The Perfect 5 Hour Apple Picking Itinerary: For Adults

The time is ripe for apple picking, and there’s no better place to plan an East Coast orchard trip than New York State– the second largest apple producing state in the US! But with hundreds of apple orchards to choose from, each with its own personality, it’s hard to know where to start.

While a visit to one of New York’s orchards is great for all ages, if you are sans child you probably prefer to forego the frenzy of families and theme park style. Adults only trips typically calls for laid-back vibes, casual drinks, and plenty of food.

So whether you’re from upstate, downstate, or the Tri-State area, it’s time to grab your car keys and your apple-tite for adventure. Here is your perfect 5 hour apple picking itinerary– for adults!

Pennings Orchard

Approximately 1.5hrs north west of NYC is pick-your-own Pennings Farm and Orchard, not to be confused with Pennings Farm Cidery next door (run by the same family, better for those with kids or large groups). It’s $30 per bag (cash only) but will fill with enough apples to satisfy four persons, or several apple pies worth. The orchard trees here seem to go on endlessly with ample options to choose from. It’s quiet, picturesque, and even comes with a few friendly farm animals hanging around.

Plan to spend approximately an hour of time here.

BONUS: Love drive-in movies? The Warwick Drive-In is less than half a mile away!

Pennings Orchard
The Drowned Lands Brewery

All that apple picking at Pennings is bound to work up a thirst. Drive approximately 7miles north east to Drowned Lands Brewery, a pandemic born brewery that encourages visitors to slow down and stay awhile. The dog-and-family friendly location has food trucks on premise Friday through Sunday, which can be enjoyed inside the 15,000 square food modernized industrial-style building or outdoors on the patio/grass area with picnic tables, fire pits, and sweeping views.

Plan to spend 1.5-2 hours of time here.

BONUS: If you’re a fan of the unusual, be sure to drive around and explore the grounds of this former medium-security state prison site (prior to being a prison, the buildings date back to 1914 as a recovery facility and reform school).

Drowned Lands Brewery
The Helm

No day trip is complete without regional hospitality. Only a 15 minute drive south from Drowned Lands, and through the quaint town of Greenwood Lake, is The Helm. Craft beer, cocktails, and comfort food anchor this lakeside restaurant as a local favorite in Hudson Valley. #TakeTheHelm.

Plan to spent 2 hours of time here.

BONUS: Be sure to walk across the street to The Helm’s dock and take some photos with Greenwood Lake in the backdrop.

Screenshot of exterior courtesy of @The_Helm649 Instagram

If you have suggestions of places to explore in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or beyond be sure to tag me @NikkiOnTheDaily!

Visit Apples From New York or I Love NY websites to help round out your New York State visit this fall!

Sail Away Coffee x NoFoDoCo

Sheltering from the chaos ensuing outside of my front door, coffee and food have become my new favorite antisocial activities. While everyone else is stocking up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I’m making my way for the 30 oz coffee grinds and packets of chocolate. We all have our pandemic priorities. It turns out, I’m not the only one.

In a single week, North Fork Doughnut Company (NoFoDoCo) and Sail Away Coffee delivered roughly 4000 doughnuts to 535 locations across Long Island and the five boroughs of New York City.

“Doing collaborations with other like-minded small businesses has always been a favorite past-time of the NoFoDoCo, and Sail Away happens to be one of our favorites to work with,” said doughnut shop co-owner, Jimmy Lyons.

Now, with small businesses taking a hit during the worldwide coronavirus crisis, working together has proved to be a means for survival. While the two companies have been collaborating since NoFoDoCo opened its doors two years ago in Mattituck, co-owners Lyons, Kelly Briguccia, and head of social media, Rachel Herbst, collectively devised a new delivery system, bringing product directly to their customers’ doors. Nitro-brewed coffee and freshly made doughnuts, a symbiotically sweet pairing, can be home delivered on Friday and Saturday, between 8 AM to 5 PM.

For the North Fork-based shop, it’s a new way of doing business. Even during COVID-19, the shop is continuously selling out from its brick-and-mortar location thanks to window and curbside pickups. But Sail Away has been making the wide-range drop-offs for a while. Using the coffee company’s existing customer base has been allowing NoFoDoCo to reach a new audience.

“We don’t think our doughnuts should be a treat that only a few can enjoy. We love the current exclusivity of our offerings, but we want the world to know about what we are doing out here. We want to represent Long Island and let the city folk know that we aren’t messing around,” Lyons said.

“Not to mention, there are plenty of people out west that could probably use some doughnuts and coffee delivered to their door during these times and we wanted to push ourselves to make that happen for everyone.”

Each morning, NoFoDoCo bakes a fresh batch of doughnuts and Sail Away takes it from there, handling all internal distribution and routing. All customers need to do is order through Sail Away’s online shop and choose from one of two options: six pack of Nitro and half-dozen doughnuts, or a 12-pack Nitro and half dozen doughnuts. The Nitro Cold Brew comes in an assortment of Unsweet, Sweet, Sea Salt and Caramel, and Horchata. Doughnut assortment includes Vanilla OG, Jelly, Salted Caramel, Cookies N Creme, Maple Bacon, White Chocolate Raspberry. Then, Friday morning an email will alert you that the order is out for delivery, which includes a tracking link. (If you run out of things to watch on Netflix, hitting the refresh button on your tracker will turn into a new form of entertainment.)

The deliveries began as a way to abide by CDC social distancing regulations, with the extra perk of ensuring job security to employees, which means rents get paid, and life resumes as normal as possible. Lyons noted that what started off an idea for the short term, depending on demand, could continue long after the pandemic ends.

“We are nothing without our community. We all need each other more than ever. This experience, while scary and trying, has been wildly eye opening. It has been humbling to see our community and our small businesses band together to lift each other up. The support and the efforts have been astonishing. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes it takes situations like this to make us realize how much we all need each other and how important it is to appreciate what you have. Our community has helped us realize this truth and we hope we have given the same back,” Lyons said.

This Father’s Day, get your orders in as a great gift for dad. And make sure to keep up with the company’s flavor forecast on their Instagram.

The original version of this article appeared in The Independent Newspaper.

A Glimpse Into NY Police During COVID-19

When COVID-19 first broke out no one in the United States thought much of it, since it began on the other side of the world. But for New Yorkers the world is a much smaller place when taking into account air traffic from JFK and Newark International Airports, both under 15 miles from Manhattan and less than an hours train ride. According to the JFK’s website, JFK had over 34.6k flights in January of 2020, only a slight decrease from 35.6k in December 2019, and Newark had 35.1k in January, down from 36k in December. Both hubs serve as not only destinations but connections to cities all around the world, a hotbed for pathogens to spread. This is back when China first began seeing a spike in illnesses, cause still unknown at the time.

America sat back in its recliner chair as the city of Wuhan, China began to make news. For most of the population this was the first time they ever heard of Wuhan and its over 10 million inhabitants– now infamously known for its Huanan seafood market (noted as the live animal market). Meanwhile, back in NYC, in a few weeks time COVID-19 was already running rampant through a population of 8.3 million. New Yorker’s walked around blind to a virus that couldn’t be seen, and still had yet to be identified. Now, months later, as citizens socially distance themselves by staying at home those on the frontlines are in the trenches. And NYC police officers are no exception, reporting to duty as normal to keep the city alive and safe.

City officers, especially those stationed at highly trafficked locations, are one of the highest jobs at risk for exposure. Fortunately, as alerts for COVID-19 began to rise the department enforced precautionary measures. Memos stated that those feeling sick or showing any symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing) were to take a sick leave and self quarantine immediately for 14 days. Only those who tested negative were allowed to return to work. But, according to the CDC, symptoms don’t begin to appear until anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. It was only after people began testing positive that gloves and N95 masks were distributed. Which means as police officers were once walking around without gloves and masks the potential for infection continued to spread.

In one patrol unit, of approximately 250 officers around 15 cases reported positive with many more out awaiting results. During the pandemic there’s been a tremendous sense of understanding, as units encourage officers to remain home to focus on their health. While things haven’t needed to shift gears just yet, contingency plans include longer hours or transferring of personnel to meet department staffing needs.


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Photo by Lex Photography on

As of April 9 at 5 PM EST, NYC Health COVID-19 data reports 87,725 confirmed cases with an estimated 21,571 hospitalized. The spike in deaths rose by 1,042 in less than 19 hours– going from 4,778 at 5 PM on April 9 to totaling 5,820 at 11:30 AM on April 10. The numbers continue to climb as New Yorkers socially distance themselves, transforming the city that never sleeps into a scene out of a post-apocalyptic movie. For now, all there is to do is stay inside, disinfect as many surfaces as possible, and thank your frontline workers.

All That Jazz With Judy Carmichael

This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

Swinger! A Jazz Girl’s Adventures from Hollywood to Harlem chronicles the journey of jazz pianist Carmichael from her beginnings in Pico Rivera, a southern, urban area in Los Angeles County. The collection of comical, autobiographical essays guides readers on the path that led to her career as a jazz virtuoso. She was the first jazz player to be sponsored by the United States government to tour China, in 1992.

“I didn’t get into jazz until I was in my 20s, and then a boyfriend took me to a jazz club,” Carmichael explained. A jazz club since 1949, Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach, California made an impressionable mark on the young creative at first listen. As the months rolled on, Carmichael began receiving albums as gifts and tuned into the art of the music.

Carmichael said, “I was always entrepreneurial. You realize things about yourself if you write them all down. I always wanted to be very interested, wanted to travel, wanted to entertain, speak different languages. So, I really created a career that would allow me to do all these things. The creation of my career has been as creative as my music.”

Swinger! recalls candid, often humorous accounts from one woman’s creative life, from tales of a tedious three-month stint working at the phone company to getting kissed by Paul Newman, and countless adventures in between. It is sprinkled with anecdotes about adventures with Count Basie, Herald Jones, and Sarah Vaughan, and her close friendships with designer Ray Eames and novelist/filmmaker Michael Crichton.

Carmichael’s goal is to inform readers about what a musician’s life is truly like, presenting an alternative to the stereotypes of the romanticized, drug-addicted musician or the mega star. She also hopes those in the industry find similarities within their own stories.

“I pursued acting in my late teens but changed to a music career, because music seemed more honest. I love that you either played or you didn’t. No amount of good lighting will make you sound better and there is nothing casual about playing music at a high level. It is a developed skill that takes years of practice combined with talent, desire, and a freakish level of drive and tolerance for delayed gratification.

“Sophisticated music is appreciated by only a small part of the population and it is constantly being devalued in today’s climate. You have to love it, but you need other skills as well to stay the course,” she added.

Paola’s Gets Back To The Basics

This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

Italian restaurants are like Italian people; each obtain their own unique, robust personality with one commonality, a love for food. Occupying the former space of EMP Summer House and Moby’s  in East Hampton, is Paola’s East. What began 33 years ago in New York City has made its way to the Hamptons. Paola’s has officially opened its heart and kitchen doors to the East End community, bringing family recipes from Rome.

“The beautiful thing about a neighborhood restaurant is you stick to those basic motivations,” said owner Stefano Marracino of the existing business model that his mother, Paola Bottero, began 33 years ago. The restaurant started with only 10 tables, 32 seats, and two seating times, “it was the boot camp for making anything else afterwards, better. We wish to do the same thing out here. Just be a neighborhood restaurant.” Fast forward to today, and Paola is supportive but not physically active in the day-to-day operations.

As gastronomy is moving away from the molecular and back to the basics, Marracino is bringing simple Roman cuisine to East Hampton, “driven by love.”

House-made mozzarella, insalata di barbe, artichoke, the list goes on. With an existing over 80-percent repeat clientele already existing in New York City, Paola’s East plans to incorporate generational recipes with “a little influence with what’s local and fresh.” Aiming “to improve quality but not completely reinventing. Basic ingredients, simple combinations.”

From the moment I entered the doors to shaking owner Stefano Marracino’s (son of Paola Bottero) hand as I left the restaurant, the team was attentive and warm; it brought me back to dining at Don Peppe’s in Ozone Park, Queens. Folding napkins when guests got up from the table, memorizing the orders, allowing digesting time before bringing out the next course, lightheartedly smiling in small conversation — all with classic Italian music playing in the background. Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, tunes from yesteryear brought me back to dancing with my grandfather in the living room on Sunday mornings as “Sounds of Sinatra” echoed in the background.

A red wine arrived, 2016 Pinot Noir from Oregon, at a chilled, roughly, 51 degrees Fahrenheit. It added a lightness to what was bound to be a traditionally heavier meal, as did the light, fluffy bread with olive oil for dipping. To start, an insalata di barbe, roasted fresh beets with Montrachet goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts, orange segments, and watercress. It was fresh, light, and the hazelnuts almost convinced me I was eating a healthy version of Ferrero Rocher. Alongside it was Roman style meatballs with veal, all-natural Hampshire Pork meatballs, tomato sauce, and ricotta and pecorino cheese. It had a more fluid consistency than the sauces I’ve tried in the past, without being watered down, and with a mild, rather than spicy, flavoring. In each bite, I could taste the bread holding all the juices together, making it a soft but subtle consistency.



The first courses were two pasta dishes. A fettuccine Bolognese with grass-fed beef and natural Hampshire pork. Making tabletop headlines was the veal and spinach ravioli, served at room temperature with shaved grana, black truffles, and hints of sage. Each forkful absorbed more of the light, white truffle sauce before it hit my tongue in an explosion of satisfaction.

Marracino grew up with the entire family involved in the restaurant, including his two daughters, but he’s taken the reins and absorbed the pressure. With 45 employees, many of them loyally employed for 20 years, it’s a lot of coordination but the core is respect.

Before continuing onto the next courses, my guests and I sipped our wine as we observed the staff greet guests, refill our waters whenever the glasses were below the half line, and mingle on the side with one another. This is more than a restaurant, it’s a true team of staff who genuinely enjoy each other’s company and want to be there, many of whom uprooted from the city to move to the area. It’s a devotion, and dedication, that’s rare.

A veal Milanese arrived that I could’ve continued to eat endlessly. It was thinly sliced, lightly breaded, and tender. With a touch of lemon on the rucola salad and tomatoes, it made for a meaty yet simplified dish. With it, a skirt steak that appeared small in portion was actually the ideal size. I opted for rare to medium-rare temperature and it came out exactly as such, with a slightly crisp outside.

When asked what to have for dessert, out of three choices, I felt obligated, as a food writer, to try all three. All the better to inform the public, of course. Ricotta and mascarpone cheesecake, tiramisu, creme caramel. I couldn’t pick a favorite, but the cheesecake stood out because I can honestly say I’ve never tried one with mascarpone cheese and it made an understated but notable difference.


“Right now, it is a pop-up dynamic and everyone has been embracing it. Because we’re not threatening what’s existing.” The restaurant is currently partnering with a farm in Woodstock, where Marracino takes his turn on the tractor, and plans to incorporate local farms, vineyards, and breweries as the months progress to lower the carbon footprint.

When a restaurant serves consistency on each plate, there is no need to anchor the menu with an over-the-top item. Paola’s East menu is executed in such a way that every dish, from start to finish, is unwaveringly delicious.

“We don’t want to interrupt we want to be involved and to add something,” he stated. A passion for the community drives deep into the heart of this operation, hoping to start cooking classes as well as vocational training and therapy. Food, from eating to cooking, is therapeutic as well as a passion. “To be able to work in a restaurant in this environment, it’s a dream.”