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Gualala, California is a small ocean-side town in California, northwest of Napa. It’s home to the Surf Market, the coolest community grocery store in the country. And while the locals love it, it convinces tourists to make the drive from Napa Valley. “Perhaps the closest thing to the perfect small town store,” is how Seth Olney describes it. Olney is the owner of the Olney Place on Keuka Lake, and he knows something about what makes a store special. At the age of 34, Olney has developed his community store into the beating heart of the Finger Lakes. He’s traveled the country to find inspiration; a trip last winter took him up and down the west coast. He’s been to Florida. His customers have convinced him to go to Saxapahaw, North Carolina, where the Saxapahaw General Store is another gem for those in-the-know. On a recent visit to the Olney…

evan-yelp

If the Internet has made everyone a critic, then most critics handing out one star on Yelp are idiots. This is not to say that some restaurants don’t deserve one star. The problem is that this country seems addicted to portion size, and large portion size, and it’s filtered into our assessment of whether a restaurant is offering a quality meal. How many times have you had a conversation with a friend that went something like this: “How was such-and-such restaurant?” “Amazing. The portions were HUGE!” We’re learning nothing about the food, the creativity of the kitchen, the thoughtfulness of the menu. But damn, that steak is 2400 calories! How did this happen? At what point did dining out shift so heavily in favor of pigging out? The impetus for this rant came this past weekend after my wife and I enjoyed a spectacular meal at a new Rochester restaurant.…

21club

  21 Club, a legendary Manhattan establishment, is famous for two things: a succulent burger and the three martini lunch. A classic place to drink your meal, three Long Island wineries will be in good company as they showcase some of their best on this hollowed ground of Prohibition-style imbibing. On select Mondays this summer, the restaurant will host wine and hors d’oeuvre pairings for Bedell Cellars, Onabay Vineyards and Pellegrini Vineyards. Sample new bites from Chef Greeley selected to compliment each vintage and varietal, while sipping local wine and picking the brains of experts from each winery.  Canapés, good wine, all in a famous locale. It could be an outpouring of support and successful evenings will inspire 21 to add New York State wines to their storied lis….which currently has only four Empire State bottles for sale. $45 per person includes wine tastings, assorted bar bites, tax and gratuity.…

front-summer-dinner

When Summer in a Glass was published, I wondered if there could ever be a dinner event that brought together all the wines from the book. It seemed like a wonderful idea, but I figured it would remain only an idea. The work of pulling together such an event would be overbearing. But now it’s actually happening. On Monday, July 22, the Hole in the Wall Restaurant in Perry is hosting the Summer in a Glass-themed dinner. Tickets are still available for $150 apiece. If that price seems high, consider this: the restaurant is still probably going to lose money on the event. This is not about making money. For owners Travis Barlow and Jacquie Billings Barlow, this is about a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “When I read the book, I would get to the end of each chapter and I would think, ‘I have to try this wine!’ And then the list…

LoveLaneKitchen-Brooklyn-Brewery

If you are around the East End of Long Island tonight, be sure to stop by Love Lane Kitchen for “The Quarterly Carousal” from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Presented by Edible East End, and Brooklyn Brewery, the event is described as “A Celebration of beer, food, and stories.”  Brooklyn Brewery is showcasing their Silver Anniversary Lager, a Doppelbock version of its’ well known “Brooklyn Lager,” crafted to celebrate 25 years of brewing.  The bottle-conditioned 750ml bottle, complete with Brooklyn artist-rendered labels, will be served alongside creations by several local food vendors. For a complete list of who’s participating check out Love Lane Kitchen’s website. I’ll be there drinking and eating so come say hello and share your best/worst stories about food and beer.  See you there!

local-wines-banner

After spending the late morning in Greenport on Sunday — riding the carousel and getting our son Jackson out onto the ice for the first time — my family and I stopped at Bonnie Jean’s in Southold for lunch. Bonnie Jean’s might seem like little more than another Long Island diner, but it is a new favorite for its affordability, its family-friendliness and for the homemade flourishes across the menu. The restaurant now has a beer and wine license after operating for a time as a BYOB. It would have been easy for owner Jennilee Morris to offer cheap, not-very-good wines chosen by a local sales rep, but that’s not what she’s done. She’s gone local, serving local libations in a way very few Long Island restaurants do. Three beers are offered on draught, and all three local — one from Long Ireland Beer Company and two from Greenport Harbor Beer Co. The wine is…

The Brown Hound Bistro in Naples, NY | Photo courtesy of VisitFingerLakes.org

You have probably found yourself in a restaurant rut at some point or another. You want to head out for dinner, and you cycle through the same short list of usual restaurant options. They’re your favorites for a reason, but you get to wondering: Is there anything new that we haven’t tried yet? Is there anything we’ve been meaning to try for a while, but haven’t? How do you break out of that rut? Sometimes it’s about abandoning comfort for a little risk. In the case of a recent Finger Lakes visit, it was simply about making time to visit a restaurant that’s a bit out-of-the-way for us. For a long time now we’ve been meaning to visit the Brown Hound Bistro in Naples on the southwest side of Canandaigua Lake. It’s grown to enjoy a strong reputation in the region, and the restaurant serves only Finger Lakes wines. On…

topping-rose

I used to work in reality television so I’m not really giddy about ‘celebrity ‘chefs. Except for Eric Ripert. He is the second Mr. Tracy Weiss. I also tend to avoid restaurants that are hyped to a level where food bloggers are foaming at the mouth to get in. How can any meal live up to expectations when I’m inundated with wild praise just a few months into opening? Yet, I didn’t let any of my usual rules get in the way of booking a table at Tom Colicchio’s Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton at the first opportunity. His people tend to turn out good food and Colicchio and Sons is on my regular rotation in the city. More importantly, even on an overproduced TV show like Top Chef, Tom’s been a champion for Long Island foodstuffs. He puts his money where his mouth is often seen at roadside stands…

Nofoti

I used to think a Bloody Mary was the brunch beverage for weak-stomached, hung over companions who couldn’t handle a bracing mimosa in their current state. I’d laugh and focus on the bottom of my champagne flute, mocking their delicate constitutions as I watched them nurse a drink that brought to mind an astringent-laced salsa. That was before I had the Bloody Boar at the North Fork Table and Inn. Happily ordered on a whim, the lure of drinkable pork products overcame the tiny, high-pitched voice chirping “but you don’t like Bloody Mary’s” in my brain. House-infused vodka captures the richness I equate with the thick-cut bacon my husband and I fight over at Peter Luger. There’s smoke and a mouthwatering (no other way to describe but) ‘bacon-ness,’ bringing to mind lava hot crisp nuggets of fat those who dig on swine add to everything until our yearly cholesterol tests…

beer-tasting

Nothing bothers me more than this scenario in a fine dining establishment: the polite waiter hands me a wine list, (which is essentially equivalent to the weight of the stone tablets that hold the Ten Commandments), asks if he can be of assistance, and, when asked, flips to the back page to reveal the “beer list” which reads: Guinness, Stella Artois, Blue Moon, Heineken, and maybe, just maybe, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Hmm….let’s look at this:  50 plus pages of wine…Jura represented by their offerings of Savagnin, an entire page of White Burgundy, all with three-digit prices. You want wines made on the volcanic soils of Mt. Alba?  Oh, we got em! Orange wines?! Yep!  We’re with the trends! Clearly, somebody spent days and days fretting over their vintage verticals, ensuring the composition of the selections mirrors the restaurant’s ethos, and double-checking that their prices are in-line with their industry mates. …