01/18/13 1:00pm
PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Chic Creations in downtown Riverhead will open its doors for the first time Saturday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Chic Creations in downtown Riverhead will open its doors for the first time Saturday morning.

Riverhead’s first new business of 2013 will open its doors Saturday morning.

Chic Creations, a clothing, jewelry and fashion accessories shop, will hold its grand opening from 9 a.m. through 7:30 p.m. The unique boutique is located on East Main Street next to Robert James Salon.

Hampton Bays couple Wendy and Felix Martinez said opening the store will fulfill a long-time dream.

“We felt Riverhead was the place to start our first boutique because it’s a welcoming downtown community,” said Felix, the owner of Hampton’s Paint Masters, who both designed and renovated Chic Creations.

His wife, Wendy, designs many of boutique’s products, which she plans to produce in small lots of up to only a dozen.

“We have fun and unique looks that we want people to wear and feel special,” Ms. Martinez said of the custom clothing and accessories she will sell at the boutique.

Supervisor Sean Walter said he sees the opening as another boost to the downtown revitalization, which included Peconic Ballet Theater, a dance theater that also signed its lease in November.

“I applaud the efforts and significant economic investment of Wendy and Felix Martinez,” Mr. Walter said of the boutique’s owners. “The block-by-block approach of downtown revitalization is working.”

Landlord Shelly Gordon said he is proud to have one of his locations as the site of the year’s first business.

“I believe this dress boutique has tremendous promise and will be very successful,” Mr. Gordon said.

[email protected]

01/14/13 2:58pm

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | Peconic Bay Winery will now do all its non-member tastings at Empire State Cellars at the Tanger Outlet Center.

Peconic Bay Winery will be closing its Cutchogue tasting room to the general public, but the location will continue to be the site of special events and where the company’s wine will be fermented, bottled and stored, according to general manager Jim Silver.

Mr. Silver said Empire State Cellars at Tanger Outlets in Riverhead — where the company currently sells almost 800 New York wines and some liquor — will soon feature an exclusive space for Peconic Bay Winery products and will also serve as the winery’s retail and tasting room headquarters. Peconic Bay Winery owns the outlet, which it opened about a year ago.

The Cutchogue property will still serve as the location for the Peconic Bay Winery wine club and other private events, as well as food and music festivals.

“A lot of people don’t know what to make of this and some think we are closing,” Mr. Silver said. “We are absolutely not closing our tasting room. We are just changing it and re-purposing the [Cutchogue] property. The biggest crowds came out for the special events and we’re going to keep doing them.”

In a press release, Mr. Silver said the Riverhead tasting room “can accommodate dozens of interested wine tasters each day and the hours of operation are much longer than they are at the winery. We’ll reach a lot more people this way.”

He said though the company laments no longer offering open mic and other frequent events for local musicians, the sound of music will not be leaving the property for good.

Two festivals are already planned with event production company Starfish Junction which puts on such events as the North Fork Craft Beer, BBQ & Wine Festival at Martha Clara Vineyards and the Pour the Core hard cider festival held at Peconic Bay Winery in October.

“We’re planning another cider festival for Oct. 5 and I have a meeting in two weeks for a wine-related festival,” Mr. Silver said, adding that the Cutchogue Lions car show will also soon be held at the Cutchogue location.

Mr. Silver said he is currently talking with limo and other private driving companies to make Tanger a stop on the North Fork wine trail.

“On the way out after a day of touring the area, who wouldn’t feel like a little shopping,” Mr. Silver said. “Guys can come have a beer at the bar and girls can check out some of the shops. It’s going to be a fun place.”

Mr. Silver said the North Fork region accommodates about two million people annually, a number he said is growing all the time.

“Our piece of that is 40 to 50,000 and that’s a lot. I think with this move, there will be more traffic to go around to the other local vineyards and will bring loyal Peconic Bay wine drinkers to Tanger,” he said.  “It’s going to be a bit more quiet around here in Cutchogue, but we’re going to keep ourselves just as busy and I don’t think it will end up having too much of an impact.”

Mr. Silver said North Forkers who truly love the Cutchogue location should join the wine club.

“Wine club members come in all the time to pick up their shipments and hundreds of them will show up,” he said. “We’re going to have eight wine club weekends in Cutchogue, so wine club members can have the place all to themselves.”

[email protected]

01/12/13 2:23pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Dr. Jennifer Rich of Peconic Pediatrics examines 15-month-old Ava Curry of Riverhead before administering a second dose of the flu vaccine Friday morning. Toddlers get the vaccine in two doses six weeks apart.

An executive order issued by governor Andrew Cuomo now permits pharmacists to administer flu shots to patients between six months and 18 years of age, according to a press release issued today. Governor Cuomo issued the executive order after declaring a public health emergency for all of New York state due to an increasingly severe flu season.

“We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City,” Governor Cuomo said in a press release. “Therefore, I have directed my Administration, the State Health Department and others to marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers — children and adults alike — have access to critically needed flu vaccines.”

There have been more than 19,000 cases of influenza reported in New York so far this season, thousands more than were reported during last year’s entire season.

Two children in New York state and 18 children nationwide have died as a result of influenza this season.

Hospitalizations due to the laboratory-confirmed influenza have already doubled that of last season’s numbers.

The governor is strongly urging all New York residents to receive or schedule a flu shot immediately as cases rise statewide.

New Yorkers can find a local vaccine provider by visiting http://flushot.healthmap.org and entering their zip code or by calling 1-800-522-5006.

[email protected]

01/12/13 12:48pm

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO |  A Honda Civic is towed in Riverhead Saturday afternoon after a minor crash.

A two-car accident in Riverhead sent two drivers to the hospital for minor injuries Saturday afternoon, Riverhead Town Police said.

The drivers were transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center after a white Honda Civic heading north on Peconic Avenue collided with a red Chrysler Pacifica pulling out of the Riverside parking lot at about noon, officials on the scene said. Neither driver was seriously injured, police said.

01/12/13 10:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Ethan Crook (left), a culinary student and line cook at North Fork Table and Inn in Southold, with chef Stephan Bogardus.

Today’s college graduates are famously hard pressed to find a job during this historically sluggish economy.

Not so for Suffolk County Community College’s culinary school students and alumni.

Nearly 100 percent of the college’s culinary arts program graduates find work in the field, with many ending up in upscale commercial kitchens throughout the North Fork, said program director Richard Freilich.

“We don’t do placement, per se, but we do have connections with a lot of the local businesses looking to fill different types of positions,” Mr. Freilich said. “We try to find students that are best suited for those positions.”

He said the program’s job-placement successes are thanks in part to the internship program.

Students pursuing culinary degrees at SCCC are required to fulfill 200 internship hours with a restaurant, hotel or other business in the hospitality industry. These internships often turn into full-time positions, he said.

The Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on Main Street in downtown Riverhead opened in 2008 with 135 students enrolled. The number has only grown since then, with 369 students in the fall class of 2012, said Mary Feder, director of college relations.

“There’s a great demand for our students, so we get calls all the time looking for experienced help,” said Mr. Freilich, noting that as part of internship work, baking students work at the college’s retail operation, The Baker’s Workshop, in the main culinary school.

“The input we get back from students is excellent,” Mr. Freilich said of the school’s hands-on approach to education. “They say had they not come here, they wouldn’t have gotten their job.”

Nobody knows that better than current student Courtney Rowehl. She got her job at the Plaza Café in Southampton by asking chef and owner Doug Gulij, who is one of her teachers, if she could do part of her internship at the well-known seafood restaurant.

“I’ve been there three years now,” Ms. Rowehl said, adding that being successful takes hard work and sacrifice, but the support of her teacher was important. “At Suffolk, there’s a core of teachers that know all the students by name, post jobs and will always push you to do harder internships. I wanted to do the fine dining thing, so I just went for it.”

And that’s exactly what culinary student Ethan Crook of Southold has been doing at North Fork Table & Inn since his internship began in July. He has since turned the apprentice role into a full-time position at the Southold four-star restaurant.

“Working here has definitely helped me progress as a cook in the sense of working more independently and confidently,” Mr. Crook said. “I try to do that as much as I can — to just go for it. I like Julia Childs’ quote, ‘In cooking you have to have a what-the-hell attitude.’ I feel like if you don’t just go for it, then you’re not going to learn how to do it. Sometimes Stephan will tell me that failure is when you learn.”

He’s talking about the restaurant’s rising young chef Stephan Bogardus, 24, of Southold, a former classmate of Mr. Crook’s at Mattituck High School.

Mr. Bogardus said he has enjoyed having students from different culinary schools intern at the restaurant in the past year, noting that Mr. Crook was the restaurant’s first intern.

“Having students from different schools, educations and abilities has helped me display what [executive chef] Gerry Hayden and [acclaimed pastry chef and co-owner] Claudia Fleming … have taught me, which is really what took me to the level I’m now able to achieve,” said Mr. Bogardus, who first joined the North Fork Table & Inn team after graduating in 2009 from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Though Mr. Crook, former cook at the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck, wasn’t an entirely blank slate when he began his internship at North Fork Table & Inn, he said there was a steep learning curve associated with doing his first gig at a high-end restaurant.

“This is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Mr. Crook, now a line-cook at the restaurant. “This is more than just a restaurant. It’s first and foremost a very passionate cooking kitchen. It’s very serious, but enjoyable; I really get a kick out it. I definitely see more types of food, greens and proteins than I think I would in a lot of places.”

[email protected]

01/10/13 5:00pm

Here’s something to warm you up for the winter: The North Fork of Long Island now has something in common with Rioja, Spain and Danube, Austria. All three regions were included in Wine Enthusiast’s recent list of the Top 10 Wine Destinations in the World for 2013.

The news comes three months after travel company TripAdvisor named Long Island one of the top five wine destinations in the country.

“You couldn’t ask for more positive news starting off 2013 than being named one of the world’s top ten wine destinations,” said Ron Goerler, president of the Long Island Wine Council and owner of Jamesport Vineyards. “It’s a shot in the arm this area needs right now … after Sandy, things got very quiet out here.”

But Mr. Goerler said with the approaching Winterfest, the North Fork’s annual jazz and wine festival, things will quickly heat up in North Fork wine region.

“As president of the Long Island Wine Council, I couldn’t be more excited for 2013,” he said.

Founding winemaker Kip Bedell of Bedell Cellars in Southold, was singing the same tune. As someone who has been making wine in the region for more than three decades, he said he “felt all along that this region has a potential to make world class wines, though like any region, we had a lot to learn and much has changed and will change in the vineyards in order to reach that potential.”

See the complete list of wine destinations by clicking here.

01/09/13 5:00pm

Bedell Cellars’s 2009 Merlot will be served at President Barrack Obama’s inauguration luncheon Jan. 21.

The presidential inaugural luncheon is a tradition that dates back to 1867, but this year’s bipartisan breaking of bread between the United States Congress and Supreme Court will feature something entirely new – Long Island wine.

Bedell Cellars’ 2009 merlot, a lauded local wine, will be served with bison at the Jan. 21 luncheon, which will celebrate the new year and the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Bedell’s road from its Southold vineyard to the president’s palate began at New York Farm Day, according to winery CEO Trent Preszler.

“[It’s] an annual event held in Washington D.C. featuring New York agricultural products,” Mr. Preszler said. “It’s all thanks to New York senior senator Charles Schumer (D – N.Y.) and Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. We’ve been working on this for several months now and are proud to finally be able to share the news with the world.”

The CEO, who holds a doctorate in viticulture, said merlots are historically important to Bedell, but that 2009’s vintage is ideal for the traditional toast as a wine that’s “truly expressive of the New York winemaker.”

Founding winemaker Kip Bedell said the vintage is a “classic Long Island merlot” with “ripe tannins and a beautiful balance between fruit and acidity.” The quality of the wine, he said, speaks not only to the crop, but to a successful winemaking style.

“It’s got beautiful fruit characteristics, though 2009 wasn’t as hot as the following year,” he said. “In almost any given year, we can make pretty nice wine. Once the grapes get up to the winemaker, it’s about directing those grapes into the best wine you can make with them. If there’s not a great year with tons of color and tremendous acidity in the fruit, there are ways to make the wine balanced and drinkable, without, say, aging it in oak for a long time so it comes out tasting like a toothpick.”

Mr. Bedell said the 2009 merlot, which has netted Bedell Cellars numerous awards since its release, is a fine choice for the celebration and should make for a “delicious” pairing with the bison.

“Serving Long island’s own Bedell Cellars merlot at the Inaugural luncheon shines a spotlight on one of New York’s world-class wine industry,” Senator Schumer noted in a press release this week. “President Obama, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Cabinet will all get a taste of Long Island’s finest with the addition of Bedell Cellars. I’m pleased to be able to showcase a fantastic New York company, one of many wineries that strengthen our New York’s economy.”

[email protected]

01/04/13 3:00pm
Rich Stabile, Long Island Spirits, Suffolk, Nassau, Long Island, LiV Vodka

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | Rich Stabile owner of Long Island Spirits, the only micro-distillery operating in Suffolk or Nassau counties.

Long Island Spirits, the Island’s first and only vodka distillery, has been housed in a turn-of-the-century barn on Sound Avenue since 2007.

The growing distillery and tasting room is located in Baiting Hollow, where visitors can treat their taste buds to local liquor as they overlook an 80-acre potato farm.

In the past two years, Long island Spirits has gone on to produce the first local whiskey and aged brandy as well.

Those who have worked with the company say Long Island Spirits’ burgeoning success is all thanks to head honcho Richard Stabile, the News-Review’s 2012 Business Person of the Year.

“Richard got there first, period,” said manager James Silver of Peconic Bay Winery, which teamed up with Long Island Spirits to produce the island’s first brandy, Sono Rinata, just over two years ago. “He took what everyone was thinking and did it. It was a brilliant idea to put a distillery in this area — especially one rife with material to be distilled. And then he did it so unbelievably well; I don’t know anyone who wasn’t completely jealous.”

Mr. Silver, a shepherd of his own business’ success, called Mr. Stabile “a leader, and a pragmatic, thoughtful, inspired contributor” to the North Fork’s business landscape who “took a risk few would dare to and made it work.”

And he isn’t the only one singing Mr. Stabile’s praises.

Brand specialist Alicia Messina, who has worked for the distillery founder and owner for three years, said Long Island Spirits has found success not only because they have cornered the local vodka market, but because of the type of boss Mr. Stabile has been all along.

“He is greatly appreciative of his employees and constantly lets them know this,” Ms. Messina said. “Rich has created such a wonderful and friendly work environment within Long Island Spirits, and this pays off in the success he has had with his business over the years.”

The distillery employee said Mr. Stabile’s kindness is not limited to his employees, and she added that he is “always quick to help out with charitable events and fundraisers and enjoys reaching out to people in need,” including donating products to events to benefit finding cures for cancer or being involved in golf outings to support local veterans.

“Rich has brought something new to Long Island and found much success in it,” Ms. Messina said of Mr. Stabile. “LiV vodka has been in numerous blind taste-testing competitions, scoring extremely high, and has been recognized for its domesticity and being an economically friendly product.”

In March, the distillery released Pine Barrens Whiskey, the Island’s premier local whiskey, made from a commercially finished beer, instead of peated malt.

“I’ve always been a whiskey fan,” Mr. Stabile told the Long Island Wine Press earlier this year. “But we wanted to do something different with ours. Most American whiskeys are bourbon-style, made from corn, and there’s a lot of ryes out there. We wanted to do a scotch-style whiskey, single malt, but rather than develop our own peated malt, we thought it would be unique if we used a commercially finished beer. Nobody else does this, that we know of.”

For the product, Mr. Stabile teamed up with Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company, distilling down 850 gallons of one of their beers, Old Howling Bastard, for its first batch.

“We spent a lot of time experimenting with Blue Point before we got going,” Mr. Stabile said of the process, “but we’re just blown away with what we came up with.”

[email protected]