stone barns and old friends

Yesterday I took a little drive out to Tarrytown to visit my bff and MOH, Ali, at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture where she is interning as the final step to getting her masters from the New York Botanical Gardens' School of Professional Horticulture.  Stone Barns is a non-profit education center owned by the Rockefellars and established for the purpose of teaching students, as well as the public, about how our food is grown/raised/harvested (in its purest form).

Unfortunately, both the notorious Blue Hill restaurant (which is OG farm-to-table to the extent that it even lacks a real "menu" but instead presents a list of the day's freshest livestock and produce) AND their on-site cafe were closed on Tuesdays... drat!!  So instead we caught lunch in downtown Tarrytown, at a delicious sidewalk cafe called Lefteris Gyro

scrumptious dressing on this Greek salad...chewy pita...thin, tender slices of gyro...   
washed down with Mythos!

Back at the farm, Ali gave me a Kubota-powered scenic tour of the sprawling land:

(hold on tight! the girl drives fast!)

from Blue Hill itself...
to the many greenhouses...

and gardens...

to this delicious spring hidden in the woods...

to the adorable Berkshire pigs...

and friendly, hairy hogs.. (why must they be so delicious?)
I left, feeling the calming effects of the fresh air and proximity to nature, and headed back into town to meet up with a very old friend for coffee..

I've known Stephen since we were in second grade at St. Joseph's together.. and then became friends again once we reunited in public high school.  But we lost touch (at least face-to-face) when he went to college in Rochester and I went to Sarah Lawrence (which, incidentally, is incredibly close to Tarrytown).  Now he's a high school music teacher right here in Tarrytown!  It was really nice to catch up over a cold latte at Coffee Labs before going our separate ways (until the fall, when he's coming out to the wedding!)

I drove over the Tappan Zee, back to New Jersey-- a very nostalgic ride and one I took often from college.  I can't wait until I can take a nice, long trip up here (never long enough!) and drive upstate and into New Hampshire and Vermont!  It will most certainly have to be in the fall.

Back in NJ, I met up with an even older friend.. well, someone I've known just as long as Stephen (they knew each other actually) but haven't seen in years and years longer!

Nida was one of my best friends in elementary school but we lost touch when I started going to public middle school.  Through the magic of Facebook, she tracked me down, all these years later, to tell me how I have inspired her!  She remembers me telling her my "secret" way back in second grade on the playground-- that I was adopted.  Now, she and her husband are adopting a baby from Pakistan! 

It was wonderful-- and surreal really!-- to catch up with her after all these years as we chatted over salads at Brasserie!  Now she has taken over her dad's business and is owner of Healthway, a local natural food store in Tenafly NJ. I am so glad we are back in touch again!

There is something to be said for visiting your old stomping grounds and watching as things continually come full circle..sometimes I start to panic and feel old, but then other times I take comfort in watching things unfold, just the way they were meant to be.