Friday, December 13, 2019

Bird & Bao makes a splash in Patchogue, NY

Bird & Bao in Patchogue has recently opened on North Ocean Avenue and it is rapidly becoming our favorite local restaurant.  B & B has a small, well curated menu mostly revolving around Bao's which are sweet and pillowy buns that are filled with Chicken, Pork Belly, or Tofu.  The eatery also has "Bites" such Popcorn Chicken, and a Crunchy Herb Slaw which is a great and crunchy side dish.

The interior is hip with sleek surfaces, great lighting and a striking black and white color scheme.  Really looking forward to frequenting this place and to see how it evolves.  M&L

Friday, October 4, 2019

Notes from Stony Brook Southampton's 5th Annual Food Lab....

The Fifth Annual Food Lab Conference at Stony Brook Southampton was a whirlwind weekend celebration of, among other things, the local bounty of Long Island food and drink.  The Opening reception was a showcase of local fare such as Radish Slices with Beet Jalapeno Hummus (Amber Waves Farm and Foster Farm); Goat Cheese and Radish Poppers (Goodale Farms and Foster Farm); Ceviche Shooters with Local Bay Scallops (Amber Waves Farms, Deer Run Farms, Cor-J Seafood, Gosman's Dock); Tuna Tartare over Crispy Sesame Rice (Amber Waves Farm and Gosman's Dock). Every offering was better than the last and we particularly loved the cruchy Tuna Tartare offering and the briny Ceviche Shooters. All amazing with a well orchestrated group of charming, attractive servers. 

Friday evening featured a conversation with Patty Gentry the owner and chef at Early Girl Farm in Bellport in conversation with Dorothy Kalins, the founding editor of Saveur Magazine.  The conversation featured a screening of footage from a documentary award winning filmmaker Roger Sherman is working on about Patty and her life as a farmer. Ms. Gentry was a warm and engaging presence with a folksy way about her.  The work in progress film showcased the difficulties and joys of farming and Ms.Gentry's near poetic approach to farming in which she compares her tomatoes to Sophia Loren and talks to her vegetables to encourage their growth.

Lidia Bastianich
The Keynote was The Power of Local: Taste the Terroir which featured a conversation with journalist Adam Gopnik and beloved Chef and food personality Lidia Bastianich.  Ms. Bastianich's warm and engaging personality quickly won over the crowd.  Despite the title of the keynote the conversation roamed far and wide with some of the most interesting points revolving around her uniquely Italian upbringing under a Communist regime and migration to the United States at the age of 12.  One of the themes of the conversation centered on how travel and particularly migration affect cuisine and people's approach to cooking. 

"In my early life I became fascinated how people related to food and how it was part of who they are," Ms. Bastianich observed. "Food is part of their roots and I noticed how hard they (immigrants) try to make it what they remember from Italy. So, Italian American cuisine is a valiant cuisine and reflects new circumstance in the United States such as the abundance of meat which was rarely available or used in Italy."

Roman Roth and Mark Rhodes
Other panels covered Long Island Wines with local luminaries such as Roman Roth Winemaker at Wolffer Estate Vineyard.  Mr. Roth emphasized that environmental factors on Long Island such as the ocean, quality of the sunlight and soil allow for wines which he characterized as "the most food friendly in America."

Lynn checking out the Hemp
The panel on Hemp Farming closed out the Food Lab programming and it was a crowd pleaser.  David Falkowski, owner of Open Minded Organics Apothecary in Sag Harbor walked in with huge stalks of Hemp which filled the auditorium with the pungent aroma of the plant by way of introduction.  Mr. Falkowski covered a wide range of topics including the benefits of CBD, misconceptions associated with the use of CBD and the potential future of CBD in New York state.

All in all, the 5th Food Lab left us with a feeling near euphoria having been able to eat and drink in abundance the best of Long Island food and wine and an appreciation of the variety of the same.  The event was blessedly free of party politics and the genial atmosphere was palpable. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Mark and Lynn love The Shed....

Lynn and I had not been in Huntington on Long Island in a while but the discovery of The Shed restaurant helped reaquaint us with the busy community.  Everything about the place was tremendous starting with the food of course.  I had a blackened fish sandwich (without the bread) with avocado and aoli.  Lynn had a Smoke Burger with Applewood back and smoked tomato jam.  Both deliscous with interesting twist (such as the smoked tomato jam).
The servers and staff were hip and attractive as well as being extremely competent.  The interior was a delight with a well curated bar and great visual touches to complement the food and drink.
We will definitey be back....
M& L

Friday, August 23, 2019

Mark and Lynn finally make it to Noah's on Long Island's North Fork...

Lynn and I had passed Noah's on many occasions during our trips through Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island and it had long been on our "list" to dine there for several years.  Finally, craving seafood (particularly Lobster Roll) and a need to get out of town we at last dined at Noah's
The food was amazing and possibly the best seafood we have had on Long Island (certainly the best we have had in a long while).  The Lobster Roll was sublime with a generous portion of lobster and not overwhelmed by the Brioche roll or mayonnaise as many lobster rolls on the East End can be.

We also had Grilled Mediterraneean Sardines that reminded us of the Pinxtos in San Sebastian, Spain.  Lynn's Local Seafood Frito Misto was a beautiful combination of Calamari, Scallops, Oysters, and Shrimp.  Our appetizer of goat cheese stuffed zucnini blossoms was an introductory treat to let us know of the excellence that lay ahead. We are definitely looking forward to a return...

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen chronicles the history and deliciousness of Native American cuisine...

Chef Sean Sherman's Cookbook The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen is one of the most unique culinary works of recent years.  Chef Sherman, who is of  a member of the Ogala Lakota tribe, focuses on utilizing indigenous ingredients as the core of these recipes. European staples such as wheat flour, dairy and sugar  are avoided in favor of duck, quail, wild turkey  and wildflowers. Some of his ingredients are familiar (Mustard Greens) others less so or not thought of typically as food (Dandelion, Knotweed and Mallow). Despite the somewhat esoteric nature of the material the recipes are easy to follow and require the basics with regard to kitchen tools.  The recipes found here are distinct such as Bison Tartare, Smoked Turkey and Acorn Soup, Griddled Maple Squash, and Sage and Rose-Hip Roasted Duck as well as Wild Rice Pilaf With Wild Mushrooms. In a crowded cookbook field it sometimes difficult to find something genuinely new and innovative even as it is ancient.  Chef Sherman's work here (which won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Book Award) is both eye opening and educational as he is preserving a way of cooking and even a way of life that he has shared with the public.

Photo credit Mette Nielsen

Wild Rice Pilaf with Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Chestnuts, and Dried Cranberries
Psíŋ na Čȟaŋnákpa na Úma Cȟeúŋpapi na Watȟókeča T’áǧa
Serves 4 to 6

Wild rice is a flavorful and remarkably satisfying food. The mushrooms add a dark, meaty flavor and texture, while the chestnuts are creamy (and high in protein). This meatless dish will appeal to omnivore and vegetarian alike. Cooked wild rice will keep several weeks in the refrigerator and for at least a year when frozen in a plastic freezer bag.

2 tablespoons sunflower or walnut oil
1 pound assorted mushrooms, cleaned
1 tablespoon chopped sage
½ cup chopped wild onion or shallots
½ cup Corn Stock or vegetable stock
2 cups cooked wild rice
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup roasted, peeled, chopped chestnuts*
1 tablespoon maple syrup to taste
½ to 1 teaspoon smoked salt to taste

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms, sage, and onion. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are nicely browned and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, wild rice, and cranberries and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Stir in the roasted chestnuts. Season with maple syrup and smoked salt to taste.

*To roast and peel chestnuts, use the sharp point of a small knife to score an X on the flat side of the chestnut and place on a baking sheet. Roast in a 350°F oven until the skins begin to peel back. The length of roasting time will depend on the freshness and size of the chestnuts and range from about 10 to 25 minutes. Remove, and when cool enough to handle, peel.

From The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley (University of Minnesota Press, 2017)
Copyright 2017 Ghost Dancer, LLC. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the University of Minnesota Press.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Matchbox in Maryland impresses with its atmosphere and offerings...

Lynn and I were out and around Washington, DC this past weekend and as usual we were intrigued to try some new eateries.  One of them, Matchbox is part of a local chain in and around DC. We went to the one in Rockville, Maryland where we had the mini-burgers, fried calamari and an exceptional house red wine from the Steele Winery in Lake County, California.  The interiors and exteriors were sleek and the outdoor seating was particularly pleasant on an early Summer afternoon.  The menu offerings were mostly basic fare (Burgers, Chicken, Filet Mingon(, but nicely prepared and plentiful in their portions.  The Wood Fired Pizza is the star performer here, however, with several interesting combinations including pork belly, jumbo lump crab and lobster sauce.  A nice atmosphere, helpful wait staff and a relaxed vibe raise Matchbox well above the usual cookie cutter chain restaurant.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Local Burger in Patchogue impresses with a diverse burger menu....

Local Burger in Patchogue (there is also a location in Bay Shore) is a real breath of fresh air in the rapidly expanding restaraunt scene in Patchogue.  The core of the menu is of course, burgers but somehow this does not limit the menu as their are a variety of combinations that can be created as there are a number of "sides" that can be added to the burger including sriracha aoli, fried egg, dill picle chips, maple mayo and even peanut butter.  They also offer Quinoa Burgers, Brisket Sandwiches, Gluten Free Buns as well as a variety of Hot Dogs and  fries.

One thing that elevates Local Burger is the excellent spirit and wine selection.  There "Local Manhattan" with Taconic Rye, Carpano Antica, bitters and black cherry splash is one of the best cocktails I have had on Long Island.  The restaurant also has the best Long Island red wine I have ever had from the Pumphouse Winery in Mattituck.  

The interior is cheerful with clever touches (the red neon cow most notably).  The crew is cheerful and efficient and there is a good happy hour.  Local Burger is fast becoming one of our favorites...


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Pork Clouds raise the bar for the humble pork rind....

My Achilles heel with regard to food is standard issue potato chips.  Lays, Doritos, nothing fancy or particularly healthy but salty and delcious.  Fortunately, Lynn and I stumbled upon Pork Clouds a company that has striven to elevated the humble pork rind to a state of artisinal  excellence.  We had the Malabar Black Pepper which satisfied our salt craving while being "Paleo" and free of carbs and sugar that pesky chips are typically packed with. 
The company makes a variety of other Pork Rinds including offerings flavored with Rosemary and Sea Salt; Garlic Thyme.  The company also makes "Pork Panko" which is a carb free alternative to traditional bread crumbs.  Definitely looking forward to trying the companies full range of products...

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Subtle Tea on Long Island makes an impression with Craft Brewed and Organic offerings....

Lynn and I stumbled upon a great Long Island product and company called The Subtle Tea Company out of nearby (to us) Centereach, New York. The teas are craft brewed and organic with the best tasting zero calorie tea Lynn and I have ever had. The company seems to be getting good distribution around Long Island (we just spotted it at the Jamesport Brewery).  Lynn and I look forward to seeing this company grow on Long Island and are always glad to have the chance to be supportive to local products.
M& L

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Spirit of the 90's is alive at Coffee Labs Roasters in Tarrytown...

 Lynn and I went to Tarrytown this weekend and were charmed by the Downtown there with its interestingly curated stores, interesting restaraunts and for me a couple of Coffee Shops that transported me back to my college days and early post collegiate life where I would spend large segments of my days and nights in the then novel notion of a "Coffee Bar."  I don't spend any real time at Coffee shops anymore being married and busy with work and life of course. 

So, it was fun to get a inky black shot of espresso from Coffee Labs.  We just made a pit stop there but it was fun to soak in that 90's vibe on a crisp April afternoon.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Pik Nik in Tarrytown makes a mostly good impression on M & L

Lynn and I went into Tarrytown, NY over the weekend and found Pik Nik a Barbeque-centric restaraunt the food of which we enjoyed immensely.  We ordered tacos and were rewarded with three hefty and flavorful  offerings stuffed with delicious pulled pork. Other diners around us ordered brisket and chicken and the portions were epic. 

The interior was slightly hipster with an eclectic array of found objects, posters, and vinyl. On the minus side, some of the staff were visibly and inexplicably cranky on a beautiful April day. This cut against the cheerful interior and laid back vibe a bit.

 Nonetheless, Pik Nik was a satisfying experience with memorable food on a beautiful Westchester afternoon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Patchogue Beer Project is a great, new venue for Long Island Beer Lovers...

The Patchogue Beer Project has just opened and it looks to be one of the more sophisticated breweries on Long Island as the operation employs no kegs and the entire brewing process is visible to patrons.  Beyond this, the brewery has great branding with a proud Native American warrior as their symbol.  And the beer had something for every taste from the heft of the Hazlenut Stout to the pop of the "EZ Swezey" IPA.  There are also wine offerings from Bridge Lane Winery as well as Ciders for those who are not into beer but want to experience the brewery.
There are retro video games and a partnership with adjoining Local Burger where you can order food from this popular eatery which delivered to your table.  This is a particularly appealing notion as many of the breweries we visit have inconsistent (or nearly nonexistent) food.
 With many of the major breweries on Long Island located on the North Fork it is great to have an addition so close to our Brookhaven home.

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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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