Thursday, June 28, 2018

Acabonac Farms raise the bar for artisinal beef in New York....

Lynn and I had been meaning to write up Acabonac Farms since we had tried their grass fed beef at an event in spring at the Hamlet Organic Garden (AKA "the hog") in Brookhaven, NY.  Acabonac Farms are out of the far East End of Long Island in Amagansett and take understandable pride in sourcing their own livestock and using human and environmental conscientious practices that cultivate a sense of their being responsible stewards of their products.  We were lucky enough to get a sample and found the hamburger to be lean but succulent with a savoriness that we have rarely experienced in meat much less hamburger...M&L

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Mark and Lynn get a taste of Hell's Kitchen at the Hourglass Tavern...

Lynn and I went to the historic Hourglass Tavern on a recent visit to Manhattan. The Hourglass has been around since 1894 in the heart of Hell's Kitchen near the Theatre District. The origin of the name "Hourglass" has to do with the need to turn the tables over on an hourly basis as there were only 7 tables available and many patrons had to get in and out and to the theater on time. An hourglass was used to manage this necessity.

The interior held much of the turn of the century vibe and energy.  It was easy to image characters from Gangs of New York or The Alienist dining here circa 1894.  The menu was unfussy with a nice selection of pasta, seafood and some small plates.  The PEI Mussels I had were as savory combination of white wine, garlic and herb broth with chopped bacon.  Lynn had the pecan encrusted Tilapia which had an interesting combination of honey cumin sauce and toasted coconut rice.  The service was great with our hip hostess Megan making us feel completely at ease.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Seoul Food DC makes a giant leap to Takoma Park....

Seoul Food, one of our favorite places in the world has recently relocated from a space in Silver Spring, Maryland (shared with a service station) to a chic space in Takoma Park.  We recently visited this new location in Takoma Park.  There was some trepedation that moving into a more traditional restaurant space might take away from the place as a great deal of the charm of the Silver Spring location was the fact that being located in a service station was a source of great novelty and charm. 

I should not have worried for a moment.  The new place retained the cheerful, hipster vibe of the old place and then some.  It was great to see Ana and her husband and our facvorites, the Kimchi Tofu Bowl and Bibmbap retained their out of the world mix of tastes and flavors.

There were even some improvements.  SF offers beer and wine and the seating is much easier than in their previous location.  Needless to say we are very glad that the place has moved and retained and even improved on its excellence....

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mitsui Sushi in Bay Shore impresses with its innovative menu...

Lynn and I recently experienced possibly the best sushi we have had on Long Island at Mitsui Sushi in Bay Shore on Long Island. The Sashimi Salad was somehow delicate but substantial with the bonus of being pleasing  to the eye.  The Crispy Calamari was delicate in its coating and not chewy like fried calamari can be in some restaurants that overcook this offering.

The staff was good humored and attentive and helped us negotiate the nuances of the restarurants menu.  We rarely venture towards Bay Shore but Chef Eric Mitsui's great touch will definitely make his namesake restaraunt a destination for us in the near future....

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Burgoo, Barbecue and Bourbon is an homage to Kentucky Cusine

 Kentucky Cuisine at its finest is celebrated in Burgoo, Barbecue and Bourbon

University Press of Kentucky continues to celebrate its native culiinary heritage with Burgoo, Barbecue & Bourbon : A Kentucky Culinary Trinity.  This work, a combination of folklore, history, recipes. Burgoo is basically a stew indiginenous to Kentucky  that has historically had a variety of ways in which it is prepared.  Indeed, some of the older Burgoo recipes included squireel, groundhog and wild rabbit.  Burgoo is/was often prepared to feed large crowds or groups such as an Army unit, community gathering or political event.  In general, all Burgoo recipes have meat from "one bird of the air" and one "beast of the field" usually smoked. Traditionally, Burgoo is often paired with other Kentucky culinary and spirit mainstays such as Barbecue and Bourbon.

This work is a celebration of this heritage.  It contains numerous recipes, some historic and legendary such as Dr. Bow Reynolds Recipe which included as some of the ingredients 40 bushels of tomatoes, 40 bushels of potatoes and 1 1/2 tons of beef. This recipe anecdotally could feed up to 10,000 This kind of recipe was typically used at political rallies in Depression era Kentucky when many Kentuckians were out of work as a result of Prohibition and there was not much certainty about where there next meal might come from for many.  There are also updated Burgoo recipes more suitable for viewing parties relating to the Superbowl, Kentucky Derby or Final Four the recipes of which are suitable for 8-10 people.

The book also touches on Kentucky's rich heritage of Bourbon production with a chapter devoted to Bourbon recipes familiar (Old Fashioned) and esoteric (Hot Tom and Jerry).  There are also chapters devoted to Desserts the idea being that the Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon  all work in concert to create "A Kentucky Culinary Trinity" and are some of the foundations for the regional pride Kentucky natives have for their unique food and spirits.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Birth of Bourbon chronicles the narrative of Kentucky's Native Spirit

Bottling Line Split, T. W. Samuels Distillery in Deansville Kentucky. The Split Lines might convey boxes on one side and bottles on the other, allowing for efficient packing and storage. (University Press of Kentucky)

One of the best recent coffee table style books relating to spirits, The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries (Photographs by Carol Peachee) is a hauntingly beautiful tribute to the origins of Bourbon told through the antiquated interiors and exteriors which help tell the story of Kentucky's singular connection with America's native spirit.

The architecture of many of these distilleries is surprisingly ornate and varied; the Old Prentice Distillery was built in the vein of Spanish Mission Architecture and the Old Taylor Distillery Company has arched stone windows and crenelation which gives the structure the grandiosity of a European Castle.

Many of the images, particuarly the interiors show a sense of historic decay.  Somehow, however, the decay has the kind of grandeur of Classical European ruins.  Ms. Peachee does a wonderful job of conveying the narritive, decay and beauty of these structures which helped define, and continue to define, Kentucky's history and heritage.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Small Cakes Patchogue is the perfect after dinner destination in Patchogue, NY

Small Cakes Patchogue is quickly becoming a fixture in the growing dining scene in Patchogue, NY.  Small Cakes specializes in Cupcakes and offers Ice Cream, Coffee and Milkshakes.  Lynn is particularly drawn to the cupcakes with her favorites being red velvet and "birthday cake."  Lynn appreciates the lightness of the baking and the flavor which is sweet but not cloying.  We usually get our order "to go" but the seating area is welcoming and comfortable.  Perfect to meet a friend for a coffee and sweet. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Paries satiisfies sweet cravings since 1895....

Lynn loved these after dinner treats that the baristas would patiently wrap. We brought these back as treats for our friends. .Lynn's favorite was fleur de self with the lauburo image symbolic of Basque unity in San Sebastian.  

M & L

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Mark and Lynn have a quick drink at the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra in San Sebastian

Lynn and I loved the Hotel Maria Cristina during our recent trip to San Sebastian but curiosity compelled us to check out the "other" boutique hotel in San Sebastian the Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra.  We had a couple of Red Vermouth there on the rocks.  Even though it was a warm day it was nowhere near warm enough to hit the beach in full view from the hotel bar....

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bar Roberto impresses with Creative Cocktails, Pinxtos and Hospitality....

Bar Roberto in the heart of San Sebastian is tiny and charming with a warm staff and a great take on the pinxtos (similar to tapas) that are packed with flavor due in no small part to the unusual combinations of spices, garnishes and seafood (particularly savory anchovies and sardines).  We had one of many Maranito cocktails specific to the San Sebastian/Donastia region of Spain.  This drink, a combination of a substantial amount of Vermouth with dashes of Campari, Gin and bitters finished off with Orange Rind and Olives. The Olives and Orange work surprisingly well together and the drink packs a flavorful punch somewhat reminiscent of a Negroni.

Definitely one of our favorite places we visited due to its earthiness and delcious and extremely inexpensive and creative food and drink. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Old Town Coffee in San Sebastian, Spain is a refuge for bleary eyed Mark and Lynn....

Lynn and I just got back from San Sebastian Spain and we are still feeling the impact this region's food culture had upon us.  One of our favorite breakfast places was Old Town Coffee about a 20 minute walk from our Hotel.  Lynn loved her fragrant Latte and my Americano was strong enough to help me shake off at least some of the jet lag from our trip from JFK to Madrid.
We kept things simple for the most part sticking with our drinks and the delicious tostadas topped with next level avocado and juicy Spanish ham (jamon).  The young couple there were attractive and accommodating. We were immensely appreciative of this great, warm venue to reset our selves.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Mark and Lynn discover Bibiop...

Lynn and I discovered this great Asian eatery, Bibibop while away last weekend near Washington, DC.  Bibibop is a Korean dish typically consisting of rice topped with vegetables and some sort of protein.  We were impressed by the variety of choices we had while building our bibibop.  You can mix and match a plethora of toppings like black beans, potatoes, purple rice, red cabbage, spicy chicken and so on.  \
 In essence, you could eat a seemingly endless array of meals at Bibibop; as decadent or as healthy as you can imagine..(see image below)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Dolfin Chocolates are a nice find for Mark and Lynn in the New Year...

Lynn and I found the most excellent chocolate bar at Fairway Market in Plainview (of all places) crafted by a Belgium company called Dolfin.  Lynn took a chance on a chocolate bar of "Poivre rose" (Pink Pepper).  It was amazing with an authentic bite of the pink pepper which melded wonderfully with the out of this world chocolate.  The company makes a wide variety of chocolates so this is on the beginning for us....

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Slurp Ramen Bar in Port Jefferson impresses with its delicious menu and stellar service....

Lynn and I stumbled upon Slurp early last fall in a fairly nondescript building that is part of a small shopping mall in Port Jefferson, NY.  The main attraction here is there extensive Ramen bowl selection which would not necessarily pique our interest as we don't go out of our way to have Ramen (Lynn likes it better than I). However, the menu also has some delicacies that were immediately appealing to Lynn and myself including a Veggie Bun which is a steamed bao bun filled with vegetables done in a Tempura style that melts in the mouth.  I enjoyed the BBQ Tofu which was enlivened by the sweet and savory Japanese BBQ sauce.

The menu also has a great side of Japanese style calamari and Fried Chicken which are both crunchy and flavorful. Lynn has enjoyed the Ramen on more than one occasion, being particularly fond of the "Slurp Classic" which included really nice pork belly.  The staff are a young, charming, attentive and attractive group who are unfailingly competent and polite.  This place is rapidly becoming our favorite lunch venue on Long Island despite it being a 40 minute drive from our house it is well worth the trip...M& L

Friday, January 5, 2018

Upstate Distilling Company makes its mark in Saratoga Springs...

While in Upstate NY over the weekend Lynn and I visited the Upstate Distilling Co. while in Saratoga Springs.  The Distillery, just over a year old is the first Distillery to open in Saratoga Springs since Prohibition. We met UD owner Ryen Van Hall who led us through a tasting of the Distillery's offerings.  Upstate Distilling uses only organic New York sourced ingredients (even their barrels are New York sourced).  We were especially impressed with the rye whiskey, which, as explained by Mr. Van Hall, was a big part of Pre-Prohibition distilling in New York State.

We took home a bottle of "Ryen's Rye" which was the best whiskey we have had.  It was a great tonic to the bitter minus 10 degree weather in Upstate.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Tara Kitchen in Schenectady impresses Mark and Lynn with it's Mrroccan fare....

This past New Year's weekend was a brutal one weather wise Upstate where we visited.  One of the bright spots for us was the experience of dining at Tara Kitchen in Schenectady.  Tara Kitchen serves Moroccan fare which we love but don't indulge in nearly enough.  Owners Aneesa Waheed and Montasim Shoaib have created a place of extraordinary warmth with a dazzling menu full of exotic combinations of flavors.  Lynn and I sampled the Harissa Dip which was a fusion of the heat and savoriness of garlic along with the sweetness of cumin.  So it was with the Harissa Olives and the Lamb with Cauliflower Oranges and Black Olives.  

The service was casual but extremely efficient as our waitress attended to our every query about the food, expertly weighing in about the menu and the subtleties and nuances of the flavors and spices. The heat of the food was a particular tonic to us as the temperature hovered at minus 10 degrees just outside.  Tara's got our highest recommendation which is "If this place was near where we lived we would go there all the time."

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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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