Foodie Tour: Liquids Too September 16,2018

Foodie Tour:  Liquids Too

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For years we’d seen the posters advertising the North Fork Foodie Tour (This is the 12th annual one.), but somehow we’d never managed to go.  The dates or the weather never quite worked, but this year it was scheduled for a weekend we were free and the forecast was for a beautiful day, so we stopped in to the Mattituck Florist and bought two tickets for $25 each.

You bring your ticket to whichever stop you choose to go to first, where volunteers at a little table sign you in and give you a wrist band, which then gives you admission to the rest of the sites.

There are twenty in all.  I laid out a somewhat ambitious itinerary which we ended up scrapping, visiting only three of the stops on the tour.  However, we felt we had gotten our money’s worth.

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Our first stop was Browder’s Birds, on a back street in Mattituck. http://browdersbirds.com/

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They have a bunch of bee hives, too.

We got there in time for the 11 a.m. tour, led by Mr. Chris Browder himself.  He told us that he’s had anywhere from 15 to 50 people in past years, but this time it was just us and one other couple.  After sampling a yummy quiche made with Browder’s eggs, we set off across the field to the mobile chicken and turkey coops. Along the way we learned about the rewards and perils of raising fowl—the satisfaction of hands-on work, the depredations of foxes—and the methodology he uses.

After reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Chris visited one farm described in the book, where the farmer uses a system of mobile hen houses to move his chickens from one square of pasture to another.  Chris decided to put the same system into effect on his organic farm.  We could see the denuded earth where the coop had just been and the new growth where it had been the previous week.

The chickens eat a diet of insects and greens they get from the field plus organic feed.  We were struck by the total absence of any foul odors, as you sometimes find around chicken coops.  Chris explained that the constant movement of the coops keeps everything clean.  Then he showed us how he can move the lightweight coop himself, and how when the chickens realize he’s about to start pulling it they line up along the front of the coop so they can move along with it.

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The surviving turkeys seemed as curious about us as we were about them.

He also showed us his one turkey coop, which had originally held 60 young turkeys.  Unfortunately, a fox got into the coop a week or so ago and killed 29 of them.

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They also sell sweaters knit with wool from their sheep.

After our tour of the fields, we returned to the area near the house to check out the greenhouse-like structure where the baby chicks live until they are big enough to be out in the field.  We also learned about how the Browders slaughter their chickens themselves, in a very humane and efficient way.  We then said hi to the sheep and ducks, which like to hunker down in the shade next to the house.  Finally, we looked over the little store, which is open on weekends and Friday afternoons, where they sell their chickens, eggs, duck eggs, home-made honey, brining mixture, etc.  Since this was our first stop, we weren’t ready to buy anything, but we promised we’d be back.

It was almost noon, and I saw from the tour booklet that Greenport Harbor Brewery was giving a tour at noon of their Peconic facility.  Despite being caught behind a tractor on one leg of our journey, we made it there just as the tour was beginning.  https://greenportharborbrewing.com/

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No, this silo is not decorative. It actually is used to store the grain they use to make beer.

Rich Vandenburgh, one of the co-funders of Greenport Harbor, led the tour.   An engaging and amusing guide, he explained all the stages of making beer as well as regaling us with some stories from his years with the brewery.  If you ever go on the tour, make sure you hear about the strange scrapes on the high ceiling of the storage room.  We learned about hops and barley and grain and yeast.   Among other things, we learned about how they try to be responsible about the environment at the brewery.  They plan to install a water catching system so they can use rain water, and another system which captures the CO2 from the brewing process which can then be reinjected into the beer to carbonate it.  The spent mash goes to farms for animal feed and mulch.  Because it tastes sweet, the animals really like it, including the bison at Tweed’s bison farm on Roanoke Avenue.  Rich related how when the bison catch sight of the truck approaching the farm they hurry over to the fence, eager for their treat.

It was almost one o’clock by the time we had finished seeing the bottling room and asking all the questions which Rich patiently answered.  Then we showed our bracelets at the bar and were told we could each have three free tastes of any beers we liked.  After all that walking and standing around, we were ready for a respite, so we bought a big pretzel to go with our beers.  Although we’d been to Greenport Harbor twice in recent months, they already had some new beers for us to taste.  We sipped Tidal Lager, Lawn Chair ale, Devil’s Plaything, Respect to Process, and Black Duck Porter, which remains my favorite, but we liked them all.

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The bottling machine. They are in the midst of bottling their fall special, Leaf Pile Ale. We saw the bags of nutmegs, etc., they use for the pumpkin pie spice flavor.

Where to go next?  We could have headed to Craft Master Hops, to learn about how hops are harvested, or to Shared Table Farmhouse, to see a “homesteading operation,” or any of a number of other places, but we decided to rest until 3 p.m., when a tour was scheduled at Macari Vineyards.

http://macariwines.com/

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The grapes look great, but are not quite ripe yet.

We checked in for the final time with the Foodie Tour volunteers, and headed around to the back of the property where a group of foodies—some of whom we recognized from the brewery tour—gathered.  We were soon joined by two employees of the winery who laid out a platter of cheeses and crackers and served us tastes of three of Macari’s wines.  As we sipped, our guide explained the philosophy behind each wine and how it was made, as well as some background on the Macari family and how they had come to own a winery.  Joseph T. Macari, Jr., started making wine with his father in their cellar in Corona, Queens.  We also learned a little bit about their commitment to biodynamic farming.  Common to all three places we visited was concern for the environment and a sincere commitment to making a great product.

We started with the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, a zesty, crisp, refreshing white.  I agreed with the guide that it would pair well with local oysters.  Then we moved on to the 2016 Chardonnay Estate, a very nice steel-fermented chard.  It was interesting to hear his discussion of the differences between the grapes and how they were treated.  We ended with Sette, a red that mixes half merlot and half cabernet franc.  The wine is named for Settefratti, the town in Italy to which the Macari family traces their roots.

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This machine is used to separate the grape juice from the skins.

Well-fortified, we headed inside to tour the various aspects of the wine-making facility, from huge steel tanks with precise temperature control to stacks of oak barrels where wine is aged.  Our guide’s parting words were that our Foodie Tour wrist bands would get us 10% off any wines in the winery.

 

And that was the end of our day.  Though we only got to three of the twenty possible sites, it was a thoroughly satisfying experience.  I hope that next year weather and timing cooperate so we can do this again!

 Moustache Brewery: No Facial Hair Required January 9, 2016

http://www.moustachebrewing.com/

We almost missed the entrance!

We almost missed the entrance!

Thanks to Google Maps, we had no trouble finding Moustache Brewery, hidden away on a side street in Riverhead in an industrial area.  Once inside the industrial vibe continued, with the small tasting room open to the brewing facility and stacks of materials on open shelves.  The small size also encouraged a friendly attitude, as we got into conversations with a couple sharing our table and various individuals, some of whom had clearly stopped in for a pint.  Matthew and Lauri (as the owners are identified on the web site) are also quite friendly, and clearly passionate about their beer, and with good reason.  We liked all of the beers we tried.

Preparing our flight

Preparing our flight

The tasting flight gives you four 5-ounce pours for $8.00, so though we would have liked to try all the beers we decided to share one flight, which was more than enough.  Maybe we should go back and try the rest another day!  Their beers are also available on tap at various places around Long Island, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order them.  They also have a small selection of beer-themed gift items.  Pints are $6 and growlers (to go only) are $21-$22, depending on the beer (less if you bring your own growler bottle—even if it’s from a competing brewery).

The menu and price list

The menu and price list

While we were there two young-looking couples came in asking for flights, but when they were unable to provide proof of age they were denied and left in a huff, declaiming that they were off to Long Ireland Brewery.  Lauri quickly phoned Long Ireland to give them a heads up, which I thought was very collegial of her, and also smart.  Why jeopardize your livelihood to give someone a drink?

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  1. Everyman’s Porter  5% (alcohol, a figure provided for most of the beers, as they can vary)

The menu accurately describes this as “light bodied with chocolate and coffee notes.”  We agree that it is light for a porter, so it is good for someone who wants to start trying darker beers but is not ready for a really heavy one.  This has a pleasantly bitter flavor with a touch of citrus at the end and a bit of a tingle on the tongue.  I say that I could see sipping this in a pub, and my husband agrees, but adds that in that case it would be warmer.

  1. Sailor Mouth IPA  5%

Okay, where did this name come from?  Lauri chuckles and admits that it was named for her tendency to, um, use strong language.  “Potty mouth” would not be a good name for a beer, we all agree.  This is a good IPA, with a strongly piney taste and more lime than lemon in the citrus category.  It would go well with a summer barbeque, especially if you were having ribs with a sauce that was more on the sweet side.

Halfway through our tasting.

Halfway through our tasting.

  1. Wet Hop Harvest Saison 3%

“Local Cascade, Mt. Hood, and Pearle Hops” reads the menu, and yes, it is somewhat hoppy.  Saison means it is in the Belgian style, and we find it lighter in taste that one would expect from the dark color.  It is also pleasantly bitter, but not as interesting as we had hoped.  Still, it was fine.

  1. You’ll Shoot Your Rye Out 6%

This is described as “Rye Scotch Ale,” referring not to whiskey but to the Scottish style of brewing and to the use of fermented rye.  And indeed, this is another beer we could definitely imagine ourselves drinking in a cozy wainscoted pub somewhere in the north of the British Isles.  Although again it is not very heavy (I should mention that we both love Guinness Stout.), it has lovely notes of mocha—chocolate and coffee—and is very drinkable.

You'll Poke Your Rye Out

You’ll Shoot Your Rye Out

Reasons to Visit:  all the beers were good; you could fill a growler and enjoy some good craft beer at home; you’re in Riverhead and you would like to try a tasting somewhere new; the friendly vibe.

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Also, if you happen to find yourself in Riverhead on a Saturday you should definitely check out the Farmer’s Market.  We bought locally caught cod, shiitake mushrooms from the East End Mushroom Company, organic hydroponic greens, some delicious olive bread, a lovely soft brie-type cheese from Mecox Dairy, and delectable mini chocolate-covered red velvet cakes, and made a terrific dinner.  Next time we hope to try the quail from the Browder’s Birds stall, raised by Abra Morawiec. 

Serious conversation

Serious conversation

The view from the tasting room into the brewery.

The view from the tasting room into the brewery.

Out of the way, industrial location for Moustache Brewery.

Out of the way, industrial location for Moustache Brewery.

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