IRVINA LEW

Travel Writer & Author

Tag: Long Island (Page 1 of 4)

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

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 (deliciouslysavvy.com) 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

North Fork Wine Paumonok Irvina Lew

Long Island’s North Fork Wine Trail

The North Fork Wine Trail, with its cool, Bordeaux-like, marine climate, runs from Riverhead to Greenport on Long Island’s northeastern end. Each winery tasting room along the trail sells flights, glasses, and bottles—individual wineries may also provide vineyard or cellar tours, harvest festivals, live music, snacks and/or food truck fare. The route runs along two parallel east-west roads—Rt. 25 and Rt.

48—between 85 and 100 miles east of New York City. Here are nine tasting rooms worth a visit, organized from west to east.

Read more on about.com 

10 Things to Do Off-Season in the Hamptons

We’ve all heard of The Hamptons—the series of scenic waterfront villages lining Long Islands’ eastern end that play host to a swishy NYC crowd between the months of May and October. But the region boasts more than just its see-and-be-seen summer scene. The area has long lured farmers and fishermen, artists, vintners, chefs, builders and shopkeepers. And in the fall, even after the beach-going the crowds diminish, the region’s pristine beauty and charm endure.

Here are ten iconic Hamptons activities can be enjoyed year-round.

Read the full story on About.com

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