Thursday, August 29, 2013

north fork happy.

Hello there, Long Island! Egads, where has the month of August gone? Heinously overdue with posts, I thought it would be good to start with the little trip we made out to the North Fork with a recent house guest.

Junda's Pastry Crust & Crumb on Urbanspoon

Situated in a quaint old house along Route 25 in Riverhead is a bakery with a rich selection of artisanal offerings. From muffins to hearth breads to the most beautiful lemon meringue I think I may have ever seen in my life, Junda's Pastry Crust & Crumb certainly made our heads spin. One thing looked more tantalizing than the next. The shopkeeper, a quiet, straightforward woman, humored our paralysis analysis. At last, Jay Cardinal and I settled on oversized vanilla cupcakes with a generous topping of frothy lemon buttercream, while our visitor decided upon a black-and-white cookie and some cute shellfish design cookies. Suffice to say, there was no buyer remorse. Our guest shared some of her shellfish cookies, yummy goodness which gave a subtle nod to shortbread. Next time I will be sure to try out the old-fashioned cookies--- The thumbprints and icebox cookies looked divine.

Cuteness in a cookie!

For next trip... ;)

Next on the agenda was a trip to Orient Point State Park. The weather was iffy on Monday, and we mostly had the place to ourselves. That Empire Passport has certainly more than paid for itself by now.

Noah's on Urbanspoon

As we headed west to our main goal of the day (a winery visit), we got a case of the munchies and headed to Greenport in search of a light meal. DH's parking mojo came in handy, for even on a Monday the town was packed. Fortunately for us we were able to get a prompt seating at Noah's, an airy, contemporary restaurant with a flair for small plates and oysters. We split amongst ourselves two orders of goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms, a composition of textural whimsy. The accent of pesto presented an unexpected delight to the main components of the dish. (My only criticism was that two squash blossoms per order seemed a little stingy, given the price point.) We also shared the roasted beet salad, which was excellent. We also introduced our guest to oysters--- a smashing success thanks to the restaurant's high standards for freshness (and shucking). The Pipe's Cove oysters (local to the area) were a commanding, briny presence. We thoroughly enjoyed them, as well as the Beausoleil oysters from New Brunswick. Noah's definitely hit the spot, delighting our palates in fresh, light and seasonal way.

With just enough time to spare for visiting one tasting room, we headed to Croteaux, a hidden-away gem specializing in Rosé. After we passed the cramped entrance room we were welcomed into another world--- a mixture of French countryside and Bohemian bliss with ample seating areas designed for people to mill about or even sit in their own private groups intimately. (I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...)

The tasting (which consisted of six wines) included groups of different varietals, including some remarkable French clones. While not regular consumers of Rosé, we were nonetheless impressed with their beautiful wines. By having all of our tasting glasses poured at once, one could receive a real sensory education through comparison and leave with a deeper appreciation of Rosé. The praise heaped on Croteaux by a friend (another North Fork winemaker) was pitch perfect. You could say we concluded our North Fork trip on a "high note."

What are your favorite restaurants and wineries on the North Fork, Long Islanders? This coastal village girl has a standing invitation for your recommendations... :-)

Monday, August 12, 2013

modern snack bar.

Modern Snack Bar on Urbanspoon

Quotidian bliss is how I would define Modern Snack Bar. Wood-panelling and no-frills mid-century decor pervade the Snack Bar, as does good, old-fashioned hospitality and even better food. No matter what entree you order, I strongly encourage you to have the masked turnips as your vegetable side--- they're a specialty here, not to miss. My company raved about their dishes, which ranged from pork chops to pulled-pork sandwiches to seasonal scallops fresh from the Peconic Bay. I was blessed with a scrumptious trio of soft shell crabs. Modern Snack Bar's homemade pies are memorable, particularly the lemon meringue (which our whole table took home to enjoy), though I warn you, everyone who eats here regularly know that too, so you'd best be proactive in your dessert selection.

Happy day!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

all's well that ends well.

I had never been to Montauk until Tuesday.

It was a place of boyhood significance for my father, who was from another New York island ---the forgotten borough--- where he must have stayed long enough to pick up "uge" and "umid", but short enough to take on the restlessness of the NJ suburb he eventually relocated to. Montauk was part of a summertime treat spent with loving relatives in Flanders, along with fishing in the Great Peconic Bay.

Now it's clear to me why he, or anyone for that matter, treasures this place. On a day as beautiful as this past Tuesday, the open expanses of blue sky and blue water are positively hypnotic.

Montauk Lighthouse


A view from the state park entrance...

...and from atop the lighthouse.

Friday, August 9, 2013

lunch, plain and simple.

Lobster Roll Restaurant on Urbanspoon

From what I am beginning to understand, there are a few things synonymous with Montauk. Surf casting. Lighthouse. And... "Lunch", a.k.a. The Lobster Roll Restaurant. Mr. Cardinal and I popped by the unfussy restaurant a few days ago and partook of the crab cakes and lobster sliders, a miniature of their iconic lobster roll. (I should preface my delight in both of these by saying as an Eastern Shore of Maryland native gulping down crab at an age when contemporary pediatricians would gasp, what I lack in sophistication I make up for in discernment of seafood!) If you haven't been, do yourself a favor. Do your family a favor. Go to "Lunch". You'll quickly see why, despite its fame, this little seafood shack has continued to hold its own unaffectedly since the 1960's.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

sweet somethings...

As a kid growing up in what would be considered the "rural" hinterlands of the metro area, when Tate's Bake Shop cookies came to the fancier IGA I recall them being a big treat. It got pushed to the back of my mind as a potential pilgrimage spot when I moved out here, but on our way out to Montauk earlier today I asked DH if we could stop by.

Judge a book by its cover--- it's no surprise such yummy cookies are made in such a cute place.

Ample outdoor seating for customers who want to linger with their coffee and their treat.

Tate's Bake Shop on Urbanspoon

Tate's Bake Shop certainly lived up to its reputation. As we dodged the other customers and admired the wares, DH settled on a coconut cupcake which met his discerning frosting-to-cupcake ratio. I went with my seasonal obsession (lemon), and we were delighted with each one. Coffee was sublime, and the chocolate chip cookies I fondly remember ---crisp and buttery--- were discovered to be pleasantly unaltered. Whether you're a local honoring your kid's sweet tooth (or your own), or an out-of-towner wondering what all the hype is about, prepare to be delighted by Tate's!

crepe love

Crazy Crepe Cafe on Urbanspoon

Having been running around Smithtown like a chicken with one's head cut off (sorry, girls!) I found myself in need of a quick post-dinner refuel. Lucky for me, Crazy Crepe Cafe on Main Street recently opened. Inside the unassuming little shop I was treated to its divine namesake, which was a crepe composed of Nutella, strawberries and bananas. Coffee was excellent, too--- they serve Hampton Coffee Company here. Service was prompt and friendly.

If at long last you find yourself satiated with the frozen yogurt craze, please give Crazy Crepe a try. (If the company you keep is of a different mind, there are still plenty of options ---smoothies for the cold treat lover and savory crepes for someone who is looking for more of a meal.) They also have another location in Selden.

take a hike.

...or a stroll, in our case. About a week ago, Mr. Cardinal took me to the John P. Humes Japanese stroll garden in Mill Neck. As an enthusiast of Japanese culture, I found it an interesting departure from our usual state park trips. My only regret was that we couldn't go inside tea house, but apparently if you take part in one of their special group tours or traditional music days there is a chance that you may be invited to participate in a tea ceremony. A little pricey for the admission, but if you are looking for something different you can find a vision of Japan right here in Nassau County.

Traditional lanterns greet you throughout the journey

Tea house

A peek inside... No shoes allowed!

Ravenous koi fish

Have you been here or visited the Noguchi Museum in Queens? What was your impression, L.I.?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

restaurant catch-up

Hello Long Island! Who has been catching rays this amazing weather? Yesterday my travels took me to Smithtown's Long Beach. If you saw the crazy woman using the UV tent as a turtle shell (because I  couldn't figure out how to assemble it) ---that was me. It was so worth it inhaling the beautiful salt air and watching the waves lap gently against the shore. Sound beaches are not as popular as ocean beaches among Long Islanders, but I am very happy with our private town beaches.

It's been a time not only for catching rays, but also catching up (hence the delay in posting all the wonderful things about Long Island which DH and I have been enjoying.) We had the pleasure of a family guest who stayed with us last week, and this week I made the delusional choice of re-rolling 14 walls as well as painting several hundred linear feet of floor casing. That being said, Pond House is looking sharp! 

Really happy with the way the dining room is taking shape... (still need to accessorize + get two etagieres from ikea). The chairs, which worked well with the Danish modern table, were found at Home Depot for $69 each. What a deal!

I love this bowl in our living room---picked it up at at the Stony Brook Marshall's-Home Goods for about $15 a month ago.

(You can't see it very clearly but if you look at the top corner of the coffee table, we replaced our old sisal rugs and entryway runner with these cheerful striped rugs from Crate & Barrel, purchased on sale at the Americana. We don't spend a lot of money on rugs--- though shoes are not allowed in our house except for when guests come over, somehow the rugs seem to have a pretty short floor life. Since they are inexpensive, we can update the living room from time to time with these small but dramatic changes.)

Wait--- this wasn't supposed to turn into a Coastal Cheap & Chic entry! Here are some amazing restaurants for you to check out... :-)

Farm Country Kitchen on Urbanspoon
If you're looking for good, simple food prepared well, friendly service and a startlingly beautiful view of the placid Peconic river, look no further than Farm Country Kitchen in Riverhead. The location is not easily visible from the road, but when you step beyond the heavy drape entrance of the unassuming old house, you enter into a world that our houseguest most adroitly dubbed "a little slice of heaven". I highly recommend the outdoor seating on the patio so you can really enjoy the tranquil riverfront beauty. Strictly speaking, their menu is rotational. The salad I had was wonderfully crisp and fresh and featured a crabcake--- very generous for the $8.50 price. My guest enjoyed his salad, too. The watermelon lemonade was so refreshing--- it reminded me of pink lemonade, and the hints of watermelon flavor were very subtle and not overwhelming at all.

Fifth Season on Urbanspoon
After completing the above-mentioned painting, Jay Cardinal really wanted to treat me to a nice dinner locally. We settled on Fifth Season in Port Jefferson, a farm-to-table restaurant with an attractive midweek prix fixe. The restaurant, situated close to the water, provided lovely views and ample peoplewatching. Our waitress was bubbly and extremely well-versed in the menu. While many restaurant prix fixe deals are less than imaginative, Fifth Season's offering was stellar. The roasted beets with baby arugula, smoked blue cheese, pickled red onion and candied walnuts in a golden balsamic made for a noteworthy first course--- the onion beautifully cut the richness of the blue cheese as well as the sweetness of the walnuts. For our entrées, both DH and I went for the oven roasted fluke with sautéed broccoli rabe, hash brown fingerling potatoes, summer herb salad and brown butter caper hollandaise. The fish was perfectly cooked, and once more the a lance of ingredients and cooking techniques spoke for themselves. The bitterness of the broccoli rabe, the textural component of the hash brown fingerling potatoes, and the judicious use of the hollandaise sauce all made this dish rock. For the desert course, DH went with the seasonal gelato while I ordered the flourless chocolate cake with sweet cream and dark chocolate ganache, which was Moist Gravitas On A Plate. Did I mention that everything I ordered was gluten free? For those with health considerations, Fifth Season features a wide range of gluten free options. A stunning repeat restaurant "for shore". ;-)