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Dispatch From Cold Spring, Pumpkin Spice Neutrality & Dune-Inspired Psychedelic Spice Coffee
The full moon in Aries, the releases of DUNE and The French Dispatch, and realization that it’s been 70-something degrees consistently in October as a result of climate change signal the sashay into brooding Scorpio season—a time when the veil between the spiritual and physical world are thin. Also: festive coffee drinks!
If you ignore the fact we’ve been living in a pandemic, it’s almost like it never happened. Then you think about it, and want to throw up all over again. It’s amazing how trauma works. Speaking of, just learned that all the Halloween movies are actually about intergenerational trauma. Timely.
Halloween is just around the corner, which felt like a good opportunity time to rack up some miles with a trip to Cold Spring, New York. Here’s the scene: Victorian witch houses brimming with pumpkins, cinnamon broomsticks, and Blair Witch tributes. Tap handles flowing with pumpkin- and apple-spiced everything (Hudson North Cider’s “Base Camp” tastes like actual apple pie filling in your mouth). Slightly lighter foot traffic than the seasonal Halloween madness in Salem, Grassachussetts or the Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Croton-On-Hudson, but just right for the pumpkin spice neutral crowd looking for something quick, easy, charming and seasonally appropriate. Grab your flannel sweater, we’re headed upstate!
Putnam County is among the smallest of the 10 counties that make up the Hudson Valley and Catskills that includes Cold Spring, a village within the town of Philipstown that borders the charming village of Nelsonville (which you’ve probably never heard of) and the hamlet of Garrison, home to the Garrison Art Center, Philipstown Depot Theater, Boscobel House and Gardens, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, as well as Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center.
It’s also among the easiest day trip destinations in Hudson Valley without a vehicle. Over the past few years, downtown Cold Spring has exploded with small businesses packed with tourists who taking the Seastreak boat ride from Jersey and Manhattan for the fall foliage tour, as well as the Metro-North. The train is particularly appealing for any procrastinating explorers who lack premeditation.
The sights: I popped into Split Rocks Books to sign the last copy they had on hand (more coming soon!), shopped for snacks (mushroom jerky and everything bagel mixed nuts!) at boutique arcade The Shoppes at Historic Palen's Drug Store, had a couple local ciders at barber-meets-bar Barber and Brew, gawked at the local cheeses at Cold Spring Cheese Shop, looked for tchotchkes at Pink Olive and Cold Spring General Store, avoided dropping all my money at Cold Spring Apothecary, and still made it back to the city at a reasonable hour with a decent hike in (West Point Foundry Preserve is an easy mile scenic woodland walk).
What lured me to Cold Spring was an overdue visit to post-war Italian art museum Magazzino, tucked away a few miles into town complete with a donkey ranch (random, I know). FWIW, Magazzino has a free shuttle and the museum is by donation, making this an affordable activity for those on a budget.
The origin of "New York Drive" was inspired by Costantino Nivola, with whom Chironi shares a birthplace (the town of Orani in Sardinia, Italy).
In the early 1980s, close to the end of the artist’s life, Nivola fell ill. He had been living in Springs, NY – where he and his wife, Ruth Guggenheim, had moved together in 1948 – and began to worry that the things he had left in his home in Tuscany would never make it back to his birthplace. Nivola decided to enlist the help of his nephew Daniele, who recalls the artist telling him to take as much as possible, including Nivola’s Fiat 127 – the same make and model as the car Chironi will use for the New York Drive performances. Daniele did his best to fill the car as much as possible – Nivola had left behind his own sculptures and paintings as well as works by artists such as Maria Lai, Giovanni Pintori, and Salvatore Fancello – and to return as many belongings as he could to his uncle’s hometown.
Chironi’s "New York Drive" pays tribute to this important journey while additionally celebrating the friendship and artistic collaborations between Nivola and the renowned architect, Le Corbusier.
It took over a month for Chironi to import the vintage Fiat via boat in Sardinia as part of his journey that included stops in Spring, the East End of Long Island, Manhattan and Cold Spring.
Sadly, I did not hotbox the Fiat, but the Fiat hotboxed itself due to the overheated engine. The car was so old that it required cooling off in between rides through the countryside, which included a curated soundtrack that has been building with the car’s journey in other places around the world.
Instead, I walked down a quiet side street like a teenager because weed might be legal in New York, but not every place has as much apathy quite like New York City.
Update: New York is officially selling cannabis flower now as part of its medical program that is still woefully behind other legal states.
That said, back in town, I encountered a pretty large motorcycle crew that reminded me about the fact that just across the Hudson River in Newburgh is the Motorcyclepedia Museum: an expansive two-level museum boasting some of the most unique and oldest motorcycles in the world. In downtown Newburgh, there’s a sister museum, the Velocipede Museum with a smaller collection of the predecessors including historic tricycles, bicycles, and velocipedes. To give you context of how different the vibes are in these super small and shape-shifting bordering bucolic towns, there is also a Curaleaf in Newburgh.
Check out more recs in my book “Easy Weekend Getaways in the Hudson Valley & Catskills.”
Pumpkin Spice Neutrality & Dune-Inspired Psychedelic Spice Coffee
For whatever reason, some people just go insane for the pumpkin spice shit this time of year. Objectively, I would call myself “pumpkin spice neutral” because I don’t really see Starbucks, specifically, laying claim to warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, cloves, all of which are native to Southeast Asian islands and eventually found in the cultural melting pot of culinary traditions of the Caribbean. The origins of pumpkin spice are part of the historic global spice trade dating back to the Dutch East India Company, but PSL branding is hammered into our collective consciousness as the beginning of the end.
Though Starbucks famously coined the iconic beverage resulting in more than a decade’s worth of basic bitch memes and infinite iterations, I find the drink is far too sweet and viscous for my tastes. Honestly, I’d rather just crush some pie and cider doughnuts than load up on a cup with a free pumps of simple syrup.
A healthier alternative to all of the above is pumpkin spice kombucha, which I recently discovered is superior in every way to pumpkin beer after impulsively purchasing a can of Sunset Harvest Pumpkin from Coastal Craft Kombucha, a maker in Long Island. Lower calories, less bloating, probiotic benefits and a fermented tea flavor that pairs much better with the meatiness of the pumpkin, plus all the right natural flavors: ginger, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
Still, if I was going to give myself a seasonal tricky treat, I felt the glittering psychedelic spice from the recent premiere of Dune seemed more appealing than traditional festivities (a Hollywood blockbuster best viewed on the silver screen over the small screen at home). Old meets new in this psychedelic sci-fi, so I decided to make a cinnamon- and cardamom-infused coffee laced with tinctures as a psychotropic wake ‘n bake, best paired with infused gummy worms and the Hans Zimmer soundtrack if you want to really “do it up.” Dune is the kind of movie you don’t need to be stoned to watch, but it makes it just a tiny bit better. Just like this coffee recipe I’m about to share.
Cardamom coffee is popular throughout the Middle East, which felt like a more appropriate seasonal drink than the Starbucks version. Additionally, there are health benefits as a cancer-fighting natural diuretic that lowers blood pressure. Play around with your favorite spices and ingredients, like orange peel, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and dried apple, if you want to be a real “Spice Girl” about it with your morning and/or afternoon pick-me-up. Enjoy!
Recipe: Dune Psychedelic Spice Coffee
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dark-roast whole coffee beans (check out CBD coffee from Willie’s Reserve and Strava, which have lower acidity and combat the jitters)
Sugar, to taste (optional)
Grind coffee with cardamom seeds. Grate or sprinkle fresh cinnamon over your grounds in a filter. Brew to the specifications of your favorite method (I prefer a ceramic pourover like Hario). Lace with your favorite tinctures and sugar.
FAQ: "How Do I Make Weed More Equitable?”
Interested in helping to right the wrongs of the past towards a more equitable future for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ forerunners? Check out these organizations;
The Last Prisoner Project: Let’s get people out of jail for minor cannabis crimes and help reform the War on Drugs.
Cage Free Cannabis: Make sure your weed is doing some good to the environment, economy and repairing communities.
Cannaclusive: Calling for racial justice in corporate cannabis.
Women Grow: Creating safe, inclusive pathways for women in weed.
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