11/04/13 9:00am
11/04/2013 9:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | A freshly shucked scallop on the half-shell.

Sunrise today marked the official opening of scalloping season on the North Fork.

Area baymen are heading out into state and Southold Town waters in search of the Atlantic bay scallop, found mostly in the small bays and harbors of the Peconic Bay, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Ed Densieski, a baymen from Riverhead said, “you never really know what to expect until the first day of the season.”

He has gone out scouting bay waters for baby scallops, and said he was hopeful it was going to be a good season.

According to the Peconic Estuary Program, during scalloping’s height about 500,000 pounds of bay scallops a season could be harvested from bay waters – equaling almost $2 million in dockside value.

But the scallop population was soon decimated following the first appearance of brown tide in 1985.

The sought-after shellfish has since been making a comeback over the past decade, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

In Southold and Riverhead Town waters, commercial fisherman are limited to five bushels of scallops per person per day.

Two or more people occupying the same boat may take not more than 10 bushels of scallops per day for commercial purposes.

Recreational fisherman can harvest a limit of one bushel per person per day.

10/05/13 10:20pm
10/05/2013 10:20 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | On a beautiful warm afternoon Saturday, a big crowd turned out for the Pour the Core hard cider festival.

Apple season has never tasted so good on the North Fork. The second annual Pour the Core hard cider festival drew more than 2,000 people to Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue Saturday.

To see more photos from the festival, check out Northforker.com.

09/22/13 8:00am
09/22/2013 8:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | North Fork Table & Inn owners Gerry Hayden and his wife, Claudia Fleming-Hayden, inside the Southold restaurant in a 2011 photo.

Local chefs and artisans will band together to help raise money for Gerry Hayden, the longtime executive chef and co-owner of Southold’s North Fork Table & Inn, who was diagnosed in 2011 with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“A Love Shared,” scheduled for Oct. 13 at 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue, will include a wine and amuse-bouche tasting followed by an intimate, family-style dinner prepared by noted North Fork chefs, including Lia Fallon of The Riverhead Project and Keith Luce, of Greenport’s The Square. Local shops and artisans — including Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic and Southold’s A Taste of the North Fork — will provide hors d’oeuvres.

Event organizers hope to raise $75,000 to help provide quality-of-life care for Mr. Hayden, who is 48, and also to support ALS research.

“The event was sparked by an outpouring from the community around me, to help me with my quest to eradicate ALS permanently,” Mr. Hayden wrote in an e-mail. “It was my idea to start a farmers market at the restaurant and have only the farmers we use at the restaurant to share and promote the farm-to-table philosophy.”

Maria McBride, an event planner with Peconic Productions who is helping coordinate “A Love Shared,” said she began talking with Mr. Hayden earlier this year about putting together an event. “If Gerry can get up each day and face his health challenges with humor and grit, then we knew we could certainly create a memorable party to raise money to support Gerry’s fight with ALS,” she said.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a rapidly progressing, incurable and fatal neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive muscle weakness that results in paralysis, according to the Stony Brook University School of Medicine website.

As the phrenic nerve to the diaphragm muscles fails, patients lose the ability to breathe without ventilator support.

Mr. Hayden, who has lost the use of his hands to the disease, said he plans to publish a memoir about how cooking and food have molded him. The book will also include recipes.

In the meantime, Mr. Hayden said, there are three things he’d like to raise awareness for, three things close to his heart: funding for ALS research, the North Fork’s artisan farming community and the tight-knit, talented community of Long Island chefs he belongs to.

“‘A Love Shared’ is my mantra now,” he said. “The phrase itself is how I would liked to be remembered.”

Tickets for “A Love Shared” cost $250 each; only 200 are available.

To purchase tickets or make a donation, visit aloveshared.com or leave a message with Peconic Productions at 631-862-5414.

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09/07/13 4:00pm
09/07/2013 4:00 PM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Downtown Riverhead restaurant Cliff's Rendezvous, which closed at the end of June due to damage from a kitchen fire, reopened its doors Sept. 7.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Downtown Riverhead restaurant Cliff’s Rendezvous, which closed at the end of June due to damage from a kitchen fire, reopened its doors Sept. 7.

A little more than two months after a small kitchen fire forced Cliff’s Rendezvous to close its doors, the downtown Riverhead restaurant reopened for business today with little fanfare but heaps of happy customers.

Christina Saunders, whose husband, Cliff Saunders, owns the casual bar and eatery, said Saturday afternoon she and her husband didn’t know until “the last minute” when the restaurant would be able to reopen.

“We had to make sure everything was in place,” she said. “We got all the permits and all the inspections done. Everybody gave us the green light, so as of yesterday we said, ‘That’s it! We can do it.’ We’ve been waiting a very long time.’ ”

A grease fire broke out at the popular restaurant June 25 when, Mr. Saunders said, one of the chefs in the kitchen left a pan of bacon unattended near the oven and boiler. Although it suffered minor damage, a small section of the restaurant’s roof near the chimney was charred as a result of the fire and carpeting in the lower dining room was damaged and needed to be replaced as well, Mr. Saunders said.

While Cliff’s Rendezvous was closed, Ms. Saunders said, she and the crew took time to give the restaurant a deep cleaning and make some repairs. Both the upper and lower dining room’s carpeted floors were replaced with ceramic tile that looks like hardwood flooring.

“We made good use of the time,” she said.

Lou Welsh, who has been the bartender at Cliff’s Rendezvous for the past 17 years, said between customers he was happy the restaurant had reopened.

“It’s been a long time,” he said.

To thank the firefighters who helped extinguish the fire, Ms. Saunders said the restaurant plans to host a dinner for the Riverhead Fire Department Monday evening.

“[The fire] was in the middle of that heat wave and some of the firefighters were in full uniform,” Ms. Saunders said. “We’ve been here a long time and they came out for us, and it’s nice to be able to say thank you.”

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08/13/13 2:30pm
08/13/2013 2:30 PM

DAWN WATSON PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SOUTHAMPTON PRESS| The scene at the 2012 Harvest East End. The event moves to Cutchogue for the first time this year.

We’re raffling off two tickets to Harvest East End and you have less than two days to enter the contest on northforker.com.

The event features 42 wineries and 34 restaurants helping to celebrate 40 years of Long Island winemaking. The event benefits East End Hospice, Group for the East End, The Peconic Land Trust and the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Foundation.

Harvest East End takes place Aug. 24 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at McCall Vineyards.


Click here to view the instructions and enter the raffle.

07/03/13 12:00pm
07/03/2013 12:00 PM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Vine & Hops Café is expected to open on East Main Street in downtown Riverhead later this summer.

A Jamesport couple plans to open a new wine, beer and coffee shop called Vines & Hops Café in downtown Riverhead next month.

Jeff McKay, a strength and conditioning coach who will be operating the 2,200 square-foot café with his wife, physical therapist Christine McKay, told the News-Review the East Main Street café will offer wine from the North Fork and California along with gourmet coffee and a variety of local craft beers.

“I’ve always wanted to get into the hospitality business and it just formulated in my head because there was nothing out here on the East End like this,” Mr. McKay said.

Artisan food prepared by the North Fork Chocolate Company including cheese platters, flatbread, chocolates and truffles will also be on the menu, which Mr. McKay said will change slightly according to season.

The space will also include couches, televisions in the “beer section,” and a gift shop area where customers can purchase gift baskets.The business will only serve wine that has a 90-point or higher distinction of greatness from Wine Spectator magazine.

“We want to bring quality products,” Mr. McKay said of the café, which he describes as having a “European feel, right down to the lighting.”

“The prices will be extremely affordable, though,” he said.

Vines & Hops Café will be located next to TheWarStore.com, a game shop that opened last month. Both rental properties, along with Twin Forks Bicycles, are owned by Riverhead Enterprises.

“This is the sixth new lease in an 18-month period that we’ve signed,” said Sheldon Gordon, the managing general partner of Riverhead Enterprises. “It’s been remarkable what the interest coming to downtown has been. It’s quite gratifying.”

In Mr. McKay’s estimation, downtown Riverhead is close to being an ideal location for Vines & Hops Café.

“We looked at [opening the shop] in Greenport but it didn’t appeal to us because the winters are so slow there,” Mr. McKay said. “With the theater open and businesses are starting to pop up, we thought, ‘Let’s take advantage of the opportunity and settle into downtown Riverhead.’”

Once the shop opens, Mr. McKay and his wife plan to encourage customers to kick back and relax with their favorite drink.

“We consider ourselves the ‘before’ and ‘after’ place – you can come here before a show or a movie,” Mr. McKay said. “People will be able to come and recognize their favorite beverage and have it in a comfortable atmosphere. It’s not a bar and it’s not a restaurant.

“It’ll be as if you’re home in your living room.”

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06/12/13 10:30am
06/12/2013 10:30 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Strawberries from Patty’s Berries & Bunches in Mattituck on Tuesday.

A little — OK, a lot — of rain put a damper on the much anticipated North Fork strawberry season now underway.

Local farm stands said they’re pressing on despite heavy rainfall that has beleaguered the region of late and is threatening to make the berries rot before they can be sold.

“It’s not prime weather for a super strawberry crop just yet,” said Katie Reeve, the farm stand manager at Bay View Farm Market in Aquebogue. Ms. Reeve said Bay View’s strawberry patch hasn’t been opened to the public yet because of rain and that she expects it to open this weekend.

“The rain makes [the berries] almost melt a little faster,” she said. “They need a lot of sun and heat to make them nice and red and super sweet.”

[Related: How about a strawberry rhubarb pie?]

Eve Kaplan, the owner of Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market in Riverhead, had similar things to say about the strawberries at her U-Pick patch.

“They kind of get really soft and eventually they get gooey,” Ms. Kaplan said.

Tom Wickham, whose family has owned Wickham Fruit Stand in Cutchogue since the 1940s, said harvesting strawberries on the North Fork has always been a challenge. He said the season only lasts about three weeks.

“You can buy strawberries from the West Coast for months in a time at supermarkets because those farmers don’t have to deal with heavy rain,” Mr. Wickham said. “In our case, the rain always seems to be followed by hot, humid weather, just when the crop is being harvested.”

The result is berries ripen suddenly and then become soft.

“There’s nothing new to this,” Mr. Wickham said. “That’s been the nature of strawberry growing here on Long Island for at least the last 50 years. Every summer it’s the same thing. The hot, humid weather is actually worse than the rain in turn of softening up the fruit and making it susceptible to rot.”

Growers can spray fungicide on strawberries to help shield them against the disease organisms that cause rot, Mr. Wickham said, but it’s a practice he finds costly, with marginal benefit to the fruit.

“Growers of strawberries here have learned to live with, and consumers seem to understand, that they are wonderful, flavorful berries,” Mr. Wickham said. “They’re not big but they’re packed with flavor.”

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05/13/13 8:00am
05/13/2013 8:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | A bartender at the Experimental Cocktail Club on Manhattan’s Lower East Side adds an orange peel to a white negroni made with Atsby vermouth.

Atsby. Among those with literary leanings, the name, lacking just one key letter, is explicably linked to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tragic hero, Jay Gatsby.

Atsby Vermouth, however, is far from a lamentable case. The Mattituck distillery, which opened last fall and makes its eponymous product with locally sourced chardonnay, Finger Lakes apple brandy and exotic botanicals, was recently selected by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be featured at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic May 17-21.

Jill Filipovic, Atsby’s social media manager, recently sat down with The Suffolk Times to talk hooch history, how to make the perfect Manhattan and what’s next for the brand.

Q: How did Atsby originate?

A: Our owner, Adam Ford, went on the Tour de Mont Blanc and tried a lot of vermouths in Italy. He decided to come home and essentially play “mad scientist” in his Tribeca kitchen and worked with a certified sommelier to invent a delicious vermouth.

Q: The company’s tagline is ‘Bringing Vermouth Home.’ What does that mean?

A: Vermouth in New York has an incredibly long and rich history. Around the turn of the century, vermouth was “the cool thing” to drink. Atsby’s name is actually a loose acronym of the Assembly Theater on lower Broadway, which spurred cocktail culture in Manhattan. Vermouth fell out of fashion in the 1960s and ’70s, so what we’re trying to do is remind New York that vermouth is very much a part of our local culture.

Q: How was Mattituck chosen as a production site?

A: Adam Ford went to a variety of winemaking facilities. Making vermouth is quite a process, and Premium Wine Group was incredibly accommodating and came up with a lot of creative solutions to make sure everything we were doing was done the right way.

Q: Vermouth production has traditionally been the domain of European countries. How does the West compete?

A: We definitely took a very New World approach to this product. We looked at the way vermouth has been made for centuries and applied the local craft distillery ideals to those processes. Instead of using a base wine, we tested out a bunch of different vintages to see what worked best. We also sourced our botanicals from all over the world so we were getting the best of each thing. Instead of using simple syrup or sugar to sweeten the vermouth, we used raw summer honey in our Amberthorn and then Indian Muscovado sugar that we spin into a caramel for our Armadillo Cake. We’re very inspired by the French and Italian vermouths but wanted to take a very New York perspective on the product. New York is a great melting pot. We feel the product is as well.

Q: Any tips for making an exceptional cocktail?

A: The key is to use really good products. Cocktails tend not to have a ton of ingredients so whatever you’re putting in them really matters. If you’re cutting corners on the drink, you’re going to taste that.

Q: What’s your favorite cocktail recipe?

A: My personal favorite is just the Manhattan. It’s classic and really easy to make. Make it with Armadillo Cake and Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey. The vermouth really stands up to the whiskey. Normally with a Manhattan you’d add bitters to it, but this vermouth is so herbal you don’t need to add them at all. Combine equal parts vermouth and whiskey, shake and enjoy.

Q: What foods should be paired with Atsby vermouths?

A: Amberthorn is crisp and bright, so I love it with oysters on the half shell. Armadillo is really nice as an after-dinner drink or with a really stinky cheese.

Q: This is Atsby’s first time at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. How do you feel?

A: We’re incredibly excited. We just launched at the end of 2012 so we’re very new to the scene, but the Cocktail Classic has so many amazing bartenders and industry people. We’re excited to see all the great things people in Manhattan and around New York State are doing.

Q: Anything new on the horizon?

A: Right now we’re focusing specifically on these two vermouths but in the coming months we’ll start making our second batch, which we’re excited about. And, since vermouth is similar to wine, every batch will be slightly different. It’ll probably be ready to go to market late this fall.

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