Wednesday, September 26, 2012

fall in love with long island.

...okay, excuse the pun, Coastal Villagers. (Jay Cardinal does so with such grace on a daily basis... ;-) Everything's pretty still at Pond House today as we await the rain. Looking out of the nook, I can see the brush trembling with suspicion, the songbirds landing haphazardly in the overgrowth like circus performers, and one of our bunny friends (the ones who oblige themselves of our sacrificial lettuce in the herb garden) is sitting on the pond-side of the yard, availing himself of whatever goodies he can find. And since I'm dealing with the autumn-allergy-based-sinus-infection-from-you-know-where, today is a great day to enjoy much of it from the inside.

There's something so inspiring and nostalgic about the change of seasons, especially if you live in a four season kind of place. Allergies aside, Autumn is hands down my favorite season: always has been, always will be. On Sunday, DH and I went traipsing around the North Shore, looking at pumpkins, mums, and anything else fall-ish we could lay our eyes on.

Yay for pumpkins. Did you ever put a little one on the corner of your desk at school as a child?
 
Even pricey Long Island has an affordable cuisine du terroir... potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes.
Suffolk County still represents the State of New York as a formidable produce industry.
 
Gourds... they're autumn's answer to summer's Heirloom Tomato.
How can something so ugly be so cute? :)
 
What do you love about Fall on Long Island? I'm looking forward to doing all the happy little things I did as a Jersey Girl, but with a new twist. Cherishing old traditions and joyfully claiming new ones with DH.
 
The old (revisited):
Decorating for Halloween and Thanksgiving (more Hardy Mums from Home Depot than you can shake a stick at)
Listening to my "fall" cds
Enjoying the remarkable folliage (North Shore style)
The Pumpkin Spice latte at Starbucks, and the Shocktop Pumpkin Wheat Ale
 
The new:
Walking along Long Beach (our town beach, not to be confused with the Nassau County town) and marvelling at the shells of horseshoe crabs, rocks and stillness.
Getting Pumpkin Cheesecake cream ice at Ralph's Italian Ices.
Checking out the Westbury Gardens "Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns".
 
What about you?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

autumn happy: restful sunday morning...

Good Morning, Coastal Villagers! I hope this crisp, sunny weather has been as uplifting for you as it has for me--- a happy teaser for the autumn that's right around the corner. As I type from the nook in our kitchen, the pond is sparkling like a gem, and the brush, dewy from an overnight rain, sways as if it's dancing...

Okay, the picture doesn't really do it justice...
 
My dear Jay Cardinal once again AMAZED everyone with his culinary gifts yesterday... we had our parents over and he made a beautiful pork shoulder in the smoker, plus a homemade pizza, grilled lamp lollipops, and an airy crushed macaroon, chambourd-infused berry compote. (It's a good thing I married a man who can seriously cook, because if I was to do it everyone would have ended up with mac n' cheese and something else frightfully burnt. :-)
 
 
So instead I stick to the other home stuff--- interior design, furniture assembly, cleaning, and gardening, the latter which involved ripping out four dead azalea bushes and an army of clover, crab grass and virginia creeper over the past two days. (That's the tradeoff when you're blessed living on the border of a wetlands.)
 
Mums were on sale for $3 each at the Setauket Home Depot, so we have some nice replacements. I also got a few Thuja Green Arborvitae on sale for $15 a pop to add privacy to the back yard. Actually, right now is an excellent time of year to plant, and it's easy to get shrubs on sale at garden stores because they're clearing out the spring merchandise. The only catch is one needs to check carefully to make sure the health of the plant was maintained bwhile it was at the garden center all those months.

 
Fall is hands down my favorite season, so not surprisingly fall''s seasonal flavors also happen to be my favorite. Don't know about you, but I had a hard time getting apple cider in the foodstores near us, so my mom brought some from New Jersey. (Happy Day!) Pumpkin Spice Latte is back at Starbucks, which helps, but the taste of autumn I was the most pleasantly surprised by came from Ralph's Italian Ices.
 
Ralph's Italian Ices is a metro-NY chain with locations all over the island. They're open seasonly, starting around April. What makes these ices so special is they're not just sugar-water flavored ice; they're actually contain the essence of their respective flavors (i.e. there's bits of fruit puree in the fruit ices, and my favourite, bubble gum, actually has pieces of bubble gum in it.) The new flavor for the fall is a Pumpkin Cheesecake, and as you can guess, there are cake crumbles in it.
Ralph's Italian Ices on Urbanspoon
 

On a healthier note, the other thing I love about the chill in the air is it makes for perfect walking season. Walking is a great way to get weight-bearing exercise (important for bone density in women, especially if you're slim). While we don't live in the most walkable hamlet (residential area + inconsistent sidewalks), it's just 1.5 miles to a number of little shops, the post office, Ralph's, etc. It's fun walking back roads to run little errands. Do you enjoy walking? Have a favorite place to walk on LI?

These shoes were made for walkin'... plus they're idiot proof (sans laces ;-)



a trio of nassau county goodness, on urbanspoon.

When DH was SO and lived a stone's throw from Queens, I spent a lot more time in Nassau County. Here's a trio of quick restaurant reviews under "Kay Nuthatch" which I wrote on urbanspoon.com:

Chicken Gryo Delicious, Valley Stream

Waterzooi, Garden City

Toku, Manhassset

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Coastal Village Stars: Best Cleaners

Best Cleaners
409 Lake Ave
Nesconset, NY 11767
(631) 382-9494
 
 
Finding a reliable dry-cleaner is amongst a person's priorities when they re-locate to a new town. When my husband happened upon one close by that was not only reliable but also very reasonably priced and possessing a excellent tailor, we knew we hit a home run.
Shopkeeper Judy is an uplifting personality, eager to give her customers a positive experience.My husband has already had several suits expertly adjusted. A day before our wedding, he needed an emergency adjustment to his vest. Best Cleaners rose to the occasion yet again, and in a pinch, it was fixed, wearable and photo-worthy. The expense associated with the cleaning and preservation of wedding dresses is nothing to balk at, but Best Cleaners offered me a very competitive price.Even with their affordable prices, the quality of the work is consistently very high.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shelter Island




Yesterday Jay Cardinal got the great idea to take one of our spontaneous trips out east, which I love. I hadn't ever been to Shelter Island before. It had that same wonderfully transportive quality that all the beautiful beaches and towns out in Suffolk share, but it was eweven cozier and more rustic than I imagined.

We headed out east before the traffic became nightmarish. (Thirty minutes to wine country in pleasant traffic, closer to two hours in the weekend getaway crunch.) The first bit of adventure was taking the North Ferry. It was an expedient delightful little trip, though DH couldn't find the rhyme or reason to the order of departing vehicles. (He has a strong sense of fairness, rivaling even Judge Judy... :-)



 

We might not have explored thoroughly, but much of the Island seemed residential. Not much of a downtown, though the Heights had some cute little cafes, shops and no shortage of beautiful old houses. Lots of people out biking, swimming, etc. We found some beautiful pull-off areas, though.







On our drive back north to the ferry, I picked up a pricey but refreshing cleanser from the juice bar menu at stars cafe... a very quaint, brightly painted place with a tin roof. I will extol the virtues of juicing in another post, but my laziness was their business.


On the trip back over, we stopped at Blue Canoe Oyster Bar in Greenport (which was conveniently right off the ferry on Third Street.) The breezy decor was right up my alley, as were the oysters and the AMAZING onion ring boat (which was perfect to split but would have been too much of an indulgence in itself). The sushi roll special I had was fair; J's lobster escabeche was clean, refreshing and delightful.
Blue Canoe Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Still heading west, we drove down Love Lane in Mattituck, which in truth is as cute as its name. Though most of the shops were closing for the evening, I insisted on walking around. The Village Cheese Shop was a great find; the staff were friendly and eager to educate customers. We went with a Mahon, a Garrotxa, and possibly the most formidable Roquefort ever (the latter was J's idea...)
Village Cheese Shop North on Urbanspoon

Last on the list was Magic Fountain Ice Cream. I went with the highly complimentary Mint Chip and Mocha Chip, while DH got a little adventuresome with the Red Velvet and the Salted Caramel. Talk about what summer tastes like! It was the perfect end to an entirely unplanned day.
Magic Fountain on Urbanspoon
...And speaking of ending a day, Jay Cardinal has just cut me off from the espresso, which means it's time to say good night, Long Island!

Just an urbanspoonful of reviewing helps the gastronome decide...

You can now read my restaurant reviews on urbanspoon.com. Itadakimasu!