12/23/12 7:59am
12/23/2012 7:59 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Peconic Bay scallops seviche.

The North Fork is a beautiful peninsula of land surrounded by Peconic Bay, Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The wetlands, varying salinity, tides and temperatures have created a seascape unique in the world. And the well-drained sandy soil and long growing season have favored agriculture for centuries. As the crush of population moves east, many of our long-developed resources have dwindled, but their traditions hang on. I have enjoyed being a professional chef on the North Fork for the past 40 years, year in, year out and year round. The foods that keep appearing over and over again are ducks, oysters, scallops, clams, finfish and myriad plant foods — including the wine.

As time moves on into the 21st century we sometimes forget that duck farming was a major industry, with production peaking at six million ducks in 1968 from over 30 producers. Greenport was once the oyster capital of the East Coast, with production peaking at about 25 million pounds of oyster meats in the 1930s. Commercial fishing has changed as aquaculture replaces the dwindling supply of wild fish. And the large crops of wholesale potatoes, cauliflower and cabbage have been gradually replaced by specialty farms that seek to compete in a changed marketplace.

But our cuisine, or the art of cookery using the foods and traditions of our area, has evolved into a distinct art form based on these wonderful ingredients. This Christmas dinner is a celebration of some of these special foods. The recipes are intended to serve eight people.

First Course

Peconic Bay Scallop Seviche

Combine in a bowl the juice of 3 limes and 1 teaspoon lime zest. Toss 1 pound of fresh bay scallops in this mixture and add 1/2 cup diced red onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic film and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

At service time, remove the flesh from 2 avocados and cut into half-inch cubes. Lightly toss these in a bowl with the juice of 1 lime. Remove the leaves from 1 bunch of fresh watercress. Cut 1 cup of cherry tomatoes in half.

Place watercress in the bottoms of 8 martini glasses. Add the avocado next and place the scallops and tomatoes on top, pouring the sauce over all. Garnish with a little chopped cilantro.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | A cup of oyster stew is ready to serve on a plate covered in hand painted insects.

Soup Course

Oyster Stew

Purchase 1 pint of fresh shucked oysters. Spray a sauté pan with no-stick and cook 1/4 pound of pancetta at medium heat. Remove to a paper towel, chop coarsely and set aside.

Add to the saucepan 1 tablespoon butter, 2 chopped leeks (white part), 2 minced scallions and 1 cup chopped celery. Season with 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook covered at low heat until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon flour and stir it into the mixture, continuing to cook another 2 minutes. Stir in 2 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream and bring to a simmer.

Add the pint of oysters with their juices and gradually bring back to a simmer. Add the reserved pancetta and check for seasoning. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup crushed pilot crackers. Garnish with pilot crackers and serve.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Putting the garnishes on the Long Island duck.

Entrée

Brined/Steamed/Roasted Duck

Purchase a fresh 6-pound Long Island duck from a local retailer. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity and remove the surrounding fat. Trim the wing tips, the tail and the flap of skin near the neck. Save these for another use and rinse the duck under cold water.

Prepare a brine by combining 2 cups orange juice with 2 cups water. Add 1/2 cup coarse salt, 12 bruised peppercorns, 1 bunch fresh thyme, 1 bunch fresh rosemary, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger. Heat this mixture just enough to dissolve the salt. Add a cup of ice cubes to cool.

Place the duck in a glass or plastic container and pour the brine over it. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Make a glaze by adding to a small saucepan 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the duck from the brine and dry with paper towels. Place it on a V-rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. With a sharp pointed knife, cut a diamond pattern of shallow cuts in the skin. Place in the cavity of the duck 1 quartered orange, 1 bunch of thyme and 1 bunch of rosemary. Tie the legs and wings close to the body with butcher’s twine.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and pour it over the duck, letting the water end up in the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil and place in a 400-degree oven. Cook for 45 minutes and remove the duck from the oven.

Pour off the water and fat and replace the duck in the roasting pan on its rack. Brush the duck all over with the glaze and put it back in the oven, turning down the heat to 375. Let it cook, brushing it with glaze every half-hour, for 1 1/2 hours. If it begins to get too dark, place a loose piece of foil over the breast area. When finished, the duck should be a dark mahogany color and the legs should move easily when squeezed.

Remove duck from the oven and let it rest, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. Cut off the string and remove the herbs and orange from the cavity. Carve the duck at the table or cut it into eighths and partially debone.

Orange Sauce

Purchase 6 navel oranges and squeeze the juice from 4 of them. Remove the zest from 1 orange and set aside. Peel remaining 2 oranges and cut the sections from the membranes.

In a small saucepan, bring to a boil 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Cook until it begins to caramelize and turns golden. Add the reserved orange juice, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1/4 cup minced shallots and 1 cup chicken stock. Simmer until reduced by one-third and swirl in 2 tablespoons cold butter. Add back the orange sections and the zest along with 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as triple sec or Grand Marnier.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Raspberry trifle for dessert.

Dessert

Raspberry Trifle

Begin by making a plain pound cake. Cream 1/2 pound butter with 2 cups sugar for 5 minutes, using a paddle and a mixer at medium speed. Beat in 5 large eggs, one at a time.

Place 3 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl and combine with a whisk.

Combine 3/4 cup buttermilk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a small bowl.

Turn the mixer on to slow speed and alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Spray 2 loaf pans with no-stick and divide the batter between them. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool slightly and turn out cakes on a rack to cool. Wrap and refrigerate.

To make the trifle, make a syrup by bringing to a boil 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur (Chambord, framboise). Remove syrup from heat and let cool.

In a bowl, place 1 cup raspberry jam, 2 tablespoons Chambord and 4 cups fresh raspberries. Combine them gently and set aside.

In a mixer, whip 2 cups heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold in 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar.

Slice the chilled pound cake into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Cut the slices in half to make squares. Fill the bottom of a trifle dish with pound cake (some pieces of cake will have to be trimmed) and brush with syrup. Spread the raspberry mixture over this and then a layer of whipped cream. Repeat with two more layers. Garnish the top with 1 cup fresh raspberries and chill for 2 hours.

(The pound cake recipe was adapted from Ina Garten and the trifle was adapted from Martha Stewart.)

John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. Email: johncross@optonline.net.

 

12/08/12 4:00pm
12/08/2012 4:00 PM
Shellbration, Greenport Village, Long Island festval

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Noah Schwartz, chef and co-owner of Noah’s Restaurant in Greenport, prepares one of the dishes he plans to serve this weekend.

Local winemakers and restaurateurs are poised to come together this weekend to celebrate Greenport Village and the seafood so bountiful in North Fork waters.

It’s called the Shellabration and participants can treat their taste buds to tapas-sized culinary masterpieces from 11 of Greenport’s leading chefs, several of whom will serve more than one dish. They’ll also offer wine pairings from local vineyards to accompany their dishes. All proceeds will go to charity.

This inaugural Shellabration will benefit both Greenport’s roller rink restoration project and SPAT (Southold Project in Aquaculture Training), a donation-reliant arm of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Program.

Participants must purchase a $10 wristband, available at Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, where they can enjoy a free beer and raw bar tasting and get a map of participating village restaurants. Food and wine will be served from noon to 5 p.m. on Dec. 8 and 9.

“This is a great sort of morale booster because the restaurants had to reach out and partner with a vineyard,” said Deborah Pittorino of Cuvée Wine Bar on Front Street. “It’s helping strengthen relationships between our businesses to work in a collaborative manner to get people out there to explore the village in the wintertime.”

Ms. Pittorino said another plus is the benefit will help support “two very worthy causes.”

“SPAT is really an amazing program,” she said. “For many years our shellfish were disappearing and Cornell developed this program to teach people how to cultivate their own oysters. It’s a grass roots movement teaching people how to care for all nature, land and aquatic.”

Cuvée will serve two dishes, perhaps three, that will be paired with wines from Raphael Vineyards in Peconic.

“We’re going to be serving cups of New England clam chowder with local clams paired with Raphael’s Chardeaux, a chardonnay blend, and our signature dish, oysters cuvée, flash-fried oysters on a bed of spinach with truffled beurre blanc, which will be paired with Raphael’s sauvignon blanc,” said Ms. Pittorino.

Getting creative with his dish, chef Scott Bollman at Bruce’s Cheese Emporium said his shop is literally pairing with Osprey’s Dominion. His dish, a Peconic Bay scallop salad to be served with the winery’s unwooded 2010 chardonnay, which is fermented in steel barrels, will resemble an osprey’s nest.

“The marriage of local ingredients is what makes this such a great event,” Mr. Bollman said. “Hopefully it will bring a good amount of people out to Greenport.”

Winemaker Kareem Massoud at Paumanok Vineyards said matching local seafood dishes with local wines is a “natural fit” for an aquaculture festival.

“Light crisp wines with good acidity is the perfect description for what you want to have with shellfish,” Mr. Massoud said. “I think everyone wants to see the Peconic Bay scallop return to its glory days, so we’re happy to help support that effort and if it also helps support the local economy in a slow time, it’s a win-win situation.”

Chef and co-owner Noah Schwartz of Noah’s, also on Front Street, said restaurateurs all support the restoration of the roller rink in the American Legion building on lower Third Street.

“We’re all for the skating rink getting back in action,” Mr. Schwartz said.

At presstime, other restaurants taking part in Shellabration were Biere, Butta Cakes, First and South, Frisky Oyster, Front Street Station, North Fork Oyster Company. Scrimshaw and Vines & Branches. Other wines will be provided by Castello di Borghese, Lieb, Macari, One Woman, Peconic Bay, Shinn and Sparkling Pointe.

American Legion post commander Craig Richter said the group is excited to put the incoming donations from the Shellabration to use at the rink.

“We’ve just about completed the exterior of the building and over the winter we’re going to put in all-new Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant bathrooms, a kitchen and a new floor,” Mr. Richter said. “It’s going to take us a while, but we’re getting closer all the time.”

Kim Tetrault, the aquaculture specialist who heads up the SPAT program, said the program is always thankful for donations and the event is important to reaching one of the group’s goals.

“Our organization promotes the roles that both environmental groups and aquaculture play in the bays and our local community and we want people to come on board with what’s special about the North and South forks,” Mr. Tetrault said. “The Shellabration is exactly that; it’s celebrating everyone coming together to celebrate the fare that is offered here. All of these groups coming together to celebrate, raise awareness and keep our heritage and way of life going. That’s almost more important than the donation.”

For more information, visit shellabration.li.

gvolpe@timesreview.com

10/14/12 8:00am
10/14/2012 8:00 AM

John Ross (center) with two Coast Guard chiefs at his 1967 graduation from the Coast Guard Commissary School.

As I stood on the dock in Greenport watching the U.S. Coast Guard barque Eagle come into port for the recent Maritime Festival, I was suddenly full of memories of a time 45 years ago when I was a cook in the U.S. Coast Guard.

My very first assignment out of boot camp was the 311-foot Coast Guard cutter Mackinac. It was based out of New York Harbor and patrolled the Atlantic from Greenland to Cuba. On my first patrol, in September 1966, we were headed to Guantanamo Bay for training with the Navy when we received an SOS from a ship that had lost power in a raging storm off the Florida Keys.

The storm was Hurricane Inez, one of the most destructive storms on record, causing over 1,000 deaths in the Caribbean. To rescue the ship we headed into giant 30-foot swells and withstood 80 mph winds. The screws of our ship were coming out of the water as the bow was buried in the waves.

In the galley, it was too dangerous to cook hot food, so the crew ate cold cuts and bread. This voyage ended safely and we were able to reach the disabled ship and restore its power. But our ship rarely sailed in calm water, as our mission was to man weather stations and be nearby to help ships and airplanes in distress.

Cooking in this environment required holding on with one hand and cooking with the other. Knives and utensils were always placed on a wet towel to prevent sliding. The galley of the Mackinac was located on the main deck, extending the entire width of the ship, with doors on either side to enhance ventilation. It was equipped with a six-burner stove, a large flat-top griddle, a stack oven, two steam jacketed (trunnion) kettles and a deep fryer with a 12-inch rim around it to prevent splashing. All our equipment was electric, as is common on most ships.

Mr. Ross served on the USS Mackinac in the early 1960s.

Surprisingly, much of our cooking was done from scratch. We made cakes and bread and used fresh produce as long as it lasted into the five-week patrols. In rough seas we would have to make some recipe adjustments, such as reducing the liquid called for in chocolate cake to keep it from rolling out of the pan in the oven. At breakfast we often had to turn the griddle up to 450 degrees so that when we cooked eggs over easy the whites would set immediately, allowing the yolk to roll back and forth while it cooked.

But we cooked some very good food, mostly following the recipe cards developed for the Navy and Marines in 1963. The crew ate meals on the mess deck located below the galley, where tables with benches were bolted to the floor and the food was sent down in a dumbwaiter. Our walk-in freezer and dry stores were located in the hold three decks below and required treacherous trips up and down the ladders.

After a year aboard ship I went to the Coast Guard Commissary School for 16 weeks and was then assigned to the Short Beach lifeboat station near Jones Beach. The station had 21 men and three rescue boats. It was very different from the ship in that I was able to write my own menus and purchase ingredients from local sources.

On weekends during the boating season we had many Coast Guard auxiliary officers on hand to help with law enforcement and rescue operations. These people would often have clambakes on the beach and it introduced me to Long Island’s wonderful bounty of seafood.

After a year at this station I was transferred to Governor’s Island, where I became a food service instructor at the Commissary School. This school consisted of intense four-week segments including classroom theory, meat handling, baking and production, which had us serving meals to the other schools on the island. I was able to teach all four segments and discovered later in my career as a chef that these lessons in the fundamentals of cooking were a great asset. At the time it was just another duty station, although a beautiful one, as my wife and I actually lived on Governor’s Island during the last year of my enlistment.

Here are some updated, small-quantity versions of Coast Guard and Navy classics.

Creamed Beef (‘S.O.S.’)

Spray a large sauté pan with no-stick and place it on medium high heat. Add 1 pound of ground chuck and break it up with a spoon as it cooks. While it is still pink, add 1 chopped onion, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. As the onions cook, add 1/4 cup flour and stir it into the meat to form a roux. Slowly add 2 cups milk, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

This dish can be served over toast or buttermilk biscuits.

Serves 4-6.

Stuffed Peppers (‘S.I.S.’)

Begin by making a stewed tomato sauce. Trim the ends off of 6 plum tomatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch dice. Place them in a saucepan along with 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper. Season with 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes and add 1 small can of tomato sauce.

Cut the tops off of 6 bell peppers. For appearance, use 2 green, 2 red and 2 yellow peppers. Cut out the insides and cut the bottoms so that they stand up. Combine in a large bowl 1 pound of ground meatloaf meat (beef, pork, veal) and 2 chopped chorizo sausages. Add to this 1 cup chopped onion, 2 tablespoons catsup, 1 tablespoon chopped oregano, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Blanch 1 cup brown rice in boiling water for 15 minutes, drain and add to the meat mixture. Stuff this mixture into the peppers and place them in a deep casserole. Pour the sauce over them, cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Serves 6.

Old-Fashioned Navy Bean Soup 

Purchase 1 pound of dried navy beans and rinse them under cold water. Place them in a soup pot and cover with 2 quarts water. Bring them to a boil and turn off the heat. Cover the pot and let rest for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, dice 4 ounces of salt pork and cook at medium heat in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot. When it has turned brown and released its fat, add 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped ribs of celery and 2 chopped carrots. Continue cooking and add 2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme.

Drain the navy beans, saving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Add the beans to the soup pot along with 4 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add 1 bay leaf, 1 can (15 ounces) of chopped tomatoes and a smoked ham hock. Season with 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook uncovered at simmering temperature until beans are tender, adding the reserved liquid as the broth evaporates. Total cooking time should be about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the ham hock, cut off the meat and add it to the soup. Add 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and a little salt to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serves 6-8.

John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. Email: johncross@optonline.net.

10/13/12 10:00am
10/13/2012 10:00 AM
Lieb, Craft restaurants

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Lieb Cellars director of sales John Morales (from left), advertising consultant Peter Pace and owner Mark Lieb in front of the the new ‘Vineyard’ tasting room.

A harvest party will be held at Lieb Cellars’ new tasting room at 13050 Oregon Road in Cutchogue tonight, Saturday, between 5 and 8 p.m. Organizers say it’s a chance to showcase the winery’s new digs.

It took a month longer than owner Mark Lieb originally hoped to open the new tasting room, which opened for business Oct. 1.

An official grand opening kick-off will take place there between 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19.

Live music will also be held at the location every Saturday between 2 and 6 p.m.

Lieb Cellars’ original Mattituck tasting room will remain open in the Premium Wine Group facility, which Mr. Lieb also partially owns.

“I’m very happy,” Mr. Lieb said of the new tasting room last month. “This is something we’ve wanted for a long time. We built this building years ago. It’s a beautiful spot.”

Click here to read our previous story about the new tasting room.

09/22/12 10:00am
09/22/2012 10:00 AM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Complete with a neon sign, the diner is an architectural throwback to a time long past.

Dr. Norm McCullough and his wife, Linda, stop in at The Cutchogue Diner on Main Road most weekdays at 2 p.m. They stop by so often, in fact, that waitress Debbie Stelzer said she gets “discombobulated” if the couple isn’t there to drink their respective tea and coffee while they read the paper, do a crossword puzzle and chat.

“We’re among the fairly regulars,” Dr. McCullough said. “I was more of a regular before I retired from being a general surgeon at ELIH. I would come by to grab a cup of coffee and a piece of toast on my way to the hospital.”

An old-fashioned chrome diner with a maroon color scheme, The Cutchogue Diner first opened as Glover’s restaurant in 1941. This year, John Touhey of Brooklyn reached his 25th anniversary owning the iconic North Fork eatery.

What sets the diner apart from other local eateries, aside from its shiny exterior, Ms. McCullough says, is the “good home cooking.”

Dr. and Ms. McCullough have been eating at the diner for so long they say they’ve outlived many of the longtime regulars. Others have moved away to Florida and other warmer locales.

Mary MacLeod, 25, of Laurel is part of a new generation of regulars. One day last week, she sat across from the McCulloughs, reading a book, eating a plate of fries and sipping a Coca-Cola.

“I come here all the time to sit and read,” Ms. MacLeod said. “I always have, since I’ve been able to drive.”

Perhaps most regular of all at The Cutchogue Diner is the staff.

Managing the restaurant is 37-year-old Fernando Rodriguez, who began his career there as a dishwasher.

“When I first started working here, I didn’t know a lot of English, but [Mr. Touhey] suggested I learn, so I ended up finishing the four-year ESL program at Suffolk Community College in three years,” said Mr. Rodriguez, who immigrated from Guatelama. “I then became a cook and when the position for manager opened up three years ago, he offered it to me and told me it would be a challenge. I took it because I like challenges. I’m a leader, not a follower. I like to keep myself busy and I try to run this place the best way possible.”

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Fancy food it’s not, but still Mary MacLeod was all smiles when waitress Debbie Stelzer delivered a plate of hot french fries last week.

He works closely alongside Mary Ferenc, 55, originally from Poland. The two have had each other’s backs in the kitchen for almost two decades. Ms. Ferenc moved to the U.S. in 1990 and began working at the diner a year later. Mr. Touhey sponsored her citizenship, she said.

Ms. Ferenc said she’s not even the longest tenured employee at the diner, having started after Ms. Stelzer.

“Most of us [from the ’90s], still work here,” Ms. Ferenc said. “A lot of our customers are the same and many times I know what a customer is going to have as soon as they open the door.”

Ms. Ferenc said she takes her devotion to customer satisfaction seriously and considers it a reason customers keep coming back.

“Sometimes people come in and ask for the usual because they know that I should know how they like it,” she said. “For example, many people get scrambled eggs, but they’ll see me and say, ‘You know how I like it,’ because some like them soft and others like them well-done. If someone asks what we have for veggies and it’s peas and carrots, but they don’t like peas, I’ll pick out the peas and give them carrots. I separate them because I like the customers and that’s why the customers like me.”

Mr. Rodriguez said the consistency of meals, thanks to Ms. Ferenc’s exacting attention to detail, is one of the things that make the diner a special place.

“We’re also very flexible and tailor our meals based on what our customers want,” he said. “If someone orders pancakes, but just wants one pancake instead of a stack, we can do that. We’re here to serve people and please them as much as we can.”

It’s the kind of place that brings Westhampton residents Robert Dell and Walter Lapple to the North Fork just about every Friday for lunch.

“We used to go to different places on Fridays,” Mr. Dell said. “But this is our normal Friday luncheon spot now.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com

09/06/12 2:09pm
09/06/2012 2:09 PM
Michelle's Cafe, downtown Riverhead, Griffing Avenue, tavern

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The potential future home of Michelle’s Cafe on Griffing Avenue in downtown Riverhead.

The Riverhead Town Board has requested the corporate papers of a proposed “tavern”  in downtown Riverhead after questions were raised about the true owner of the business during a public hearing Wednesday in Town Hall.

The new business, called Michelle’s Cafe, is seeking a special permit to operate at 155 Griffing Avenue.

Area business owners and town officials on Wednesday expressed concerns with the cafe plans, in part because the applicant’s stepfather and building owner, Luis Tejada, operated a downtown bar that police said was plagued by violent incidents.

That prior business, the Crystal Bar, was located next to Digger O’Dell’s on West Main Street and lost its liquor license in 2007

Supervisor Sean Walter said Thursday night that he was concerned the applicant, Roberto Marroquin, was a “straw man” for Mr. Tejada to run the planned business.

According to town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz, Mr. Tejada signed as the vice president of the cafe on the business’ certificate, and an architect’s plans list Mr. Tejada as the owner of the building.

The town’s code lists several items to be considered by the Town Board before approving or rejecting an application for a special tavern permit.

Included among those factors are the suitability of the business’ location, adequate parking, proper provisions for waste pickup, and the hours the business would be in operation and whether that would require regulation.

The board will also determine whether the proposed tavern would not “prevent or substantially impair” the use or development of other area properties, would not adversely affect health or safety, and that the hazards or disadvantages for a new tavern would not outweigh advantages.

Nearby business owners said during Wednesday’s public hearing that they worried that drunk patrons would create a safety problem.

The applicant’s lawyer said that Mr. Marroquin, not Mr. Tejada, will be running Michelle’s cafe, adding that the application should be judged “on its own merits.”

“This client is new to the scene and hopes to run a successful business,” said attorney Jonathan Brown. “It’s difficult and seems to me unfair that he is painted with a very broad brush.”

According to Mr. Brown’s testimony during the public hearing, the cafe will focus on food, not alcohol, though he acknowledged the tavern would not have a stove or oven to cook food. The business would serve pre-cooked food heated in a microwave, he said.

The public hearing was left open until Sept 14. for residents to submit written comments.

psquire@timesreview.com

09/05/12 9:23pm
09/05/2012 9:23 PM
Griffing Avenue, Downtown Riverhead, Rosa's Cafe

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The proposed Griffing Avenue tavern would not have a stove or oven to cook food, and would only be serving microwaved food.

A proposal to operate a “tavern” on Griffing Avenue in Riverhead met with opposition from downtown business owners during a public hearing at Wednesday’s Riverhead Town Board meeting.

That, and Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter expressed concern that the applicant might be a “straw man” for his stepfather, who operated a downtown bar police say was often the site of violent incidences, before it lost its liquor license in 2007.

The hearing Wednesday afternoon was on a proposal for a special permit to operate what the town code calls a tavern in a storefront on 155 Griffing Avenue, just north of West Main Street.

The applicant was listed as Roberto Marroquin, who heads a company called Rosa’s Cafe, and who proposes to call the new tavern Michelle’s Cafe. A tavern, which town code describes as ““any building or use commonly known as a ‘bar,’ ‘barroom,’ ‘tavern,’ ‘saloon,’ ’cabaret,’ or ‘nightclub,’” requires a special permit under the property’s Downtown Center-1 zoning.

But at the hearing, town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz pointed out that the name on the corresponding application before the New York State Liquor Authority was “Roberto C. Tejada.”

Mr. Marroquin explained that his full name is Roberto Carlo Marroquin Tejada. He also acknowledged, under questioning from Mr. Kozakiewicz, that his stepfather is Luis Tejada, who owned the Crystal Bar, which was located in a building next to Digger’s tavern on West Main Street and was the scene of many incidents back in 2007, according to town police.

Many of those incidents took place in the parking lot behind the bar, which served a mostly Hispanic clientele, and Mr. Tejada publicly stated at the time that he felt he was being unfairly targeted by police.

“I realize we have an uphill battle because Luis Tejada had problems in this town at the Crystal Bar,” said Jonathan Brown, Mr. Marroquin’s attorney.

He said the proposal is not for a bar, but for a cafe where the food is the main focus of the business, not the alcohol.

But Mr. Brown and Mr. Marroquin also acknowledged that the proposed tavern would not have a stove or oven to cook food, and would only be serving pre-cooked food that would be heated with a microwave.

“My concern is that Mr. Marroquin is a straw man for Luis Tejada to open another place,” Mr. Walter said.

Luis Tejada was listed as an owner of the building on town files. Mr. Marroquin would be leasing the site.

Phil Kenter, the owner of nearby Relay Communications on Griffing Avenue, voiced opposition to the proposal and presented the board with a petition signed by 74 people also opposed to the tavern plan.

Mr. Kenter said bars and taverns often get their patrons drunk and those drunk patrons often commit violent crimes.

He expressed concerns for his mostly female staff, especially when they are walking through a parking lot that may have intoxicated men in it after dark.

“This is not the right site for a proposed tavern,” Mr. Kenter said.

Attorneys at the nearby Twomey, Lathan & Shea law firm also voiced opposition to the tavern, for similar reasons as stated by Mr. Kenter.

Karen Hoeg, an attorney at the firm, said she has felt nervous when leaving the building while people are congregating around the West Main Street parking lot.

And Felicia Scocozza of the local Community Awareness Program (CAP), which teaches students drug and alcohol resistance, also voiced opposition, pointing out the high “alcohol density” in the area, based on the number of establishments selling alcohol.

She said research shows that alcohol increases the chances of violence.

Hollis Warner of the George Hill Moore Peconic Monunment Works on Griffing Avenue said he is always picking up alcohol cans and bottles in the alley by his business from the bars that are already in the area now.

“You guys have to give them special permission to do this, I don’t want you to.” Mr. Warner told the Town Board. “If they are just going to be microwaving, I can do that at home.”

The Town Board took no action on the proposal and left the hearing open for written comments until Sept. 14.

tgannon@timesreview.com

09/01/12 12:03pm
09/01/2012 12:03 PM
Lieb, Craft restaurants

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Lieb Cellars director of sales John Morales (from left), advertising consultant Peter Pace and owner Mark Lieb in front of the the new ‘Vineyard’ tasting room.

Something new is coming to the North Fork — and fall Wine Country visitors won’t have to wait long before it’s open to the public.

Lieb Cellars is days away from opening a second tasting room. This one is in a big red barn on Oregon Road in Cutchogue, abutting the winery’s vines and overlooking a sunflower field. The other tasting room is away from the vineyard, in Mattituck.

“Hopefully we’ll be open within the next week at the most,” owner Mark Lieb said Friday. “I’m very happy. This is something we’ve wanted for a long time. We built this building years ago. It’s a beautiful spot.”

The building, which features a patio, tasting room, conference room, offices and cold storage for wine, is a place Mr. Lieb said is not only nice to have, but has become necessary, as the business needed to add office space and provide more elbow room for Wine Country visitors.

“The offices needed to be expanded because we’re growing the business significantly,” he said.

Expansions include a partnership with restaurateur, celebrity chef and five-time James Beard award-winner Tom Colicchio, who chose Lieb Cellar’s pinot blanc for a private label sparkling wine called Craft by Lieb Cellars, Brut Blanc de Blancs. Mr. Colicchio is the founder of Craft and Colicchio & Sons restaurants, including Craftsteak at nearby Foxwoods Resort & Casino.

“The wine will be sold exclusively in Craft restaurants and the Lieb tasting rooms,” said director of sales John Morales.

Mr. Morales is responsible for some of Lieb’s largest clients, which now include Citifield, where two of Lieb Cellars wines are sold by the glass, and Terminal Five at John F. Kennedy airport, where Lieb is the only North Fork winery represented.

“It was hard selling Long Island wine in the beginning,” said Mr. Morales, who has been with Lieb Cellars for 12 years. “Tom [Colicchio] and one of his restaurants, Craft, were one of the first places to really open their doors to the local wine scene. There’s still some hurdles, such as Nassau County, but we’re extremely strong in the Hamptons and pride ourselves on New York City.”

Between the new partnership with Mr. Colicchio, the new tasting room and a mention this month in The New York Times (along with Lenz Winery) for having one of the 12 greatest American wines under $20, the team at Lieb Cellars is looking forward to a great year.

“You’ve got the sunflowers across the street, you’ve got Long Island Sound right over there,” Mr. Lieb said from the new tasting room’s patio. “I think it’s going to be a hot spot this fall.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com