Blog Updates April, 2019

Blog Updates     April, 2019

Change is the one constant, and the North Fork is no exception.  If you rely on my old entries for recommendations, you may arrive at a winery or restaurant and find it no longer exists, or has changed.  So, in no particular order, here are some changes:

Peconic Winery has closed, and the property is for sale.  (Not to be confused with Peconic Cellar Door, on Peconic Lane, which is lovely.)

Vineyard 48 is also permanently closed, but if you read my last entry on them you wouldn’t be going there anyway.

Southold Farm + Cellar closed, alas, due to issues with the town of Southold.  The owners have moved to Texas.

Comtesse Thérèse closed a few years ago.  A couple of restaurants have come and gone, and the one that is currently there, Il Giardino, has management issues they need to resolve if they are to stay in business.  For example, we got there with a reservation for 6 PM and found a scene of total chaos, with no one seeming to know when we could be seated.  We left, and had a calm and delicious meal at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn.

Croteaux is still making wine, but at the moment their lovely garden is closed, again due to issues with Southold town.  They are hoping to reopen.  Meanwhile, you can order wine through their website or buy it at Vintage, the liquor store in the Mattituck Shopping Center.  (I highly recommend joining their club.  Just sign up with your telephone number and then get great discounts.)

Speaking of Mattituck, Crazy Fork is gone.  Sadly, they morphed from being a candidate for Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives to needing the work of Restaurant Impossible.  Then they closed.  Two places have opened in its place.  Mattitaco is primarily a take-out place, offering delicious and creative tacos.  East on Main has a bar and restaurant where they serve American classics like fried chicken and meat loaf.  Good place to bring kids.

Salamander’s in Greenport has closed.  A new restaurant will take their place.  Goodbye delicious fried chicken.

Deep Water has also changed ownership, so I have no idea how the new place will be.

We liked Caci the first time we went there, but less so on subsequent visits.  Though the food is good, it is pricey for what you get and the tables are too crowded together and the noise level is too loud.

Pepi’s in the Port of Egypt marina has closed.  We haven’t tried the new place there.

Martha Clara has changed owners.  In the past, I had recommended it as kid friendly, with animals to feed, but as we drive by it seems the animals are gone.  I would not rely on it as a place to bring kids.

The Coronet in Greenport has changed its name, but seems to have a similar vibe under new ownership.  We haven’t eaten there.

Scrimshaw, also in Greenport, has been replaced by Barba Blanco, and we haven’t tried it.  It is closed in the winter.

On the other hand, since I last mentioned it, we’ve been to American Beech a couple of times and liked it very much.  Cool beachy vibe and delicious seafood dishes.

Empire State Cellars in Tanger Outlet closed.  I’d be sad, except Vintage, our local liquor store, carries a good selection of local wines.

Old Mill Inn is for sale.  Anyone interested in buying a restaurant on the water?

O’Malley’s has new ownership.  The one time we went there it was not good—French fries fried in old oil!—so I don’t know if it has improved. 

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but note also that every year’s vintage may taste different than the year before–which is why I try to visit each place once a year.

Clovis Point +Music April 13, 2019

http://www.clovispointwines.com/

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A glass of wine and some pleasant music add up to a civilized way to spend a couple of hours.

There’s something pleasantly civilized about sitting comfortably on a cool spring afternoon, with a glass of wine in hand, listening to live music.  A number of wineries offer live music, especially on the weekends.  Though Live on the Vine is a winter phenomenon, there’s plenty of opportunities to hear live music at other times of the year. 

I’ve signed up for several winery email lists, and so I had a message in my inbox about Clovis Point’s current music offerings.  Having nothing else to do on Saturday, we drove over to Clovis, ordered glasses of cabernet franc (see my tasting write-up from January 4, 2019, so see why that was our choice), and settled on their plastic-walled porch.

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A view of the porch where we sat.

We were lucky to have seats, since, as we learned after we arrived, many of the tables had been reserved.  As more people arrived, the Clovis people quickly set up outdoor tables in the grass just outside the porch.  If we go again, I would make a reservation and be sure to bring some snacks.  Every other table seemed to be enjoying snacks, from chips and dip to cheese and crackers to a whole pizza (though the web site specifies no coolers and no outside alcohol).  The winery also has a menu of nibbles.

The performer was a singer/guitarist whose stage name is Teacherman.  (He’s actually an English teacher named Dave Goldman.)  We enjoyed his set, which included songs by Billy Joel, the Beatles, and the Eagles, among others. 

If you’re interested in a similar experience, I suggest you check out the websites of any wineries you like to see if they have music scheduled.  I’ve noticed that Baiting Hollow and Martha Clara often offer music.

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Watch for signs like this if you’re interested in live music.

Lenz Winery: A Touch of Paris March 29, 2019

https://lenzwine.com/

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As our server explained a couple of times, the winemaker at Lenz likes the French style; hence their pinot gris, not pinot grigio, for example. But they recently changed their winemaker, so it will be interesting to check back in a couple of years and see if the wines are any different.

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The vines are still bare, but we’ve seen a few signs of spring on the North Fork: robins on the lawn, rolled up snow fences in the fields, signs promising to open soon.

On this gray, drizzly late March day there was only one other group at the winery, so we were able to have a nice chat with the very well-informed server, who seemed to have a real appreciation for the wines.  Because she had to open fresh bottles for us, she carefully sniffed a small portion of each one before she poured, actually rejecting one bottle as not quite right.

The attractively barn-like tasting room has plenty of room for groups, and a small selection of wine-themed gifts, as well as local art for purchase.  They offer a Catapano cheese tray, and, though they currently allow you to bring in snacks, they may expand their food offerings in the future and limit outside foods, so check their web site before you go.  My husband thinks it is amusing that a couple of lower beams have signs warning “Please Watch Your Head!,” a feat he deems impossible without a mirror.  And that was before we had a drink.

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As we sipped and chatted, we discussed the changeover at many wineries from cork to screw top.  Screw tops have several advantages over corks, although, as our server explained to us, if you use a top end supplier, as many NoFo wineries do, they’re actually not all that much cheaper. However, there is less chance for a wine to become “corked,” among other problems.  On the other hand, if you have a wine you want to age, aging happens more quickly with the breathability of a cork.

On the menu are three options: Library, of their highest end wines, $15 per taste or $20 for two; Estate, five of their middle label wines for $16; or Premium, five of their higher end wines for $20.  Since Lenz is one of the older wineries on the North Fork, first established in 1978, they can label some wines “Old Vines” without exaggeration.  Though many of their wines are reasonably priced, the price tags on some of the Library wines gave us pause.  $125?  Wow.  I don’t know whether they’re worth that much, and I also haven’t tried them!

We opted for the Estate flight.

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  1. 2014 Pinot Gris               $25

We liked this French style expression of the grape, with its aromas of yeast and citrus and tastes of kumquat or mandarin orange.  My tasting buddy said it has a creamy mouth feel.

  1. 2014 White Label Chardonnay $15

One reason we picked this flight was because the Premium flight featured an oaked chard, and though I have had oaked chards that were unobjectionable, in general I prefer steel fermented.  This one is steel fermented, but has a small amount—about 5%–of oaked chard added “to soften” it.  We liked this wine, too.  The aroma includes lemon and a touch of cedar, and the taste is mildly lemony, like a Meyer lemon, plus a little pear.  We are a bit short on whites in the cellar, so we decide to buy two bottles of this one.

  1. 2016 Blanc de Noir $24

This rosé is made from 100% pinot noir (hence the name, though I bet someone thought it was amusing to call this “white of black”), and is left on the skins for just three and a half hours.  Again, this is a French style rosé, so quite dry, with the expected aroma of strawberries, though also quite minerally.  Like a bunch of sliced strawberries without added sugar, perhaps early in the season before they get very sweet and fruity.

  1. 2014 Estate Selection Cabernet Sauvignon $35

Our server explains that they make the Estate Selection wines from the better vintages.  This is a “typical Long Island cab,” she adds, “lighter, less tannic, fruit driven.”  I’d agree.  I really like the smell, which has lots of berry and cherry.  It tastes like plums, and is pleasant, but rather monochromatic, I tell my husband, just as he turns to me and opines that it is “not complex.”  So we are in agreement.

  1. 2014 Estate Selection Merlot $35

Although it is called merlot, our server informs us that it is 10-20% cabernet franc, malbec, and petit verdot.  There’s a touch of the earthiness you find sometimes in NoFo merlots, which I don’t care for.  Although the wine is not bad, I like it the least of the ones we’ve tasted.  It does have that black cherry taste of merlot.  I think it might do better if it ages a while longer.  My husband says it “lacks gravitas,” one of his favorite phrases recently.  I could see having it with lamb chops.

Reasons to visit:  a good-sized tasting room whether you are with a group or just a couple, with an outdoor area for summer seating; small selection of gift items and local art for sale; the Pinot Gris and the White Label Chardonnay; they have some serious wines.

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We admired the chalk drawings, and were told that a local woman, named Patty, does them, changing them with the seasons.

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Eastern Front Brewing Company: Sort of New Kid on the Block March 23, 2019

https://www.facebook.com/easternfrontbrewing/

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The entrance to the tasting room on Main Road. Brewing is still done in the Westphalia Avenue building.

First, about three years ago, a family member noticed the Eastern Front Brewing Company sign on a warehouse building on Westphalia Avenue, just north of the railroad tracks in Mattituck. Then we tried the beer at a First Friday celebration two summers ago on Love Lane. Then Eastern Front opened a tasting room on Main Road, southeast of Love Lane. Then, before we could get there, they closed the tasting room due to issues with getting a permit from the town of Southold. However, with the issues finally solved, we were able to get to Eastern Front for a tasting on a blustery but sunny Saturday, after our visit to the Riverhead Farmers Market.

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One side of the tasting room.

The tasting room is an attractively renovated space in what had been a fence store and a florist. Were the large healthy plants in the tasting room a leftover from the florist, we wondered. We’ll ask next time, and there will surely be a next time, because we enjoyed both the beers and the setting. Dark blue walls make the room cozy, and a slightly elevated alcove contains a display of local art. Any local artists are encouraged to enquire, as they hope to have a constant series of gallery shows.

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The artist whose work is currently on display.

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Yes, this is the parking lot. Perhaps they will improve it in the future.

The small parking lot is still rather primitive, though serviceable, and is located to the west of the tasting room. Right across the street on Main Road is another welcome newcomer to the Mattituck food and drink scene, North Fork Donut Company. One person in the tasting room suggested they build a bridge across Main Road to connect the two. Ah yes, I could see having a maple bacon donut with a beer, for sure!

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That’s the North Fork Donut Company right across the street.

A flight consists of all five beers on tap, costs $12, and comes in a well-designed wooden tray, with holes for each generously-filled glass. We were glad we had decided to share, as one shared flight was more than enough beer. You can also purchase a growler or beer by the glass.

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We took our flight to a table, and as we sipped and listened to quiet jazz being played on the sound system, we also enjoyed eavesdropping on a generously bearded fellow, who was clearly a brew aficionado (what is it about beards and beers, anyway?), discuss the ins and outs of brewing.

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Oops. We drank half the Fat Old Sun before I remembered to take a picture of the flight.

1. Fat Old Sun 6.3 ABV (alcohol by volume)
This is described on the menu as an American lager, and it is a clean, light, very drinkable classic beer—like Budweiser, but with taste. The flavor is yeasty and grainy, with a pleasant finish. If the name is a reference to drinking this in the summer, it is a good choice, because I could definitely see sipping this on the deck with some barbequed ribs and cole slaw.

2. Anomalous Ale 6.7
Why anomalous? Perhaps because, though it is an India-style ale, it has a unique flavor. I get lots of spice, perhaps cardamom, plus a slight but pleasant bitterness. It has a bit of a chemical smell. Though this is not a beer I would choose to drink by itself, I could see having it with food, perhaps an Indian curry.

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3. Love Lane Lager 6.2
The servers were quite busy solving some problem with filling a growler, so I didn’t get to ask why this is called a “pre-Prohibition lager.” In any event, it is light brown in color and light and somewhat sweet in taste. We decided it is more of a hot dog beer than a burger beer. It would be a good drink for someone who doesn’t like the bitterness often present in beers, but we found it too sweet, with an evanescent finish.

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It’s not as heavy as you would think from the color of Sexy MF.

4. Sexy MF 5.1
I do like it when brewers get creative with the names for their beers. This “dry Irish stout” smells like chocolate and coffee, and tastes of them, too, with a touch of saltiness. Though not having as much oomph as a Guinness, it is certainly good. My husband said he felt cognitive dissonance, because he expected more gravitas in such a dark beer. However, I liked it.

5. Wee Heavy Scottish Ale 8.8
The server explained to us that, though this is a somewhat lighter beer than the Sexy MF, they put it last in the tasting because it is so high in alcohol. Once you have this, you may not be able to appreciate any beers that follow it. I appreciated it. This is a very tasty beer, with lots of spice flavor, perhaps cardamom again, or nutmeg. If I were getting a growler here, I would choose this one. Perhaps next time we’re in Riverhead we’ll stop in at a Polish grocer and get some of their kolbassi to grill, then stop by Eastern Front for a growler of Wee Heavy. Yum.

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Reasons to visit: convenient location on Main Road, right near the food mecca that Love Lane has become (Village Cheese, Lombardi’s, North Fork Donut Company, Love Lane Kitchen, etc.); attractive tasting room with a little art gallery; the Fat Old Sun, Sexy MF, and Wee Heavy Scottish Ale; good place for both those who love beer and those who prefer sweeter drinks, as the beers tend toward the sweeter side.

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Interesting contest. I think I’d have trouble choosing!

Paumanok: Almost the Ides March 14, 2019

https://www.paumanok.com/

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Though the entry door was open, it was a bit too chilly to sit outside.

Maybe people were bewaring the Ides of March (about to arrive), or it could have just been a typical winter weekday on the North Fork, but we had the tasting room of Paumanok all to ourselves.  The last time we were there it was a warm, sunny fall day, and we sat outside on the weathered wood deck with family members and their dog, sharing a cheese tray.  That pleasant experience might have influenced how we felt about the wines, which we liked better that time.

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The deck is a pleasant place to sit–in warmer weather!

The tasting menu offers four options:  Winemaker Picks, four for $20; Whites, four for $18, Reds, four for $20, or Festival, four for $15.  We decided to share the Winemaker Picks, since that would give us two reds and two whites. Our enthusiastic and well-informed server set the tastings up on a labeled tray, so we could have carried them to a table, but we opted to stand at the bar so we could discuss the wines.

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As we sipped and chatted, she poured us two glasses of water so we could clear our palates.

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There’s also a fairly extensive snack menu, and they do not allow outside food or drink.  However, as we learned last time, they do allow leashed dogs on the outside patio.  By the way, all the wines except the very high-end ones use screw caps, a boon to waitpersons.

  1. 2014 Blanc de Blancs    $55

The aroma reminded me of the inside of a bakery—very yeasty.  This sparkling wine (made by the traditional méthode champenoise) is dry and light, with nice bubbles.  Made from 100% chardonnay, it is easy to drink, lemony and yeasty, if somewhat monochromatic.  It would go nicely with charcuterie, but I don’t think I’d like it on its own, as a toast.  That said, I’d be more likely to get a Cava or Prosecco, for the price.

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  1. 2018 Chenin Blanc $39

Although the server asserted that they are the only ones to make a 100% chenin blanc wine in New York State, I happen to know that One Woman recently made one as well.  However, her 50 cases would be easy to overlook, so I wouldn’t bother to correct Paumanok.  The aroma is somewhat cellar-like, and the taste has a touch of wet rock, but also lemon and tangerine.  This is a light, dry white that would go well with Coquilles St. Jacques, made with Peconic Bay scallops.  We like it.

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  1. 2014 Merlot $39

This is aged 12-14 months in neutral oak, so it is a fairly light red.  It has some of that dirt aroma merlots tend to have out here, with a touch of cherry.  We’re not fond of the taste, which I liken to licking a metal pole (not that I was ever dumb enough to lick a metal pole in freezing weather).  Though it might be okay with food, we share with the server that we find it lacking in fruit and so tannic that it is mouth-puckering.  So she offers us an additional wine.

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Our extra taste is in the middle.

  1. 2013 Grand Vintage Merlot $50

This is an extra, so our server can show us how they can make a better merlot.  Yes, indeed.  This has depth, nice fruit with cherry flavors that are nonetheless dry.  Very nice.

  1. 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon $39

Nice aroma, we say, combining dark fruit and cedar closet.  It is described on the menu as medium bodied, and I would agree.  It is a pleasant wine, with no depth but good dark fruit tastes and some tannins.  It could go with lamb chops, we decide.

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I love that they quote Whitman on their label!

  1. 2016 Petit Verdot $40

I tend to like petit verdots, so I ask our server to add this additional taste to our flight.  I like this one, too.  It has a red candy aroma, and tastes of prunes (not stewed) and other dark fruits.  Dry, with some nice tannins, it has what my husband describes as “more oomph” than the other reds.

Reasons to visit:  nice outdoor deck where you can bring your dog; good menu of snacks; the Chenin Blanc and the Petit Verdot; screw tops; we’ve always had nice servers here.

North Fork Brewing Company: Newbie Joins the Riverhead Clan February 17, 2019

North Fork Brewing Company:  Newbie Joins the Riverhead Clan

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This was formerly a fire house.

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The Mattitaco truck outside the brewery.

https://www.northforkbrewingco.com/

Just a couple of blocks off Main Street in Riverhead, in a former fire house, we found the newest member of the Riverhead craft beer scene, North Fork Brewing Company, joining Crooked Ladder, Moustache, and Long Ireland.  We went there with our daughter and son-in-law, who are both beer lovers, and our two granddaughters, who sampled the home-made root beer for us.  The junior members of our group rated the root beer as very good, with a nice licorice flavor, not too spicy, and “goes well with a grape lollypop.” IMG_6228

With four of us, we were able to sample all eleven brews currently on tap.  If we had not just had lunch at Perabell (I recommend the thin-crust pizza.), we could have gotten tacos from a Mattitaco truck parked just outside the firehouse doors.  They also sell North Fork potato chips.

The space is medium sized, and subscribes to the frequent brewery esthetic of industrial chic.  I’ve noticed that many wineries evoke the rural scene around them, being housed in former barns or buildings that suggest farm structures, while breweries tend to be more factory-like, using repurposed car dealerships or firehouses or other industrial spaces.  Not sure why that is, and of course it’s not true of them all.

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Note the taps made from re-purposed firehouse lockers.

The very helpful and accommodating server explained to us that a flight consists of any four of their brews for $8.  She handed out little cards on which we wrote down our choices.  The four little glasses were carefully placed in a carrying tray with numbers corresponding to the number on the card of each choice.  She noted that if we had trouble choosing, we could get a sip of the beers before deciding on our flight.  However, with a little coordination, we realized that we could easily try all eleven.  We gave up on a strict order of tastes, and there was no offer to suggest a succession, but we did generally try to go from lighter to heavier.  (We overheard a server note that they carry Bridge Lane red and white blend wines, for those who would prefer not to drink a beer.)

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Overall, we agreed that the beers were interesting and quite varied, though we didn’t like any one enough to take home a growler.  Our son-in-law summed it up by noting that this was a good place to come to try lots of experimental beers, but most were too “in your face” to want a full glass to sip with a meal or on its own.

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We have gotten take-out from Mattitaco several times, and liked every variety we’ve sampled so far.

  1. Sticky Bandit IPA 6.9% ABV (alcohol by volume)

The brewery prides itself on acknowledging its North Fork roots, including literally, in that they have a farm where they grow much of their hops.  This is a fresh, nicely hoppy IPA, with lots of grapefruit flavor.  I could definitely see having this with one of Mattitaco’s fish tacos, like the seared tuna one on offer from the truck.

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  1. Run the Juice IPA 6.1% ABV

This tastes like a joint, said one of us (anonymously).  It does have some vegetal notes, plus the grapefruit one expects in an IPA, in this case more like the pith than the fruit.

  1. Pierce the Ale IPA 6.8% ABV

My daughter likes this the best so far of the IPAs, and said it would be refreshing on a hot day.  I said it was like a better version of a Budweiser beer, easy to drink.  This would also go well with a fish taco.

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  1. South Bend Shovel Slayer IPA 6.8% ABV

Some day I’ll have to come back and stand at the bar for my tastes so I can ask how they came up with some of these names.  This is a piney rather than a grapefruity IPA, and my daughter liked this one as well.

  1. Basement Pipe Belgian Dubbel 8.2% ABV

When we were in Belgium, I became very fond of the dubbel style of beer, which tends to be rich, with caramel and raisin flavors.  I also like Raisin Bran cereal, which the taste of this reminded me of.  Very good and refreshing.  If I were to get a glass of a North Fork beer, this would be one contestant.

  1. Take for Ever Sour 6.2% ABV

On the other hand, if I were given a glass of this, I would say thanks but no thanks.  This is a dark, heavy sour beer, brewed with cherries, and tastes both sour and sweet. Last fall, I went to a brewery upstate that specialized in sour beers, and I never dumped so many tastes before.  I say bleh, but, in a perfect illustration of how subjective and individual taste is, this is my son-in-law’s favorite.

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  1. Hop Contagion Imperial 8.25% ABV

Contagion indeed.  This is very hoppy, and more bitter than I like, though balanced with some creaminess.

  1. Dark Side of Maple Porter 6% ABV

My daughter and I both like this one, which reminds me of the glasses of bitter I have had in many English pubs.  It is a bit on the light side for a porter.  My daughter says she could see enjoying this with a serving of Shepherd’s pie, and I agree.  Or maybe with the Mattitaco Ruben taco, made with corned beef.

  1. Bill’s Hyper Local Forecast 5.9% ABV

I didn’t ask about this name, but I assume it refers to News 12’s tag line (this cable-company-sponsored channel specializes in Long Island news, traffic, and weather).  The brewery characterizes this as a “winter warmer,” and it evokes a pumpkin ale, with tastes of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  A bit too much cinnamon, though not bad in a small dose.

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They kept the firehouse doors, though you enter through a small door on the side. I wonder if they open these in the summer.

  1. Dough’nt Stout Me Now  Imperial Milk Stout 9.3%

I knew right away that I had to try this one, as it is made “in collaboration with North Fork Doughnut Company,” one of my favorite new businesses in Mattituck.  I also tend to like stouts.  This has rich chocolate tastes, and though my son-in-law characterizes it as “too sweet for a pint,” I wouldn’t mind sipping it in a pub, perhaps with an order of chips (a.k.a. French fries).  We are so inspired by our discussion of the North Fork Doughnut Company that our guests stop there on the way home to pick up some doughnuts for breakfast the next day.  One granddaughter, a Girl Scout, is delighted to get a Samoa doughnut, and the other is pleased to have snagged “the last chocolate doughnut!” Alas, they were out of the maple-glazed bacon flavor.

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A Samoa doughnut from the North Fork Doughnut Company. Yum.

  1. Iron Pier Porter 5.4% ABV

My husband and I just recently drove over to Iron Pier beach, on the Sound, within the bounds of Riverhead (so our Southold parking stickers are not valid there), and thought it seemed very nice, with a good-sized parking lot and a little playground.  This porter is made with coconut milk, and though I often like porters, this was not a favorite.  It has a slight metallic taste, which I likened to licking metal, perhaps the source of the name.

Reasons to visit:  you’re making the rounds of the Riverhead breweries; you like to try a wide variety of styles and experimental tastes of beer; the Mattitaco truck; the Pierce the Ale, Basement Pipe, Dark Side of Maple, and Dough’nt Stout Me Now (though, for some people the choices might be quite different!); a pleasant place with generous pours.

Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

Wine and Food Pairings (Inspired by Newsday)

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https://www.newsday.com/

https://paper.newsday.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?edid=b162131d-f983-4571-8d34-226583242f16&pnum=1

Today, for Valentine’s Day, Newsday ran a nice little piece, “Perfect Pairings,” about wine and food pairings. But they missed an opportunity, which Nofowineaux will attempt to remedy.  For example, they mentioned Peconic Bay oysters, but not the Long Island wines one could drink with them.  So what follows is my own list of the foods and types of wines they mentioned, updated with my own recommendations of local wines to use.

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We get a new red-wine-friendly glass with the reds.

  1. Roast chicken

Newsday says have pinot noir or an oaked chardonnay.  I say, try Castello Borghese’s or McCall’s pinot noir, or Castello’s oaked chardonnay.

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  1. Pasta with a Bolognese sauce

Chianti would be perfect, of course, and it is made with the sangiovese grape, which is found on Long Island in a few places.  Try the sangiovese from Pugliese, or the Meritage from Laurel Lake, a blend that includes sangiovese.

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The second three of the still wines. A coaster under each glass identifies the wine.

  1. Lobster

They say a steel fermented chardonnay or a rosé.  Of course, as soon as I hear rosé, I think of Croteaux, which has lovely dry Provençal-style rosés.  For a steel chard, my favorite is Channing Daughters Scuttlehole Chardonnay.

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  1. Chicken Tikka Masala

Aside from my own kitchen, I don’t know anywhere on the North Fork to get Indian food.  When I make Indian food (as I did last night, making curried cauliflower and cucumber raita), I like to pair it with a slightly sweet white, which is also what Newsday suggests.  They say use a gewürztraminer, and you have three good options on the North Fork:  Osprey’s Dominion, Coffee Pot Cellars, or, my preference, One Woman.  We drank Meditazione from Channing Daughters, a delicious orange wine made from a blend that includes gewürztraminer.

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  1. Roasted White Fish

There are lots of good options for white fish fillets at Braun’s, and there’s almost always cod.  Newsday suggests a sauvignon blanc.  Almost every winery has a drinkable sauvignon blanc, but I prefer Channing Daughters to most of the others.  It is nicely dry, but has enough fruit to give it taste.  Other good ones: Diliberto’s, Duck Walk, Clovis Point, and Coffee Pot Cellars.

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  1. Rib-Eye Steak

Two sources of good beef are Wayside Market and 8 Hands (though 8 Hands doesn’t always have beef—check their web page or call before you go).  As to wines, Newsday recommends either a cabernet sauvignon or a sparkling wine (and many people believe sparkling wines go with everything).  Big reds are in short supply on the North Fork, but Laurel Lake has a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve that’s pretty good.  Sparkling Pointe, of course, only makes sparkling wines.  Their Brut Magnum is lovely, but if you don’t care to buy a huge bottle you could try Roanoke Vineyard’s sparkling wine.

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The sparkler and the chard

  1. Oysters

In general, I like sauvignon blancs with oysters.  I find the lemony taste of the wine complements the bivalves very nicely.  They suggest a Muscadet or a sparkling wine.  You might try the Sherwood House blanc de blancs, or one of the above suggestions.

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  1. Cauliflower Steak

As Newsday notes in its article, it is often hard to pair wine and vegetables.  They suggest a grüner veltliner with this dish, and I agree.  One Woman makes a grüner that is one of my favorite North Fork whites.

As with all suggested wine and food pairings, personal taste is paramount.  If you just don’t like red wines or white wines (but why?), just go with what you like.  A light red can go with fish or chicken, and a heavy white, like an oaked chardonnay, can go with meats.  However, I can’t picture having any white with steak.  Instead, have a beer! Happy Valentine’s Day.

Jason’s Vineyard: Not-So-Golden Fleece February 9, 2019

Jason’s Vineyard: Not-So-Golden Fleece               February 9, 2019

https://www.jasonsvineyard.com/

If you remember your Greek mythology, you will realize that the boat-shaped bar at Jason’s Vineyard is meant to evoke the famous ship, the Argo, on which the Argonauts, led by Jason, set out to find the Golden Fleece—not, as we once heard a guest guess, a pirate ship.

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A view to the outdoor veranda and a portrait of Jason.

Jason was (he sadly died young, just a few years ago) a member of the Damianos family, whose other vineyards are Duck Walk and Pindar, which we reviewed recently.  We decided to check out Jason’s and make it a trifecta.  Having met and had a great chat with Jason, whom we ran into in a local store, back when he was planning to open this winery, we wanted to like it.  Though we were pleased by some of the wines, overall we found some of the same issues as with the other Damianos family wines, a tendency to over-sweetness and simplicity.

The tasting room is of average size, but they also have a plastic-sheeted veranda and an outdoor seating area for larger crowds in the summer.  The bar is surrounded by bar stools, so you can perch as you sip.  We observed one group nibbling on food they had clearly brought with them, and there are also a few snack items for sale.  In an outdoor enclosure we saw several sheep and alpacas, I suppose another reference to that famous fleece.

The menu offers five tastes for $15, and after some calculating we realized that we could do two tastings and try almost all of their wines.  You pay in advance and get a little pile of black “coins,” which the server collects as she pours each new taste.  The tastes, by the way, are quite generous, so that we found ourselves dumping those that didn’t delight with more frequency than usual.  They also have Greenport Harbor beer on tap.

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  1. 2015 Chardonnay          $21.95

The aroma of this steel-fermented wine is rather typically chardonnay-ish, with plenty of lemon and tropical smells.  The taste is also rather strong for a chard, and we decided it would go better with chicken than any sort of delicate seafood.

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No that’s not water–our water glasses are in the back–that’s how light the sauvignon blanc is.

  1. 2017 Sauvignon Blanc $24.95

The first thing I noticed was the very light, almost watery color of the wine.  That turned out to be predictive of the taste, which I described as wine-flavored water.  Grassy aroma.

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  1. 2017 Pinot Blanc $34.95

“Are they keeping the wine outside?” wondered my tasting buddy, as we tried to warm up the very cold glass so we could assess the wine.  On the other hand, we liked this the best so far.  Although the aroma is slightly chemical, the taste balances citrus with a sweeter fruitiness, perhaps guava.  This is a white you could have with pork chops.

  1. 2015 White Riesling $24.95

Isn’t saying white riesling redundant, we asked our server, who chuckled and admitted she was equally baffled.  In this case, the chem lab aroma led to a taste we did not care for.  It was sweet, but with a bitter aftertaste, like honey being used to disguise medicine, as my mother used to do to give me aspirin when I was little.

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  1. Golden Fleece $18.95

Given the name, we were not surprised to hear her describe this as their “signature white.”  It is a blend of chardonnay, seyval blanc, Cayuga, vidal blanc, and riesling.  Though she didn’t have any information on the proportions, she said it was predominantly chardonnay.  Having been forewarned that this was on the sweet side, we were pleasantly surprised to find that, although it did remind us of white grape juice mixed with tropical fruit and tangerines, it was not cloyingly sweet.  However, we did dump most of this and the previous taste.

  1. 2014 Merlot $27.99

Our server poured this along with an “extra” of a taste of the 2000 Merlot, which they are offering for just $12 a bottle.  One sip and we knew why the low price—my husband described it as “if not over the hill, at least standing at the top and about to walk down.”  It smelled like forest floor and machine oil and tasted smoky and thin.  Which made the 2014 taste better.  It’s a typical North Fork merlot, with dominant cherry tastes and light tannins.  The extra, by the way, was not given to us because of the book, but according to the server is being given to everyone, so they are clearly looking to offload the 2000.  We dumped our taste.

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  1. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon $27.95

We had hopes for this wine, as it smelled really good, of dark fruits, but the taste was very light, with no depth and not much fruit.  Dump.

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  1. 2015 Meritage $29.95

This is an unusual blend for a red, of cabernet, merlot, and chardonnay, aged 24 months in French oak.  The aroma reminded me of Cheracol cough syrup, but the taste was not bad.  My husband described it as “not sophisticated, but tasty.”  A light red, it would be fine with pasta or, for a Greek meal, pastitsio.

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  1. 2013 Malbec $29.95

We get some wet basement funkiness in the smell, but fortunately it tastes better than that.  Though it is not complex, we get some nice dark fruits and light tannins.  Dry and drinkable.  We decide it could go with barbeque, but for this level of wine we’d rather head to Vintage, our local liquor store, for one of their $12 bottles.

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  1. 2007 Dessert Wine $28.95

As we were deciding which wines to get, we hesitated between this and the rosé in order to total ten tastes.   Our server, seeing what we liked, steered us to this one, telling us that the rosé was on the sweet side.  This, of course, is sweet as well, comparable, she said to a port, with 19.5% alcohol, made from cabernet.  A good drink for a cold day, she suggested.  It does taste port-like, rather sweet, but, my husband opines, with no depth or gravitas.  We try it with the heart-shaped chocolates that are in a bowl in front of us, which does improve the experience.  I could see sipping this by the fire with a piece of chocolate cake.  Or maybe just the cake…

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We noted the nautical theme even at the entrance.

Reasons to visit:  you like to visit the sheep and alpacas, though you are sternly warned not to feed them; very generous pour; you can bring your own snacks; the chardonnay, the Meritage, the malbec; the bar is cool; they also have the Absenthe, which we tried at Pindar.

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Diliberto Winery: A Trip to Sunny Italy February 2, 2019

Diliberto Winery:  A Trip to Sunny Italy                   February 2, 2019

https://www.dilibertowinery.com/

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The murals help you imaging you’re in Italy.

To celebrate Groundhog Day, we decided to take a trip to Italy—or at least as close as you can get on the North Fork.  We love the décor at Diliberto’s winery, where the trompe l’oeil effect of the murals reminds us of sitting in a café in a small Italian town’s main square, one of our favorite activities in Italy.  The sounds of Italian opera or pop music and the video on the screen over the piano showing scenes of the Italian countryside add to the immersive effect, a nice antidote to the recent sub-zero wind chills we’ve experienced.

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Note the sign on the “building”: Trattoria Diliberto.

In addition, the room was filled with the delicious scent of freshly made pizza, which every table but ours was enjoying.  The kitchen is almost as big as the tasting room, and they have a pizza oven where they make thin crust pizzas as well as other Italian treats (no outside food allowed).  The only problem with the pizzas was that I had trouble smelling the wines over its aroma.

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The screen shows “Visions of Italy,” a series of flyovers of Italian cities and countryside, originally produced for PBS.

The tasting room is quite small, but in the summer they have a sizeable outside area, as well as a plastic-enclosed porch for mild days.  No big groups allowed, and, most emphatically, no children. In the winter, they are only open on Saturdays and Sundays, but check their web page, since on some Sundays they feature “Sundays with Grandma,”  which involves a four-course Italian meal and live music.

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There are real roses on the tables, a classy touch.

The menu has five wines, and oddly offers three tastes for $16, or $6 per taste.  Our server, who was simply a server, with not much to say about the wines, first asked if we wanted to do two $16 tastings, until we pointed out that there were only five wines.  “Oops,” she said, “I forgot we don’t have the rosé any more.”  So we paid $28 for our five tastes, which were delivered to our table all at once, in nice little round-bottomed glasses.  She did come back to our table periodically to check on how we were liking the wines and offer us some water.

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Our panoply of tastes–we had already taken a couple of sips of the chardonnay.

Now that the prognosticating groundhogs haven’t seen their shadows, perhaps soon we’ll be enjoying some warm, Italian-like weather.

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  1. 2017 Chardonnay $32

This is a lightly oaked chardonnay, which spends five months in oak barrels, so it is not too butterscotchy.  The taste reminds me of thyme honey, which is herbier than clover honey, plus a touch of lemon.  Not bad, but not a style of chard I particularly like.  My husband says he could see it as a summer sipper on the deck.

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  1.  2017 Sauvignon Blanc                $30

We like the pretty bright yellow color of this wine, which is steel fermented.  It’s a pretty typical North Fork sauvignon blanc, with crisp green apple and lemongrass flavors, a good oyster wine.  By the way, you may notice that the prices are a bit high here. My guess is that, as such a small winery, they lack the advantage of larger scale places, which can distribute the cost of winemaking over more bottles.

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  1. 2014 Merlot $32

In general, I think Diliberto does better with his reds.  This merlot is rather light, with lots of that typical cherry flavor and some tannins.  It is served a bit too cold.  According to the menu, it is aged just one year, in a mix of new and used French oak, which might account for why it seems so light.  It seems not quite balanced to me, though it would be a fine wine to have with pizza, especially one made without tomato sauce.

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  1. 2016 Cantina $30

A cantina is usually a bar, or an informal kind of restaurant, and this wine would go fine in such a place.  A blend of 50/50 merlot and cabernet franc, it combines the cherry and pepper tastes of the two, with some hints of blackberry.  Though it has more body than the merlot, I find the finish evanesces, though the menu says it has a “smooth, lingering finished” (sic—we used my pen to correct our copies).  It’s another perfectly fine wine, and again would go well with pizza or pasta.

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Even the labels are a nod to the Dilibertos’ Italian heritage.

  1. 2015 Tre $42

If I were ordering pizza and a glass of wine, this is the one I would get, even though it is $17 per glass.  As you might guess from the name, this is a blend of three grapes:  65% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon, and 15% cabernet franc.  It has a lovely dark color and an aroma of tobacco, spice, and candy.  It tastes good, with cherry and dark chocolate flavors and enough tannins that I think it could age some more and be even better.  It could even stand up to steak or lamb chops.

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They also lead tours of Italy.

Reasons to visit:  you like a small, intimate setting; you want to pretend you are in Italy; you like listening to opera while you sip; you appreciate a child-free setting; the Cantina and the Tre; you want a thin-crust pizza for lunch.

 

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The grounds include a room for overnight stays.