Friday, October 12, 2018

Mark and Lynn duck into Homecoming in Brooklyn...

Homecoming is a lovely, beautifully curated spot in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.  While it is probably best known for its housewares and clothing there is a nice cafe menu with coffee and tea drinks along with a nice selection of pastries.  The barista served up a bracing espresso that helped us get a much needed second wind during our recent trip to Brooklyn...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Marti Buckley's Basque Country might be the most unique cookbook of the season...

Marti Buckley's Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover's Paradise (Artisan) is a handsome love letter to one of the most unique and underrated food regions in the World.  The Basque Country straddles the Northern Spain border with Southern France and has its own unique cultures, traditions and cusines.  Ms. Buckley' s blog Travel, Cook, Eat was a major source of information and inspiration when we were researching our trip to the Spanish town of San Sebastian whcih we visited in March of this year. 

Basque Country, near San Sebastian located near the Bay of Biscay is blessed with abundance from the sea and it shows in its seafood influenced bar fare such as Pinxtos which are served as small plates of (for example) sardines, anchovies and the like served typically on small slices of bread, often as bar food.  Inland areas of the Basque Country are typically characterized by fresh and cured meats, vegetables, legumes and salted fish. Ms. Buckley breaks these regional differences and variations down with great skill and affection.
The recipes here fun the gamut from soups to steaks to salads.  Many of the recipes have an undeniably rustic quality refective of the region such as Grilled Sardines, Sauteed Gerinka Peppers, and Victoria Style Fava Beans. 

Ms. Buckley includes asides about Basque culture, history and tradition which help put the recipes and the region's uniqueness in context.  She also includes desserts, and highlights some of of the unique drinks of the regions where red vermouth holds sway as the drink of choice.  One of the drink recipes she  features is an unusual combination of Red Wine and Cola which became our go to late Summer go to beverage.

Ms. Buckley's work counts as one of, if not the most unique Cookbooks of the season and is handsome enough to moonlight as a coffee table book...M&L

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Table in Venice is a love letter to the charms of Venetian Comfort Food...

Skye McAlpine's superb cookbook A Table in Venice: Recipes from My Home (Clarkson Potter) is a love letter to Venetian food and a romantic ode to the pleasures of cooking at home.  Ms. McAlpine has lived in Venice since she was six and weaves her own narrative around the recipes in this cookbook.  Her modest and sweet approach to the material makes this a particularly charming work.  She revisits old staples like Clams in White Wine Sauce as well as more exotic fare such as Poached Langoustines with Saffron Mayonnaise. Ms. McAlpine's work here is a sensual delight with wonderful recipes and one Instagram worthy shot after another. She is definitely a food writer to watch.

Fig And Mascarpone Cake (Torta Di Mascarpone E Fichi)

Serves 8 to 10
The bounty of figs is possibly one of the things I love most about late summer in Venice. We have a fig tree in our garden, and it bears more fruit than we can possibly eat—or so you’d think. We always seem to find a way of finishing them off.
Nothing quite compares to this cake in the heat of summer. While you can make it out of season with dried figs, it doesn’t quite hold the same magic as when laced with luscious fresh fruit; nevertheless, the dried variety produces a pretty fine substitute on a cold winter’s day. Use 12 to 14 dried figs, cut away the tough stems, toss them in a small sauce-pan, and cover with a little over 1⁄2 cup (130ml) milk. Simmer gently on medium to low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the figs have softened, then let steep in the milk for a further 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the milk and quarter the figs before adding to the batter as you would the fresh fruit.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 9-inch (23cm) cake pan, preferably springform, with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone, granulated sugar, and eggs until you have a smooth, thick cream. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined. Gently stir in the quartered figs. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until lightly golden on top and a knife or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. When you press down on the top of the cake, it should spring back nicely. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan before taking it out to cool. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar and cut into slices to serve.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Brooklyn Barge in Greenpoint impresses with a great setting and summer fare...

Lynn had wanted to go to the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.  During some basic Google searches she found out about The Brooklyn Barge a restaurant and bar situated on a floating barge tethered to the waterfront of the East River.  The Barge offers nice food truck fare; Lynn had a grilled hot dog with tomatilo relish and I had a selection of tacos with vegan chorizo.  The bar had a stronger than usual selection of wines and beer focusing mostly on local offerings.
Despite the first rate food and drink the ambiance was really the draw here.  Really great energy; great setting watching the boats and planes pass by on that warm, late Summer day...

M& L

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mark and Lynn experience the Heat of Angry Goast Pepper Company...

Lynn brought back a bounty from Vermont including Angry Goat Pepper Company's Smoke Maple Habanero Mustard. This Mustard, one of many offerings from the Angry Goat Pepper Company is an unheard of combination of sweet and heat that tastes like no other mustard we have ever had.  The company has a myriad of other products sweet, savory and everything in between. We have gone through this jar quickly but fortunately Angry Goat's website offers products online...M&L

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Lynn discovers Vermont's Stonecutter Spirits...

Lynn had recently visited Vermont with friends on a knitting retreat.  She was constantly impressed with the food and spirit scene at the Dorset Farmer's Market. Among the offerings she found there was Stonecutter Spirits Heritage Cask Whiskey. This Whiskey, aged in former bourbon and cabarnet barrels for a minimum of 4 years, the Heritage Whiskey had a distinctly smooth finish with hints of spice and oak.  We have enjoyed drinking it "neat" but the Stonecutter site lists several cocktail suggestions. The spirit is only available in Vermont and Massachusetts at present so we are treating this bottle as a "special occassion" spirit until we can get back to Vermont. 

Duke's Liquor Box In Brooklyn impresses with curated spirits...

Lynn and I visited the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn are were fairly overwhelmed by the great tastes, colorful characters and to use an overused word "hipster" culture embedded there. One of the places we visited was Duke's Liquor Box which is a beautifully curated, bespoke liquor store.  The manager there was really helpful and knowledgeable about the exotica in the shop.

We took home a savory  Fernet which we have enjoyed very much. We will definitely be back...

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Mark and Lynn duck into the charming Five Leaves in Greenpoint...

On our recent trip to the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn Lynn and I had the opportunity to visit some of the eateries that we had long wanted to visit one of which was Five Leaves. The restaraunt, in part the brainchild of the late, great Heath Ledger had a breezy, bistro vibe and hip looking servers and bartenders.  Even though we were there at an in between time arund 3 the place was jumping.  The staff handled the rush with pose and finesse.  Lynn and i had a couple of drinks and tried the Charred Shishitos and the "Devils on Horseback" which was bacon wrapped medjool dates with habenero vincotto and almonds.

The drinks were crisp and savory on a hot August day and the food was the perfect bar snacks.  Our short stop here help us get our second wind and push through the rest of our day trip.  The menu had a number of itmes that we were tempted by such as the Tuna Bahn Mi, Charred Fennel and Grilled Okra.

M & L

Green Street Food Truck brings vegan yumminess to Long Island....

I had read about the Green Street Food Truck on Facebook which is (at present) Long Island's only "plant based/gluten free food truck."  Lynn and I were lucky enough to catch them at Just Breathe Yoga recently where I had the "tuna bowl" consisting of (among other things) spinach and chickpea tuna while Lynn had the Thai  Bowl with Raw Zucchini noodles, grilled tofu and peanut sauce.
The food was great and Owner Matt Korsky and his co-worker Alissa Logue were charming and personable.  Safe to say we will continue to patronize the exceptional fare of GSFT as much as possible....
M& L

Monday, September 10, 2018

Noah's On the Road helps cap Summer 2018,,,

As is often the case, Summer got off to a late start this year with the weather chilly well into the season.  We managed to pack a lot of our Summer "Bucket List" into what felt like a couple of weekends.  One thing we checked off of our "list" was to get to Noah's food truck out of Greenport's Restaurant of the same name.  We had a delicious fish taco paired with a beer from Greenport Brewing and are looking forward to visiting the food truck when we are not trying to cram Summer into a weekend...

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Sag Pizza makes a splashy debut in Sag Harbor....

We had been excited about the opening of Sag Pizza for several months mainly because it is owned by the owners of LT Burger which we have consistently enjoyed over the past few years.  The space, occuppied for decades by the beloved Pizza Parlor Conca D'Oro has been transformed into a sleek yet warm high end pizza parlor.
We went on a busy August weekend recently and though the restaraunt was crowded and bustling it had a relaxed feel with families taking a break from the heat mostly dining on some of the imaginative fare, mainly the wood fired pizza.  Lynn had the yummy Vingole pizza with clams, garlic scallion butter, guanciale, oregano and lemon.  I had the Montauk Tuna Crudo which fairly melted in the mouth.  Sag Pizza had a nice selection of wines, many of them local such as the Wolfer Rose which was a blessed remedy from the dog day heat of the noon sun.
The vibe was full on Summer with a sexy, near ceiling height poster of Sophia Loren in her movie star prime lounging on a beach in a black one piece.  Our waiter had a charming and comically appropriate Italian accent.  The section we sat in was comfortable but the seating was tight.  In spite of this, diners were friendly and relaxed and the vibe was unhurried. Definitely looking forward to many a return visit to try the other appetizing fare such as the Farmer's Pizza (with shishito pepper among other items) as well as the Medditeranean Octopus and Chopped "Arthur Ave" salad with salami, olive, filone, pepperoncini and gem lettuce...

Friday, August 31, 2018

Peconic Gold Oysters are the "Gold" starndard for Long Island Oysters...

Lynn and I first experienced Peconic Gold Oysters arouund the holidays last year as we have tried to perpetuate the family tradition started by my Dad where we have Oysters on Christmas Day.  Lynn had read about Peconic Gold Oysters (AKA Ketchams Seafood Farms) in a publication from the North Fork of Long Island.  Ketcham's is a boutique Oyster Farm situated in the Great Peconic Bay on Long Island.  Owner Matt Ketcham distinguishes the company with sustainable practices meant to be environmentally responsible and friendly.

Very recently we were able to revisit the Peconic Golds at Jamesport Farm Brewery and the Oysters were as plump, briny and decadent as we remembered and they were particularly refreshing on a hot Long Island Summer Day...

M & L

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Copper Beech in Bellport, Long Island has the perfect Summer Sandwich...

Copper Beech, Designer Thomas O'Brien's outpost in Bellport, New York has a nicely curated food takeout counter in the back of the store.  Lynn has fallen in love with the Turkey Salad on a baquette dreamt up by her).  The Sandwich features in house roast turkey, green grapes, apple, celery, fenniel and grainy French mustard as well as farm lettuce and tomato.  A great concoction for the beach, backyard pool or picnic...

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2 Cousins Fish Market in Freeport, Long Island is a seafood lover's treat....

Located about 45 minutes West from our Brookhaven home, 2 Cousins Fish Market in Freeport, NY is a wonder for the Seafood Lover for sure.  Teaming with fish familiar and exotic as well as shellfish, 2 Cousins has great quality and the seafood could not be fresher.  The fish are sold in steaks or you can buy a whole fish and have it filleted in whatever fashion you might like.  Lynn and I got Wild Caught Salmon and Wild Mackerel recently and got a weeks worth of dinners.  We love the place, just wish it was a little closer....

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Greenport Jerky raises the Jerky bar on Long Island....

Time was beef jerky was a kind of throwaway food; something you might get in a convenience store or gas station; an afterthought.  Much more recently Beef Jerky has gone the Artisinal route with carefully crafted, locally sourced, responsibly made beef jerky.  A great, local (to us) example of this is the Greenport Jerky Company out of Greenport, NY on Long Island.  We found them at the Hallockville Museum in Riverhead where they were selling their product on an August weekend.  We got the Whisky Beef Jerky which tasted like you would imagine; peppery and sweet with a nice finish.  We look forward to trying the many other offerings including Black Pepper and Sea Salt as well as the Gluten Free Jerky.

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....

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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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