Taste NY on the Taconic is exactly what you need on the way to or from the City. Now, let’s talk about the apple cider donuts.
by Renee Jermaine
I can’t say with any accuracy how many times I’ve driven up and down the Taconic—from the City to the country, from the country to the City—but let’s agree that the number is staggering. Like other motorists on this schlep, for years I tended to stop for coffee or grub at the usual fast-food suspects—not because they’re good necessarily, but because they’re efficient and a known quantity; they’re good enough. I might have gone on for years in this way, inexplicably blowing by a pretty adorable little shop, Taste NY at the Todd Hill Service Station, until finally, on one such drive, I decided to stop.
For one thing, Taste NY is as accessible as any Dunkin’ Donuts since, whether you’re traveling north- or southbound, it’s situated in the median of the parkway. You don’t have to get off. For another, I realized upon entry that Taste NY in Todd Hill is special: Quaintly housed in a former gas station, its sole objective is to promote, support and showcase locally sourced food, beverages and gifts. With a very Upstate vibe—akin to a friendly, no-frills country store of yesteryear—it serves as a symbolic gateway of sorts, encapsuling all that’s best about our area. What fast food chain, I ask you, can boast that? And then there are the apple cider donuts. ’Nuff said.
Other delectable offerings there include gourmet coffee and sandwiches, fresh produce and cider, craft beer, cheese and all kinds of farm-raised meats, chocolate chip cookies (a close second to the donuts), ice cream and honey, jam, pastries and granola, maple syrup, pickles and seasonal gift items. While the broad artisanal inventory changes periodically, it’s all curated from farms across the state and local, popular purveyors such as Chatham Brewing, Our Daily Bread and Harney & Sons Teas.
Taste NY, the brainchild of former Governor Andrew Cuomo, was launched in 2013 as a non-profit initiative to promote New York farmers and businesses and to bring awareness to the state’s agritourism (there are now 69 stores in existence). Not unlike me, Cuomo often found himself cruising down the parkway, in his case between Albany and New York City, and frequently passing a long vacant gas station which he rightly envisioned as an ideal spot for a Taste NY outpost.
“The Todd Hill store is unique because of the historical structure it’s placed in,” says Lachele Coninx-Wiley of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County which operates the shop. “It opened as a gas station in 1941 as part of FDR’s public work initiative, shortly after the Taconic Parkway was built. And because it’s so quaint and charming, it really draws the focus in and makes you feel like you’re in a warm giftshop that’s packed with interesting and relevant food and beverage items and textiles.” Put another way, Taste NY is still something of a fueling site, it’s just not your car that you’re fueling.