Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mother Cabrini Italian Feast

This weekend's featured food event: Mother Cabrini Italian Feast. Actually, it's going on all week, until September 3 at Suffolk Community College, off of Exit 53 on the big L.I.E. For more, click here.

Gee, you'd think there'd be more going on on Labor Day. I guess all the cool people will be partying their asses off in the Hamptons for one last filthy, drunken orgy for the summer.

I wish I could be there...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Great Episode of No Reservations

I was a big fan of a Cook's Tour on the Food Network a few years back, and, for the most part, I like Tony Bourdain. But he's just over exposed at this point (hard to do for a cook), and I've gotten a little tired of him.

So, I don't even watch No Reservations these days. Or, if I do, it's for no more than a few minutes.

But I caught the Cleveland episode last night and loved it (or most of it). I mean who goes to f*cking Cleveland to do a show about food? I'm not even sure what we learned about food in Cleveland except there's some Polish food around, and they love their piggies. But the show was great... Except for the running homage to American Splendor, which was cute for about three seconds.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Review: The Lake House

The Lake House is one of the more acclaimed restaurants to open up on Long Island recently. It’s on the west side of Bay Shore, just down the road from the massive St. Patrick’s Church and school. But keep your eyes open, or you’ll miss it. My thanks to the lovely vixen at East End Eats for the tip.

The building is (I guess) a converted house that sits on a small inlet of the Great South Bay. If you get there early, like we did, you can grab a seat by the window overlooking the water. Otherwise, as the restaurant is a converted house, seating can get a bit tight as the evening wears on.

The amuse was a piece of cold shrimp, cut in half, set atop mashed avocado, with drops of basil oil to one side. I thought the flavors were just all right. However, my shrimp was fishy.

The menu was pretty much what’s available online as of the time of this review. For an appetizer, the wife had a crab salad with jicama slaw (not on the online menu). I wasn’t crazy about the cold salad paired with the cold jicama, but the wife loved it. I had the papardelle (looked more like fettucine) with duck and shiitake mushrooms. And I believe I tasted truffles in the broth. It was great. I sopped up the broth with the complementary bread when the waiters weren’t looking. (On that night, a “French” roll and a rosemary-olive roll.)

The entrées are pretty standard: a few fish dishes, a steak, rack of lamb, etc. As often happens, the appetizers are far more interesting. The wife had the veal chop (a ribeye cut), and it was pretty hefty and thick. It came with a mascarpone polenta, and various green veggies. My only complaint was that the waiter must have misunderstood “medium rare” for “medium well.” I can’t see a restaurant of that caliber overcooking something to that degree.

I had monkfish wrapped in prosciutto. Like the veal, the portion was huge. It came sitting on a non-soup “pasta y fagioli” (pasta, chickpeas, and tomatoes, mostly) and was a nice match. My only complaint was that the dish, overall, was too salty. And I love salt. I was parched for the rest of dinner.

The dessert menu is conservative. The wife had a strawberry and rhubarb cobbler, which she loved. It had a nice tartness that cut into the sweetness of the vanilla ice cream. I had the apple tart tatin, served on puff pastry. The apples were slightly bitter, but this was mellowed also by vanilla ice cream. Don’t know if that is what they were going for. I was expecting something sweeter, overall. We passed up the 375 ml bottle of Château d'Yquem for $190 and settled for coffee.

The place is good (or very good), but not great. I was not happy with the fishy shrimp; my monkfish was too salty, and the veal didn’t have enough salt. But the portions were generous, and three courses there should fill up most people. (I had to finish my wife's veal chop and dessert.) The restaurant is one of the better places on Long Island, but I can’t quite put it up there with the very best. $152 after tax and tip.

4 out of 5 stars

240 West Main Street
Bay Shore

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wild by Nature

Finally checked out the Wild by Nature in East Setauket. It’s billed as a fruity organic food store, but I’d describe as an organic, high-end grocery and gourmet store.

Like the better places of its kind, it has lots of good, fresh produce. Even something called a water coconut, whatever that is.

As you’d expect, there are lots of organic brands, lots of vitamins and supplements and who knows what. But they also have some hard to find meats, including rabbit, capon, poussins, and Muscovy duck. They also sell a lot of D’Artagnon products, including fresh chorizo, pates, and even veal demiglace.

Their “normal” meat selection is a bit small, however, and tends to be overpriced. I saw half of a beef tenderloin (really, nothing more than the chateaubriand) for $70! Yikes. I say get a full tenderloin at BJ’s for $55. I also saw what appeared to be “choice” cuts of steaks for about $15 per lb.

The place is cheaper than the Whole Foods in Jericho, and the wife advises it is as cheap as Trader Joe’s for some things and cheaper for others. She loves the place and plans on going there regularly.

198 Main Street
East Setauket

Monday, August 20, 2007

Greek Fest and Seafood Fest

This upcoming weekend's featured food events:

Greek Festival in Port Jefferson. August 23 - 26. Haven't been there and don't really care for Greek food, so I don't have much to say. But Port Jeff is always great. Persians not welcome. For more, click here.

Seafood Festival in Sayville. August 25-26. I've been there a few times in the past. There are craft stands and some other attractions, but I used to go there just for the food. But after the first or second time I realized the food ain't that great, and the money starts to leave your wallet in a hurry. The soft shell crab sandwiches aren't bad, though. They also have live bands in the afternoon and evenings. Last year they had the Gin Blossoms, and I missed it, damn it. No big names this year.

So, if you have some disposable cash, it's not a bad way to spend a few hours. Lots of beer, fresh lemonade, and pretty girls... Ahem. Just get there early or be prepared to walk. For more, click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Feasting on Asphalt

To go beyond the Long Island scene for a moment... I loved the first season of Feasting on Asphalt on the Food Network. I think it was one of the best collection of shows ever done on food. But, so far, the second season has stunk. He's spending too long at each place, and each segment starts to drag after a few minutes. Whether this is by choice, or there isn't enough good material to keep the segments shorter, I don't know.

Also, I'm not loving Brown's personality this time around. His behavior seems more obnoxious than I remember. Either he's trying to keep it entertaining for the cameras, or he's a bigger douche than I thought. And I generally like the guy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Polish Town Street Fair and Polka Festival

Since I've been posting on a nearly regular basis lately, I thought I'd perhaps feature some coming food attractions--something I had always meant to do, but was too lazy.

This weekend it's the Polish Town Street Fair and Polka Festival in Riverhead. I've been there before, and there ain't a whole lot about it that's Polish, IMO. There are lots of food stands (not much that's Polish), lots of stupid craft stands--the typical Long Island summer festival scene. They close down a stretch of Pulaski street and some adjoining side streets.

For more, click here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Review: Romano's Macaroni Grill

We were in Garden City on two consecutive days recently, where I had my eyes zapped inhospitably with a laser. The wife wanted to try this place, so we went there for lunch the first day, and on the next day, as we were leaving, we couldn’t decide where to go, so we headed back. So, I think I have a decent feel for the restaurant, having tried a number of dishes.

It’s not a great restaurant, but for what it is (a moderately-priced chain Italian place), it’s fairly good.

The complimentary bread is rosemary (which you can smell more than taste). It’s baked fresh, and there is olive oil for dipping it in.

The appetizer sampler is decent (fried calamari, fried mozzarella, and basic bruschetta). The tomato sauce for the calamari and mozzarella is of the fresh, lightly-cooked variety. The shrimp and artichoke dip is enormous and richly cheesy. My only complaint was that the bread served with it appeared to be the previous day’s complimentary bread (read: stale).

The salads are all fairly large and have plenty of fresh greens, and many have arugula. The chicken for the parmesan-crusted chicken salad is wonderful (though can be dry).

Rigatoni with chicken and mushrooms in a cream sauce is rich, cheesy, and filling. (However, the rigatoni was overcooked and falling apart.) Their verson of penne alla vodka is also solid and has a mysterious spicy heat to it that we couldn’t place.

The restaurant is essentially a better-imagined Olive Garden. Lots of interesting things on the menu, but we couldn’t try them all. Certainly far more interesting things than an Olive Garden or one of the many chain Italian places around.

3 out of 5 stars

1195 Corporate Dr.
Westbury, NY