02/23/13 9:29am
02/23/2013 9:29 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | Acclaimed local chef Tom Schaudel, shown here at his restaurant Jewel in Huntington, has signed on as culinary director at the new Suffolk Theater in Riverhead.

The Suffolk Theater is set to open in downtown Riverhead next week and a familiar face has joined the team.

Chef Tom Schaudel, best known on the North Fork as the owner of acclaimed restaurants A Mano and Alure, has signed on as culinary director of the theater.

In that capacity, he’ll oversee the theater’s full-service restaurant and two bars.

A graduate of The Culinary Institute, Mr. Schaudel opened his first restaurant on Long Island 30 years ago.

Mr. Schaudel’s first order of business in his new role was to collaborate with the theater’s food and beverage manager Lawrence Smith on a special cocktail for opening night March 2.

See a recipe for the drink, dubbed The Lord Suffolk Cocktail, below:


Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain

1 3/4 oz Hendricks* gin (5 cl, 7/16 gills)

1/4 oz Cointreau (6 dashes, 1/16 gills)

1/4 oz sweet vermouth (6 dashes, 1/16 gills)

1/4 oz maraschino liqueur (6 dashes, 1/16 gills)

Add lemon twist

Serve in a cocktail glass (4.5 oz)

02/18/13 8:00am
02/18/2013 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Grana Wood Fired Pizza owner and chef David Plath was back at work last Thursday after closing since the end of December.

Last week’s blizzard was hefty enough to close down the Long Island Expressway throughout all of Suffolk, so it’s easy to imagine why some local restaurants find it prudent to shut their doors for a period of time during the colder season.

“Last week was an example of why so many businesses close during winter,” said Dianne Delaney, general manager at Comtesse Thérèse Bistro in Aquebogue. “We live in such an unpredictable climate. We closed for January. The first weekend we were open was a wild success. Then we didn’t even open this past weekend because of the snow.”

Snow or not, Comtesse Thérèse executive chef Arie Pavlou said there are other, non-fi nancial benefits to closing shop for a time.

“It gives you a chance to recharge your batteries,” Mr. Pavlou said. “It can get very monotonous out here without a break.”

Chef and co-owner Noah Schwartz of Noah’s in Greenport said it’s customary for him to close his business during the first two weeks of January.

“Typically we’ve found January to be the slowest time, especially in Greenport,” Mr. Schwartz said. “It helps labor costs because we don’t have staff to not earn any money, but we try to give our staff as many hours as possible. Closing can be hard on the staff who rely on us for year-round income, so we try not to stay closed for too long.”

Business owners often use the downtime to complete renovation projects or even travel to fi nd culinary inspiration.

“Last year we closed for two weeks and this year we took five weeks to put in some bench seating, paint the entire place and finish the bar,” said owner David Plath of Grana in Jamesport. “It was an ideal time to freshen up and to travel around Italy getting ideas for ingredients and dishes.”

Mr. Plath said he got the idea to serve truffled fondue during his most recent trip abroad in January, along with other appetizers that he’ll begin rolling out in the coming weeks.

“One is a lightly fried cod and the other is a chi-chi bean puree that is like an Italian version of hummus,” he said. “I got some great ideas and also got to check out a supplier I’m interested in while I was there.

He also said he’s now feeling refreshed as he gathers momentum to get Grana back up and running.

“Sometimes getting up and going again is like trying to move a thousand-pound elephant,” he said with a laugh.

Instead of just taking a few weeks off, it’s financially necessary for some restaurants to be strictly seasonal, said local restaurateur Adam Lovett of Greenport’s A Lure.

“We’ve tried to stay open during the winter but it just doesn’t make sense with the location and the size of the building and kitchen,” Mr. Lovett said. “It’s not in downtown Southold or Greenport so there’s no foot traffic. It’s out in the middle of a marina that’s closed and the fact of the matter is people don’t always think to have dinner at a waterfront seafood restaurant in February.”

Though he said closing for the season is important for A Lure’s financial survival, Mr. Lovett said the opposite is true for A Mano, his smaller, high-end Italian eatery in Mattituck.

Mr. Lovett said when other area businesses close for the winter, A Mano begins to pick up speed.

“A Mano has a comfortable, wintery feel and when other people close down, we remain pretty busy,” he said. “Ben Suglia at Mattituck Laundry tells me restaurants that stay open during the winter do better in the summer — and who am I to argue? He does a lot of restaurants’ linens in the area and the guy that does your linens knows exactly what business you’re doing.”


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.


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.


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.


11/20/12 12:00pm
11/20/2012 12:00 PM

BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Blue Duck Bakery owwner Keith Kouris (left) and manager Victoria Bragg at the new Riverhead location.

When Blue Duck Bakery owners Nancy and Keith Kouris of Aquebogue started their first bakery in Southampton 14 years ago they found an empty storefront right in the downtown and their business was born.

It started with a simple premise: “Every village needs a bakery.”

That motto led the couple, who also own a Blue Duck in Southold, to open their newest location in Riverhead.

The couple, speaking Tuesday morning from their new location on East Main Street, said they frequented several bakeries growing up in Lindenhurst. And after they got married and moved to Bay Shore and Shirley, there were bakeries close by.

The Riverhead bakery opened it doors Sunday morning for what manager Victoria Bragg of Baiting Hollow said was a “soft opening.”

“The people that were coming in were very excited, because they have been waiting for so long,” Ms. Bragg said. “The most popular item was our artisanal bread.”

Mr. Kouris said his bread has a great reputation.

“We are known all over from Montauk to Manhattan for our bread,” he said. “We have about 80 wholesale customers that we deliver to during the week and about 120 on the weekends.”

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A dozen employees have been hired for the Blue Duck location on East Main Street.

The Riverhead location will have six full-time and six part-time employees and feature 20 kinds of artisanal bread all baked in the Southold bakery’s 12-by-12 ovens.

When the Kouris’ moved from Patchogue to Aquebogue four years ago that said they were well aware of what was going on in downtown Riverhead. They started looking for a spot to open a bakery and it took about two years to find one. With a broad grin on his face Mr. Kouris is happy to say “now I only have an eight-minute commute.”

They are still waiting for the menu boards to arrive and the chairs for the cafe tables. He noted that Superstorm Sandy delayed a lot of the deliveries.

“But we were the lucky ones,” he said. “The delay is nothing.”

And he hopes to have the cafe running after Thanksgiving with soups, salads and sandwiches available.

Now that the wait is over, the Kouris’ are happy to have a bakery in their own village.

“We knew a bakery had to be a part of the community,” he said.

It is open Monday to Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

They still have plans to open a production facility in Riverside with and outlet center and eventually a Blue Duck Bakery and Cafe.

“Hopefully we will be a catalyst to get things rolling over there,” Ms. Kouris said.


09/10/12 8:00am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Ed Harbes of Harbes Family Farms explains the process for growing and harvesting corn.

The North Fork Reform Synagogue held its 6th annual North Fork Foodie Tour on Sunday.

Participants explored the bounty of the North Fork on a self-guided course, which included stops from Jamesport to East Marion.

Local businesses provided samples and behind-the-scenes tours, teaching visitors about everything from sustainable agriculture to milking goats.

See more photos at suffolktimes.com

08/13/12 10:00am
08/13/2012 10:00 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Chef David Distenfeld, co-owner of a new seafood restaurant in Mattituck called Crazy Fork, serves-up a fresh cold poached salmon salad with vegetable Israeli couscous tossed with Taziki sauce.

Mattituck resident Danielle Grzegorczyk closed her Antique Catering & Deli, located on Main Road in Mattituck, at the end of February and reopened this month as Crazy Fork, a new lunch and dinner seafood restaurant.

Ms. Grzegorczyk has said she decided to get out of the deli business after nearly seven years because of the amount of competition in the area.

Chef David Distenfeld, Ms. Grzegorczyk’s business partner, said the new seafood restaurant fills a void in Mattituck.

“People can come in and get a seafood meal made from scratch without having to go to Riverhead or Greenport,” Mr. Distenfeld said. “There are some twists on the menu, but we have all of the basic seafood dishes.”

The family-friendly casual restaurant features many seafood favorites, such as fish tacos, crab cakes and oysters or clams on the half shell.

There are several different seafood entrees, including grilled BBQ salmon with jalapeno honey polenta, stuffed flounder, steamed lobster and linguini with clams.

Crazy Fork also offers several different sandwiches, such as lobster or shrimp rolls, a tuna salad wrap and a slow-roasted roast beef sandwich, which includes Swiss cheese, sauteed onions, vegetables and horseradish sauce served on a pretzel bun.

Mr. Distenfeld said everything on the menu, including soups, dressings, desserts and even the mozzarella cheese, is made from scratch. The breads and fish are delivered daily to the restaurant, he added.

The old countertop has been converted into a wooden bar and Mr. Distenfeld said Crazy Fork will soon serve local beer and wine, too.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Mr. Distenfeld said. “People that live here finally have a seafood place of their own [in Mattituck] where they can get an affordable, fresh meal.”

Crazy Fork is located at 10560 Main Road across the street from the Walbaum’s shopping center. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Crazy Fork is closed on Mondays.

For more information, call (631) 298-1100.


08/05/12 9:34am
08/05/2012 9:34 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead residents Carrie Savonije (from left), Wayne Piaskowski, and Don and Erika Miller toast to the beer sampler they were going to share in a tasting, which included beers from Long Ireland Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewery and Southampton Publik House, in the new North Fork Tasting room Saturday afternoon. It had its grand opening party at Baiting Hollow Commons Friday evening.

There’s a new place in town for North Fork food and wine lovers.

The North Fork Tasting Room, located in the same shopping center as Lobster Roll Northside and the Gingerbread Factory in Baiting Hollow, opened its doors Saturday afternoon. Owner Fred Terry said the store is a “labor of love” that will introduce new local wines to tourists and residents alike.

“This will be particularly a conduit for wineries and future breweries that are off the beaten track, because we are on the beaten track,” Mr. Terry said.

In addition to wine sales by the glass, the store will use Lobster Roll Northside’s kitchens to make a variety of Mr. Terry’s family recipes, from huckleberry pies and other baked goods to smoked meats and fish.

“It’s something that I wanted to do since the inception of this [restaurant] and that’s more culinary arts, more food,” he said. “The
tasting room is as much food tasting as it is beverage tasting, for me.”

07/19/12 1:12pm
07/19/2012 1:12 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Blackwells at Great Rock restaurant’s executive chef Chris Gerdes (left) and general manager Brian Curtin hold up two of the restaurant’s new offerings: sauteed shrimp with white beans and garlic and a grilled pizza with spinach.

Since 2001, Blackwells Restaurant in Wading River has served up steaks of all kinds, from porterhouse to New York strip.

But about two months ago, the steakhouse’s head chef and its manager decided to do something unexpected: completely redesign their menu, eliminating most of their signature steakhouse stylings and going for a leaner, greener look.

“You don’t hear of restaurants that are successful and that are well known and have a good reputation saying ‘We know you love the menu, we’re going to completely change it,’ ” said general manager Brian Curtin. “It just doesn’t happen.”

Two weeks ago, the switch was on. The restaurant got a slightly different name and logo: Blackwells at Great Rock. But perhaps most drastic of all, management was no longer marketing it as a steakhouse.

But meat-lovers shouldn’t fear. The restaurant’s signature porterhouse and Black Angus burgers will still be available. It’s the rest of the menu that’s undergoing a change.

Mr. Curtin said he and executive chef Chris Gerdes wanted to add more variety to the menu by using local produce, a growing trend for East End restaurants. About 80 to 85 percent of the new menu will include produce grown nearby, many from farms just up the road on Sound Avenue, Mr. Curtin said.

“I felt we needed to be right on the cutting edge of that [trend],” he said.

The new menu is smaller than the previous steakhouse offerings, with healthier dishes based on what’s in season, like a grilled pizza with local spinach and smoked mozzarella, or the pan-roasted chicken with Lyonnaise potatoes, mushroom ragu and pan jus.

The restaurant’s offering will change each month, Mr. Gerdes said, adding that he looks forward to using different ingredients for customers to try.

“It’s going to get a little more esoteric as we move along,” he said. “I had to ease people into it because we’ve been the same since we opened: high fat, lots of meat kind of thing, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, bad-for-your-heart kind of stuff. We’re trying to take people in a different direction now.”

Mr. Gerdes, a vegetarian for 30 years and a vegan for the past six, has a corner of one of the restaurant’s supply rooms where he keeps his special ingredients that were rarely used in the steakhouse, like swiss chard or heirloom beans. He calls it his “inspiration area.” “I’m a big lover of food, especially produce.” he said. “[The new menu] means that I can spend hours and hours just immersed in checking the Internet, looking through books, standing in the dry storage, thinking and putting things together and just having a ball with it, just being creative all the time.”

Mr. Curtin said buying the local produce has been more expensive, but the restaurant’s ownership was willing to trust Mr. Gerdes and him to make the change.

“It’s a little more expensive, but we feel where we were with the quality of our menu being a steakhouse, it was the highest-end ingredients,” Mr. Curtin said. “That was our biggest thing. We did not want to sacrifice the quality of what we used to do and what people know us for and love us for.”

So far, he said, the reaction since the initial change two weeks ago has been fairly positive. The restaurant is also listening to its customers, bringing back past customer favorites as specials.

“The menu’s much smaller, but there’s no doubt it’s just as good or on par with what we were doing before,” Mr. Curtin said, “just more variety.”