Fare Pairs

The following is a collection of articles I pitched & published in The Independent Newspaper in April of 2018. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

ALMOND

Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton hosted a Spring Chicken N’ Beer Dinner, in collaboration with Iacono Farms and Port Jefferson Brewing Co. The six-course meal was be prepared by Executive Chef Jason Weiner, Chef de Cuisine Jeremy Blustein and guest chef Dane Sayles. It will pair local fare with local beer.

Iacono Farms, located in East Hampton, offers up farm fresh eggs and free-range chickens, ideal for a spring menu.

The first course, matched a matzoh ball soup and Party Boat IPA. Second course paired paté & galantine and Low Tide Black IPA. Being a chicken dinner, the third course includes a soft boiled egg with rendered chicken fat corresponding with Scooner Pale Ale. The fourth course, braised leg and meat in Tamales Adobo, and fifth,

Korean fried chicken, was each paired with Beach Beer. For dessert, a dulce de leche pot de creme will be complemented by a Port Jeff Porter.

“It’s a celebration of [Iacono’s and Port Jefferson Brewing Co.’s] portfolio,” said Blustein. The meal included every part of the chicken, he added.

“All beers have their own very identifiable flavor profiles, alcohol levels, and mouth feels. Pairing them with the food is exactly the same as with wine, you want them to get down together, not overpower one another,” the chef de cuisine noted.

THE OLD FIELD

It’s a pair as old as time. Wine and cheese pairings date back hundreds of years throughout Europe. This culinary tradition has turned into an art form within itself, each region throughout the world boasting a unique varietal of grapes to match locally sourced dairy. Fortunate for East Enders, Long Island Wine Country sits in our own backyard, and we are nothing short of our own mixed masterpieces.

The Old Field Vineyard, in Southold, hosted a wine and cheese pairing with Perry Bliss, co-winemaker and general manager of The Old Field, and Jessica Affatato, owner of Harbor Cheese & Provisions. This session included four Old Fields wines: a 2009 Blanc de Noir sparkling wine, a 2016 barrel-fermented chardonnay, a 2014 cabernet franc, and a 2010 commodore perry merlot.

“I feel like these wines showcase our Long Island wine terroir. We sometimes rotate our wines with new releases and the changing seasons,” Bliss explained. With the weather warming up, and cravings gearing towards the sea, Bliss continued, “So many foods can be paired with these wines! Local oysters and strawberries always go great with sparkling wine and chardonnay. Try a smoked lobster with our cabernet franc and a grilled pork chop with our merlot.”

Affatato feels the same, as she changes the cheeses every tasting to go along with the season. The food pairing  showcased raw milk cheeses. In addition, guests tried an aged, Dutch knuckle cheese made from raw milk from brown Swiss cows at Sugarhouse Creamery, a husband and wife team based in the Adirondacks.

Envision a 26-pound wheel with hints of nutty, hay, and field notes.

“Harbor Cheese is proud to focus on small artisanal and farmstead cheese producers, both domestic and foreign,” Affatato said. “I also get to help customers discover new favorites, and help other customers find the right product for them. Wine and cheese are both, at their heart, an expression of the land from which they came. Those notes of creation really shine through their production. When you encounter a well-made wine or cheese, it is complex and nuanced.”

“I get to wake up on this magical property that hasn’t changed in at least 100 years, work the land, and make a beautiful product, from start to finish,” Bliss said. “Not too many people these days get to do that. And I get to do it with my family by my side. It is pretty perfect.”

NORTH FORK TABLE & INN

Borghese Vineyard paired up with Stephan Bogardus, Executive Chef, Southold’s North Fork Table & Inn, for a four-course meal featuring Borghese wines. While wine dinners are frequent within the Long Island Wine Region, this evening will celebrate new recipes and a new season.

“When North Fork Table & Inn was being featured at the James Beard Foundation, I was asked if I would like to join and present Borghese wine,” said Giovanni Borghese, co-owner of the vineyard. “It was an amazing experience and something I will be grateful for indefinitely, a huge moment for Borghese.”

Bogardus worked with Mike Mraz, co-owner and sommelier of North Fork Table, to curate a menu, after hours of research at the Borghese tasting room.

“[Mraz] knows my food and I know his eye for wine. We trust each other a lot. Together we get the start for a pairing based on what Mike is tasting in a wine, his previous experience, and his knowledge of my style of cooking. He then highlights subtleties in the wine that I use, like secret weapons, in the food. This idea really helps us provide a great bridge between the wine and food,” Bogardus detailed.

Included in the menu was a cured fluke paired with spring herbs and nettles (an edible that is one of the first signs of spring); asparagus and cavatelli pasta, pork belly with ramps and clams, and a rhubarb crostada.

The cabernet franc rosé, one of the wines paired, has an acidity that cuts pork belly fat and balances out the butter in the clam-ramp sauce. In food and wine pairs, it’s important to understand the balance of complementing flavors and contrasting them, the executive chef noted. “Deconstructing flavors and layering balance to contrasts helps round off a pairing into something really special,” Bogardus said.

The North Fork native has been cooking since he was a teenager, and he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America nearly a decade ago. His passion for the kitchen is presented with every forkful. The chef emphasized, “I love new everything. Using new wines, new techniques and new spring flavors really got me inspired while writing this menu.” In an ironic twist, Bogardus abstains from alcohol, in an industry that oftentimes revolves around it. As an avid yoga practitioner, he delights in waters and “nerding out on tea.”

28 Days of Awesome: Find Your Local Adventure

Inspired by my Golden Birthday (turning 28th on March 28th), 28 Days of Awesome was created as a way to live local life to the fullest.

 

Initially, when a friend brought up that 2017 was my lucky turning of age, I envisioned a weekend away. Boston, upstate New York, maybe the Carolina’s. However, without a current substantial, steady pay check the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a small vacation conceptually created more stress than anticipation. On the positive side, no routine commitment allows me the flexibility to seek the unknown any time of day, spreading my dollar to daily, local activities. Thus, creating a ‘golden’ opportunity for an extended adventure (and blog series).

Eventually, as expected, planning something ‘awesome’ every day for four weeks became exhausting. By day 17 I started referring to it as the 28 Day Challenge but, in conclusion of it all, 28 Days of Eating would have been a more accurate description.

Amid my struggle to pull through to the end, a friend’s text message read:

“Isn’t that life? We start off doing something because we have a passion for it and it becomes a challenge to continue as each day passes. But that’s one thing you’ve proven me wrong on several occasions. You decide to do something because you’re passionate about it and you see it through no matter what obstacles get in your way.” – Anonymous Motivator

Without realizing it, my idea was spreading light to those around me. As though someone dropped a match in gasoline, the fire within me was reignited and I successfully accomplished something new every day for 28 days.

  • Finding Things That Are Free: In thinking up things to do I also needed to adhere to some sort of budget. Manhattan has dozens of talk shows that are free to attend. Be a part of a studio audience at no additional expense, just the transportation it takes to get there. On March 1st I sat front row at The Wendy Williams Show as a way to kick off my month long celebration. In a wonderful turn of events, they asked me to be on call for future projects. Still on a high from the previous day, I attended a press and industry event for the new Broadway musical Anastasia, courtesy of The Garden City Hotel, where I met several of the producers and cast member Derek Klena.
28 Days 8
Left: Derek Klena from Anastasia the Musical / Right: Wendy William
  • On a Budget, Coffee Coffee Coffee: There’s something to be said about a well crafted cup of coffee situated in an uniquely decorated shop. Independently owned coffee houses draw in personalities similar to the engaging atmosphere they provide. In addition, you know that money goes directly back into the local community. When it comes to ‘cawfee,’ I say- Go small business or go home. One day, I stumbled into Toby’s Estate Espresso Bar located in the Flatiron, perfectly situated in connection to a sub-location of Strand Bookstore. Isn’t that the ideal combination, coffee and books? Another, I sought out Bellmore Bean Cafe, a place I’d passed countless times but for some reason or another never took the time to go inside. As it were, it was comedy night but turned out the joke was on us (at that point I realized why they had alcohol on the shelves next to the beans brewing). I also made a point to attend the Coffee & Tea Festival in Brooklyn. It was something I never experienced but found myself tweaking out from too much caffeine in the end (basically Kramer from Seinfeld).

28 Days 5

  • Take Time to Disconnect: Tending to my physical health and disconnecting became important on my list. After hearing the benefits of floatation therapy, I did a 60-minute float at iChill. I’d been to the Dead Sea years ago and had an idea what floating felt like. What I didn’t foresee was the hurdle of mental disconnection. At Hand & Stone I requested my first male masseuse.
28 Days 9
Left: iChill Salt Float / Right: Hand & Stone Massage
28 Days 6
Left: Zumbathon for Make-A-Wish / Middle: New York Blood Center / Right: Denim & Diamonds
  • Carpe Diem: When I was running out of ideas I stopped thinking and let the day progress naturally. I stumbled across a new Zumba instructor I hadn’t taken before, went to see a movie for the first time alone, received my debut article for Luxury Living Magazine and saw my friends acoustic session at Craft Kitchen (a place I see every time I ride the LIRR but hadn’t yet tried).
28 Days 3
Up Right: New Zumba Instructor / Up Left: Beauty & The Beast /     Down Right: Luxury Living Magazine article / Down Left: Craft Kitchen
  • Give & Take: Not everything panned out as planned, like a two hour wait for indoor go-karting (which I’d never done on Long Island). While we took a great picture the real experiences were exploring local bars, rather forgetful in documenting the ‘awesomeness.’ Luckily, some things are easy to rely on, like a complimentary pilates class for new students. Though I am a self-proclaimed fitness foodie, this was my first pilates experience.
28 Days
Top: Pilates / Bottom: Indoor Go Karting
  • When in Doubt, Eat…: Never one to turn down food, the easiest thing to do was discover new places to eat or drink. Grindstone in Sag Harbor had long been on my must-see list since its opening in summer 2016 as was The VNYL in NYC (complimentary Irish Coffee on St. Patricks day). Piecraft was a unique option for a late night dinner with a craft-your-own-pizza attitude and Kinha proved to be a good sushi option for a friendly catch up. Yet, when ‘snowstorm Stella’ came to town I had to prepare for things to do at home, and a new bottle of Natura Malbec wine tipsyed the scale in my favor.
28 Days 7
Up Left: Grindstone / Up Right: Kinha Sushi / Middle: Natura Malbec / Down Left: PieCraft / Down Right: The VNYL
  • …And Eat Some More: As mentioned, not everything went as expected. As a backup, I revisited Bellmore Bean Cafe and tried their dessert with some Irish coffee (it was acoustic night, which was a nice change). But nothing, aside from my actual birthday, beat my final day of being 27 on the 27th. I waited three years to experience Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar as part of birthday celebrations and that dream finally came true. My admiration for the brand and love for polo made it an experience I hoped for and one that finally became a reality. Dream, dress, and dine like a Lauren!
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Left: Bellmore Bean / Right: Ralph Lauren Polo Bar
  • Every Day is a Day to Celebrate: Having never been to a brewery before, and admiring local craft brews, I did a tasting flight at Port Jeff Brewery (their Cold North Wind Barleywine was especially delicious). Finally, after a prior failed attempt, I made it to Crown Steakhouse where I sampled several of their nearly 200 different types of whiskey with the owner, Gerry (‘un-lushing’ my inner Irish).
28 Days 4
Top: Crown Steakhouse / Bottom: Port Jefferson Brewery
  • Spontaneity Works: Alright, so having brunch at Jam or attending a Paint Nite was planned in advance. But spontaneously trying on Victoria’s Secret Angel wings directly off the mannequin was a spur of the moment decision. On my 28th birthday the store lent me them so I ‘could fly.’ Sadly, they were too heavy, so I requested a photo op instead.
28 Days 2
Left: Victoria’s Secret Angel wings / Middle: Paint Nite / Right: Jam on Park

3 Things I Learned:

You Don’t Need to Travel Far to Get Away

Local adventures have the ability to shape our day-to-day lives. Over the course of 28 days my appreciation grew for my hometown and the surrounding areas. By committing to step outside my usual routine each day, even if for a moment, I discovered an unknown and felt a new sense of happiness.

Expect Less, Receive More

Money and people, two things where the more I rely on it the more disappointed I become. The value of an adventure isn’t measured by its price tag but by its impact. Free to low cost activities had a greater affect on me because I had low expectations, and if it wasn’t ‘awesome’ than I didn’t break the bank testing it out. The same went with friends. Over the course of 28 days I tried to involve as many people in my life as possible, to share in the experiences. Unfortunately, quite a few times I was let down and made to do things on my own. From disinterest in what I was doing, life getting in the way and even just flat out ditching me. It was when I committed to an idea, be damned who came with me, that others eagerly joined in. The less I asked the more I received.

Doing Things Alone is Awesome

I think I have an awesome array of interests, an awesome outlook on life, and an awesome ability to meet people anywhere I go. So why should I worry about doing things alone? Since I love who I am and what I am, doing things solo eventually became easy. As I mentioned in my blog about solo travel, doing things alone allowed me to be selfish and ignore other peoples noise.

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Stay Golden!