Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summer Picnic at Wave Hill

The Metro North Train hugs the bank of the Hudson River, winding dramatically between the craggy rocks of the Palisades.

It is one of the first days of summer, and it is a glorious one – azure blue sky, wispy cottony clouds and cool breezes.

I disembark at the Riverdale Station and begin the steep climb away from the station and the river pass stately homes – some which have seen better days – towards my destination.

Wave Hill, a public garden and cultural center, sits high on the banks of the Hudson River. It is the former “country home” of William Lewis Morris, built in 1843 and was visited by such luminaries as Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt and Arturo Toscanini. In 1960, the grounds were deeded to the City of New York.

My knapsack is packed with a garden fresh picnic lunch. I am determined to prepare more fresh food and eat it outside this summer. I’ve never visited Wave Hill and it seems like the perfect setting.

A blanket of green welcomes me as I enter the estate. The Great Lawn offers expansive views of the Hudson River and the Palisades on the New Jersey side. The Conservatory is wrapped by a charming garden of brilliantly-colored, delicate summer blossoms. The Herb Garden offers such wonders as purple basil, delicate leeks and feathery fronds of fennel. Edible herbs, healing herbs and ornamentals spill from the stone walls.

I stroll through the Arbor Woodland under cool shade trees. Once clear open fields, the caretakers are allowing the Woodland to return to its natural state.

As the noon hour draws near, I settle in a sunny spot at a cluster of jade green picnic tables with smart matching umbrellas, and unpack my portable feast. I dine on French Lentil Salad, perfumed with shallots, sherry vinegar and tarragon, and pencil-thin asparagus coated in a lemon vinaigrette. The petite brown-green Puy lentils once grew in volcanic soil in Velay France. The terroir taste is earthy with the sweet accent of tarragon. The delicate asparagus glisten in the sun, bursting with green life. It is a delicacy of summer, as is this day at Wave Hill.

For more of the glorious gardens, fragrant herbs and majestic trees of Wave Hill, click below.

© 2007 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Oh, my, I haven't been to Wave Hill for many, many years -- and it looks just as lovely as on my last visit. Your picnic sounds perfect.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful location and day :) I wish I could have been there? :) What type of bread is that on your plate? :)

Jann said...

What a gorgeous spot for a picnic~and you have a perfect meal in front of you~seize the day!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Hi Lydia - it is the perfect spot for a picnic.

Sarina - multigrain pita bread was on the side!

Jann - I love these weekend excursions - it's like a mini vacation.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful spot for a picnic! Never been there but it sure is magnificent!