Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cheeseboy is the comfort food for Mark and Lynn during a long November...

Lynn and I had managed to escape from New York into Boston for a couple of days during a tumultuous November on Long Island.   Strange to us to find comfort, maybe even a superior culinary experience on the rest area in Milford, Connecticut.  What we found was Cheeseboy, America's first (and only) fast food grilled cheese outfit.  "Fast food" is a bit of a unfair characterization as Cheeseboy is, in our minds at least, a kind of gourmet experience tucked into the typical rest area junk food experience. Lynn and I had a relatively healthy concoction of light Swiss on multi grain bread on both of our passes from Boston back to Long Island.   Was the cheese local?  the bread?  Probably not, however, it was the best kind of local New England food experience for us....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kendall Jackson's revolutionary wine app merges the love of wine with mood, food and Facebook...

Lynn and I are not that technically oriented, however, occasionally something comes our way that causes us to re-think such things; so it is with the K-J (Kendall Jackson) recommends App.  This App allows the user to pair Kendall Jackson's variety of wines with any food, occasion, time of day and even mood (happy, playful, reflective and so on).   This helps both take the guess work out of these scenarios as well as helps educate not only the wine lover's palate but also helps educate particularly about the notions of the connection between wines and mood which is often overlooked.  The App is compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and can be used with most major social media including Facebook.  The App is free of charge and is available at http://bit.ly/W42iJu for Apple devices and http://bit.ly/SWMv0W for Android devices.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Naked Grape's Harvest Red Blend frees Mark and Lynn from white wine fatigue...

Lynn and I have been taking our summer white wine habit well into the fall.  There are reasons for this not the least of which is the fact that we have found some great white wines that work well in the fall.  Imagine then our surprise to find The Naked Grape's Harvest Red Blend landing on our door step just in time for Thanksgiving.  Despite the stereotypical heft of Thanksgiving meals, Lynn and I have mostly thought of the usual suspect whites like Riesling, hefty Chardonnays and even Champagne on occasion.  So, again, imagine our surprise when The Naked Grapes  managed to be the perfect antidote to late fall white wine fatigue with a taste that merges some of the sweetness of a nice Riesling with the warmth and plummy perfume of a dark winter red.  With a price point well under 10.00 this wine will usher you through many a wintry evening...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Eloisa James signs our copy of Paris in Love...

Some of the fun of creating this site is the nice connections we make with people we meet and interview who have the same interest and love of food and drink. So it was with author/sweetie pie Eloisa James who was not only nice enough to sign our copy of Paris in Love but also game enough to try her hand at a sketch (we think it is a dog)....

Thursday, November 15, 2012

jojo's produces top shelf artisan sriracha that reminds Mark of his North Carolina roots...

We had just heard about jojo's sriracha through the Food Curated newsletter that landed in our inbox recently and just today did we get the actual thing which just landed in our mailbox with an elegant well package thud.  We are into sriracha, but our experience with this condiment is mostly limited to the Huy Fong "rooster" sriracha that has become less of a piece of exotica and more of a staple in restaurants and grocery stores.

Roster Sriracha is a staple for us as well, but jojo's was a unique change of pace with an artisan's touch and a  samurai sword sweetness paired with the heat that reminded me of some of the hot/sweetBar BQ sauce from my youth in Eastern North Carolina.  We mixed it into grape seed oil and it made a great turbo charged salad dressing over arugala.  We will keep you updated about our experiences with this unique concoction from perpetually cool Brooklyn....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mark and Lynn experience the HOG'S Feast of Field and Forest....

2012 has not been a happy one for food lover's in Brookhaven, NY.  First, the venerable Wallen Market in Bellport closes, then, last spring Painter's has a fire which does apparently just enough damage to keep it from re-opening quickly and now it appears to be for sale.

So, we were understandably hopeful that the Hamlet Organic Garden's (HOG) Feast of Field and Forest would deliver a positive and festive experience for the community sorely in need of one.

Well, as they say, Mission Accomplished.  The food, generated and prepared by the Lost and Found Pop Up Culinary operation was an embarrassment of riches with a host of locally sourced ingredients/food/drink.  Our favorites?  Honestly, pretty much everything, particularly the locally caught trout, the tofu with birch bar bq sauce and the wines by Anthony Nappa which come from nearby Peconic.

As much as anything, the night felt like a kind of healing ritual after a tough year for foodies in Brookhaven.   Needless to say, we hope the HOG will make these kind of special events a regular part of the fabric of Brookhaven....


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mark and Lynn find the perfect Whiskey to break the spell of the bleak winter...

Recently, we discovered Pine Barrens Whiskey at The Wine Maker Studio in Peconic, NY.  This whiskey is a product of Long Island's only legal distillery in function at present.  The PB Whiskey has a nice, sweet burn that some think is reminiscent of the smokiness of scotch (possibly a result of the use of Blue Point Beer in the distillation process).  PBW reminded me of the rough and elegant feel of my Dad's favorite bourbon the late, great I.W. Harper which (in my mind) straddled the fine line between high end bourbon and working class bourbon.  But, perhaps I am over thinking it; I am looking forward to sipping this late into the night reading Poe and Conan Doyle...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mark and Lynn dig deep into culinary archeology with Handwritten Recipes....

Michael Popek's day job as a dealer in a family run antique bookstore took an interesting turn when he began to take note of the many interesting ephemera tucked into the pages of some of the antiquarian and used books in his store.  Mr. Popek began collecting these items with specail attention to the recipes he found within the pages; recipes for a variety of culinary fare such as Pineapple Date Bread, Meat and Cheese Loaf, Almond Christmas Balls and something called Chocolate Porcupine. 

Mr. Popek has worked hard to curate and display his recipe collection on HandwrittenRecipes.com.  His interest has led to the recent publication of Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller's Collection of Curious and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages (Penguin).  Mr. Popek was nice enough to correspond with Mark and Lynn about his work and his interest in recipes as found objects.

M & L: Is there something special about finding a recipe in a book that sets it apart from finding say a picture?

MP: "Absolutely. Photos and old letters are fine for speculation, but recipes give us a chance to bring that moment back into the present. I can run to the grocery store for supplies and give it a go, make changes, scribble down notes - I can take the ephemeral out of the ephemera and make it my own. Oh, and it's tough to serve a photograph to hungry guests."

M & L: What do you think was the most memorable recipe(s) that you found in one of your books?

MP: "I always get a kick out of the home remedy recipes I find, like this one:"

"Nothing like linseed oil to take care of that cough."

M & L:  Do you see differences in the kinds of recipes you see in books depending on what decade/era they are from?

MP: "Most of the recipes I find are from the 1930s-1960s, and I've noticed that there are lots of casserole recipes. I'm sure if I had a broader collection to inspect, I'd find that the number of casseroles would drop significantly in the 80s and 90s, but I think the general eating public are returning to simple goodness of one dish recipes. "

"I've also noticed that most of the older dessert recipes were cakes or pies. In the newer desserts, I found a lot more muffins, cookies, cupcakes... hard to believe, but based on the small sample size, it seems that the servings were getting smaller."

M & L: Did you ever try to create one of the recipes on your own? Do you hear from people who use the recipes that you have salvaged?

"I tried a few dessert recipes without much luck. Baking has never been my strong point, I'm more of an entrée man. The waffle recipe I tested for the book came out fairly well, but I think it works best with an old-fashioned waffle iron that can really get hot."

"I've been lucky enough to have a bunch of readers try out recipes on the blog; there have been hits and misses. The blueberry muffin recipe turned out to be a dud." (http://www.handwrittenrecipes.com/2009/11/blueberry-muffins.html) but the pasta with artichokes was a big success (http://www.handwrittenrecipes.com/2011/08/pasta-with-artichokes-tale-of-2.html).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mark and Lynn interview author Eloisa James about Paris in Love

In 2009 NY Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a chance that many people merely fantasize about: she sold her house, took a break from her job as a  Professor of Shakespeare, and summarily moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love: A Memoir chronicles her sweet, funny and eventful year soaking in the fashions, art, atmosphere and of course food and drink (with her Italian husband and entertaining young children in tow) in a city well known for it's romantic quality.

Ms. James was nice enough to correspond with Mark and Lynn about her work, French food and what it takes to be a good romance novelist. 

M & L: How did living in Paris change your palate and the way you eat?  

EJ: "I don’t think it changed my palate. But it made me wistful for a life I don’t have here in the U.S., where I am overworked: a life in which one spends two hours lingering over an excellent lunch, followed by a peaceful nap (not a cat nap), and then caps the day with a lingering meal with people one loves, none of whom are teenagers. Perhaps in my next life!"

M & L: Did all of the great food and wine make you jaded or cause you to take this aspect of your life in Paris for granted?

EJ: "It made me envious. Although, as I point out in Paris in Love, there is an extraordinary amount of bad food served in Parisian restaurants. One has to be careful not to idolize the French too much: they happily eat at restaurants that could not survive in New York City, in my estimation."

M & L:  What would you say your favorite food/meal was while in Paris?  Your least favorite?

EJ: "I grew to treasure the way the French make hot chocolate, with one small pitcher of steaming milk, and another of excellent chocolate, so rich and dark that it slides into the milk like a helping of mud. Mixed together—in just the proportions that you love—it is truly a drink for the gods."

"My least favorite meal took place, unfortunately, at a Michelin starred restaurant. I ordered tête de veau, or calf's head, and that was a mistake."

M &L : Was it hard to stay in shape in Paris with all of the great, rich food or did you manage to keep yourself fit?

EJ: "In a word: Yes!"

5.  What do you believe are the key differences between a good romance novelist and a bad or mediocre one?

The best romances have a rhythm and a promise that works. I know the world is a tough and cold place; I’ve lost my mother and I have a child with a chronic illness. But—and this is a big but—I also know that love and joy make all the difference. A great romance reminds the reader that if there’s a pattern to the universe, it’s one shaped around and by love. We can all use that reminder now and then.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fish in the West Village hits a comforting, nostalgic note for Mark & Lynn

Lynn and I and family made our way through the West Village and ended our eventful day at Fish which is, as you might imagine,  is a New England style seafood  restaurant with low ceilings, nautical and fishing ephemera and a raffish vibe.  The night we were there we found a rowdy, but mostly friendly Labor Day crowd (oddly, the couple sitting next to us seemed uptight and humorless for some reason, oh well).

We have had a lot of luck with finding good seafood in restaurants and markets but the seafood here was really particularly amazing and some of the best we have had outside of Boston and, Fish was the rare seafood restaurant that we had experiences with a comfort food vibe.  

I have rarely seen grilled calamari on menus on Long Island (or elsewhere for that matter) so it was a great treat to have a very flavorful yet simply prepared version here (too many restaurants weigh calamari down with overpowering sauce).  Lynn had a colorful, flavorful serving of "angels on horseback" which Lynn appreciated as a nostalgic "Mad Men" era appetizer from the cocktail parties of her parents when she was a youth.  

We hit Fish on a Saturday night so it was rocking and rolling.  We imagined that it might be pleasant to go during the week when the pace was not so breakneck as the staff was very accommodating and the bar was welcoming.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Flo's Food Truck raises the bar on food trucks for Long Island...

Long Island has mostly lagged behind in the food truck craze, but this has changed at least in the community of Bayport where the venerable Flo's has just unveiled what is possibly the most magnificent food truck on Long Island.  A total pleasant surprise (the truck maintains most of the Flo's menu with the exception of some of the raw seafood offerings) for Lynn and I but a testament to the way the food forward luncheonette manages to keep up with the zeitgeist.  Hopefully, this will also allow Flo's the opportunity to keep themselves on the radar well into the fall.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mark and Jackson hit Prodigy Coffee in the Village

My grandson Jackson and i hit the East Village over the weekend and our first thought was that we needed to get something to drink.  Jackson said he needed "cold, cold water" and as for me I needed some serious caffeine.  Shortly after we started our hike down Carmine Street we ran into the small, elegant coffee outpost Prodigy Coffee.  Our attractive,  exotic barista paid us particularly good attention and etched a small leaf in the Cafe Au Lait I ordered (or was it a tree?).  Jackson was quite happy with his "cold, cold water" and seemed to feel particularly grown up with his sustainable coffee cup and his Phineas and Ferb tattoo

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jackson makes a big impression at Centro Vinoteca in the Village...

Jackson and I walked and walked around Greenwich Village on Saturday and our feet, though pretty much invincible, eventually tired and we found respite at a chic restaurant/wine bar called Centro Vinoteca.  On that hot afternoon the place felt like a gift from the Deity.

Predictably, Jackson made quite an impression on the attractive hostess and French accented waitress who both quizzed him on 1)where he was from 2) why he was in Manhattan and 3) could she (they) get him anything?   Jackson had a glass of cold water, I had a glass of chilly Rose and I was grateful but somehow not surprised  when the restaurant sent over a small plate of complementary appetizers.   Suffice to say by the time we left everyone bid Jackson and I farewell by name...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A day at the US Open...

The heat allowed me to sweat out my Grey Goose martini in record time...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Riverhead Project gets an "A" from Mark and Lynn

Lynn and I had been circling The Riverhead Project for awhile.  As chic and upscale as Lynn is she has a knee jerk suspicion of chic, upscale eateries.  I was more optimistic. The few times we stuck our head in the door people were inviting and friendly and the place was absolutely a beauty.  Finally, we (Lynn) got up the willpower to check this place out.  I had dropped some issues off of a magazine I write for at an upscale fitness studio on main street in Riverhead and we were hungry so...

We were greatly impressed.  Our bartender, Zach, was very cool with his impossibly crisp pink shirt and made me the best Manhattan I think I have had on Long Island (maybe the best anywhere).  Lynn had a stress reducing drink called a Tangerine Blossom whose main ingredient is  Mandrian Blossom Vodka.  As for the food, we managed to have a couple of things that I had always been interested in trying;  a grilled romaine salad and grilled oysters.

Lynn and I tried to take it all in but it was tough since the whole experience was so sensual.   We are looking forward to going back and becoming regulars...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Good to Go Organics on 95 is great road food...

Lynn and I salved our disappointment of Farmstead by treating ourselves to an excellent fast food experience at, of all places, on Route 95 in Connecticut at a rest stop near Milford, Good to Go Organics.  Lynn treated herself to two great veggie/soy dogs served on a nice piece of whole wheat flat bread.  I had a great salad with organic arugala and baked chicken tenders.  Really nice service as well; healthy, civilized food at rest stops? Hope this is a trend and not just an anomaly.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Is Farmstead/La Laiterie in Providence the worst dining experience in the US-For Mark and Lynn it is...

Lynn and I had heard about the Farmstead Cheese Shop and La Laiterie Bistro adjoining it for for many years and were excited to try it as the website communicated that this place was innovative in its menu and approach to artisan cheese making and hand crafted food Farmstead/La Laiterie had also won praise from the likes of Travel + Leisure, Bon Apetit & Food And Wine.  Very recently on our way to Boston we made a special point of going through Providence to get lunch at La Laiterie and maybe get something from Farmstead. 
Lunch is served there until 3:00 and we got there later than we would have liked at 2:30.  There were still plenty of diners there and there was little sense of the place winding down as there were still waiters wandering around and a hostess present and, again, a restaurant that was mostly full.  
Things went badly rather quickly.  The hostess saw us waiting to be seated and then disappeared.  I had a bad feeling about it as she clearly saw us but made minimal eye contact.  The Cheese shop personnel could also see us but they made minimal eye contact as well and eventually turned their literal backs on us.  A woman entered from the back of La Laiterie and made a sympathetic face towards us and mentioned that someone would be with us in a minute.  Roughly five minutes had passed at this point and Lynn being curious about the place went over to the Cheese counter and began asking questions.  At that point, the Cheese counter personnel had a harder time ignoring us but Lynn later mentioned their communication was disconnected (one of the staff gave her a brusque "no" when she asked if they sold one of their hand made sauces).  Lynn also said how excited we were to be there and how we had read about both Farmstead and La Laiterie and had made a special trip to try the place out.  Their response? Nothing.  Two of the place's chefs walked by our table; a beefy guy and a tall woman and still no eye contact, much less a hello.
Finally, after about 10 minutes time the hostess found it in herself to seat us.  Our waiter showed up while Lynn went to the restroom (whose lock was broken).  I ordered two glasses of Rose but foolishly did not order our lunch (or maybe wisely).  Our waiter seemed slightly more with it than the rest of the staff so I was hoping that our experience, so sour up to that point, might be salvaged.
How wrong I was!  After at least 20 minutes total in the restaurant we did not even have our wine.  Lynn and I both looked at each other with our "we are out of here" faces and summarily bolted out the Farmstead door.  Our waiter was standing outside on the restaurant's sidewalk apparently having forgotten about us, chatting with a passerby as our $12.00 a glass wine was warming up in the August heat.  We got into our car parked just outside the place. 
"Are you leaving?" he asked.
I don't like writing bad reviews.  Lynn and I love food, wine, spirits; all of it and we like our experiences to be positive which they almost always are.  When we are disappointed it is usually because something doesn't live up to the hype or we have shoddy service.  With this place it is check and check; definitely not up to the hype and memorably bad service.  Lynn and I were both completely blown away by the complete rudeness. obnoxiousness and obliviousness of the place.  It seemed pretty much top down (maybe with the exception of the woman who alerted the hostess, the hostess who had first ignored us). The experience was doubly bitter because we had pondered going there since January when we had last been to Boston and, we were starving so, again, we felt even more defeated than usual.   In any event, lesson learned here.  You have been warned!

M & L

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mark and Lynn are in the mood for Kingston's in West Sayville...

 Lynn and I found ourselves somewhat exhausted with our usual dining choices.   So, we went against our own grain and parked ourselves at the very rowdy but somehow very charming restaurant on the Great South Bay of Long Island in West Sayville called Kingson's.

Kingston's has a great, unpretentious vibe, attentive, young and attractive service from the hostess on down. Our food, however was a mixed bag.  My oysters on the half shell were perfect, my calamari was good.  Lynn's broiled seafood was forgettable, however.  We had some of the same experience with our libations; Lynn had a dirty martini that was very good, but my standard issue martini was just alright.  And, for such a casual place (with plastic forks, for example) our bill was a little on the high side.

Having said that, our experience at the place was very pleasant.  Definitely a place that you have to be in the mood for but a good place to change up our summer food routine...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lynn becomes the pin up girl for Charles and Charles wines...

Lynn and I won a runner up in the Charles & Charles Winery  4th of July Facebook contest-This is the photo that won and below is the communication that we won...

Thats a great pic, Mark! Congrats - you are an official runner-up for our 4th of July Charles & Charles contest. We'd like to buy you 3 bottles of Charles & Charles red at your local wine shop or retailer. Can you let me know your closest/favorite store (with city and/or contact info) and we'll arrange to have you pick up your prize of 3 bottles! Congrats again and hope you had a fantastic 4th of July!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mark and Lynn dig Brad's Raw Chips...

Lynn and I have enjoyed some of the Kate Chips our local health food store has stocked in the last year or so.  They are great, healthy snacks that do a good job of filling us up without piling on the calories and while having the health benefits of an alkaline oriented vegetable.  Recently, Lynn and I have tried Brad's Raw Leafy Kale which we have become partial to because of the variety of flavors and great packaging.  Among our favorites are the "Vampire Killer" (packed with potent garlic that we detected before we opened the package) and "Nasty Hot" (with strong flavors of jalapeno and red bell pepper).

Great stuff from the great state of Pennsylvania (which I think is considered local to Long Island?)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The LIC Market is great and Mark and Lynn have a new favorite waitress...

Lynn and I saw the latest Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom and afterwards were starving; we happened to be less than an hour from Manhattan and as  I had grabbed my Manhattan file and dug out a clipping of great new restaurants in Long Island City we decided to try one of the buzzed about new restaurants in LIC.  Among this group was the LIC Market whose wine bar and seeming French-Canadian style food was of particular interest to us.  So, Lynn and I set
our GPS for 22-52 44th Drive and after negotiating some heavy father's day traffic we found ourselves perched on a bar seat in the charming, compact space of LIC Market.

The warm, attractive staff made us feel completely comfortable right away.  We were particularly charmed by our smashing British waitress Laura who was attentive, engaging and recommended some great French wines from Chemins de Bassac.  My ricotta and pignoli salad was brilliant and nicely flavored with oranges and warm  roasted chicken, Lynn's mozzarella and radicchio sandwich also had a nice addition of roasted chicken.  The food was great and the atmosphere was very cool but what will hurry us back to LIC is the warm and charming Laura who we already miss.

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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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