IRVINA LEW

Travel Writer & Author

Memorable Dining in the Hamptons After Labor Day

Eons before farm to table, market fresh, or locally sourced were part of my vocabulary, I recall turkeys in our backyard coop, a post-WWII Victory garden, and playing the “incubator game,” to guess the date when eggs would hatch at the family’s hay, grain, and feed store. Summers in Bay Shore—on Long Island’s South Shore, midway between Manhattan and The Hamptons—meant biking to Ghosio’s farm for corn, wading into the water to scoop up clams with my toes, and special Sunday “suppers” in a grand old Southampton mansion. I always ordered Long Island Duckling, which appeared on every menu (typically served with an overly-sweet orange glaze). I ate it to salute my mom, who—before she was old enough for a driver’s license—transported the quacking birds in the back of my grandpa’s red wooden truck from various duck farms in Eastport to Manhattan. Life was more carefree when I was 15, when I rode in my boyfriend’s red convertible to a burger shack across from the ocean on Dune Road, Westhampton. After marrying an avid sailor, our summer cruises overnighted in Montauk, where I ate lobster at Gosman’s Dock; Sag Harbor, where I tasted my first Pate de Foie de Canard with toast points and cornichons, mini-gherkin pickles at the American Hotel; and on Shelter Island, where the lure of the Victorian Chequit Inn, now Red Maple at The Chequit, was an easy walk from and within view of the harbor.

In those days, there was no talk of traffic and mansions were “old” and hidden behind tall shrubs south of the highway, not mega-new and built on potato fields. Money came from family, not from show business or Wall Street. The first vineyard was planted in 1973 on the North Fork.

Hampton’s bounty, however, has sustained Eastenders since Colonial Times, and it’s at its peak at summer’s end, when my friend and I restaurant-hopped recently.

From our lunch table on the narrow front porch of the American Hotel, l watched weekenders stepping off the Jitney, parents pushing strollers, and old-timers chatting about the fundraising efforts to rebuild the Sag Harbor Cinema, destroyed when fire raged down Main Street in December 2016. The American Hotel long promoted an off-season, midweek dinner-and-movie special, and memories of those evenings sparked a sudden Proustian madeleine moment. We ordered simple favorites: a beautifully presented Cobb salad, a crab cake burger, and my duck sandwich, which was sourced from Crescent Farm, the very last remaining duck farm on Long Island, and served with a lime aioli and apple slivers.

One evening, we dined at The Maidstone, across from the Hook Windmill, in East Hampton, which was known as The Maidstone Arms when I first dined there in 1996. The 18th-century clapboard colonial inn has recently been refurbished with the owners’ contemporary art collection and a décor accented by animal skins atop porch chairs and on the floors. The ingredient-focused menu showcased perfect produce: tomatoes, heirloom or in gazpacho; corn, in a risotto and in a most creative Corn Off the Cob, spiced with green chilies, cilantro, lime and ginger and peaches, grilled with mint, lemon ricotta and water cress, in pie, gelato and even grilled in a bourbon-based Old Fashioned. Local fish and Joyce Farm beef enhance the choices, as did a lovely Cuvée on the reasonably priced wine list.

For our last night, we dined at Jean-Georges at the Topping Rose House, one of an illustrious group of stars in the JG galaxy, which showcase his magic with spices and subtle flavors. Here, Drew Hiatt, chef de cuisine, has overseen the kitchen for my past few meals, each of which has been prepared using ingredients from the one-acre farm on the property of the 19th century former mansion. With drinks, we shared a signature JG dish—the best truffle and fontina cheese pizza. Another signature, the tuna tartare on avocado, is topped with spicy radish rings and flavored with a ginger marinade. The roasted Maine lobster is served with roasted corn, sweet corn vinaigrette, and basil, and the Parmesan-crusted chicken arrives atop artichokes with a lemon-basil sauce. A delightful assortment of mignardises followed the berries and ice cream that we ordered for dessert.

After Labor Day, it’s easier to drive (or take the train or Jitney) the 100 miles east of Manhattan and restaurant reservations are more available. Be assured, local fish and farm-fresh ingredients appear until Thanksgiving and December is the season for sweet, local bay scallops. Much as I adore summer bounty, fall has its appeal and I usually order a lobster roll at Bobby Van’s (Bridgehampton), onion soup at Rowdy Hall (East Hampton) and linguine with clams at Cappelletti’s (Sag Harbor).

Written for The Daily Meal

Pousada de Lisboa Review

Lisbon hosted its first Web Summit last November, and my daughter Jen Lew, a high-tech social media strategist & web designer, was one of 53,000 attendees. When she invited me to accompany her, I offered to book accommodations, always a challenge during major events. The fortunate resolution was a stay in one of only 90 rooms at the culturally significant and comfortable Pousada de Lisboa, opened in June 2015. Though I had never stayed at a Pestana hotel, its affiliation with Small Luxury Hotels of the World assured me, and I booked four nights in the restored art-filled building.

 

Pousadas are nationally protected and preserved properties within Portuguese castles, convents, palaces, monasteries and historic buildings. In this case, the stunning edifice formerly housed the government offices of the former prime minister and dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. It is one of 33 Pousadas the Pestana group updated and transformed into hotels with amazing character.

Architect Jaime Morais retained many of the original 18th-century architectural elements, including high ceilings and a stunning staircase, and added modern bathrooms, a fitness center and the Magic Spa featuring an indoor pool, sauna, Turkish bath and a variety of body and beauty services.

Location is one of the hotel’s major advantages, as the front door opens on the important Praça do Comércio — Lisbon’s major downtown water-front plaza facing the Tejo River. While some rooms view the iconic São Jorge Castle, ours — a large, elongated corner space on the second floor with a seating area — faced the square, bordered by golden-hued buildings and outdoor cafés. It is also home to The Wines of Portugal tasting room. Just outside the hotel door — amidst cyclist-driven tuk tuks and tiny touristic vehicles — I wiggled into a sidecar and had a great time zipping around with a guide.

For breakfast, we ate in the light-filled solarium, and at night we dined under the curved brick ceiling at Lisboeta, a well-regarded restaurant where Chef Tiago Bonito —Portugal’s 2011 Chef of the Year — reigns. When I returned to Lisbon in May, I discovered a new and more casual dining venue: RIB Beef & Wine, a popular steakhouse.

Pousada de Lisboa

Praça do Comércio 31-34
1100-148 Lisboa, Portugal
tel 351 21 040 7640

 

Written for Global Traveler

The 10 Best Spas for Men Around the World

Traditional spas might focus largely on the fairer sex—but not every wellness experience is for the ladies. As more men join the spa-going crowd, an increasing number of treatments, therapies, and programs are targeting those with a Y chromosome. From facials for him to fitness retreats for serious athletes, the following spa experiences have been designed with the not-so-fair sex in mind.

Read the full story at
Robb Report

TAP Portugal Review

In September, TAP Portugal’s cuisine consultant, Chef Vítor Sobral — a celebrity TV chef and cookbook author — will introduce the Taste the Stars programThe project presents authentic, locally sourced Portuguese meals developed by five Michelin-starred chefs, to be served in TAP’s business and economy classes.

TAP also launched a stopover program, offering travelers up to three days in Lisbon and/or Porto at no additional airfare before heading to the Algarve, Madeira, the Azores or 60-plus other European or African destinations. It’s an ongoing promotion with 150 partners, including the Michelin-starred chefs and their participating restaurants. Passenger benefits include a bottle of wine, substantive land discounts and complimentary experiences.

I experienced the Lisbon stopover in May during my trip to Faro — the popular airport in the Algarve along Portugal’s sunny southwestern Atlantic coast, which attracts beach and golf vacationers. Since November 2016, which marked my first flight with TAP, I’ve flown trans-Atlantic flights between Lisbon and both John F. Kennedy Airport and Newark International Airport, and domestic flights between Lisbon and both Porto (OPO) and Faro (FAO). Three of those seven segments were in economy and four in business class so I have a variety of recent experiences. TAP also flies from Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA) and Toronto (YYZ).

TAP Portugal

TAP PORTUGAL CHEFS

My favorite business-class lounge was in Lisbon, very inviting, even for a long layover. The chairs along the window wall had footrests, making it ideal to read with the light coming in over my shoulder. Most of the seats were adjacent to electronic towers with two plugs and tables, which were nice for eating. There were spacious showers in the lavatories, a glass-enclosed smoking space, and ample food and wine choices. Since my last flight in May 2017, TAP opened a brand new and more spacious lounge.

Each flight was pleasant, easy and uneventful and the staff members — from the check-in agents to the flight attendants — were courteous, warm and hospitable. This was particularly true of the gate agents on our first outbound flight from JFK around midnight when the New York crew arrived late.

All travelers are offered fine chocolates and wine, and business class features a selection that includes Port and Madeira wines. Global Traveler has recognized the airline for the quality of its wines.

My business-class flight from Lisbon in May featured fully flat beds on the Airbus A330 aircraft. Of the 80 aircraft in the fleet, 16 are A330s. It had an extra-wide storage pocket, underfoot storage, a side shelf, a large entertainment touchscreen with headsets and a fold-up table with linen cloths. A plush pillow and oversize quilt contributed to an easy sleep.

All of the meals were graciously served and well received on my flights, and though I haven’t yet experienced the Michelin-starred chefs’elevated in-flight meals, I can personally vouch for the culinary expertise.

TAP Portugal

New York (JFK)–Lisbon (LIS)–Porto (OPO); Lisbon–Faro (FAO)

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