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!

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: Hot Hot Hot! August 2, 2018

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: Hot Hot Hot!          August 2, 2018

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The day was beautiful but hot!

https://greenportharborbrewing.com/

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But, you might ask, weren’t you at Greenport Brewery recently?  Yes, we were, but we only sampled five of the many brews on offer, plus they’re always adding new ones.  Besides, it was very hot, and a nice cool beer seemed like just the right drink for the day.  And so it was.

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The prints on the wall are for sale.

As we looked around the large room in the Peconic facility (their other tasting room is in Greenport), we discussed the interesting choice the brewery had made in the décor.  After all, the building was built new to their specifications, but it has the look of an old, converted warehouse, with cement floors and exposed beams.  We also paid attention to some of the art on offer, including prints by the designer of their creative labels, and a huge turtle up in the rafters made from upcycled beach flotsam and jetsam.

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That’s a turtle up there, made from beach flotsam and jetsam.

In addition to art, you can also purchase t-shirts or bike shirts and growlers or cans to take home.

As before, we wrote down our choices of five beers from the menu of thirteen choices.  $12 for the five samples.  The server poured them in the order we listed them, and then, immediately understanding my request, numbered them in the order in which they should be tasted.  That’s important, because a lighter tasting brew will seem tasteless if you have it after a heavier one.

We also decided to get one of their huge hot pretzels again, which comes with mustard and a warm cheese dipping sauce.  We actually didn’t finish it, and barely had room for dinner! We saw one group of people offer their leftover pretzel to some strangers.  One other note—they request and then hold onto your credit card until you return the panoply of glasses from your tasting.

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Happy pretzel?

  1. Summer Ale 5% % ABV (Alcohol by volume)

This is the perfect quaff for after you’ve been working in the garden on a hot summer day.  It is light and citrusy, neither bitter nor sweet.  The menu describes it as a blonde ale with honey.  We decided another way to characterize it would be as tasting the way Budweiser should taste.

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Our panoply of tastes. Be sure to follow the directions on how to lift and carry this.

  1. Harbor Ale 5.3% ABV (Alcohol by volume)

They’ve been making this light ale ever since they opened, and I can see why.  It’s a classic, not too hoppy, tasty ale.  It has more flavor than the Summer Ale, but is still a relatively unchallenging beer.  Also a good summer drink, it would go perfectly with barbequed hot dogs.

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We were intrigued by Peconic Project’s cloudy look.

  1. Peconic Project        8%

Why the name?  Because it is actually brewed at the Peconic facility.  This is an Imperial IPA, with aromas of nutmeg and flowers.  We like it.  It’s mellow, not heavy, with lemon rind and other citrus flavors.  I’d happily drink this with a hot pastrami or corned beef on rye.

  1. Otherside IPA 6.8%

This is my favorite of the day, a well-balanced IPA with just the right amount of bitterness and citrus.  It is another beer that would go well with food, like the tacos I’m planning to make this weekend.  Otherside, by the way, refers to the fact that the hops for this IPA come from the other side of the country, as in the west coast.

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The place was fairly quiet on this midweek afternoon, but we have been here when it was so crowded you couldn’t get in the door.

  1. The Holy Black Lager 5.4%

Described on the menu as a “Schwartzbier,” which simply means black beer, this is relatively light for a dark brew.  If you are looking for a Guinness analog, this is not for you.  On the other hand, it is summer, so a relatively light dark beer might be fine.  I detect both an aroma and a flavor of coffee, plus something vegetal.  I get into a brief conversation with some of the brewers who are hanging out at the bar, sampling their wares, and they say something about making this beer in cooperation with “our friends at The Holy Black”?

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Looking into the restaurant half. You give your order and pay at the counter and they give you an electronic gizmo that vibrates violently when your order is ready to be picked up.

Reasons to visit:  you like beer; the chance to try a variety of interesting brews; a restaurant with both snacks and more substantial fare on offer; you can bring your dog to the outside beer garden or the bar, but not the restaurant section; the Harbor Ale and the Otherside IPA; you can fill a growler to take home.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: Finally, Beer Weather! April 25, 2018

https://greenportharborbrewing.com/

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One view of the tasting room and lawn.

“Well, we’ll just have to come back,” we decided, after sharing one tasting of Greenport Harbor beers left us feeling we’d had enough for one day.  It was finally warm enough to feel that beer should be the drink of choice, so we headed to Greenport Harbor’s large facility on the corner of Peconic Lane and Main Road.  They also have a smaller tasting room in the village of Greenport.

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Two views of the bar tasting room. Note pooch. They are allowed in this room and outside, but not in the restaurant.

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This place is quite large, though it does fill up on summer weekends, with two rooms.  The first one is for ordering beer and tastings, with a side area of GH-related gifts, and the second one is a restaurant area, where dogs are not allowed.  So if you want to get food, be sure you have someone to hang onto your pooch either in the first room or outside while you do so.

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The restaurant room is also roomy.

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The counter where you order food, plus the beers they have at that spot.

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Food menu

You may remember that I noted one could do a walking/drinking tour on Peconic Lane, and end up at GH.  There, you can spend some time sitting outside in the Adirondack chairs or at a picnic table and have lunch.  They have quite an extensive menu of snacks and real food, from the Űber Pretzel for $11.50 to salads, sandwiches, and a lobster roll for $25.  You order at the counter and they give you a square object which vibrates quite violently when your food is ready to be picked up.  We got the Űber Pretzel, which was quite large, very hot, and came with mustard and a warm cheese dipping sauce.  Not bad, but it lacked the yeasty bite of a New York City street pretzel.  Too soft and sweet for me—but we devoured it anyway.

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You also order your beer at a counter, where you can get a tasting of five beers for $12 or glasses or growler fills for varying prices.  The tasting comes in pretty little bell-shaped glasses which fit into a whale-shaped carrier (GH used to sell you the glass, which you then filled with your choice of beers.  We have quite a collection.).  You leave your credit card with the server, who returns it and charges your account when you return the glasses.  Clever.  We saw quite a few people carrying their tasting outside or to a table over on the restaurant side of the place.  We also saw many people just getting glasses of beer and sitting and sipping.  Kids were throwing a Frisbee around outside.

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The rather extensive beer menu.

We stood at the bar and studied the beer menu, which consists of fifteen choices divided into three categories:  Year Round, Limited Release, and The OG (Original Greenport) Series.  Within these categories there are various styles, including lagers, ales, IPAs, stouts, bocks, and a Berliner Weisse.  How to choose?  The server gave us a slip of paper and a pen, and told us to write down our choices.  So we did, going for a variety of styles, writing them down in the order in which we happened to choose them.  (By the way, you can also buy their beers in cans and bottles, often available at local grocery stores and beer distributors.)

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Beers available in cans, but note, no consumption of the cans or growlers while you’re there.

Then she carefully filled the glasses in the order in which we had written them, and returned our slip of paper with instructions to drink them “from head to tail of the whale.”  Wait a second.  We had started by choosing a porter, and our last choice was a brown ale.  Surely that was not the order in which one should drink them!?  She was very happy to write down the best sequence, and as we sipped we decided she had been quite right.  So be forewarned—be sure to ask that question.  As in a wine tasting, order matters.  You don’t want to go from a heavy porter to a light lager, or the lager will taste like nothing.  I think one change GH should make is to automatically have servers point that out.

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Our list, with her added re-numbering for the order in which to drink them.

  1. Tidal Lager        5.3% ABV

The ABV percentage is something you see next to each beer, and it refers to “alcohol by volume.”  It is listed because beers can vary widely in how alcoholic they are, from, in the case of our choices, 5% to 9.4%.  Tidal Lager is described as a “Vienna Lager,” a particular style of lager you can look up on the web.  This version of it is quite light, though also very tasty, with notes of toast and oatmeal cookies.  This is a good summer beer, nice for sipping on the deck on a hot day.

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Our tasting, which was plenty to drink for the two of us.

  1. Maibock 7% ABV

We asked our server about this one, as we were contemplating what to choose, and she launched into a mini-essay on how good it is and how much she likes it.  I can see why.  I described it as a “classic good beer,” full-bodied but not heavy.  My husband said it was “toasty and creamy.”  It has a touch of sweetness, and would go great with spicy grilled sausages (maybe some of the sausages from 8 Hands Farm).

  1. Hopnami 9.4% ABV

If you like a really hoppy, grapefruity IPA, this is the beer for you.  We don’t.  It tastes more like a breakfast juice than a beer, and smells like grapefruit juice, too.  And I think it’s a bit dangerous, because you could easily guzzle it down—and look at the ABV!

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There are some interesting non-alcoholic drinks available as well.

  1. Black Duck Porter 5% ABV

It was easy to decide to taste this one, since it is one of our favorites.  We’ve bought it in bottles from our local supermarket but, no surprise, it tastes better fresh on tap.  This is a lovely dark beer, with tastes of coffee and chocolate.  As we sipped, we reminisced about our favorite pubs in England and Ireland.  It would go great with shepherd’s pie or a nice lamb stew (hold the mushy peas).

  1. Kettle Cookies and Coffee Oatmeal Brown Ale 5.3% ABV

I had to try this one, since it is made with NoFoRoCo (North Fork Roasting Company) coffee.  And yes, it smells and tastes like coffee, like a good espresso with just a touch of sugar. However, I don’t think I would enjoy a whole glass of this. It barely seems like a beer.  Between this and Hopnami, you could have quite the boozy breakfast.

Reasons to visit:  good beer in an expansive setting; nice menu of sandwiches, etc., which, they boast, are often made with local ingredients; the Tidal Lager, Maibock, and Black Duck Perter; generous pour for a tasting; you can fill your growler and take some home; live music sometimes; fun t-shirts.  We’ll be back to try some more.  I calculate we need to come at least two more times to try all fifteen!

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This was sitting by the entrance. I assume it is some piece of “antique” brewing equipment, which fits with the North Fork aesthetic of old farm equipment as lawn ornaments.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: Cold Beer Here! 7/23/16

http://greenportharborbrewing.com/#welcome

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The flag said “Cold Beer.” Hard to resist when it’s 90 out!

Even with breezes off the bay, it was too hot to sit outside at a winery, so we decided the weather demanded some nice cold beer.  Off we went to Greenport, to the original—which they now describe as the “boutique”—site of our favorite East End beer maker.  They also have a huge facility in Peconic, more a beer barn than a tasting room, which is often very crowded.  On Valentine’s Day weekend we walked in there and walked out, as it was clear there were no seats available plus a long line to even get a tasting.

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Look for this sign on a back street in Greenport.

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The slightly confusing menu.

We quickly found a place at the bar in the small upstairs space, and were soon joined by a genial couple who had not been to a beer tasting before.  We had opted to share one tasting flight, and after seeing how generous the pour was, they decided to follow our example.  You get six “tastes” (actually a good-sized glass) for $8.00.  By the way, they no longer give you the glass to keep.  The menu is somewhat confusing, as our new friends found, as they were not sure whether you get each taste for $8 or all six, or which of the many varieties listed are included.  The starred ones, we explained, were in the tasting, and they are served in order from lightest to darkest, or most intense in flavor.  We may have to stop in another time to try some of the other options.  A line on the chalkboard separated the beers that are always available from the seasonal and/or experimental ones.

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The tasting room features changing exhibits of local artists’ works.

We were also on a mission of sorts, as we had brought an empty growler—the refillable jug the brewery uses—to fill with beer for our dinner of barbecued ribs and Harbes sweet corn.

  1. Summer Ale      5.3% (alcohol level)

Of course, since this is the first taste, it is the lightest.  The color is a light gold, the taste is clean and tangy and light, not at all hoppy.  It would be the perfect beer to consume after an afternoon of gardening in the warm sun, as it would go down very easily and was quite refreshing.  It was also our new friend’s favorite, though not ours.  We decided she and I had opposite tastes!

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Summer Ale next to our growler.

  1. Harbor Ale         5.3%

After a quick rinse with water from a pitcher, the server filled our glass with this perennial classic of Greenport Harbor.  It is a reliably good beer, with a touch of bitter hops, and could certainly go with our ribs, though we were not decided yet.

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Harbor Ale

  1. OGB Dry Hop 4.1%

The menu describes this as a “Berliner Weiss,” or in other words a wheat beer. In general, I tend not to like wheat beers, and this is no exception.  “Tastes like flavored water,” opines my husband.  “The Germans can keep it!”  I reply.  The aroma and taste are both rather yeasty, with some funkiness, and it’s quite fizzy.  It might go well in a shandy. We didn’t finish our portion.

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Fizzy wheat beer

  1. Otherside IPA 7.4%

I seem to recall from a former visit that “otherside” refers to California hops, but our server today seems very uninterested in giving us any details unless we ask more than once for information.  He’s much more forthcoming to a young fedora-hatted couple down the bar from us.  This is our favorite so far, quite hoppy, with a fuller mouth feel and more flavor than the Harbor Ale.  I think we’ve found our rib accompaniment.

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Otherside India Pale Ale

5.  Black Duck Porter 4.7%

This is generally my favorite of their beers, I explain to the friendly couple next to us, and he agrees that he likes it.  It’s a porter that would not be out of place in an English pub, with an aroma of coffee and tastes of coffee and chocolate, with just the right balance of sweet and bitter.  If you like dark beer, this is the one for you—but it would not complement our ribs.  Maybe it would go well with shepherd’s pie, or a plowman’s lunch of cheese and bread and pickles.  We’re getting hungry, and we notice that they also no longer put out bowls of pretzels. Oh well.

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Black Duck Porter

  1. Fork and Beans 6%

“American Stout,” says the menu, and the name is explained when the server tells another couple that they actually brew this with coffee beans sourced from the North Fork Roasting Company, a coffee place in Southold that roasts their own beans and has quickly become a popular spot.  This dark brew smells and tastes like a strong espresso.  You could have it with breakfast and think you were getting your caffeine fix for the day!  We both find it a touch too bitter.  I wonder how it would taste topped with whipped cream.

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Fork and Beans, as in North Fork and Roasting Company espresso beans!

Reasons to visit:  the Otherside IPA, the Black Duck Porter, the Harbor Ale; a seasonally changing roster of beers; a hefty and low-priced serving of beer, given the six generous tastes for $8; the chance to fill your growler with nice fresh beer (we did take the Otherside IPA).  For more of a party atmosphere, with music and food often available, you can check out their location in Peconic.

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Twin Stills Moonshine: All in the Family May 7, 2016

http://www.twinstillsmoonshinedistillery.com/

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We asked our server about the honey used in the delicious honey-flavored whiskey, and he turned to a woman next to him and asked, “Ma, where do we get our honey?”  After proudly telling us about their local sources, including their own beehives which they just started, she added, “My husband is from Portugal. That’s a drawing of his grandfather on the label. ”  This tiny distillery is the definition of a mom and pop store, with the stills in a back room of what used to be a little deli on Sound Avenue.

The honey flavor

The honey flavor

We had been eagerly awaiting its opening, intrigued by the idea of moonshine and rumrunners, given Long Island’s interesting history with both during Prohibition, and this chilly rainy May day seemed like the perfect opportunity to sample some warming whiskey.  It took them a while to open due to delays in getting their license.

A view along the bar.  That's mom in the background.

A view along the bar. That’s “mom” in the background.

The tasting room is small, with a bar along most of its length plus an alcove, but in the warm weather they plan to also use the porch and a patio area along one side of the building.  If you want snacks with your drinks, you’ll need to sit outside.  And you may want those drinks.  The moonshine whiskey—also referred to as “shine”—is made from locally sourced corn and barley, plus other ingredients which are, to the greatest extent possible, also local.  In the future they’d love to add a Portuguese-style grappa to their menu, which is what the owner’s grandfather made back in the original “twin stills” back in Portugal.  The drinks go down quite smoothly, despite the high proof, and some seem like guaranteed crowd pleasers.

The alcove off to one side of the tasting room.

The alcove off to one side of the tasting room.

The menu offers three tastes for $9 from their menu of five choices, plus beers from Greenport Harbor Brewery and ciders from the soon-to-open Riverhead Cider House on tap.  They also offer shots and cocktails, with a menu of interesting combinations, for $7-$9.  A 375ml bottle of flavored shine is $20, and a bottle of the 100 proof original is $25.  We decided to each get a flight, so we could sample all the flavors.

  1. Honey  80 proof

When I have a bad cold, I like to make myself a hot toddy, a mixture of whiskey, honey, and hot water or tea.  Lemon optional.  It may not cure anything, but it does make you feel better!  The honey shine reminded me of a hot toddy—just add hot water.  You can really taste honey, and it has an unctuous mouth feel that is quite pleasant.  I could see sipping this by the fire after dinner on a cold winter night.  Their cocktail idea is to add it to iced tea with a twist of lemon, which they call “Fricken Likken Good Tea.”

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  1. Apple Pie            50 proof

This is a good choice if you don’t actually like whiskey at all.  It tastes of apples and cinnamon and is too sweet for us.  It might be good in a mixed drink if you balanced the sweetness with something tart.  One mixed drink they make is called “The Red Neck,” and includes the apple pie flavor plus cranberry juice and a twist of lemon.

  1. Coffee 80 proof

I used to drink Black Russians as my preferred after dinner drink, and this reminds me of that.  It is our favorite flavor, and we buy a bottle to take home.  We are told that it is made with “real coffee beans,” but any further details are secret.  At any rate, it tastes like good coffee mixed with whiskey, with some sweetness.

The strawberry is a pretty color.

The strawberry is a pretty color.

  1. Strawberry 60 proof

We were afraid this would be cloyingly sweet, but the intensity of the strawberry flavor means it is not.  It reminds me a bit of LiV vodka’s strawberry after dinner drink, though again the mouth feel is different.  They recommend mixing it with lemonade and garnishing it with a strawberry, a drink they call “Southern Sunshine.”  They plan to use local strawberries when they are in season, which, despite the cold wet weather, should be soon.  After all, mid-June is when the Mattituck Strawberry Festival takes place.

Tiny but pretty cups

Tiny but pretty cups

  1. Moonshine Whiskey 100 proof

At this point, I think I should point out that the tastes are served in adorable but tiny pottery cups, “hand made in Portugal,” we are told, so though the alcohol level is high you will not be.  We are both single malt scotch drinkers, but this is a very different tipple.  You don’t get any of the peaty or smoky notes of a scotch, as this is a simpler drink.  It’s fine well-iced, which is how they serve it.  The cocktail menu suggests mixing it with lemonade and pineapple juice, garnished with a chunk of pineapple, for an “o’Old School Lemonade.”

The menu is on the obligatory blackboard, and you can also see the cider taps.  Note the saying.

The menu is on the obligatory blackboard, and you can also see the cider taps. Note the saying.

Reasons to visit:  you want to try something new; you like whiskey; you want a cocktail; the coffee and honey flavors; you want to buy various flavors to make cocktails at home; the cozy tasting room and the chance to chat about the making of whiskey (though they are somewhat sparing on the details).

The "old tymer" on the label is grandpa, the inspiration for the twin stills.

The “old tymer” on the label is grandpa, the inspiration for the twin stills.

Cute little building

Cute little building

Sannino Bella Vita: Small Place, Big List June 27, 2015

This used to be the Ackerly Pond Vineyard, and, though none of the wines are labeled Ackerly, the sign is still there.

This used to be the Ackerly Pond Vineyard, and, though none of the wines are labeled Ackerly, the sign is still there.

http://www.sanninovineyard.com/

The sign outside Sannino Bella Vita says no groups of over six without a reservation, and that’s a good idea, because this small venue really can’t handle a big influx, as we saw when a group with a Groupon and another group there for Anthony Sannino’s wine tour arrived at the same time.  However, the cheerful and hard-working tasting room staff did their best to compensate, and we were in no hurry anyway.  Our youthful server was new to the winery, and actually learned a few facts from us, but she was so charming we didn’t mind at all.

Anthony Sannino off to give a tour.

Anthony Sannino off to give a tour.

This is a great spot if you hope to interact with an owner, as Anthony Sannino is usually on site.  In addition, for a small winery they have an interesting range of choices, with a menu of eleven different wines to choose from for a tasting.  Since their standard tasting is six wines for $18, we decided to share two tastings, thus getting to sample all the wines (except one that is off the menu).  They generally set up all of your tastes on a tray, but with the influx of the groups they asked if we would mind getting our tastes one at a time, since they were worried they would run out of glasses!  No problem.  We also could have ordered a cheese and meat tray for $18.

One side of the room

One side of the room

We opted to sit on stools at the bar, but most other people sat outside on the side patio.  The room has, according to one of the servers, “a certain rustic charm,” and we agree.  There’s also a small selection of amusing wine-related gifts, and the Sanninos run a B and B next door to the winery.  They are just down the street from Greenport Harbor Brewery’s Peconic location, where mass quantities of people were flocking for a barbeque cook off.  We decided to give it a miss.

Some gift items

Some gift items

bella bib

  1. 2014 Chilly Day Chardonnay $18

There’s an interesting vegetable aroma which we note in several other of their wines.  Maybe asparagus?  Also a touch of baked pear, even though this is a steel-fermented chard.  The taste is a touch sweet for a steel chard, but ends with a tart lemony flavor.  Nice, and quite buyable.  We also note that the whites are served at a good temperature—not too cold.

  1. 2013 Off-Dry Riesling                    $17

“Bronze Medal in the FLI,” says the menu, which we later learn stands for Finger Lakes International.  We’re somewhat iffy on rieslings, but this one is quite nice, with green plum aromas and tastes, plus a touch of citrus.  It’s not too sweet, and would be a nice chilled summer sipper or an accompaniment to Thai food.

bella bottles

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc $22

“I’d definitely have this with oysters,” I say.  Lots of not-overly-ripe pineapple taste, tart, lemon at end, with a touch of cabbage in the aroma.  Also worth buying, I think.

  1. 2014 Chardonnay $20

The menu says this is “fermented in steel and accented in oak,” and though at the moment there was no one to tell us exactly what this meant, we can figure it out, as this is an only lightly oaked chard.  We smell honey and almond butter, but the taste is dry and crisp.  If you find steel chards a bit too crisp and oaked chards too buttery, you’d probably like this one.

Pretty color

Pretty color

  1. Bianca White Merlot $16

This is a rosé, of course, so, as always, we compare it to Croteaux.  The color is a pretty dark pink, with sweet strawberry aromas with again a touch of that vegetable scent.  It’s good, though sweeter than Croteaux’s 314, and with less going on.

  1. 2014 Bianca Dolce $15

Our server confidently informs us that this is their sweetest wine, and notes that “people come in just for it.”  I get that.  This has a lighter color than the Bianca, and is quite sweet, almost enough to be a dessert wine.  However, it is light and not cloying. Might be nice over ice.

bella second

  1. 2nd Bottle Red $20

Why 2nd Bottle?  Because this is a wine you serve second, because “nobody cares by the second bottle.”  A non-vintage blend of varietals, this is a fine barbeque wine, with no depth and not a lot of fruit, but quite drinkable.  Something in the aroma reminds me of a black olive tapenade, like the one we sampled earlier in the day at Vines and Branches in Greenport.

  1. 2012 Merlot $25

Another FLI Bronze Medal winner, this 100% merlot spends 22 months in French and Hungarian oak.  We smell plums and a hint of smoke and taste cherry.  Neither sweet nor dry, this is a passable merlot, though my husband says he “would not go out of my way for it.”

  1. 2012 Prima Rossa $34

50% cabernet sauvignon, 33% cabernet franc, 17% merlot, we inform our eager-to-learn server, means this is a Left Bank Bordeaux-type blend.  It’s also quite good, with aromas of coffee, cigars, and grape juice and lots of dark fruit tastes.  This one is also aged for 22 months in French and Hungarian oak.

  1. 2012 Cabernet Franc $34

Ooh, this wine won a Silver Medal in the FLI.  The menu describes it as “elegant.”  Well, there is something restrained about it.  Quite dry, with a bit of a woody aroma, it would be okay with lamb, but we liked the Prima Rossa much better.

Our favorite of the reds

Our favorite of the reds

  1. 2012 Spotlight Petit Verdot $42

We opt to get two tastes of this one, to complete our twelve, and decide that was a good choice, as we like this the best of the reds.  A blend of 85% petit verdot and 15% cabernet sauvignon, aged 22 months in French and Hungarian oak, this wine has lots of dark fruit aromas with just a touch of smoke, and tastes very good.  Lots of fruit, maybe some jam—I could see this with the Crescent Farm duck breasts I served with a strawberry-rhubarb sauce last week.  It certainly merited its Silver Medal in the FLI.

This serious-looking canine statue stands guard over the parking lot.

This serious-looking canine statue stands guard over the parking lot.

Reasons to visit:  you like an intimate setting, with the chance to chat with an owner (if he’s not giving a tour—or you could sign up for the tour!); the Chilly Day Chardonnay, the Sauvignon Blanc, the Prima Rossa, the Spotlight Petit Verdot; a cute selection of gifts.

bella baby

The vines are in full leaf now.

The vines are in full leaf now.

Greenport Harbor Brewery: The Satellite Location 2/15/15

http://www.greenportharborbrewing.com/

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company's new facility is quite large.

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s new facility is quite large.

We were quite pleased when Greenport Harbor Brewery opened up a second location in Peconic, which is more convenient for us to refill our growlers, since we enjoy their interesting and delicious beers.  I really should blog about them several times a year, since, though certain brews are always on the menu, they vary their offerings seasonally.  For example, in the fall we enjoyed their Leaf Pile Ale, and now they offer special winter brews.  Indeed, we visit them more often than I blog about them, as our ever increasing stock of Greenport-Harbor-logoed glasses attests.   You see, the way a tasting works is you are technically paying $8 for the glass, which you then get to keep, and which is filled successively with their six menu items.

The menu offered additional brews not on the tasting list.

The menu offered additional brews not on the tasting list.

It was bitterly cold outside, and blowing snow made parts of the roads hazardous, but still there were quite a few people at the picnic-type tables in the large industrial-style tasting room.  Over in one corner, people from the Fork and Anchor Deli in East Marion had set up a table, where they were selling sub sandwiches, huge pretzels, and bowls of chili, while a little further into the room a band was getting ready to play.  Unfortunately, we had to leave before the music started.  While some people were doing a tasting, others were buying pints.

Food on offer from a local deli.

Food on offer from a local deli.

Band setting up

Band setting up

At the bar, large bowls of small pretzels helped clear the palate between tastes, while our server enthusiastically explained each beverage.  A home brewer himself, he and our son-in-law got into quite a technical discussion of brewing recipes and techniques.  He also told us about upcoming events, including the opening of a restaurant in the space and plans for a pig roast, which had us looking forward to June for another reason besides the end of ice and cold.

The taps

The taps

  1. Harbor Ale        5.3%

The percentage of alcohol in each beer is a usual notation on brewery menus, since beers can vary greatly in how alcoholic they are.  The Harbor Ale is their standard brew, always on the menu, an American pale ale with pleasant citrus notes and a golden color.

green light beer

  1. Black Duck Porter 4.7%

This is another standard, and one of our favorites.  If you like dark beer, this is a delicious one to try, with lots of coffee and chocolate tastes. It may be that I was influenced by the fact that it was just the day after Valentine’s Day, but I think it would pair well with dark chocolates.

  1. Otherside I.P. A. 7.5%

The “other side” is the West Coast, as this is made with an assortment of West Coast hops, such as Cascade, which, our son-in-law noted, tend to add a “piney” note.  We agree, and also some citrus tastes and various layers of flavor.

We became fascinated by the light fixtures made from growlers with the bottoms cut off.

We became fascinated by the light fixtures made from growlers with the bottoms cut off.

  1. Longest Night Stout 6.7%

Here is an example of a seasonal brew, as this is made for the winter time.  It is a hearty winter treat, a bit bitterer than the porter, and very flavorful.  Before it was served, we were asked if any of us had a nut allergy, as chocolate with nuts is used in the brewing, as well as oatmeal. The taste led to a discussion of the joys of dark-chocolate-covered orange peel.

  1. Belgian Style Dubbel 6.0%

This is not a misspelling of double, but rather a Belgian beer style.  Our son-in-law lived for a while in Brussels, so we deferred to him. He declared this brew appropriately funky, but not quite funky enough.  Apparently it is brewed on cherries, and follows a style first used in monasteries in Belgium.

green foam

  1. Spring Turning Saison 6.25%

Saison refers to the yeast used in this very tasty and refreshing rye-based quaff.  This is also a Belgian style beer, and our server informed us that Greenport hoped to introduce more Belgian brews in the future, an ambition we applaud, since on a recent trip to Belgium we became quite enamored of the beers, and also of the fact that every sidewalk café seemed to offer its own brew.  (We also noticed that, although I usually ordered the dark brown beer and my husband the light brown one, the waiters in Belgium almost invariably put the dark beer down in front of my husband.  Who knew beer had gender?)

At the end of the tasting, we filled our growler with the Otherside I.P.A. to go with the pizza we planned to get from Michelangelo later that evening.  It went very well.

green wall

Reasons to visit:  you like beer; you love beer; you’re interested in exploring a variety of beer tastes; you want a collection of little glasses; all six of the beers on offer, as well as every other beer we’ve ever tried there; you’re tired of wine (just kidding).

green building

Room for plenty of people at the new tasting room.

Room for plenty of people at the new tasting room.

A Food and Drink Miscellany

A bad cold has put me hors de combat for tasting wine, so instead here are some random notes on food and drink on the North Fork.

photo (8)

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company

http://www.harborbrewing.com/

In preparation for our annual junk food feast during the Super Bowl (which I watch for the commercials), we decided to get a growler of Greenport Harbor beer.  But which one to get?  We had to do a tasting of them all, since there were several new ones on the menu.  Oh, what a burden. The new ones were Antifreeze, a great name for a winter ale; Spring Turning, a Belgian style saison; and Gobsmacked IPA, an English style IPA. We also, in the interest of completeness, sampled  Harbor Ale,  Black Duck Porter,  Otherside IPA and  Leafpile Ale.  We liked them all, but finally decided that Antifreeze would go best with our Mexican-style snacks of nachos, guacamole, and bison chili. And so it did.  (P.S.  I was amused by the Free Beer Tomorrow sign, which reminded me of a line in Alice in Wonderland about jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.)

Riverhead Farmers Market

As it turned out, we were not the only ones excited at the thought of a winter farmers market in Riverhead, since when we got there just at 11, when it was scheduled to open, there was already a crowd inside.  We could barely find a parking spot in the large lot behind the stores on Main Street.  We bought scallops which had just been opened that morning, bread from Blue Duck bakery, fresh pasta, and locally grown oyster mushrooms for dinner, plus eggs from Browder’s Birds for breakfast.  We could also have bought wine from a couple of wineries, beer from a local brewery, cheeses, and various desserts and other prepared foods, such as empanadas and spanakopita.  Wow.  We’ll be back.  We heard that everything was basically sold out by 2, so it pays to come early.

The raw ingredients for dinner from the Riverhead Farmers Market.

The raw ingredients for dinner from the Riverhead Farmers Market.

And the finished product, with a glass of Comtesse Therese Chardonnay.

And the finished product, with a glass of Comtesse Therese Chardonnay.

Village Cheese Shop on Love Lane

http://www.thevillagecheeseshop.com/ 

If you like good cheeses, this is the place to come.  They not only have a large selection of excellent cheese, they are quite good at giving advice.  “I’d like a creamy blue,” I said, and they knew just which of the many blues to steer me towards.  “And how about a cheese for someone who is lactose intolerant but loves good cheese?”  They had that one, too—a lactose-free well-aged cheese.  In addition to cheeses from around the world they also carry local cheeses, such as Catapano’s goat cheeses and Mecox Dairy’s excellent cheeses, plus patés, olives, and great baguettes.  In addition, they carry a small but select stock of gourmet groceries and also serve fondue and a few other cheese-based dishes for lunch.  I’ve been here frequently and never had a bad cheese.  If you want to add bread and cheese to a wine country picnic, stop in here.

Wayside Market

http://waysidemarketsouthold.com/ 

Now let’s say you want to barbeque some meat that is better than what you can get in the supermarket.  Where to go?  Wayside carries a small but top quality selection of steaks, etc., and, though their prices are not cheap, their meats are good.  I once ordered a butterflied leg of lamb from them which I then marinated.  My husband grilled it and our guests devoured it.   They also carry really good sausages, plus various interesting grocery items.  Whenever we are there, we see people coming in to get sandwiches made at their deli counter, but we haven’t tried those yet.

Okay, time for another cup of hot tea with honey and lemon.  Maybe by next week I’ll be ready to visit another winery!

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company October 5, 2013

Alert readers will note this photo is from a previous visit.

Alert readers will note this photo is from a previous visit.

http://harborbrewing.com/

Hmmm, you think, brewing company?  That doesn’t sound like a winery.  And you’re right.  In honor of Oktoberfest, we decided to go to a brewery tasting room to sample some local beers, and a very good decision it was, too, though quite a few other people had the same idea, making the room a bit crowded.  Greenport Harbor’s brewery and tasting room are located just off Main Street in Greenport, and we often cut across the bank parking lot to get there.  Since they opened, they have moved the tasting room up a steep flight of stairs (labeled the “Stairway to Heaven”—you may start humming now) to a somewhat rustic room with a bar, plus low stools in the center of the space.  Around the walls they display an ever-changing selection of works of art for sale, so the room also functions as an art gallery.  There are also t-shirts, totes, and hats displaying their clever logo—a schematic map of Long Island emphasizing its whale-like shape, with a star for Greenport.

A sign informs us “No pints, just flights,” which is fine with us, as that’s what we’ve come for.  The procedure is that you pay $8.00 for a glass in which they give you your tastes, and then you get to keep the glass.  We’re amassing quite a collection, I must admit.  If you want to take some home, you buy a “Growler” (so named, according to one theory, for the sound the beer makes as it splashes into the container), which they fill from the tap and top with a screw cap, for $19.  Since our last visit they have added a smaller size for $13, which is perfect for two.  The servings are quite generous, and two could even share one tasting.  You get six samples from their ever-changing menu, anchored by the Harbor Ale, which they always feature.

greenport brewery

1.        Greenport Harbor Ale  5.2%

This is a classic American beer, but better than Bud, and would be perfect with baseball and peanuts.  It is nicely hoppy, with some citrus and unripe pineapple notes.

2.       Black Duck Porter  4.9%

Why “black duck?” we ask our server.  She’s not sure, but thinks it is named for the color—which is indeed quite black—and Long Island ducks.  They try to have names which reflect the local color.  I remember fondly one called DisOrient Harbor which they were forced to discontinue.  Apparently the State in its wisdom thinks it is a bad idea to give alcoholic drinks names which reflect an effect they might have.  I really like the Black Duck, which both smells and tastes a bit like espresso, but also dark unsweetened chocolate and spice.  It would be perfect with kielbasi.  Sometimes they make a similar beer called Canard Noir…

3.       Oyster Stout  4.9%

This is another dark beer, but not nearly as strong and full-flavored as the porter.  Dark beer for those who don’t care for dark beer, opines my husband, who also nails the spice taste we’re trying to identify.  Cardamom!  Do we detect a slight fishy smell, or are we influenced by the name?  They suggest it would be good with oysters, and though I generally prefer white wine with those bivalves, this would work since it would not overwhelm them.

4.       Devil’s Plaything IPA  5.5%

“Made exclusively for Salvation Taco,” the sign reads.  We know the spot, a restaurant in Manhattan we walked into and promptly walked out of, unwilling to bear the extreme noise level.  I do hear their tacos are good, and so is this beer.  It is brewed with hot peppers in it, we are told, and we can sense an underlying chili flavor, though it is not spicy.  The aroma reminds me of tomato leaves.  This is not a beer for sipping, as it is a bit sharp, but I can see how its refreshing taste would go well with spicy Mexican or Szechuan dishes.  There’s a touch of citrus, so I can certainly see this with a bowl of guacamole.

5.       Otherside IPA  7.5%

Why Otherside, inquiring minds want to know.  The hops for this one come from the West Coast, is the answer, huge quantities of Apollo, Cascade, Centennial, and Chiana hops.  Befitting its making, we note a complexity of flavor in this very hoppy beer (please, no happy/hoppy puns).  It would be great with a hamburger and chips or fries.

6.       Leaf Pile Ale  5.4%

Halloween is coming, and so is Thanksgiving, so it is time for pumpkin pie—or pumpkin ale.  We do indeed taste cinnamon and nutmeg and some sweetness.  If you don’t particularly like beer, this might be the quaff for you.  I like it better than I thought I would!

After we finish, our server rinses out our glasses and puts in a paper towel to dry them.  We buy a small growler of Black Duck Porter, which we enjoy later that evening with barbecued pork loin.  Excellent combination.

A view out the window at the brewery, including their interesting sign.

A view out the window at the brewery, including their interesting sign.

Reasons to visit:

You’re walking around Greenport and need a break from shopping; you’ve tried all the wineries and are ready for something different; you like artisanal beer; you want some really fresh beer for dinner; you like interesting beers.

Brewery