Red Pepper Rasa/ Red Pepper Diner

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover is one phrase one could use to describe the Red Pepper Rasa or Red Pepper Diner. The outside of this Sri Lankan restaurant does not impress, but do not judge by appearances. I’ve come to learn sometimes that hole in the wall establishments can have the tastiest food.

Red Pepper Diner on Route 9D , north of I-84, just north of Beacon in Wappingers. The sides of the building have red vertical stripes.

The server said their meals are all gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. They ask you when you order how much heat or spiciness you prefer. I ordered my food with mild spice on the first visit. The food was very flavourful.

Sri Lankan Tea with Kithul Jaggery

The first item I was served was Sri Lankan tea with with milk. Sri Lankan tea is Ceylon tea. The country of Sri Lanka was formerly known by the name Ceylon. According to Healthline and other websites there are health benefits to Ceylon tea. Some of the benefits these sites list is it boosts your metabolism, it is high in antioxidants ( which boosts the immune system) and it may help regulate blood glucose. This tea contains potassium.

The Sri Lankan tea came with Kithul jaggery. I was told this treat was to be nibbled on with the tea. Kithul is made from the sap of a fishtail palm tree. They get this sap from the flowers of the fishtail palm. It was naturally sweet. Some websites say this treat has iron, potassium and calcium. It is said to be a remedy for cough and cold, reduces migraines, improves digestion, detoxifies the liver, and cleanses the respiratory tract, among other things. The owner told me that the fishtail palm grows mainly in the centre of Sri Lanka.

This is Kithul Jaggery before it is cut up into pieces.
Appetizers

The next items that arrived were the appetisers I ordered. I chose the sampler, which included fish cutlet, vegetable spring rolls, and vegetable samosa. I prefer these Sri Lankan Samosas over ones I have eaten at Indian resturants. They were lighter and the flavours were very appealing.

String Hopper Kothu Roti

After that, the main course of String Hopper Kothu Roti arrived. This is a rice noodle dish with stir fried onion, ginger, garlic, cabbage, leeks, carrot, and egg. I choose to add chicken to it. Next time I plan to order this I will ask for medium heat.

Dessert- Watalappan

For dessert I had Watalappan. This is a custard with coconut milk, palm sugar, cashews, cinnamon cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. I find desserts at American restaurants are overpowering with sweetness. This dessert was mildly sweet, and felt just right.

Second Visit Kothu Roti with Curried Beets
Kothu Roti with shredded curried beets.

On another trip to this restaurant I ordered the Kothu Roti. I asked for medium heat. This dish is considered a roadside speciality in Sri Lanka. This stir fry contains eggs, onions, vegetables, spices with a curry sauce with shredded flat breads. You can add different meats to this dish. On the side I ordered shredded curried beets. This is by far one of the best ways I have experienced beets. It is prepared by flavouring it with coconut milk and traditional spices.

The food at this restaurant was very tasty and I plan to return. I thank my relative, Max, who found this gem. I love experiencing ethnic restaurants that serve healthy food and this spot was right up my alley. Not only was the food outstanding, but the service was too.

On a side note, the owners told me they grow a variety of vegetables themselves. Leeks, tomatoes, peppers, squash, spinach, beans and ocra are among some of the vegetables they grow to use in their recipes. Other items they import from Sri Lanka. Saman Munaweera says their diet includes a lot of vegetables. He attributes the fact that his family is rarely sick with colds or viruses to their native diet.

Pre-Covid Buffet
The above photo was provided to me from the Red Pepper Diner. This photo was taken pre- Covid. This is a sampling of their buffet. Many hope conditions become such that they can have this once again in the future.
Hours

Check their website to see their current hours. I was told they are open from about 10:30-8 six days a week. They are closed Tuesdays. I recommend calling ahead to make sure what their hours are for that day. This restaurant is small. However, both times I visited it was not a problem with Covid restrictions to get in. The hours and menus are limited due to the pandemic. Pre-pandemic they had a buffet and a larger menu. This is typical of many restaurants during these times.

They have photos and art from Sri Lanka on display.
Location

This restaurant is located north of I-84 on Route 9D. Some information online lists the location in Beacon, while other sites list it as Wappingers. The owner says it is in Wappingers. It is very close to Beacon however.

If you are coming by train from Manhattan, take the Metro North Hudson Line to Beacon from Grand Central Station. Taxis are usually available at the Beacon station or look up a local taxi company when you arrive. It is a couple of miles from the train station, but it is along a busy road, so I do not recommend walking it. Beacon station is the closest train station to this restaurant. The next station further north, New Hamburg, is more secluded with no taxis waiting.

Whether you are visiting DIA Beacon, the Hudson Valley, or Beacon itself, if you want healthy, flavourful food with friendly, outstanding service include Red Pepper Diner on your itinerary. It is a hidden gem.

Websites:

Websites:

https://www.facebook.com/Red-Pepper-Diner-1586749234894224/

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/redpepperdiner/

https://www.yelp.com/biz/red-pepper-diner-wappingers-falls-3?osq=red+pepper+diner

Clayton Murals

Do you need a vacation location this summer? Are you planning on trips closer to home? If you live in the Northeast one option is a visit to the Thousand Islands area of New York. One beautiful town right on the St. Lawrence River is Clayton, NY.

Besides a really nice walkway along the river in town, this town has some interesting murals to view. Below are the ones I found.

A modern ship mural by Kelly Curry.
Back in the day the railroads brought many tourists up to Clayton. This was a long mural close to another building so I had to take photos in sections. Mural by Kelly Curry.
Picture two- Kelly Curry Mural
Picture 3 Kelly Curry Mural

The back of the same building.
Another modern ship by Kelly Curry

By the end of June, Clayton was in phase four ahead of areas in New York City, the Hudson Valley , and Long Island in opening up. Museums were about to open in the area in June. Most places are open for business including boat tours.

If you visit the Thousand Islands or plan to take a tour or fishing boat out of Clayton, wander around the town. They have wonderful shops, nice restaurants, a walkway on the river, and beautiful murals depicted the area.

#ClaytonNewYork #streetart #murals #ThousandIslands #NewYork

People of New York

Do you ever see interesting people on your travels you would like to have a conversation with? Are certain people a fixture in a neighborhood? I recently stopped to chat with one such person.

Louis Mendes I have seen quite often on 34th Street near the corner of 9th Avenue in New York City. Since I love taking pictures, I see him when I visit my favorite camera store in the city, B and H. Louis is never without his camera. For street portraits he uses a 1940s Speed Graphic camera that he turned into an instant camera by rigging polaroid gear on the back.

Louis has taken many photos over the years of famous people. Some of those names include Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, and Hillary Clinton. He also has photographed some of the jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie. He is from New York, but also he has liked visiting New Orleans to take photos. These days he makes money by taking photos of people on the street in New York.

Louis is an interesting person to talk to. He does move around, but I have seen him quite frequently on 34th. If you are visiting Manhattan and get down in the neighborhood of 34th Street and see him, say hello. Louis is truly an icon of New York.

Louis has a Facebook page that is maintained by a friend. You can view it here: https://www.facebook.com/LOUIS.MENDES.ICON/

You can find out more about Louis here: https://twitter.com/nypost/status/980894638205800448

Southern Vermont Covered Bridges

What can be 100 years old, has a roof, usually has a single lane, and spans a body of water? If you answered a covered bridge, you are correct. Covered bridges are pieces of history that many times are located in scenic locations.

Purpose

The purpose of a covering a bridge with a roof and sides was to protect it from the weather. It was mainly to protect the structure that supported the bridge. Without covering, the bridge might last 20 years, while covering it translated into the bridge maybe lasting 100 years.

One of the more picturesque spots. This is Arlington, Vermont. Norman Rockwell lived in this little town on the other side of this bridge in a large white house that is labeled as an inn. As the of time I wrote this, the Rockwell house is for sale.
Bridge at Arlington taken from near the Norman Rockwell House.
Vermont

Other states have more covered bridges, but Vermont can lay claim to having the most per square mile over any other state. Vermont has more than 100 surviving in total. Some you can still drive over, others you can walk over. There are sites online that recommend short driving tours that include a few of them. Some towns have more than one covered bridge. I found two in the Grafton area. According to Wikipedia these are the towns with 3 or more covered bridges: Bennington (3), Charlotte (3), Randolph (3), Cambridge (3), Waterville (3), Pittsford (4), Northfield (5), Tunbridge (5), Lyndon (5),and Montgomery (6).

The Bridge in Grafton
Looking from the other direction- Grafton
This is a second bridge on the outskirts of Grafton, near a cheese store.
The view from one of the windows on the bridge on the outskirts of Grafton. It is next to a place that sells cheese. This is a pedestrian only bridge.
Locations

There are websites that list locations and provide a map detailing where some of them are. I recommend this website :

https://www.vermontvacation.com/things-to-do/arts-and-heritage/covered-bridges

Once you click on the link, scroll down and click on another link to get a map with locations.

When I think of autumn in New England it conjures up memories of pictures I have seen in travel articles featuring covered bridges and fall foliage. It is fun to scavenger hunt in fall and winter for covered bridges in Vermont. If you are visiting Vermont or traveling through, try to locate one.

Chisel Bridge

Pub Signs-The Bucket of Blood

The Bucket of Blood Pub in the Hayle area of Cornwall.

Which pub in Cornwall most likely has a name that is not duplicated with any other pub in England? The Bucket of Blood is very unique. It is a pub in Hayle that is said to be haunted and there is an interesting story behind it.

It is said an inn has been on that site for hundreds of years. It had a well from which they drew water for the inn and to brew the beer, a dark ale. Cornwall has been known for its miners, sailors, fishermen and smugglers.

The story is the innkeeper went to draw water, but instead drew blood. Upon search of the well a corpse was found. It is said the identity was unknown.

They say at night footsteps can be heard on creaking floorboards. There have been reports of people seeing ghostly figures crossing the road and then disappearing.

They say during the reign of King George III the name of the Bucket of Blood was changed to the New Inn. That lasted for about 250 years. In the 1980s the owner changed the name back to its original name- the Bucket of Blood.

I asked locals where the well was. They pointed me out to a well across the street and around the corner. However, a person who worked at the pub said there is no longer access to it. It is under what is now the ladies restroom/loo.

This inn serves nice meals. They do not serve puddings/desserts. If you are in the Hayle area make a stop at the Bucket of Blood. Its worth the trip. Ghost sightings are not guaranteed.

Green Man- Washington D.C.

Where can you find Green Men grotesques in Washington, D.C.? They aren’t on a church. The building is apropos though. Can you guess where?

Once I get started on something sometimes I can not stop. I had a long weekend, so I decided to drive down to D.C. to see some things I have wanted to see for a while. One thing I searched for were some more Green Men. I found two Green Men and one Green Lady on the U.S. Botanical Gardens building in Washington D.C.

Like the ones in New York City, this one has a leaf forehead.

The one above has plants around his face as most if not all green men have. However, it has a plant mustache and beard. It also appears to have horns, unless someone has a better idea about what plant that may represent. His expression is more jovial.

The one above is more serious. Could that be cat-tails coming out of his head?

Green Lady

I think this is the first Green Lady I have seen in person. She has a human face that is surrounded by plants. It is more like she is wearing plants about her face and head. It appears she is wearing a crown on her head.

Can you find a Green Man or Green Lady near you? One may exist and you may not even be aware.

Sinterklaas

What is a kid-friendly event leading up to Christmas? What event would anyone feel comfortable at? It combines traditions of multiple cultures and appeals to all age groups? It is Sinterklaas.

The original tradition of Sinterklaas was imported by Dutch settlers to the Hudson Valley over 300 years ago. Rhinebeck and Kingston, NY, which both had Dutch settlers back in the day have modern takes on the festival that are nondenominational and inclusive. All are welcome.

When

Both Kingston and Rhinebeck, NY have this festival and parade. In 2019 Kingston’s festival and parade is on Saturday, November 24th from 12 to after dark. Rhinebeck’s Sinterklaas festival is on Saturday, December 7th. They close down Market Street most of the day in Rhinebeck for this event.

They sell a variety of items in tents along the street including luminaries and head wreaths.
Events

Activities abound throughout the day. There are many events for children at both locations. Some involve crafts. In Rhinebeck they had story time, The Pocket Lady, the Snow Queen and King, and other activities. I attended the event in Rhinebeck in 2018. There were events happening simultaneously at different locations around Rhinebeck so I could not catch everything. That gives you options to choose from. Check the calendar of events when it comes out.

Batala performing in front of Beekman Arms, America’s oldest operating inn.

They also had a variety of music events in churches around town and outside along Route 9 and other locations.

Performers in front of Beekman Arms on Route 9.
One of the performances held inside a church
Food
Gigi Trattoria’s food table on the street. This restaurant has great gluten-free pizza.

Rhinebeck has some nice restaurants that are open all day to stop in. Last year an Italian restaurant on Route 9, Gigi Trattoria, had some amazing hot chocolate. Another restaurant, Foster’s , had a food truck with London Broil sandwiches, clam chowder and other items. I had no issues eating a late lunch at an Indian restaurant on Market Street. There were tables available.

Parade

Everything culminates after dark with a parade. Many objects are illuminated. Different cultures and traditions are represented.

Chinelos Dancing from Mexico- This is event is multicultural and inclusive.
Dressing for the occasion

This event is worth driving to and seeing as much as you can. I was there most of the day in Rhinebeck. If you have children, its a can’t miss event. I highly recommend it for people from NYC and elsewhere looking to have a day or weekend escape from the rat race in the country.

Sinterklaas in the Dutch tradition. He wears bishop like clothing.
More Information

For more information check these websites out or search for another closer to the event. As of when I posted this only the dates were listed not the schedule of events for 2019.

For Kingston’s Sinterklaas: http://www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.com/sinterklaas-kingston/

For Rhinebeck’s Sinterklaas: http://www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.com or check out their Facebook page.

The Green Man

It resembles a man, but is surrounded by leaves or other plant life. It may have branches or vines protruding from its mouth or nose. It is seen on different pub signs and as grotesques on buildings or churches. What is it? It is the Green Man.

Oxford University- More of a man.

Although it can be seen in other cultures, the Green Man can be spotted around England. There are at least three Green Man Pubs in London and more are elsewhere. Several colleges at Oxford have the symbol on a door or as a grotesque on the side of a building. Churches and cathedrals in different counties have the Green Man decorating their edifice.

More a plant- Oxford

Although the true meaning may be unknown, there are many theories about it. Some see the Green Man as a symbol of rebirth or growth in spring. Others see it as a symbol of man’s reliance on nature. Another theory is it is a reminder that death awaits us all. One Christian interpretation is that the foliage coming from the mouth represents the life giving breath of the Holy Spirit. Other ideas about the meaning exist as well.

Magdalen College Oxford

Whatever their meaning or purpose, they are interesting to find. Look them up on the web and see where some of them are located. This site lists some locations: click here. If you are planning a trip to one of these areas, stop in and find one.

Hooley on the Hudson

A hooley is a party or an evening of traditional music and dance. The word originates in Ireland and Scotland. Kingston, New York has a day and night of modern and traditional Irish music and dance. They call it the Hooley on the Hudson.

This event takes place every year on Sunday of Labor Day weekend. It starts around mid-day and ends in early evening. It takes place in the area around lower Broadway in the downtown area along the creek.

Because the Hooley is right on the creek that empties into the Hudson River, people from other states arrange to park their boats for the weekend and watch the events from their decks. Kingston has spaces for visiting boaters at their marina. Cabin cruisers from upstate, New Jersey and Long Island were parked there this weekend. If you are a boater, this is an option for next year’s Hooley, but I am sure you would have to arrange this well in advance.

The streets are blocked off near the event and some restaurants put tables on the street. You can eat from the vendors or dine in one of the restaurants. They have vendors selling items from Ireland. Kingston has a paved path next to the creek that is lovely to stroll on. There are antique shops on lower Broadway a short walk from the celebration. This event is both dog and kid-friendly.

I was not in a good spot for this shot, but I could not get where I wanted to be. It was packed around the dance floor.

Unfortunately I did not have a lot of time at this event. Too busy catching up on other things in life. Here are some of the bands and dancers that performed on two of the stages. I never saw the third stage.

Happiness is playing Irish music.

Why an Irish celebration in September? They think of it as around half-way to St. Patty’s Day. The weather in NY is usually a lot nice in September as well. Its a fun event. It mixes more modern with traditional and it is in a lovely setting. If you are looking for something to do next Labor Day weekend head up to Kingston, NY and join the fun at the Hooley.

Lone bagpiper
Irish Setter at this dog-friendly event.