Fly & Dine: The Perfect Landing Café at Sky Acres Airport (44N)

Flying New York’s Hudson Valley corridor in the fall is a scenic, almost breathtaking experience. The foliage displays a panoply of autumn of colors, temperatures are cool and crisp, skies are clear and the air is often smooth.

Nothing epitomizes autumn in southern New England more than Dutchess County in southeastern New York State. Located between the Hudson River on its west and the New York-Connecticut border on its east, Dutchess County is home to Sky Acres Airport (44N). Sky Acres, 10 miles east of Poughkeepsie, New York, is a non-towered airstrip nestled on a 145- acre hilltop in one of the most beautiful valleys in the United States. 44N is easy flight from more than 60 airports in the northeast and is the perfect gateway to the rest of the Hudson Valley.

If time permits, grab a rental car at the FBO, Hergin Aviation, and explore the myriad of actives Duchess County has to offer. Dia:Beacon Museum's Riggio Galleries opened in 2003 and houses Dia Art Foundation's renowned art collection that ranges from the 1960s to the present. The 300,000-square-foot glass, steel and concrete early American architectural masterpiece sits on the 31 acres of Hudson River front property donated by the International Paper company. There are over 20 artist's works on permanent display including pop art pioneer Andy Warhol, American installation artist Robert Irwin and American minimalist sculptor Dan Flavin.

Art not your thing? Visit one of the more than 35 wineries in the Hudson Valley. New York ranks third in grape production by volume after California and Washington. New York, specifically the Hudson River Valley, is one of the most historic and diverse wine regions in the U.S. My recommendation is to go on a tour and tasting at Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, America's oldest continuously operating winery. It has a network of old subterranean caves, where wines are aged in a variety of oak vessels, some dating back to the founding in 1839.

Brotherhood makes a number of sparkling and still wines, from the crisp, dry and racy dry Riesling to the limited release red blend Mariage to the sweet, delicate and floral, true ice wine. For a true indulgence, grab a chilled bottle of Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine made from 100% Hudson Valley Chardonnay grapes. This complex yet inexpensive sparkler (retail $10.99) has tight, little bubbles, a pleasant yeast and floral aroma and an apple and toasty finish. You won't be disappointed.

Need cheese to go with your wine? Head over to Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, a 200-acre, not-for-profit, working sustainable farm and learning center. Sprout Creek's pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic-free, happy animals allow their master cheese makers to produce award winning artisan goat and cow's milk cheese. Their selections are wide ranging encompassing all five cheese types (fresh, bloomy rind, blue-veined, semi-soft and washed-rind, firm and semi-firm natural rind). In autumn, they release Lizzy, an aged, washed-rind, raw goats' milk cheese. Lizzy has a pale orange rind that covers an ivory, elastic, well-holed interior. It has a slight musky and "goaty" nose with a mild, smoky flavor. It's a little fruity with hints of nuttiness without being overpowering. Ideal for snacking on while sipping that glass of bubbles.

The world-renown Culinary Institute of America's (CIA) main campus is a mere 30 minutes away. For the true "foodie", meander through the valley to the former Jesuit novitiate St. Andrew-on-Hudson in Hyde Park, New York. Take a tour of the expansive 170-acre complex. Relax on the 30,000-square-foot terrace and soak up picturesque views of the Hudson. Have lunch at one of their five student run restaurants or sample café cuisine and sumptuous baked goods at the Apple Pie Bakery Café. Visit the on-site bookstore for a video on basic culinary techniques, a cookbook from your favorite author or that much needed new chef's knife. Too bad they don't have their own airstrip.

When time doesn’t permit, go no further than The Perfect Landing Café at Sky Acres Airport. It’s located at the end of an uphill taxiway in the main terminal building. The converted dairy barn and silo also houses the airport operations office and the FBO. Chef/Owner Cindy Anderson purchased the former Latitude 44 North restaurant in 2005. The Perfect Landing Café is an All-American breakfast and lunch joint that includes a cozy fireplace, comfortable reading area and large picture windows facing the runway. It’s a cash only, family run place with Cindy’s mom Margaret, dad Mike, daughters Lindsey and Carly and even husband Mark lending a hand.

Instead of traditional categories, the relatively small lunch menu is divided into Pilot-Talk - Pre-Flights (salads), Basic Maneuvers (hot sandwich and hamburgers), Cold Fronts (chilled sandwiches), Fuel Injections (beverages), Pilots In Training (for the 12 and under crowd) and Final Boarding Calls (assorted pies). The various burgers are moist, grilled to order and arrive on a dense, sesame seed bun. Substitute the crunchy, thin-cut onion rings for the rather pedestrian fries. They’re crisp, perfectly seasoned and taste more like they came out of an oven that from the fryer. As a hamburger alternative, the chicken salad sandwich on your choice of bread is a diner staple that in this adaptation is simple, tasty and creamy.

Breakfast is the best reason to fly-in to Sky Acres. It's busy, especially on weekends when Cindy adds special omelets and new pancakes to the menu. Thankfully, breakfast is an all day affair on Saturday and Sundays. The Perfect Landing is the go-to place for airy, flavorful pancakes and an attentive waitress always ready to fill your coffee cup. The real winners on the menu are the thick, stuffed pancakes and the classic Belgium waffles with your choice of berries, bananas or decadent chocolate chips. One bite reminded me of my youth and the griddle cakes from the historic Walker Brothers Original Pancake House in the Chicago suburbs made famous in the film Ordinary People.

If pillowy pancakes weren't enough, have a light, fluffy omelet "your way". Salsa, cheese, vegetables or various pig products are there for the asking. Compliment the three egg wonders with Corn Beef Hash or Home Fries from the Side Slips section. The Perfect Landing Café is the kind of breakfast place that you want in your neighborhood – food made and severed with love, mom and sometimes pop behind the counter, decently priced and views of Pilatus PC-12s, Falcon 10s, Cessna 172s and Aviat Husky's landing.

The adjacent, small, shed-like ice cream stand features Dreyer’s/Edy’s Grand ice cream along with a variety of frozen yogurts and bars. Just imagine tasting a sugar cone topped with your favorite flavor while catching an amazing rust colored sunset from the flight line. How much better does an aviator’s life get?

Sky Acres Airport (44N)
Elevation: 698 ft. / 213 m (estimated)
Variation: 14W
Time zone: UTC -4 (UTC -5 Standard Time)
Zip code: 12585
Airport Operations
Sectional chart: New York
Control tower: No
ARTCC: New York Center
FSS: New York FSS
Pattern altitude: 1,500 ft. MSL with standard left hand traffic
Runways: 17/35 3,830 ft x 60 ft
Wind indicator: lighted
Lights: RDO-CTL
WX ASOS at POU (8 nm SW): 126.75 (845-462-0648)

The Perfect Landing Cafe
30 Airway Drive
LaGrangeville, N.Y. 12540
Phone: (914) 456-2701
Café Hours:
Thursday through Sunday, 7:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Ice Cream Parlor Hours:
Thursday through Sunday, 12:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Be advised though, according to Cindy the shop may be not re-open in 2012.
Note, cash and check only, no credit cards are accepted.

FBO – Hergin Aviation, Inc.
30 Airway Drive
LaGrangeville, N.Y. 12540
Phone: (845) 677-5010

Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries
3 Beekman Street
Beacon, N.Y. 12508
Phone: (845) 440-0100
$10 general admission; $7 students, seniors; free for Dia members and children under 12

Sprout Creek Farm
34 Lauer Road
Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 12603
Phone: (845) 485-8438

Brotherhood Winery
100 Brotherhood Plaza Drive
Washingtonville, N.Y. 10992
Phone (845) 496-3661
Tour & Tasting Pass: $10
On weekends, tours run every hour on the half hour.
Saturday 11:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Sunday 11:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Monday – Friday, tours run at 11:30 AM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM and 3:30 PM

The Culinary Institute of America
1946 Campus Drive (Route 9)
Hyde Park, NY 12538-1499
Phone: (845) 452-9600


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