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.

05/04/11 9:21am
05/04/2011 9:21 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Owners Jan and Bill Claudio, center, with staff.

Owner(s): Janice and Bill Claudio, Beatrice and Jerry Tuthill, Kathryn Claudio-Wyse
Year established: 1870
Location: 111 Main St., Greenport
Phone: 631-477-0627       
Attire: Casual/neat       
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Hours: Open seven days; closed seasonally on Tuesday
Web site: www.claudios.com

In 1870, Manuel Claudio left the whaling ship Neva to open a seaside tavern. Today, Claudio’s is the nation’s oldest same-family-owned restaurant, with a bootlegging past that was featured in a History Channel documentary.

History surrounds diners in the circa 1845 registered historic building on beautiful Greenport Harbor. The magnificent Victorian bar was installed in 1886 by Manuel, who salvaged it from an old hotel being torn down in New York’s Bowery. America’s Cup memorabilia and historic photographs grace the dining room.
A classic seafood house, Claudio’s offers waterfront dining on two levels, with a private room for parties and rehearsal dinners. The lunch and dinner menus feature North Fork fish, clams, scallops, oysters, as well as local produce and many local wines. Claudio’s is known for “all things lobster,” serving whole lobsters up to six pounds, as well as lobster tails, scampi, salad and more. Appetizers include award-winning clam chowders, baked clams, crispy calamari and raw bar selections. Among the seafood entrées are pan-seared scallops, soft shell crabs, stuffed shrimp, linguine with clam sauce and more.

Delights from the land include filet mignon tidbits to start, and entrees such as excellent steaks, including porterhouse or New York strip, Long Island duck, or a classic hamburger. Little diners can enjoy chicken fingers, popcorn shrimp or mac and cheese.
The staff is friendly and professional, and the atmosphere is comfortable, with happy hour every Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.

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

03/02/11 1:20pm
03/02/2011 1:20 PM

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | King Kullen shoppers browse nutritional information.

If you’ve ever found yourself at a grocery store reading food nutrition labels and puzzling over how healthy one product is versus another, you’re not alone.

But now, shoppers at King Kullen stores can learn nutritional information with a quick glance at the shelves, courtesy of a nutrition scoring system launched last Friday that stamps food items with a nutritional rating number from 1 to 100.

The least healthful items — like soda, cookies and potato chips — get the lowest scores and the most healthful items — such as broccoli, apples and pears — earn the highest ratings.

The scoring system was developed by the Massachusetts-based nutrition company NuVal and is already being used at 12 other grocery chains around the country.

The Bethpage-based King Kullen is the first chain in the New York metropolitan area to partner with NuVal.

About 13,000 foods in King Kullen stores are now labeled with numbers based on a formula that calculates vitamins, minerals, nutrients, fats, fiber, antioxidants and carbohydrates. The formula is based on U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines, and will be updated every five years.

NuVal developed the scoring system in 2008 in response to growing rates of health problems in the U.S. related to unhealthy eating, despite the traditional USDA labeling found on many food products, said NuVal spokesman Robert Keane.

“The idea behind it is really to reverse the rising tide of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, which are unfortunately on the rise in America today,” Mr. Keane said. “The idea is to have people improve their health one food decision at a time.”

Tracy Cullen, a management associate at King Kullen, said the grocery chain adopted NuVal’s system in response to customer feedback.

“We decided to launch NuVal in our stores because we’ve been following trends and we know nutrition is of paramount concern to our customers,” said Ms. Cullen, a fourth-generation member of the family that owns King Kullen.

Scores are meant to be compared within food categories, like fresh produce or cake mixes, and not across categories. Foods that aren’t identified in the USDA dietary guidelines — like beer and baby food — do not get NuVal scores.

At the King Kullen on Route 25A in Wading River, the NuVal scores can easily be seen on price labels, foods and signs throughout store.

“It’s a good idea,” Wading River resident Len Schutzman, 60, said while food shopping.

“I like eating Kashi, and Kashi has an 89,” he said, peering up at a box of Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs. “That makes me feel good about Kashi.”

Store manager Tom Bevacqua said the scoring system has simplified the shopping experience for nutrition-conscious customers.
“They’re making better nutritional choices,” he said.

Ms. Cullen added that the scores aren’t meant to dissuade customers from buying certain products, but are rather intended to provide customers with nutrition education in one easy number, rather than trying to decipher the myriad numbers and the names of chemical compounds often found on traditional nutrition labels.

“We’re not discouraging anyone from buying something scoring a 1,” Ms. Cullen said. “It’s just an additional piece of information.”


02/03/11 8:56am
02/03/2011 8:56 AM
SUPER BOWL COURTESY GRAPHIC | Feel like you're in a bind and can't think of that easy last-minute recipe for the Super Bowl? Our staff has you covered.

SUPER BOWL COURTESY GRAPHIC | Feel like you're in a bind and can't think of that easy last-minute recipe for the Super Bowl? Our staff has you covered.

We know the story. The Super Bowl is today and you still haven’t figured out what will you be cooking up for the big game. Here are a few last-minute ideas and recipes from Times/Review staff members:

Slow-Cooker Bacon Jam
Submitted by photographer Barbaraellen Koch
(Adapted from Everyday Food, December 2010)

2 pounds sliced bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 medium yellow onions, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup brewed coffee
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons molasses

• In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until bacon is lightly browned. Cook between 20 to 25 minutes.
• With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel covered plate to drain.
• Pour off all but one tablespoon bacon fat (reserve for another use).
• Add onions, cook until translucent.
• Add garlic, cook until fragrant.
• Add coffee, vinegar, sugar, syrup, and molasses. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon.
• Add bacon, stir to combine.
• Transfer mixture to a large slow-cooker (5-6 quarts). Cook uncovered on high for 4 hours or until syrupy.
• Transfer to food processor and pulse to coarsely chop.
• Cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks. Also freezes well.
Makes about 3 cups.

Pigs in a Blanket
Submitted by reporter Samantha Brix
(Adapted from RecipeTips.com)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup onion, chopped fine
1 package mini hot dogs
4 tablespoons barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons cherry jelly
2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls
36 slices sharp cheddar cheese, thin sliced about 1/2 inch long

• In a medium skillet, heat the butter and oil on medium heat.
• Add the chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
• Add the mini hot dogs.
• Stir to combine and heat through.
• Add the barbecue sauce and cherry jelly.
• Stir occasionally until the jelly is blended and heated through.
• Unroll the crescent rolls and lay them out onto a cutting board.
• Cut down the center of each triangle to form two triangles.
• Starting at the wide end of each crescent, place a small slice of cheese, one mini hot dog and a teaspoon of sauce.
• Roll the mini hot dog up to the point of the crescent.
• Place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray.
• Bake in a 375°F oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the crescent is puffed and nicely browned.
• Serve warm.
Makes 12 servings.

Taco Bean Dip
Submitted by graphic artist Kendra Berry

Ingredients and directions:
• Take a package of cream cheese and spread it evenly along the bottom of a Pyrex or glass deep dish.
• Layer a can of chili with beans over the cream cheese.
• Add layers of American cheese on top.
• Throw in the microwave and heat until cheese is melted.
• Cheddar works too, but I find it gets very oily.

Spicy Cheddar-Jack Cauliflower Dip
Submitted by reporter Jennifer Gustavson
(Adapted from WholeFoodsMarket.com)

Florets from 1/2 head cauliflower (about 2 1/2 cups), steamed until very soft and cooled
4 ounces 365 Everyday Value® Neufchâtel cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 to 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) 365 Everyday Value® Cheddar-Jack Shreds
3 lightly packed cups (about 5 ounces) baby spinach leaves

• Heat oven to 375°F.
• Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until very smooth.
• Add Neufchâtel, mayonnaise, jalapeño, garlic, salt and all but 1/2 cup of the cheese shreds and pulse until very smooth.
• Add spinach and pulse until chopped.
• Scrape into a 1-quart ovenproof baking dish or casserole, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until hot and bubbling, about 35 minutes.
• Serve with pita chips or toasted baguette.
Makes 12 servings.