Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesdays Can Be Festive

I have been a spoiled girl lately.  So, I decided to make a special meal for Andrew, as a way to show my appreciation.  I found a ten pound fresh picnic ham at my local King Kullen grocery store.  Usually, we only have fresh ham on special family occasions.  While walking around the store, I was thinking back to a meal that my Mother made when her cousin Krista and her family visited from Germany.  She made a fresh ham baked with whole prunes and apricots.  It was twenty years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday!  I decided to try a spin on this idea.

I set the oven to 405 degrees as soon as I got home and got to work scoring the fat and removing the silver skin.  I had to use our cleaver to score the fat, which worked out just fine.  I sprinkled the meat with hot papkika, Colemans dry mustard and salt.  Then into the oven. I left the temperature high for about an hour before I turned it down to 350 degrees.  Then with a half hour left to go, I applied my glaze.  Using the memory, I concocted a glaze by blending 5 prunes, 1/3 cup of apricot preserves, 1/3 cup of Andrews' raisin BBQ sauce and 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  When the internal temperture reached 140 dgrees, out it came to rest for twenty minutes.

Andrew did the carving.  He separated the cracklins from the meat.  I have to say that they were addictive.  I know that they are not something that I should overdo - but I could not stop crunching on the porky goodness!

I roasted some (pre-cut) turnips and yams with extra virgin olive oil and salt.  Altogether, this meal was a big success and I am proud of myself.  Maybe I should cook more often.  The meat was tender and moist.  The glaze made each bite slightly sweet and savory and made the cracklins into a candy-like burst of pork perfection.

I asked for help at my local liquor store about what to serve with the fresh ham.  I was told to go with a lighter red than what I was thinking.  I chose a McWilliams Shiraz from Australia. ($10).  This was a good complement to the special meal.  It is a bright Red with tastes of plum and raspberry with a little oak flavor.  The bottle described the flavor of plum and this made me purchase it because I thought it would go well with the prune glaze.  I like it when I am right.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lunch at Golden Chopsticks - Rocky Point, NY

I am a bit indulgent.  I extended my birthday for another week by celebrating with my In-Laws at my favorite Asian Restaurant, Golden Chopsticks (382 Route 25 A, Rocky Point, NY 11778).  They are a Chinese, Japanese and Thai Cuisine Restaurant.  I have been enjoying this place since it was called Diamond Wok.  I have never had a bad meal in the 16 years that I have been a patron.  Andrew, my husband, has been going for at least 20 years.  We had our first date here in 1995.  Ah, Memories.

We started with a few appetizers. 
Wonton with Hot Seasame Sauce, my Brother-in-Law's favorite.  This is a soft wonton with a spicy peanut sauce.  My only complaint was that I think we should have ordered more.  I can't get enough of this unique flavor.
Boneless Spare Ribs.  Everyones favorite.  These are not too sweet and that is why I love them.  They are very tasty and have a great mouthfeel.  Usually, I am not a huge fan of boneless ribs, but when they are done right (like at Golden) they are wonderful.

Both my Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law ordered the chef special Seafood World.  This is a hit!  It has rock lobster, prawns, crab legs and sea scallops in a nice and mild "house special light sauce" with perfectly cooked vegetables.  This was tasty and perfectly cooked.

The rest of us had wonderful dishes - all served with brown rice (of course, white rice is an option). 

Amazing Chicken and Shrimp - in a chefs special peanut sauce.  We would have liked it a bit hotter - which next time we will request.  Also, we could have asked for a side of hot pepper paste.  It was cooked perfectly and was a nice looking dish - served with the carrot flower.

Crispy Beef and Shrimp Duo.  A seasonal special  that is worth a try.  Andrew ordered this and I was a bit jealous.  This was like a "Chicken-Fried Steak and Shrimp" in a peppery, spicy, savory brown sauce.  Spot on and cooked perfectly.  I am getting this next time!

Chicken in Garlic Sauce.  A regular menu item that is consistently tasty.  I was in the mood for a medium spicy sauce with cruncy shredded veggies and sliced chicken.  Again, cooked perfectly and I had to take some home with me for breakfast tomorrow.

For dessert, we shared an awesome ice cream selection.  Pistachio (my fav), vanilla, red bean (sweet and nice), green tea (we all loved it) , orange sherbet (nice palate cleanser) and chocolate.  What a perfect way to celebrate!

Since we have been happy diners at Golden for years, I thought we should make a list of our favorites.  Keep in mind that we are casual people and love food that is consistent, well made and memorable.

1. Tom Yum (chicken) - a spicy Thai soup seasoned with lemongrass, lime juice, chili (hot!),   mushrooms and special Thai chili sauce.  I am almost addicted to this soup. 
2.  Miso - a mild Japanese soy bean soup with tofu, scallions and seaweed.  This is true comfort food.
3.  Hot and Sour Soup - Andrews favorite.  Nicely spicy with tofu, mushrooms, seaweed and lemongrass.  Warming, on a cold day like today.

1.  Boiled dumplings - tasty pork Chinese dumplings.  Nice dipping sauce!
2.  Gyoza - pan fried Japanese dumplings in a nice vinegary dipping sauce.
3.  Wonton with hot sesame sauce - see above.
4.  Bu Nuong Sate - BBQ Thai beef on skewers with spicy peanut sauce.
5. Japanese Seaweed Salad - excellent! Take a chance on this!

1. (Revolution Diet R5) - Prawns with snow peas, broccoli and bean sprouts in a spicy garlic sauce.  Usually I add $2 chicken or beef.  Did you know you could add meat in $ increments to any dish?
2.  Eggplant Delight - Chicken, shrimp, eggplant and scallion in brown sauce.
3.  Steamy Hot Chicken Cutlets - Thai chicken cutlets, onions, cashew nuts, dried hot pepper and fish sauce.  Very spicy and nice!
4.  House Filet Mignon - with fresh spinach and mushrooms in a special brown sauce. Wonderful!

Japanese Rolls:
1.  Special - Spicy Tuna Lobster Roll - extravagant with spicy tuna, tempura lobster and lobster salad.
2.  Dancing Eel - Andrews favorite - Avacado, cucumber, masago with eel outside.
3. Spicy Tuna
4.  Boston Maki - Reversed shrimp, lettuce and cucumber.
5.  Crazy Tuna -  Crunchy spicy tuna with tuna outside.
We ask for these rolls to be made with brown rice - and this is never a problem here.

For a casual and special meal, I highly recommend this hidden gem.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Birthday Night at Bayview Inn, Jamesport, NY

January 15, 2011 - Birthday Evening
After the lovely day of winetasting (see last post), we arrived at our destination for the night.  The Bayview Inn and Restaurant has been a favorite of ours for years. When we were married in 1998, Chef Tom Lopez was the chef for our wedding.  When he moved from the 2 x 4 in Wading River - where we had our wedding dinner - to the Bayview Inn we followed like true foodie fans.

This time we decided to stay at the Inn after my birthday dinner.  The spacious 1 bedroom was comfortable and convienent.  Just a walk across the parking lot to the restaurant.  (Winter rates $110)

Dinner, as usual, was wonderful.  The staff is welcoming and attentive and the food has never disappointed.  I wanted to start off the night with a Cosmopolitan.  Top-shelf and delicious.  We also ordered a bottle of Bluefish Riesling - it went well with everything.

We decided to go with a favorite appetizer: Fried Calamari.  The cornmeal dusted calimari had a garlic aioli and a bright delicious tomato sauce to dip in. Very Satisfying!

Andrew ordered the Cresent Farm Boneless Duck Framboise.  It was a fabulous dish with flavors of raspberries in a sweet and savory sauce.  The thing about this duck is that the skin is crispy, the sauce is sweet and nice and the meat is juicy.  If you haven't tried Long Island Duck - Give it a try!

I ordered the Asian Grilled Baby Back Ribs.  They had a sweet chili sauce with a unique flavor that makes them irresistible.  The sweet potato fries were crispy and nice.  I was a happy girl.

Since we were staying for the night, we retired to the bar and watched the Steelers/Ravens football game.  Afterwards, we had some time to have a drink with Chef Tom Lopez.  The food talk is always awesome!  Tom said he would let us know when he is making his special rabbit dish and we are looking forward to trying the tripe that he described.  I am a casual girl who likes what she likes.  The ambiance and incredible food at The Bayview Restaurant is right up my alley. 

Happy Birthday to Me!

Wine Tasting on my birthday - Roanoke and Shinn Estate Vineyards

January 15, 2011 - My Birthday.  A great excuse for some wine tasting on the North Fork of Eastern Long Island. 

Our first stop was Roanoke Vineyards (Sound Avenue - Riverhead, NY) to sign up for thier wine club.  I had decided on an earlier visit, that this was the perfect place for me to start to really absorb myself in Long Islands' fine wines.  So, my birthday present to myself starts with a box of three stellar wines ($95) :
- 2007 Blend One - winner of the 2009 Judgement of Riverhead
- 2009 Rhyme and Meter (barrel fermented Chardonnay)
- 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

I have tasted all three and look forward to enjoying each with a special meal.

Andrew and I spent a nice half hour sipping Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  We also tried a non-alcoholic white wine that was tasty.  Adam and Amanda were wonderful to talk with and learn from.  A nice extra was the birthday wishes from the friendly patrons.

The next stop was to Shinn Estate Vineyards (Oregon Road, Mattituck, NY).  I had learned from Facebook that Shinn was offering free tastings to locals from Riverhead and Southold Townships. Once a month, we can enjoy this freebie (as well as entering a Trivia Contest) during the winter months.

We were pleased to come in out of the cold into the cozy tasting room (above) and to be offered 3 free tastings (each).  This is my kind of promotion and I felt special.  The very friendly staff seamlessly helped us and the other patrons while being informative and welcoming. 
We happily sat and picked our 3 tastings from a list of what seems like all of their wine offerings.  That was impressive, in itself.  Andrew started with the 2007 Nemesis Pinot Noir ($32/btl).  He liked the full bodied quality.  I started with the 2009 Haven ($35).  I liked the sweet, smooth blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  Then Andrew tried the 2007 Malbec ($35).  Pure Malbec from Long Island! Love it! Long legs but still smooth.  He liked it very much.  He smelled good Cianti and then was surprised by the smoothness.  I tried the 2007 Nine Barrels ($42).  It is a blend of 87% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec.  I was lucky enough to try the 2005 Nine Barrels at a charity event at Roanoke Vineyards - it was wonderful!  The 2007 was also wonderful.  What a treat to be able to taste this gem!  Then we were on to our final tastes.  Andrew chose the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  He loved the smooth boldness. I tasted the eucalyptus and mint and it was good.  As you can tell, smoothness is a big thing for us.  My final taste was the 2007 "Brut" Sparkling.  What a nice refreshing way to end our pleasant visit.  I asked if there was a wine club. No, but they offer discounts and have special sales.  We bought a bottle of MORE Red Blend - on sale for $10.99, which we drank in our room at the Bayview Inn, later in the evening.  That story will be in my next blog.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wine Wednesday - 2005 Paumanok Cabernet Sauvignon

This Wednesday was the first "#Wine Wednesday" of 2011 on Twitter. Over a year ago, a Twitter and Facebook enthusiast called Twe Sommelier launched #Wine Wednesday. People like me will buy a bottle of wine and describe it on Twitter - adding the hashtag (#) #WW or #WineWednesday. This connects wine lovers on a trending stream. I find it very interesting.

On this first #WW, I decided to try something new and a bit more expensive than I would normally have midweek. I chose a 2005 Paumanok Cabernet Sauvignon. North Fork of Long Island, NY($24)

This was a brilliant red wine! It was smooth, peppery and spicy (we tasted cinnamon and nutmeg) with tastes like cherry and orange in the background. Andrew and I loved it! We are rank ameteurs but we have fun trying to taste as much as we can in the wine.

The wine was great on its own and even better with our organic bison burgers.

A great side-effect about delving into wines from Long Island is that I learn so much about this great region of New York. For example, when reseaching Paumanok Vineyards, I learned (from this fact: "The Native American name for the island is Paumonauk, which means 'fish-shaped island'". My husband Andrew knew this and pointed out that "Isn't it amazing that they knew the shape of the island?!" And I said "They must have walked the perimeter!". Wow! Another thing that I've never thought about before.

On the side of the bottle it reads:
"Paumanok is the only name the great poet Waly Whitman used to describe this special place that is our vineyard's namesake...

Stretch'd and basking!
One side thy inland
ocean laving, broad, with
copious commerce, steamers, sails.

And one the Atlantic's
wind caressing, fierce or
gently - mighty hulls dark-
gliding in the distance.

Isle of sweet brooks of
drinking-water - healthy air
and soil!

Isle of the salty shore and
breeze and brine!

- Walt Whitman

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My trip to NYC - Appointment with Dr. Mark Schwartz

Every three months (or so) I travel to Manhattan's Upper East Side to visit my Plastic Surgeon - Dr. Mark Schwartz - 79 East 79 Street, NYC. He is an awesome doctor who has changed the quality of my life. I have a keloid scar on my chest that was so restrictive that I could hardly turn my head. Not any more...I now have full movement of my head! I have had steroid shots at Dr. Schwartz' office since 2004.
Before I go to my appointment, I go to lunch with Andrew and I have a "few" glasses of wine. This, for me, is a way to face the fear of the inevitable shots. When I finally get to the office, I am like a crazy stand-up comedian....telling Dr. S and the staff about our last 3 months. He likes my jokes and he tells his own. If you have a keloid problem or need the BEST to help you with your plastic surgery needs - this is the Doctor! I had a previous abdominal surgery (in 2004)and Doctor Schwartz did the closing surgery. I am a person who scars badly and I can hardly see my scar!
So, back to the fun part! Today (and many days in the past) we have had our "pre-appointment" lunch at Tracks in Penn Station (see picture below). I am a fan of this place! The food is great and they serve Penfolds as their house Chardonnay! Today, we split an appetizer - the fabulous baked clams..a special that is not on the menu..but is often a special. Then we split an entree of FABULOUS Baby Back Ribs! The vinegar ratio was just right! The ribs came with sweet potato fries (or your choice of side) and cole slaw. Fantastic. And, the bartender Liam, has become a friend. He is the best kind of bartender there is: a friend who listens and remembers.
NYC is a fantastic fun-filled adventure! For example, the cabbie who drove us - in record time! - to the office was a great driver and we had an awesome (and funny) conversation!
And, I must say that with the help of our old Video Poker handheld games...we enjoy the ride! The MTA Long Island Railroad is a great way to get to many interesting people - overhearing their life stories on their phones.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year Peace - View of the Long Island Sound

Whenever I need a bit of Peace, I head out to the cliff at the end of my street that overlooks the Long Island Sound.  When we bought our home in 1998, we were fortunate to have beach access rights that came with the contract.  Our neighboorhood has a small association that allows citizens access to steps to the beach. Each year, we have the option of purchasing a key that opens a gate near the steps at the top of the cliff. For $100 - it is the bargain of the century.  I only wish all of the families would take advantage of this access.
The Sound is a wonderful place for swimming, fishing, boating and even kayacking.  Andrew is an avid fisherman and this is a place where he can connect with nature and a favorite hobby.
Going down the 200 + stairs is fine.  The walk back up after swimming or the search for seaglass and shells is a bit more difficult. Although, I will always know how lucky I am. Peace.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Day Wine

Last night I was a boring girl - I went to sleep at 10:30pm. Today I decided to start the New Year off right with some nice wine.
Andrew and I started off with the 2009 Raphael Chardonnay - a bright acidic white wine. Nice for $15.
Next we tasted the Macari Sette Red wine - a mix of cab franc and merlot. Very nice for $15 - This will be a favorite of 2011.
Then we opened the 2008 La Fontana Red Wine - this is smooth as silk with mineral tastes that I like! It is a blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, Malbec and Petit Verdot. This was our favorite Long Island wine of the day!

Then we opened a Finger Lakes Riesling - 2008 Hermann J. Wiemer $20. This is not a Long Island wine but I was intrigued. This is a great wine. Bright for a Riesling - but this will be one of the bottles that I bring to parties with friends.

Overall = I am in love with the Macari for a reasonable tasty red wine and in love with the Raphael La Fontana for a special occasion.
Keep in mind, I am an ameteur wine taster and a casual person. Happy New Year! -Virginia :)