Cortlandt Manor, New York

July 2008

Monteverde at Oldstone Manor, once the home of Pierre Van Cordlandt, the first Lt. Governor of New York State, had recently been resurrected as a high end inn, spa and restaurant. The dining rooms are a bit strange; they’ve kept the old school plush red carpeting and matching red chairs but have scattered large French food posters around the room.  The view from the main dining room overlooks a large lawn with some outdoor tables and white rocking chairs.  The Hudson River is at their doorstep and looking at the landscape, I could finally understand the inspiration for the Hudson River School group of painters. 

While the view was idyllic, we realized as the meal progressed that we were surrounded by hostile idiots.

We started with a bottle of Stoller Pinot Noir from the Williamette Valley.  It had a screw off cap.  I have a confession to make: I’m still not comfortable with the idea of screw off caps on bottles of wine, especially when you’re paying big bucks for a bottle.  To me, it’s just not as sexy opening a bottle of wine if you simply screw off the top, rather than fussing with a cork and then hearing the sound of the cork “pop.”  I know people in the industry claim there’s no difference in the product when using a screw cap versus cork, but call me a bit old-fashioned, I want the cork!

But let me talk about the food. Lynn ordered the grilled scallops with mashed potatoes and turnips au jus as an appetizer; I had an apple and pistachio crab salad that was delicious.  Apparently, the table across from us was not as happy with their meals.  One of the women ordered something that came with bacon and she went into a tirade about how rude it is not to tell people if there are nitrates in a dish.

“What if I were allergic to it?” she demanded.

She then asked that the dish be taken away and then spent the next hour and half repeatedly going outside to smoke a Marlboro Light.  I suppose if she had a brain in her head she would have realized the cigarettes would kill her much quicker than the bacon.

Lunch at Monteverde continued.  Lynn had ordered the salmon with roasted veggies; I opted for the snapper special with roasted veggies.  The food was very good and the sun had come out over the Hudson River. That’s when the dining room began to fill up. 

Sitting now directly across from us were a couple in their late 30’s/early 40’s who were obviously shopping around for a spot to hold their upcoming wedding since their conversation consisted of:

Dress fittings.

Other weddings they had been to.

How just cocktails and hors d’ouevres for four hours might be fun rather than a sit down dinner.

At this point the potential groom-to-be protested. “Well, my parents won’t like that,” he said.

Looking at his girth (and hers, too), I thought just drinks and appetizers might actually be the way to go.  Then they had a two minute conversation with the waitress about how the “twice- cooked” chicken was prepared.  She was much more patient with them than I would have been.

“Well, it’s cooked twice,” she offered.

“Duh,” I thought.

First it’s sautéed, then popped in the oven,” she continued sweetly.

We, in the meantime, had moved on to our dessert. Lynn had a whole poached apple which was set on a piece of puff pastry along with some sautéed apples with rum raisin ice cream on the side.  I had a wonderful cherry almond “shortcake” that was layered with cherries and served with a dollop of cream and an awesome amaretti-flavored semi-freddo.  I truly have not had a dessert that was as delicious as the one I had for lunch that day.

Meanwhile, the soon-to-be-newlyweds got their chicken and were complaining.

“But I thought it would be cut up into pieces,” the bride-to-be was whining. “I didn’t think it would be whole like this!” she said.

She was obviously knife-challenged.  Lynn and I looked at each other.

“I give them two years,” I whispered to him. “If they even manage to make it to the wedding.”

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