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.

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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!