Saturday, October 30, 2010

Want a nice Halloween wine? Why not the '09 Malbec from Alamos vineyard?

There is much talk during the fall about wines for Thanksgiving and of course the end of the year holidays like Christmas; why then is there no talk of Halloween wines?  Halloween has evolved into a holiday embraced by adults in recent decades (probably as a result of backlash from more wholesome holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas-possibly as a result of the contemporary adult tendencies in society to try on different identities and/or role play). In any event, we just got a great  09 Malbec from the Alamos vineyard which conjures up all the dark, melancholy sexuality of a great vampire film.   There are a lot of great, underrated vampire films that this would pair well with; our pick?  The 1994 film Nadja which re-imagined Dracula as the patriarch of a dysfunctional family whose daughter, Nadja, was a Euro-hipster making her way through lower Manhattan...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New helps you discover Long Island...

The Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (LICVB), the region’s official travel and tourism organization, recently announced the redesign of their website,
with the launch of the “Autumn on the Island” online campaign; with it's own specific site;  The new site is an attractive, well-organized and features some exclusive coupons for food and drink at places such as the Castello di Borghese  vineyard.  There are also good deals on first rate hotels like the Garden City Hotel in Garden City.  More importantly, it is a great go to resource to organize and plan trips to Long Island and to keep abreast of happenings in Nassau and Suffolk.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boqueria raises tapas to an art...

Fortune smiled on Lynn and Mark recently while in Manhattan with our stumbling upon Boqueria at 53 West 19th Street.  The restaurant reminded us of the bistros we had eaten at in Montreal a couple of years ago; warm service, a comforting atmosphere and creative food and spirits. 

We were both a bit tired as we had covered a lot of ground having gone to the Museum of the City of NY as well  walking almost 100 blocks.  Suffice to say we were starving and exhausted.  Our server, Melissa, made us feel at home and helped us relax as we got off our feet.  We enjoyed a blur of dishes, most of them tapas style such as Txipirones  (Baby squid a la plancha, arugula, olive, crispy radish, and garbonzos).  Other standouts were samples of Rosemary Manchego  as well as a beautiful serving of Mejillones (Mussells).  Best of all was the fig infused brandy which had the clarity and straightforward fragrance of a great perfume.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mark and Lynn take Manhattan...

Alamos Torrontes reminds us of Indian Summer

Lynn and I got sent a great pair of Argentinian wines recently from The Alamos vineyard.  The white, Torrontes, one of Argentina's signature white varietal   gave us a sense of  the fade of summer and the approach of  Indian Summer.  As odd as it may sound, to us, the idea of Indian Summer is more primal, mysterious and sensual than the idea of fall.  The white tasted like all of the memories of summer filtered through some kind of film.  Actually, the wine reminded me of the Burt Lancaster film The Swimmer where Lancaster swum pool to pool across the Connecticut suburbs to try to get back to his home.  There is something bittersweat and melancholic about this white that seemed perfect  for late September.

Friday, October 15, 2010

5 Minutes with Edible Stories author Mark Kurlansky

Author Mark Kurlansky well known for such culinary inspired non-fiction as The Big Oyster and Salt has just released Edible Stories: A Novel in Sixteen Parts (Riverhead).  As with some of Mr. Kurlansky's other works there is much made of the intersections of food and everyday life.  Mr. Kurlansky was nice enough to do a quick email interview with us about his work and what inspires him.

M & L: To fans of your works such as The Big Oyster and Cod Edible Stories seems like a natural evolution. Is this the case in your mind ?

MK: "I am not sure that it is an evolution. One of these stories was written before either of the books you mention and another at least predates the Big Oyster. But it all comes out of an idea that eating is a basic human experience and looking at food leads to all kinds of discoveries about history, society, and human nature."

M & L: Do you think the short story format suits stories relating to food better than a novella or novel?

MK: "I have written a novel a novella and short stories with food in them. It all works. I see food in almost everything. The advantage of a short story collection, even one like this where the stories are interconnected is that you can have a complete menu--a great variety of food and people."

M & L : In your mind was there a particular writer who really captured the essence of food or drink in fiction?

MK: "Emile Zola wrote about food as well as anyone I can think of although there are some serious contenders from France , Spain , Italy , and China . But Zola loved food and used it to set his scenes build his characters and make his social commentary with extraordinary richness. This is why I decided to translate his novel, The Belly of Paris, because I didn't feel it had been captured English, because it was such a pleasure to be immersed in it and because more than any other book I have ever read, I always felt this was a book I wish I had written. So, in a sense, I did. "

MK:  Does writing about food make you hungry?

"Not really but the question is, does it make you hungry. Just as not all food is appealing, not all the food I write about is appealing. I think Edible Stories shows that people have all kinds of relations with food far beyond physical pleasure and some of those relationships are a bit dark. "

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tullulah's in BayShore makes a case for being the hippest eatery on Long Island

Chef/Owner Steve Scalesse

Lynn and I joined our good friend Jane and her sister Suzanne (an expat from Australia) at Tullulah's in Bay Shore. Despite the fact that Lynn is from that area, we rarely venture into the Bay Shore area to eat.  We have enjoyed Tula's Kitchen on a couple of occasions, but were mostly unaware of anything else worth a destination trip. 

Lucky for us, Jane noticed that the restaurant was hosting a cheese tasting on a recent night so it seemed like a good opportunity to see what was going on food wise in the area.

The restaurant has a Bowery vibe as it is located on a side street and has an understated, elegant exterior. One of the mini trends for"hip" restaurants in NY is to be vague about location and address so as to underline the "exclusivity" of the place. There is a bit of this kind of feel with Tallulah's as you have to kind of seek it out (Tullulah's) and there is a sense of exclusivity or discovery that makes restaurant goers feel "hip" or at least a little ahead of the curve.

So it was with us.  The cheese tasting aspect of the evening was handled by the proprietress of a newish cheese store in Suffolk County.  The young woman proprietress brought some nice, gateway cheeses literally to the table.  The beginning of the evening was a little rough as she scolded some of the patrons (us included) for trying the cheese that was sitting in front of them/us when we sat down before she gave the word (to eat).  Our thoughts regarding this were 1) if food is in front of us chances are we are going to eat it 2) if you don't want us to eat food set in front of us how about saying something to start with (or wait to set the food in front of us?)  3) it is probably bad form and definitely a bad idea to scold paying customers right out of the gate who you are presumably trying to attract to your business.  In any event, we mostly chalked it up to nerves on the part of the young woman (the event started late which must have been stressful).

Luckily, Jane and Suzanne were good company and helped lighten the slightly tense mood.  It was a BYO event, so we brought a nice bottle of Smoking Loon Cabernet.  As was said, the cheese's were a nice intro to well, cheese (we were very familiar with the Catapano brand from years ago when we dodged the goats and livestock at the small DIY dairy producer at the gateway of Long Island's North Fork).

The save of the evening was by Tullulah's masterful chef who managed to produce a truly great series of dishes which managed to both electrify our senses and make our table fully alert and alive. At times I was aware of the  young women behind us prattling on about their rather unimpressive and clumsy ventures into the worlds of dating and casual sex.  At one point a non-descript door in the restaurant popped open and tow MMA grapplers spilled out (briefly) into the restaurant signaling that a martial arts studio was next door.

Lynn, Jane and Suzanne

In particular, the Berkshire Pork Loin was an eye opener for both Lynn and myself ;  we are no big fans of pork but great stuff is great stuff and the Berkshire pork loin was a standout treat sweetened up as it was by the dried figs and cherry glaze.  Lynn thought the baked apple tartlet was the best dessert she had had in awhile (high praise believe me).

Most impressive of all was the fact that the chef came out at the end of the meal to introduce himself (We have never seen this before at a Long Island restaurant).  Chef/Owner Steven Scalesse is a warm, bearish guy with  sleeves of tattoos racing up and down his arms.  He could easily be a lineman for one of the small, local college football teams.  He was nice enough to show us the garden behind his restaurant out of which he creates aspects of Tullulah's menu.  These gestures helped close the evening out on a nice note and the somewhat rough beginnings of the evening were ancient history.

There are not many hip eateries on Long Island, particularly Suffolk County but this all may have changed (as fare as we are concerned) with Tullulah's...

We're located at:
12 Fourth Ave. Bayshore, NY 11706

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rosie's in Bellport celebrates the lost art of pie making...

Rosie's Handmade Revolution in Bellport continues to be a haven for the DIY 21st century.  Next up? a pie making contest set for Oct. 28th.  Guess fall is finally here...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mark and Lynn check in with John Ross author of North Fork wine and food histories...

Lynn and I and our friends the Smiths went to the Sayville Library the other night to hear author/restaurateur John Ross speak about the history, lore and state of food and wine on the North Fork of Long Island.  His talk centered around and heavily referenced his books The Story of North Fork Wine and Food and Wine of the North Fork.  The work is a rich and personal history from Mr. Ross who has seen the North Fork vinters and restaurateurs evolve from a group of passionate men and women with a "it's just so crazy it might work" mentality and approach into a region with a polished and sophisticated approach to producing first rate food and wine.

Mr. Ross was at his best when recounting the key individuals in the evolution of North Fork wine production like Louisa Hargrave and David Mudd.  It was clear that Mr. Ross had strong relationships with many of these pioneers and that he understood the importance of their hard work and contributions to the reputation of this region.  Mr. Ross' contributions are impressive as well having had his own restaurant, Ross' North Fork Restaurant for almost 30 years.  He was modest about this, but at the same time obviously proud that he had helped start the "farm to table" movement (before this was even a catchphrase) almost 40 years ago. 
Mr. Ross signing copies of his book for Lynn

The books are warmly written and are fairly easy to get on Long Island.  There are some copies on Amazon and are a great, unique present for anyone interested in North East/NY lore and/or cuisine.


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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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