Tag - Dutchess County

La Puerta Azul Mexican Food + Drink

Do You Like Guacamole + Good Times + Unique Atmosphere 

La Puerta Azul is the Mexican Restaurant with the BEST Guacamole I ever had! They make it fresh on a serving cart right in front of your table! They also make their own roasted tomato salsa and corn tortillas.


Everything about this restaurant is UNIQUE! While this restaurant has been opened since 2005, Raffi Abououkal has owned it for the last year. A veteran on the Hudson Valley restaurant scene for almost 19 years, he is excited to own the unique and well noted Spanish family restaurant.

We sat down and talked with Raffi, and Ashley Lane Front House Manager for  the restaurant for six years. Raffi tells us, from the design of the building’s exterior to the design and style of the interior this is one of the most authentic Spanish restaurant’s not only in the Hudson Valley, but New York.

IMG_8870Unique Design, Unique Food and Unique Atmosphere 

That’s what seems to be the theme not only of the restaurant, but what it’s loyal customers like. It’s the place to go for good quality fresh authentic Spanish Cuisine. Thinking outside the box in terms of Daily Specials and having something for everyone on their menu is important to them.

IMG_8876The Cantina 

The Cantina also has a unique atmosphere. It’s a great place for drinks and good food. Plus,  there’s LIVE Music three nites a week Thursday – Saturday. Thursday is an open-mic nite from  8-11. Friday + Saturday nite is live local entertainment and the schedule changes weekly throughout the month. So you can check their website or Facebook page for updates.

 Monday is Margarita Monday with $5 Margaritas all nite!

Happy Hour

Happy Hour is from 4-7 pm, seven days a week.  Half Price Appetizers are offered as well as $3 Mexican Beers + $5 Classic Margaritas 

IMG_8974 Let’s Get Back To The Food

The Guacamole  is the BEST I’ve ever had…hands down! And that’s what the local’s say too! We had Shrimp Fajitas and a well served Margarita on the rocks.

Three of the House favorites are:  Carne Asada A skirt steak with caramelized onions, seasonal vegetable, morita chile sauce and sweet corn rice. Taco’s Available in vegetable, Chicken, Fish, Steak + Pork. Camerones al Chipotle’: Shrimp, Avocado, Garlic Lime Chile sauce and Corn Rice.


Let’s Talk Dessert

This restaurant has superior desserts. I had a hard time deciding, but had to try  one of their Fried Ice Cream desserts.  Chocolate Ice Cream covered in an Oreo crust with Mexican chocolate Sauce and cajeta caramel! One word… WOW!

Lunch  + Dinner are served 7 days a week

 Brunch is served on Saturday + Sunday from 11:30 am – 3 pm. 


Family Get Together’s + Parties

La Puerta Azul is  many things to many people. A place families can come for lunch or dinner or for a special occasion like a birthday or family event. It’s a place to go with friends. It’s a place to go to meet new friends and enjoy the LIVE music in the Cantina. A smaller private room is also available that accommodates a party of 10. The restaurant is also used for community functions and can also be rented for private events.  In May, they launch the opening of their outdoor patio which is sure to be a new fast favorite.

IMG_8924This is truly a Hudson Valley Dining Destination Experience. It’s not a place you need to rush in and rush out. It’s a place to relax and spend some time. If you haven’t tried it The HVStory recommends that you do!

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All Photos By Melissa Tyler

Kwirky Kakes baked by area favorite baker

Birthday, Wedding + Special Occasion Cakes

Kwirky Kakes 9 Barbie Cake

Linda Cronk has been baking cakes since she was a teenager. A descendant of the Huguenots that founded New Paltz, she started baking at 13 and began decorating cakes for family events at 15. She and her sister had always wanted to open a bakery.  As a student in Arlington, she took every food class they taught and won an award for excellence in baking. She also took a Wilton class while working in the food service business.Kwirky Kakes Wonderland Bridal Shower cake

In 1992, she began working at the Pastry Garden in Poughkeepsie. She started as a sales girl and worked her way up to head decorator. Being mostly self-taught she says she had some excellent teachers along the way. She’s also taught Wilton classes as well.

Qwirky KAkes 8 Chocolate Wedding cake

After baking for more than 30 years, she recently left The Pastry Garden to start her own home business Qwirky Kakes. Her goal is to eventually have a storefront location. She’s also working on a website, but in the meantime you can find her through facebook  

Qwirky Kakes 4 Monster High Cake

She bakes cakes for all occasions from birthday to wedding and special occasions. Her favorite cake was a team effort with her husband.  He created a working carousel stand and Linda went on to decorate it with horses. The cake on top was a stack of whimsical circus animals. She loved it so much that she features it on her business card.

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Another favorite was a very lifelike looking trout. She has done everything from buildings to castles, cars, trucks, motorcycles and a lot of animals. Everyone says her cakes taste as good as they look and that no one ever wants to cut them. Freshness and quality are key!

Qwirky Kakes 1 baby jungle shower cake

Creating a custom cake starts with ideas from the customer. A lot of the times it comes from photos  that someone saw online and Linda tweaks the specifics and the flavors. Whether it’s a bride looking for a wedding cake or someone looking for a birthday or shower cake a lot of her customers come to her with inspiration from photos they have seen online. After years of experience baking Linda is confident in handling special requests and making recommendations.

Kwirky Cakes 6 Jaws Bday Cake

Being a part of people’s special events is important to Linda. “It’s great to see kids grow up and be a part of their milestones. I consider it to be a privilege.”  Fundraisers are also an important aspect of her business.  She recently participated as part of a cake sale raffle to raise funds for a good friend struggling with cancer. The fundraiser was very successful.  Kwirky Kakes has been involved with Calvary Chapel Christian Nursery School for the last 14 years and Linda enjoys seeing the happy young faces and working with them. People love to get goodies from bake sales and are very generous. Plus getting to talk to the community and being involved is something important.

Qwirky KAkes 11 stars cake

Delivery of the cakes is an important matter as well. Some people want them delivered while others like to transport them. Depending on the situation, time of year, temperature, distance and humidity, it’s all something that Qwirky Kakes is mindful of.  Linda has also earned the title of Cake Doctor as sometimes people have called upon her services to fix cakes she has not even made or when others have choose to transport a cake.

Qwirky Kakes 3 Birthday Cake

 Do you know someone having a birthday or special occasion coming up?  It’s best to get on the Qwirky Kakes calendar early.

All Photos By Qwirky Kakes



Foster’s Coach House Tavern

New Menu Meet the Old Menu and Our Favorite HV Bartender Mary!

Chicken Parm Diinner and Champagne Cocktails at Fosters's in Rhinebeck

Chicken Parm Dinner and Champagne Cocktails at Foster’s Coach House Tavern in Rhinebeck

It’s always great to do something with one intention and get surprised when something wonderful happens! Case in point, about one and a half years ago I moved back to the Hudson Valley from spending a year out on Cape Cod. I was living just outside Rhinebeck and remembered Foster’s for their great food and cozy little bar. That’s the night I met Mary! Guess what? There is something about MARY! My bet is the patrons and the regulars of Foster’s know that too! At least that’s the impression we get.  She may like to be called “Scary Mary” but there’s nothing scary about her in our opinion she is the best bartender in the Hudson Valley.

Champagne Cocktails served by our favorite bartender Mary. Lamarca Pointsetta a splash of cranberry juice and fresh cranberries soaked in Grand Mernier.

Champagne Cocktails served by our favorite HV bartender Mary. Lamarca Pointsetta a splash of cranberry juice and fresh cranberries soaked in Grand Mernier.

The first thing she will ask you after saying hello or asking what you would like to drink is “what’s your name”? Now, where not going to assume she remembers every person’s name…but she has a good track record. Just ask the regulars! What else? She introduces you to other people at the bar. She is a quick thinker, courteous, funny and all you expect someone who works in the hospitality field should be at a busy Rhinebeck bar and restaurant.

Fosters 1

Ok, so fast forward… this past friday nite. Oh, buy the way, Mary works Friday and Saturday evenings. I decided, I have been hibernating way to long and going to take the 45 minute ride up to Rhinebeck from Fishkill. Here’s what I was talking about earlier. Turn’s out Foster’s Coach House Tavern is premiering their NEW – old menu.

Fosters 26

Seems that after their renovation, they came out with a different menu and the regulars didn’t like it much. So we were there for the premiere of all the favorites and back to the moderate prices that the regulars are used to paying. Yes,there are a few new menu twists…cause of course you have to update things sometimes…even just a little. But, for the most part…the old menu is the new menu at Foster’s Coach House Tavern again.  So what ever you enjoyed before for lunch or dinner; shrimp, french dip, steaks, chicken, it’s all still there!

Fosters 10

So there it is! We enjoyed champagne cocktails that Mary suggested, a delicious hot meal and great people to talk to  on both sides of the bar in this cozy bar restaurant. Oh, did I also mention it was owner Phoebe Kirwood’s Birthday too! That’s the serendipity part of the night out. We were on hand to enjoy talking to other patrons as well as other members of the staff that Phoebe and Mary introduced me to.

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Vincent Massa and Dustin Kittle are now the two head chefs that attended the CIA. Vincent has a background at restaurants in Florida and Dustin comes from another restaurant in the area. Dustin was quick to say how “Rhinebeck has a huge food culture and Foster’s is a cornerstone experience. It’s a night out for locals and families and known for a lot of good inexpensive comfort food.”

Fosters 28

That’s also a good feeling when you know you have the right staff.  We also want to give a shout out to Gidget another bartender here and her hospitality and Carrie who is always funny on both sides of the bar…in particular this night sitting three seats away.

Fosters 22

So, if you didn’t know they closed, reopened or changed their menu….give Foster’s another try! This family second generation restaurant is operated by the late Bob Kirwood’s daughter Phoebe Kirwood. The regulars and weekenders will always have fond memories of Bob bartending behind the bar. My guess is if you visit this cozy bar and restaurant you’ll be adding to those memories for generations to come.

Fosters 20  Fosters 5Fosters 30


Antiques + Vintage + Home Decor

Let’s Talk ANTIQUING at Ole Carousel Antiques Center

Ole Carousel Antiques Center Cow Skin Rug

There’s something about taking  a long drive on country roads whether your up for the long weekend from NYC, a getaway from nearby Connecticut, the Berkshires or exploring a local town in our own backyard here in the Hudson Valley!

Ole Carousel Antiques Center   is a 8500 square foot multi dealer center located in the heart of the Hudson Valley! This is right in the middle of #ANTIQUE central! Close to nearby Rhinebeck and Millbrook. This shop specializes in Antiques, Vintage and Home Decor.

They are known for their affordable items and specialize in vintage clothes, jewelry, glassware and barware, lamps, mirrors and pillows and mid-century antiques.

Patti and her staff also cater to decorators, designers and event planners. Recently a set director from HBO’s Boardwalk Empire  was looking for items for their production and found them at Ole Carousel Antiques Center.  Another client that has a famous bakery in NYC found items as well.

Recently, we found a pair of amazing Genaine YAK Boots that we loved! If your a size 7ish we urge that you RUSH and Get Them it’s our Hudson Valley Story Hot Pick for Winter!

Ole CArousel Antiques Mid Century Decanters

We also saw some amazing cow hide rugs in both Black and white and brown and white that impressed us!  And we also loved the vintage Mini Ornaments in Christmas colors just in time for decorating for the holiday season.  Ole Carousel Antiques Center also has VINTAGE Holiday pieces from glassware to anything else you could want for your home! We also found some amazing barware in the form of mid-century decanters.

Ole Carousel Antiques Center Vintage Ornaments

This shop also takes pride in setting up vignettes inside the shop so everything in the shop shows the use of the items. You won’t be afraid to touch and use items and can enjoy them from day to day, that has been Patti’s goal from the beginning when she took over the shop in 2005!  Plus the shop becomes very festive now through the holidays which is a favorite season for many to purchase gifts and to look for those special finds!

She loves and emphasizes the bright green colored building which is a landmark to many to find everything one is looking for in Antiques Vintage and Home Decor. The location was once a popular bar called Country Carousel in the 70’s and many a couple had been proposed to and come back for a visit from time to time.

The Hudson Valley Story encourages you to explore the backroads of the #HudsonValley and take a ride to Stanfordville and visit the shop. Their are nearby wineries as well as restaurants or there’s still time to even catch a fall outdoor picnic with a cozy sweater and blanket and a bottle of wine and sandwiches.

Watch the recent video of Patti giving a tour of the shop getting ready for the upcoming season.


6208 Route 82, Stanfordville, NY 12581




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