Monday, November 24, 2014

montauk point + candied anchor.

Just another Manic Monday...

Who's with me that this weather is crazy? Almost 70 degrees here in Town of Smithtown... really, Mother Nature?! 

(I'm starting to think this cutie pie never showed up, announcing the cold weather I thought we'd be doomed to til April...)

In contrast, remember what a blustery day Friday was? For some reason, I woke up feeling compelled to drive to Montauk...

... and so I did.

Even though this bench seems peacefully lonely, it was actually gusting like crazy. (In fact, it was so windy I could barely open my car door!)

Something about the ashen color of the brush against the jewel-like water seemed particularily striking.

Sea, sky and brush went on forever... Very few places have such a hallowing effect on me as Montauk does.

Town was prett quiet, too. A few things caught my eye...

The adorable little place with the cheery striped awnings beckoned...

The Candied Anchor is a sweet shop that opened in March of this year. Had a nice chat with the shopkeeper, who was as sweet as her wares. They have an eclectic mix of things, including local products as well as more unusual finds.

I went with the Mint Chocolate Malt Balls, which were from Ireland. True to the shopkeeper's description, it was an airy, crunchy bit of Thin Mint heaven. Reasonably priced, this is a great place to find a unique gift (or indulge your own sweet tooth) without breaking the bank.

With this being the off-season for many of the East End businesses that are open year-round, what better time to patronize said shops, avoid the crazy mall lines and get a loved one something unique for the holidays this year?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

irish coffee pub.

I have long-wanted to visit the Irish Coffee Pub, the larger-than-life structure that offers intimate meals in East Islip. It's been a favorite of the Cardinal family (who are Irish) for years. I had an recent, lovely weekday catch-up with DH's family there (and an opportunity to visit a dear family member flew from across the country for the NYC marathon.)

The scones were absolutely fantastic--- I had to get a doggie bag for them. (Gauche? Yes. Smart? Yes. They were that good.) Irish Coffee Pub also offers a nice, traditional brown bread. Since it was lunchtime, we all ordered sandwiches. The portions were really generous and also required a doggie bag. My sweet potato fries (and the other Cardinals' french fries) were tasty and crisp--- not at all greasy or soggy. I ordered a Turkey Club on Rye, while other orders included a Reuben and The Irishman's Dream. We were all very happy with our selections (including our out-of-town guest whose opinion should have some gravitas as she grew up in Ireland!)

The Irish Coffee Pub on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

buon appetito! a trip to iavarone brothers*

Hello there, Long Island! As we brave this newest Arctic Blast, I will attempt to draw your attention to a fonder cold weather association: comfort food. (More specifically, Italian food). This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Iavarone Brothers in Wantagh. A small family-owned and operated chain of gourmet food stores (and cafe) with origins in a high-quality pork shop, Iavarone Brothers just celebrated the tenth anniversary of their Wantagh location. There was no shortage of samples and festivities.

Chris, a fourth generation member of the Iavarone Brothers family, graciously provided a tour of the market, highlighting some the features which make this place unique. It was clear that a passion for food runs in this family and reflects in the quality of their offerings.

One of the most striking features at Iavarone Brothers is the percentage of food made in-house (or, in the case of the pork sausage, at IB's own nearby facility in Maspeth). The quantity of fresh sauces, dips, pastries, pastas, meats and prepared foods is staggering. This hand-on approach also enables them to embrace the culinary niche of seasonal cooking, while retaining traditional Italian flavors. A prime example of this is their heavenly Autumn Lasagna, filled with butternut squash and sausage: it's smooth and not overly sweet, allowing the flavors to speak for themselves. As was the case with the other prepared foods I tried (Cauliflower Oreganata and Cornbread Honey Crisp Apple Stuffing), the Lasagna was naturally amenable to reheating, making it a great choice for anything from casual mid-week takeout to a formal holiday dinner (which they are popular for catering).

Fresh produce and seafood are another hallmark of Iavarone Brothers, as they draw from the bounty of the nearby Hunts Point Market as well as the farms and waters of Long Island. In the seafood department, this was reflected through an eclectic mix ranging from elusive, fresh, wild-caught fish to LI's own Peconic Bay Scallops (currently in season).

Amongst their extensive cheese department was a rare find: a 2002 Reggiano Parmigiano which, true to Chris' description, held up considerably and is well-suited for grating. We've been enjoying it with all of our home-cooked meals this week.

If you visit their Bakery department, be sure to pick up a cronut (that blessed, flaky, buttery goodness that makes your taste buds smile and your brain say, "go easy") and a loaf of their fantastic Italian bread.

Preserving old traditions while building upon four generations of quality, Iavarone Brothers is not only a market to shop at--- it's a culinary experience!

Thanks again for your generosity, Chris and Pat!

Iavarone Brothers on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 14, 2014

highway 97 scenic byway

On Columbus Day weekend, I decided to take a little drive that I'd been dreaming about since the late summer issue of C&T: Highway 97. No regrets: from the old Roebling bridge to the companionship of the Delaware to the winding journey through Hawk's Nest, the whole experience was utterly transportive.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

an interview with the long island theatre collective.

As I continue to scour the web for local blogs, The Long Island Theatre Collective caught my eye. A relatively new entry into the performing arts scene here, the people of the LITC are committed to sharing their art and engaging our local community. These intentions were all the more apparent as they expressed themselves in a recent interview. Responding for The Collective are Adam Zurbruegg (Chairman, Board of Directors), Ian Sullivan (Artistic Director, Actor), Ilana Landecker (Board of Directors, Actor/Director), and Tom Brown (Actor).

Ian Michael Sullivan (Tupolski), Tom Brown (Katurian), Chris Cuoccio (Ariel)
Photo Credit: Long Island Theatre Collective

1. Give us a brief history of the Long Island Theatre Collective, and how it came about. Why choose Long Island and not the City?

AZ: Most of us trained together in college or in high school, and always dreamed of starting our own company, to produce the type of work we feel is important. The reason we chose Long Island is essentially the same reason that you asked the question: because so many young artists choose to work in the City. As a result, we think Long Island has been underserved. There’s an enthusiastic audience here and a ton of local talent to collaborate with.

TB: Long Island is our home. It needs representation in the artistic world, and we’re going to do our best to make that happen. The City is a cultural Mecca, yes, but it’s not everything. Our goal is to provide Long Island with something impressive and professional, yet (and almost more importantly) accessible and fun.

2. How did you determine the repertoire for the current season? To the untrained eye, it appears to be a balanced selection of old, new, and different.

IS: “Balance” is exactly what we were aiming for. We think it is important to produce new works in order to keep pushing the art form forward. At the same time, we love the timeless stories of Shakespeare, Dickens, and the like—but we won’t produce any stuffy “museum piece” productions of the classics. Instead, we adapt these works to make them focused, engaging, and relevant.

IL: We want to do the kind of work that isn’t being done on Long Island—or anywhere, really—whether that’s a new play or a new interpretation of something classic.

3. Tell us about the New Plays Festival.

AZ: We’re really excited about the New Plays Festival, because we have no idea what it will be! We’re putting out a call to local writers to submit their own original plays. Writers whose plays are selected will get the opportunity to collaborate closely with us and see their work produced on April 17-18. More information can be found at

IL: It’s an opportunity to build and strengthen the collective. We want to create a place for artists, especially Long Island artists, to create and nurture their work. The collective is everyone: the artists, the audience, the donors and businesses, and all of Long Island. It's a great opportunity for us to get to know our community a little better, and for the community to get to know us a little better as well.

TB: The New Plays Festival, in a way, sums up what we as a collective are all about: telling stories. Anyone with a story to tell gets to hear their words come to life; a fantastic opportunity for writers and for us as a company. We want to ignite new relationships and collaborate with as many creative and passionate artists as possible.

4. Given the intensely collaborative nature of the performing arts, is/are there any particular local organizations, vendors, institutions, craftsmen, etc. who you find yourselves working with or receiving support from? What local spaces will you be using this year for your productions?

AZ: We’re fortunate to have a great network of performers, directors, writers, technicians, and designers, including professionals who have worked across the country and on Broadway. Mostly, we are indebted to our donors—Long Islanders who believe in what we’re trying to do and have provided overwhelming support.

IS: The Bellmore Presbyterian Church is our home this season and they’ve been so accommodating and easy to work with. They treat us like family, and we’re so grateful for the beautiful spaces we get to play in. We also have a great relationship with Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville. In future seasons,we’re really eager to get into the local schools. I am a huge believer in educational theatre, and believe it can be an inspiring and positive influence on all young people's lives. We’d also love to tour the beautiful parks and beaches of Long Island with outdoor productions.

5. To draw a parallel to the world of story, it seems like Long Island is a "character" itself, and pretty complex one at that! Having lived here a relatively short time, I've observed that within what is a small geographic area there is quite a bit of subtlety (North Shore, South Shore, Nassau, Suffolk, East End, etc. Of course if one ignores municipal boundaries, then there's also many neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens). As many of your team have grown up or made significant memories here, what are your thoughts/opinions on the "character" of Long Island?

IS: You’re right. There are so many unique neighborhoods and areas that make up our little island, so many different economic conditions, social institutions, viewpoints, ideas, and cultures living together in a relatively small area—but one thing binds us together. This is our home. This is where we eat, and live, and fall in love, and raise our families. The stories that mirror our experiences and our journeys can strengthen that bond. LITC is all about telling those stories.

TB: The "character" of Long Island helped shape us as we grew up, and inspired us to be creative, impassioned individuals. So what better place for LITC to "grow up"?

6. It's also the people who make the place. Are there any Long Islanders who have inspired your team artistically? (If so, who and how?)

IS: Walt Whitman (the man, not the mall) is the original poet laureate of Long Island, and one of my favorite poets of all time. There’s Billy Joel… cliché, I know, but no one escapes that love for our piano man. I think of Brand New, and the rest of the Long Island music scene that was blowing up when we were in high school. It made us think we could be something bigger than we were. Most importantly, our friends and family and teachers. I was blessed with amazing artistic and creative-minded parents who have always supported me. My teachers were incredibly inspiring and their lessons have stayed with me for my entire life. And my friends have saved me countless times. They make the collective possible, and they are the reason I am so passionate about it.

7. Are there any favorite local haunts that get the LITC's creative juices flowing? (A place such as a diner, cafe, pub, etc.)

IS: The Lighthouse Diner in Wantagh is like our unofficial headquarters. We also love to go out and sing karaoke at Beery’s, take a walk in Twin Lakes Preserve, watch the sunset in Wantagh Park by the pier, and drive down the Ocean Parkway with the radio blasting. 

8. With the holidays around the corner, undoubtedly there will be interest in your production of "A Christmas Carol". Where can we purchase tickets?

AZ: Yes, A Christmas Carol is going to be very exciting. We’ll be performing it inside the chapel of Bellmore Presbyterian Church—a beautiful and intimate setting for our new adaptation. Tickets will be available to the general public beginning December 1 at We encourage everyone to sign up for our email alerts to keep informed about ticket sales, production news, interviews with the cast, and more.

Kevin Mundy (Michal), Tom Brown (Katurian), Chris Cuoccio (Ariel)
Photo Credit: Long Island Theatre Collective

Thanks for your time, Adam, Ian, Ilana and Tom. 

Hope to see you soon at one of their upcoming performances, Long Island!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

pentimento redux.

Pentimento is one of those restaurants which has really captured our hearts: each visit feels like a real treat. Every dish we've tried they've nailed, and last night was no exception. 

Jay Cardinal started with the beloved Plimouth Gin-Dolan Vermouth-Caperberry Martini, always a homerun the expert hands of David Marzano. The Pate Bergese was unbelievably smooth. DH delighted in the Veal Ravioli, while I found Salmone Con I Peperoni flawless and well-constructed expected.