Wednesday, November 18, 2015


It’s amazing how much you can take in with having on “overnight”, or as they travel trade calls it “Two days and one night”.  That never makes sense since a day consists of 24 hours.  Check ins are at 3 pm and check outs at about 10 am.  Anyway, my college buddy Nancy and I ventured out leaving at 10 am with Tarrytown as the destination.  

Tarrytown, New York is located in Westchester County just south of the famous town of Sleepy Hollow. 

Although a bit chilly, the weather was great.  I thought we’d visit a few places in Tarrytown before checking into the Double Tree Hilton.  Silver Tips Tea Room looked so totally great having peered at the website.  I got in touch with the owner, Anupa Mueller.  Aside from this tearoom she runs a company called Eco-Prima Tea.  

                                                                       Africkana (Roobios with Vanilla)

The tea room, located at 3 N. Broadway, has been around for 16 years.  A décor of warm colors, spaced out tables and some shelves to purchase items such as tea pots, lines the sides of the counter for outdoing orders along with a long shelf of more teas than you can imagine.  There are no flowers or dolls as men enjoy a great cup of tea as well.  Tradition does not dictate that “tea” is for women only.

Most tea venues serve “high tea” at about 3p.m.  Here, you can experience the pleasurable tastes and soothing experience any time.  We arrived at 11:30 and met with Anupa.  We gave her an idea of the types of tea we indulged in and allowed her to choose the teas.  Anupa, creates combinations of tea leaves with herbs as well as providing just that single tea.
There is only one tea plant and various teas starting from black and oolong to green and white.  “All tea comes from one flowering evergreen shrub, Camellia sinensis regardless of where it is grown,” Anupa writes. “The variation in teas is caused by differing conditions in the tea-growing countries - geographic characteristics, when and how it is plucked and what is done to the leaf after it is plucked.”

“There are 3 major classification of tea - Black (fermented), Green (unfermented) and Oolong (semi-fermented). These are achieved by different manufacturing processes, i.e., varying degrees of withering (evaporation of moisture), rolling, oxidation (fermentation) and heat. The tea most commonly known around the world is black tea, although, of late, green tea has also gained wide acclaim.”  No tea bags here.  They are all loose leaf and steeped in a tea pot.  Tea has to be steeped for a certain period of time, depending upon the variety.  Herbal tea is not the same as decaffeinated tea.  An herbal tea does not come from a tea leaf.  It comes from berries and flowers. 

I had a rooibos “tea”, an herbal made from leaves of shrubs from South Africa.  They are sometimes referred to as “red tea” or “African tea”.  It has a slightly sweet flavor and cannot be “over-steeped”.  You will find that there are many varieties of this as berries, flowers, and spices are added.  As an example, I have a Cranberry Orange of rooibos, cranberries, orange and hibiscus.  A similar one was served. This particular rooibos served, called Afrikana, had vanilla in it.  

                                                             Afternoon Delight
                                                                          Formosa Oolong
Nancy had one called Afternoon Delight, a blend of Indian Organic and Fair Trade black teas, mellow but flowery.  Not too strong. Nancy loved it as she tends to drink tea or coffee with caffeine. 
Anupa opted for Formosa Oolong, “In the style of the celebrated Tung Ting Oolong. Tightly rolled leaves from the mountainous area in the interior. Floral bouquet and a smooth finish. It produces a golden liquor and subtle, delicate aroma. Less oxidized than other oolongs, good leaf style. Our favorite Oolong, hands down!”  Although I do not tend to drink this type, I did taste it and found it to be one that I would choose in the future.  I personally do not care to add milk or sugar to tea.  Milk should not be added to all teas.  Read the label. 

Of importance to know....just because a tea has certain name doesn't mean that all teas with that name will taste the same.  Just like wine. 

We didn’t just have tea!  Afternoon Tea involves food as well that is far cry from ones that are served at a hotel or such.  Keep in mind that the experience needs to be enjoyed at a slower pace. Let’s begin with the sandwiches that are cut up in triangles.  Egg Souchong: Eggs Marinated in a Smoked Tea, then combined with Seasonings & Chives.  Mediterranean : Black Olives with Basil, Lemon & Seasonings with Cream Cheese. Tarry Chicken: Chicken salad with a Hint of Barbecue. The sandwiches are served on whole wheat bread. All delicate and delicious.  

Scones are a must.  I chose the warm blueberry with crème fraiche and preserves. Best scone I’ve ever had. It was soft and more cake-like than ones that I have had previously.  Nancy opted for a dessert of an English toffee pudding. OMG.  One thing for sure is that you won’t feel hungry afterward.  

I have used a tea maker and various tea balls, etc.  The best item to purchase is a Brew Basket. It comes individually boxed and consists of a fine mesh with a lid that can also serve as a coaster to hold the drips from the basket. 

A few teas taken home.  Wolfberry Melon:  not-too-sweet blend of gojiberry superfruit, pear, sweetened honeydew melon, apple, hibiscus, rosehips and flavoring.   I did get a sample of the Jade Oolong and another called Earl Grey Blue: black tea with bergannot and blue flowers.  Milk can be added to this one.  Ronnybrook Farms whole milk would be just the perfect touch!  Check out their prodigious website.

Pure Mountain Olive Oils and Vinegars is a few doors away at 11 N. Broadway.   Have you ever experienced an olive oil tasting?  Most people will dip a piece of bread into the oil. A tasting of olive oil is similar to a coffee and wine tasting.  You put a sample into a small paper cup. Smell it. Sip a small amount swirl around the mouth and let it roll down your throat.  You will not only get a better sense of the flavor but the peppery feeling at the back of your throat. 

Olive oil comes from different countries and not all are the same.  Think of it as olives vs grapes being grown.  Greece, Spain, Morocco and Italy are major importers.  California is not out of the question and can be just as good.  

Along with Pure Mountain’s variety of 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oils, there are infused ones as well. Basil, Garlic, Mushroom, Chipotle, Rosemary, Meyer Lemon, and Lime are just some of them.
Then there are the vinegars.  Most of them are the red balsamic.  If you have an allergy to red wines, there are some great white balsamic as an option. Along with a tradition white, there are: Coconut, Orange, and Lemon. 

Jima is the manager with a long background in being a chef.  She is responsible for coming up with pairing ideas, such as the Coconut white vinegar with the Persian Lime olive oil.  Great combo for cooking up shrimp.  The website, provides many recipes and pairings. 

Double Tree Hilton hotel is located just a few minutes away at 455 S. Broadway.  There appeared to be much going on this weekend at the hotel. Wedding and group meetings.  Upon checking in the woman at the front desk handed my key and said my room number out loud.  This was the first breach of security.  Just about all hotels, especially chain hotels, know that you can hand the key and say the floor number out loud but not the room number.  You don’t know who is standing by to see and hear.  

Although I was able to get assistance with my luggage, it was quite amount of time due to poor communication between the person at the front desk and the bellhop.  In fact, as I approached the bellhop who was called upon, two women approached him directly.  Nancy was there and when indicated that he was to assist me, the women said that they had checked in first.  The bellhop, rather than calling the desk to confirm, took her word and attended to them.  We did not have a lot of luggage but due to my disability needed assistance getting it to the room. I had one of the accessible rooms that had a shower chair in the bathroom. 

The shower was equipped with a shower head and an attached hand held shower.  There did not seem to be any indication on how to switch the water coming from the shower head to this.  The way the shower chair is situated, one cannot fully close the shower curtain to be inside of the tub.  I certainly did my best to handle this but there was much water on the floor afterward.  

I only took one cane….mistake.  More walking than I expected.  Should have brought the rollator.  Nancy’s had an adjoining room.  Thinking we’d make use of it I tried my best to open mine.  With all the pulling (Nancy had to come in through the main door), we finally got it open.  However, I was never able to fully close it afterward. 

Second breach of security.  I had some difficulty with the television.  Sound, no picture.  Technician arrives and I let him in.  Whenever a staff member has to enter your room they must have a stopper to place at the door.  The door is not to be closed, even with just using the latch.  This is especially a no-no if a male staff member walks into a room occupied (or appears to be occupied) by a single woman. 

The location of the Double Tree is so totally accessible to the highways.  You can see the Tappan Zee Bridge (and the building thereof the new one).  Tarrytown itself has some great shops, restaurants and the Tarrytown Music Hall.  I’ll get to that later.  

Hotels usually have reputation of having a so-so restaurant.  Their restaurant, Bistro Z, is one that deserves attention even when you are not staying there.  Chef Craig Leonard is the brains behind the food.  With farms not being so far away, Chef Craig is about the use local sources.  The town of Sleepy Hollow, just north of Tarrytown, hosts a green market each weekend.  

Let’s get to the dinner.  Bread…two types.  I did not partake as I wanted to save my tummy room for everything else.  Nancy did partake and said that it was perfect regarding both the texture of the crust and chewiness of the inside.  

I asked if our waitress could make fresh lemonade.  With the restaurant having a bar, this can be done.  She also asked if I wanted any fruit in it and opted for strawberries, which turned out to be sweet, considering that the season was quite over.  I think we had company....

It was the end of Restaurant Week in Hudson area as those restaurants participating had special menus at a fixed price.  Although the choices were quite appealing, especially for the price, we decided to order off the main menu. 

Nancy requested a Caesar Salad with the dressing made on the premises.  I love fresh beets and ordered the Trio of Baby Beet Salad.  Three different colored beets with grape tomatoes, frisee, and a tarragon vinaigrette.  

As we were approaching the podium, I noticed that there was a platter of salsa, chips and guacamole. (There is a sign revealing the “Soup of the Moment”. Great idea in case the chef opts to whip up a different “soup of the day”).  I asked our wonderful waitress if we could partake as I wanted to sample the guacamole, wondering as to whether they use fresh avocados.  No doubt that they do and just the right amount of kick. 

Chef Craig wanted us to sample a few other appetizers.  Twist my arm.  House Cured Salmon with asparagus spears, frisee, and an herbed crème fraiche. The salmon was not salty nor oily. Too bad I can’t buy this at home.  

I do not tend to enjoy Brie.  This was a Baked Brie with lingonberries, toasted almond and a warm baguette.  Nancy loves cheese and figured that she’ll eat it.  Then I tried it. I guess all brie cheeses are not the same! Baked must make a difference as well.  Add those lingonberries and almonds and you have one excellent taste bud pleasure.   Nancy agreed.  

Now we are onto the main course.  Considering what I had so far, I had expectations for their Lamb Chops.  Two double loin chops cooked to my request (I like them just about well-done), with braised kale, and a Potato and Squash Gratin.  I ask to leave out the Crispy Garlic.  Another OMG experience!  The combination of potato and squash (not sure which kind) with the melted cheese made for a great “side”.  Talk about a savory dish! 

Nancy went for a “surf and turf” of Beef Tenderloin and Grilled Shrimp.  I believe that the tenderloin was filet mignon.  Yukon mashed potatoes, real baby carrots, and asparagus accompanied this entrée.  A Bordelaise Sauce added an extra flavor.  

Somehow, there was room for dessert and not “jello”.  Chocolate Explosion sounded like a chocoholics dream. “Warm Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Center Ganache Served with Vanilla Ice Cream”.  Nancy went for the Maple Sugar Bruleed New York Style Cheesecake with spiced pecans.  It’s an individual mini-cake rather than a slice. I could definitely say that I would buy the cheesecake if it were sold in NYC.  Looks as if the "company" came back for dessert.

Here is the Bistro Crew 
Full and totally satiated, we are off to Tarrytown Music Hall where singer, guitarist Ani DiFranco is performing.  Location is at 16 Main Street, another short hop in the car. Although I did hear of her, this would be the first taking in both the singing and style.  It was obvious that she has a following as the hall was full, and you can see people either mouthing the words or singing along.  Not knowing her, it was difficult to hear many of the lyrics to her songs.  It could also have been that I was seated near the speakers on one side.  I would characterize her music as “folk rock”.  It appeared as if she had many guitars.  Someone would come out and take the guitar that she was using and replace it with another.  However, I could see that the guy was standing in the wings tuning it.  Just two guitars.

I got the impression that her following included those that attend the annual Clearwater Festival at Croton Park.  If you are not familiar, the festival is held each year on Father’s Day weekend, with the purpose of raising money to clean up the Hudson River.  The event was formed by the late Pete Seeger.  Just looked at the Clearwater website.  Ani DiFranco performed there this past June.  Check out for upcoming concerts.

A good night’s sleep and breakfast the next morning.  There was a cold and hot buffet. I requested eggs over easy as I don’t care for the massive scrambled eggs at a buffet.  I was also able to get some of that delectable smoked salmon.  Most impressive were the potatoes.  Instead of hash browns, Craig decided on multi colored small potatoes. Seasoned just enough for the palate.  I was dipping the potatoes into the egg yolk rather than using bread.

Relaxed and then packed up to go to Yorktown.  I was interested in going to a farm in that area. However, it was a bit cold and didn’t really get that I would be petting any animals.  We went to visit the Langs…Enid (who I have been friends with for 55 years) and her husband, Gene.  Much schmoozing and lunch…I almost laughed when she brought out the lox!  Time to hit the road….I’ll be back!  There is an alpaca farm that needs my attention. 

Here is the feedback from Nancy. "Reflections on our visit to Tarrytown…
Silver Tips was great!  The dining section felt savvy, yet comfy at the same time…not that pinky finger -in –the- air  atmosphere one expects in a tea room.  Our host, Anupa was so knowledgeable and generous in spirit.  The food was yummy, as were the teas.  I learned that what I thought are tea leaves from different plants are really the same tea  allowed to dry for varying lengths of time. And I will now think twice when I use a tea bag!  I did not know the bags are filled with the dreg leftovers from the premium leaves!
I purchased 4 teas:  Rooibos Afrikana ; Afternoon Delight;  Ginger Ease (ginger, orange peel, eucalyptus and mint with ginger/orange flavor) ; Earl Grey Blue; and a tea brewing basket (to replace my antiquated tea ball). While standing at the take-out counter to purchase my tea, it was quite busy. I noticed that this activity did not seem to overflow into the dining area. Everyone was happy and pleasant.

Pure Mountain…a fun and new experience…tasting olive oils and balsamic vinegar. Jima was a good “teacher” as I participated in my first NOT WINE tasting. Unfortunately, she was repeatedly pulled away by her boss, and the telephone.  I purchased small bottles of Garlic Mushroom Olive Oil, and Sicilian Bread Dipping Olive Oil; Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar and Chocolate, Fig, and Blackberry Dark Balsamic Vinegars.

The Tarrytown Music Hall…an iconic structure in a historic village.  A fun evening at the end of a long day.

The Hilton Doubletree.  My room was more than satisfactory.  Comfortable bed.  Clean, modern bathroom. The construction noise at 7:30 am on Saturday was a bummer. Not enough time to try the pool/gym.  The restaurant, Bistro Z, was Excellent. Great food, presentation and service.
The Breakfast Buffet was plentiful with many fresh food choices.  We should have ordered some items from the menu that were not featured on the buffet like French Toast/Omelets…instead of simple eggs.

Overall…a 2-night, 3-day stay in Tarrytown would be a great short-term getaway. 
There are historic places nearby, and plenty of interesting shops in a delightful , authentic village.
But bring lots of quarters!"

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