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LONG ISLAND: INSIGNIA Prime Steak & Sushi

When it comes to the experience my family had at Insignia Prime Steak & Sushi tonight, one recurring theme comes to my mind: hospitality.

From the moment you arrive at this can’t miss Smithtown destination, you feel like a celebrity.

Continue reading “LONG ISLAND: INSIGNIA Prime Steak & Sushi”

LONG ISLAND: Grandma Pizza at Miller Place Pastaria

The local neighborhood joints really can speak for themselves.

My family ordered a pizza from Miller Place Pastaria tonight and instead of the classic Cheese Pizza, we opted for the Grandma Old Fashioned pizza:

Continue reading “LONG ISLAND: Grandma Pizza at Miller Place Pastaria”

LONG ISLAND: Mamma Lombardi’s

Sunday dinner, everyday.

That’s the phrase that pops in my head when I think of Mamma Lombardi’s in Holbrook.

It’s a warm, inviting atmosphere where you’re taken care of to the T by the staff. So much so, it’s like you become part of their family during each time you visit.

And the food? Trust me, you’ll always be full after a visit to this Italian Long Island staple restaurant. The portions are huge, but who would have it any other way? It’s Mamma’s cooking. Fresh, flavorful, delicious. The pictures truly are a thousand words.

Check out some photos of my 4th of July trip to Mamma’s below:

   

Mozzarella en Carrozza.
  
Fried Zucchini.
  
Veal & Peppers Parmigiana. Mamma usually makes it with sweet peppers, but i requested it be made with hot peppers this time. SO good.

Mamma Lombardi’s

400 Furrows Rd.

Holbrook, NY 11741

631-737-0774

http://www.mammalombardis.com

 

Cool Article of the Week – 3/2-3/8

An example of a really good wine, that smells and tastes good. Barefoot White Zinfandel
An example of a really good wine, that smells and tastes good.
Barefoot White Zinfandel

Have you ever drank a glass of wine that smelled downright awful?

And then when you actually tried it either tasted alright, or just like what you were thinking of?

I definitely have.

Before moving to Ohio I lived on Long Island, and many a weekend one of my best friends and I would do what I called vineyard-hopping. There are so many vineyards on the East End of Long Island (check out this site for the full list). If you’re there, it’s a great activity that won’t break the bank. Trying different wines for a small amount of money.

And doing wine tastings for us is not just for the love of wine, it’s for the learning experience, and for really what to look (and not to look) out for.

One thing I noticed at some of the tasting rooms was the aroma of some of the wines were just plain gross. Like smelled like dirt, rotting things, the S word.

And honestly I didn’t understand why.

I’ve been to places (i.e. festivals) where the wine sat out too long and it gets aerated (another reason for it possibly tasting gross), but some of the vineyards I went to, there would be a wine where I’d smell it and just be grossed out by the aroma.

Which brings me to my cool article of the week, which explains some of what I’ve thought about.

According to an article I got in my email from The Daily Sip, it’s “complex chemistry” making each wine smell, or not smell.

Before you read the entire article, here are a couple of the scents, decoded:

wetdog
Photo credit: bottlenotes.com

Wet dog
Found in a wine that has been contaminated by TCA, a compound that can be found in wine corks and contaminates the whole bottle of wine. Also sometimes described as wet cardboard or dank basement.

Barnyard or Bandaid
Comes from a microbe called brettanomyces. At low levels, it can be considered beneficial to the complexity of the wine, but it easily grows out of control and spoils the wine.

Dairy (butter, cheese, cream)
Found in New World chardonnays. The aroma comes from the compound diacytl, the same compound used to make margarine taste like butter. Diacytl forms when a second fermentation, called malolactic fermentation, takes place.

Have you ever had a weird wine aroma experience ? Let me know!

Cool Article of the Week — 7/13-7/20

This week,  it isn’t exactly an “article” per se that struck me as my cool article of the week.

But it’s an intriguing thought that caught my eye, to spread into the foodie-sphere.

It’s a tweet that comes from an awesome radio morning show based in Long Island:
 Dana & Jeffrey in the Morning.

Tweet from Dana & Jeffrey!
Tweet from Dana & Jeffrey!

Isn’t it amazing how packaging for food in general has transformed itself over the years? Yes, we can thank technology for how the packaging of the one of the left compares to the one on the right. But the one on the left versus the one on the right, there are clear differences. I actually really love that the left one you can see the cookies in the packaging.

Dana & Jeffery raise a great question for the #foodies out there.

The tweet flashes me back to the Oreo commercials in the 1990s.

I’m also flashing back to when Oreo would put out collector cookie tins in the 90’s too. Myself and my family would put the cookies in there at Christmas time, as it had a cute picture of Santa Claus on it (but well, we would use that tin during the year too, Christmas all year!).

Flashing forward to this decade….and Oreo celebrated its 100th birthday last year, and now  there are so many types of Oreo’s for us all to split in half , lick the cream, put it back together and dunk it in milk then eat it.

Bottom line: I will always love Oreo’s.

And thank you, Dana & Jeffrey for the awesome reminder!

Your tweet is donned my cool article of this week.

Do you love Oreo’s? Join the conversation below!

LONG ISLAND : When music and food come together

The Next Level Band. Photo credit: http://www.gigmasters.com/Live-Band/The-Next-Level-Band/

If there’s something I say everyday, it’s that music connects.

To me, it connects people in ways words alone can’t.

Besides being a foodie (and constant tweeter/Facebooker!), I am a singer. You will find me constantly listening to music, piecing out the little things in music I love, such as when a song resolves itself.

On Facebook back in February, I learned of the passing of a truly talented, wonderful Long Island female singer.

When I heard the news, I was shocked. My mind immediately goes back to that one and only time I met her. The night I found out, I texted my friend who I went with, Alyssa, and we were both stunned.

You may remember in November of 2011 I blogged about going to Tequila Jacks in Port Jefferson village and loving the experience. Besides the food and tropical drinks, the music sealed the deal for me.

A husband and wife musical group, The Next Level Band was playing the night I went with my friend Alyssa, and while we waited for our table, I heard this woman, La Dawn Parris, singing Reggae/Calypso versions of top 40 hits while her husband, Tyrone, played the instruments (and sang some songs too!). I was mesmerized by this group, but especially La Dawn. I didn’t even introduce myself yet and found myself singing along while she was singing, and she noticed too, and smiled at me. It was a blast. La Dawn would even dance with the listeners dancing in the bar.

At the end of said night, I walked right up to La Dawn and introduced myself. I told her she has an amazing voice, how the band is awesome, and I hope to see them again soon. I took one of their cards and we were invited to come back the week after.

Well, it’s been over a year and a half later. And I STILL haven’t been back to Tequila Jacks. Not because I didn’t want to go back. I really have no excuse.

Life happens.

But, if there’s something that constantly amazes me about this beautiful life we all live, it’s how people come in and out of your life, sometimes very quickly.

So I say this. Cherish and live in your life’s moments.

While I only met La Dawn once and didn’t know anything about her beside the fact she’s an amazing singer and her warmth and positive energy glowed the time I saw her —

honestly —

that’s all I needed to know. In that moment. And now.

Rest in peace, La Dawn Parris.

Through my love of food and love of music, I met you once. I heard your song.

Your music moved me, and I will remember that for the rest of my life.

Here is just a snippet of her singing that night.

Live Tweet Food Reviews!

The waffle with the gingerbread spread - Wafels & Dinges NYC

Within the past week or so I’ve been trying out something new in addition to blogging. A new experiment per se, regarding my food reviews. I’ve been live tweeting reviews from restaurants and food trucks in my travels!

So far I’ve reviewed three places in NYC: the Morris Truck that serves delicious grilled cheeses and an amazing homemade hot chocolate with cinnamon fluff (that I’m obsessed with!), Korilla BBQ where I tried one of its burritos that reminded me of a mix between a fancy moo shu and a Vietnamese spring roll, Wafels and Dinges where I had one of its Belgian waffles covered in a gingerbread spread that reminded me of peanut butter minus the nuts, and tonight I reviewed the Bagels ‘N A Whole Lot More store in Stony Brook on route 347 which had an amazing crowd, a wonderful sandwich deal and great service.

 

The burrito I had at Korilla BBQ, NYC

I am having a blast writing these, as they’re even faster ways to let you know what I’m eating!

For all of my latest quick updates and foodie-tweets, please check out my Twitter, either at the link above in my blog at the top right hand corner, or click here.

I look forward to having you join the food conversation via another wonderful social network.

LONG ISLAND — Chocolate Crumb Cake by Farmingdale’s Hahn’s Old Fashioned Cake Company

Just thinking about those delicious morsels of crumbs on the following chocolate crumb cake is making my mouth water.

At the Town and Country Market in Miller Place, you can get countless items to eat or drink, including breakfast and lunch sandwiches, wraps, paninis, chicken pot pies (which will be my next post) and more.

But when I was at the market the other day, I was told by the counter person the crumb cakes by Hahn’s Old Fashioned Cake Company, that were conveniently sitting by the register, were “ridiculously good.” Intrigued, I immediately reached for the chocolate crumb cake. There was also flavors such as original, apple and raspberry walnut, but as I have said, I am a huge chocolate fan.

The crumb cake is a local specialty: Hahn’s is located in nearby Farmingdale. According to its website, you can place online orders for its crumb cakes and pound cakes if you want to buy some yourself.

Also according to its website, all of the cakes are baked fresh daily, made with extra large handmade crumbs and cakes made from their old family recipe, has a rich, moist base with fresh, whole eggs and has a long shelf life. It also says these are kosher too!

The chocolate crumb cake was most definitely rediculously good: moist yellow pound cake with the sweet, large morsels of crumbs with a huge chocolate drizzle on top.

If you’d like to try some and you’re in the Miller Place / Port Jefferson area, you can pick up a piece at the Town and Country Market. Otherwise you can check out its website and place an order.

Town and Country Market

85 North Country Rd., Miller Place, NY 11764
Phone: (631) 403-4383

MONDAY – SATURDAY
5:00 A.M – 7:00 P.M

SUNDAY
5:00 A.M – 6:00 P.M

FREE DELIVERY SERVICE UNTIL 3PM
CURB SIDE ASSISTANCE

Hahn’s Old Fashioned Cake Company

75 Allen Blvd. Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735
Phone: (631) 249-3456
Fax: (631) 249-3492

 

LONG ISLAND RESTAURANT WEEK — Paradise found at Tequila Jacks, Port Jefferson Village

I’m a huge believer in everything happening for a reason.

So when my friend Alyssa headed to Port Jeff (or as many Long Islanders say, ‘Down Port’), last week to experience Long Island restaurant week, it completely worked out that the first place, a very popular restaurant, was completely booked the night we came down.

Intuitively we explored the village’s other restaurants, walking up Main St. I started naming off several places we could try that night and then we stopped in front of a place I had been to a few times and loved, Tequila Jacks.

I had been to Tequila Jacks a few times with another friend, having an appetizer and dessert with her during those times. But never have I ever had a full dinner there. So Alyssa and I took the chance to head inside to what truly is Port Jeff’s paradise.

Why paradise, you ask?

This restaurant is an upscale Caribbean restaurant, packed with tropical drinks, island-themed dishes and what was the true icing on the cake: live music from an AMAZING husband-wife group: The Next Level Band.

We waited a half hour for our table, and while we waited, we got to sit at the beautiful wooden bar and listen to the beautiful stylings of La Dawn and Tyrone Parris. I even started singing along! There were classic Bob Marley songs, Reggae/Calypso songs, R&B, and even some of the amazing top 40 hits on the radio right now, made into a Reggae/Calypso version, such as “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5,Mr. Saxobeat” by Alexandra Stan, and more. We had a blast the entire night listening to these two, not only for their amazing voices and excellent guitar and steel drum playing, but because these two were so much fun. La Dawn was dancing with listeners who were dancing in the bar.

The cocktail menu.

That night there was a special at the bar: $4 mojitos and margaritas. While Alyssa and I didn’t get those, we did opt for the special hand-muddled fruit drinks that we kept seeing being made in front of our eyes with a big, dark wooden muddling device.

Alyssa started out with a Reggae Punch: a blend of Cabernet, Zinfandel and fresh muddled fruits. This was delicious, an island sangria with a sweet, fruity taste.

Reggae Punch

My first drink of the night was the orange-honeydew melon mojito: Bacardi Melon Rum, muddled with sugar, fresh mint, limes, oranges and honeydew melon, served shaken. Ever since I tried honeydew flavored bubble tea up at Syracuse last year, I’ve especially become a huge fan of honeydew, in drinks. I had a good feeling about this one, and I was right: the light and sweet honeydew chunks mixed with the tangy orange chunks mixed with the melon rum and refreshing mint…It’s definitely a must try cocktail if you’re there! And check out the cool sugar cane garnish that came with it:

Orange-Honeydew Melon Mojito (with sugar cane and orange garnishes!)

After finishing those, we both decided we’d get one more before we were seated at our table. I decided to get another mojito, this time getting my coconut on with the pineapple-coconut mojito: Bacardi Coco Rum, muddled with sugar, fresh mint, limes and pineapple, served shaken. This one was amazing too: think a lightened pina colada with fresh mint mixed in. Refreshing.

Pineapple-Coconut Mojito

Alyssa decided to go coconut too and try the B.V.I. Painkiller: Dark rum, white rum, 151 rum, coconut milk and pineapple juice topped with shaved nutmeg. The painkiller was very good too: it was also like a pina colada, no mint. Definitely a must try too.

B.V.I. Painkiller

After awhile of cocktailing, chatting and singing/grooving to the live tunes, we were finally seated.

For Long Island Restaurant Week, there was a three course menu at Tequila Jack’s for $24.95.

The menu

Before I speak about the meals, however, every time you go to Tequila Jacks, the server brings over a basket of fresh plaintain and yuca chips, along with warm coconut-banana bread. These are outstanding, and come with two accompaniments: a creamy butter with spice in it (we thought it was pepper) for the bread, and a spicy tomato salsa for the chips. We loved the combination of the sweet, warm, melt-in-your-mouth bread with the savory butter. We also loved the sweet and salty chips with the spicy, tangy salsa. Great start to a wonderful meal:

Basket of Plantain/Yuca chips and Banana-Coconut Bread
The butter / salsa to go with the bread / chips

As an appetizer, I started out with Jack’s Crab Cakes & Sauce Two Ways (which I added $2 to my meal price for). These were amazing: crispy, crunchy crab cakes with a creamy filling. The sauces were excellent: one was a roasted red pepper remoulade which was a sweet, spicy, creamy pepper/tomato tasting sauce. The other was an island tartar which reminded me of a creamy mayo-based sauce filled with herbs.

Jack's Crab Cakes and Sauce Two Ways (and one of Alyssa's skewers on the plate too) 🙂

Alyssa started out with the marinated beef skewers with pineapple (which added $2 to her meal as well). These were amazing as well: think of filet mignon pieces on a skewer stick with fresh, juicy papaya on the ends, with a sesame dipping sauce to add to the amazing flavors already. These were outstanding.

Marinated Beef Skewers with Pineapple (and dipping sauce)

For our main course, we each got the coconut crusted chicken breast. This was a huge piece of boneless chicken breast covered in a sweet, crunchy coconut breading. There was a coconut chili sauce surrounding the chicken, which to me was like an upscale sweet and sour sauce. The spinach and candied sweet potatoes underneath the chicken were delicious too, the spinach balancing the sweet dish. I also loved the fresh mango salsa on top, giving it the extra kick:

Coconut Crusted Chicken Breast

The desserts at Tequila Jacks are incredible too, and house-made! Me being the chocolate-lover I got the flourless chocolate cake. This was amazing: a warm, rich, fudgy chocolate cake that was just the right size after the big meal we had.

Flourless chocolate cake

Alyssa had the coconut cheesecake, which was light and creamy and delicious too. It has just the right amount of coconut, not overwhelming, and was just the right size. The one thing we both agreed on, however, was the fruit that came with the desserts was not good that night. But please do not let that deter you from eating the desserts and all the food at Tequila Jacks.

Coconut cheesecake.

We had a great time that night at Tequila Jacks. It was truly a paradise found in Port Jeff: delicious tropical fresh-fruit drinks, live music by a passionate husband-and-wife band, and amazing food and desserts. The portion sizes were amazing for the amount of money we paid, nice large portions.

Our receipt...We paid about $30 each...Not bad!

And guess what? While the “official” restaurant week is over with, I just read on Tequila Jack’s Facebook page that the restaurant is extending its restaurant week menu until Nov. 24, so you can still get over there and try out the menu!

The restaurant also claims on its Facebook page it’s the only restaurant in Port Jeff with an “extended” happy hour until 8 p.m. Another reason to go check out paradise.

I know I’ll be back there soon.

Tequila Jacks

201D Main St.
Port Jefferson, N.Y. 11777

OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK:  12 P. M. -11 P.M.
LUNCH STARTS AT 12 P.M. – 4 P.M. AND
DINNER STARTS AT 4 P.M. -11 P.M.

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