IRVINA LEW

Travel Writer & Author

Month: May 2016

Irvina Lew Long Island

Where to Dock and Dine on Long Island

image: yvonne albinowski

image: yvonne albinowski

Dockside dining is a spectator sport. At waterfront restaurants, a big part of the scene is the scene. Landlubbers residing at deck-top tables watch the seafaring cavalcade as part of the experience: yachters relishing in their trophies while the captain backs into a slip and the more modest boaters negotiate flinging lines ashore. But for all, it’s about the picturesque scenery, sipping summertime drinks and savoring Long Island’s bounty. This summer, whether circumnavigating the Island or charting a course to one destination, our selections for dockside dining should not be missed. Even if you go by car.

LONG ISLAND SOUND

image: yvonne albinowski

image: yvonne albinowski

Old Mill Inn
5775 West Mill Rd, Mattituck
Vibe: low-key and local, authentic NoFo
(631) 298-8080, oldmillinnmattituck.com

When the red vintage inn comes into view it feels as if time stands still. The former gristmill dates from 1821 and the interior showcases yacht-like polished wood. During prohibition the mill was a popular drop-off spot for rumrunners who transferred hooch during low tide. Sipping a gin and tonic under brightly colored umbrellas on the deck while looking up the creek, the rural North Fork vista still resembles what it might have been decades, even centuries ago.

This was part of the appeal that attracted owner Bia Lowe to the Mattituck Inlet locale. She’s retained that timeless beauty and created a spot that highlights Long Island ingredients, particularly seafood. There are always specials in the bar or on the beach and live music scheduled throughout the summer. There’s no charge when boats dock at the restaurant. If there’s no more space, the adjacent Mattituck Inlet Marina & Shipyard (MIMS) offers a special rate to Old Mill Inn guests: the docking charge is $1 per foot for four hours; $3 per foot overnight.

 

PECONIC BAY

SALT Waterfront Bar + Grill
63 S. Menantic Road, Shelter Island
Vibe: crisp but casual, shorts and cocktails
(631) 749-5535, saltshelterisland.com

Alison and Keith Bavaro, who spent their childhood summers on Shelter Island, returned to create new memories at their happening, four-venue complex on the southwest side of Shelter Island. Reservations are recommended for SALT, the main restaurant, where chef Darren Boyle’s focus is on fresh and local ingredients. The market-driven menu features his “Best in Show” clam chowder, plus multicultural temptations from tabouleh and falafel to tempura lobster roll and tuna tataki salad.

The Ship Wreck, 50 yards away overlooking West Neck Harbor, is a full-service bar within a 39-foot refitted schooner where local wines, SALT Waterfront Wheat (their house-brewed beer) and raw bar specials, sushi and chicken are served while live music plays. For those on the go, the new retail outlet at The Tasting Room also sells local wine and serves grab-and-go goodies. The venues are all within the Island Boat Yard on Menantic Creek, which offers resort-like facilities: a swimming pool, showers and chauffeured van service. (All of which come in handy for those who take advantage of the newly launched private catering facility.) While locals simply anchor out and walk on in, there’s a gas dock, transient docking for 20 (from 20-55 feet, as available) and a fee: $4.50 per foot (weekends), $3.50 (mid-week).

 

GREAT SOUTH BAY

image: yvonne albinowski

image: yvonne albinowski

Island Mermaid
780 Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, Fire Island
Vibe: casual, family, eat with your hands
(631) 583-8088, islandmermaid.com

Sitting under an umbrella on the deck at the Island Mermaid and watching the sun set over Fire Island Ferries docking, paddle-boarders skimming across the bay and bathing-suit clad kids selling hand-painted shells from red wagons is as close to a staycation as a day trip can be. Inside, the cozy bar catches the view and serves souped-up, blended frozen piña coladas, a good selection of Long Island wines and 21 beers, including craft brews, some Long Island-based.

Last summer, Scott Hirsch the operator/owner of Island Mermaid celebrated the restaurant’s 25th season. Though there’s plenty of seating for a rainy day, it’s the bay-front deck that comes alive in the sunshine. There’s always a great vibe, the best views and the most extensively varied summer menu favorites. Regulars park their bikes or boats and order fresh lobster rolls, the Mermaid’s famous fried calamari, line-caught local fish or a fresh tuna BLT (with avocado). Weeknight specials include half-priced entrées on Monday and wine bottles on Wednesday; there’s beer and barbecue on Tuesdays and Long Island clambakes are a Thursday night tradition. The four transient boat slips can accommodate beams up to 27 feet, the widest on the island. Docking costs $20 per hour. Reservations are highly recommended.

 

SHINNECOCK BAY (NORTH)

CowFish
258 East Montauk Hwy, Hampton Bays
Vibe: welcoming and rustic
(631) 594-3868, cowfishhamptonbays.com

The four-season restaurant CowFish boasts manicured landscaping and curved paths leading to the steep-peaked space with post and beam construction and panoramic views. The bar on the upper level leads to two roof decks, each with water views, and the bar in the waterside garden overlooks the floating dock. Brunch includes a bellini, bloody mary or mimosa and there are some popular mealtime favorites: Oysters Hampton, Hampton Bays #1 Clam Chowder, blackened fish sandwiches, burgers and steaks. CowFish supports Long Island agriculture and procures fresh local seafood and line-caught fish.

There’s ample complimentary transient docking at the floating dock and within the marina. Plus, the Rumbarge shuttles from CowFish to their Caribbean-themed Rumba location across the bay; it will transport boaters at anchor in the bay to either venue. The eatery is well located immediately south of Montauk Highway at the Shinnecock Canal and offers easy access by boat through the canal from the Peconic or through Shinnecock Inlet from the ocean or nearby bay-front boating communities.

 

SHINNECOCK BAY (SOUTHWEST)

image: yvonne albinowski

image: yvonne albinowski

Dockers Waterside Marina
94 Dune Road, East Quogue
Vibe: elegant, summer chic, well-heeled
(631) 653-0653, dockerswaterside.com

Dockers Waterside is a casually chic destination reached beyond the oceanfront mansions, tennis courts and beach clubs dotting Dune Road. It’s a nautical space where the color palette of marine blue and stark white dominates the décor and the staff uniforms. The popular gathering place offers a windowed veranda, outdoor lounges that feel like waterside living rooms, three bars and live music until midnight, three times a week. Even from stools in the interior bar, there are views of osprey in the marshlands and boats on the bay. Executive chef Scott Hastings is starting his sixth season sourcing fresh seafood from local purveyors. His casual, comfort food menu also features burgers and a chunky lobster mac and cheese. For Dockers’ 27th summer season, there’s a new, 20-slip marina with 9 dedicated transient slips plus a floating dock. Pulse readers enjoy a special rate: $1 per foot.

Full Article on Long Island Pulse

Escape to Wellness 

LUXURY TRAVEL. The very sound of these two words is enough to conjure a sense of relaxation.

After overcoming the stresses of our careers and daily life, a getaway to bask in the glory of well-being is like a reset button. One that is not even so much a luxury as it is a right (or mechanism for survival, depending on who you ask). Spas, beauty packages and wellness activities are not new offerings in the world of luxury travel destinations. In fact, given the $15.5 billion dollar industry it’s become, it’s easy to say “everyone’s doing it.” The real question is: who’s doing it well, really well? In the name of research, I took to the road to discover four destinations offering a unique approach to serenity, mindfulness and well-being.

CANYON RANCH
Lenox, Massachusetts / Vibe: rural New England, active, outdoorsy, unintimidating

About 40 years ago, Mel Zuckerman was 40 years old and 40 pounds overweight with high blood pressure. After his doctor told him he had the body of a 65-year-old, he spent 10 days at a “fat farm.” Feeling renewed (though still a bit scarred from being immersed in groups of leotard-women), Zuckerman and his wife Enid set out to launch the first Canyon Ranch in Tucson in 1979, aimed at helping guests learn to live healthier through exercise, nutrition, stress reduction and preventive care. A decade later, the Lenox branch was created 150 miles from New York.

Canyon Ranch Lenox transformed the 120-acre Bellefontaine estate, where the mansion, constructed in 1897 to replicate Louis XIV’s Le Petit Trianon at Versailles, is used for dining rooms, a café, library and Health & Healing Center. Here, the heart of the complex—the 100,000 squarefoot spa and sports facility—houses an array of fitness options in gyms, studios, an indoor swimming pool and squash and basketball courts, with its seemingly day-long pick-up game. Plus, there are the usual spa facilities.

A Climate-controlled, glass-enclosed walkway links the spa with the mansion and the 126-room inn (a 19-room condominium wing is under construction). It offers views of the Berkshire greenery and woodlands and assures all-weather comfort. While some guests concentrate on all the fitness options indoors and out, others are focused on their medical and spiritual health. The staff of 60 wellness professionals—including board-certified physicians with degrees from Harvard, Yale, Stanford and NYU—plus nurses, exercise physiologists, behavioral health professionals, acupuncturists and nutritionists focus on issues like weight loss, smoke cessation, stress reduction and Chinese medicine. All of the lectures and workshops for these programs plus daily Lunch & Learn sessions are complimentary for guests, as are the artistic options and the spiritual ones, such as yoga, tai chi and meditation.

Because food is intrinsic to well-being, executive chef James Massey serves a mix of farm-to-table options on a menu that men—my late husband, for one—find particularly appealing. The generous, comfort-food options—chili, Buffalo chicken salad, chocolate cake—appears anti-spa cuisine but features many organic, as-local-as-possible or sustainably caught ingredients. Recommendations for balancing daily menus educate guests and control-sized portions help them learn the most important adage: how much is enough.

RANCHO LA PUERTA
Tecate, Mexico / Vibe: rustic desert beauty, spiritual, vegetarian

From morning hikes and inner journeys; to fitness, tennis and cooking classes; to pampering body services, evening lectures and dance sessions, the Ranch (as it is affectionately called) is a weeklong escape where the only stress is deciding on which of the 70 daily mind/body/spirit activities to do.

There’s a sense of magic here, walking along the curved, clay-tile paths bordered with geraniums and breathing the scent of sage, rosemary or lavender. Stress diminishes not just because life is slower in Mexico, but because of the beauty of this 3,000-acre property at the foot of Mt. Kuchumaa. Even walking brings mind-body-spirit wellness. Paths wind among authentic casitas (tiny houses), over tiny bridges, around trickling fountains and eventually to the labyrinth, a replica of the one at the medieval Chartres Cathedral in France. Tracing the route to activities at the pools, gyms, tennis courts or dining hall is an experience unto itself.

Activist/philanthropist Deborah Szekely, “The Godmother” of the U.S. wellness industry, co-founded Rancho La Puerta in a rural setting in the 1940s with her late husband, Edmund, to share his philosophy of life and vegetarianism with visitors. Originally, they charged $17.50 a week for each guest who brought a tent south of the border and helped in the garden two hours per day. Now in her 90s, she continues exercising daily, ordering from the appetizer list on the menu, and talking after dinners about living longer and healthier.

The Executive Wellness program partners with Lifewellness Institute in San Diego and provides a 7-day plan designed as a positive life transformation. It starts with a physical evaluation and continues with custom-designed programs from fitness and nutritional experts.

The fresh-from-the-farm cuisine is another welcome aspect. Although meals feature fresh fish options, the mostly vegetarian menu incorporates ingredients raised on the Ranch’s farm and 6-acre organic garden (Tres Estrellas), which produces more than 250 different varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Adjacent to the garden, the 4,500-square foot cooking school—La Cocina Que Canta—offers hands-on cooking classes. “Business trip” bonus perk: I learned to make a healthy pizza with fresh veggies and a sweet balsamic vinegar reduction.

Read Full Article on Long Island Pulse

 

 

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