a weekend upstate

I just got back from a fantastic weekend at Hortense's farm. Her sister Celeste and I took the train from Grand Central on Friday night, and arrived just in time to help Hortense retrieve the eggs from the bird coop. Not only does Blue Stone Farm have chickens, but also Peking and regular ducks. This means we collect eggs of different sizes and colors, which is pretty cool (the girls eat them for breakfast on Sunday, and the egg yolk looks divine).

After the egg hunt, we come across a mean-looking turtle. Hortense picks it up and we quickly realize it's actually a snapping turtle, and a very fast one at that. Once she puts it down, we try to steer it in the right direction (basically, back from whence it came). Oh, and Hortense also has the smart idea to spray paint its shell neon orange, this way they can track the turtle and its friends, if it has any.

On Saturday, Hortense drives me out to Minnewaska State Park. Her mom has provided us with enough supplies for the day: cereal bars, water bottles, towels and sunscreen. All that's left to do is to pick out which trail we will be embarking on. I've never been to Minnewaska myself, so I trust Hortense to handle the map and get us back to the parking lot at some point. We walk through three quarters of Upper Awosting, and then take the Rainbow Falls footpath, which Hortense hasn't yet tried, but sounds exciting (probably because we're anticipating to see actual multicolored waterfalls at this point).

After a few minutes' hike, we arrive in front of two waterfalls, a larger and a smaller one. We put our stuff down in the driest spot we find and jump into the water! (I'm making it sound a lot more effortless than it actually was. I probably should have written: "Hortense jumps into the water, while I hesitantly and reluctantly try to follow her.") The water itself is not as cold as I expected, and it's rather refreshing after the hiking we've done. Before drying off, Hortense spends some time making pagan rock sculptures - or rather, her own interpretation of them.

It's nearly 5pm when we reach the car, and we decide to go for an early dinner in New Paltz, an up and coming hip town. At the Water Market, Hortense gets a pesto and coleslaw-topped hot dog from Kosiner Brothers Hot Dog Cart, and we both get a plateful of all-natural, handcut fries from the brothers' Fry Shack as well. Both are very good, but I found the fries overly salty (and I LOVE salty foods - ask my roommates about that).

After dinner, we each get an ice cream cone from the Cheese Shop. As are most things in Upstate New York, the ice cream is local. We sit down at a chess table and begin a game, which Hortense wins as always. What a day!

It's a pouring Sunday afternoon, which means only one thing: time to make some crêpes! Hortense and her family are originally from the French region of Bretagne, where crêpes are an absolute staple. I get a glimpse at their fail-proof recipe, and take note of the adjustments Hortense has made to it over the years. For instance, she uses less sugar and replaces the cookbook's alcohol suggestions with beer (yes, the best crêpes contain alcohol - I'm sure most Americans don't know that).

We play another game of chess, as well as Ticket to Ride, while we wait for the batter to rest. Once it's ready, Celeste and I watch as Hortense expertly fries the crêpes on a special machine. The three of us select Nutella as our first topping, because it's always a safe choice. I fill my second crêpe with dulce de leche, which is equally delicious. My mom makes excellent crêpes, but I am not afraid to admit that Hortense is the real Khaleesi of crêpes.