Saturday, January 26, 2013

mall time for grown-ups.

Huntington Station's Walt Whitman Mall is a perfect foil to the mall rat zoo-ish-ness of Roosevelt Field (and even, Smith Haven).  Featuring more of the high-end department stores and fewer chain store units, it tends to attract an older crowd. Other than the fact Walt Whitman possesses a Lord & Taylor (my all-time favorite and technically New York's oldest department store), it also scores points for having a Legal Sea Foods.

Legal Sea Foods - Huntington on Urbanspoon

Legal's is a small scale chain with a wide spread reputation for excellent seafood. Jay Cardinal and I enjoy partaking of their Naked Cowboy Oysters (which, peculiar name aside, are the briny-est of the briny). The lobster bisque is a time-honored favourite here, and the wood-grilled fish never disappoints. It's also a fun place to take a gal-pal for a smart cocktail and a smaller plate after an afternoon of shopping.

romancing new york: crazy commuting + restaurant reminiscing

Today I had off from work (though it wasn't "off" strictly speaking, because in its place I had a different professional obligation which took me to Central Jersey, strangely enough). That meant a drive on my least favourite road of all time, the Gowanus/BQE, and also one of my most favourite roads, the Gowanus/BQE. Let me explain. I don't have a "normal" career which entails the pressures most commuters deal with day in and day out, however it does require a considerable amount of driving resilience, which is one of the few (if only) virtues I possess in heaps. So while it doesn't take an oracle to figure out what's going on when the words "Gowanus-BQE-combination" appear in the 1010WINS traffic report, out of the corner of my eye I try to enjoy the billion-dollar views one might catch as one moves at a snail's pace. (DISCLAIMER: Appreciation of the inter-borough scenery is done with peripheral vision only--- driver's eyes and focus remain on the road ahead at all times!)

Taken by my obliging (and lucky!) carpool buddy

Let's face it--- in the drudge of commuting, there are some pretty remarkable things going on. Hello the choreography of urban sillouttes: Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges playfully making a backdrop, the splendor of Lower Manhattan glistening, dillapidated and revitalized rowhouses alike (so picturesque and feeling so close that you might put your hand out of the passenger seat window and be able to touch them!), formidable midcentury co-op cities which gaze upon the landscape like stalwart centurions, luxury high rises and low rises with immaculately pergola-ed patios overlooking what feels like the entire world, muraled street art and graffiti and boundaries between the two which are flirted with and at times unclear, and last but not least ad board after ad board, encouraging the soon-to-be-Park-Slope set to start families and have their every moving need fulfilled, curious and probably non-religious quotes involving telephoning God ("because we're busy"), and recruitment posters for the NYPD. This is New York City... and yet it's Long Island, too. Even though there is both a municipal and psychological distinction which relegates Kings to NYC, Brooklyn is geographically on the same soil as we are.

North Fork Table & Inn on Urbanspoon

Changing gears regarding this funny little island I am so enamored with--- let's move from urban blight and delight to charming, rustic Southold. I was going through some old odds and ends and stumbled upon a tasting menu from a restaurant we went to out East almost two years ago. This establishment and its reputation remain, which is why it is a pleasure to post a glowing review of the North Fork Table & Inn.

The subtitle of their business card says "American Cuisine & Comfort," and our experience at the North Fork Table & Inn was just that--- innovative, seasonal cuisine set in the backdrop of a farm-house's soothing, wabi-sabi yet updated complexion. The waitstaff contributed to the calm with their gracious manners and knowledge of the chef's preparation. Our five-course tasting menu at the time included two truly remarkable dishes: a Raw Hamachi and Seared Hudson Valley Fois Gras with Glazen Daikon, Radish Syrup and Micro Red Mustard Greens, as well as a Pan Roasted Squab with Ramps, Baby Carrots, Assorted Mushrooms, Beluga Lentils and Bacon Jus. In short, the best of the region was elevated in the hands of NF's chef. (On the lighter side, they also have a "snack truck" which has piqued my interest...)

...and now, I wait with bated breath for Jay Cardinal's first souffle (thanks to the girls in the hen house out back!) :-)

Friday, January 18, 2013

tate's review.

It's a quiet night here at Pond House, aside from the random maniacal duck quacks. DH is working, and so I've actually had to take care of my own meal. (HA!) While I can't cook, I can make one of my favourite meals (okay, anyone can)--- a baby arugula salad with goat cheese, mixed nuts and golden raisins in balsamic. And just before you thought this meal couldn't be more obnoxiously healthy, ordinarily I'd enjoy about 2 oz. pour of whatever fabulous burgundy, &tc., Jay Cardinal had lying around from the weekend. Since nothing was open, however, I poked around the wine cellar and found ...something... red. Ooookay, we shall leave it at that, Long Islanders. After nosing it, I quickly realized the only place it belonged was in the recycling bin . There was also a nicely chilled, super polite mass-market North Coast Chard. (Can you tell I won't open something nice if it's just me consuming it?) Turned out not to be as cloying as I thought, fortunately. Okay, down to business, because a) I don't want to bore you to death with wine drama and b) I want to fill you in on a wonderful local restaurant we discovered recently.

Tate's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tate's is a fantastic and surprising little place in Nesconset. A few weeks back, we stopped in for a dinner. They are billed as a "family run" restaurant, and the service bespeaks that. The staff couldn't have been lovelier or more attentive. The ingredients are extremely fresh and seasonal, so the menu (which has an Italian lean) changes regularly. The parmesan bread is exceptional. They also have a very reasonable prix fixe. DH had the roasted beet salad and the pork osso buoco, while I had the warm sweet potato salad and duck in blueberry brandy sauce. We were thoroughly impressed with our meals. A few notes--- they're cash only, and if you'd like to bring your own wine, please remember there is a corkage fee.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

happy new year, long island!

Wow. It's hard to believe it's already 2013. (I'll probably spend the next three months dating things 2012...) Life in the new year has been good so far at Pond House. January 4th brought the first eggs from our chickens. Jay Cardinal and I are so proud! (We always knew that this day would come, but there's something really miraculous about it actually happening in our backyard.) The chickens started out as a bit of country fun. Now that they're laying eggs, there's something really awe-inspiring about the what they offer us. We both make an effort to thank them now whenever we go in the coop. :-)

New Year's Eve was spent enjoying another fine meal at Zar Cafe.( This has long meant to be a repeat on our restaurant itinerary.) The food was just as wonderful as I remember it from the summer! The Tanoori Root appetizer was earthy and profound; the use of tarragon, delightful. DH had the Booranie Spinach appetizer, which was equally amazing. I had the Zar House kabob for dinner which was perfectly medium rare (as I had asked.) Can't recall what Jay had, except that he really enjoyed it. Our waiter was well-versed in the menu and attentive, and the atmosphere was pleasant and quiet. Anyone who hasn't been here yet is quite simply missing out.

ZAR Cafe on Urbanspoon 

January 2nd found me at the Smith Haven Mall at the crack of dawn, enamored with a slick marketing campaign in which the first fifty people on line outside of the new Gilly Hicks store received a complimentary tote they could stuff with ten items of their choosing for free. (Figured since I'm minutes from the Mall, it wasn't a big sacrifice if I got there at the crack of dawn and for some reason it didn't work out.) I arrived at 7am (when the mall opens for walkers) and had no trouble getting a spot. Suffice to say, when the shop itself opened at 10am. I went straight for the big-ticket items--- sweaters and the like. It was a lovely promotion, well-organized by the mall security and the local GH, and honestly the people on line were extremely courteous and ladylike with one another. (So perhaps this post should be subtitled "Coastal Chic & Free" or "In Which Dreadful Stereotypes About New Yorkers Being Rude Must Abate"...)

It's like Christmas all over again...

They, like most retail chains are currently offering excellent promotions, dubbed their "semi-annual" sales. If you need (or simply enjoy) clothes and can't rationalize spending a lot of money on them, now is arguably one of the best times of the year in terms of savings.  It is not unusual to find things for 60-90% off the original retail price. (For example, in a recent outing with a girlfriend to the Walt Whitman Mall, we spotted Isaac Mizrahi flats for $25 at Bloomingdale's.)

So enough of New Year's Resolutions! How do you "treat" yourself this time of year, Long Islanders? Anything fun, cheap or simple you enjoy doing to combat the post-holiday and winter ennui?