Sunday, December 30, 2018

Art, Food, Cocktails and Coffee in Kingston, New York

Many of my friends and colleagues assume that I only travel to far-flung locales. In fact, I'm all about discovery, whether it's along an alley I never strolled along in New York City or a neighborhood that's just a day trip away from Manhattan. That's why I decided to take bus to Kingston, New York, a mere two hours away. So close but a town I never had the opportunity to visit. Though I only spent two days, I could've easily have enjoyed the myriad coffee shops, restaurants, bars and street art for far longer. Below are just a few of the art-centric discoveries I made recently in Kingston, a city that's broken up into three sections -- Downtown, Midtown and Uptown -- that together make up a more than two-mile walkable expanse. Among the must-dos: stay at The Forsyth B&B, where the owner, Tamara Ehlin, is warm, welcoming, and can cook and bake up a storm, and present it all in an elegant manner, no less. You never know what will come out of the kitchen. There's no need to look for another accommodation when The Forsyth B&B has availability. To not stay here is to miss out on Tamara's elaborate breakfasts that included apple cider, yogurt with homemade granola and freshly cut pears, cheddar/scallion scones, and sweet potato hash with eggs any style. Another must is dinner at Wilde Beest, a locavore-centric, minimalist eatery with a slim menu that radiates creativity. I'm no fan of kale, yet I ordered the "I'm Kale" appetizer that came with crumbled kale, pickled peaches, golden raisins, fried millet, porcini mushroom powder and cashew dressing. I could've had seconds. And, in Kingston, I may have found my favorite coffee shop of all time: Rough Draft Bar & Books. Sitting at the corner of an intersection where each of the four buildings dates back centuries, this establishment is a coffee shop, bookstore, cafe and wine bar. As a writer who spends my time working in coffee shops, you couldn't have asked for a better, more atmospheric place to spend an hour or a day. I was lucky to grab a stool at the picture window and watch snowflakes fall as I gazed at the holidays lights strung about this area. Finally, I'm very finicky about bars. They can't be too loud or too bright or too pretentious. Crown, a just-opened romantic lounge in a centuries-old stone building, provides a perfect intimate environment to sip a fine wine or a well crafted, seasonal cocktail.