Travel Writer & Author

Category: Long Island (Page 1 of 2)

Brewery Long Island Irvina Lew

Drink Better Beer: Jon Bloostein of New York’s Heartland Brewery

From a kid of 4 who sold Burpee Seeds door to door, to the “The Cone Ranger,” who introduced Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to New York, to his present seat looking over New York’s beloved Heartland Brewery, Jon Bloostein is first and foremost an innovator.

jon bloostein heartland brewery

Jon Bloostein lifts a stein to good beer.

After attending eight undergraduate schools and earning an MBA, Bloostein was involved in assorted commercial efforts and had an investment banking career before deciding to promote craft beer, a product he had learned to love during trips to the Bay Area. When he opened his first Heartland Brewery in Union Square, in 1995, it was the largest brewpub in the tri-state region. “I had no restaurant experience whatsoever, but they [my investors] knew I would never be able to sleep if the place started to fail,” he says.

Today, with a staff of 620, the 100% employee-owned Heartland Brewery Group which Bloostein created includes nine venues. Visitors to New York flock to these prime locations and make up a large percentage of the Heartland Brewery clientele. You’ll see travelers from around the world mixed in with the locals at the two-story, 450-seat Heartland Brewery and Rotisserie inside the Empire State Building, and in the Times Square neighborhood at Heartland Brewery Midtown West, Heartland Brewery in Times Square, and HB Burger. Bloostein suggests that tourists comprise 90% of the crowd at the Empire State and 75% of the customers at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar, a Theater District partnership with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

houston hall

Houston Hall. Are you even allowed to have this much room in New York City?

Bloostein also developed three neighborhood beer halls (Flatiron Hall, Houston Hall, and Bernheim and Schwartz), which draw locals with entirely different designs, menus, and beers than the Heartland Breweries. “If you want to feel the New York vibe and be transported to another place and time, these are the places to be,” Bloostein says.

The beer rates as some of the best craft beer around, with several medals from the Great American Beer Festival to prove it. Each venue serves more than 25 varieties of beer annually, including 12 on tap at any given time. All are made near Albany in upstate New York, where the Director of Beer oversees the production to exacting Heartland specifications and flavor profiles.

heartland brewery beer burger

Heartland’s burger is seriously good.

Some varieties cry Americana, as in Farmer Jon’s Oatmeal Stout, Indiana Pale Ale, Red Rooster Ale, and Corn Husker Lager. French Toast and Belgian Golden Ale tempt with a European panache. “Voyages of Beer” give customers an opportunity to taste six types. The flight of five-ounce pours are served on a round tray labeled “Real Beer,” which has numbered round spaces for the glasses, each of which arrives with its own description. The range starts with a light beer, at about 3.9% alcohol, and moves upward to a hoppier blend at about 11%.

Training is key to the success of serving beer. A Beer Sommelier shows bartenders how to educate guests to choose for their individual taste, but before bartenders can serve or speak with guests they must earn 100% on both written and verbal Beer 101 tests. “Over time, they get more advanced training with Beer 201 and 301 classes,” Bloostein explains.

jumbo heartland pretzel

Dark or light, two dipping sauces. Decisions, decisions.

“Serving great craft beer has always been the mainstay of the restaurant group, while creating beer-friendly food elevates the experience,” Bloostein adds. He’s certainly set the menu apart from the competition. Serving a giant pretzel is more than a gimmick, it’s fun and people find it special (so do the several New York bars which have copied the idea). Heartland Brewery was the first brew pub in New York to offer sliders, a bigger and better black Angus version of the “tiny and tasty” White Castle burgers Bloostein ate as a kid. Take advantage of happy hour menus to sample one for just $2, with a $6 drink to go with it.

best veggie burger nyc heartland

Yes, this is vegetarian. Really.

Burgers are particularly popular, at HB Burger and beyond. Describing the burgers, Bloostein notes, “Along with black Angus beef, there are sashimi tuna, turkey, and a Buffalo-style burger, which is laced with Wisconsin blue cheese and coated with our own hot sauce. I’m particularly proud of our veggie burger because the vegetables are actually visible, unlike most  grainy, brown burgers available elsewhere.” One blogger ( posted that it is “The most delicious veggie burger I’ve ever had.”

Innovative, beer-friendly menu options also include Buffalo chicken and pastrami Reuben spring rolls, available at all the beer halls. To further please customers, there are kids’ choices, gluten-free options, and a classic New York cheesecake.

Heartland Brewery and Rotisserie Empire State Building

Great atmosphere at the Empire State Building.

Bloostein infuses a sense of brewing history into each restaurant’s design by showcasing an array of authentic beer memorabilia. He has amassed a vast collection of breweriana from all over the world, with some beer collectibles that date to the early 20th century. Along with vintage posters, photographs, signs, and trays, there are old Rheingold (a New York product that used to dominate the local beer scene) bottles, and, of course, a myriad number of steins. Those items that don’t decorate the restaurants and brew halls are stored in a warehouse on Bloostein’s 90-acre upstate farm. That farm is also home to a 1,000-square-foot organic garden, where Bloostein grows eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes, sweet Walla Walla onions, and cucumbers, some of which he pickles. In season, home-grown produce appears on the Heartland Brewery Chop House menu.

heartland chophouse party space

A space at the bar at the very inviting Heartland Brewery Times Square.

Given how scarce space can be in NYC, it’s unusual to find as much square footage as Heartland holds down around the city. Weddings and events are often booked in the company’s various back rooms and bars. As a good neighbor, the Heartland Brewery Group offers space at no charge to reputable charities and organizations whenever they are unoccupied. And when a charity books a fund-raising party, the company makes a donation to that charity of 10% of the party price.

Still ever eager to originate new ideas, Bloostein circles back to the spirit of innovation that’s driven him his entire life. “We are always looking for the next best items to find or create to match up with our beers,” he says.




City Guide NYC

5 Best Sleep Tips Irvina Lew

5 Tips For Better Sleep

Increasingly busier schedules and an addiction to glowing screens are making eight hours of sleep more elusive than ever for most Americans. “Sleep deprivation is the forgotten sleep disorder,” said Dr. Michael Weinstein, director of Winthrop-University Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center. “It is so prevalent that we often lose sight of it and yet, close to three-quarters of the population sleeps less than the recommended eight hours per night. Chronic sleep deprivation can have profound implications including reduced quality of life, increased risk of motor vehicle accidents and, possibly, increased risks of obesity and death.”

Quality sleep is one of the most basic tenets of wellness and one of the most organic ways to renew our bodies and minds. There’s no guaranteed way to drop off to dreamland at will. However, adapting some of these proactive tips might enhance the chances of a deeper, more restorative sleep cycle.


The weight loss adage, “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper,” is just as applicable when trying to get some shuteye. Dr. Paul Tchao, board certified in internal medicine and a member of Stony Brook University School of Medicine’s teaching staff, counsels against eating certain foods late in the day. “Avoid rich, fatty, fried or spicy foods, citrus fruits and carbonated drinks in the evening because they can trigger indigestion.” He also advises substituting chamomile tea for caffeine and other nicotine stimulants, starting four to six hours before bedtime. WebMD states that food items that contain the essential amino acid L-Tryptophan—turkey, chicken, meat, cheese, yogurt, fish and eggs—have a calming effect.


The ability to sleep like a baby in hotel rooms is not just about being travel-weary. Specific design elements in hotel rooms contribute to sleeping well. “Sleep comes easier if there is no visual chatter in your bedroom. It’s about simplicity,” said Clodagh, a top New York interior designer of stunningly serene spaces at spas such as Miraval Life in Balance Spa in Tucson and Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal. “The last thing you see before you go to sleep should be an art piece or flowers that harmonize with your emotions.” Clodagh recommended using organic mattresses and pillows and spraying sleep-inducing fragrance, such as lavender, on the pillow. Blackout shades, eyeshades, earplugs, humidifiers and sleep bracelets (which stimulates acupressure) may also be good investments. As for those ever-present electronic devices, consider the National Sleep Foundation’s warning: “Careful studies have shown that even our small electronic devices emit sufficient light to miscue the brain and promote wakefulness.”


Melatonin is a natural hormone the body produces and it helps regulate sleep patterns. The ancient Eastern treatment of acupuncture can boost melatonin levels, ultimately aiding in sleep. “Acupuncture is a pain-free, drug-free way to help with sleeping by stimulating the production of endorphins in the body, which is a pre-cursor molecule to the relaxing hormones serotonin and melatonin,” explained Anthony Cerabino, a licensed acupuncturist and owner of Healthcare Wellness Center in Bay Shore.


Exercise is great for your physical health, but it will also help your body get the rest it needs. “[The time of day] you exercise is key to a good night’s sleep,” said Dr. Alan Blum of Premier Sleep Center in Lynbrook. He recommended exercising at least three hours before you go to bed. “That will give your body temperature and metabolism an opportunity to drop.” David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, concurred. “For the millions of people who want better sleep, exercise may help,” he said. “Working up a good sweat is an important ingredient for getting a good night’s sleep.”


The Mayo Clinic claims that, “Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep.” The hospital recommended going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., a diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, takes it a step further. He proposes establishing a personalized sleep formula to improve sleep quantity. According to Breus, the average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long and there are typically five sleep cycles per night, totaling 7.5 hours of needed sleep.  “If you need to wake at 6am to get ready for work,” Breus stated, “counting back seven-and-a-half hours, your ideal bedtime is 10:30pm. That means lights out, in bed, ready for sleep at that time.”

Long Island Pulse

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.


image: yvonne albinowski

image: yvonne albinowski

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

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.



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

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).



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,

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.



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

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.



image: yvonne albinowski

image: yvonne albinowski

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

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

Soups Long Island

Exotic Soups

One of the joys of winter is the welcoming aroma of hot soup, especially when paired with a cluster of bonuses. Ladled into oversized mugs and served alongside a basket of warm bread and a bowl of toppings (whether croutons, diced apple or pear, toasted slivered almonds or flash-fried sage), homemade soup brings the promise of warmth and hospitality to create a convivial mood that, in a word, means comfort.

Long Island’s bounty—including carrots, potatoes, onions, squash, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi—provides ingredients for an international array of winter soups. Local chefs also incorporate cupboard staples—organic chicken, vegetable or beef stock; canned beans; dried mushrooms; San Marzano tomatoes—and vegetable bin standbys. We turned to some of the Island’s best for a globetrotting selection of soup recipes that can be savored in a restaurant setting or in the home cook’s kitchen.

Kyma, Roslyn

soup recipes

A traditional Greek Avgolemono (avgo=egg and lemono=lemon) soup. image: emily roemer

Kyma, which made its debut in Roslyn in May 2013, pleases guests with modern Greek cuisine, served in the spacious and airy, white, Mediterranean-styled space. In the kitchen, executive chef Chris Kletsides, formerly at Limani in Roslyn, prepares the traditional Greek Avgolemono (avgo=egg and lemono=lemon) soup, a staple that’s made in two parts: chicken broth plus a rich egg-lemon sauce. It’s a Mediterranean mixture that varies with the cook. While some thicken the chicken broth with corn starch, use whole eggs or add rice as the filler, Kletsides thickens with a liquefied flour and water slurry, uses only yolks and adds hearty orzo, a pasta that doesn’t turn to mush in a minute. Get the Recipe.


The Lake House, Bay Shore

soup recipes

This hearty ribollita soup is made with leftover bread, rustic vegetables and whatever light-colored beans are on hand. image: emily roemer

Matt Connors is the chef/owner of The Lake House, a 55-seat pond-front restaurant near his childhood home in Bay Shore. The 15-time marathon runner has been committed to the farm- to-table movement from the early 90s when he developed his expertise in San Francisco, Umbria and Manhattan kitchens. Much of his local and organic produce is grown on a former cow pasture at the bayfront Bayard Cutting Arboretum 14- acre farm, the only community supported agriculture project within the New York State Parks system. This hearty ribollita soup (a Tuscan classic that translates as “reboiled”) is made with leftover bread, rustic vegetables and whatever light-colored beans are on hand. The mise en place is in a series of quart-size plastic containers filled with diced veggies ready for the pot. Get the Recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup
Love Lane Kitchen, Mattituck

butternut squash soup recipe

image: emily roemer

Love Lane Kitchen is more than the heart of the block-long center of Mattituck, which links Main Road (Rt. 25) with North Road (Rt. 48). It’s Cheers, North Fork style.

Located adjacent to Lombardi’s Love Lane Market and across from Altman’s Needle Arts, it’s where locals—including the restaurant’s purveyors and producers— vacationers and weekenders meet and greet year-round. It’s also a destination for up-islanders, a role that began with its previous owner, Mike Avella in 2007, and has expanded since the summer of 2012 when Carolyn Iannone, a certified sommelier and the former manager, became its new hands-on owner. An all-local wine list and hearty, locally-sourced, American comfort food items are the mainstay of the menu and served within a cheerful setting decorated with works by local artists. Chef Cory (whose garlicky fries alone are worth the journey) and his crew prepare their butternut squash soup that’s easy enough for any home cook.
Get the Recipe.

Wild Mushroom Cappuccino
Mirabelle at Three Village Inn, Stony Brook

wild mushroom cappuccino

The award-winning chef shares his recipe for wild mushroom cappuccino. image: emily roemer

French-born and trained Guy Reuge began his culinary career in Strasbourg, France; Fribourg, Switzerland; and Paris, where he cooked for the French president and other dignitaries. In 1973, he moved to New York and worked in top kitchens before becoming executive chef at Tavern on the Green. 10 years later he and his wife, former Gourmet editor Maria Harrison, launched Mirabelle in a charming Long Island farmhouse in St. James.

During that acclaimed 25-year stint, he earned two prestigious culinary titles: Maître Cuisinier de France (Society of Master Chefs) and the Toque d’Argent (Silver Toque). In 2009, he accepted Lessing’s offer to bring the Mirabelle name and reputation to Stony Brook’s classic Three Village Inn where this Wild Mushroom Cappuccino recipe is among his originals. The award-winning chef prepares it using local provisions, including mushrooms scouted by Long Island foragers. Get the Recipe.

Spicy Asian Cabbage Soup
Sang Lee Farm, Peconic

Spicy Asian cabbage soup

This Spicy Asian cabbage soup features Napa cabbage and kohlrabi. image: emily roemer

The Sand Lee Farm started in the 30s in Queens, moved to Melville in the 40s and to East Moriches in the 60s. In 1987 Freed Lee, whose father and uncles were the original owners, moved the operation to Peconic on the North Fork with his wife Karen, where it now grows more than 100 varieties of specialty vegetables.

In 2007 the farm was officially certified organic by The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA-NY). Karen Lee started the retail farm stand for which she developed the Local Lee products—dressings, dips, sauces and soups—in her certified organic kitchen. Farm products are sold at the stand from April through Thanksgiving, at various seasonal markets and through their Farmshare CSA program. All winter, the spicy Asian cabbage soup, which features Napa cabbage and kohlrabi grown on their farm, is available at the Saturday indoor market in Riverhead. Get the Recipe.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén