Antiques, Sailing, Martinis and Laughter: Memorial Day Weekend in Kingston, New York

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Milne’s At Home Antiques in Kingston’s Historic Rondout district, is a Mecca for architects, interior designers, and collectors of all types.

Last Monday, on a perfectly brilliant spring day in Washington, DC, Gary and I sat drinking martinis in a charming hotel on DuPont Circle. Inevitably our conversation turned to thoughts of Memorial Day weekend. As a caveat to this conversation you must understand Gary is the worst planner for holiday weekends. If left to his own devices Gary would celebrate the long weekend with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken with a side order of coleslaw and call it a day. Obviously that’s not exactly what I would call a celebratory weekend.

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The manicured gardens of the Mononk Mountain House are a popular post hike destination for hikers along the trails of the Mohonk Preserve

Over the years we have had a long succession of Memorial Day weekends both on the East and West Coasts. Yet I for one feel that the Hudson Valley—with its many outdoor adventures, numerous eateries and shopping venues—is a year-round resort community. One of the benefits of living in such a community is that planning a memorable holiday weekend is a simple, uncomplicated task. As we will be staying close to the home front this weekend I thought I would share a few of my favorite places to hang, to chill and of course to drink martinis (for the record, it’s a Kettle One martini, up, very dry with a twist and with olives on the side, if you were wondering).

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Buttery croissants are the calling card of the French Patisserie

Typically our holiday weekends begin on Thursday evening, as the annual house guests begin to descend upon us; a very simple proposition as numerous eateries are within walking distance of our Burgevin Street home. Weather permitting, one of my favorite outside dining experiences is the deck at Santa Fe on Main Street in Uptown Kingston. Margaritas paired with guacamole followed by pulled pork tacos are a few of my menu staples. If the weather is dreary then Stella’s Italian fare on North Front Street is an excellent option. Though chef Barbara’s homemade meatballs and lasagna are traditional favorites, I generally have the grilled salmon with artichokes and olives (simply delicious).

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Jean Jacques of French Kiss Bakery offers an excellent conclusion to an evening’s dinner in his Le Canard Restaurant in Uptown Kingston

As I have indicated previously I do not prepare breakfast, so Friday morning will find us back in Uptown Kingston either at Dominick’s Cafe or Outdated (nothing like coffee with a few antiques tossed in). After breakfast, a bit of window-shopping is in order. From Bop to Tottom, to Gargoyles, to Theresa and Company to Schneider’s Jewelers, shopping and strolling is an effortless adventure in Uptown. Along the way you might stop by Exit Nineteen to see what design treats John Krenek and Jamie Niblock have available. If you have worked up an appetite by this time, Duo Bistro is an excellent choice for lunch; egg white omelets with French fries are a classic (the french fries are killer). Later on in the afternoon, drinks with deviled eggs on the terrace at Boitson’s should always be on the itinerary. Followed this with dinner with Jean Jacques at Le Canard (as an aside Diane at Le Canard prepares the best Martini in the Hudson Valley). Jean Jacques dessert offerings from his French Kiss bakery are guaranteed to wet the whistle of even the most ardent gourmand.

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Ron Sharkey’s Black Barn Sales are a not to be missed experience in Ulster County.

On Saturday after a quick perusing of the Uptown Kingston Farmer’s Market, with a cup of coffee from Uptown Coffee, it is time to head to High Falls NY. To officially launch Summer the kingmaker of antiques dealers Ron Sharkey, is hosting an antiques and garden fair at the Black Barn in the middle of High Falls this weekend. Antique Dealers, interior designers, the occasional celebrity, and fashion icons all flock to High Falls for a Black Barn Sale. While you are in High Falls you will want to stop by Green Cottage Floral Design. The Green Cottage has an interesting array of eye-catching gifts and jewelry for every budget. Kitchenette, with its handmade onion rings, is a terrific option for luncheon. After lunch stop into FRED, a must see shop for the design-conscious consumer. A drive up to the Mohonk Mountain House for hiking on the Mohonk Preserve Trails will provide you with breathtaking views of the entire Hudson Valley. Dinner on Saturday evening with Rich Reeve of Elephant in Uptown Kingston is not to be missed. Rich is a culinary musician of the highest caliber. Whether it is magic or just the expertise of the master chef, every meal at the Elephant is a culinary delight. Stopping into the Stockade Tavern, for an absinthe nightcap is a fabulous way to complete the day.

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Rich Reeves masterly created culinary delights are the calling card of the Elephant restaurant in Uptown Kingston.

The newest and hippest place for coffee and a croissant on Sunday morning is Jean Jacques, (of Le Canard) newly opened Patisserie. The smell of deeply roasted coffees and cappuccinos almost makes you feel as if you have awakened in Paris. Afterwards, sailing on the Hudson is one of my most favored pastimes, and by booking a charter cruise with Captain Jerome Hollick of the Tivoli Sailing Company the waters of the mighty Hudson are easily navigated.

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Sailing on the mighty Hudson is one of my very favorite Summer pastimes.

Prior to boarding the ship in the Rondout Harbor, take a bit of time to visit the Maritime Museum and the various shops in the Historic Rondout District. The not-to-be-missed destination in the Rundout shopping district is Milne’s At Home Antiques. Curated by the effervescent Rebekah Milne, Milne’s is the to go-to resource for antique garden accessories, urns and custom-made furnishing. The charming Rebekah often has a glass of prosecco on hand for the weary shopper. As you head toward the docks to meet Captain Jerome, you might enjoy stopping by the Kingston Wine Company for a bottle of bubbly or wine for your river sailing adventure. After you have disembarked from sailing, perhaps a glass of wine at the Brunette Wine Bar should be in order. Evening dining in the Rondout offers many options, from Savonna’s Italian Restaurant, to Ship to Shore, to Ole Savannah. Each of these restaurants is an excellent choice for a post-sail dinner.

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A sunset dinner near the Rondout Harbor brings any day to a marvelous conclusion.

By the dawn of Monday you will feel as if you have spent the weekend in an enchanted wonderland. For indeed, living off of Exit Nineteen in the Hudson Valley is like living in a fulltime resort; a resort populated with warm friends, outdoor adventures, fine dining, engaging architecture, multiple art galleries and amazing musical venues (BSP is a must-visit music venue for the out of town visitor and locals alike). So if you haven’t made plans for this upcoming Memorial Day weekend, you might give Kingston a try. Reservations of course are strongly recommended for each of the dining options. Along the way during the weekend you might just spy the 6’3” blonde Gary, with his over tanned sidekick Haynes. If you do please take time to say hello. Or if you drive by Burgevin Street and suddenly hear jazz drifting in the air stop on by, you never know who might be on the porch engaged in conversation.

About Haynes Llewellyn

Haynes Llewellyn, an interior designer, preservationist and accomplished party planner, relocated to the Hudson Valley city of Kingston from Manhattan’s Central Park West neighborhood in 2007. During Haynes’s almost nine years in the Hudson Valley, he has been featured in numerous television, radio, magazine and newspaper interviews. Haynes’s first Kingston restoration project was of a Historic 1840’s Greek Revival home, featured in the recently released Rizzoli Interior Design book Heart and Home: Rooms that Tell Stories by Linda Okeeffe. Haynes has served on a number of boards of directors, event committees and commissions since arriving in the Hudson Valley. Haynes, along with his two Scottish Terrier Rescues and partner Gary Swenson, is currently in the process of renovating his second Kingston home, a 1939 Colonial.

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