeze Brands

https://koezebrands.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Zestoschips/

These flavorful chips are great on their own or with a dip. Right out of the bag, the have a unique flavor from the combination of flavors and a fantastic crunch.

‘Zestos’ seasoned tortilla chips have the most amazing crunchy flavor

Even the bigger companies are coming out with more specialty lines when Herr Foods introduced the ‘Good Natured’ line of snacks.

https://www.herrs.com/

https://www.facebook.com/herrs/

This selection of various flavored snack foods is a wonderful and diverse selection of tastes and shapes. The two that stood out for me at the show were the ‘Vegables’, which are small crispy triangles with the flavor of spinach, carrots and tomatoes with a slight saltiness and a fantastic crunch.

Good Natured Vegables

The other is their ‘White Cheddar Puffs’ that have a sharp cheesy flavor and a nice bite to them. I was able to bring samples home so that I could taste them a second time and the product is delicious.

Good Natured White Cheddar Puffs

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Herr-Foods-Good-Natured-Selects-White-Cheddar-Puffs-2-375-Ounce-6-per-case/238844612

I sampled a whole bag of 1 in 6 Snacks ‘Carolina Kettle BeeSting Honey Sriracha Kettle Chips’ in one sitting when I took the sample home with me from the show.

1 in 6 Snacks

https://www.1in6snacks.com/

These sweet and salty chips tasted like they were fresh out of the fryer and then doused with the spices and a bit of honey. They had the most amazing crunch to them that make you want to finish the bag.

The Carolina Ketter Bee Sting Honey Sriracha chips are sweet and savory in flavor

https://www.carolinakettle.com/about-1in6-snacks

In the Jellies, Jams and Sauces Category, there were many to choose from when I walked the aisles of the show with many standouts both in the sweet and savory areas.

Blueberry Patch out of Georgia sampled their delicious small batch jelly, Blueberry Lemon & Thyme, which the jar said to serve with cheese, but I put it on an English Muffin when I got home and sampled it on toast. The flavor blended together so nicely, and the combination of the blueberries and lemon brought out the sweet tartness of the fruit. I enjoyed the small jar that they gave me every morning. I also recommend it for waffles.

Blueberry Patch products

https://www.blackberrypatch.com/

I have been writing about “Bone Suckin’ Sauce” for many years now and their Barbecue sauces are the best. Rich and smokey and come in various degrees and flavors.

The Bone Suckin Sauce

Their mustard has a nice spicy consistency as well and is perfect on hot dogs and hot pretzels. Each of their sauces has a unique flavor to it.

Bone Suckin’ Mustard

Of the pasta sauces that I tried at the show one really stood out. It was the Pink Crema Sauce from Eat Happy Kitchen by Anna Vocino.

https://eathappykitchen.com/

When I tasted this tomato sauce with some ziti, it tasted like a cross between a Vodka Sauce and a Pink Sauce with a combination of organic ingredients. This light tomato sauce has mixture of freshly chopped tomatoes, heavy cream and parmesan cheese with fresh basil and garlic. These small batch sauces taste homemade and not from a jar.

Of all their sauces the Pink Crema Sauce really stood out

Cakes and Cake Mixes were a big part of the show and of the many that I sampled a few stood out. It was not just on taste but on appearance and packaging as well. Just like the cookie and candy category, there are a lot of wonderful products that taste wonderful but to separate yourself out from the rest of the vendors you need to grab the customers attention to get them to buy it.

The German Crumb Cake from Hahn’s Bakery was out of this world.

Hahn’s Old Fashioned Cake Company

https://www.facebook.com/HahnsOldFashionedCakeCompany/

This buttery soft cake loaded with large crumbs on the top is perfect for breakfast or dessert. It tasted like it had been just made for the show and had cooled from coming out of the oven. I had to try to piece, and they were more than generous with the samples.

The German Crumb Cake at Hahn’s Old-Fashioned Cake Company is delicious

Little Big Farm Foods had several cakes mixes that I tried at the show and there was no one standout in that I enjoyed them all. The consistency and taste of their products was fantastic, and they bake up nicely.

https://littlebigfarmfoods.com/

The four that I was most impressed with was the White Chocolate Coconut Brownie Mix, the Lemon Square Mix, the Organic Selections Lemon Square Mix and the one I sampled most was the Apple Cider Doughnut Mix. They had a delicious sweet and sugary flavor to them.

The Apple Cider Doughnut Mix was the best of the four I tried

The last booth on the last day of the show I visited was the Cornell AgriTech booth, which was a display of all the products that came out of the Cornell University Incubator, part of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

https://cals.cornell.edu/cornell-agritech

They were helping small businesses get their ideas into fruition and then getting them to market so I got to see new products and the people who created them. The one stand out here was a whipped cream with a colored syrup already in the can giving a Sunday a colorful look every time it was squirted out of the can.

It also gave me a chance to talk to other Cornell University Alumni about the show and reminisce about our time on campus. It is funny how when Alumni get together how they talked about freezing their asses off at college. Cornell University is on the snow belt in New York State in a major way.

It was an eye-opening show this year with lots of new products to sample and many old vendors it was nice to see again. The show may not have been as big as the show in 2019 when it seemed endless. After two years of not having a show, it was nice to see what is happening in the industry and the world of Gourmet Foods. It is interesting to see many new products have come out with their creative packaging, wonderful flavors and putting a spin on classics. wonderful foods. It was a pleasure to taste high quality foods made with pride.

Good luck to all the vendors mentioned in this blog and to the hundreds of others I visited in those three days.

Please check out my other blogs on the Intenational Fancy Food Show in New York City:

Day One Hundred and Forty-One: Walking the Fancy Food Show 2019:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9543

Day Thirty-Five: Walking the Fancy Food Show 2015:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/28

Day Two-Hundred and Thirty-Two Visiting Washington DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival April 15th and 16th, 2022

Well after seven years of trying to get to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival I finally got down to the city to get to the tidal basin to see the display. It looks like it will be eight years as almost all the cherry blossoms disappeared almost two weeks earlier. All the leaves were long gone and as I overheard another tourist say to a friend that she was disappointed that she had not known and most of the trees were bare.

The festival was in its second week and most of the trees had gone green. I found out later from the Internet that they peaked on March 21st and right after that we had all that rain. It probably knocked the petals off after that.

The festival ran through April 16th, 2022 (the peak of the blooms was March 21st)

It was bummer in that I finally had a free weekend open to visit Washington DC and I had been looking forward to seeing Mother Nature’s show. I even took an early Amtrak train down to DC so that I could spend time in the Basin area when I arrived. The sun does not go down until 7:30pm now (which is a pleasure).

The trip down by train was nice as I love taking my time and just watching everything fly by. The train was packed. I kept forgetting that it was the start of the Easter weekend and people were starting their holiday travel plus for some schools it was Spring Break and college students were coming on the train loaded with luggage. The train was almost completely sold out.

Union Station was a shocker. I had not been in DC since the summer of 2019 when I went down for my Georgetown interview. The station was buzzing with commuters milling around the station and workers coming in during their lunch and dinner hours to enjoy the restaurants and shopping in the terminals. Union Station had a nice selection of restaurants and boutiques to visit, and it was a nice place to spend the afternoon.

Union Station in DC at 50 Massachusetts Avenue

https://www.unionstationdc.com/

The place looked like a ghost town when I arrived. The terminal was busy but not like it used to be and so many businesses closed. The lower-level restaurant food court was practically empty. That was really spooky. There was two people downstairs in the about four restaurants open and one was a homeless guy. I could not believe what COVID did to the station.

Still, it was a beautiful day and I decided to walk up First Street to my hotel. I was staying at the Marriott Courtyard DC in the NoMA section of DC (North of Massachusetts Avenue-Frah Frah) and it was only about a twenty minute walk for me. I could not believe how quiet DC was at the time. It was late afternoon and the only people that I saw on the streets were the security guards guarding the buildings. It looked like everyone had left DC for the holidays.

The Marriott Courtyard DC/Capital Building at 1325 Second Street NE

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/wasus-courtyard-washington-dc-us-capitol/

I was able to check into my room early, unpacked and off I went down New York Avenue to downtown. My first stop was Chinatown because I was starved, and I needed the late lunch. Downtown DC is one of the places in the core of the city that really has kept its architecture intact and has lots of character. On D, F and G Streets lots of older buildings from the post-Civil War era to the end of the Victorian Age and the facades now been incorporated into new buildings.

F Street from the White House to the arena used to be the old shopping district up until the 1990’s and you can still see the ghosts of Garfinckel’s, Woodward & Linthrop and Hecht’s Department stores in the architecture of these former grand department stores.

Garfinckel’s Department Store was the inspiration for my novel “Love Triangles”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garfinckel%27s

http://www.thedepartmentstoremuseum.org/2010/05/julius-garfinckel-co.html

Sadly, though when the arena was built, it pretty much knocked down the core of Chinatown and what is left now is about five restaurants, a small grocery store, tea shop and a gift shop that I am not sure whether it is open or not. There are still a few hangers on that give it some character but it’s not like the Chinatown’s in New York or Philadelphia.

There is one restaurant I still love going to when I am in DC, and I always visit it for sentimental reasons and that’s Chinatown Express Restaurant at 746 Sixth Street NW (see my review on TripAdvisor). I discovered the place several years ago when I was on a location search for my novel “Love Triangles” (Day One Hundred and Fifty-Two: Reading the Prologue of the Novel “Love Triangles”):

The entrance to the former Julius Garfinckel & Company: The inspiration for the novel “Love Triangles”. The entrance is on F Street in Downtown DC.

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/10803

What attracted me to Chinatown Express then as now was the cooks are always making homemade dumplings and noodles in the window of the restaurant. One of the owner’s was making pulled noodles on my first trip there and then after that I was always looking for the chef making the pulled noodles.

The last time I saw him was when I went down for my Georgetown interview. On this trip, I saw who I assumed was his kid’s wrapping dumplings in the window and I had to have some of those.

Not really looking at the menu, I ordered Pan-Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings and Fresh Pulled Noodle Soup with Roast Pork, all of which is made inhouse. What a lunch! The dumplings were crisp and tender on the outside and a well-spiced pork mixture on the inside. This was made even better by the soy sauce mixture that I dipped them in.

The Pulled Noodle Soup had a nice rich chicken broth as a base with large slices of roast pork, fresh Bok choy and long strands of freshly made noodles in the soup. The soup was a meal onto itself. I slurped the soup with the noodles being sucked up at the same time. The roast pork had a nice, sweet glaze on top and they gave me a lot of it. The soup warmed me up and filled me up after a long journey.

Chinatown Express at 746 6th Street NW

https://www.chinatownexpressdc.com/

After lunch was over, I had a lot more energy and ready to tour DC. I headed down to the Washington Mall to see the Tidal Basin. What a disappointment! The blossoms were over. There were still some trees around the basin that we a certain species of cherry tree that bloom late (these are the ones we are waiting for to bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) and these were the ones on the fringes of the basin that everyone was taking pictures of with their families. I guess it is another year before I see them again.

This is what it was supposed to look like but didn’t (Wiki)

https://www.nps.gov/articles/dctidalbasin.htm

All the trees around the basin had flowered and dropped their petals. There were a few bunches of late bloomers here and there in groups that my fellow tourists huddled around to take pictures. It was pretty sad because the DC Cherry Blossom Festival was in its second week and the blossoms had bloomed already. Mother Nature had the last laugh!

Still the trees were bursting with green leaves and the start of summer looked like it was upon us. It seems that everything was growing two weeks in advance even up by me and it looked like late Spring all over the Washington Mall. The paths were full of people looking at the trees making the same comments that I did about the leaves. I have to say that the tourists have come back. I heard many languages being spoken as I walked to the Jefferson Memorial on the other side of the basin and people were taking pictures of everything. It was nice to see DC busy and full of people all over the Mall.

The Jefferson Memorial was being repaired but still impressive and makes a statement when you walk around the structure. You can see all the quotes that spoken carved in the walls and reading them I was wondering how far we have come as a society with everything going on today. I had to dodge construction and people taking pictures in every direction.

The Jefferson Memorial at 16 East Basin Drive

https://www.nps.gov/thje/index.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Memorial

I walked back to the patches of flowering cherry trees and the groups of people huddled around them desperate to show in picture the beauty of the trees. I have to admit that these patches of trees around the Washington Monument were very impressive.

The Washington Monument at 15th Street NW when I visited in 2007

https://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument

I stopped for a while, bought a Coke from a vendor selling beverages all over the Mall and sat on the lawn and just relaxed and watched the sun set. Groups of families were sitting on the lawn, chatting, laughing and taking pictures. It was nice to see people again visiting the country and enjoying the city.

As I left the Mall lawn, I walked back into the downtown area. I stopped by the Portrait Gallery, but they were closed for the evening. Outside the Portrait Gallery, they were having one of the Cherry Blossom Street events with food vendors, musicians, people playing video games on the big screen and then they showed a Japanese cartoon film. There was a food vendor named Miguel’s Miniatures, who made homemade empanadas, churros, mini doughnuts and homemade lemonade. The prices were really reasonable.

I ordered the mini doughnuts that were ten for $5.00. These were freshly fried in front of me and then they had a series of glazes in squeeze bottles and sprinkles and candies to top them. It was a really nice concept and the doughnuts hit the spot after a long walk and a good lunch. It was nice to munch away while listening to the music.

As it got dark, I walked back to the hotel to settle in for the night. I have to say that Washington DC is a great walking city. Unlike Manhattan, the streets were really clean and well-groomed, and I did not see the amount of homeless that I would see in New York City. As I walked back up through downtown and up New York Avenue, I just noticed how organized the city seemed. There were a few tent encampments but again they were under overpasses and kept out of view from the rest of the neighborhood.

I walked through most of the Northeast section of the city, just north of New York Avenue and admired all the old town houses. They all look like they had been sandblasted back to like and the fronts of the homes were covered in flowering plants and there were lots of rainbow flags almost showing me the gentrification of the neighborhood.

When I got to around where the hotel was located, I got a little lost and did not realize that there were two First Streets off New York Avenue. I knew that I had not reached the McDonalds that I had passed or some of the street art that I use as a marker to remember where I walked. So, I walked around the block and down another street. That is when the fun began.

I walked down the first First Street and knew I did not recognize anything, so I just walked through this construction site of two new buildings going up and walking through the alley way between both sites and passed a dark church on the side of these construction sites. I thought that might be a good sign. I got to the other side of the street only to walk up a street between the two First Street and more construction only to have a group of 30 bikers without helmets coming at me in each direction.

I was more perplexed on why they were not wearing helmets and doing dangerous wheelies than coming at me in every direction. Even some of the bikers had strange looks on their faces as they surrounded me and went around me. It just said to me “What was I doing there?” and “Who was I?” and they continued to ride down the street and never looked back.

They never came back around to see what I was doing. I ended up in front of a public housing complex where the residents gave me a strange look walking by. Some were trying to hide that they were smoking substances that are no longer illegal.

I just looked back once and then kept walking and found my way back onto New York Avenue, crossed the bridge on the highway and then recognized a piece of art on the street that gave me back my directional sense. I knew my bearings as I crossed over New York Avenue and walked down North Street NE back towards the hotel. It was like another world from the one I just walked through. There I found Menomale Pizza Napoletana NoMA at 35N Street NE.

It was surreal. I felt like I went from one world to another in just a few feet. The restaurant was just going through it first seating and people were leaving. I looked at the menu and decided that I was hungry. That and I did not want to know if I would have enough energy once I got to the hotel to come back, so I entered and got a table. What a wonderful decision.

The menu had a nice selection of appetizers, pizzas, entrees and desserts and I settled on a simple Pizza Margareta ($14.95) with a Coke. I wanted to keep it simple because it was getting late, and I did not want to have to digest a heavy dinner so late at night.

Menomale NoMA at 35 North Street NE

The pizza was excellent with a topping with a fresh tomato sauce with crushed tomatoes and freshly made mozzarella and basil with a little olive oil on top. The pizza was also the right size for one person about the size of a large dinner plate. Being a thin crusted pizza and the dough was light and chewy, it was not difficult to devour the whole pizza. I thought the service was very professional, friendly and personal. Several waiters stopped by my table to see how I was doing. Between the food, atmosphere and service, it was the perfect meal. It ended a very strange walk back to the hotel.

The one thing I have to credit Marriott with is that their beds are super comfortable. I hit the pillow and slept soundly that evening. When I awoke the next day and opened the blinds and let the sunny morning inside the room. I felt so relaxed and not a bit tired from all the walking that I did the day before.

I had a quick breakfast at the McDonald’s around the corner from the hotel and had my usual Sausage with Egg McMuffin combination breakfast. It always hits the spot, but I will be pretty honest. Maybe it was all the walking or just I was hungry, but I needed more even after I left the restaurant.

As I made my way down to the Mall to visit museums, I needed something else to eat. So I stopped at this small Farmers Market on I Street NW right near Milian Park and saw a woman selling empanadas and stopped for one. She said she made them from her mother’s recipes and her breakfast empanada contained Mexican bacon, chorizo, eggs and Chedder cheese. For $4.00, I thought it was a fair price. The same thing in the Farmers Market in Union Square, they would have charged six or seven dollars for the same thing. It was the perfect breakfast accompaniment.

What I liked about DC was things like this. There were small Farmer’s Markets on the side streets, vendors with all sorts of foods all over the Mall and in front of the Portrait Gallery was the Downtown Cherry Blossom Festival with the movies and food. People have been complaining how bad DC has gotten and maybe it was me but in the two days I spent there, I only saw very positive things to participate in.

I finally got to the Hirshhorn Museum at Independence Avenue and 7th Street to see Yayoi Kusama exhibition that I had seen discussed on ‘CBS This Morning’ a couple of weeks earlier.

The Hirshhorn Museum at Independence Avenue and 7th Street (Hirshhorn Museum)

https://www.si.edu/museums/hirshhorn-museum-and-sculpture-garden

This was one of the reasons I had come to DC on top of seeing cherry blossoms that were not there. To my surprise, the museum had been open since 10:00am (I thought it did not open until 11:30am) and then the guy at the door says I needed timed tickets that were distributed starting at 9:00am that morning. He would not budge!

Artist Yayoi Kusama (Wiki)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yayoi_Kusama

Ms. Kusama is a Japanese born artist who was trained at the Kyoto City University of Arts and is known for Avant-guard works and her later use of polka dots as her trademark.

Video on Ms. Kusama’s work

I went back upstairs to talk to the ladies at the desk and God must have been listening to me because in front of me were two people who did not want to go see the exhibition and I was able to grab one of their tickets. Talk about luck! I hate to say it but the guy at the desk downstairs looked disappointed that he had to let me in.

I swear that the Yayoi Kusama exhibition was well worth the trip down to DC. What an interesting way not only to display art but to be part of the art exhibition as well. The exhibition started with a few larger pieces of her work with lots of polka dots and pumpkins until you got to move to the private rooms where you got to part of the exhibition. This is where it got interesting.

The curator told me that this pumpkin belonged to the museum

I got to walk into her Mirrored Room with here soft sculptures and was left inside by myself for thirty seconds when the door closed. It was amazing and mind-blowing that you could see the repetitiveness of yourself in the artform and got to experience what she had seen as well. All those little red and white soft sculptures all over the floor made you feel like you were in a surreal ‘Wonderland’.

The Mirrored Room at the Hirshhorn Museum was like being in a surreal ‘Wonderland’

After leaving the mirrored room, I passed a through a small walkway and then when entering the next room of polka dot lanterns, it felt like you were walking through some crazy dream. It was so odd and exciting at the same time. It was so thrilling to be part of the artwork. It was like being in a usual funhouse.

The Polka Dot Lantern Room at the Hirshhorn Museum is a colorful ‘funhouse’

The exhibition is so engaging I wanted to walk through it again but the lines to get in when I left were so long that I knew I would not get tickets again. It is an exhibition that was worth the wait and the trip down to DC and I highly recommend it.

After I left the exhibition, I visited the Laurie Anderson exhibition and was again memorized by the lines of flags going up and down like a surrealist dream. Her videos of people sharpening knives was pretty weird as well.

Artist Laurie Anderson (Wiki)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurie_Anderson

Ms. Anderson’s work was just as wild, and she also makes it fun to walk through an exhibition. You become part of the art and that is just as interesting. Ms. Anderson is an American born artist who graduated with a BA from Barnard College and MFA from Columbia University. She is known for her Avant-guard works that spread across many mediums (Wiki).

The Laurie Anderson exhibition “The Weather” was another unusual journey

After spending most of my morning participating in the art of the Hirshhorn Museum, I wanted to walk through the sculpture garden. It was nice to walk amongst the flowers and all the pieces of art.

I knew I would be heading back to Manhattan after I finished at the museums and I stopped for lunch in the Washington Mall, which was line with food trucks. I stopped by a very busy one I had seen the other day called “Ribeye Philadelphia Steak” for a Cheesesteak. I had not had one since I went down to Philly for the Penn/Cornell game.

For $13.00, I got a large Cheesesteak with Wiz and a Coke and ate it on the lawn of the Mall. God, was I in the mood for that Cheesesteak. I felt like I was back at the Reading Terminal Market again. The roll was really fresh and chewy and the steaks were perfectly cooked. They must have made a mistake in the order because I got Provolone inside the roll and Cheese Wiz on top. I didn’t care. The combination was delicious and I just relaxed on the lawn on a sunny afternoon and enjoyed my lunch. Don’t miss this food truck when looking for a meal in the Washington Mall.

I walked past the White House and talk about security. The whole place was cordoned off and security is extremely tight. I had never seen all of this before. For the last twelve years there has been so much craziness with protests and people trying to get into the White House I do not blame them for the security. I have to say one thing, I saw the real FBI guys protecting the perimeter of the area and now understand why people think I look like I am in law enforcement. These guys looked like a younger version of me.

Me in front of the White House in better days in 2007

I walked back to the Downtown area and went to visit The National Portrait Gallery at Eighth and G Street for the “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” exhibition.

The National Portrait Gallery at Eighth and G Street in Downtown Washington DC

https://npg.si.edu/home/national-portrait-gallery

I still remember the Watergate scandal from when I was a kid. The only importance that it had to the nine-year-old me was that all the cartoons and kids programming was cancelled for the hearings. Learning more about the incident in college and from books was how hard this hit the American public and their trust of the government.

National Portrait Gallery exhibition “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” (Time Magazine Cover)

https://npg.si.edu/exhibition/watergate

The exhibition had all sorts of illustrations of the scandal and the people who were participants of it. It was funny to see the names and faces of the people who were involved in this event and know now that most of them are no longer alive to defend themselves. Even though the scandal was seen in the form of illustration, it did make a point into the ramifications of what happens when you get caught.

It was a low point for our country, between that and the ongoing war in Vietnam and inflation, you have an idea of why the country was so cynical. I am convinced this is why the Disco era happened. When it was all over, people needed to blow off steam and have a good time. Plus, the Baby Boomers were coming of age and needed time for themselves before starting a family.

It was funny to see how the artists depicted these important people or people who thought that they were important. It is amazing how fast the mighty can fall fast. It was not until the Reagan Administration that there was some pride back in the country and in some ways that was all a facade as well. It takes an exhibition like this to point that out.

After I toured the exhibition, I toured the Hall of Presidents and saw all the portraits. I saw the portrait of the recent president and listened to the comments that patrons made. They were not all bad and some were quite complimentary. When you are touring this room, you have to remember that everyone is human, and all of these men have made mistakes in the past. Since many people do not know American history or the backgrounds of most of the people in that room, it is hard to comment on.

Before I headed back to the hotel to head home, I stopped in the Downtown Cherry Blossom event they had in front of the National Portrait Gallery and listened to the music again. The kids were playing a video game on the large screen and parents were swinging in the swings by the tables.

I stopped by Miguel’s Mini’s again and had one of his stuffed Churros with Bavarian cream. If you wanted to ever sink your teeth into something delicious, it was a freshly fried Churro filled with fresh vanilla cream. It was decadent and the perfect snack before my long trip home.

I picked my luggage up and walked back down to the train station and just made the 5:00pm train back to New York City. Talk about luck with the last-minute travel plans.

Even though I got to see just a limited version of the Cherry Blossoms in DC it gives me something to shoot for next year. It was a nice two days in the nation’s capital and told me one thing, not everything in Washington DC is all that bad.

You just have to look for the positives and you will find them!

Places to Stay:

Marriott Courtyard DC/US Capital

1325 Second Street NE

Washington DC, 20001

(202) 898-4000

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/wasus-courtyard-washington-dc-us-capitol/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g28970-d1237013-Reviews-Courtyard_by_Marriott_Washington_DC_U_S_Capitol-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html?m=19905

Places to Eat:

Chinatown Express Restaurant

746 Sixth Street NW

Washington DC 20001

(202) 638-0424/638-0425

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

https://www.chinatownexpressdc.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g28970-d450543-Reviews-Chinatown_Express-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html?m=19905

Menomale Pizza Napoletana NoMA

35 North Street NE

Washington DC 20001

(202) 216-0630

https://www.facebook.com/menomaledc

Open: Sunday-Monday 11:00am-9:00pm/Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Thursday 11:00am-9:00pm/Friday and Saturday 11:00am-10:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g28970-d3626008-Reviews-Menomale-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html?m=19905

McDonald’s

75 New York Avenue NE

Washington DC 20002

(202) 381-0900

https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/location/dc/washington/75-new-york-ave-ne/650.html

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 Hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g28970-d4348371-Reviews-McDonald_s-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html?m=19905

Ribeye Philadelphia Steak

Food Truck on the Washington Mall

Places to Visit:

The Jefferson Memorial

16 East Basin Drive

Washington DC, 20242

(202) 426-6841

https://www.nps.gov/thje/index.htm

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 Hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28970-d103436-Reviews-Jefferson_Memorial-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Independence Avenue and Seventh Street

Washington DC, 20560

(202) 633-1000

Open: Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-5:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28970-d14202089-Reviews-Hirshorn_Museum_of_Art-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28970-d107886-Reviews-Hirshhorn_Museum_and_Sculpture_Garden-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html

The National Portrait Gallery

Eight and G Streets NW

Washington DC 20001

(202) 633-8300

https://npg.si.edu/home/national-portrait-gallery

Open: Sunday 11:30am-7:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 11:30am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28970-d108423-Reviews-National_Portrait_Gallery-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html

The Washington Monument & Mall

2 15th Street NW

Washington DC 20024

(202) 426-6841

https://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28970-d107009-Reviews-Washington_Monument-Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html

Day Two Hundred and Thirteen: Happy Birthday Dad! January 5th, 2022

I want to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to my father who this blog is dedicated to and for inspiring such a walk around New York City.

I have completed more than half the Island of Manhattan and I still sometimes catch a glimpse of him in the corner of my eye walking beside me like he did on all those wonderful afternoons we spent in Manhattan for birthdays and Father’s Day’s.

Whenever I visit a place that we used to go on a regular basis like the MoMA, Little Italy or Chinatown or the Met, I still think “How much dad would have liked this”. This is why I love the complexity of New York City. Things just keep changing no matter how much you want them to stay the same and it can still surprise you.

This is my dedication to those wonderful afternoons we spent together!

Happy Birthday Day Dad!

Blogger Justin Watrel with his father, Warren Watrel, at “Tap O Mania” in 1994 outside Macy’s Herald Square. Appropriate while the blogger is exploring the Garment District.

“Tap O Mania” was a huge tap dance that used to happen outside Macy’s in the summer to break the Guiness Book of World Records every year. My father and I did this up from the time I was an executive at the store until I moved in 2000. The company stopped doing this for security reasons.

Imagine doing this in the era of COVID!

Demarest Farm at Christmas

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Six: Visiting the Farms in Bergen County, NJ during the Christmas & Halloween holidays and in the Spring-A Local Journey December 18th-31st, 2020 (Again in April & October 2021)

When you think of the words ‘rural’ and ‘farmland’ these are not terms you hear a lot in Bergen County, NJ, one of the heaviest populated counties to surround New York City. Yet the county has a rich history in farming and agriculture from the late 1600’s up into the 1970’s when development pressures got too strong and most of what was left of the farms of the area got plowed over for development.

Early in our county’s history, the Dutch and then the English supplied much of the fruits and vegetables for the New York City markets. Much did not change until the suburban expansion after WWII and many strawberry, celery and potato farms were plowed under for shopping malls and housing developments. Since that time and with the help of the Right to Farm Act, The Open Space Act and Farmland Preservation of the State of New Jersey, it is helping many small farmers in the state preserve their land for agriculture.

“From Revolution to Renewal” our Historical Bergen County project

NJ Agricultural Information:

https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/sadc/rtfprogram/

This is why in Bergen County we revere our farms and our agricultural past. Last semester when I taught Marketing at Bergen Community College, I had my students create an extensive project describing and promoting our Colonial Heritage and our agricultural past. This included promoting many of our remaining farms.

The Project “From Revolution to Renewal”:

https://bcpccom.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/from-the-revolution-to-renewal-exploring-historic-bergen-county/

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/13616

https://bergecooparc.wixsite.com/bergen

Our small farms in Bergen County do more than just provide fruits and vegetables for our tables. They are open air classrooms to our agricultural past, places to buy fresh produce and baked goods to support local family farm stores and for interesting special events and outings for families. During the holiday season, some of these farms have haunted hayrides, turkey pardons and visits from Santa all while selling Christmas trees and wreaths.

This lead me to explore many of the small farms that make up the fabric of Bergen County all while seeing how the owners are reinventing the way they do business with today’s consumer. How do we react with nature and the great outdoors? So I walked through farm stands and fields and across parking lots looking for our rural past in the year 2020.

I drove to Closter, NJ on my first stop to Old Schraalenburgh Farm and Farm Stand at 40 Old Hook Road and the Abram Demaree Homestead at 110 Schraalenburgh Road on the corner of Schraalenburgh Road. For years I had passed this farm and never gave it much thought until two summers ago I noticed the sign for the ‘farm burger’ and had to stop to see what it was all about. What a burger! (see my review on TripAdvisor).

Schraalenburgh Farm in the Spring

Old Schraalenburgh Farm in the warmer months of Spring

I have since have had lunch here many times mostly when the weather is warmer. What I love about the Old Schraalenburgh Farm is that it is under the radar from most of the commercial farms in the county like Abma and Demarest farms which have all the family activities like hayrides and pumpkin and apple picking events. Old Schraalenburgh has a smaller restaurant and bakery and in the summer months tables outside to eat breakfast and lunch while admiring the fields of flowers and the barns and chicken coops.

The wonderful selection of gourmet items at Old Schraalenburgh Farm

What I love about their restaurant is the quality of the food here. The ‘Farm Burger’ which they tout so much is much worth the ride here. This juicy burger loaded with cheese and fresh vegetables and a mayo type sauce and is a mouthful in each bite. Bring your appetite because this burger is large! (see review on TripAdvisor).

The Farm Burger

The “Farm Burger” at the Old Schraalenburgh Farm Stand restaurant

Their chicken pot pie is another lunch item I would recommend. They make them fresh here and bake them with a golden crust and when you let it cool is a mouthful of creamy sauce, hunks of chicken and fresh vegetables. You won’t need dinner after this entree.

I recently stopped at the Farm Cafe for breakfast after an appointment and their well known Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich ($5.95). It was amazing. The eggs used on the sandwich were fresh from their chicken coops and picked up daily. Topped with crisp bacon and American cheese on a toasted brioche bun it was heaven.

It was nice to just take my sandwich and eat it on one of the picnic tables overlooking the fields that were in the process of beginning to grow this seasons crops. On a sunny morning, there is nothing like this.

The Breakfast sandwich at the

The Bacon, Egg and Cheese here is excellent

For dessert though, even with the options of their fresh brownies and homemade ice cream, you have to try their freshly baked fruit pies and pie cookies. The chocolate and fruit filled pie cookies resemble small fruit filled deep dish pies and are a delight in every bite.

pie cookies

The blueberry pie cookies

The bakery also has something called “Burnt Cookies” (.50 cents) that are in jars near the register. I thought someone made a mistake and overcooked them. The woman at the counter said “Oh no. People like a crisper cookie.” I still say they were selling a mistake but they were really good! I had the sugar, chocolate chip and an oatmeal cookies and they were really crisp.

To tell you how popular they are I dropped a piece at the chicken pen and the chickens and roosters got all excited and ran out of their pen to eat the piece that had fallen on the ground. That’s an endorsement.

The chicken coops are busy when you feed the chickens

During the summer months, it is fun to walk through the fields and admire all the beautiful rows of flowers growing and visiting the barn and chicken coops. During the holiday months, the store and restaurant were decorated for Christmas and were stocked with handmade gifts and artwork. The bakery section had a selection of meat and fruit pies for the holidays.

Schraalenburg Farm pie case

The bakery case at the farm

Walking across the street to the Abram Demaree Homestead and Farm across the street from the farm stand, the main house and barn were also decorated for the holidays. All the tables, counters and shelves were stock with all sorts of decorative objects, antiques, furniture and artwork. These treasures can decorate any home contemporary or historical.

Christmas at Abram Demaree Homestead

The antiques and holiday decorations at the Abram Demaree Homestead

Off to the side of the main building, they were selling Christmas trees and holiday decorations for the home. The buildings with Christmas retro items and tree ornaments really put me into the holiday spirit. The homestead is fun to walk around in to see how our Colonial past played a part in the growth of Bergen County.

During Halloween, the farm was busy with visitors buying preserves and jellies, baked products for home and people eating lunch on a warm afternoon.

The Skeletons guard the farm at Halloween at Old Schraalenburgh Farm

History of the Old Schraalenburgh Farm and the Abram Demaree Homestead:

In 1677, David Des Marest, a French Huguenot, purchased a large tract of land from the Tappan Native American tribe. This land passed from Dutch control to British rule and through the American Revolution, which produced an uncertain concept that became the United States.

In 1769, Abram Demaree, David Des Marest’s grandson, bought the house and ran it as a General Store and Tavern at the crossroads of one of the busiest intersections of colonial roads in Bergen County. His son, David, added to the house in 1809. The conjoined Demaree house along with a colonial Dutch-style barn, servants house and blacksmith shop form the original Abram Demaree Homestead (Farm History website).

Abram Demaree Homestead

The Abram Demaree Homestead in the Summer months

In the 1970’s, the house and property was falling apart and a group of citizens fought to get the homestead on the National Register of Historic Places. Since then, the home and farm have been part of a non-profit, The Demaree Homestead & Farm, with all the proceeds going to restoring and maintaining the home and farm. The farm and farm stand cafe are open to the public and the profits go to maintenance of the property. The Farm Stand Cafe features in season items grown right on the farm (Farm History website).

Across Old Hook Road from the Demaree Homestead is their working farm, The Old Schraalenburg Farm, which has been continuously farmed since the 18th Century. Every Spring, the farm plants corn, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, apples, blueberries and pumpkins, among other fruits, vegetables and flowers (Farm History website).

Leaving the Old Schraalenburgh Farm, I headed down Old Hook Road on my way back to Westwood and stopped at the Old Hook Farm Stand for a look at their Christmas trees. The Old Hook Farm Stand is at 650 Old Hook Road in Emerson.

Old Hook Farm

The Old Hook Farm at 650 Old Hook Road in the summer months

Old Hook Farm in the Fall

What I like about the Old Hook Farm is the selection of grocery products in their General store. They have an assortment of organic meats, dairy products, vegetables and baked goods that include delicious looking freshly baked pies, breads and cider doughnuts.

The Fall bounty is on sale at Old Hook Farm

Their shelves are stocked with all sorts of jellies, jams and condiments along with dry and snack goods that are accented by antiques and farm paraphernalia. This gives the store a feel of a turn of the last century General store that used to dot the towns of rural Bergen County.

Old Hook Farm

The Old Hook Farm grocery section of the General store

In the Spring and Summer, the greenhouse stocks all sorts of decorative plants, flowers and garden supplies and I am sure is better stocked in the summer months for lawn care and landscaping. In the Spring, the tables are stocked with all sorts of seedlings for gardens, decorative plants for the home and gardening supplies and landscaping decorations including stones and layerings.

All sorts of decorative plants available in the Fall

In the Fall, the farm is awash with pumpkins, gourds and decorative plants for designing the house in a festive mood. There are all sorts of items for the Halloween holidays.

Blogger Justin Watrel at Old Hook Farm for the Halloween season

During the holiday season, there were all sorts of wreaths, cemetery blankets and Christmas trees to choose from. The perfect assortment to ‘deck the halls’ for the holidays.

Like everyone else in the County, when I got there, there was only a few trees to choose from. They had sold out early in a year when everyone wanted a fresh tree. Still the atmosphere with the atmosphere of fresh pine and snow gave the farm that old fashioned ‘1970’s feel’ when I used to visit the farms in Bridgewater, NJ growing up. Things seemed a lot slower then and you could just relax and enjoy the sites and smells of a farm.

Christmas tree sales

The Christmas trees were pretty much sold out when I visited

From a distance behind the greenhouse, you could see under the snow that had just fallen, the fields where the crops are grown in the warmer months. The old farmhouse on the property was decorated for Christmas as well and looked like a home out of a Currier & Ives print.

History of the Old Hook Farm:

The town of Emerson did not exist during the Native American origin. The name ‘Old Hook’ on the east side of the town came from the Dutch word ‘Hoek’ meaning ‘angle’ or ‘corner’. The angle of the land was created by the three connecting water ways, the Hackensack River, the Pascack Brook and the Musquapsink Brook. The first person to make their home here was William Rutan, who settled on a parcel of land just west of today’s ‘Old Hook Farm’ sometime around 1748 (Emerson Town History).

The current ‘Old Hook Farm’ was bought by current owner, Bruce Marek’s grandfather in 1925 as a weekend getaway. He rented the farm and the farm house to a local resident for 35 years and the family had a large garden on the property until about 1948. Then his father took over the land and cleared the fields and had Soil Conservation come in and do contours and started to grow in the greenhouse. When his father died in 1973, he took over the farm and within eight years, reopened the garden store and started to experiment and grow organic crops (Bruce Marek’s interview with ‘Bergen Save the Watershed Action Network’).

The old farm house at Old Hook Farm

I next ventured to Hillsdale, NJ, two towns away to visit one of the most beloved farms in Bergen County, Demarest Farms at 244 Werimus Road, right off the Garden State Parkway. I have been visiting the farm since the early 1970’s when I used to visit my family who lived just two blocks away. Back then it was just a small farm stand just outside the family homestead. In 1991, they build the big store across the street.

Demar

The Demarest Farm Store at 244 Werimus Road

The farm stand building is always a buzz with people coming and going. People buying sandwiches, soups, hot entree items and baked goods for lunch and dinner. There is a large selection of in season produce (which is a little pricer than most supermarkets) as well as jams and jellies. Where the market really shines is their bakery filled with cookies, brownies, freshly baked pies and their well-known cider doughnuts. They also have great potato pancakes that taste good hot or cold (in the era of COVID the food has been toned back a little from the past).

Demarest Farms

Demarest Farm store carries an array of fruits and vegetables at all times of the year

Demarest Farms in October 2021

The stand also has a nice garden section during the Spring and Summer seasons with everything you need for lawn care and for landscaping your home or decorating inside. During the Fall, there is all sorts of decorative items for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.

Demarest Farms right before Halloween

During every season, Demarest Farms is always full of activities. During the Summer months (Pre-COVID), there was the big barbecues that the farm sponsored that got so popular that they had to have the police direct traffic into the complex. These ‘All You Can Eat” affairs were so much fun. It was like a throw back to the 1970’s when families used to dine out together in the Summer months. You could listen to a local band play while chomping on endless hot dogs, barbecue chicken, fresh corn on the cob, baked beans, salad and watermelon for dessert. There were also be chests of ice full of Coke, Sprite and Bottled waters (see reviews on TripAdvisor).

During the Fall months, there would be Hayrides through the orchards, Pumpkin and Apple Picking that are so popular you need a reservation and Haunted Halloween events that have people driving from all over Northern New Jersey to attend.

Getting ready for Halloween at Demarest Farms

This Christmas, in the era of COVID, the farm really outdid itself ringing in the holiday season. The farm stand sold an array of Christmas trees, wreaths and cemetery blankets, all sorts of holiday treats in the store including cookies, pies and jams and jellies. There was also a nice selection of holiday decorations. By the last week before Christmas, most everything was sold out.

What I thought was fun and it was the first time the farm had done this was the “Holiday Light Show” through the Demarest Farm orchard which is across the street from the farm stand. This show was sold out every night for almost three weeks ending on January 3rd.

Demarest Farm at Christmas

Demarest Farm Store decorated for Christmas

The tour started at the farm stand where you could buy S’ mores to roast at the fire pit next to the nursery ($6.50). I thought it was a little expensive for two graham crackers, two marshmellows and a small bar of chocolate but people scooped them up and were roasting away. There were also cut outs from the holidays to take pictures and there was a small light show of singing reindeer performing all the classic Christmas songs.

Then it was time to take the drive through the orchard. We started the tour at farm stand and then drove across the street to the family homestead which was ablaze with colorful lights on the house and the surrounding trees. I took a slow drive through the orchard carefully following the cars in front of me to keep pace.

The apple and pear trees were decorated with multi color lights, Santa’s and Snowmen winked and greeted you at every turn. The barns were decorated with white lights and there was a tunnel of flashing lights to greet you and exit from. All along the way I listened to the Classical music channel to enhance the mood of the trip. It may have only been a half an hour but it was mesmerizing trip through a fantasy land of lights that put me back into the Christmas spirit. Demarest farms seems to have that effect at the holidays.

The History of Demarest Farms:

The Demarest family has been present in the New York area since David DeMarest arrived to New Amsterdam in 1663. The current farm has been in the Demarest family from Bergen County since 1886. In the 1970’s, Peter Demarest and his wife, Marsha introduced the pick your own apples and pumpkin business and eventually added peaches to the mix.

The Demarest Family history at the farm

In 1991, the family opened the current farm store on what had once been corn fields. The store today has evolved into a selection of fresh produce, prepared foods, baked goods, apple cider, jams and jellies and homemade crafts (Demarest Farm website).

The flowers at Demarest Farm are colorful

In 2014, Peter Demarest decided to retire and the sold the farm stand and farm to longtime employees Jason DeGise and Jim Spollen. The farmland had been preserved under the Farmland Preservation Fund and by the Open Space Trust Fund. The 27 acres are to be preserved as farmland and can only be used for agriculture (NJ.com).

Demarest Farms put out this wonderful promotional video on the event

Leaving Demarest Farms, I headed north taking the turns on Route 17 and Route 208 and headed up to Wyckoff. My first stop was the Goffle Road Poultry Farm at 549 Goffle Road. The farm which once must have taken up much more area has been reduced down to a few acres with chicken coops and hatcheries and the farm store.

The parking lot was a mob scene of people trying to get in and out of the driveway and being directed by one man in a mask. When I finally was able to get out of my car and park, I asked him if they were giving money away. He just laughed and said, “I wish”. He quickly said to me it was busier at Thanksgiving and they had lines going down Goffle Road.

Goffle Road Poutry Farm

Goffle Road Poultry Farm at 549 Goffle Road

I just walked in the store to look around passing all the people in line who were waiting to pick up their pre-orders. The store is stocked with all things poultry with fresh eggs. whole roasters and butchered chicken parts. In the freezer there were crab cakes, chicken nuggets and chicken and turkey pot pies, all of which they are known for and sought out.

The stand at Goffle Road Poultry Farm

Here there are no hayrides or special events although they told me Santa had already visited the farm. Just high quality food and excellent service done by a staff that looked very over-whelmed at the holidays.

When I returned recently to the Goffle Road Poultry Farm, I was able to buy some of their brown jumbo eggs ($2.95) and one of their frozen Chicken Pot Pies to bring home with me. There really is a difference in the fresh eggs versus the commercial ones. There is a richer flavor to the taste when you have them scrambled and in a omelet.

The Brown eggs at Goffle Farms have a richer flavor

The Chicken Pot Pie tasted more like a chicken pie, which has less chicken gravy in it, but it pretty much follows the same Bisquick recipe that I have at home with a mixture of vegetables and canned cream of chicken soup as its base. Still, it cooked up nicely and a flaky golden crust. It is worth it to stop and do some shopping here.

The Goffle Farm Pot Pie is more like a Chicken Pie

History of Goffle Road Poultry Farm:

The Goffle Road Poultry Farm has been a family owned and operated business for four generations. Joseph and Rose Silvestri came over from Italy in 1920 and started Belmont Poultry in Paterson, NJ in the 1930’s. In 1948, Joseph and Rose’s son, Dominic, started Goffle Road Poultry Farm of Wyckoff, NJ. To this day, the Goffle Road Poultry Farm is operated as a family owned business by the current owner and grandson, Joseph Silvestri and great grandson, Brian Silvestri. The family has found it hard to keep up with demand on such a small plot and is now partnering with Amish farmers in Pennsylvania who share the same standards of raising animals (Goffle Road Poultry Farm website).

Goffle Road Poultry Farm at the Halloween Holidays

My last stop on this journey was the largest farm of them all, Abma’s Farm at 700 Lawlins Road in Wyckoff, NJ. Abma’s is an impressive working farm with many greenhouses, large fields, a gift shop, nursery, and a farm store. They also have a large petting zoo to amuse children and adults alike.

The Abma

The Abma Farm at 700 Lawlins Road in Wyckoff

I have to admit that I have only visited the farm in the cooler months and with COVID going on, the petting zoo was closed the day I was there and it looked like you needed a reservation to get in. The price is $3.00 unless you join their Barnyard Loyalty Program by accumulating 30 points from their farm store and nursery.

The greenhouses were pretty empty the afternoon I visited. What was left of wreaths and Christmas trees dotted the the nursery area. I am sure it was totally stocked with all sorts of items to decorate the house. There was still a nice assortment of wreaths to choose from and garland to decorate the banisters and hallways with for Christmas. The Christmas tree selection was down to about ten trees and they were very sad looking. Being right before Christmas, the selection was limited.

In the Summer months, the greenhouses were full of flowers and decorative plants and the fields are ablaze with colors. It will be about four months before we see that again but Spring is not that far away.

The farm store was buzzing with people and it was hard to find a parking spot after the snow storm we had just had. Some of the drifts made parking tough but there was someone in the lot who made it easy to park.

Abma’s Farm Market & Garden Center in the Fall of 2021

The farm store at Abma Farm is full of fresh vegetables and fruits, a whole selection of bakery products including cookies, brownies, freshly baked pies and cider doughnuts. The prepared food section has all sorts of salads and sandwiches available and there is a selection of soups. There are also crafts available for sale.

Amba

The Abma Farm Store stocked with delicious foods

Though some of the special events on the farm have been cancelled because of COVID, they did have a socially distanced “Story with Santa” program and “You Pick” events for strawberries, potatoes, pumpkins and tomatoes during the different seasons. Events like pony rides and Easter themed events have been put on hold for the time.

What I really enjoy about visiting Abma Farm is just walking around the farm itself. I was able to walk through some of the greenhouses and see the trees and decorative items, look at the vast field and can’t wait to return in the Spring when we can see the fields of growing produce and greenhouses full of flowers and plants.

The History of Abma Farm:

First generation of the family, Barney Abma, was born on April 25th, 1901. He came to America for the first time in 1917 when he was 17 years old searching for a new beginning. After spending a few years out west, then a short stay in Pennsylvania, he went back to Holland to marry. Barney and his new wife, Anna, settled in Wyckoff at the present location of Abma’s Farm in the late 1920’s (Abma Farm History website).

The couple began working for the ‘Yeoman Farm’ and rented out part of the original farmhouse from owner, Daniel Yeoman. The farm was next passed on to Mr. and Mrs. George Fox (nee Yeoman). Barney Abma bought the farm from the couple in 1932 for $6,000. Part of the 50 acre farm was sold off and it is now the current 32 acre farm that it is today (Abma Farm History website).

The farm is now under the ownership of the forth and fifth generations of the Abma family under Barney and Anna’s son, James and his family.

I love this video on the family and about the farm.

There are also a few smaller farms in the County I was not able to visit before they closed for the season. Also most farm stands have closed for the Winter so there will be a lot to visit in the warmer months.

Still the holidays at the farms in Bergen County, NJ have a special place in our lives and have become part of the traditions of many families.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and look forward to updates in the Spring!

Spring and Summer of 2021:

As the weather has gotten warmer, I have been revisiting the farms that were closed right after the holidays . As the warmer months have come upon us, April has ushered in warmer weather and the bounty of Spring has arrived. The greenhouses are starting to fill with plants and shrubs and the farm stands.

The entrance to Stokes Farm at 23 DeWolf Road

I made my first trip to Stokes Farm at 23 DeWolf Road in Old Tappan, NJ. The farm stand has just opened since it has closed up shop right after Christmas. The shelves of the farm were starting to fill with fresh produce from the warmer states and there were all sorts of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Stokes Farm from the road

The farm stand also has a bakery that has pies, cookies and cider doughnuts. The problem is that because of COVID all the items were prepackaged in large packages and you could not buy individual pieces. The woman at the counter said things will go back to normal business once all of this passes.

Stokes Farm

The Stokes Farm Stand in Old Tappan, NJ

Still the refrigerator cases are lined with fresh eggs, Amish butter, honey and cheese from the Amish Country in Pennsylvania and the shelves are full of jellies, jams, salsas and pickles that are made for the farm. The farmstand is just opening and there will be more to come as we move into the warmer months.

I made my way out to the greenhouse in the back where plants are being grown for planting and for decorating the house. Most of the plants are still so small but as May and June arrive, these greenhouses will burst of all sorts of plants.

Though the part of the farm that you can visit is small, you can see that the farm is lined with greenhouses going back many acres and next to the stand is a farmhouse that was built in 1890. It is nice to just walk around and enjoy the fresh air at the farm.

The History of Stokes Farm:

In 1873, Isaiah Stokes headed out on a ship to America from his home in England. When he arrived, he purchased 40 acres of land in Old Tappan, NJ where he started a farm. He thought this would be a good location for selling produce, as Old Tappan is very close to New York City, as well as many established towns along the Hudson River.

Stokes Farm

His products included chickens, eggs, milk, hay, asparagus, beets and other assorted vegetables. As time went on, his son, Joseph Stokes took over the farming. The Stokes family continued sowing and growing into the early 1900’s. Joseph Stokes and his wife, Anna, worked very hard and soon developed a produce route through Piermont, Nyack and points further north along the river. They were one of the first farms to have a truck in the area when farms were still powered by men and horses.

Joseph Stokes had one child, Madeline, who married Ernie Binaghi in 1927. Madeline ran the farm and Ernie was a carpenter. The farm carried on through WWII. Madeline and Ernie had one child, Ronald, who after dropping out of NYU Music School in the early 1950’s , came home to help out with the chores. Ron married Jean and she moved into the farmhouse to become a farmer too.

In 1955, they opened a roadside farm stand, which was a four post open air shed. The stand did well, selling from the five acres of strawberries, five acres of tomatoes, in addition to peppers, eggplant and asparagus. As the years went on, Ron and Jean started selling produce at the Paterson Farmers Market. It was here that a farmer could sell his produce directly to the consumer or to wholesalers. The farm stand was rebuilt in 1966.

In the early 1970’s, the energy crunch started and the farm stand began to flounder. It was then that Bob Lewis came to visit Ron and Jean with a proposal. He asked them to participate in the first NYC Greenmarket at 59th and Second Avenue. So in 1976, Ron and his sixteen year old son, Ron Jr. ventured into the big city. Their lives changed that day. After the people bought everything on the truck, Ron Sr. was heard to say, “Is there a famine in this City?” Ron Jr., then sixteen started selling produce at the now famous Union Square market on 17th Street and it seemed that this type of market suited the farm quite well. Greenhouses were built in the 1980’s and the bedding plant business started to thrive.

High tech growing coupled with practical family values, helped the farm to grow steadily into the 1990’s. Ron Jr. and his wife, Jeanine, took over the day to day operations of the farm and the Greenmarket stands, while Ron Sr. and Jean continued to run the farm stand.

In 2000, Ron Jr. was named “Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year” for the State of New Jersey. This award is given to a farmer who has made his farm better over the years and also is active in his community. Ron went to Indiana to the national competition, where he placed fifth in the nation.

Ron Binaghi Jr. at Stokes Farm

Ron Binaghi Jr. at Stokes Farm in Old Tappan, NJ

Today the farm is seventeen acres with 40,000 square feet of greenhouses. It is the goal of the farm to grow the best possible product to keep the customers healthy and happy and to keep the land as a farm for future generations.

(Stokes Farm website)

Another farm that I missed during the holiday season was Depiero’s Farm at 156 Summit Avenue in Montvale, NJ. I have been coming to Depiero’s Farm for years at the old farmstand where the current Wegmans Supermarket and mall now stands. Here used to be the large farm stand building that had everything from produce and baked goods to arts and crafts items and gardening equipment. That was torn down in the early 2000’s. I thought that they had closed for business until I rediscovered it again.

Depiero's Farmstand

Depiero’s Farm Stand at 156 Summit Avenue

When I visited recently, I asked the woman who was working the counter about the history of the farm. She said that she had worked for the Depiero family for years and told me that this was the original farm stand until the family built the larger one down the road. When that was torn down to make way for the market strip mall, they moved the operations back to the original stand on the original farmland. I thought that was interesting.

The original farmstand building is currently being renovated and expanded. The tables around the store are ladened currently with fresh produce from the Hunts Market (until the summer when local produce will be offered), there is a small bakery area with fresh pies ($18.00-$20.00), fresh pickles and peanut butter from the Amish Country. The shelves are lined with honey and fresh jellies that are made for the farm.

Outside the farmstand, there is a large greenhouse with rows of tables lined with all sorts of flowering plants and small vegetable plants growing. The larger greenhouse is surrounded by smaller greenhouses growing more plants. It is a large operation.

What amazes me is how the farm has survived with all the suburban sprawl surrounding it. On land that was once the farm, all sorts of new condos are going up, the second farmstand is now a mall and office buildings surround the whole small patch of farm.

The History of DePiero’s Farm:

The DePiero Farm has been an owned and operated farm since 1924. The original farm was about 250 acres that stretched from Montvale, NY to New Paltz, NY. In 1987, the opened the original farm store that was popular for years. That facility closed in 2015 and has since been replaced with a new shopping complex anchored by a Wegmans.

The family has since reopened the original farmstand which is farmed on limited basis where they sell farm products, baked goods and Christmas items like wreaths and Christmas trees.

(NJ.com-Myles Mia 2015-“Longtime Montvale Farm closes its doors”)

My last farm that I did not have a chance to visit during the Christmas holidays but had opened on April 1st was Secor Farms at 85 Airmont Avenue in Mahwah, NJ. I would consider Secor Farms more like a giant nursery. Both on the outside and inside the greenhouses, you can walk around rows of flowers, decorative plants and seedlings for the vegetable gardens. The greenhouses are fun to walk in as you can see plantings at different stages of growth. It will be interesting to come back towards the summer to see how many of these plants progress to full form.

Secor Farms greenhouse

Secor Farms greenhouse is laden with flowers and plants

There is also a small shop to make your purchases. Here they sell gardening supplies, decorative objects for the home, hand creams and soaps, honey and candies and their homemade cider doughnuts that are unfortunately only packaged in bags of six ($5.95). Still they smell so good and the girl working the counter said that they are made fresh daily. I could see by the signs when the fresh produce starts to come in during the summer and fall that they sell this in the gift shop as well.

The Cider Doughnuts and other treats on sale at Secor farms in the Fall

Outside the gift shop, the parking lot is laden with bags of mulch and soil for garden beds awaiting their Spring cleaning. The lot is well stocked as we are just starting the gardening season.

Secor Farms

Secor Farms in Mahwah, NJ

Ready for Halloween at Secor Farms in Fall 2021

The spooky entrance to Secor Farms at Halloween 2021

In the Fall especially around Halloween, the whole farm looks like Disneyland with Haunted Hay Rides, Pumpkin Picking, Fall decorative items for sale and the general atmosphere that welcomes in Halloween with a bang. The whole place was filled to the brim with cars ready for a long day at the farm.

Pumpkin picking at Secor Farms in Fall 2021

All of these farms in Bergen County, NJ have their own attributes so try to visit them all when you are visiting the area.

The History of Secor Farms:

Begun by Darryl Secor’s great grandfather when he moved to the area from Paterson nearly 80 years ago, the farm originally consisted of 50 acres in Upper Saddle River. In 1973, the family expanded into Mahwah.

The Secor Farm at the Fall Holidays

Secor Farms not only has been a famous landmark passed down through three generations: The Secors themselves have been extremely active in supporting the town (Mahwah-Ramsey Daily Voice 2017).

Fall at Secor Farms in Mahwah, NJ

The Fall produce at Secor Farms during the Halloween 2021 holiday weekend

Farms to Visit:

Old Schraalenburgh Farm Stand and Abram Demaree Homestead

177 Schraalenburgh Road

Closter, NJ  07624

(201) 289-3627

Open:  Farm Stand Cafe: Wednesday-Friday 11:00am-5:00pm/Saturday and Sunday 11:00am-7:00pm

Homestead: Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

https://www.abramdemareehomestead.org/

http://palisadesny.com/history/abram-demaree-homestead/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46367-d5269898-Reviews-The_Farm_Stand-Closter_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/717

Old Hook Farm Stand & General Store

650 Old Hook Road

Emerson, NJ 07630

(201) 265-4835

http://www.oldhookfarm.com/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-4:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g46418-d23048831-r815902376-Old_Hook_Farm-Emerson_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/1404

Demarest Farm

244 Werimus Road

Hillsdale, NJ 07642

(201) 666-0472

https://demarestfarms.com/

https://www.facebook.com/demarestfarm/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46512-d4985687-Reviews-Demarest_Farm-Hillsdale_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/942

Goffle Road Poultry Farm

549 Goffle Road

Wyckoff, NJ 07481

(201) 444-3238

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Saturday 9:00am-5:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46945-d10135907-Reviews-Goffle_Road_Poultry_Farm-Wyckoff_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Abma Farm

700 Lawlins Road

Wyckoff, NJ 07481

(201) 891-0278

https://www.facebook.com/abmasfarm/

https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/381236933/united-states/bedford-hills-new-york/amba-farms/

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Saturday 9:00am-5:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46945-d9806090-Reviews-Abma_s_Farm-Wyckoff_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Stokes Farm

23 Dewolf Road

Old Tappan, NJ 07675

(201) 768-3931

https://www.facebook.com/StokesFarmNJ/

Open: Sunday-Monday Closed/Tuesday-Wednesday 10:00am-5:00pm/Thursday Closed/Friday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm (In season)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46704-d21328526-Reviews-Stokes_Farm-Old_Tappan_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Secor Farms

85 Airmont Avenue

Mahwah, NJ 07430

(201) 529-2595

http://www.secorfarms.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Secor-Farms-118514558210743/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm (In season)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46590-d17373422-Reviews-Secor_Farms-Mahwah_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Depiero’s Farm Stand

156 Summit Avenue

Montvale, NJ 07645

(201) 930-8678

https://depieros-farm-stand-and-greenhouses.business.site/

https://www.facebook.com/depierosfarm/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46638-d23326434-Reviews-Depiero_s_Farm-Montvale_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

The Great Saunter Walk

Day One Hundred and Sixty-Seven: “The Great Saunter Walk”: Walking the Entire Rim of Manhattan-32 miles on my own-Father’s Day June 21, 2020 (Again on June 25th, 2021, officially on May 7th, 2022, and again on July 15th, 2022)

*I wanted to let readers know that this blog is a combination of all four of my walks around the perimeter of the Island of Manhattan and I have kept it in order by section of the island. This way you can experience all the wonderful things to see, do and eat at along the way. Never do this walk in the rain! That was tough.

As New York City is just beginning to reopen during the COVID-19 Pandemic and trying to return to normal, I have been wondering Manhattan to see what changes have happened in those three months.  It is still incredible how much of the City is beginning to remind me of the mid-1970’s.

My trip in 2020 into lower Manhattan revealed a City looking circa 1980 with boarded up stores and graffiti all over the place. Walking around the neighborhoods in Midtown and Downtown last week were a real eye-opener on how pent-up frustration can almost destroy the fabric of a City and the underpinnings of human nature. It really showed just how frustrated everyone is with being sick, unemployed and broke.

Fifth Avenue Boarded up for Business

Fifth Avenue boarded up on June 15th, 2020

Even when the stores windows get fixed and the stores restocked, I don’t think people will forget that quickly. When you finally let people ‘out of their cages’ (i.e. their apartments) though you can see that compassion come back. This is what I saw on my thirty-two mile walk around the Island of Manhattan.

On my walk in 2021, the weather was just as spectacular as it was in 2020 but the mood of the City was different as things in Manhattan had been opened now for a year and the mask mandates were giving way to better days ahead. I saw so much interesting ‘public art’ all along my walk and ate at restaurants new and revisited from other blogs in the past six years. I felt like I was seeing old friends. I also took more time to look over artworks, explore parks and admire the views more on this beautiful day. There are better days ahead for New York City as it continues to morph and change.

In May of 2022, I did the official walk with the Shorewalkers Inc., the people that run the walk every year. This was the first time since 2019 that the group held the walk and I wanted to be part of it with all the other walkers. Initially the walk was sold out three weeks before the day of the walk, but I got on the waitlist and when the weather report said rain all day, a lot of people dropped out. It ended up raining (and I mean raining) the whole time of the walk with just a few lulls and the sun did peak out for about five minutes up by the Carl Schulz Park. I wish it had been longer. I was drenched by the time it was over.

We started the morning of 2022 with an early report to the Frances Tavern at 54 Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, the start and finish of the walk. I had not been there in years and missed the beauty of the building and its historical value. Since I signed up for the walk at the last minute, I did not want to be late. I had started at West 23rd and West 42nd Street in the past so I knew how to pace myself and once I was all signed in at 7:30am, I started the walk. Many others had started before me so I passed many people along the way, wondering how many of us would finish.

Frances Tavern

The Frances Tavern at 54 Pearl Street is the official start point for the Great Saunter in May every year

https://www.frauncestavern.com/

https://www.frauncestavernmuseum.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraunces_Tavern

The “Great Saunter” was done exclusively in the rain this year. Usually, I pick a sunny day during the Summer Solstice which honors my dad on Father’s Day but since the official walk is the first Saturday in May, off I went. It poured and was gloomy the whole time of the walk. I endured it in good spirits meeting others along the way that kept me going.

In July of 2022, I decided to do the perimeter walk one more time because the weather had been so horrible in May of 2022 that I wanted to see the whole island again when the weather was nice. The walk had started out nicely with it being overcast and in the 70’s but once the clouds broke and it cleared up, it was in the 80’s and got humid. Still it was a beautiful day for walking.

Walking around the Island of Manhattan is no easy task. In 2020, I had planned this since last year and made it my goal to do the walk on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. The problem was I had a ton of yard work to do on the first day of the summer and I had to get it done knowing that I would be tired after a walk like this. So, after a day of trimming bushes and weeding the lawn, I put my game plan together for the next morning.

Since it was Father’s Day Sunday, I wanted to do something different and special to honor my father more than just sitting at a cemetery looking at an inscription. This is not something my father would want me to do. So my honoring him was to remind myself of all the wonderful Father’s Day’s we spent in Manhattan visiting museums, parks and going to see independent movies at the MoMA and the Angelica. After which we would dine at whatever restaurant I had seen in the Village Voice. Those were the days I wanted to remember.

The Great Saunter Walk III

My inspiration “The Great Saunter” by Cy V. Adler

‘The Great Saunter Walk’ had been cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and would be held at a later date. The walk was started in 1984 by Mr. Cy A. Adler, who founded The Shorewalkers Inc., a non-profit environmental and walking group whose group was fighting for a public walkway since 1982. The first Saturday in May was designated as ‘Great Saunter Day’ (Wiki and Company founding) and has been recognized by most current Mayors of New York City.

Cy V. Adler

Cy V. Adler

I got the map of the walk off the internet and tried to figure out where to start. The walk starts at Frances Tavern in Lower Manhattan, but I thought that was too far away. I thought of starting at 110th Street so I could get through Harlem faster but then I would be travelling back to 110 Street late at night, so I nixed that.  Then I thought, I have to get off at 42nd Street for the Port Authority anyway and that is where I am at now with my walking project plus when I finish, I will only be a few blocks away from the bus station so why not start there?

So, in 2020 for my first walk, I started my walk around the Island of Manhattan at the Circle Line Boat Pier where I celebrated last year’s birthday. In 2022, this is where I started again. It made it easier for when I needed to get back to Port Authority.

The Circle Line II

The Circle Line is where I spent 2019’s birthday touring Manhattan by rivers

I took the 6:35am bus into New York to start early. During the week, the first bus comes at 5:30am and I would have liked to get more of head start but I wanted to do the walk on Father’s Day so into the City I went that morning. I got to the Pier by 7:07am and started the walk around the island. It was the same in 2022.

The Circle Line was closed also because of COVID-19 so the Pier was quiet that morning. I looked over my map of Manhattan and started the walk along the pathways along the Hudson River going up the Joe DiMaggio Highway to the Henry Hudson Highway. I had not been to this part of the Manhattan in about two years.

In 2022, the Circle Line had opened for business, but the first ride was not until around 10:00am so the area was quiet as well. When I finished the walk at 8:55pm, fourteen hours after I had started, the Circle Line had just returned from a ride around the island and people were flowing off the boat. Talk about a huge change in just two years.

When I decided to do the walk for a second time on June 25th, 2021, I put together a different game plan. With all the problems happening all over the City (shootings and harassments had been going up all over the City), I decided that I wanted to start earlier then I had the previous year and decided to spend the night before in Manhattan so I could get an earlier start.

I stayed at the Moxy Hotel in Chelsea at 105 West 28th Street in the heart of the Flower District and I have to say that the hotel has excellent views of the City.  I received a room on the tenth floor facing Sixth Avenue and at night I have to say it was one hell of a view. When the lights came on in the evening, the whole neighborhood twinkled.

Moxey Hotel

The Moxy Hotel at 105 West 28th Street

http://moxychelsea.com/

I got up at 5:00am that morning as the sun shined through the floor to ceiling windows (I wanted to get up early so I pulled the curtains back to see the sun) and got ready then checked the luggage, checked out and started my walk the second time at 6:15am.

The mood of the City was much different from the previous year with more businesses opening up and more people milling around the parks. Still the City was pretty quiet for most of the day especially as I reached uptown.

In 2022, I signed up for the official walk a few days before the walk started knowing that it was going to rain all day that year. That’s why I was able to join in because so many people dropped out (and kept dropping out along the route with all that rain).

I started the walk in 2021 with a good breakfast at Chelsea Papaya at 171 West 23rd Street #1. I have passed this small hole in the wall restaurant for years on my walks around the neighborhood but had never eaten there. I had passed it the night before on my way back to the hotel and thought it would be a good to have breakfast before I started the walk in Riverside Park.

It was an amazing and filling breakfast of three pancakes, two scrambled eggs and three slices of bacon with a medium papaya drink for $11.00. The food was excellent and the guys working they’re at 6:15am could not have been nicer. The seating was not so hot with two small tables outside the restaurant where the tables and street could have used a good cleaning. Still, it was a carb laden meal that prepared me for the long walk.

Featured Image -- 18411

Chelsea Papaya at 171 West 23rd Street

https://www.chelseapapayany.com/

Don’t miss the wonderful and filling breakfasts at Chelsea Papaya

I started the walk in 2021 on West 23rd Street, so I got to visit this side of the park during the day with it sweeping views of Jersey City and the Hudson River. When I started walking in the park at 6:30am, it was a beautiful sunny day but as the morning grew and I got to around West 42nd Street, the clouds started to roll in and it got cooler.

That did not last long. In 2022, I was not so lucky as it was a misty rain when I started the walk at 7:30am in the morning but it was bearable. I started at Staten Island Ferry terminal and then off I went with the other walkers who were up for the challenge.

In 2021:

The first thing you will see when entering the park is the Monarch Waystation Garden that is one of many that have been planted around the rim of Manhattan. I have seen this also in east side parks as well.

Monarch Waystation

The Monarch Waystation Garden is as you enter Riverside Park

As I entered Hudson River Park, I noticed many works of art displayed on the fences and walls of the surrounding buildings. The 2021 NY Salt Exhibition was being displayed and I took some time to look over the works while walking through the park. I made may way from West 23rd Street and proceeded north walking near the river.

NY Salt

The NY Salt Exhibition at Hudson River Park in 2021

https://www.nycsalt.org/whatson

When you walk up past the Piers along Riverside Park in the 40’s, the first thing you will see in the next Pier over is the Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum which was closed for the COVID-19 pandemic. Pier 86 where the ship was docked was really quiet that morning with only two people eating their breakfast on one of the tables in the little park near the ship. There were sweeping views of New Jersey across the river of Weehawken and West New York.

The Intrepid Sea-Air Museum

The Intrepid Sea-Air Museum is just reopened after being closed for almost a year

http://www.intrepidmuseum.org/

Most of the West Side is pathways along the river with views of New Jersey until you hit about West 50th Street when you get to the lower part of the new Hudson River Park that has been built on fill to create a new riverfront.

In May of 2022, as I walked around the southern tip of the island, I could not believe how many works of art in the parks that I missed on the previous two walks. I guess I just wanted to finish the walk by that point. During the July 2022 walk, I started at the same point as 2020 and when I saw my first piece of artwork, it was like seeing an old friend.

When I reached the park by Pier 96, I came across Malcolm Cochran’s artwork “Private Passage” again. I came across this sculpture when visiting the park two years earlier. The piece is a giant bottle and when you look in the port hole you will see a state room of the former Queen Mary. It is an interesting piece of artwork that is not hard to miss and take time to look in the port holes.

Private Passage

Private Passages in Hudson River Park

Malcolm Cochran artist

Artist Malcolm Cochran

About

The artist is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and is graduate of Wesleyan College who specializes in large sculptures.

Further up the park, I came across the old New York Transfer Station piece in Riverside Park. This is a relic of the old West Side Railroad tracks that were once part of the New York Central Railroad that the park and buildings behind it are built on. This transfer bridge once was used to attach railroad cars to the freight tracks that once ran up and down this part of the island (Forgotten New York).

New York Central Transfer Bridge

The New York Central Transfer Station

It is interesting to see this now as a piece of art instead of a functioning part of the railroad but it is fascinating to see how we use the parts of the past as a piece of art in the present. This shows the current park visitor how we have made new uses of the riverfront for recreation and pleasure which was not true during the early parts of the last century.

In 2021:

As I was walking up through Riverside Park, I noticed a lot of artworks displayed in Riverside Park that were part of the ‘Summer 2021-Re: Growth’ art display that stretched from the West 40’s to 100’s at various points in the park. Some were interesting in design, and it was nice to see a lot were from local New York Artists.

Regrowth

https://riversideparknyc.org/regrowth-riverside/

https://gothamist.com/arts-entertainment/riverside-park-unveiling-regrowth-public-art-exhibit-summer

These lined the length of Riverside Park and you had to really look for them. These were the works of art I viewed on the way up Riverside Park. I included the work and a short biography on each artist that I saw:

Double Arc Leaves and Lava

Letha Wilson

Artist Letha Wilson

https://www.lethaprojects.com/

Letha Wilson II

Ms. Wilson is a American artist who graduated from Syracuse with BFA and a MFA from Hunter College. She is a New York City based artist living in Brooklyn.

Happiness is….

Happiness is...

Artist Blanka Amezkua

https://www.blankaamezkua.com/

Blanka Amezkua

Ms. Amezkua is American born New York City based artist living in Bronx. A graduate of Cal State Fresno with a BA and also attended the Academia de belle Arte in Florence she is formally trained as a painter (Artist Bio).

Stuk

Stuk

Artist Dewitt Godfrey

https://www.dewittgodfrey.com/

Dewitt Godfrey

Mr. Godfrey is large scale sculptor from Hamilton, NY who graduated from Yale University and his MFA from Edinburgh College of Art in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Four Currents

Four Currents II

Artist Wendy Letven

http://www.wendyletven.com/

Wendy Letven

Ms. Letven is an American born artist raised in Philadelphia with a BFA from the Tyler School of Art and a MFA from Hunter College and currently teaches at Parsons School of Design and Art and Design at New York University. She is a multidisciplinary artist in sculpture, installation and painting (Artist Bio).

Riverside Reading Room

riverside reading room

Artist Mary Mattingly

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mattingly

Mary Mattingly

Ms. Mattingly is an American born artist currently living in New York City. She has a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art from Portland, OR and attended Parsons School of Design.  She is known for creating photos and sculptures representing futuristic and obscure landscapes (Wiki).

Last Steps

Last steps

Artist David Shaw

https://riversideparknyc.org/meet-the-regrowth-artists-david-shaw/

David Shaw

Mr. Shaw is an American born artist and a native New Yorker. He received his BA in Fine Arts from Colgate University. He is known for sculpture installation, photography and drawing.

Upstream DownStream

Upstream Downstream

Artist Shuli Sade

https://www.shulisade.com/

Shuli Sade artist

Ms. Sade is an Israeli artist currently living in New York City. Her mediums in art include photography, sculpture and drawing.

Swailing/ Snow Squall

Niki

Artist Niki Lederer

niki lederer

Ms. Lederer is a Canadian born artist who lives in New York City and Newburgh, NY.  She has a BFA from the University of Victoria and a MFA from Hunter College.

Deliver Us

Deliver us

Artist Glen Wilson

https://www.biomythart.com/glen-wilson

Glen Wilson

Mr. Wilson is an American born artist from Los Angeles, CA. His medium is photography.

Ancient Rhoman Winged Figure

Ancient Rhoman Votive Statue

Regrowth

Artist Joshua Goode

https://www.joshuagoode.com/

Joshua Goode

Mr. Goode is an American born artist from Texas. He has a MFA from Boston University and has worked as an archaeologist on several digs Artsy Bio).

These works are on display until August 2021 and try not to miss this interesting display of art in this ‘open air museum’.

Hudson River Park and Riverside Park South blend into one another with the housing complexes behind them are a shining example of the uses of urban renewal and reclaiming our riverfront for pleasure and conservation. It is also one of the nicest new complexes built in Manhattan in recent years.

Riverside Park South

Riverside Park South

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/riverside-park-south

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d548731-Reviews-Riverside_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

What I love about this park is the nice pathways and lawns just to sit back and relax and enjoy the views. There are a lot of places to stop and rest. Since I had been to this side of the island two years ago, I continued my walk up to West 72nd Street when I got to the southern border of Riverside Park which runs much of this side of Manhattan.

I made it up to West Harlem Piers Park by 8:46am (7:43am in 2021) and made my first stop of the morning. The park was a mess. People must have been having parties in the park the night before and did not clean up after themselves because I could see a NYC Parks worker in the picking up the garbage and she did not look happy about the mess. Usually, this park is pristine, and I was not used to seeing it such a mess. I guess these are the things you see in New York City parks early in the morning. The efforts to keep them clean.

Harlem Pier Park

West Harlem Piers Park is a picturesque park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/west-harlem-piers/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d21085344-Reviews-West_Harlem_Piers_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html

The park is down the road from the new extension of the Columbia University campus extension, so this park gets a lot of use during the school year. This early in the morning there were just a few joggers and one homeless guy who was throwing more garbage around. I did not want to be near the Parks worker when she had to deal with that.

What I had not noticed on my trips to the park in the past were some unusual sculptures by artist Nari Ward, a New York based artist who likes to use objects found in his own neighborhood (artist website).

Artist Nari Ward

Artist Nari Ward

https://www.nariwardstudio.com/

These unusual silver sculptures I almost interpreted as people trying to speak and it was interesting that the sculptures were called Voice I and Voice II. I was not sure of what the artist was trying to communicate with his artwork, but it does stand out in the park. The unfortunate part of it was that there was so much garbage in the park you could not get up close to see them.

Voice One

Voice I

Voice II

Voice II

I really enjoy this park. It has wonderful breezes and excellent views and plenty of places to sit down and relax. It offers such nice views of the river and as the morning progressed, I started to see more sailboats and water boats out cruising up and down the Hudson River.

I reached the bottom of the George Washington Bridge by 9:36am and watched an artist putting a display of layered rocks along the Hudson River shore. Uliks Gryka the artist behind the “Sisyphus Stones” that line this part of the park was carefully layering stones one on top of another and fixing and creating new formations. It was interesting to watch how he balanced each of the stones into a new work. The artist is originally from Albania and has no formal art training (Artist website).

Sisyphus Stones

The Sisyphus Stones on the Hudson River

Artist Uliks Gryka

Artist Uliks Gryka

https://www.linkedin.com/in/uliks-gryka-a76071171

The work reminded me of the Moai on Easter Island, the famous statues that faced the sea. It made me think how the artwork looks to the river and how maybe it is nature communicating with land and sea. I was not sure the message the artist was trying to portray, and he looked too busy working to ask him. The artwork was still there in 2021 and it looked like the artist was still updating it.

I continued on into Fort Washington Park to see the Little Red Lighthouse, which I had not visited in almost three years since my last walk in the neighborhood. Many tourists were by the site just under the George Washington Bridge, taking pictures by the lighthouse and enjoying the sunny weather.

Little Red Lighthouse

The Little Red Lighthouse

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fort-washington-park/highlights/11044

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d2368581-Reviews-Little_Red_Lighthouse-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/300

The Little Red Lighthouse had been constructed in 1889 and moved from Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1917 and moved here in 1921. It was decommissioned in 1948 after the construction of the George Washington Bridge in 1931. What had saved the lighthouse from destruction was the book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” by author Hildegarde Swift in 1942 (Wiki).

Little Red Lighthouse II

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift

I didn’t stay long by the lighthouse because it was loaded with tourists taking pictures, but I did stay by the tables and enjoy the view of the George Washington Bridge. It was making quite the racket as more cars are travelling over it again and on a sunny day offered some dazzling views. The breezes were amazing! In both 2021and July 2022, the lighthouse and the park were really quiet, so I got to enjoy the views on my own this time.

In 2022, the rain had turned to mist, and it was not so bad by the time I got to the lighthouse. I noticed that most people did not stop to look at the lighthouse. They just passed it to keep walking.  I stopped because I love seeing this interesting landmark.

Walking up the stairs to get to the upper level of the park is not for the faint hearted and I saw many people much younger than me get out of breath on their way up. One guy had to be about twenty and he looked like he needed oxygen. To me it was just a walk up and I continued to walk through the lower part of Fort Washington Park. In 2021, I could not believe how in much better shape I was that I handled it better.

This part of the park faces Englewood Cliffs, NJ and the Palisades Park Highway on the other side of the river. There is no construction on that park of the river, so it offers views on the cliffs and the woods that line it.

Englewood Cliffs, NJ

The view of Englewood Cliffs, NJ

As I walked further up into the park, it was mostly wooded highway and further up the hill was Fort Tyron Park and the home of The Cloister Museum which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum has been closed since March, but I had taken one of the last of the guided tours on religious flora in art of the Middle Ages before it closed on March 13th. The museum reopened in July of 2020.

Cloisters III

Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters Museum in the park

Fort Tryon Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/fort-tryon-park

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d2305249-Reviews-Fort_Tryon_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/4350

The Cloisters-The Metropolitan Museum of Art

https://www.metmuseum.org/visit/plan-your-visit/met-cloisters

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d106609-Reviews-The_Met_Cloisters-New_York_City_New_York.html

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://visitingamuseum.com/tag/the-cloisters-museum/

When you reach Fort Tyron Park by foot along the Henry Hudson Parkway, you will see two large stone columns that look like the entrance to an estate and then across the street there is a pillared overlook to the Hudson River. These are remnants of the former C.K.G. Billings estate, “Tryon Hall”.

Tyron Hall entrance

The old entrance to the estate is covered with brush

Mr. Billings, the Chairman of Union Carbide, owned most land of which the park is located and theses small relics are the remains of the great estate. I had never been in this part of the park before and thought it interesting that these pieces of the estate were left.

Tryon Hall Estate

The “Tryon Hall” estate of C.K.G. Billings.

CKG Billings

Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._K._G._Billings

The History of the Estate:

http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-lost-billings-mansion-tryon-hall.html

The archway and drive are still part of the park, and you can see them closer to The Cloisters Museum. The old driveway to the estate is still used inside the park.

I travelled up further and arrived at the Dyckman Beach Park located at the end of Dyckman Avenue in Inwood. This tiny little beach is hidden from the road and is located next to the pier. Every time I have visited the park, this little section is in high demand for picnickers, and you have to get there early. The pier is a nice place to relax and soak of the sun and admire the view.

Dyckman Beach Picture

Don’t miss this tiny beach and the pier. It is so relaxing!

In 2021, the beach area was busy with a local high school graduation going on in the restaurant right next to the beach. There was much cheering and celebrating going on and it was good to see that. All along the harbor deck, people were relaxing and fishing. In July of 2022, it was quiet with a few people fishing so I had the whole place to myself. This was when I took my first break. The heat was starting to get to me.

In 2020, I walked around one side of the park that contains the soccer field where a very heated match between two teams was taking place. I could tell there was a heated discussion in Spanish that these two teams were in major competition.  While the men were playing soccer, the ladies were cooking up a storm, making skewers of meat, cutting fresh fruit and stirring lemonade for a makeshift concession stand. This was a very organized league.

I walked around the field and watched the game as the families settled in for a long afternoon. These guys really took the game seriously and were going back and forth side to side for the twenty minutes I watched the game. The pathway to the park ends in a semi-circle and on the side is a walkway bridge over the railroad tracks which will take you around Inwood Hill Park to the lower pathways that overlook the Hudson River and to the Henry Hudson Bridge that leads to the Bronx.

In 2021, the fields were very quiet which I was surprised by. Usually, this area is very crowded with people even when COVID was at its height. It was better to be outside than inside. It was earlier in the morning.

When you follow the path, it leads to the Spuyten Duyvil, a man-made canal that was created during the Dutch era for shipping and trade. It cuts off a small section of Manhattan that is now on the Bronx side of the City. Here you will see the giant blue “C” for Columbia University, whose stadium is on the other end of the park.

Columbia C

The Columbia “C” from Inwood Hill Park

The paths lead down wooded areas that are some of the last of the ‘virgin’ forest left on the island of Manhattan and one of the few true wooded areas.

Inwood Hill Park

The pathways in Inwood Hill Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/inwood-hill-park

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d3598044-Reviews-Inwood_Hill_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

When you exit the pathways into the lawn area of the park, you are greeted by a giant boulder which is one of the most historic objects on the Island of Manhattan, the Shorakkopoch Rock. The rock is the legendary location of where Peter Minuit bought Manhattan from the Reckgawawang Indians for what is today $24.00 of household goods and trinkets.

Shorakkopoch Rock

The Shorakkopoch Rock in Inwood Hill Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/inwood-hill-park/monuments

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d21055143-Reviews-Shorakkopoch_Rock-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/1240

Peter Minuit II

The transaction between Peter Minuit and the local Lenape Indians

Peter Minuit III

Peter Minuit

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Minuit

On the other side of the small cove is the natural cove, Muscota Marsh where the Columbia Rowing Team has their sheds. The Muscota Marsh was created in a joint partnership between the NYC Parks system and Columbia University. This one-acre marsh is located in the Spuyten Duyvil creek and is part freshwater and part salt-water marsh. It is home to many native birds who use it as a nesting and watering site.

Muscota Marsh

The Muscota Marsh on the edge of Inwood Hill Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/highlights/muscota-marsh

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d21055137-Reviews-Mucota_Marsh-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/1214

I sat and relaxed while birds flew in and out of the marsh that morning. It was the most beautiful sunny morning, and you could feel the cool breezes coming off the creek while small boats passed by. The Muscota Marsh is one of those hidden treasures in Manhattan that tourists rarely visit. It was nice to just sit and relax. I had reached the northern most part of Manhattan by 11:11am four hours after the start time.

In 2020, I had eaten a light breakfast at the house and had gone through my snacks while walking up to Inwood Hill Park. Most of the places I had gone to in the past while up walking the neighborhood or going to the Columbia/Cornell football games were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic or went out of business. I ordered breakfast from Park Terrace Deli at 510 West 218 Street.

Park Terrace Deli

Park Terrace Deli at 510 West 218 Street

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Fast-Food-Restaurant/Park-Terrace-Deli-115609725127285/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4636946-Reviews-Park_Terrace_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I had the most amazing Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a Hero that hit the spot. I was starved and this large sandwich fit the bill. It was loaded with freshly cooked bacon and the hero roll was toasted and then pressed when the bacon, cheese and eggs were loaded inside. I sat down with a much-needed Coke in the benches by Isham Park further down Broadway. I enjoyed every bite, and the ice-cold Coke gave me the burst of energy I needed to continue the walk down the western part of Manhattan.

This has become a tradition as I came back for the same sandwich in July of 2022 and enjoyed my breakfast on the benches of Muscato Marsh, enjoying the breezes and watching the row teams. It is a great place after you grab a snack to sit and enjoy the views.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich

The Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich at Park Terrace Deli is excellent!

In 2021, I was still full from my breakfast at Chelsea Papaya and stopped in Twin Donut at 5099 Broadway (now closed) for a donut. I have been to this shop many times when walking in the neighborhood and their donuts are delicious. I had one of their Blueberry jelly filled ($1.50) and that hit the spot. The owner said that they were selling the business after sixty years and it would soon be a twelve-story building. In July of 2022, the building still sits empty.

Twin Donut

Twin Donut was at 5099 Broadway for almost 60 years

https://www.facebook.com/TwinDonutOnFordhamRd/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4688490-Reviews-Twin_Donut-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

In 2022, I stopped in Inwood Park to meet up with other walkers for snacks and go to the bathroom. The rain stopped for a bit, and we were able to stand and talk to one another. People were playing soccer nearby and residents were shopping at the Farmer’s Market close by. Even though the snacks were nice you can’t make a meal out of Pringles and Goldfish.  So, I packed up a few of the snacks to take with me and went on my way.

In 2021, I stopped at G’s Coffee Shop for the same breakfast sandwich and as usual, the food and service was excellent, feeding my weary body. Every meal that I have had at G’s has been good.

G's Coffee Shop

G’s Coffee Shop at 634 West 207th Street

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Coffee-Shop/Gs-Coffee-Shop-205601462950934/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d17445018-Reviews-G_s_Coffee_SHop-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

After breakfast, I travelled down 10th Avenue from 218th Street and followed the path of the original footprint of the island until I arrived at the cross streets of Dyckman Street and Harlem River Drive at the beginning of Highbridge Park and Sherman Cove. Even in this busy area of car repair shops, small restaurants and the Dyckman Houses, everyone pretty much ignored me as if I was not there. Not one person looked at me. Many people looked down as I passed which I thought was strange.

In 2020, most of this part of Highbridge Park was still closed off to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic and because it was Father’s Day, people were barbecuing along the thin path and patch of land between the park and the highway. It amazes me how creative these residents are with the use of space.

In 2021, the Sherman Creek part of the park was open for walking through, and I took the time to walk the path to the river through the winding woods and streams. It is a nice break from the busy City and it a very underrated part of Highbridge Park. The views of the East River were spectacular, and the breezes were so nice and cool. It was nice to have the park to myself that morning.

Sherman Cove

Sherman Creek Park/Swindlers Cove is at 351 West 205th Street

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/sherman-creek-park

Before I took the long trip down Harlem River Drive along the rim of High Bridge Park, I walked along Dyckman Street, one of the three big retail corridors for the Dominican community in Washington Heights. The other two being 207th Street and the other 181st Street and Broadway.

Dyckman Street on the west side of Broadway is so alive on the weekends with street vendors selling food and wares, music playing and people socializing with their neighbors. I love coming here for the bakeries and to get fresh pastilitoes and freshly squeezed juice from the street vendors who have to listen to my broken Spanish. It was a little tougher to visit the places as social distancing let less people into the stores that were open.

Dyckman Street Vendors

On warm weekends Dyckman Street is alive with shoppers

After I walked a few blocks of Dyckman Street to see what was available, I started the long trek down the path along Harlem River Drive with High Bridge Park across the street. The long curves of the park, the lush woods and rock formations show what was once the former shoreline of this part of the island. From this location it looks alike Inwood Hill Park with clean paths and virgin plantings.

High Bridge Park IV

High Bridge Park in Washington Heights

https://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/highbridge-park/planyc

The reality of the park is that if you walk through the park you are faced with the over-grown paths, the graffitied rocks and garbage that parts of the park suffer from. When you walk through the paths on the other side of the park, you see how far the park has gone down and the work that still needs to be done. Abandoned cars and garbage still plaque parts of the park from the park side paths. Still the City is doing a lot to improve the park.

I passed the old High Bridge Water Tower that was being renovated and was covered in scaffolding. The water tower and the bridge are the lasting remnants of the way water used to travel into New York City from upstate in the late 1800’s. The tower was built in 1872 and was part of the old Croton Aqueduct system of moving water into Manhattan. The tower and the surrounding area is currently going under renovation and the pool is closed because of COVID-19.

Water Tower at High Bridge Park

High Bridge Water Tower

https://www.nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/capital-project-tracker/project/5937

My review on TripAdvisor:

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-edtor/post/visitingamuseum.com/4467

This part of the park had no activity and, on the path, leading down to the old Polo Grounds there was not much activity. What always makes me nervous is walking around the Polo Ground Houses that run from West 165th Street to about West 155th Street. The complex is a tired looking set up public housing with one building looking exactly like the other and a small patch of green in the middle. I could see from the hill over-looking the lawns that there were some small parties going on.

Polo Ground Towers

The Polo Ground Tower Housing Complex

All I kept thinking about is the activities that go on there and I zig-zagged my way down the sidewalk until I hit the part of the fence that was covered with trees and vines. Out of site from the prying windows. Ever since I read about the complex on the internet, I have never felt comfortable in this part of the City. This was before I walked all around the complex four years ago when I walked Harlem and didn’t think much about it. I walk around quickly in this neighborhood.

I crossed the street and walked down Edgecombe Avenue on the upper side of Jackie Robinson Park.  On the corner of the edge of the street is the John Hooper Fountain at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. The fountain was designed by architect George Martin Huss and is a ornamental horse fountain and lantern. It was dedicated in 1894 and donated to the park by businessman John Hooper (NYCParks.com/MichaelMinn.net). It was used by the horses for drinking when carriages and horse riding at that time.

Hooper Fountain

The John Hooper Fountain is at the corner of Edgecombe Avenue and 155th Street

https://michaelminn.net/newyork/parks/hooper-fountain/index.html

https://www.nycgovparks.org/art-and-antiquities/permanent-art-and-monuments/info?monId=741

As I walked past the fountain and entered the edge of Jackie Robinson Park, I could hear music and kids screaming from the sidewalk. The park was alive with people using the playground or setting up parties for Father’s Day. It was also a mixed crowd of people who were conversing amongst themselves about recent events, and I heard many lively debates. In July of 2022, the pool had opened up again and there were kids screaming and yelling as they played in the pool. This is also a good place for a bathroom break.

The one thing I discovered about this section of the park is that everything across the street or closer to the park is brand new housing, a lot catering to CUNY students. Much of Bradhurst and Fredrick Douglas Boulevard have been knocked down and rebuilt with new housing and much of West 145th Street is new stores and restaurants. It changes as you get closed to Lenox Avenue and Young Park.

Jackie Robinson Park I

Jackie Robinson Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/jackie-robinson-park_manhattan

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d21085366-Reviews-Jackie_Robinson_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html

I find Jackie Robinson Park very nice. The park has always been well maintained and the place was clean and well-landscaped. During the warmer months of the school year, a lot of CUNY students can be seen on the hill as you enter the park on West 145th Street sunning themselves and studying. Now families were setting up barbecues unfortunately many of them without masks.

The worst thing I found about travelling in these blocks of the City in 2020 is how the Parks system treats the patrons of the parks. There was not one open bathroom in the four parks that I visited. High Bridge Park had no bathrooms on the Harlem River Drive part of the park, both Jackie Robinson Park’s bathrooms were shut tight and Young Park’s were also closed. Thomas Jefferson Park further down only had Porto toilets (and I will not mention in this blog the condition they were in. COVID-19 would not even survive in those). In 2021, there were more bathrooms open but not in great shape. In 2022, I would not have ventured into them.

After a rest in Jackie Robinson Park, I ventured down West 145th Street to Young Park and then crossed down Malcolm X Boulevard to West 143rd Street.  There were no open bathrooms here, so I headed down Fifth Avenue before making the connection on to Harlem River Drive.

In 2021, I stopped for a quick lunch at Sweet Mama’s Soul Food Restaurant at 698 Malcolm X Boulevard on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 145th Street. It was a little too hot for such heavy food, but I thought why not? I had not had Southern food in a long time.

I tried the Fried Chicken wings, Mac & Cheese, Sweet Potatoes and a biscuit with a Coke. The food is served buffet style and bought by the pound. My ‘little’ meal with beverage was $9.00 and I thought that was a bargain for all that food. The fried chicken tasted delicious but had been sitting in the steamer too long, but the biscuit, sweet potatoes and mac & cheese were all excellent and full of flavor. Refreshed from my lunch, I carried on down Malcolm X Boulevard (Lexington Avenue). Don’t bother with the public bathrooms at Carl Young Park across the street. They are not clean.

Sweet Mama's

Sweet Mama’s Soul Food at 698 Malcolm X Boulevard

https://www.facebook.com/Sweetmamasoulfood/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10167991-Reviews-Sweet_Mama_s_Soul_Food_Restaurant_Salad_Bar-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

During the walk in May of 2022, to get out of the rain, warm up and get away from these annoying people who started to walk with me from Alabama, I stopped in King Pizza of Harlem at 110 West 145th Street for a snack. I knew that I wanted a chopped cheese for lunch, but I was starved and needed to eat something. I also needed a break from the walking.

King Pizza of Harlem

King Pizza of Harlem at 110 West 145th Street

https://www.restaurantji.com/ny/new-york/kings-pizza-of-harlem-/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4731177-Reviews-King_s_Pizza_of_Harlem-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

For a little hole in the wall pizzeria in not the greatest part of the neighborhood, the cheese pizza is excellent. The sauce is so well spiced and topped with loads of mozzarella cheese. The slice was rather large and made a great snack. It was just pleasant to sit down and relax.

As I made my way down Fifth Avenue from 143rd Street, I stopped for a moment to look at a obelisk that I had not noticed the last time I had visited the area. The obelisk is located on a tiny triangle near the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 142nd Street. The Monument is the 369 Infantry Regiment Memorial dedicated to the all-black unit that fought so valiantly in World War I with the Fourth French Army. It was in such an obscure place that I must have just passed it when I visited Harlem. The drunk homeless guy sitting next to it was a deterrent from really looking at it.

369 Infantry Regiment Memorial

The 369th Infantry Regiment Memorial

https://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/historical-signs/listings?id=19562

I crossed over the triangle and continued to follow the river to West 135th street (the river walk ends at West 135th Street and continued down Madison Avenue. I had to walk through the Lincoln Houses Public Housing and again pretty much everyone avoided me.  I was surprised that there was so much garbage on the lawns and in the parks. I could not believe that none of the residents would have picked this up.

As I walked down Madison Avenue, I noticed another homeless guy trying to solicit money from people coming off the highway and almost getting hit a few times. I was going to yell at him, but I thought I better mind my business walking in this section of the City.

I made a turn into the courtyard of the Lincoln Houses to see the statute of Abraham Lincoln with Child statute at 2120-2122 Madison Avenue. With all the statutes being torn down in 2020, I was surprised that not only was this statute up but in good shape.

lincoln Statute

Lincoln and Child at 2120-2122 Madison Avenue in the Lincoln Houses

The statue was designed by artist Charles Keck. Mr. Keck was an American born New York artist who studied at the National Academy of Design and the Arts Students League of New York. He was best known for his work on statues and monuments.

Charles Keck artist

Artist Charles Keck

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Keck

In 2022, as I admired the statute for a second time in the rain, some crazy homeless guy got right into my face and started talking about Lincoln and slavery. I walked away as fast as I could. How come I attract all the crazies? Everyone I was walking with walked faster down the street away from me.

I walked south down Madison Avenue until I reached West 128th Street and walked towards the river towards Second Avenue.  I stopped in Harlem River Park and Crack is Wack Playground and again no open bathrooms and I passed the Tri-Boro Plaza Park nothing there either, so I just continued down Second Avenue to East 120th Street and walked down Pleasant Avenue towards Thomas Jefferson Park. The park was pretty busy in both 2020 and 2021 with kids playing baseball or running around the park.

While walking around Harlem River Park, I came across the artwork “Dream Fulfilled”, which was unveiled in August of 2011 as a partnership between the Harlem CDC, their State and City Partners, East, Central, and West Harlem Committees and the Creative Arts Workshop for Kids (CAW) (Empire State Development).

caw2011muralhrpinvite_1_orig

The project “Dreams Fulfilled” in 2011

As I walked down Second Avenue from 125th Street, I noticed interesting artwork on the side of the Taino Towers at 221 East 122nd Street. The towers had been going through a major renovation the last time I had visited the neighborhood and parts of the complex were still under scaffolding.

Artist Don Rimx painted a mural of Nuyorocan poet Jesus ‘Tato’ Laviera. The painting had been unveiled in 2017 (long after my visit to the neighborhood) and 123rd Street was renamed after the poet (Street Art NYC).

images

The mural of Jesus ‘Tato’ Laviera at Taito Towers at 122nd Street and Second Avenue

Artist Don Rimx

Don Rimx

https://donrimx.com/

https://www.instagram.com/donrimx/?hl=en

Mr. Rimx was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and in 2009 moved to Brooklyn and then in 2014 to Florida. He graduated from Central High School of Visual Arts and Escuela Des Arts Plasticas. He is known for his use of styles in art and culture and known for his murals (Artist Bio).

As I passed the towers and its new artwork, I crossed Second Avenue to the Wagner Houses complex. People were having all sorts of picnics and barbecues inside and outside the Wagner Houses and people were celebrating Father’s Day in full force. It was all I could do from walking through the complex again. The last time I did that the residents looked at me like I was a Martian who just set down.

Wagner Houses

The Wagner Houses

Robert Wagner Sr. Statue

The Robert Wagner Sr. sculpture in the Wagner Playground by artist Georg John Lober

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/wagner-playground/monuments/1642

Georg Lober

Artist Georg John Lober

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_J._Lober

Georg John Lober was an American artist from Chicago who studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and worked for the New York City Municipal Art Commission for seventeen years.

As I walked around the Wagner Complex, little had changed from my various trips in this part of the neighborhood except they finished a lot of the luxury housing across the street. The complexity and diversity of the neighborhood was changing fast right before COVID hit and in the 2021 trip, it is still changing.

Pleasant Avenue was once home to the East Harlem “Little Italy” and the ‘Dance of the Giglio’ takes place here every August outside the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (See Day Eighty-Four The Feast of Our Lady of Carmel and the Dancing of the Giglio). Now it is becoming a gentrified neighborhood and I saw many people eating in outdoor cafes or shopping at the local mall. I stopped at Pleasant Finest Deli at 375 Pleasant Avenue in both 2020 and 2021 for a snack and a Coke. On an 84-degree day there is nothing like an ice-cold Coke. This is my ‘go-to’ place when I am in the neighborhood for snacks.

Pleasant Finest Deli at 375 Pleasant Avenue

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12379766-Reviews-Pleasant_Finest_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

MywalkinManhattan.com-Day Eighty-Four

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/5980

I stopped for lunch in both 2020, 2021 and 2022 at Blue Sky Deli (now Harlem Taste Deli) at 2135 First Avenue for a Chopped Cheese. I swear I make any excuse to come up here and have that sandwich.

Blue Sky Deli

The Blue Sky Deli has a cult following

https://www.instagram.com/hajjis110/?hl=en

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12328617-Reviews-Blue_Sky_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/74

The ‘Chopped Cheese’ is a cult sandwich made up of two chopped hamburgers topped with American cheese, chopped lettuce and tomato with salt, pepper and spices and then pressed. It is like heaven with every bite. I took my sandwich into Thomas Jefferson Park, which is currently under renovation and ate my sandwich. After I was finished, I had the energy to continue the walk downtown.

In 2021, I wanted to make up for time and ate it when I got to Carl Schulz Park near East 84th Street. I figured I had eaten enough by that point and could save it for later. I had to have a chopped cheese that day.

Chopped Cheese

The Chopped Cheese Sandwich at Blue Sky Deli (Harlem Taste Deli)

In May of 2022, I had to get out of the rain and stopped in the deli for about a half hour while my order was cooking. The rest of the customers at the deli did not know what to make of a six-foot drenched white guy who looked starved and angry. I was just wet and tired. The sandwich was terrific as usual, but I had to eat it quickly in the park again to continue the walk. When I digested it a few blocks later it gave me a lot more energy to walk.

After I finished my lunch, I felt refreshed and ready to go but still had to find a bathroom. Since the park was under renovation, there were only Porto bathrooms and trust me, STAY AWAY! They were so dirty that COVID-19 could not survive these things. After eating a big lunch, I ended up nauseous for the rest of the afternoon and lost my appetite for anything else.  I left the park at 3:48pm and thought I was making good time.

When I did the walk in May of 2022, it was pouring rain when I got to the deli and sitting in Blue Sky Deli was the only time that I really warmed up. Because there is no place to sit down in the deli, I had to eat my sandwich in the park during the drizzling rain. Not the best conditions to eat but it really warmed me up and gave me energy to continue the walk down the esplanade from East 110th Street.

Before I left Thomas Jefferson Park, I came across another piece of art that I had not noticed on my many visits to the park. The sculpture located in the middle of the park is entitled “Tomorrow’s Wind” by artist Melvin Edwards. The sculpture is made of welded steel and is tilted so that it reflects the sun. The piece was placed in the park in 1995 (NYCParks.org).

Tomorrow's Wind

“Tomorrows Wind” in Thomas Jefferson Park

Artist Melvin Edwards

Melvin Edwards

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Edwards

https://www.artsy.net/artist/melvin-edwards

Mr. Edwards is an American born artist from Texas. He is known for his known for his abstract steel sculptures. He graduated with a BFA from University of Southern California and studied at the Los Angeles Art Institute.

I exited the park at West 111th Street and followed the overpass over FDR Drive and walked down the esplanade from West 111th Street to West 60th Street in Sutton Place. The views of the Harlem and East Rivers are ever changing with new construction in Queens and Brooklyn and the developments on Randall’s-Ward and Roosevelt Island. The whole riverfront changes every year.

Roosevelt Tram

The Tram to Roosevelt Island

Between the sunny skies and cool river breezes, it is an amazing walk if you take your time like I did and just soak up the sunshine. I never realized how easy this part of the walk would be. I just walked others walk by enjoying their afternoons and looked at all the buildings going up and the boats and jet skiers passing by. It was one busy river.

I relaxed when I arrived at Carl Schurz Park to enjoy the views of Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island and look at the flower beds in the park. Carl Schurz Park has its own Friends group, and they do a great job taking care of the park. The flower beds are so colorful and vibrant, and the playground is full of active screaming kids.

There were finally some decent OPEN bathrooms and the water fountains here work and the water is good. The fountains dispense cold water and New York City water tastes good especially at these water fountains. In all of my trips around the island and even when I was walking around the Upper East Side for this blog, Carl Schulz Park has the best facilities for its visitors.

Carl Schurz Park IV

Carl Schurz Park on East End Avenue

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/carl-schurz-park

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d312015-Reviews-Carl_Schurz_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/2714

In 2020, I stayed at the park for about fifteen minutes. Any longer and I would not have left. Carl Schurz Park is one of my favorite parks in Manhattan. I love the views, the sights and sounds of this park and love how lively and calm it is at the same time. It is a true neighborhood park.

In 2021, I just relaxed in the park, ate my chopped cheese sandwich (which I could tell people around me envying) and watched the boats and jet skiers pass by. I also had a direct view of Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island, so I got to watch everyone visit the little lighthouse at the tip of the island. Outside of Bryant Park in Midtown, I find Carl Schulz Park one of the best parks in the City to relax and just people watch and let nature encompass you.

In May of 2022, when I arrived at Carl Schulz Park it was the only time of the day where the sun peaked out giving me hope that the weather would break. It did not happen and that was the joke Mother Nature played on us. It was not raining as badly but it continued to misty and light raining.

In July of 2022, I stayed at the park for a half hour just relaxing and watching the water flow by and looking at the people at the tip of Roosevelt Island across the river. The benches by the water are the best place to relax on a nice day.

I continued down the river front walk until I had to stop at West 60th on the border of the Upper East Side and Sutton Place and proceeded up the ramp. This is where the sculpture by artist Alice Aycock is located and one of my favorite ‘street art’ sculptures ‘East River Roundabout’.

East River Roundabout

East River Roundabout at East 60th Street

Alice Aycock

Artist Alice Aycock

https://www.aaycock.com/

From here I travelled up the ramp which surrounds Twenty-Four Sycamores Park which borders both neighborhoods and is extremely popular with the neighborhood children and their babysitters and parents. The park was closed though because of the COVID-19 pandemic but will be reopened soon. This park was start and stop point when I was visiting this side of town for the blog. I like the shade trees and it has good bathrooms.

24 Sycamore Park

Twenty-Four Sycamores Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/twenty-four-sycamores-park

In May of 2022, they had finished renovating the bathrooms at the park and they were open. The best part was that they were really clean and were heated. I was able to relax for a minute, go to the bathroom and get warm. I understand the plight of the homeless on a cold night.

I walked down Sutton Place past the old mansions and stately apartment buildings. This area of the City was really quiet as the residents here were probably out of town with all that was going on. The streets were pretty much deserted, and I saw a few people in Sutton Place Park. Please check out my walk of the Sutton Place/Beekman Place neighborhood on my blog:

Day One Hundred and Thirty-Four: Walking Sutton Place

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/8713

Sutton Place

Sutton Place has a quiet elegance about it

Sutton Place Park

Sutton Place Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/sutton-place-park

In July of 2022, it had gotten so hot, and the humidity was getting to me that I had to stop for some ice cream, and I remember A la Mode Shoppe at 360 East 55th Street. I had the most amazing ice cream there years ago when I was blogging about Sutton Place and even checked the Internet the day before to make sure that they were open.

A La Mode II

A la Mode Shoppe at 360 East 55th Street

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d8412143-r848154791-A_la_Mode_Shoppe-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

The two flavors that I love are Pink Sprinkles (Strawberry Ice Cream with layers of colorful sprinkles and Cloudy Weather (Blueberry Ice Cream with tiny marshmallows). I was looking forward to going there on this whole trip down this side of the island. I knew I was going to need something to cool myself down. It is such a great little store that also sells gourmet sodas, candy and toys.

A La Mode

A la Mode Shoppe is such a whimsical store

Watch taking the turn on East 53rd Street to First Avenue. The cars and cabs will not stop for you when you try to cross the street so be careful. I always take a mad dash across the road.

From here you have to walk on First Avenue from East 53rd Street until East 37th Street as the United Nations dominates this area. The United Nations looked like it was closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic with just a few guards on duty and not much traffic. It also looked to me like they removed a lot of their statuary because of all the vandals destroying artwork all over the country.

UN Building II

The United Nations Complex

The complex was completely quiet on this gloomy day, and I did not see a sole anywhere near the complex. Even the security booths seemed quiet when I passed. You can no longer walk around the on the grounds, so I peered from the gate and admired the statute ” Good defeats Evil” by artist Zurab Tseretelli. This interesting statue I found out later was made of old United States and Russian missiles to commemorate the signing of the ‘Treaty of the Elimination of Intermediate’. The statue was to represent peace (United Nations Gifts).

Good Defeat Evil

Good defeats Evil by artist Zurab Tseretelli (United Nations Gifts)

https://www.un.org/ungifts/content/good-defeats-evil

Zurab Tseretelli artist

Artist Zurab Tseretelli

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zurab_Tsereteli

Artist Zurab Tseretelli is a Russian born artist who is noted for his sculptures all over the world. He graduated from Tbilisi State Academy of Arts and was a visiting professor at SUNY in New York State on top of other teaching and academic honors (Wiki).

I stopped in Ralph Bunche Park at First Avenue between East 42nd and 43rd Street. I just needed to sit for a bit, and I admired a sculpture that I had not noticed before when walking the park.

Ralph Bunche Park

Ralph Bunche Park at First Avenue between East 42nd and 43rd Streets

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/ralph-bunche-park

The park was named after the first black American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The interesting sculpture in the park was created by artist Daniel Larue Johnson entitled “Piece Form One”.

Piece form One

“Piece Form One” by Daniel Larue Johnson

Artist Daniel Larue Johnson

Daniel Larue Johnson

https://www.artforum.com/news/daniel-larue-johnson-1938-2017-69684

Mr. Johnson was an American born artist from California. He studied at the Chouinard Art Institute and then studied in Paris. He was known for his abstract paintings and steel sculptures.

Another interesting piece of art was on the wall of 777 First Avenue, the Church Center for the United Nations. The work was created by artist Benoit Gilsoul and is entitled “Man’s Search for Peace” (Wiki).

Church for the Center of the United Nations

The Church Center for the United Nations at 777 First Avenue

Artist Benoit Gilsoul

Benoilt Gilsoul

https://www.artsy.net/artist/benoit-gilsoul

https://www.1stdibs.com/art/drawings-watercolor-paintings/abstract-drawings-watercolors/benoit-gilsoul-benoit-gilsoul-out-bowels-earth-charcoal-pastel-on-paper/id-a_7173422/

Mr. Gilsoul was a Belgium born artist who immigrated to the United States in 1967 and became an American citizen. He studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts in Belgium. He was noted for his abstract works (IstDibs.com).

I then exited East 37th Street and continued to walk down the esplanade along the East River. I had never travelled to this section of the City before (I have currently not passed 42nd Street on my current walk of Manhattan in 2020) so it was an adventure to see new views of the island. I stayed on this pathway until I got to the Battery.

In May of 2022, the rain began to let up when I got to the esplanade, and it was just a light mist. I was just hoping that it would stop soon. While everyone else was racing down the walkway to finish the walk, I took the time and admired the buildings on the Brooklyn waterfront. It is getting more impressive every year.

Along the way between East 37th Street and East 11th Streets, you tend to see the backs of a lot of buildings on the Manhattan side life Bellevue and the Tisch Hospital. You then pass Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village and then the Con Ed Power Plant so there is not much to see on this side but from the other side you will see the skyline of Long Island City and Downtown Brooklyn.

Downtown Long Island City

Downtown Long Island City keeps changing

On the turn before you get to the larger East River Park is the smaller Stuyvesant Cove Park which was once the site of an old cement plant and has now been reclaimed for a riverfront park. The park runs from about East 22nd Street to East 18th Street. The park is planted with native plants of New York City and has become a haven for birds and butterflies (Stuyvesant Cove Park Association). I left Stuyvesant Cove by 5:45pm in 2020, 6:30pm in 2021 and 4:30pm in 2022. I took more time to explore the parks and artwork in 2021 and was walking slower because of the rain in 2022.

Stuyvesant Cove Park

Stuyvesant Cove Park

Home

Around East 12th Street its best to the follow the path signs to John V. Lindsay East River Park. The park was created in 1939 by then Parks Director Robert Moses on reclaimed land from the waterfront and piers and is a 57.5 acre point of relief to the residents of the Lower East Side (Wiki).

The park has many recreational facilities and the afternoon I was walking through countless parties and barbecues were going on. With meats sizzling on the grills and water gun fights and the sound of music throughout the park, people were enjoying their Father’s Day celebrations in every corner of the park. I found open bathrooms that were clean and a water fountain that worked and I was happy. Don’t miss the giant anchor facing the river near the entrance to the park.

John V. Lindsay East River Park

John V. Lindsay East River Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/east-river-park

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d5961005-Reviews-John_V_Lindsay_East_River_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Anchors Away

Don’t miss the “Anchors Away” sculpture in John Lindsey Park

Once I left the park in 2020 and 2021, I was on my way to South Street Seaport. This part of the walk meant walking under overhangs, bridge over-passes and the housing was a combination of new and old construction. On the other side of the river, there is a difference on the riverfront on the Brooklyn side. The growth of DUMBO and Downtown Brooklyn has changed the whole look from this side of the river.

Downtown Brooklyn

Downtown Brooklyn from the Brooklyn Bridge

In May of 2022, the rain was really getting to me, and I was not sure if I could keep going. My muscles in my legs were really getting to me because of the cold. It went from 54 to 45 degrees by the time I got to Lower Manhattan. I just happened to meet up with a businessman from Fort Lee, NJ who I had seen hours earlier on the other side of the island. He asked if he could walk the rest of the way with me and I said yes. It was nice to have someone to talk with for the rest of the trip.

This is now becoming some of the most expensive housing in New York City with warehouses and old factories becoming expensive lofts. Things just changing on that side of the river and the riverfront even this far down keeps changing. I passed the Peck Slip Park at 6:30pm on my way to the South Street Seaport.

Peck Slip

Peck Slip Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/peck-slip

South Street Seaport is some of the original structures of Lower Manhattan many dating back to the Civil War when this was a major shipping area. The home of the Dutch West Indies Company in the early 1600’s, this port area has seen many changes. The most modern ones when the Rouse Corporation turned this into a dining and shopping entertainment area setting up concept for many downtowns in city’s that needed revitalizing. Since its development, South Street Seaport was their most successful venture.

I had never seen it so quiet in the time of COVID-19. There was no one walking around this busy area but a few tourists and residents. In 2021, the mood had changed, and it was much busier. I passed through the Seaport by 6:48pm.

South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rouse_Company

http://www.rousecompany.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g28953-d532147-Reviews-South_Street_Seaport_Historic_District-New_York.html?m=19905

As I was leaving the South Street Seaport in 2021, I was watching fire trucks leave in a hurry from one of the local firehouses. It caught my attention so much that I lost my footing for some reason and fell flat on my face. It was almost as if someone had tripped me. In May of 2022, the only thing we did was race by the place because of the weather but in July of 2022, the Seaport was alive with people having dinner and drinks.

From here it was again more overhangs from the highway until I got to the Ferry stations for Staten Island and Governors Island and then rounding the corner to make it to Battery Park where the sites of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island loomed in the distance. All over the harbor were sailboats and motorboats enjoying the early evening. It was now 7:15pm and I had been travelling since noon.

In 2020 and 2021, I spent about a half hour relaxing and enjoying the views on a sunny early evening. Being the day after the Summer Solstice it was one of the longest days of the year and I got to enjoy the extra sunshine. I needed to cool down and this was the place to do it. It still is one of the most picturesque places in New York City.

New York Harbor

New York Harbor in all its glory

My review of Battery Park:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d15614732-Reviews-Battery_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

In May of 2022, the rain and clouds got so bad that I could barely see things in the harbor. It looked like it was trying to clear and by 5:00pm it finally stopped raining. We had been walking under the highway underpass by South Street Seaport and the two of us started to dry out.

In July of 2022, this is where I took my longest break of forty-five minutes. I just needed to relax before I made the last leg of the journey back to West 34th Street. Similar to the walk I did in 2020, it took a lot of effort to complete this part of the journey and I wanted to build my strength.

I have to say that I never get tired of seeing Lady Liberty. I still can’t believe that I am seeing the same statute that both of my grandfathers’ saw when they arrived in this country. It puts it all into perspective to me how powerful of a symbol it is to this country as a way of welcoming people to the United States.

When finishing ‘The Great Saunter’ in 2022, this was our last stop before heading back to Frances Tavern. Myself and my walking partner for the last four miles of the trip had talked most of the time about our careers and families and about why we took the walk. The time just flew from there. I learned that his wife and her friend had made it all the way to Inwood Park before they took the subway back downtown and then home.

The Great Saunter Walk IV

Justin Watrel completing “The Great Saunter” officially in May of 2022

We walked to the registration desk in front of the Frances Tavern and collected our certificates that we completed the walk. We then took our picture with our certificates and then said our goodbyes. He then told me that probably could not have finished the walk without me and I felt the same way. I need someone to keep pace with me and help me finish this difficult day. I warmed up in the restaurant for a bit and then took the subway back uptown and then the bus home. Everything had to go in the dryer when I got home and air out. I finished the walk by 5:45pm taking me almost eleven hours to finish, a personal best.

In 2020 and July of 2022, I had just walked the entire east side of Manhattan and I have to tell you I was stiff by this point. I was ready to throw in the towel here and rest, but I pressed on wanting to get home at a decent time. I really misjudged how long it would take to get from the Battery to West 42nd Street. It is a decent amount of time even though it doesn’t look it on the map. You just have to distract yourself by looking at the coves and the artwork along the way.

In 2022, I walked past Fort Clinton, also known as Castle Clinton, where you buy tickets for the Statue of Liberty. The fort has had an interesting history. Built between 1809 to 1811, it has served as a fort in the early wars of the country, then an entertainment spot, an immigration outpost before Ellis Island was built, then the home of the New York Aquarium and now home to the start off point and history discussion on the Statue of Liberty (Wiki).

Fort Clinton

Fort Clinton (Castle Clinton) in Battery Park

https://www.nps.gov/cacl/index.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Clinton

In 2021, I was much better prepared and had more walking time under my belt. I was in much better shape, so it did not tire me so much at this point of the walk. I was rearing to go after a half hour break.

I left Battery Park at 7:30pm and followed a crowd of people out of the park. Before I left the park for Battery Park City and its beautiful parks, I came across the sculpture “American Merchant Marines Memorial” at the edge of the Battery. The statue commemorates the thousands of merchant ships and crews that fought since the Revolutionary War (NYCParks.org).

American Merchant Marines Memorial

The “American Merchant Marines Memorial” by artist Marisol Escobar

Artist Marisol Escobar

Marisol Escobar

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marisol_Escobar

Ms. Escobar was born in Paris and raised in Venezuela and moved to New York in the 1950’s. She is known for her highly stylized boxy sculptures (NYCParks.org). She studied art at the Jepson Art Institute, the Ecole des Beaux Arts and Art Students League of New York (Wiki).

Another sculpture I missed on my first two walks around the island was the New York Korean Memorial by artist Mac Adams.

New York Korean Memorial

The New York Korean Memorial in Battery Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/battery-park/monuments/1930

The statue is one of the first monuments to the Korean conflict built in the United States and the void in the sculpture represents the absence and loss of the war and a metaphor for death (NYCParks.org).

Mac Adams Artist

Artist Mac Adams

http://www.macadamsstudio.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Adams

Artist Mac Adams is a British born artist who now lives in the New York area. He holds an MFA from Rutgers University. He is known for his large public works and for the use of ‘space between images’ (Wiki/Artist Bio).

I left Battery Park and entered into the newer extension of Robert Wagner Jr. Park next to Battery Park City. In the front part of the park, I came across these unusual musical instrument sculptures that graced the entrance of the park.

The art entitled “Resonating Bodies” were created by British born artist Tony Cragg, whose work I had seen uptown many times. The sculptures resemble a lute and a tuba. The work is based on the concept that all physical bodies including ourselves are constantly enveloped by various energy forms (NYCParks.org).

Resognating Bodies

“Resonating Bodies” at Robert Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City

Artist Tony Cragg

Tony Cragg

https://www.tony-cragg.com/

Mr. Cragg is a British born artist from Liverpool and studied at the Gloucestershire School of Art, received his BA from the Wimbledon School of Art and his MA from the Royal School of Art. He has been showing his works since 1977. He is best know for his contemporary sculptures (Artist Bio/Wiki).

I walked behind them as I travelled through the South Cove of Battery Park City. Not a lot of tourists know that this whole area is fill in of old piers on the fillers from the building of the original World Trade Center. Now the area sits apartment buildings with breathtaking views and well-landscaped parts. The South Cove was filled with small groups of people who were also not social distancing and very few masks. I think people were just throwing caution to the wind.

South Cove Park Battery City

Don’t miss the twists and turns of the South Cove of Battery Park City

Another piece of art that I missed and saw in 2022 was ‘Ape and Cat at the Dance’ by artist Jim Dine. The sculpture of a cat and ape dancing cheek to cheek like humans had been inspired by the Henry James story of “The Madonna of the Future”. The Parks Department describes it as a ‘human like and asks us to reflect on ourselves”. (NYCParks.org/Downtown Alliance).

Ape and the Cat

“The Ape and the Cat at the Dance” in Battery Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/m283a

Artist Jim Dine is an American born artist who studied at the University of Cincinnati, School of Fine Arts in Boston and graduated with a BFA from Ohio University. He is known for his many different mediums of sculpture, printmaking and drawing (Wiki).

Jim Dine artist

Artist Jim Dine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Dine

The works of Jim Dine

Another interesting piece of sculpture I came across was the Mother Cabrini Memorial that was dedicated to the park in 2020.

Mother Cabrini

Mother Cabrini

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Xavier_Cabrini

Mother Cabrini was born in Italy as Maria Francesca Cabrini in 1850. She took her vows and founded the Missionary of the Sacred Heart. She immigrated to the United States in 1889 and continued her charity work, founding organizations and was the first naturalized citizen to be canonized (NYCbio/MotherCabrini.org/Wiki).

Mother Cabrini Memorial

The “Mother Cabrini Memorial” in the South Cove

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/m283a

The work was created by artists Jill Burkee and Giancarlo Baigi.

Jill and Giancarlo Baigi

Jill Burkee is a sculpture and draftswoman who studied at the Arts Students League of New York and the University of Washington and has studied in Italy. Giancarlo Baigi is a sculptor and multi-media artist. He also studied at the Arts Students League of New York and has a MA from Stagio Stagi in Peitrasanta in Italy (Arts Students League bio).

Another piece of art that I came across that I missed in the last two trips is “Apple” by artist Stephen Weiss. The piece was part of the ‘Larger than Life” series of the artist and symbolized the heart and core of life in New York City (Hudson River Park)

Apple by Stephen Weiss

“The Apple” by artist Stephen Weiss in Hudson River Park

Artist Stephen Weiss

Artist Stephen Weiss

https://www.rogallery.com/artists/stephen-weiss/

Artist Stephen Weiss was a New York born artist who had attended the Pratt Institute. He had worked for his family company and was the husband of designer, Donna Karan. He was known for his sculpture works (RoGallery).

When I walked the parks both North and South Coves in 2021, people were still having Graduation parties, small picnics and the restaurants had reopened both indoors and outdoors without masks. The parks, restaurants and lawns were really hopping that night.

From here it was following the path up to the North Cove of Battery Park City and the views of Jersey City. Each of the parks had unique landscaping and walkways that accented the buildings of the World Financial Center. It is hard to believe how damaged these were after the long days after 9/11. You would have never known with boats docked for dinner and people having picnics and wine in the shadows of these buildings.

North Cove Battery Park

North Cove in Battery Park City

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d109950-Reviews-Rockefeller_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I was pretty surprised as I walked through the park with more daylight time to spare that I came across what looked like an Egyptian Temple sitting in Battery Park. The sculpture building is entitled “The Upper Room” designed by artist Ned Smyth. This self-contained sculptural environment suggests a contemporary reimagining of an Egyptian temple offering a stylized sanctuary from the surrounding city (BPCA-NYC).

The Upper Room

“The Upper Room” in Battery Park City Park

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/m283a

Artist Ned Smyth

Ned Smyth

http://www.nedsmyth.com/

https://www.theartistprofilearchive.com/artist-profiles/ned-smyth#:~:text=Sculptor%20Ned%20Smyth%20lives%20and,from%20Kenyon%20College%20in%20Ohio.

Mr. Smyth is an American born artist who born in NYC and works in NY. He has a BA from Kenyon College in Ohio. He is part of the Pattern and Design Movement of the 1970’s and known for his large-scale public works (Artist Bio/Artist Profile Bio).

As I started to pass some of the open air restaurants, I saw another piece of art that stood out which was a series of colored rings but could not get close enough to see the artist who created it. For another trip to the park.

The last piece of art that stood out to me on this trip through Battery Park was entitled “Days End” by artist David Hammons. It looked like the shell of an empty building and struck a nerve as the sun started to set on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. It is an ‘Open Air’ sculpture that explores the history of the neighborhood (Whitney Museum).

Days End

Days End by artist David Hammons

Artist David Hammons

David Hammons

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hammons

http://www.artnet.com/artists/david-hammons/

Mr. Hammons is an American born artist who studied at the Chouinard Art Institute (CalArts) and at Otis Art Institute.  He is known for his Body Prints and sculpture work (Wiki/Artnet.com).

As the light started to fade in the evening as the sunset over Jersey City across the river, I started to fade too. I just singing to myself and kept encouraging myself to keep moving. I really wanted to finish even though my thighs were getting stiff, and my fingers looked like sausages. I was determined even though I wanted to stop. Every time I asked that question of myself I then said, ‘then why did I start the walk if I was not going to finish it?’

I stopped for a second to look at the sun setting in the backdrop of Jersey City and watched in wonder the beauty of it all. It is almost a reminder how much bigger the world is than us.

Jersey City at Sunset

The Jersey City Waterfront at sunset

While I was walking through the parks, a few pieces of park sculpture stood out to me as I reached Hudson River Park in Chelsea. The long trek up Joe DiMaggio Highway made me more aware of my surroundings as I had to stop again. I came across the ‘Serpentine Sculptures’, these large twisting metal concoctions that graced the riverfront walkway.

Serpentine Sculpture by Marc Gibian

‘Serpentine Sculptures’ in Hudson River Park

My review of Hudson River Park on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d4545669-Reviews-Hudson_River_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

These interesting, twisted sculptures are by American artist Mark Gabian who holds a BA in Art History and BFA in Sculpture from Cornell University (my Alma Mater!). Mr. Gabian’s sculptures can be seen all over the world. The artist has been quoted as saying he created monumental site-specific commissions in two or three dimensions’ (the artist’s website).

Mark Gabian artist

Artist Mark Gabian

http://www.markgibian.com/

The last leg of the journey loomed in the distance as I saw the lights of the Hudson Yards in the distance like a mythical ‘Oz’ waiting for me. I saw the heliport and observation deck glittering in the distance and knew I had to reach it.

Hudson River Yards

The Hudson Yards in Chelsea

https://www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com/

The Observation Deck and the glittering buildings are just a few blocks from the Port Authority Bus Terminal where my journey started, and I knew I was there.  In 2020, I reached the Circle Line Pier again at 9:11pm in the evening and I celebrated by sitting on a boulder outside the ticket booth for fifteen minutes watching the security guard play on his cellphone. I did the same thing on the walk in July of 2022, but this time I made it at 8:55pm exactly fourteen hours after I stated.

I was not tired Per Se, but I was stiff all over. I could feel my thighs tighten up and my fingers and hands I had to shake several times to get proper circulation back into them. Still, I was not out of breath and was able to walk back to the Port Authority and make the 9:50pm bus out of New York City for home. I got home by 10:10pm almost sixteen hours later.

In 2020 and July of 2022, I walked the entire rim of Manhattan from top to bottom in fourteen hours. Not the twelve hours the Great Saunter Walk guide says but there is a lot more to it than just walking. You will need many bathroom, water and rest breaks along the way.  Drink lots of water too. Still, it was a great walk and one for the blog!

In 2021, I arrived back at Hudson River Park at West 23rd Street just as the sun started to set over New Jersey and got to see the multi colors that were created in the sky. Mother Nature’s work of art for everyone to see.

I was not as tired on this trip as I had the year before. All that walking and training in Midtown Manhattan neighborhoods plus an overnight stay in the City to get an earlier start helped out tremendously. I finished the perimeter walk of the island in exactly fourteen hours, one hour more than 2020 but I stopped more times to admire public artworks, snack at restaurants and snack shops and walk through more parks and neighborhoods to see what was there. It was a more interesting trip where I did not rush it. I finished at 8:20pm in 2021.

For dinner that night, I stopped at Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street, where I had eaten many times for lunch after working at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (which I had mentioned many times in this blog). The restaurant features Detroit style pizza where the cheese and sauce are baked into the sides of the pizza and there is no crust. It is a type of Sicilian pizza with a twist to it.

Lions and Tigers

Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street

https://www.lionsandtigersandsquares.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ltspizza/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d14124878-Reviews-Lions_Tigers_Squares_Detroit_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/tag/lions-tigers-squares/

I treated myself to a sausage pizza which was loaded with fried sweet sausage, caramelized onions and they put a dash of maple syrup on top to add to the complexity. God was that delicious! There is so much flavor in each bite. I was not even planning on eating there but the pizza cook waved me inside and then sold me on it. I was lucky that he did!

Sausage pizza

Do not miss the Sausage Slice at Lions & Tigers & Squares

It was another great trip around the Island of Manhattan trying new restaurants and visiting old ones, viewing wonderful public art in the open-air art museum that New York City is, touring interesting parks and feeling like part of the neighborhood.

In both 2020 and July of 2022 because I had to start at West 42nd Street and it was so late, I just dragged myself home. Even going from the Circle Line to the Port Authority took its efforts. I was so stiff both times that it took some effort just to walk those blocks. In May of 2021 since we started at the Frances Tavern, I took the subway back to Port Authority and dragged my wet body home. In 2021, I had a lot more spring to my step and walked to the Port Authority.

I think spending the night in the City and starting at West 23rd Street was the best way of doing the walk. You are in the City to start and do not have to start so far uptown. It seems that the walk goes quicker when you start further downtown. You have a lot more energy in the morning and get the West Side done when you have the energy to finish it. You are not exhausted by the time you reach Battery Park.

For people who say that New York City is going downhill during COVID, I say to you walk the whole island and you will see the heart of the City is in the people who live here and the contributions they make to keep the City as great as it is. Remember there is more to Manhattan than just Midtown and Times Square. There is so much more to see!

For all its troubles, in 2022 I can see that the City is slowly starting to come back and there are more tourists visiting than before. Will it ever get back to 2019? Yes, but it will take some time. We will just have to learn to accept that COVID will be part of our lives and we will have to adapt to it. I am not going to let it dictate my life.

I dedicate these walks to my father, Warren Watrel, as my Father’s Day Gift of Remembrance. To my dad for all the wonderful afternoons we spent in New York City on Father’s Day. I felt you by my side that afternoon.

Happy Father’s Day to all Fathers!

Dad and I

Justin Watrel with his father, Warren Watrel

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

With much love from your son Justin!

Woodstock Christmas Eve Parade

Day Sixty-Three: Christmas in Woodstock, NY Again: December 24th-25th, 2016

I traveled to Woodstock, NY for my third Christmas upstate to see the Christmas Parade in downtown Woodstock and go to Christmas Eve services at the Dutch Reformed Church. After that, a quiet dinner out and then a drive by the town Christmas tree. It has been my Christmas tradition since my father passed away. I like the calm and the beauty of Upstate New York. I like to relax after the hustle of the holidays.

I love the trip up to the Hudson Valley region. After going to school up here for two years, (Alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America Class of ’98, Honors and Perfect Attendance) I have never gotten over how gorgeous this region can be in the early winter. The leaves have already fallen but the hills and streams are still so impressive. It is also not that far from home and the area is fun to explore. Woodstock is not exactly isolated, but it is further off the beaten path.

I love how the town is decorated for the holidays. The tree on the square is a classic every year with plain colorful lights with the backdrop of the lit Dutch Reformed Church, several well decorated businesses and the Village Green B & B behind it (where I stayed the year before). The whole square lit for the holidays can put any non-believer in the Christmas mood. It is classic New England Christmas.

Woodstock Christmas Eve

The Green in Downtown Woodstock, NY

Woodstock, NY at Christmas on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g48915-d7003084-r335526056-Woodstock_Town_Center-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html

The Parade in Woodstock is unusual in the way it is timed. It starts when the last bus leaves the square for New York City at 5:15pm and must be over at 6:30pm before the Dutch Reformed Church starts its 7:00pm services. It runs like a well-oiled machine. The second that bus leaves the square, I swear I saw the police and fire department had those roads fast.

I got up early around 4:00pm knowing from past history that you will never get into town if you don’t get arrive before 5:00pm. I stayed this year at the Woodstock Inn at the Millstream (See review on TripAdvisor). What a beautiful and unique little hotel. I was talking with the manager, Karen, when I arrived, and she said that it was an old motel that the owners found and fixed up. It is the most unassuming and beautiful place to stay.

Woodstock Inn at Millstream.jpg

Woodstock Inn at Millstream at 14 Tannery Brook Road

https://www.facebook.com/WoodstockInnNY/

It is just off the beaten path off the downtown and within walking distance of downtown. It has the picturesque location right by the Mill Stream. It must truly show itself in the summer months when you can sit under the shade trees and look at the stream.

There was a large size crowd this year for the parade but not as big as last year when the temperature was 70 degrees (the hottest in history of record keeping). The temperature was a balmy 42 degrees. Very seasonable. Still there was a lot of energy in the crowd as we all waited to see how Santa would arrive.

Santa did not disappoint and with the help of the Woodstock Fire Department, Santa made his appearance via a Partridge in a Pear tree.  It is the most anticipated part of the parade to see how Santa will make his appearance. Last year it was via a magic hat with a snowman dancing around.

As Santa exited the fire truck and was greeted with Mrs. Claus who arrived on another float, the crowd stood in line for their turn to talk to Santa. The jazz band started to play outside the church. That was the one part of the parade I was disappointed with, in that every year that I have been up in Woodstock, Lindsay Webster and her band, had entertained everyone with her version of jazz Christmas carols. That the parade to me. It was Woodstock’s own stamp to the holidays (Ms. Webster and her band I found out later were touring in Europe for the holidays).

Here’s a clip from the parade in Downtown Woodstock, NY

For the next hour, people were milling around the square, listening to bands, eating snacks in the local restaurants (there is a place called ‘Shindig’ on the square that makes the most mind-blowing mac & cheese, (See my review on TripAdvisor) and meeting up with their neighbors and friends. It really does have the small town feel about it as unlike Sinterklaas in Rhinebeck a few weeks earlier that is attracting larger crowds. Woodstock attracts crowds but still keeps it small due to the restrictions of time.

I swear by 6:30pm, the crowds started to thin out and the band wrapped it up and were putting equipment away before the church doors opened by 6:45pm. I entered the church about ten to seven and most people including Santa were wrapping things up.

Christmas Eve service at the Dutch Reformed Church is always special to me. The church run such informal and welcoming service. It is so different from Catholic services, where we spend the whole service standing up and sitting down. The Church was decorated all over with garland and bows and candles. The Church was built in the 1800’s so it does have the old wooden pews that us modern folk have to squeeze into and there are two levels, so you look up and see more parishioners.

Dutch Reformed Church Woodstock

Dutch Reformed Church on the Green at 16 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY

https://www.woodstockreformedchurch.org/

The service started with a combo playing all sorts of holiday music and then we were welcomed by members of the Church to the holiday mass. The service is lively with many Christmas songs that the audience participates in and the service I have always found very inspirational and enlighten. Reverend Josh has a real passion in making people feel comfortable in Church. His sermons actually say something, and he makes it more personable.

There are those little touches that I don’t see in my local Church such as the bell choir and lighting the candles during the last part of mass. If you really want to see something it’s a Church fully lit with candles in the pitch black. Does that make an effect inside a Church the way the light played off the woodwork and decorations.

After Church, it was the most uninspiring visit to Cucina, an Italian restaurant in Woodstock. After two disappointing years at Joshua’s on the Green, I decided to try something different. As much as the restaurant is beautifully decorated and appointed and the service friendly and accommodating, the food is dismal. It had no flavor, and its presentation was less than perfect (See review on TripAdvisor).

Cucina in Woodstock

Cucina at 109 Mill Hill Road in Woodstock, NY

Home

I went back to my room to change and then I took a walk to the Green to look at the stars. I swear you can almost touch them up here. It is also nice to have the whole Green to yourself. It is fun to just sit and look at the tree and the well light store fronts. It is so quiet and peaceful it really gives you a chance to sit back and reflect on the year. I could not believe another Christmas had come again.

I had never seen a year come and go so fast. Time does have a way of passing by quickly without you noticing it. Even so, looking up at the stars and the moon, it really does make you want to catch a glimpse for Santa’s sleigh passing by. It was just one of those nights.

The next morning after an amazing night’s sleep with the sound of a stream passing by and a great breakfast of homemade granola (Karen makes this and it is excellent) and fresh fruit, I made my traditional phone calls to my family and friends and play catch up beyond all the Christmas cards that I sent out earlier in the month. Everyone was happy to hear from me and I had nice conversations with my cousins who lived in different states and friends that I had not heard from in a long time.

I had visited my friend, Lillian, who lives in Assisted Living out on Long Island earlier in the week and talked with other friends earlier in the month, so it was nice just to exchange well-wishes. After sending out about eight boxes of Christmas cards, the lines of communication between myself and my friends and family are excellent.

Then I took a long drive up into the Catskill Mountains. I know why the place is so inspirational to writers and painters, it is just so beautiful and graceful of a place. The mountains are just so picturesque even with no leaves on the ground.

It is sad that many of the small town on Route 28 have gotten so depressed. Even Phoenicia that had so many nice little restaurants and shops two years earlier, things have just closed down. The further I went up Route 28, the more depressed it got. Pine Hill is run down, Fleishman is the same, in Margaretville each of the buildings could have used a good paint job and it was not until I got to Andes did, I see a little spark of vibrancy. There were some nice little shops and places to eat.

I was taking this tour to visit Bovina Center, which is off Route 28 on Route 6 in the middle of a farming community to visit the Bushman Eating House, a restaurant I had read about in a magazine. I was hoping to have lunch there but unfortunately like most things on Christmas Day, it was closed. Maybe sometime in the Spring when the weather is nicer (See trip to Cornell University Day Seventy-Seven in MywalkinManhattan.com below:)

My trip to Bovina/Narrowsburg and Ithaca:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/5116

Brushland Eating House

Brushland Eating House at 1927 Co Road 6 in Bovina Center

https://www.brushlandeatinghouse.com/

My review on TripAdvisor (later trip):

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47344-d7045175-Reviews-Brushland_Eating_House-Bovina_Center_New_York.html?m=19905

I made a turnaround and went down Route 10, past the SUNY campus in Delhi, which is located in the quaint little town of Delhi and through Stamford and other smaller towns and then to Tannersville to see some of the closed galleries and then back down Route 214 through Phoenicia again which really closed for the night.

I ate at Little Bear at 295 Tinker Street (see review on TripAdvisor) by 5:30pm and enjoyed another Chinese meal there before the crowds beseeched on the only restaurant open in a ten-mile radius.  When I mean that this place gets packed for the evening, it gets packed. I finished my meal at 5:00pm and the line was already 20 deep with the phones ringing off the hook for to go orders. People can be so pushy especially here when they are hungry.

Little Bear Cafe VI

The Little Bear at 295 Tinker Street (Closed October 2021)

https://www.facebook.com/thelittlebearwoodstock/

The food at Little Bear is usually very good but on Christmas Day they just can’t handle the crowds and it suffered the year before. You have to get here before the first movie lets out at 6:30pm. After that it is ciaos until 9:00pm. I had delicious Shu Mai starter followed by Mu Shu pork and an order of Dragon & the Phoenix (shrimp and chicken combo), both which were good but tepid. They need more help during the holidays. They have a hard time just keeping up with the to go orders let alone seating people. Otherwise, the one time I ate here when it was quiet, the food was wonderful.

I thought about a movie after dinner but settled on another walk to the Green. It was just too beautiful of a night to sit in the movies when I could walk around town. With all the lights on at the downtown businesses and the tree lit in the Green, it just felt like Christmas Day night. Like Santa had just visited and people were just enjoying time with their families. A few people were walking their dogs or just looking at the tree in the Green with their children.

Christmas in Woodstock,NY

To me, Woodstock, New York is just such a nice place to come to celebrate Christmas. So quiet, so picturesque and serene and relaxing. It is a place that you can sit, think and reflect on the year.

Merry Christmas to you all & a Happy New Year!

If you like this blog, check out my other Christmas visits to Woodstock, NY on:

Day Thirty-Four: Christmas in Woodstock, NY 2015:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/662

Places to stay:

The Woodstock Inn at Mill Stream

48 Tannery Brook Road

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-8211

https://www.facebook.com/WoodstockInnNY/

My TripAdvisor review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g48915-d80289-Reviews-The_Woodstock_Inn_on_the_Millstream-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to eat:

Cucina

109 Mill Hill Road

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-9800

info@cucinawoodstock.com

Hours: Sunday 11:00am-9:30pm/Monday-Thursday 5:00pm-9:30pm/Saturday 11:00am-10:30pm

My Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48915-d1457080-Reviews-Cucina-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Little Bear Chinese Restaurant (Closed October 2021)

295 Tinker Street, Street B

Bearsville, NY  12409

(845) 679-8849

http://littlebearchineserestaurant.com/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Friday-Saturday 12:00pm-11:00pm

My TripAdvisor review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47293-d3216488-Reviews-The_Little_Bear-Bearsville_New_York.html?m=19905

Shindig

1 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 684-7091

Open: Sunday-9:00am-9:00pm/Tuesday-10:00am-9:00pm/Thursday 9:00am-9:00pm/Friday-Saturday 9:00am-10:00pm

shindig1Tinker@yahoo.com

My TripAdvisor review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48915-d7376319-Reviews-Shindig-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

The Dutch Reformed Church

16 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-6610

https://www.woodstockreformedchurch.org/Home/who-we-are

Check their website for services

The Christmas Tree in the Woodstock, NY town square

Day Thirty-Four: Returning to Woodstock, NY for the Christmas Eve Parade and the Christmas Holidays December 25th, 2015

I put my walking project in Manhattan on hold to participate in other activities that I was organizing during the month of December. Trips in the city became day trips to the museums, walking tours and many holiday events that was I was invited to or helped organize for other people.

Some of the memorable events I had was organizing my holiday party at work. I work with the disabled who are a very active bunch of people. I make sure that there is always exercising, stimulating speakers and lively engaging conversation. These are not people who will ever sit on the back of the bus if I can help it. I always want them to know you can get better and make better of any situation.

We had a lively party with exercise, music and good food. As I do every year, I have the Bamboo House 28 South Broad Street in Ridgewood, a small Chinese restaurant, cater the party (see my reviews on TripAdvisor) with wonderful lunch specials. You have to try their Sub Gum Wonton Soup, Mom’s Dumplings and Crystal Garlic chicken.

The Bamboo House at 28 South Broad Street

https://www.restaurantji.com/nj/ridgewood/bamboo-house-/

This little hole in the wall is amazing and the owner, Mrs. Woo, has been a real friend over the years. She has been so accommodating to me over the years. She helped me out when my father and I used to eat there before our water aerobics class and my dad loved the food there. It was a lively afternoon of good food, wonderful conversation and holiday cheer. Everyone had a nice time.

All these project took their toll on me as well as getting ready for entertaining my family after the holidays. I had to prepare brunch for twelve and clean the house and touch up the lawn before the visit. Even in the beginning of the Winter, the temperature was at 60 degrees and the lawn was growing. I was still cutting and edging the lawn into January.

I was able to sneak into the city after all the work was done and before I left for Woodstock to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 Fifth Avenue for a Christmas concert in the Musical Instruments Wing with a pipe organ I never knew the museum had and a brass trio from Columbia University.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

It was an afternoon of lively holiday favorites with a sing along and a lot of cheering. I got to see the tree in the Medieval Wing again before it would be taken down for the season. It is something you should really see when visiting New York during the holidays.

Metropolitan Museum of Art II

The Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 Fifth Avenue

https://www.metmuseum.org/

I spent my second Christmas holiday enjoying the natural beauty and spirituality of Woodstock, New York. Last year it was a place of escape but this year it was a place of relaxation and reflection. I put the holidays into perspective and took a good long look at my life. Of what I have accomplished and what I want to accomplish. It is the most quiet and peaceful place to do it in.

I came up for the Village Parade on Christmas Eve night, a tradition in the town for over 50 years. Every year they try to find a more creative way to have Santa Claus appear and the anticipation is a lot of fun to watch. Last year though it rained like crazy but this year it was warm, clear and enjoyable. It was 70 degrees that night.

It is such a lively parade and a real family orientated event. There must have been hundreds of people lining the streets of this small hamlet, that like Rhinebeck, is beautifully and creatively decorated for Christmas. There a unique store displays with colored lights around the buildings and windows, festive displays around the stores and colorfully lit Christmas tree right in the town square, something out of a postcard.

christmasinwoodstock2cny

Christmas in Woodstock, NY 2015

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/tag/christmas-in-woodstock/

Well, every year they try to top the way Santa appears in the parade and they didn’t disappoint this year as Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny appeared first and then a hat inflated on the float and then there was smoke and steam and then Santa appeared in a explosion of confetti. Everyone cheered and applauded when Santa appeared and he climbed off the float and greeted everyone. He got to the square and started to meet with the local children.

Christmas Parade in Woodstock, NY 2015

Christmas Parade Woodstock, NY 2015

While the kids were taking their requests to Santa, I went over to listen to the Christmas concert by the Dutch Reformed Church performed by jazz singer, Lindsay Webster.

Lindsey Webster, a local singer and her band was singing Christmas carols on the lawn of the church. I had heard her in concert the year before and her and her band are excellent. She knows how to sing ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’. I asked her keyboard player if they cut a holiday album and note to everyone we my have to wait until next year.

Christmas Parade Woodstock, NY 2014 (My first Christmas in Woodstock, NY)

As soon as the parade starts, it is over. The whole place has to clear out by 6:45pm so that the Dutch Reformed Church can hold mass at 7:00pm. I had to run back to change clothes for mass.

The Dutch Reformed Church at 16 Tinker Street does things so differently then then the church that I go to, it is so much more lively. Their choir and bell chorus makes the mass so much better. Plus the pastor is very inspiring with his sermon on the meanings of Christmas and how it is in our lives.

Dutch Reformed Church Woodstock.jpg

The Dutch Reformed Church at 16 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY

https://www.woodstockreformedchurch.org/

After mass, it was another dinner at Joshua’s at 51 Tinker Street off the square, which was beautifully decorated with lights all over the trees in front of the restaurant and display in the windows (see the review on TripAdvisor) and then a walk around the square before I went to bed.

Jousha's II.jpg

Jousha’s Restaurant at 51 Tinker Street at the holidays (Closed in February 2022)

https://www.facebook.com/joshuaswoodstock/

The square where the Christmas Tree is located was so quiet and peaceful it is a great place to wait for Santa. I just sat there and looked at the tree. No one else was in the square but me and I forgot how much I missed this spot from last year. It was quiet reflection. I really did think I would see Santa that night.

christmasinwoodstock2cny

The Village Green B & B at 12 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY at a later wintery day

https://www.villagegreenbb.com/

I almost thought that when the burglar alarm was set off at five in the morning. I had to call the owner of the Village Green B & B where I was going to reset the alarm and that he had better check it in the morning. I thought Santa was trying to get out.

After a restful wake up three hours later and a leisurely breakfast, I was on the phone with relatives and friends from nine in the morning until about one thirty in the afternoon. After long conversations with people I have not spoke with in a while and wanting to go to the movies at four, I got out of the B & B and toured around the Catskills for the afternoon. Since it was Christmas Day, it was extremely quiet.

My journey took me up Route 28 to Phoenicia and the Pine Hill area again like last year but I decided to take another turn and drive through Route 214 and go up to Tannersville and Hunter. The drive through the mountains is very inspiring. I now know why so many writers and painters live up there.

Phoenicia was extremely quiet and being 67 degrees, it gave me the energy to walk around the downtown. I could not believe how depressed the town got in just one year. So many businesses either closed or had moved to another spot. That was not a good sign. Still a picture perfect town nestled in the hills but even I could tell the tourists have stayed away.

The only life in the town that day was at the Phoenicia Fire Department as they were having their annual Christmas Party and it was still going strong long into the afternoon. Last year it broke up by one.

Even thought there were no leaves on the trees, the site of the forest was still breath taking and scenic. There were barely any cars on the road until I got to Tannersville, NY, a quirky little town on a quiet highway up in the mountains.

There was not life there either as only one restaurant was open to a small crowd of people and a deli selling coffee to a steady stream of locals. This was a very artsy town with a performing arts center and a few galleries but even I wondered how much art must these people have to sell to stay open in this location. I almost had lunch here but traveled on.

I drove through hills and gorges and came across a waterfall that I did not find too exciting but cars full of Asian tourists seem to love. The parking lot was jammed with people walking over to take pictures,

The remainder of my journey took me back to Woodstock to go to Upstate Films to the movies and dinner at Little Bear Chinese Restaurant at 295 Tinker Street (see review on TripAdvisor) in Bearsville, NY .

Little Bear Cafe

Little Bear Restaurant at 295 Tinker Street in Bearsville, NY (Closed October 2021)

https://www.facebook.com/thelittlebearwoodstock/

There I saw the largest crowd of people that whole day as the restaurant was packed with hungry diners who had come after the movies for dinner. The whole place was so jammed with people trying to eat at once that the service was rushed and the food overcooked for the most part (see my review on TripAdvisor).

Little Bear Cafe II

The view from the tables by the window

My last evening was spent in the square again, doing some writing by the Christmas tree. Even though it was’t the most beautiful tree it seemed to fit the town nicely with it’s artsy look and beautifully strung lights. It fit the mood of a hipster Christmas.

Leaving the next day was hard because I was so relaxed. I walked around the busy square which had come back to life with locals and tourists doing their business. Woodstock is a very special place and I will always remember my Christmas’s here fondly.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!

If you like this visit to Woodstock, NY for Christmas, check on my return to Woodstock, NY on Day Sixty-Three:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/3408

Places to Visit:

Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY  10028

(800) 622-3397

http://www.metmuseum.org

Open: Sunday-Thursday-10:00am-5:30pm/Friday & Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105125-Reviews-The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The Christmas in Woodstock:

Woodstock, NY: Annual Christmas Parade Christmas Eve night

Places to Stay:

Village Green B & B

12 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-0313

info@VillageGreenbb.com

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g48915-d80284-Reviews-Village_Green_Bed_and_Breakfast-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Worship on Christmas:

Dutch Reformed Church for Christmas Eve Mass

16 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

(845) 679-6610

https://www.woodstockreformedchurch.org/

Places to Eat:

Bamboo House

28 South Broad Street

Ridgewood, NJ  07450

(201) 447-3111

https://www.restaurantji.com/nj/ridgewood/bamboo-house-/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Thursday 11:30am-9:30pm/Friday-Saturday 11:30am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46772-d3998588-Reviews-Bamboo_House-Ridgewood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Jousha’s (Closed February 2022)

51 Tinker Street

Woodstock, NY  12498

http://www.joushaswoodstock.com

(845) 679-5533

Open: Sunday-10:00am-9:00pm/Monday-Friday-10:00am-10:00pm/Closed Wednesday/Saturday 10:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48915-d458534-Reviews-Joshua_s-Woodstock_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

Little Bear Chinese Restaurant (Closed October 2021)

295 Tinker Street Street B

Bearsville, NY  12409

(845) 679-8899

https://the-little-bear.business.site/

Open: Sunday-Thursday-12:00pm-10:00pm/Friday-Saturday-12:00pm-11:00pm review

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47293-d3216488-Reviews-The_Little_Bear-Bearsville_New_York.html?m=19905

Please watch this video of the parade. I credit the contributor of the video of the parade. It really is a magical night. I credit the contributors of YouTube for these videos.

This video was from my first year in Woodstock, NY when it poured like crazy.

Don’t miss the Christmas Parade in Woodstock, NY. You should see it once!