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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05/12/13 12:00pm
05/12/2013 12:00 PM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Jimmy Lin at Sakura, his new sushi restaurant, on Front Street in Greenport.

Greenport has a new sushi and hibachi restaurant.

Jimmy Lin, owner of Sakura Japanese Restaurant on Route 58 in Riverhead, has opened a second location on Front Street, across from the post office. Sakura, which opened April 28, took over the space formerly occupied by Andy’s Unbelievable Burgers and Seafood.

“I’ve lived in Greenport for 15 years and wanted to bring a professional Japanese restaurant here,” Mr. Lin said. Sakura opened its Riverhead location in 2010.

The menu at Greenport’s Sakura includes a variety of lunch and dinner specials as well as sushi and hibachi meals. Unlike the Riverhead location, hibachi grills have not been integrated into the dining room and all food is cooked in Sakura’s kitchen, said Mr. Lin, who also owns New China restaurant on Front Street.

He said that if business goes well at the new Sakura, then he’ll consider expanding the restaurant to add a second dining room that can accommodate hibachi grills so customers can watch their food being prepared in front of them.

“We’ll see how the summer goes,” Mr. Lin said. “We had plenty of customers last week.”

Sakura Japanese Restaurant is located at 204 Front Street in Greenport and offers dine-in, catering and takeout. It does not make deliveries. Call 477-3888 for more information.

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05/08/13 1:00pm
05/08/2013 1:00 PM
chef

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO |  Luke Gustafson, a Hampton Bays senior, prepares his prize-winning dish at Suffolk Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center.

The kitchen was heating up at Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center in Riverhead Tuesday afternoon, where four high school student chefs were competing for a $1,500 scholarship to the culinary program.

Hampton Bays High School senior Luke Gustafson, 18, cooked the prize-winning dish: sliced chicken breast in a tomato-mushroom sauce served with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed French green beans.

To make it to the competition, he and the other aspiring chefs had to compete against culinary students from their own high schools. The winner from each participating school then moved on to the SCCC competition.

Now in its fifth year, the contest was created to support student learning and encourage promising students. It’s also a way to show off the culinary talent Long Island has to offer.

Similar to the Food Network’s cooking competition show “Chopped,” the students were given a mystery basket full of ingredients — and 90 minutes to turn them into a delectable dish.

College instructors kept a watchful eye on the students from start to finish, judging them on cooking techniques, use of ingredients, cleanliness, presentation, taste and creativity. The secret ingredients: chicken, potatoes and fresh green beans.

“They are the most common. If they can take these items and make something good out of them, they’ve accomplished the task,” said Richard Freilich, director of SCCC’s culinary arts program. “We don’t want to make it too difficult; we really just want to see their skill level.”

Other competitors were Daniel Insoyna, 17, a Southold High School junior; Ruben Bernacet, 19, a senior at Bellport High School; and Charles Alifano, 17, a senior at Floral Park Memorial High School.

Each student was accompanied by a culinary teacher from his high school, who came along for support.

Luke and Daniel are both enrolled in the Eastern Suffolk BOCES culinary program in Riverhead, spending 2 1/2 hours per day, five days a week learning different aspects of cooking.

“We’ve used all of the ingredients before,” said BOCES culinary teacher Tom Hashagen, a resident of Shelter Island. “We do a lot of instruction with chicken because it’s the cheapest thing to use. I told the kids it’s what they would probably have.”

Mr. Hashagen described Daniel, who took second place in the competition, as a quick learner. “He’s one of those kids that, once he comes in, you know he’s going to be good,” he said.

“Luke is sort of intense,” Mr. Hashagen continued. “He finds out what he needs to do and attacks it fairly well. He also shows some good leadership qualities we are trying to work on and foster.”

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05/05/13 11:45am
05/05/2013 11:45 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Chef Roy Wohlars of The Riverhead Project (left) and owner Dennis McDermott in the lounge area of the restaurant.

The Riverhead Project has a new executive chef and will debut its revamped, seafood-centric menu later this week.

Roy Wohlars, the former executive chef at Montauk’s South Edison, signed on as head chef of the downtown Riverhead restaurant just days ago, owner Dennis McDermott said.

Mr. Wohlars said the new menu, set to be unveiled Tuesday, is “75 percent seafood.”

“We’ll use the local waters of Long Island including oysters, clams, sea scallops and striped bass,” he said. “When the local farmers start producing vegetables those will also be on the menu.”

Chicken and duck make up the rest of the 2-year-old restaurant’s latest offerings. Menu items of note include a Szechuan-infused version of chicken and waffles and a smoked blue fish pierogi with house made crema, dill and pickled ramps.

Mr. McDermott, who formerly owned The Frisky Oyster in Greenport, is optimistic that Mr. Wohlars’ presence will further enhance revitalization efforts in downtown Riverhead.

“The Frisky Oyster definitely changed the landscape of dining in Greenport and the North Fork,” he said. “When the Riverhead Project came to Riverhead two years ago it did the same thing, and the addition of Roy to the restaurant really puts Riverhead on the map.”

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04/14/13 7:45am
04/14/2013 7:45 AM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Earl and Gloria Fultz, who make cHarissa, a Moroccan-influenced food seasoning.

If you want to spice things up in the kitchen, but your busy schedule prevents you from taking the time to try new things, a North Fork couple has a suggestion for you.

Earl and Gloria Fultz, who live at Peconic Landing, want you to try “cHarissa,” a Moroccan-influenced food seasoning created by Ms. Fultz.

“Moroccan cooking is very complex,” Mr. Fultz said. “The great thing about this spice that Gloria created is it’s a quick way to bring Moroccan flavor to American food.”

The seasoning is a milder version of the Moroccan spice harissa, which uses the very hot jalapeño pepper commonly found in Moroccan cuisine. Instead, cHarissa uses cumin and cayenne pepper to pump up the heat.

Aside from the taste, the seasoning’s real back story is the love story that brought the little $12 jar of spice to life.

“The romantic story is, she did it for me,” Mr. Fultz, 89, said on a recent morning as he prepared a cup of coffee for his wife, who is 85. The two are approaching their 50th wedding anniversary. “Gloria came from Morocco and I came from Montana,” he said.

Ms. Fultz came to the United States during World War II. Her father brought her and her four siblings to America to escape religious persecution. The family endured a 26-day boat trip during hurricane season, Ms. Fultz recalled. Her mother had already made the trip.

She ended up in New York, where Mr. Fultz was attending Columbia University. He began working as a writer and Ms. Fultz’s aunt was his literary agent. That’s how the two first met.

Fifteen years later, with unsuccessful marriages behind them, the couple found one another again, Mr. Fultz said.

Food has always been a passion for the couple, who are both the children of mothers with superb cooking skills.

“Gloria’s mother certainly set the bar high for food,” said Mr. Fultz.

“And his mother, she was really an incredible baker,” his wife countered.

“Good cooks are competitive, and good cooks need a good eater,” Mr. Fultz said. Being the good eater was his job.

Moroccan cooking was a staple in the home Ms. Fultz grew up in, and she continued that tradition with her husband and children. She created the recipe for cHarissa over the course of their lives together and has been serving food with her seasoning for close to 25 years.

“Moroccan cooking, people like it but it’s complicated. It takes two or three hours,” she said. “The genius of this — this makes it instant.”

“The eureka moment was when we threw a party for all of Gloria’s relatives and we served it to everyone,” her husband said. “These people of Moroccan heritage — who feel away from it — they suddenly had a taste of the past. Her family told her to push the product.”

About a year ago, Mr. Fultz got to work and called Jeri Woodhouse, owner of A Taste of the North Fork, a local specialty food purveyor.

“He wanted to start a food business, and so I helped him,” Ms. Woodhouse said.

Since then Ms. Woodhouse has helped the couple with production and marketing for cHarissa. They’ve also been working with Rita Hagerman of Academy Printing in Southold on product labeling.

Mr. Fultz recently introduced cHarissa at the International Restaurant and Food Service Show in Manhattan. With the help of Ms. Woodhouse, the animated Mr. Fultz used his Montana country charm, complete with his cowboy hat, to drum up over 200 potential leads for distributing his wife’s product.

But local residents don’t have to wait for those leads to develop to try cHarissa out. It’s available at A Taste of the North Fork in Southold, The Market and Bruce’s Cafe in Greenport, The Fork & Anchor in East Marion, the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck and Braun’s Seafood in Cutchogue.

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04/01/13 12:51pm
04/01/2013 12:51 PM

FILE PHOTO | The Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport is among a dozen North Fork restaurants that will participate in Hamptons Restaurant Week April 7-14.

Hamptons Restaurant Week returns Sunday, April 7, and 12 North Fork restaurants are participating.

The annual spring event, known for providing prix fixe menus offering some of the most sought after cuisines at a discounted rate, runs from April 7 to April 14.

Below is a list of participating restaurants in our towns and a link and phone number for reservations:

BAITING HOLLOW 

Cooperage Inn

(631) 727-8994

CUTCHOGUE

Touch of Venice Restaurant
(631) 298-5851

GREENPORT

Blue Canoe Oyster Bar & Grill
(631) 477-6888

Noah’s
(631) 477-6720

JAMESPORT

Jamesport Manor Inn
(631) 722-0500

Jedediah Hawkins
(631) 722-2900

NEW SUFFOLK

Legends Restaurant
(631) 734-5123

RIVERHEAD

All Star, The
(631) 998-3565

Bistro 72 at Hotel Indigo
(631) 369-3325

Tweeds Restaurant and Buffalo Bar
(631) 727-6644

SHELTER ISLAND HEIGHTS

La Maison Blanche
(631) 749-1633

SOUTHOLD

North Fork Table & Inn, The
(631) 765-0177

WADING RIVER

La Plage Restaurant
(631) 744-9200

Read more in Thursday’s paper.

02/24/13 12:00pm
02/24/2013 12:00 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Stephan Bogardus of North Fork Table & Inn will take his cooking game to the small screen next month on an episode of Food Network’s ‘Chopped.’

If you watch the popular Food Network contest show “Chopped,” you’ll have a local chef to root for in an episode airing next month.

Stephan Bogardus of Southold, chef de cuisine at The North Fork Table & Inn, will appear in an episode set to air at 10 p.m. March 12.

Mr. Bogardus, 25, learned his way around the kitchen working at several East End eateries. The chef, who speaks four languages, originally planned on attending law school, but was not accepted into any good schools, he said. On the advice of another chef, he attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 2009.

Not long after, he made his was back to the North Fork.

Mr. Bogardus said Gerry Hayden, executive chef of The North Fork Table & Inn, recommended him to “Chopped” producers.

The show pits four chefs against each other competing for a chance to win $10,000. The challenge is to take a mystery basket of ingredients and turn them into dishes that are judged on creativity, presentation, and taste — with minimal time to plan and execute — a description of the show reads.

We sat down with Mr. Bogardus this week to discuss his career and his experience on the show:

Q. What would you say your specialty is?

A. What we have here at the North Fork Table & Inn, American cuisine and comfort food. Fresh local ingredients, they naturally display the pristine of the North Fork.

Q. Were you able to bring any North Fork flare to any of your dishes?

A. Absolutely. I like to feel being a native and a local out here, I brought a lot of personality and Long Island pride to the show for sure.

Q. One of the ingredients in the first round was beef tongue, had you ever worked with it before?

A. I make smoked beef tongue here at the restaurant. We purchased all the cows from Russell McCall at McCall Ranch this year, and so every two weeks we received a whole cow, that had the tongue in it. So I always did some kind of cure. I was quite aware of the ingredient.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of the competition?

A. The timing is really, really hard. I had practiced a couple of times with twenty-minute increments and mystery baskets and things, it goes so much faster when you are in the studio.

It was hands down the most challenging 20 minutes of my life. Not only having to do what they ask you, to put together the best plate against these talented individuals, then there are cameras and lights and cords running across the floor you had to jump over. Something they did in the pantry, they put ingredients all over the place. It’s not all organized and together. There’s a lot of hunting and pecking that you have to do to assemble.

Q. Do you think your young age was an asset, or did it hinder your performance?

A. It was definitely a double-edged sword. It was great because I feel like a lot of the competitors underestimated me, but it was also challenging because my level of experience did not match most others. I would consider myself the least experienced of all the individuals.

Q. How did it feel to be selected as a contestant?

A. I knew I was being considered to be a contestant, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be selected. I’m just a 25-year-old from Southold, I never thought I’d be on TV.

It was a life-changing experience. It was truly an honor to be chosen as a competitor. There was really an acknowledgment toward years of hard work and experience, on a national level, which is pretty sweet.

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