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.”


12/20/11 11:26am
12/20/2011 11:26 AM
Dennis McDermott

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | The Riverhead Project owner Dennis mcDermott in The Vault, the basement of his restaurant, where private parties can be held in an area that once was a bank vault.

I think I found my new “special occasion” dining spot.

Although it has been more than six months since downtown’s The Riverhead Project opened its doors on Maple Avenue, it wasn’t until Saturday that I had my first meal there. I make no exaggeration when I say I was blown away.

As someone who is skeptical of anything that is liked by most people (what can I say, I’m a curmudgeon), I approached The Riverhead Project with an eyebrow raised. After being honored by the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, lauded by every politician in town and receiving a glowing review by the New York Times, I wondered if the place could live up to that much hype.

But from the moment I entered to the time I left, everything was actually perfect.


09/19/11 8:38am
09/19/2011 8:38 AM

JOHN ROSSS PHOTO | Roasted corn-pumpkin chowder by John Ross

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too!
I don’t know how to tell it — but if sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me —
I’d want to ’commodate ’em — all the whole-indurin’ flock —
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!
From “When the Frost is on the Punkin” by James Whitcomb Riley

We know that the pumpkin was one of the first foods cultivated by Native Americans. It became known as one of the “three sisters,” which included maize, beans and squash. And even though the apple came much later to America (it was introduced by colonists), we are now the world’s second biggest producer. We also have much folklore associated with the apple, from Johnny Appleseed to apple pie.

Autumn begins today and the pumpkin and apple play a huge part on the North Fork in the fall. Not only do we see the beautiful colors of pumpkins along the roadside, we smell the delicious aroma of apples.
The apple tree is perhaps the earliest tree to be cultivated by man. The wild apple originated in Asia, where Alexander the Great is said to have found them in 328 BCE. The nutritive value of eating apples is legendary. Low in calories, high in dietary fiber, they contain no saturated fat or cholesterol. They are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and tartaric acid. While they’re best for you when eaten raw with the skin on, we also know that cooked apples are delicious and form an important part of our cuisine. Here are some examples.

Roasted Corn-Pumpkin Chowder

Cut one half of a cheese pumpkin into large chunks. After removing the seeds, take a sharp paring knife and peel off the skin, leaving about 1 pound of 2-inch squares of pumpkin. Toss them in 1 tablespoon of canola oil and place them on a sheet pan. Place 6 shucked ears of corn on the same pan and brush them lightly with oil. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool slightly and cut the pumpkin into half-inch cubes. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and set aside.

Cook 5 strips of bacon in a heavy soup pot and remove. Chop the bacon and set aside. Dice one Spanish onion and one red pepper and sauté until soft in the bacon fat. Dice 6 or 8 fingerling potatoes (about 3/4 pound), leaving the skin on. Add to the soup pot along with 5 cups chicken broth. Season with 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 bay leaf and 3 sprigs of fresh thyme. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes, and add the diced pumpkin and cut corn. Continue cooking another 15 minutes and add 1 cup heavy cream. Check for seasoning and serve.

Garnish with the chopped bacon and grated sharp cheddar cheese.
Serves 4-6.

Baked Apple Dumplings

Begin by making a sauce. Place 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan with 1 cinnamon stick and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Bring to a boil and stir in 2 tablespoons cold butter. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Whisk together 2 cups flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in 2/3 cup shortening with a pastry blender or fork until it looks like coarse meal. Sprinkle 1/2 cup ice water over the mixture and work it in gently with a fork. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead into a smooth dough. Press this into a flat cylinder and wrap in plastic film. Refrigerate while preparing the apples.

Peel 6 small apples (such as Jonagolds), cut them in half through the stems and remove the cores. Put the apple halves in ice water.

Combine 6 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon nutmeg in a small bowl. On a floured surface, roll out the refrigerated dough into a 12- by 18-inch rectangle. Cut the dough into 6 equal squares. Hold two apple halves together and place them in the center of one of the squares. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar mixture over the top of the apple and place a small slice of butter on top. Moisten the edges of the dough with water and fold the corners to the center, pinching the seams together. Repeat for each apple and place the dumplings in a shallow roasting pan. Pour the sauce over them and bake in a 375-degree oven for 35 minutes.Remove, let cool slightly, and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Serves 6.

Apple Caramel Rum Cake

Spread 1 tablespoon soft butter in a 10-inch Bundt pan. Dust with flour and set aside.
Whisk together 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. With an electric mixer, beat 3 large eggs with 2 cups sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract until pale yellow in color, about 3 minutes. Slowly beat in 1 1/2 cups canola oil and 2 tablespoons Myers’s rum. Incorporate the dry ingredients at slow speed.

Peel, core and grate 4 Jonamac apples and fold into the cake batter. Chop 1 cup pecans and fold into the batter. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes. (A skewer should come out clean and the cake should be receding from the sides of the pan.) Remove and cool for about 15 minutes before cutting around the edge and inverting the cake onto a cake rack.

While the cake cools, place 1/4 pound butter into a saucepan with 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon Myers’s rum. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. The sauce will get thick as it cooks. Spoon the sauce over the warm cake while still on the rack. Place the cake on a plate and spoon any extra sauce over all.
Serves 8.

Buttermilk Apple Rings

Whisk together 1 egg and 1/2 cup buttermilk. Fold in 1 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Peel, core and cut into quarter-inch rings three Jonagold apples. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons canola oil in a heavy sauté pan. Dip the apple rings in the batter and fry in the hot butter until puffy and golden.

Turn and cook briefly on the other side and remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve with ice cream or serve as a garnish for pork chops without the sugar.
Serves 4.

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


05/17/11 9:28am
05/17/2011 9:28 AM

Owner(s): Diana DiVello
Year established: 1991
Location: 1410 Manhanset Ave., Greenport
Phone: 631-477-1515
Attire: Casual/neat
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Hours: Open for dinner 7 days in season
Website: portobellonorthfork.com

One of the North Fork’s hidden treasures, Porto Bello Restaurant is well worth a trip to its new location, away from noise and crowds, where diners can enjoy delicious food and a spectacular water view in a secluded setting.

Celebrating its 20th year, owner Diana DiVello has returned the restaurant to its original waterfront location in Greenport’s beautiful Stirling Harbor Marina.

Porto Bello offers an extensive Italian menu, as well as fresh local seafood, locally grown vegetables and North Fork wines. Its specialties include stuffed veal chop, pan-seared chicken and the Porto Bello mushroom, grilled and topped with roasted red peppers, Gorgonzola cheese and a balsamic reduction.

“Our Bolognese sauce is a favorite of diners,” said Diana, “made with beef and veal, tomatoes and a touch of cream. And our Italian cheesecake, made with ricotta, is a delectable finish.”

Named “Best of the Best” Italian Food in 2010 by Dan’s Papers, Porto Bello offers an upscale dining experience and professional, friendly staff who pay great attention to diners’ needs. It also provides on-site catering and can accommodate special events.

“We recently had an exciting phone call from Zagat’s, telling us that our ratings for food, service and decor were all up, across the board,” said Diana.

The Dining Guide is not a review column. It appears as a courtesy to Times/Review Newspapers advertisers.