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02/28/11 8:00am
02/28/2011 8:00 AM

There are 10 Commandments, several sins against the Holy Spirit, innumerable offenses that cry to heaven for vengeance and surely many other lists of forbidden acts from congregations unknown to me. Yet one such act has been able to fly under the radar and avoid the spotlight, maybe even bargained off the table by Moses up there on the mountaintop. Commandment No. 11 should definitely be “Thou shalt not throw out books.”

I am a good boy, and I do not throw out books. My wife, pure as the driven white stuff in all other matters, will have to face the music at the Pearlies, and confess that she does. She also leads me into temptation, saying things like, “That carton in the garage that says ‘JERRY’S BOOKS’ is from when we moved from Centerport to Fort Salonga 23 years ago.” There are two not too subtle messages here: 1) You’ll never read any of those books and 2) You’ll never read any of those books. She’ll discover today, as she reads this, that two years ago I rooted around among those books, plucked out “The Caine Mutiny” and reread it. (It was so good I put it back in the carton.)

Throw out books? I’m looking at our bookcase and there’s a copy of “This Is My Best,” a compilation of writing by 93 American authors, copyright 1942. I’ve rarely looked at it since then but after all, it was my father’s book. It’s also two inches thick, looks terrific in the bookcase and contains six Ogden Nash poems.

Oh, here’s “The Best of H.T. Webster” from 1953. Anybody remember H.T. Webster? Yes, the cartoonist who created Casper Milquetoast, “The Timid Soul.” A treasure. Look, here’s a 4 1/4- by six-inch book, “Barrack Room Ballads and Ditties” by Rudyard Kipling, circa 1899. A beauty — three-color stamped cover, two-color title page, printed endpapers …

But those are sort of exotic. Why do I have six hardbound Elmore Leonards, including 1985’s “Glitz”? Why are there endless clusters of John Irving, Robert Parker and Barbara Kingsolver paperbacks? Why is there a brittle and brown 1972 paperback of “The Maltese Falcon”? Why are there three Spanish college textbooks? And why is David McCullough’s 1,120-page “Truman” taking up all that space? (I know the answer to this — I actually finished it and remain extraordinarily pleased with myself.) And where’s my “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?”

Oh, there is something else. I saw a rare book company’s ad offering an original 1926 “Winnie the Pooh” for $8,200. My copy is from 1935, the 114th printing (truly), but hey, hope is the thing with feathers.

I do have my “Lucky to Be a Yankee,” Joe DiMaggio’s 1946 autobiography — the first and only printing, in pretty good shape. In my mind I see an old guy living in an old house on Old Shipyard Lane calling me up saying, “I read your latest column. I’ll give you [pick one: $8,200 / $820 / $82 / $8.20 / $.82] for the DiMaggio book.”

Then there’s my 1945 first printing of Weegee’s “Naked City,” Weegee being the famous New York City photographer who … oh, never mind.

Mr. Case, of Southold, is retired from Oxford University Press and a former member of Southold Free Library’s board of trustees. He can be reached at [email protected]

02/27/11 8:00am
02/27/2011 8:00 AM

I received this message from my son Greg, who lives in California: “Mom, I need to talk to you.” Mom-brain snapped to attention: Was my daughter-in-law Julie all right? Was Greg OK? I had to get home, and fast.

While driving home, Mom-brain was spinning scary tales. Then, I heard a bleep, bleep sound and saw a flashing red light through my rearview mirror. I pulled over and … you can guess the rest. How ironic: I didn’t use my cell phone for fear of breaking the law, and I’m one of the folks who complains about cars speeding on Peconic Bay Boulevard.

Fifteen minutes later, I walked through my front door and made a beeline for the phone. Greg and I discussed the matter at hand and then I swiftly dealt with the ticket. I pleaded guilty.

About two weeks later, I received an official letter from the Town of Riverhead. It stated that I had incurred six points on my driver’s license along with a hefty fine; however, I could conference my traffic ticket before the town justice. I called the court clerk and was given a date and time for the conference.

On the appointed day, I drove to court with a la-di-da attitude. After entering the courthouse, I immediately stepped up to the end of a long line. As the line inched forward, I passed through the metal detector, my purse survived its search (I carry too much stuff!) and my la-di-da attitude was gone.

Taking a seat in the courtroom, I thought, “This is the real deal.”

The fellow sitting next to me asked, “Whadjado?”

I quickly replied, “Speeding ticket.” He chuckled and proceeded to disclose his tale of woe.

That morning, I heard many tales of woe. When a recess was called, I had an opportunity to speak with a district attorney. She explained my options, all of which were unnerving.

Right about this time, the lovely gal who serves as a translator walked over to me and asked, “Are you ‘the Ceil’ who writes the column in the paper? I saw your name on the docket.”

“Lordy, lordy,” I thought, “did she say docket?” Wanting to disappear, I nervously answered, “Yes, but I’m only here for a speeding ticket.”

When the court reconvened, I waited anxiously for my name to be called and heard more heartbreaking stories. At one point, some folks in the courtroom snickered. The judge silenced the court by saying something like, show some compassion, everyone has troubles. I was impressed with his own compassion and hoped he had enough left for me.

When I heard my name, I jumped up and faced the judge. The upshot? I received 14 hours of community service and a fine, which will be imposed when I return to court in April.

Tearfully, I called my priest and recited my tale of woe. He told me not to worry; he had plenty of work for me. I vaguely remember the words “indentured servant.”

Frank volunteers on the first Thursday of the month when our parish, Church of the Redeemer, hosts Maureen’s Haven. I tagged along with Frank and began my community service.

Under Frank’s watchful eye, I made numerous pitchers of juice. Other volunteers were busy preparing lunches, setting up tables and heating the donated food. Everything was ready when our guests arrived.

While I was scraping and soaking mountains of dishes, I realized that we volunteers were all our guests had on this very cold night. I wondered what sad tales brought them here.

This whole episode gave me pause. I bumped myself to first class by insisting it was only a speeding ticket when, in reality, I could have maimed someone, hurt myself and caused untold misery to others.

I signed up for another night at Maureen’s Haven; methinks they are serving humble pie.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

02/21/11 9:30am
02/21/2011 9:30 AM

Note: This column was written (and cooked) by Dr. John Miller of Cut­chogue, a friend, an equestrian veterinarian and serious amateur cook.

Having had enough of this North Fork winter, I feel it’s time to take a break by having a few friends for dinner and celebrating “Fat Tuesday,” or Mardi Gras. Having a daughter who attends Tulane University in New Orleans has allowed me to explore the rich culinary offerings of “The Big Easy.” Mardi Gras refers to the tradition of eating rich food before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras has become a world-famous event, and it showcases the regional Cajun and Creole cooking that has made the city famous.

The difference between Cajun (or Acadian) and Creole cooking has a great deal to do with their origins. The Acadians migrated from France to Nova Scotia in the 17th century and in 1755 were literally removed from their homes by the British and abandoned along the East Coast. They wandered to many places, but a large group ended up in Louisiana and settled there. They became known as “Cajuns” and developed a style of country cooking that used lard in making dark roux and hot peppers as seasoning for the many seafood and rice dishes.

The Creole people descended from French and Spanish colonists in Louisiana before the territory became part of the United States. Creole cuisine is distinctly French, influenced by Spanish, African, Italian, English and German colonists.

Cajuns put all of their ingredients in one pot, while Creoles like them separate. Cajuns use lard while Creoles prefer butter. The former can be considered more of a country cooking style while the latter more akin to city cooking. Here are a few recipes to start the celebration:

Angels and Devils on Horseback
Shuck 12 oysters and place them on the half shell on a sheet pan. Preheat the broiler. Combine 1/2 cup white wine, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Add 12 bay scallops and toss to coat. Marinate for 10 minutes.
Place 4 slices of bacon on a paper towel over a plate and microwave for 3 minutes to blanch the bacon. Cut the bacon into small pieces and set aside. Place 1 scallop next to each oyster and sprinkle the bacon over all. Spoon the marinade over the oysters and broil until bacon is crispy and the scallops are opaque. Serve with additional hot sauce.
Serves 4.

Perhaps the most famous of all Louisiana dishes, gumbo derives its name from a West African Bantu tribe’s word for okra, which is “ki ngombo.” It is a happy marriage of cooking techniques and ingredients used by settlers, Africans and Native Americans. It features okra, a vegetable pod that has been prized in Africa since prehistoric times. Slaves brought it to the Americas and called it gumbo, a name that was later extended to denote a stew made with the vegetable. Okra gives the gumbo a rich, earthy flavor, but more importantly thickens the stew as it simmers. It is readily available in the frozen section of grocery stores.
The Cajun version of gumbo uses a dark roux made from lard, andouille sausage and crawfish. Begin by placing a large Dutch oven over medium heat and adding 1/4 cup lard (you can substitute vegetable oil) and 1/4 cup flour. Cook this roux, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about 25 minutes or until it turns the color of chocolate. Add 2 cups chopped onions, 1 cup chopped green bell peppers, and 1 cup diced celery. Cut up 1 pound of andouille sausage and 1 pound of boneless, skinless duck breast into small pieces. Add sausage and duck breast to the roux mixture along with 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning. When vegetables are soft, add 2 quarts chicken broth and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.
Season 1 pound of shelled crawfish and 1 pound of shelled and deveined shrimp with 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning and add to the gumbo. Stir in 1 pound of okra (thawed if frozen) and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Check for seasoning and serve over white rice topped with chopped green onions, chopped parsley and filé powder.
Serves 6.

Red Beans and Rice
In Louisiana, Monday is red beans and rice day. The beans are often simmered with the ham bone left over from Sunday dinner. The beans are ladled over white steamed rice and garnished with scallions.
Begin by soaking 1/2 pound of dried red beans in cold water overnight. In a heavy soup pot heat 2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil. Add 1/4 cup tasso (smoked ham butt) and cook for 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup chopped yellow onions, 1/3 cup chopped celery and 1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Cut 1/4 pound smoked sausage into 1-inch pieces and add to the pot with 3/4 pound smoked ham hocks. It’s important to crack the ham hock to expose the marrow. Cook until sausage and hocks have become brown. Stir in 2 tablespoons minced garlic. Drain the soaked beans and add them along with 5 cups chicken broth. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours or until beans are soft. Discard hock bone (if desired) before serving over white rice.
Serves 4.

Cajun Beer Biscuits
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder in a large bowl. Cut up 1 1/4 sticks of butter and add to the dry ingredients. With a pastry blender (or your hands) cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Gradually stir in 1 cup beer and 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers until dry ingredients are moist. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead into a ball. Do not overwork the dough, as it will toughen it. Roll out the dough into a thick rectangle and cut into 12 biscuits. Line a sheet pan with parchment and bake until lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper and serve hot.
Serves 6.

Red Velvet CupcakesRed Velvet Cupcakes
with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sift together 1 1/4 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cocoa. In a separate bowl whisk together 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon red food coloring, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 3/4 cup canola oil. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix thoroughly. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners and fill them two-thirds full. Place in a 350-degree oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and cool.
For the frosting, combine 8 ounces softened cream cheese, 1 stick of softened butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a mixer bowl and beat with a paddle until smooth. Reduce speed and add 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar. Increase speed and whip frosting until fluffy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish with fresh raspberries.
Serves 6.

John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. E-mail: [email protected]

02/21/11 9:29am

This is the second of a two-part column on shoulder pain.

Both forms of arthritis ­— osteoarthritis and rotator cuff tear arthropathy — can cause the disabling symptoms of shoulder pain and limited motion of the shoulder, but the type of shoulder replacement needed will differ depending on the type of arthritis present.

In osteoarthritis resulting from wear and tear, the soft tissues surrounding the shoulder, including the rotator cuff, are generally in good shape and provide a stable soft tissue envelope for the shoulder. A normally functioning rotator cuff adds stability to the shoulder joint, keeping the ball centered on the socket. In these cases, a conventional total shoulder replacement, one that replaces both the ball and the socket of the shoulder but has the same shape as the native shoulder, can be used.

However, in the case of rotator cuff tear arthropathy, the soft tissue envelope around the shoulder is inadequate, leading to instability of the ball on the socket. In this case, the deficient rotator cuff is unable to keep the ball centered on the socket, and the ball moves up and forward on the socket. If a conventional shoulder replacement is used in this setting, it will generally fail early. Therefore, a reverse shoulder arthroplasty can be used instead to add stability to the unstable shoulder joint. As its name implies, a reverse shoulder arthroplasty switches the location of the ball and socket relative to the native shoulder. It places the ball on the end of the shoulder blade and the socket at the top of the arm bone and greatly increases the stability of the unstable shoulder joint. The procedure was developed in France about 25 years ago and has been performed in the United States since 2001, gaining FDA approval in 2005. The procedure offers a reliable treatment option for patients who have often been told nothing can be done for their dysfunctional shoulders.

Each of these shoulder replacement options can dramatically reduce the pain of shoulder arthritis and improve a patient’s range of motion. Patients with osteoarthritis treated with a conventional total shoulder replacement generally see a return in their range of motion that approaches what they had prior to having shoulder problems in the first place. These shoulder replacements have a longevity and patient satisfaction similar to total hip and knee replacement surgeries. Those patients with shoulder dysfunction from rotator cuff tear arthropathy treated with a reverse shoulder replacement note similar pain relief to patients treated with a standard total shoulder arthroplasty. The ultimate range of motion achieved after a reverse replacement generally is slightly less than that obtained after a conventional total shoulder arthroplasty, but these patients generally start with a much more limited range of motion as well. In fact, cuff tear arthropathy is often associated with a clinical entity called the “pseudoparalytic” shoulder, a condition characterized by such limited shoulder range of motion that patients are unable to elevate their arm at all. The life expectancy of reverse shoulder replacements is still being resolved, but studies show that almost 95 percent of patients treated with this procedure still have their implants in place at nine years out from the surgery.

Dr. Matthew Walker practices with Long Island Bone and Joint, with offices in Riverhead and Southampton.

02/21/11 8:00am
A noisy group of blue-crowned parakeets squabbles at a feeder.

BARBARA STOUTENBURGH PHOTO | A noisy group of blue-crowned parakeets squabbles at a feeder.

As our lives have slowed down, Barbara and I have been spending our winter months down in Florida, where we follow our feathered friends by looking for them as we travel around on the shores or inland, but mostly by enjoying them daily as they visit our feeders.

Up North during the cold winter months when food becomes scarce feeders become more important and you are able to attract the regulars like the chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers and house finches.

You might also see some of the more unusual birds at your feeder during the extremely cold weather, such as the fox sparrow, the white-throated sparrow, the Carolina wren or the flicker.

The one bird that you have at your feeders that we see down here in Florida is the red-bellied woodpecker. They are at our feeder regularly with the grackles and English sparrows. Both the male and female red-bellied woodpeckers are around every day. If there doesn’t happen to be any food out when they arrive, we hear them scolding us even before we are up.

They enjoy sunflower seeds, and if there are any peanuts mixed in they’ll pick them out first. Just across from us there is a huge old Australian pine tree where the red-bellies stash their sunflower seeds into cracks and crevices for later use. They also use the telephone poles nearby where there are many holes from the servicemen who have used climbing spikes or gaffs to climb up the poles

The main food for all woodpeckers is insects and grubs that burrow beneath the bark of the tree. Their stiff tail feathers act as support as they work their way up and down the tree. This red-bellied woodpecker has the added advantage of being able to stick out its barbed tongue nearly two to three inches beyond the end of its beak to search under the bark. The tongue is sticky, making it easy to pull out prey from deep crevices.

While we enjoy watching the red-bellied woodpeckers at our window feeder, our real treat down here in Florida is the daily visits of the colorful and noisy parakeets. We have three different species that visit us: the monk, the blue-crowned and the black-hooded.

Parakeets originate in South America, where they are a major agricultural pest. The most common of the three are the monk parakeets, with their bright green upper parts, pale gray forehead and breast, and an orange hooked bill. The monk parakeet is most common as it can withstand the cold of the northern climate. There are colonies up around our area in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Kept as pets these noisy birds can acquire a large vocabulary. We recently spoke to someone who saved a young monk parakeet that had fallen out of its nest. They raised it to adulthood, when it became quite a pet and a friend to the family dog.

The monk parakeet is the only one that builds a large stick nest in trees or man-made structures, where many pairs live together rather than having a single hole or crevice in a tree. We’ve seen these nests in many places where we have traveled, and right here around the block from us there was a big nest with many noisy families living together at the top of a telephone pole.

The parakeet that comes to our feeder in the greatest numbers is the blue-crowned parakeet. This is one of the largest parakeets. Its nest is just a hole in a tree. It has green plumage, a long tapered tail, black and tan colored beak and has a most noticeable featherless eye ring. The dull blue covering covers the forehead, crown and cheeks. The tail feathers are green on top, maroon to reddish brown underneath, changing to a bright orange and scarlet as they fly. As the morning or late afternoon light hits the colorful feathers of these birds at the feeder they are an unforgettable sight.

The black hooded parakeet.

BARBARA STOUTENBURGH PHOTO | The black hooded parakeet.

Of the three parakeets that visit us, the one that shies away from our feeder but sits and screams on the wires above and in the treetops is the black-hooded parakeet — as we write this there are two screaming outside as they look simply striking feeding high in the tree near us in the late sun of the day. Caged birds have been released in numerous places, and in nearby St. Petersburg they have been well established.

It is hard to describe the coloring on this bird. As it sits in the sun feeding with others of its kind, we can see the black facial mask and beak. It has black trailing flight feathers on its wings and a long tail edged in blue. The upper chest is bluish green and the lower chest has paler green feathers, while on the thighs there are very noticeable red feathers (almost circus-like in color).

It is said they are known for their very loud call, as we have noticed. In fact some, and we, would say they “scream.” You can always tell when they are in the area.

While we have some of the birds that you have during the winter on the North Fork, the birds that catch our attention most down here are the noisy and colorful parakeets.

02/13/11 9:00am
02/13/2011 9:00 AM

I’ve been thinking about the word love, and why not? We’ve been blitzed with Valentine’s Day hype since January. I’m as romantic as the next girl and, surely, roses from Frank are always welcome. Methinks, however, Cupid may be a tad annoyed that Valentine’s Day has become a profit-making business.

Although love is an emotion we all feel, its meaning can be perplexing. I was surprised to learn that English has but one word for the different nuances of love. Professing love for my computer or my red shoes is certainly not the same love I feel for Frank or my kids. For argument’s sake, I’m gonna stick to this definition of love: “The profoundly tender emotion we feel for another person.”

Love has a long history dating back to biblical times. We’re all familiar with these romantic twosomes: Adam and Eve, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Ceil and Frank, and so on.

Love songs have been written since ancient times and they continue to dominate the music scene today. Romance-themed movies — aka “chick flicks” —  are a popular genre. Many gals attend chick flicks together to have a good time crying.

The sheer number of romance novels is mind-boggling. They can range from Harlequin romances to “Jane Eyre.” Love poems and sonnets are in abundance. King Solomon wrote the “Song of Songs,” found in the Old Testament, which extols the virtues of love. Even Shakespeare got into the act and wrote 154 love sonnets.

I suppose, then, the adage “Love makes the world go round” has merit. This brings me to my burning question: Is the word love overused or underused?

Years ago, I had a friend who was married to a seemingly nice guy. He spent long hours in the office and provided well for his family. From my vantage point (and my friend’s) theirs was an ideal marriage.

Deciding to surprise him at his office one day, she was shocked to discover that he had left for the day. She did a little detective work and … you can guess the rest. With mascara running down her cheeks, she revealed to me that he never missed a chance to say, “I love you.”

Ending a telephone conversation with a casual “Love you” is in vogue today. Certainly, many of us mean it, while others may speak empty words. Ironically, the “love you” folks are sometimes missing in action when trouble strikes.

The expressions “Love ya” or “Love U” are added ad nauseam at the end of an e-mail.

Alternatively, there are the silent folk. Here’s a typical dialogue that may sound familiar:

He/she asks, “Do you love me?”

“You know I do, why do you ask?”

“Because you never say it.”

“But you know I do.”

Couples who are together for some time may get comfortable with each other. Saying these three little words can seem unimportant and, for sure, it’s not always the assertion of love that speaks the loudest. Saying “I love you” is a great and effective aphrodisiac.

Deathbed guilt is the worst. The coulda, woulda, shoulda trio can ravage your emotions. Yet, sadly, one of the most prevalent regrets heard is, “I should have said ‘I love you’ more often.”

Scientists have proved that there is a thin line between love and hate. The same brain chemistry is involved in both emotions. It’s like: Sometimes you feel love; sometimes you don’t. Huh? Better leave it to the scientists.

So, is the word love overused or underused? Alas, I’ve drawn no conclusions. Perhaps, it just depends on the circumstance and the source, or maybe it’s a moot question. Hmm. I’m going with the latter.

But hold on! I do know a reliable source that says, “Love is patient, love is kind.” Maybe this is all we need to know.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

02/12/11 10:00am
02/12/2011 10:00 AM

Every winter, I look forward to visiting some of my winemaking friends’ cellars to taste the most recent vintage. In January or February, the wines that were harvested in September and October have evolved to the point that they are beginning to show some personality. The yeasty froth of fermentation has settled and, while the wines may be raw on the palate and subdued on the nose, they begin to show some of the quirks that will distinguish them as they age.

The snows of 2011 may be payback for what was an unprecedentedly warm growing season in 2010. Budbreak came two weeks early and the vines ripened in fast-forward. Harvest began earlier than ever, putting an intensive workload on the cellar crews, since all the fruit was ready at once. Because it was very ripe, winemakers had to alter their thinking about how to conduct the fermentations. White wines that would normally undergo a malolactic fermentation to reduce acidity no longer needed that; reds that were usually light quaffers became candidates for serious aging.

Although it’s impractical for wineries to taste these unfinished wines out with the general public, Lenz Winery in Peconic makes an exception. On Saturdays in February and March, Lenz winemaker Eric Fry will lead small groups on a cellar tour (free to subscribers; $25 to general public, by reservation).

With Lenz since the mid-’80s, Fry is one of Long Island’s most experienced winemakers. Trained as a microbiologist, with winemaking jobs in California, France and the Finger Lakes, he now makes wine more intuitively than analytically.

To say that Lenz is a no-frills winery would be putting it mildly; the old barn where the wines are fermented is a minimal shell of a building, and it’s a good thing that Fry spent his youth spelunking, because the place is as dark as a cave. Despite the gloom, Fry can identify the nuances of every barrel of wine. For him, attention to the wines themselves, rather than technological manipulation, is the route to complex, interesting wines.

When I spent a recent afternoon tasting out the Lenz 2010 wines with Fry, all primary fermentations were complete, but the small cuvées that would eventually be blended were still separate, which made for an interesting view of wine components.

First, we tried a sauvignon blanc, one of the custom crush wines made at Lenz for grower-clients. I was impressed by its in-your-face peach aroma, though its body was leaner than I expected from such a warm year. Lenz’s gewürtztraminer, for which Fry has a dedicated following, was wildly appealing, with an unusual cardamom spiciness that Fry predicted would evolve to rose petal aromas. The pinot noir cuvée, a base for sparkling wine, still showed some pink color that will disappear during its second fermentation in bottle. It had a huge amount of acidity, as is proper for sparkling wine, but the body of the wine was downright rich. With a hint of white cherry aromas, it was like a fresh taste of cherries in snow.

For me, tasting the chardonnay was a reunion with an old friend. Fry told me that, for the low-priced White Label, the fruit was riper than he wanted it to be. “It lacks lemon,” he said.

I said, “Yum.”

The rest of the chards were bright and vivacious. Although they will see some oak, Fry is backing off the use of wood, preferring his white wines to be fresh and fruit-driven.

When it comes to red wine, oak still plays a role at Lenz, though again, in a vintage with superior fruit like 2010, oak takes a back seat. As I tasted through some excellent cabernet franc, petit verdot, malbec, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, I had to laugh. Fry, an ardent fan of merlot, was miffed when I made a case for bottling the others as single varietal wines.

“They’re getting blended,” he said firmly. “They need each other.”

The Lenz barrel tasting experience is a rare opportunity to learn about wine, but if you prefer a more sybaritic excursion that requires nothing more than sitting and sipping, the next month is a prime time to visit Long Island’s wineries. Through March 20, Long Island Wine Council, East End Arts Council and the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau offer Winterfest: Jazz on the Vine. Visit liwinterfest.com for details of concerts and special events to keep the doldrums from your door.

In January, I wrote a critique of wine companies (specifically J Vineyards) whose PR boasts of terroir while the wines, to me, appear to reflect the skill of the winemaker more than the dirt under his feet. The column was picked up by winebusiness.com and went a bit viral. I am happy to report that J’s marketing director, George Rose, though chagrined, was most gracious about it. After reading my memoir (“The Vineyard”), he suggested (and I agreed) that I was the original terroirist, daring to plant grapes on Long Island.

Ms. Hargrave was a founder of the Long Island wine industry in 1973. She is currently a freelance writer and consultant.

02/07/11 10:46am
02/07/2011 10:46 AM

It’s February and the chocolate treats are plentiful. Stories touting the health benefits of chocolate — including fighting cancer — have helped spawn a wide variety of sweets, from chocolate bacon bars and bite-sized candies to chocolate gum and pasta.

Whatever your choice of chocolate indulgence, the health benefits of chocolate depend upon the type of chocolate you choose — and how much.
Most of the health benefits  claimed for dark chocolate relate to cardiovascular disease. Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids, a group of phytochemicals that act as antioxidants. When comparing the antioxidant content of foods gram for gram, cocoa often ranks among the highest. And research shows that consuming chocolate increases the antioxidants in our blood.

A steady stream of population and lab studies link eating chocolate in moderation with heart health, including improving blood vessel function and lowering blood pressure.

Given chocolate’s rich supply of flavonoids, researchers have also investigated whether it may play a role in cancer prevention. The studies in cancer prevention are still emerging. A recent review of studies on the cancer protective properties of cocoa concluded that the evidence is limited but suggestive. More rigorous studies should be conducted on chocolate’s cancer protective role, because it provides “strong antioxidant effects in combination with a pleasurable eating experience.”

All chocolate products begin with the cacao bean. First, the bean is roasted and ground into a thick chocolate nonalcoholic liquor. This liquor, hardened, is unsweetened chocolate. When pressure is added to the liquor, it pushes out the bean’s fat, called cocoa butter. Cocoa powder is made by drying and sifting the remaining material from the liquor.

Mix up some chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and milk and the commercial chocolate treat emerges. In general, the higher the percentage of cacao, the darker the chocolate and the more intense the flavor. And as cacao content goes up, there’s less room for sugar. A bar labeled 70 percent chocolate is 70 percent cocoa plus cocoa butter and 30 percent sugar.

White chocolate only contains the butter but not any chocolate liquor. Technically it’s not even chocolate, but it gets its name because it contains cocoa butter.

The main thing from a health standpoint is to realize that it’s important not to overdo the amount of chocolate you eat as too much can result in mounting calories. But in small amounts, it can be beneficial.

The American Institute for Cancer Research, an organization that studies the relationship of nutrition to health, provided this column.