Earlier this month, I had my first opportunity to travel outside of New York City into New York State. I have been living in the city since 2012 and had heard great things about the natural wonders and how peaceful it can be in New York State, but I chose to stay in the grime and chaos of the five boroughs for a number of reasons (lack of access to a vehicle, the funds, laziness, etc.).
The good folks at Chevrolet gave me the opportunity to branch outside of my comfort zone, and outside the city, by allowing me the chance to test drive their 2019 Blazer. With my husband in the comfy passenger seat, I traveled the hour and change upstate to Hudson Valley to gain a better appreciation of form and function and how that plays into design.
I learned that thoughtful design is part of everything, including how we consume our food. One of my first stops upstate was to the beautiful campus of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. While there, I had the honor of checking out the famed American Bounty Restaurant. We had the chance to speak with Bruce S. Mattel, senior associate dean of culinary arts, as well as wunderkind chef Kwame Onwuachi, the 2019 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year winner and owner of DC’s popular Kith and Kin. Both men educated me, and my peers, on the thought that goes into how meals are created, plated (and even the logos for establishments). We were also informed about the importance in putting together the right combination of tastes to make the perfect dish. After trying the roasted sage kabocha gnocchi, the pan-roasted chicken with wild mushroom agnolotti, glazed golden beets and squash puree, as well as the fantastic blueberry napoleon made of crispy phyllo and jasmine tea ice cream, I truly had a better understanding of what they meant — and a full belly.
We also traveled to Essie’s Restaurant in Poughkeepsie, a restaurant blending Caribbean and Southern tastes owned by talented executive chef and CUI graduate Brandon Walker. We got stuffed on the incredible crispy plantains, Korean fried pork belly with cheddar-scallion grits, the seasonal watermelon sorbet and the dark chocolate tart. The menu’s standout though, hands down, was the jerk ribs, which were plated beautifully and tasted even more pleasant as they were coated in a Sherry-tamarind glaze.
In both places, we learned about the best tastes to pair, the ways in which particular ingredients and their temperature help and hurt dishes (even in something as simple and beloved as a baked potato), and even how certain plates play a part in how food is presented and in turn, eaten.
Outside of food, we also got to use our hands during the getaway, taking a trip to Hudson Valley Pottery in Rhinebeck for an adorable pottery class. We created our own mugs and learned firsthand the thought process that goes into making a product not only beautiful, but functional as well, which is of the utmost importance. Certain tricks learned include that if you make the top of a mug smaller than its bottom, you can best retain heat if you’re drinking something warm. If you make a trendy mug but it has a handle that’s too low, it will be pretty useless. And if you make your mug too dainty and don’t fortify it, especially at the bottom, it won’t hold up — it may barely even make it in the kiln. So I constructed a hefty mug, shaped like a heart on the top and bottom, with a curved handle (shaped like half of a heart) that could hold things together nicely.
But nothing was a better indicator of the thoughtfulness required when it comes to design like the Blazer. The last time most of us saw the car, it was a truck-inspired 4×4 in the early 00s, and it looked a lot different from the 2019 mid-size crossover I was able to be behind the wheel of. The new model visually reminds you of a Chevy Camaro, and to have that look, while still being a crossover SUV, certain accommodations had to be made that at first glance, may look like they’re simply for style purposes. That includes the grille, the unique headlights and the size and shape of the windows (for example, because the windows were made more slanted, the side mirrors alert you of when people are in your blind spot and when the coast is clear to change lanes). Even the way the car was made to look in the front was about aerodynamics.
What I particularly loved about the car, outside of its sporty look, comfortable ride and immense legroom for someone my height, was the thoughtfulness behind the way the technology in the Blazer was designed. Have a kid? The Teen Driver feature keeps track of how they’re maneuvering behind the wheel, including how fast they’re going, and offers the owner of the vehicle an assessment so they can better help the young driver improve behind the wheel. Need to tow something safely to the back of your Blazer? There is Hitch View technology in the car to help you do so. There are circular vents near the impeccable infotainment system, which are chic, but are also meant to help the driver and passenger control their own heat and air conditioning. There is also a useful rear seat reminder tool that helps you to remember to look behind you before you run out of your car, lest you leave behind some groceries, your gym bag, or, worst-case scenario, your baby.
While the 2019 Chevy Blazer took us on quite the adventure to learn about the importance of the role design plays into everything, from what we eat, how we eat and the everyday products we use, the car itself was a perfect example of that. It drove like a dream, while also looking like it meant business at all times. Every part of it, from the muscular front to the lines and proportions, were constructed with a purpose, making for one fierce and functional vehicle.