Friday, April 17, 2015

Farmer's Market Frenzy - Topping Rose Farmer's Market: Bridgehampton, NY

Farmers' Markets are my jam.  Ok, bad pun.  Really, any opportunity to buy locally grown/made/harvested products from a variety of sources all at once excites me to no end.  The Riverhead Farmer's Market is a treat and Smorgasburg (more like a farmer's market on steroids) is incredible.  And the Topping Rose Farmer's Market, which is run by a boutique hotel and a fine dining restaurant, is incredible.

The Market is housed in a multi-use building on the hotel grounds.  Part barn, part meeting center, connected by a glass corridor.  In this corridor, they had a magician doing balloon animals and magic tricks to entertain the kids.  Check, now on the shopping and tasting.

As for vendors?  They range from high end caterers to a vineyard to sunblock.  Some of our favorites:

Spoils from the Farmers Market
- Cavaniola's Gourmet Cheese Shop: This Sag Harbor mainstay offered the most delicious soft cheese and figs to taste.  The boys indulged on a $6 bag of fresh potato chips which was seriously decadent, both in price and flavor.

- Wolffer Estate Vineyards: One of our favorite vineyards on the East End had their latest rose on offer, so we had to make a purchase.  And dry white cider may be my new favorite.  Tip: These tastings are free here whereas you have to $15 - $20 for a flight at the vineyard.

- Clarkson Avenue Crumbcake:  Speaking of decadent, try the crumb cake - classic, chocolate or double chocolate.  Excellent crumb to cake ratio.  I could eat this every day.

- Wyse Organics: This interesting new(ish) business offers organic meals that are made sous vide style aka fancy for boil in bag.  The potato kale soup seemed a little bland but I bet their ricotta macaroni and cheese or lamb & butter bean ragu are worthy purchases.

- Hamptons Aristocrat: Having a party?  The radish appetizer and mini angel food cakes from the Hamptons Aristocrat would bring any party to the next level.

- Montauk Juice Factory: I haven't jumped on the juicing boat, yet.  If I did, I'd start with Montauk Juice Factory.  Try for yourself.

- East Hampton Gourmet: The winner here is the Lentil Rice Crispbread. Probably the best gluten free crack(er) you'll ever have. Rosemary, pink sea salt, everything or cheddar chipotle.  All equally excellent.

- Old School Favorites: Move over Nutella, this is our new chocolate spread.  They suggest having it on ice cream, I say eat it on a spoon.

- Sharp Hamptons: After all your cooking, you may need your knives sharpened.  Sharp Hamptons will come to you.

- Baby Hampton: And speaking of the Hamptons you may need some sunblock, be it at the beach, on the tennis court or on the golf course.  Try some local SPF.

This is one of the nicest Farmer's Markets you'll find anywhere.  However, the market is only open about 6 times a year -- the 3rd Saturday of the month in off-season.  In fact, the last market of the season is April 18th, so hurry up and figure out how to get there.

And if you're still hungry, stay for brunch.  We adored lunch at Topping Rose and can't wait to get back.

Until our next Burger, 

Topping Rose Farmer's Market
Topping Rose House
1 Bridgehampton - Sag Harbor Turnpike
Bridgehampton, NY

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Not Your Average Italian Restaurant: Verace, Islip, NY

Verace in the village of Islip is booming on a weekend night but on a Wednesday you'll find it a pleasing place for a celebratory dinner.  We have Italian restaurants in almost every town on Long Island, some better than others.  Lucky for all of us, Verace falls in the better category.

Sit in the dining room with its soaring ceilings while savoring a nice glass of wine and some crusty bread.  Homemade pasta is de rigeur here so we split the Penne Alla Vodka three ways for our starter.  Garlic and shallots cut the creamy pink sauce making it lighter than the norm.

I mentioned it was a celebration therefore steak was in order.  They have two to choose from: A filet mignon with rosemary, garlic and potatoes or a hanger steak with sunchokes and shallots (you can see they have a thing for garlic and shallots.)  The promise of vegetables led to me to the hanger steak which was well-seasoned and just delicious.  It also required another glass of wine.

And who could resist a Nutella Bomb with peanut butter gelato, Nutella mousse and caramel sauce.  We certainly couldn't.

I look forward to returning in warmer weather to sit on their back patio, indulge in one of their artisanal pizzas and perhaps just a little more vino.

Until our next Berger,

599 Main Street
Islip, NY

Brunching Vietnamese Style: Cyclo, Long Island City, NY

We love our Vietnamese food and are happy to have found a new one in Long Island City just off of the LIE before you enter the Midtown Tunnel.  Long Island City has become much more gentrified since JB and I considered moving there in 2005. I guess in 10 years that will happen.

We saw so many intriguing places on the way to Cyclo that we can't wait to go back and explore. But nothing would keep us from our Hanoi Heaven today.

The small stark dining room was packed around 1:00 on a Sunday. Didn't you know that Banh Mih is the brunch of champions?

JB snagged a Vietnamese coffee to start. Followed by a hoisin duck roll complete with carrot, daikon and fresh basil salad. Sweet and tangy, this was an ideal first course.

I knew a big dinner was in store for us so I had a fried tofu appetizer with a red pepper slaw. Again, perfecto. The red pepper complemented the tofu so well.

The Banh mi?  Their version has ham and pork and pate. The one at Boi Sandwich is more his speed.  Still any Banh mi is better than no Banh mi.

Until our next Berger,

5-51 47th Ave
Long Island City, NY

Oy Alert: Liebmans Deli, Bronx, NY

Oy. The iconic Jewish deli is disappearing. Liebmans in the Bronx used to have almost 100 other Kosher delis competing against them in their borough, today they are one of two who remain. (Thanks New York Times for that fact).

From the street you see hot dogs in the window and salami from the ceiling. Step inside and it's the old world: Formica counters, old school waiters and menus bigger than a small child.

Hot Dogs in the Window
Hanging Meats
Massive Menu

Service is brisk, though the food has stood the test of time. 

Matzoh balls are firm - just how I like them. JB swore by his pastrami and their potato pancakes were impeccable. Huge and impeccable. 

The boys hamburger was 100% Kosher and tasted like a fine steak. Fries were hot and thick. 

Fingers crossed this one doesn't close, too. This is a New York legend to try. No, it's not Katz's or Second Avenue Deli, two of our all-time favorites. It may be better. Try it for yourself.

Until our next Burger, 

Liebman's Deli
552 W. 235th Street
Bronx, NY

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Quicksie Takeout: Beyond Philly, Blue Point, NY

Shout out to Groupon for introducing me to Beyond Philly, a very casual Cheesesteak place in Blue Point. Had I not seen, and subsequently bought, that Groupon, I would never have known about this specialty spot. It's no Pat's (or Geno's for that matter) but it hits the spot when you are beyond Philly. Get it?

JB had a classic "wit whiz and onions". Everything was fresh and authentic. It could have used more of kick but that did not stop him! 

My Italian Chicken was cheesesteak style with melted mozzarella and tomatoes. The tomatoes were mealy, which I should have gathered since it is March, though aside from that, I liked my choice. I'm not really a cheese whiz kind of gal. 

Hot dogs and burgers round out the selections. Plus fries, rings and corn nuggets. No kale salad here. 

In the mood for some grub? Go for it. 

Until our next Burger,

Beyond Philly
168 Montauk Highway
Blue Point, NY

  • Berger Review!: Zinburger, Nanuet, NY

    Tucked among the strip malls and big box stores of Nanuet in Rockland County is a newish outdoor mall. It's relatively upscale (Lululemon, Apple, J. Crew) and has some nice(r) chain restaurants to match including our new favorite Zinburger. Actually, it's their official name that tugged me in the door - Zinburger: Burger and Wine bistro. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

    It's bright, loud and there's always a wait. Give them your cell and they will text you when your table is ready so you can hit the stores. Note to parents: The Apple Store will do the trick.

    There are over a dozen burgers available or you can make your own. The Zinburger with manchego and Zinfandel braised onions spoke to me. More like it sang to me. I loved it.  JB's Classic double had two patties (obviously) american cheese and chopped onions. Also a fave.

    We also tried zucchini fries but found them greasy. Although I enjoyed the Parmesan coating, I think JB was expecting something more like the avocado fries we had in Palm Desert last year. Yea, we still talk about them.

    The kids menu was also a hit.  $7 for a burger, fries and a drink = happy kids.  Big Z asked if we could come back the next day.

    This is the kind of place where there are so many things you want to try on the menu.  And I'm not just talking about burgers.  The mac and cheese that flew past our table looked like it really belonged with us.  And salads looked incredible from the now requisite Kale Caesar to an Ahi Tuna.

    Oops, I almost forgot to mention the wine, 18 varieties by the glass and 1/2 price bottles on Wednesdays.  Beer drinker? 17 local brews are available.  Suggestion to the staff - bigger pours, please.

    Pour size notwithstanding, if you're one of the lucky ones there may be a Zinburger in your state. Check it out!

    Until our next Berger,

    8141 Fashion Drive
    Nanuet, NY
    845.624.3245 for the East Coast Locations including FL, GA, NC, NY, NJ and VA. for their five AZ locations