Best of the Hudson Valley 2008


(page 3 of 16)

Food & Drink (continued)

* denotes Readers' Picks


How Sweet It Is


Apple Pie Bakery Café
Culinary Institute of America
Hyde Park

What better place for a luscious dessert than at the Apple Pie Café, where baking and pastry arts students at the renowned cooking school showcase their talents? Whatever you try, you’ll have a sweet time here.

Homemade Cookies

Lisa’s Cookie Shop
Four years ago, Lisa Ciriello decided to ditch the grueling city commute for a sweeter, more wholesome way of making a living. Now she bakes up batches of the most scrumptious cookies we’ve ever tasted — pecan coconut bars, chocolate chip cookies, and raspberry bars — from recipes she has been perfecting over the years. Taste for yourself — these sweet morsels are available throughout the Valley (including Warwick’s Frazzleberries) or on her Web site.

Over-the-Top Desserts

Catskill Cake Company
“I’m known as the ‘uh-oh baker,’ ” laughs Kristin Frisina, owner of Catskill Cake Company, which opened in 2003. “Some of my recipes came about as accidents.” So if you’re bored with dessert staples, now’s the time to indulge in one of Frisina’s artistic culinary creations, available at her Gardiner location: Kahlua chocolate chip cheesecake, banana white chocolate chip sweet bread, cappuccino brownies, and of course, her famous “Chocolate ’O Cake,” which, she says, “is made with a lot of love — and heavy chocolate!”

Toffee Treat

Toffee Pudding Cake at Hudson House
It’s not unusual for diners here to order more desserts than there are people at the table, says co-owner and baker Matt Hudson, whose tantalizing treats bring on such naughty behavior. Warm apple crisp, orange panna cotta, triple layer chocolate cake — how could you settle for just one? Our favorite is the sticky toffee pudding cake, served drenched in toffee sauce and candied ginger with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Yum!

Chocolate Covered Cranberries at Vasilow’s
Rich, dark chocolate on the outside, chewy, tangy cranberries on the inside — the perfect silky blend of tart and sweet. No wonder they’re among the most popular confections at this old-time candy shop. Most of the sweet delectables are made following the same recipes the original Vasilow brothers used in the 1920s — there are even carob-covered dog biscuits for the furry member of the family.

*Chocolate/Candy Store (tie)

Krause’s Candy
This is the eighth year in a row that our readers have given the nod to the Krause family business, which has been whipping up delicious hand-dipped and homemade goodies for three generations of grateful Valley chocoholics.

Alps Sweet Shop
Fishkill, Beacon
Harken back to the delicious days of yore at this old-fashioned chocolate shop that has been delighting local residents with more than 100 different treats (including decadent truffles and their signature “Signal Fire Toffee”) since 1922.
Fishkill 845-896-8080, Beacon 845-831-8240;

Carrot Cake

Hudson Valley Dessert Company
“People used to follow the scent down the alley,” says Connie Bailey, owner of the bakery, which used to be hidden off Partition Street. Now it’s more findable, after moving in August to the space on Main Street long occupied by the late lamented Lachmann’s Bakery. Although they’re best known for their biscotti, we think the carrot cake rates really high. Buzzed up carrots, walnuts, and raisins makes it the perfect combination of sweet and crunchy — and the cream cheese frosting, infused with a generous helping of pure vanilla extract and a little powdered sugar, is simply the best. The adorable “baby cakes” are just right for four (larger sizes are available, too), “but we know people who like to eat one all by themselves,” says Bailey. Back to biscotti for a minute. “No one makes the old-fashioned recipe like we do,” says Bailey, noting that the classic version is much harder than the Americanized one. “It’s very popular with weight-watchers, because there is really no fat, besides the eggs and the almonds.”


Bake Me A Cake

Italian Bakery

Caffe Aurora
Caffe Aurora has been serving sweet treats to the Italian community — and local Italophiles — for nearly 70 years. The café, at its current location since 1962, has a comfortable, old-timey feel — thanks in part to the original, vintage soda fountain, complete with Coke dispenser. But it’s the baked goods that really lure ’em in. “Our cannoli are the hands-down favorite,” says owner Lou Strippoli, whose father started the business in the 1940s. “We’re taking them to a whole other level.” You can buy traditional cannoli, but Caffe Aurora offers a cool spin — canoli shells cut into tortilla-like chips that you dip right into the creamy ricotta cheese filling. Says Lou: “This way, you can eat as little or as much as you want, and you don’t have to deal with canoli that have those soggy shells after you’ve left them overnight in the refrigerator.”

French Bakery

Jean-Claude’s Artisan Bakery and Dessert Cafe
Warwick, Greenwood Lake
Master pastry chef Jean-Claude Sanchez, who first learned the tricks of the trade in Bayonne, France, teamed up with wife Annette to open this acclaimed spot in the village of Warwick back in 1997. Everything is made from scratch — croissants, of course, plus brioche, cakes, pastries, chocolate truffles, and other elaborate “edible art.” Customers rave about the strawberry shortcake encased in chocolate, says Annette. “That, as well as the chocolate mousse and mocha cakes, are among our top sellers.”
Warwick 845-986-8900, Greenwood Lake 845-595-6580;

Furst Puckler cake from Hartmann's Kaffeehaus, 2008's Best German Bakery

German Bakery

Hartmann’s Kaffeehaus
Round Top
For 50 years, Hartmann’s Kaffeehaus has been luring Germans, German-Americans, and pastry lovers with their Old World-style cakes and pastries, says owner Diane Giacomino. Of Italian ancestry, Giacomino bought the business from the previous owners six years ago with the promise that she’d continue to make the tasty treats in exactly the same fashion. The most popular items? Black Forest cake, strudel, stollen, and something called Fürst Pückler — a rich white and chocolate cake, soaked with rum, and decorated with marzipan and three different kinds of buttercream. Hartmann’s also serves up breakfast and lunch (seating for 50), with classic specialities like bratwurst, potato salad, and, of course, German beers. Auch der lieber!


The Pastry Garden
Poughkeepsie, Fishkill, Hopewell Junction
More sweet success! Our readers insist that it’s another year on top for the Pastry Garden. If you’re in the mood for a pie, pastry, or pretty much any other scrumptious baked treat, head over to one of this Valley institution’s four Dutchess locations.
Hopewell Junction 845-227-2253; Fishkill 845-297-6747; Poughkeepsie (two locations) 845-473-5220 & 845-471-4603;


You're reading about the crème de la crème of the Hudson Valley, as voted by your fellow Valleymen and loyal Hudson Valley magazine editors. Do you agree with us? Disagree? Tell us your top picks in the comments box below — and be sure to check out our favorite places, shops, and people throughout the region that we call the best.


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