Winter comfort foods transition to Springtime spreads – NY, AZ

It may still feel and look like winter in a lot of locations across the US and Canada, but the calendar says spring has officially sprung and it is time to look forward to the fresh ingredients that early spring gardens will supply all of our favorite eateries as soon as the gardeners can get in the ground and plant their favorite herbs and fruits and veggies.

While waiting for these farm to table fresh ingredients to begin arriving, I will finish enjoying the comfort foods of winter that are beginning the cross-over into spring flavors. March into April is like a hybrid season for foodies – mix and match the hearty pastas, the substantial squash, the full-bodied red blend wines with a lightly blanched Kale salad, savory seasoned baked lake trout, and a crisp fruity sauvignon blanc.

To start off this months food review – is a comfort food review from my daughter and guest blogger, Allison:

New York

For awhile, it has been trendy in the city (NYC) to add bacon to anything: cookies http://newyork.cbslocal.com/top-lists/nycs-4-best-bacon-desserts-2/, martinis http://newyork.cbslocal.com/top-lists/nycs-4-best-bacon-cocktails/, even a jar of artisanal salt http://www.baconery.com. But it was in New Jersey, and with a more traditional breakfast dish, that I became a bacon convert.

Anderson’s 1949 is a recent addition to Montclair’s robust food scene, an oddly playpen-shaped restaurant with oversized tables that are shared European-style by multiple parties. My formerly kosher friend ordered us two dishes to share: the cornbread-clad Chorizo Scramble ($10) http://www.andersons1949brooklyn.com/?page_id=217 and the Elvis Waffle ($10), a sturdy griddle-cake smothered with butter syrup and whipped peanut butter, piled high with bacon flakes, and—to stave off an Elvis heart attack—topped with thick slices of banana. The dish is an impeccable study in contrasts: salty and sweet, crunchy and creamy. We didn’t even bother trying to speak between peanut butter-gummy bites.

The Elvis Waffle at Anderson's 1949 eatery in Brooklyn

The Elvis Waffle at Anderson’s 1949 eatery in Montclair, New Jersey

My extra-crispy-bacon-loving mother had always wondered if there was perhaps some glitch in the genetic transfer, a mutation that predisposed me to sausage instead of fried pork fat. Now I can know that I just hadn’t yet met the right slab of bacon.

To continue on this comfort food eating experience, I return to last weeks blog on Glenmere Mansion, in Chester, NY where I indulged in some pretty hearty dishes. As my daughter made note of, I am a bit of a bacon-a-holic. If bacon is on the menu, it will find its way to my plate. “Bacon and eggs” may be the more recognized breakfast combo, but for me it was always pancakes and bacon. And one of my favorite cold weather flavors is pumpkin. So when perusing The Supper Club complimentary breakfast menu at the Glenmere Mansion my eyes immediately settled on “pumpkin pancakes smothered in an apple/cranberry/walnut compote served with a side of bacon” – it was a slam dunk decision.

Thick fluffy pumpkin pancakes smothered with spiced apple/cranberry/walnut compote served with a side of extra crispy bacon.

Thick fluffy pumpkin pancakes smothered with spiced apple/cranberry/walnut compote served with a side of extra crispy bacon.

The relaxed atmosphere at the Frog’s End Tavern at Glenmere Mansion with its cozy, limited seating, fireplace setting is a perfect complement to the many comfort dishes on the menu. One of my favorite comfort foods is gnocchi – and their homemade gnocchi with shrimp and a light creamy dill sauce hit the spot, on a cool evening with fresh snow covering the property. The next day for lunch, my daughter and I shared a warm pastrami sandwich with a side of home cut fries, and an order of deviled eggs topped with crispy pancetta.

Gnocchi and shrimp dish served at the Frogs End Tavern at the Glenmere Mansion

Gnocchi and shrimp dish served at the Frogs End Tavern at the Glenmere Mansion

A flavorful pastrami sandwich enjoyed at the Frog's End Tavern, Glenmere Mansion

A flavorful pastrami sandwich enjoyed at the Frog’s End Tavern, Glenmere Mansion

Back in NYC, we took in the quaint surroundings of Brooklyn’s Delaware and Hudson‘s prix fixe menu. The menu changes weekly, so it won’t help to share the specifics of what we ate, but come hungry. The sizes of the six appetizers and two first courses leaves you busy trying to figure out how to make room in your tummy for a choice of a main course and desserts – yes that would be plural.

Wild striped bass served on a bed of artichokes, roasted potatoes and onions.

Wild striped bass served on a bed of artichokes, roasted potatoes and onions.

Pork shank, so tender it fell off the bone and melted in your mouth.

Pork shank, so tender it fell off the bone and melted in your mouth.

Arizona

Back in Arizona, where we were pushing temps into the mid-80’s the day spring arrived, I put the comfort foods of winter to rest for another year and focused on a slightly lighter fare. Last month I wrote about my son and his girlfriends visit to Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn in Phoenix. This month found my husband and I making a long overdue visit to this magical oasis in the desert.

The experience starts with complimentary valet parking. Next we were shown to an outdoor fireside table. Even though the temp gauge on the car showed 84 when we arrived, the arid Arizona air makes it feel much colder. The attitude of the entire staff, from hostess to servers, is knowledgeable and professional but relaxed. It is hard to decide which is the bigger pull – the ambience of the outdoor setting or the quality and flavors of the diverse unique menu.

I started with a Himalayan Salt Seared Ahi Tuna, served on a 400 degree heated block of Himalayan salt. The dish was served with the tuna raw and I was instructed to move the tuna on the salt block to arrive at my desired level of doneness. My husband started with a Foie Gras Tamale – a liver pate’ served with a chocolate cherry tamale, fla-vor-ful. For an entree I went with the Colorado Lamb Rack with four substantial chops done to a perfect medium rare. My husband had the seared Duck Breast served with roasted veggies, duck confit and mesquite gnocchi.

Himalayan Salt Seared Ahi Tuna at Lon's

Himalayan Salt Seared Ahi Tuna at Lon’s

Foie Gras Tamale at Lon's

Foie Gras Tamale at Lon’s

Colorado Lamb Rack at Lon's

Colorado Lamb Rack at Lon’s

Duck breast with veggies, duck confit and gnocchi

Duck breast with veggies, duck confit and gnocchi

And if that wasn’t enough, we, okay I, decided after a bit of arm twisting by our server to try their signature dessert, “Lon’s Cowboy Candy Bar” – served with a complimentary Port. My husband passed on the dessert staying true to his New Year’s resolution of no treats, but had no problem indulging in the Port.

Lon's signature dish, Lon's Cowboy Candy bar - a milk chocolate and salted caramel ganache bar served with milk chocolate carmelito gelato

Lon’s signature dish, Lon’s Cowboy Candy bar – a milk chocolate and salted caramel ganache bar served with milk chocolate carmelito gelato

Complimentary shot of Port

Complimentary shot of Port

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prior to taking in a National Geographic photo documentary at the Mesa Arts Center, my friend who invited me to the event first took me to a great Indian restaurant in Tempe – The Dhaba, serving authentic Punjabi food. The one thing I love about Indian food is it is served family style which allows you to enjoy so many dishes in one sitting. It’s also helpful to eat with someone who likes the same dishes you do. We ordered, Butter Chicken, with saffron rice, so we could dip our onion kulcha (a type of naan bread) into its flavorful sauce. We paired that with a spicy jumbo shrimp and washed it all down with a thick creamy mango lassi.

Other AZ eateries to check out:

DJ’s Bagel Cafe: a great place to grab a filling bagel sandwich for breakfast or lunch. They sure don’t skimp on their fillings and the bagels are made fresh on site. Fountain Hills.

Postino Wine Cafe: four locations in the valley serving a great selection of wine and filling tapas.

Euro Pizza Cafe: an extensive menu. Great value. Front row seat to the famous Fountain Hills fountain.

Glenmere Mansion and Spa, Chester, NY

Five-star. Gold star. Four diamonds. A+. Glenmere Mansion and Spa, created in the style of an Italian Tuscan Villa, has earned any and every top-notch accolade given out via the hospitality industry. The mansion sits in the southwest corner of the Hudson Valley in New York. About a 90-minute drive from the Big Apple, this home was originally built by real estate mogul Robert Goelet as a family country retreat in 1911.

Glenmere Mansion and Spa, Chester, NY

Glenmere Mansion and Spa, Chester, NY

In 2006, present owners Alan Stenberg and Daniel DeSimone were out for a drive, took a fortuitous wrong turn and came upon the Glenmere mansion, at the time in great disrepair. After millions of dollars, a multitude of hours spent designing and remodeling the mansion, the partners (both business and life) opened the mansion in 2010. Glenmere became the first introduction in Relais & Chateaux‘s 60-year history to make their list of luxury properties in the hotel’s opening year.

Entrance to Glenmere Mansion, showcasing a Relais & Chateaux flag

Entrance to Glenmere Mansion, showcasing a Relais & Chateaux flag

Every year my daughter and I embark on a mother/daughter trip to visit a new and exciting destination. We usually go on Memorial Day or Labor Day weekend so we have an extra day to travel further, but this was her birthday weekend so we were looking for something extra special and close. Glenmere Mansion fit the bill.

The new owners were obviously set on creating an experience where interaction by the staff was part of that experience. Dan and Alan either spent a multitude of hours and/or a multitude of dollars training their staff – or they just have a knack to pick the perfect personality to compliment the level of hospitality they strived for. The professional service attitude each staff member exudes is with such genuineness I felt I was in a fairytale. It was an experience I’ve only dreamed of, and rarely experienced – and I’ve tried.

This service experience begins with a complimentary belini served to you on a silver platter in your room. A silver platter saw many appearances throughout our stay. We ordered a DVD, served on a silver platter. We ordered room service dessert, served on a silver platter. We ordered a shaving razor and tooth-brush, served on a silver platter.

Belini and other beverages served on a silver platter on arrival in our room

Belini and other beverages served on a silver platter on arrival in our room

The staff has an eerie ability to know who you are, who belongs to who, and what room you are in without you saying a word. Even though it was a bit off-season in terms of taking advantage of a lot of the hotels amenities, the hotel was fairly full. The eating areas are warm and intimate. A hostess meets you at the base of the grand stairway to show you to your table, making it a very personal dining experience from the word go.

The grand staircase, where the hostess meets you to take you to your dinner table

The grand staircase, where the hostess meets you to take you to your dinner table

The dining experience is on par with the hotel and the staff. The Supper Room serves up an exquisite prix fixe dinner, or so we hear. My daughter was recovering from food poisoning and the staff was gracious enough to accommodate our last-minute change in needs of eating off the more sedate menu at their other restaurant, the Frog’s End, then indulge in the delectable richness in the Supper Room.

Frog's End Tavern - a bar and restaurant at Glenmere Mansion

Frog’s End Tavern – a bar and restaurant at Glenmere Mansion

We splurged and stayed in one of the larger rooms, aptly named the Vanderbilt Suite – maybe a Vanderbilt actually stayed in the room as the original owners of the mansion were great hosts to an austere list of guests from the wealthy, to the celebrity entertainer or sports figure, to royalty. A fireplace in both the bedroom and the bathroom, brought a warmth to our room on this chilly weekend, snow piled up on the grounds from a recent snowstorm.

The Vanderbilt Suite at the Glenmere Mansion

The Vanderbilt Suite at the Glenmere Mansion

The next day brought us to the main reason for our trip to Glenmere Mansion – the Spa! But first we indulged with a complimentary gourmet breakfast chosen off of a full menu in the Supper Room. I had pumpkin pancakes topped with an apple cranberry walnut compote. Then we took a brisk walk around the grounds before embarking on our spa experience.

Walking the snowy grounds at Glenmere Mansion

Walking the snowy grounds at Glenmere Mansion

Met with the calming refreshing fragrance from an Indian citrus candle as we entered the spa, we were led to the ‘quiet room’ – an expansive room with a fireplace, a juice/tea bar and several chaise lounges and other sitting areas. Reading materials surround you – from every magazine you could imagine, to coffee table picture books, to reading books galore.

Relaxing in the 'quiet room' at the Spa at Glenmere

Relaxing in the ‘quiet room’ at the Spa at Glenmere

We arrived at the spa in our robes provided in our room, as was suggested, so no need to deal with a locker room and extra keys. Each spa room has their own bathroom – what a novel idea! And even a soaking tub or shower were provided in each room to create a very personal intimate experience. My daughter and I indulged in their ‘Couture’ 90-minute massage treatment, where an individually chosen fragrance of shea butter was used to moisturize our bodies. The remainder of the 4.5 oz jar of our chosen scent was sent home with us.

A spa room at Glenmere Mansion

A spa room at Glenmere Mansion

After being given an extension to our check-out time, we returned to our room to change and to bid a sad farewell to our luxurious room. We were in no hurry to leave the mansion, so we enjoyed lunch back in the Frog’s End and then retired to the sitting room to read, and sip on a complimentary cup of tea and plate of dried cherry biscottis, until our car service arrived at 4 pm to take us back to the hub-bub of the city.

The sitting room at Glenmere Mansion

The sitting room at Glenmere Mansion

It is rare that I use my whole blog post to write about one specific destination, but in my estimation Glenmere Mansion so far surpassed my expectations it earned the honor of holding court to a full post.

Taking that one more step – check out a full set of Glenmere Mansion pics in the “Global Gallery” blog link.