Fall in the Catskills
Some of you may remember a post from last month about my idea of a perfect mountain weekend (if you don't, it's right here). It involved a classic different strokes situation that essentially boils down to this: my boyfriend likes to sleep in tents and I prefer to dance under them at weddings. His ideal weekend in the mountains involves camp stoves and sleeping bags and waking up with the sunrise, while mine involves waking up in a bed at a trendy Catskills motel where there's hot coffee waiting for me in the lobby (which is a jazzed-up garage with a wood-burning stove, by the way).
But, because willingness to compromise is an important element of relationships, we put our differences aside and...spent a weekend at The Graham and Co.
Behold, a weekend in the Catskills, WW-style.
On Sunday morning, we took a beautiful 2 hour drive up the Westside Highway, along the New Jersey Palisades, and through the Hudson River Valley to our destination: the tiny mountain town of Phoenicia. In the last few years, Phoenicia has become somewhat of a destination for city folk looking for a real weekend escape—not a weekend of trying to charm your way into whatever restaurant, bar, or club is the hot ticket du jour. When people from the city say they go here to get away, they really mean it. Having said that, within half an hour of our arrival in Phoenicia, we had already come in contact with children named Chicken and Poet. Brooklyn was definitely in the house.
We pulled up to the Graham early Sunday afternoon and spent a while browsing the stalls at the Phoenicia Flea--a gathering of local artisans put on by the Graham every couple of months--before setting out on our hike.
The nice guy manning the front desk recommended Tanbark Trail, right off Phoenicia's main/only drag, and it was the perfect afternoon hike for two people with...decidedly different skill levels. It was difficult enough to feel like an actual hike but not so tough that I was gasping for air and hating everything around me (a feeling I reserve especially for LA's Runyon Canyon). Plus, it offered us some beautiful, panoramic views of the town and the surrounding ridge. After a couple hours of tromping in the woods, we had worked up a serious appetite and stopped in at Mama's Boy for an après hike snack.
For dinner Sunday night, we made a reservation at Peekamoose in Big Indian, about 10 miles from Phoenicia. Peekamoose came highly recommended by my friend Sarah--which is reason enough to check it out--but after reading that the owners hail from such NYC culinary institutions as Le Bernardin and Gramercy Tavern, I knew we were in for something amazing.
Despite its seeming remoteness, Peekamoose was bustling when we arrived at 8:30. After a drink in the bar (which had some pretty impressive taxidermy specimens, Poet and Chicken's parents would have been stoked, I'm sure) we sat down in the dining room to the best meal I've had in ages. Wood grilled squid, followed by entrées of local rainbow trout and wood-grilled steak--everything was flawless and delicious. We had grand ambitions of roasting marshmallows in the fire pit after dinner, but after a massive dessert of chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream and salted caramel sauce, s'mores just weren't happening.
Back at the Graham after dinner, we hung out by the campfire and chatted with some fellow guests (all from NYC as well, go figure) while trying to pick out constellations amongst shooting stars. If you can imagine a more fitting end to a perfect day in mountains, let me know, because I'm coming up empty-handed.
The next morning, after lingering over coffee for a while, we headed to Phoenicia Diner for an epic breakfast on our way out of town. I highly recommend the Farmer's Skillet, just don't plan on eating until dinner. It took the drive back to the city, plus a three hour walk around Storm King before I could even think about ever looking at food again.
Our little jaunt to the Catskills was everything I could have asked for and the perfect fall escape from the city--flawless weather in prime leaf-peeping season, a super-cool place to stay, delicious food, campfires, stargazing, and a solid dose of fresh mountain air...no sleeping bags required.