52 Reasons to Love Westchester

How do we love the County? Let us count the ways.



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42: Because We Can Catch Up with Our Neighbors in People, Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, and the New York Times

There are notable Westchester residents everywhere you look. Turn on the Sunday-morning news, and you’re likely to find an update with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Chappaqua), or maybe something about Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner (Larchmont).  

Bookstores are lined with tomes by Don DeLillo (Bronxville), Ben Cheever (Pleasantville).  Simon Schama (Briarcliff Manor), and Cynthia Ozick (New Rochelle).
Look for lighter entertainment, and you might find Vanessa Williams (Chappaqua) on Ugly Betty or David Letterman (North Salem) counting down his Top Ten List. Flip on the radio and hear Jay-Z or Beyoncé,who recently purchased a house in Scarsdale. Head to the movies, and you’ll find locals all over the marquee, be it with directors Ang Lee (Larchmont) and Lasse Hallström (Bedford) or actors like Robert Klein (Briarcliff Manor) and Ruby Dee Davis (New Rochelle).

You can even find Westchesterites all over Twitter, with Martha Stewart   and Rob Thomas tweeting from their homes in Bedford. Westchester’s bucolic scenery may give the impression that we’re all sitting back and living the good life, but its residents are really out there and creating, entertaining, and changing the world. And, with an entire country to choose from, it really says something about the county that, when all these world-beaters choose to take a break, they come here to catch their breaths.

Ang Lee photo courtesy of Focus Features; Beyonce photo courtesy of Screen Gems; Jay-Z photo courtesy of Paramount Classics; Hillary Clinton photo by Albert H. Teich

 

43: Because We’ve Got Every Kind of Landscape You Can Imagine

A fan of the beach? Pack your sunscreen and hit the dunes in Rye. You prefer the mountains? Swap the sandy towels for hiking boots and trek to the top of Anthony’s Nose. Maybe you’d rather trade in the scenic vistas of the country for the hustle-bustle of city life. If so, hit the streets of White Plains and Yonkers and you’ll be happy to hear the rush of traffic and feel the hard pavement beneath your feet. We’ve got wetlands, woodlands, hills, valleys, untamed wilderness, manicured lawns, the River, the Sound, city streets, farmland, and everything in-between all rolled up into one county. Living here, you don’t have to choose: slink into one of our trendy bars and feel cosmopolitan while sipping on martinis one day, then rustle on the jodhpurs and hang out with the horsey set the next. You can feel like you’re living a double—or triple, or quadruple—life, without the whole remembering-your-alias-and-subterfuge hassle.

 44: Because Downtown White Plains Is Our Version of The City That Never Sleeps

The song “New York, New York” famously proclaims that if you make it there you can make it anywhere—but who wants to go through the hassle of going all the way there when you have downtown White Plains here? That goes double if you’re planning on making it a late night. You want to spend that time partying, not on the train. If you’re looking for a sleepless night, there’s no better destination than White Plains’s Mamaroneck Avenue. Stop in for a drink at one—or all—of these late-night bars:

Black Bear Saloon, 166 Mamaroneck Ave (914) 422-3270
Brazen Fox, 175 Mamaroneck Ave (914) 358-5911
Elements Food & Spirits, 161 Mamaroneck Ave (914) 358-4930
Haiku Asian Bistro, 149 Mamaroneck Ave (914) 644-8887
James Joyce Public House & Restaurant 166B Mamaroneck Avenue (914) 397-1077
Lazy Boy Saloon & Lazy Lounge, 152 & 154 Mamaroneck Ave (914) 761-0272
Porter House Bar, 169 Mamaroneck Ave (914) 831-5663

45: Because Where Else Can You Ride Roller Coasters at the Government’s Expense?

Nowhere. Playland is the only government-owned and -operated amusement park in the country. (You can’t say that about Coney Island, which is just as historic but owned by—what else?—a real estate development company.) Sure, there’s an admission fee to get in—but, in the end, isn’t that just like paying yourself? We’ll gladly use that as justification for a few go-rounds on the Dragon Coaster.

 

46: Because in Westchester, Celebrity Chefs are Everywhere

DAN BARBER photo by Nicholas Basilion

Let the rest of America gawk at culinary celebs on the tube; we in Westchester are tripping on ’em.

While diminutive, soft-spoke Dan Barber steals the show as the national figurehead for more ethical foodways (earning his family’s Manhattan Blue Hill a coveted royal visit by the Obamas), their iconic Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills remains a synthesis of everything chic in restaurants today: heirloom, heritage, and an extreme stinginess with food miles. And, as every food magazine on earth has already noted, his food’s not too bad, either.
 

Peter Kelly photo by Halina Sabath

Meanwhile—one of the few, the proud—an Iron Chef challenger who actually managed an upset against the winningest chef on the show (Chef Bobby Flay) is still in Yonkers, happily churning out some of Westchester’s favorite meals. Chef Peter Kelly, whose epic TV win over Flay had Westchester weeping as though it were the 1980 U.S.A. Olympic hockey game against the U.S.S.R., is still rocking those triumphant cowboy ribeyes at X2O, which (not surprisingly) was voted Zagat’s most popular Westchester/Hudson Valley restaurant in the 2009/10 issue. And, unlike Flay—that orangey, Danny Partridge lookalike—you’ll often find Kelly at his restaurants, earnestly greeting TV fans in the flesh.

Then, of course, there’s that darling of food editors everywhere, Chef Andy Nusser of Tarry Lodge, Casa Mono, and Bar Jamon, whose nice-guy affability disguises a serious culinary mind. (He won a coveted James Beard “Best New Chef: New York City” award in 2002 for his work at Bar Jamon, which he co-owns with Tarry Lodge partners Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich, and Nancy Selzer.)

Finally, if your tastes run toward the B-list, there’s that addictive squirm-fest of The Next Food Network Star, on which Brett August, executive sous chef of Rye Brook’s Doral Arrowwood, slogged it out with Michael Proietti of New Rochelle’s Radisson Hotel for a chance at a show. Spoiler alert: turns out the panel awarding the slot was—to use Proietti’s word—a little “judgy.”

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