Monday, December 28, 2009

Mark and Lynn Start their New Year Resolutions with a good game of Ping Pong at Painters...

Painter's in Brookhaven has just recently added a ping pong table; perfect to work off one of Kevin's great Manhattan's...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Great Bacon infused Vodka at North Fork Table and Inn...

One of Mark and Lynn's favorite places is North Fork Table and Inn. The owners, the Mraz' are great people and they always make things interesting. Recently, during Restaraunt week one of NFTI's offerings was a great drink with bacon infused vodka. Bacon flavored vodka is available, but it is an acquired enough of a taste to keep it from being a trend (maybe a cult concoction but that might be it). In any event, let us just say that the drink is sufficiently salty and bracing enough to allow Mark and Lynn to acquire the taste...
The North Fork Table & Inn
57225 Main Road
Southold, NY 11971

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peconic Bay Winery has a nice Chardonnay-(Please don't call it "oakey")

We recently went to the Peconic Bay Winery near us on and enjoyed some of their award winning wines, most notably the 2007 Steel Fermented Chardonnay which was had a nice warm feeling on a crisp late afternoon/early evening. According to the vineyeard's website the wine has flavors of orange peel, tropical fruit and pear. The orange peel flavor made it nice and appropriate for the fall. The winery is also emphatic in mentioning that the wine "has never seen the inside of a barrel" (I am paraphrasing). This is in line with the fact that oakey Chardonnay is not much in fashion (Chardonnay isn't either, but that is neither here nor there).

Nonetheless, despite all of this fussy PR, the wine was very good and the day and early evening was clear and beautiful.

31320 Main Road • PO Box 818 • Cutchogue, NY 11935 631.734.7361

Porters bartender Jamie is a new M & L favorite...

We enjoy restaurants as much for the personalities there as anything else (or don't enjoy). Jamie, a smooth bartender at Porter's On the Lane in Bellport has become one of our favorites due to her soothing manner, skill with a dirty martini and knack for remembering our favorites at this new Bellport mainstay...

Jedediah hawkins inn at thanksgiving

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turning Leaf will impress your annoying and ungrateful relatives!

Just in time for Thanksgiving we got the chance to sample some of Turning Leaf's 2008 vintage which is, in our opinion, a perfect set of wines in every way. The Chardonnay is predictably a perfect pick for the holidays, but it is the reds that surprise here with notes of brown spice and rich, sensual fruit that make them a surprisingly appropriate complement to the flavors of the season. And, at 8.00 a bottle you could easily buy a case and enjoy the rest for the duration of fall and even winter.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Interview: Tom Gjelten's book about Bacardi looks at the intersetcion of Bacardi Rum and Cuban politics...

Journalist and NPR Correspondent Tom Gjelten's book Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause (Penguin) is an interesting work about the ironic intersection of politics and spirits. The family behind the nearly 150 year old Bacardi were politically influential in Cuba and were consistently on the side of progressive politics. Mark and Lynn were lucky enough to speak to Mr. Gjelten about his book and the influence of Bacardi on the spirit world. MLAF: What is the identify of Bacardi in the world of spirits? Is it well respected? A tawdry relation?

TG: "It’s well respected – its awesome commercial success is unquestioned and enviable – but I would say it’s seen as a bit aggressive in its competitive style. The best example is the way it has taken on Pernod Ricard over the Havana Club trademark. Among connoisseurs, light Bacardi rum (what you most often see) is not considered a very remarkable spirit and Bacardi 8 – the top of the line product – is seen as overpriced for its quality. I would say that premium rum drinkers tend to favor some of the lesser known brands – Barbancourt ( Haiti ), Flor de CaƱa ( Nicaragua ), Zacapa ( Guatemala ), etc..."

MLAF: If there was no Bacardi would rum be important?

TG "Interesting and unanswerable question. Without a doubt, Bacardi made rum a far, far more popular drink than it was previously precisely because the Bacardis were the first to make a rum that could work in a cocktail. The rum-and-coke, Daiquiri, and mojito were all created originally with Bacardi rum (in Cuba ), but that someone else could have produced a light, mixable rum that would eventually have become just as important is certainly possible. There was a mad scramble in Cuba in the mid to late 19th century to produce a more marketable, popular rum. It’s just that Bacardi got there first."

MLAF: When you are in the liquor store what do you think of when you see a Bacardi bottle?

" TG: At this point, having invested way more of my life in this book than I ever intended, I would be happy never to see another bottle of Bacardi as long as I live. But that’s not Bacardi’s fault."

More about the author at

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Oar House in Dubln satisfies with nice Tapas and Seafood...

The Oar House in Dublin is one of the best combinations of all that is good in Irish food; good, creative use of traditional ingredients, a lot of variety without stooping to gimmickry and a casual atmosphere that radiates charm and good will.

The most interesting and appealing aspect of the dining experience is that diners have a choice to have tapas or a regular serving of most of the offerings. This of course enables one the chance to have an orgy of food choices or settle onto one entree. We opted for the orgy as we ate calamari, shucked oysters and Dublin Bay Prawns.

The restaraunt has a raffish charm befitting its placement along a rugged wharf. The insides are covered with nautical themed decor which makes it quite colorful...

The modest charms of Bia in Adare

Bia in Adare was a little breakfast place we discovered somewhat too late to fully enjoy. We ate there on one of our last days and they had nice, simple breakfast selections like smoked salmon and grainy toast. Nothing new for us at that point, but the humorous proprietress and the strangely blaring pop music made for a different kind of experience for us. Nothing to write home about, but charming in its own way...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Foynes Flying Boat Musuem makes aviation and Spirits history...

That ain't a Starbucks Frappucino Marilyn!

The Foynes Flying Boat Museum is an interesting place (not so much due to its place in aviation history as the first US-Europe hub) but due to it's connection to one of the most comforting beverages of the 20th century...

An interesting footnote for this museum is that Foynes helped create the Irish Coffee. In 1942, the restarauint at the Foynes terminal employed a chef by the name of Joe Sheridan. Mr. Sheridan, sensitive to the needs of his customers, realized that the often cold, rainy climate of Ireland called for a warm drink with s bit of something extra. Thus was born an Irish staple: the Irish Coffee.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Farmgate Cafe in Cork is Solid and Artful...

I recently worked with the very fine film composer Kim Carroll ( who happens to be from Ireland and before we went to Ireland I gave him a call for suggestions of places to see (or not). One of the places he recommend was the Farmgate Cafe and it so happens that this was the first good restaurant we went to while in Ireland. The food was fairly traditional, but with good portions and some artfulness that we did not always experience while dining in Ireland. Our waitstaff was great as was usual in Ireland (particularly Mirco Fondrini who closed his eyes while Lynn took an impromptu shot of him-when we go back we'll get a shot with your eyes open Mirco...)

Farmgate Cafe and Restaurant
The English Market Cork
T: 021.4278134

Bewley's Cafe is OK, but just OK

Bewley's an Irish instituion and business beheamouth has a nice cafe in Dublin that we ate a late breakfast at during our last 48 hours in the city. The cafe, better known as Bewley's Cafe Theatre, is a touchstone for Dubliners and has a unique way with events hosting lunchtime drama productions as well as music and cabaret performances. The interior is a large space with high ceilings and some interesting stained glass.

This venue did not impress us very much. The coffee was very good, but less impressive than many other places like Butler's and even some of the coffee we got in the Limerick market. I had a smoke salmon salad that was ok, but nothing to write home about. The interiors seemed dirty and the wait staff seemed strangely harried (one of the few times we saw waitstaff that were flustered).

Not anything like a disaster, but we were a little mystified about the reputation of the place versus our experience there...

Mark and Lynn experience night time in Dublin...

Some of Lynn's great photos...

Some of Lynn's great pictures...

Mark and Lynn experience day time in Dublin...

Salamanca in Dublin gets us out of a rut...

(Dueling Bowies)

The last real meal we had in Dublin was at Salamanca and in some ways it seemed an accumulation of all our experiences in Ireland distilled into a single evening. Why this was so is difficult to explain and perhaps it was just a feeling we had as we realized our trip was coming to a close.

In any event, the restaraunt specializes in Tapas and at that point in the trip (and at other points) we felt we needed something a bit different than the usual oysters, smoked salmon and brown bread routine we had happily gorged on for most of the trip.

Salamanca was a great tonic for us at that point since the restaraunt specializes in Tapas and we were very impressed by the fare which included the best calamari we have ever had, Calamares A L’andalucia, which is deep fried in chili sauce and is sweet while managing to have a certain heat that cuts into the sweetness. Other highlights were bites of marinated mixed olives and deep fried goats cheese. Also of note is the great sangria which was welcome relief after days of Guiness and Whiskey.

Finally, to cap our trip we met the owner of the bar a rakish looking guy named Pat Wheelan with long hair and a charming air worthy of Mephistopheles himself. He chatted with us for a few minutes. At one point he pointed at me and said "Look, David Bowie." and then pointed to himself and said "Look, David Bowie."

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About Me

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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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