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November 20, 2006

Yard Work

Filed under: Fall by Bill @ 2:33 pm

What do I do on crisp Autumn day on Long Island?

Long Island is suburbia. House after house. Block after block. Town after town. Pick any water cooler on Long Island and you’ll hear small talk about the things people are doing around their houses. Especially at this time of year.

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. I love them all, really, and Long Island does the four seasons so well. Each comes in with conviction, yet none overpower us. But fall just has so many things going for it it’s hard not to put it at the top of my list.

The quieting of summer’s energy, the crunch and scent of fallen leaves, and those crisp, frosty mornings ease us into our winter hibernation. It feels so good to slow down.

Oh, but there I go again waxing poetic. The reality of autumn on Long Island is yard work, plain and simple. Is it hard? Yep. Is it boring? Doesn’t have to be.

We have five senses. Pay attention to them and savor what they bring you. This weekend I fixed a leaky chimney, winterized my boat, and did some yard work.

I can’t describe what I felt, smelt, tasted or heard, but…

Here’s what I saw:

Dying Montauk Daisies
The Montauk daisies that attracted so many butterflies have lost all their petals.

Tomato stakes
Windblown tomato stakes stand fruitless vigil over dead tomatoes.

A chimney
Fixing a leaky chimney may be a chore, but it offers an opportunity to see things in an unusual way.

Mocking bird on a sunflower
A mocking bird perched on one of my dead sunflowers.

So, what did you see?

November 13, 2006

A Shelter Island Sunset

Filed under: Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 2:31 pm

Shelter Island, so named because of the way Long Island’s north and south forks shelter it from the sea, is a trip back in time. The island is pristine, dotted with old farm houses on large plots, and is so beautiful it’s almost unbelievable.

On Friday I had the “privilege” of driving a carload of teenage girls to their annual retreat at Saint Gabriel’s on Shelter Island. Their weekend started with a beautiful sunset view on the ferry ride from Greenport.

A sunset
The four girls along with Shelter Island are silhouetted by the beautiful sunset. What a great way to start the weekend.

While they were on retreat I spent the rest of my weekend enjoying Long Island’s North Fork.

In all, I ate at 4 Long Island restaurants (Jedediah Hawkins Inn was amazing), visited 3 Long Island wineries and stayed in 1 Long Island hotel. (How many hotels can you sleep in in 1 weekend anyway?)

Needless to say I came home exhausted. And now I have a lot of writing ahead of me…

November 6, 2006

Home Cooking on Long Island

Filed under: Food & Drink by Bill @ 2:29 pm

A PumpkinI wasn’t going to post about Long Island Restaurant Week. It’s been in the papers and on a lot of Long Island related blogs.

Every Long Islander that’s interested in food already knows about it, so there’s no need for yet another announcement.

However, since this post is about food I didn’t feel right about not mentioning it. So, here goes:

Long Island Restaurant Week gives you the chance to dine at some of Long Island’s finest restaurants at an unbelievably low price.

For one week, starting Nov. 5th, all participating restaurants are offering a fixed price menu for only $21.95 per person.

Friends, how can you go wrong? Get out there and start eating!

Or, stay home and cook.

Fall is that time of year when many of us get the urge to cook. We want to come in from the cold and get warm by the stove. The smell of a roast or a cake or maybe even some homemade bread can be irresistible. And there’s nothing like sharing the warmth of heart and hearth (even if it is just the stove) with good friends and family.

Roasted vegitablesI’m a big fan of the fact that Long Island offers so many ways to enjoy food and drink.

In addition to the hundreds of restaurants we have to choose from, local farms, fishermen, wineries and breweries are an excellent source of fine ingredients for your home cooked meals.

Local chefs such as John Ross have been instrumental in defining Long Island’s regional cuisine and showing us how to cook using Long Island’s wonderful bounty.

For recipes and history of many Long Island restaurants I highly recommend his book, The Food and Wine of the North Fork.

Roast ChickenOn Saturday night we roasted a chicken and some vegetables, and toasted the seeds from the pumpkin used in the vegetable dish.

We enjoyed a bottle of good Long Island wine too (Wölffer Estate 2003 Reserve Chardonnay).

For desert we ate the pumpkin seeds and were amazed at how well the wine worked with their toasty flavor.

In all we spent 5 hours in the kitchen cooking, eating, talking, and cleaning up; time well spent and a lot less expensive than dining out.

A note about Long Island wine. You can pick up a bottle of Long Island wine for under $10. That may be more expensive than what you’re used to paying, but compared to the cost of dining out it is a real bargain.

Dinner on the table
A home cooked meal using fresh, Long Island ingredients. Far less expensive than dining out, yet priceless.

If I’m cooking a decent meal, something that takes time to prepare and time to enjoy, I’ll spend $20 to $40 on a bottle of Long Island wine. The same cheaper-than-dining-out logic applies and, if I’m spending that much time cooking, I’m not going to cheap-out on the wine. It does make a difference.

Price is not always a good indicator of wine quality, so when I’m not sure about what to buy I turn to my friend, Lenn Thompson. Lenn just happens to be (among many other things) Long Island’s premier local wine expert.

If you want to learn about Long Island wine I highly recommend visiting his blog,

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