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: 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.