Saturday, December 28, 2013

bringing back date night (by getting into the spirit of it)

While perusing the most recent issue of LI Pulse on Friday, I came across an interview with David Marzano, bar manager at Pentimento. The topic at hand was cocktails. Based on Mr. Marzano's responses in the article, female intuition told me that Jay Cardinal (ever the old-school martini stalwart with a splash of innovative whismy) would appreciate his sensibilities. In posession of the unique gift of free time on Saturday, we decided to give Pentimento a go and have an early date night.

The winding drive to Historic Stony Brook Villageo was pleasant as ever, and the restaurant was easy to locate. We commandeered a corner at the bar, taking in the tomes of beverage options (even non-alchoholic--- Dandelion and Burdock soda, anyone?). The genius of Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grapelli wafted through the sound system like patron saints of the cocktails of yore, guarding over each stir. DH enjoyed two gin martinis with caperberries (one of which was made by Marzano himself), both of which lived up to the hype (as well as Mr. Cardinal's exacting martini standards). I nursed a balanced, silky Cosmopolitan. We augmented our outing with selections of Formaggi and Salumi from Pentimento's bar menu. The decadent Moliterno Tartufo (a sheep's milk cheese injected with black truffle paste) and beautifully floral Finocchiola salumi were particularly memorable. As wonderful as our light fare and drinks were, it was a special touch the way the bartenders, particularly Mr. Marzano, took the time to chat with Jay Cardinal about cocktails. "You have to let the spirit speak for itself," he said to DH. Indeed, the components of these well-balanced drinks spoke for themselves, and the staff's hospitality did, too.

Pentimento on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 16, 2013

whispers of something new...

Around the Thanksgiving holiday, Smithtown's second winery opened. Aptly named for the town's legendary mascot, Whisper Vineyards is located in St. James. An offshoot of Borella's Farm Stand, there's been no shortage of controversy surrounding the opening of the tasting room. Several weeks ago, we decided to give it a try and see how their wines stacked up.

The tasting room was overflowing with people visibly excited about the novelty of a more westerly winery on Long Island.

Jay Cardinal and I split the Estate and Reserve flights. To be honest, we didn't find the red wines as integrated or complex as originally hoped. That being said, our opinion is just that--- an opinion. In addition to supporting a local bit of agri-tourism, there are other features about the Vineyard which I believe make it worth the trip.

The 2007 Reserve Chardonnay is one of the most unusual that we've had here on the Island. The "orange blossom and honeysuckle" identified in the tasting menu description as spot on--- these aren't mere notes, but pervasive elements. A really curious find for steely chard lovers and converts alike!

Additionally, Whisper's tasting room offers some nice light fare including charcuterie. You can also sample local spirits and some area beers on tap. In this respect, Whisper has an all-things-for-all-people approach (which is nice if your partner or friends prefer other drinks to wine).

sunset, sunrise.

As a child, I recall my grandfather teaching me this little poem:
"Red skies at night, sailors delight; red skies at morning, sailors warning."
We had a number of gorgeous sunrises and sunsets on the island lately. One of them came to my attention at a surprising time. As I left the Smith Haven Mall in full Christmas shopping mode, I heard the voices of two people in the parking lot. Excited, childlike. I turned around and observed the source of their awe...

I probably looked like a crazy person, just standing in the middle of the parking lot taking it all in. in the busyness of the holiday season, it's easy to lose track of what this beautiful time of the year is all about.

On another morning, we were treated to a glorious sunrise over the pond. The haze and fog on the water were so calming. If it wasn't so darn cold, I could've stayed out there forever!

Friday, November 29, 2013

a lot to be thankful for...

It's no secret that Jay Cardinal can cook.

This Thanksgiving, he took on a new challenge...

We all lived to tell the tale, thanks to the fancy temperature and safety controls on this Butterball turkey fryer. The flavor and moistness of the deep fried turkey was absolutely incredible.

I made a turkey too, but I don't think it would taste very good...

It was such a blessing, having family from all around come together. 

Happy Thanksgiving, Long Island!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

it's november?!?!

When did that happen? When did it become November? How is it less than seven weeks 'til Christmas?!?!
I don't have the heart to take in these guys yet... they look so happy doing what they do best...

For the record, Pond House got zero trick-or-treaters (but then, living on a relatively busy throughfare with no sidewalk is not ideal for candy-collecting purposes...)

Halloween was an experiment in "Coastal-Cheap-And-Chic". I dressed up as Rosie the Riveter. Since I already owned a chambray shirt dress, all that had to be bought was some polka-dot fabric from the Centereach Jo-Ann Fabrics for a kerchief. The old circular Westinghouse picture was printed from an online source and pinned on the collar. I don't have a suitable selfie, but at $2.18 the costume was a cost-effective source of amusement at work. XD

This has been a crazy busy season for us (and truthfully the next two months will only be busier) but I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging and making time to write about what I love about on L.I.!

A lot of card stock and a little maple leaf punch go a long way. Turkey Day invites... we're hosting this year. :-)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

blydenburgh county park in the fall.

Mr. Cardinal and I took a little time for ourselves this afternoon and made a visit to Blydenburgh, a Suffolk County park near our home, to chase after the vestiges of fall folliage. The leaves have largely peaked on the Island.

A beautiful sunlit afternoon, clear skies, boisterous birds... while it may feel like fall, it's hard to believe that November is almost upon us!

Friday, October 25, 2013

shinn estate vineyards.

During one afternoon of galavanting about the Noth Fork, Jay Cardinal and I found ourselves in the back roads of Mattituck, winding nothward through areas with remarkable views, one more bucolic than the next. Sure enough one of our winery to do's came into view: Shinn Estate Vineyards, the brainchild of an artist and a chef with a mind on doing things in an ecologically sound way.

Though they were quite busy, there was ample seating in both the patio area as well as the tasting room. We wet up camp in an obliging corner indoors and enjoyed two tasting flights of our own. Below is our interpretation of the wines we experienced at Shinn Estate.

We found the Pear Cider very subtle, not sweet at all, and the 2012 Coalescence a bit young yet.
The Red Blend almost drank like a Pinot Noir and took us back to a carnival with its nose--- all Cracker Jack and popcorn. We didn't know what to pair it with, but it'd be just fine to drink alone. At $17, it was also one of the most affordable values at the vineyard. We found the 2010 Pinot Blanc to be an edgy, fierce little white with a really interesting nose. The 2009 Nine Barrels was lovely, with a spicy, almost pine-yness to it. The cinnamon on the nose of the 2010 Wild Boar Doe caught our attention, while the 2010 Malbec was wonderfully structured. The 2009 Veil Sherry possessed a golden raisin nose - very dry, very toasty, with ---we kid you not!--- a buttered popcorn jelly belly on the finish. All in all, definitely worth the unpremeditated backwoods jaunt!

What's new wineries have you been enjoying these days, Long Islanders?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

search engine users type the darndest things...

Happy Sunday morning, Long Island! Though very busy with work, I'm overdue at checking up on all things great about our fair little bit of New York State.  Upon logging in to blogger today, I noticed some bawdy keywords amongst the searches associated with the blog's visitors. Naturally this has me scratching my head, but then the Internet is a far stranger place than Long Island is. While this was undoubtedly not the "chick" they were looking for, I have been able to scrounge up an apropos photo nonetheless. It was taken on one of our few recent rainy days:

Owning chickens has given us ample time to observe their strange dualities. What creature is as cautious as a hen and yet devoid of common sense? They seem to have no qualms with getting soaking wet in the rain or snow.

Though they may "bawk", in truth chickens are a "hoot".

Thursday, October 10, 2013

i scream for...

...Herrell's! Mr. Cardinal is an ice cream dessert person, while I tend to be more cake-y dessert person (hence the unending supply of cupcake and bakery reviews...) This Huntington Village haunt may have converted me, however, and its evangelist was clearly the Burnt Sugar and Butter Ice Cream with a topping of Penuche Sauce. With a dazzling selection of flavors ranging from predictable to provocative, there's something for every sweet tooth at Herrell's.

Herrell's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 7, 2013

something fishy, in the best possible sense.

As an Eastern Shore of Maryland native, I take a fiendish glee in the per capita density of decent seafood restaurants on Long Island. Here are two whom I have woefully neglected my duties to (but  have very fond memories of... :-)

The Fishery is packed with the whole South Shore kit and caboodle for a reason. This modest East Rockaway restaurant knows seafood like no one's business. If you're successful at negotiating the parking lot, there's a good chance you'll get a table. I highly recommend coming at an off-peak time if you want a little piece and quiet (and a parking spot). We've had great experiences with the shellfish here over the years ---especially the Blue Point Oysters and Littleneck Clams--- and the outdoor seating is a definite perk. So glad to see they've rebuilt since Sandy!

The Fishery on Urbanspoon

Main Catch in Commack was a delightful surprise. We had a very pleasant dining experience there this past summer. The interior of the place was something of a blend between a diner, a fine restaurant, and a fish market. Our waiter was good-natured and proactive. The side dishes were the only underwhelming aspect of our meal; the seafood was where Main Catch really made a name for itself. Blue Point Oysters were excellent and well-shucked; the scallops I ordered were perfectly seared, and the balsamic fig reduction was a subtle but welcome complement.

Main Catch on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 4, 2013

food truck fab, north fork style.

A few weekends ago DH and I took another little weekend trip out to the North Fork. Before it closed for the summer, we were able to partake of the homey freshness that is the Lunch Truck at North Fork Table & Inn. The line was long but moved quickly. Mr. Cardinal selected grown-up grilled cheese, which featured goat and cheddar cheeses with balsamic red onions and arugula on rye bread. I ordered the heirloom tomato and mozzarella on toasted Ciabatta. At $19, this was a real steal of an East End meal for two.

As is the case for the Inn's other culinary offering, the Lunch Truck not only lived up to our expectations but exceeded them. The ingredients were so memorably fresh it was as if they hopped out of the garden and into our mouths. If you come during the summer, the Lunch Truck also has a punchcard system which offers rewards and free meals.
The Lunch Truck on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 21, 2013

coastal cheap & chic #7: the hamptons on $20 or less

It must be five o'clock somewhere...
Well, in fact it almost is for those of us who leave east of the East River. After a few very busy weeks with my wonderfully rewarding, not-very-day-job-esque day job, it's time to get back in the zone.

Pond, courtesy of Town of Smithtown. 
Pumpkin Ale, courtesy of the very helpful folks at Lake Ronkonkoma Beverage Company.
And now, I am equipped to tackle the latest edition of Coastal Cheap & Chic...

I should preface this post by saying my husband and I make frugality a game as much as possible. Presented with a Wednesday to myself a few weeks back, I decided a post-Labor Day trip to the Hamptons was in store. Not only would it be quiet, but I could satiate my window shopping curiosity at a few of those cute places without traumatizing perennial good sport, Mr. Cardinal. Win-win.

My rule was to keep it at $20 for the day, food included. (I went over 40 cents, but then I refuse to tip like Rachel Ray.)

After a lovely, leisurely drive out East, I ended up stopping in Easthampton and working my way back west. 

Stop número uno was Citarella, gourmet foodmart transplant from NYC. As I impractically rifled through the extensive selection of pate and cheese, it occurred to me that 1) I should finally have breakfast and 2) I should bring back something for Mr. Cardinal. For $7, I was able to do just that. I picked up a multigrain, sourdough and dinner roll for later, and a coffee and cinnamon puff muffin for breakfast. The muffin had a dense, moist butteriness and was encased in a generous coating of cinnamon and sugar. The Citarella house blend coffee was pleasantly strong, with a pervasive nuttiness. I sat in their cafe area plotting my day of frugality, while much to my amusement the neighboring coffee drinkers strategized their childrens' positioning for Yale. ;-)

After breakfast (or perhaps what really qualified as brunch)  I made my way around all the area shops of interest. One place in particular piqued my curiosity--- a quirky Christian Celle offering called clic which featured a variety of artisanal homewares, textiles, women's and children's clothing. I scored an adorable eco-friendly bag for eight dollars. 

Heading, west I arrived at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, which on Wednesdays does not charge admission. There I could relish in viewing a very fine collection of Jackson Pollock and his contemporaries, as well as number of artists with whom I was not familiar (Fairfield Porter being a new favorite). The new museum, which borders on Duckwalk Vineyards, is quite industrial and contemporary (and I'm guessing, subject to a certain amount of aesthetic criticism). That being said I think the minimalist quality of the building itself and its organic treatment of diffuse light really served the paintings well. While certainly no art or architecture critic, I was really filled with joy having had the opportunity to experience these works in this particular space.


Afterward, I popped by the museum's little café and treated myself to cold cantaloupe soup infused with thyme (about $4 including tax and tip). It was so lovely to sit on the patio and appreciate the building's expansiveness from the outside as well.

Taking everything in, it felt like a true epitaph to summer on Long Island...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

credit where credit is due.

Today the first round of restaurant reviews are going to the Nesconset Post Office, to be delivered to each location I've featured on Coastal Village Girl. Trying to put more good vibes out into the Long Islandverse and acknowledge these restaurants directly! :-)

I made a business card on white cardstock, template courtesy of Beautiful Dawn Designs. This was a wonderful, free alternative, and the style matches the clean aesthetic I adore. Thanks, Beautiful Dawn Designs, for making this lovely freebie available!

My desk. Yes, if you haven't guessed already, my newest obsession is journaling tags (made for scrapbooking, but I use 'em for journaling.)

Some long overdue reviews on the way, plus a Coastal Cheap and Chic featurette about enjoying the Hamptons on $20 or less! Enjoy this beautiful autumnal weather, L.I.!

Friday, September 6, 2013

for a happy, healthy option, just say cheese ...cake.

The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

When people think of The Cheesecake Factory, what frequently comes to mind are obscenely large portions which will incur a caloric wrath, devastating one for weeks to come.  Happily, I can share with you today that there are a wide breadth of healthy and flavorful options on Cheesecake's menu--- ones that won't break the bank (or your gut.)

Jay Cardinal and I made a trip to our local Lake Grove Cheesecake Factory last week. Located in the open courtyard area of the Smith Haven Mall, the place was hopping even at 9pm when we arrived. Service was prompt and friendly, nonetheless, and we were treated to a very nice meal.

The secret for health conscious consumers is to stick to the Skinnylicilous (tm) menu. The food on this menu is in no way Spartan, and the portions are generous. I ordered the Seared Tuna Tatake Salad, which featured a "Fresh Ahi Lightly Seared and Served Rare with Avocado, Tomato and Mixed Greens Tossed with Wasabi Vinaigrette". The sear was perfect, and there was a nice heat on the crust outlining the Ahi. DH had the Santorini Farro Salad, "A Fresh Light Combination of Farro, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Beets, Red Onion, Feta Cheese and Tzatziki, Tossed with Vinaigrette" and also really enjoyed it, following with the Mexican Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos.

Naturally, I did make some caloric splurges, albeit judicious ones, in the form of an Asian Pear Martini, a tasty drink which fulfilled my monthly girly beverage quota, and a slice of Chocolate Raspberry Truffle cheesecake, which was so rich that I got it to go and savored it over the course of three days. 

Those last details aside, it's entirely possible to be satiated at Cheesecake, whatever your dietary convictions are.

Monday, September 2, 2013

old bethpage village.

Old Bethpage Village had long been on my staycation list. What a delight a few weeks ago when we manage to take a trip out there! After crossing through the visitor center, one felt like they were entering into an entirely different world. eighteenth and nineteenth century historic homes from various areas of Nassau County were relocated here, and in the entire period town (complete with costumed villagers!) awaited us. The "villagers" shared with us history of the homes and the families that originally lived there as well as the lifestyle--- candle and hat making, farming, etc.

Does anyone know why barns are always painted red? Tried asking a former friend from Iowa years ago, and even she didn't know. But they sure look quaint like this!

Beautiful old Protestant church, encased in a lush meadow.

This sprawling garden seemed so inviting. I wanted to go beyond the picket fence but dared not to.

How cute is this pub sign?

Farmland, complete with scarecrow (!)

Look at the smile on this guy...

Don't you want to throw on that hat, grab that basket, and go pick berries?

I loved the simplicity of the furniture and the built-in cabinets.

The General Store. The walls were lined with heavy duty cabinetry, and each cabinet contained a single "department" within the store. A mid-nineteenth century Lord and Taylor...

The  "music department" of the General Store

Until next adventure, Long Island! What fond memories do you have of Old Bethpage Village?