A Fall Adventure on Long Island's North Fork... Appreciating The Rural Side of Life

For those of us on Long Island, a trip out east to The North Fork is a beautiful thing. Warm sun basking on the wineries' vines, local food stands offering seasonal produce, eggs, and pies, and a cool sea breeze rustling through the trees. It always gives us a moment to reconnect to the things that really matter in our life. A baby bouncing on a knee, a bottle of red wine made around the corner, laughter between friends, these are the things that make the trip worthwhile.

Of course, there are a number of ways to visit The North Fork. We're fortunate that we live about halfway out on the Island, and so have the luxury of reaching Greenport (a quaint town just about to the end of the North Fork) by lunch time if we leave by ten. If you're closer to NYC or Brooklyn, you'll want to start early or stay somewhere a bit further out. I'd recommend spending the night at the Three Village Inn in Stony Brook, a beautiful colonial inn with good food, or heading a bit further out to Shinn Estate Vineyard, where owners, Barbara Shinn and David Page, host guests at their beautiful farmhouse among the grape vines.

On our most recent trip, we decided to pick a spot further out and then visit spots along the way back. While I had a grand tour of wineries planned for us, we unfortunately ran into some serious Columbus Day traffic, which shortened our day. Curses to all you Pumpkin Pickers! Luckily, Jac and our trusty iPhone helped us weave our way around the traffic with only about a half hour delay.

Eventually, we were heading along Sound Ave. with our windows down, ready for some good food and wine.

Winebar at The Portly Grape

The Winebar at The Portly Grape was our first stop. I was on assignment for the New York Cork Report and a story was expected, but I'd wanted to visit for a while. You can read my "official" take on the funky, locally focused wine bar at NYCR. But here are some of the b-side comments.

The Portly Grape is only the most recent resurrection of the unmistakeable 50's era victorian hotel where Winebar calls its home. It was originally called, Porky's, and then, The Shady Lady, where it was run by two sisters who were purportedly clairvoyant. The current owners have kept some of the sisters eccentric flair, but also given the restaurant and hotel a more modern feel. For the Winebar, they reached out to Andrew Mestler, former Bedell Tasting Room manager, to create a Long Island focused wine bar with an intriguing pairing menu from the Portly Grape's chef, Mark Serrantino.

While Mestler is still playing around with the pairing menu, the Winebar is a fantastic spot to start your tasting adventures. Among an impressive spread of LI wines, the wine list also represents three underrepresented wineries, Bouké, Scarola, and Comtesse Therese. The wines are paired to foods created with a Mediterranean flair and "if possible" local ingredients. You can't go wrong with Apple Beignets made from apples picked right on the property.

We had a wonderful meal and tasting, chatted about the ins and outs of Long Island vintages with Andrew, then headed out for our next destination.

The Winemaker's Studio

Nestled in a small shady street in Peconic, The Winemaker's Studio is a relatively new haven for Long Island wine lovers. Owned and operated by winemaker Anthony Nappa, formerly of Shinn Vineyard, and Sarah Evans Nappa, a sous chef at The North Fork Table & Inn, the tasting room is a celebration of LI winemaker's side projects and unique, limited production Long Island wines.

When we visited, Sarah and manager, Chris Fanjul, were pouring at their beautiful wooden bar. The space is clean, yet rural, giving the tasting experience a quaint neighborhood feel. Adjoining the tasting room is the gift shop for Taste of The North Fork, a fantastic place to pick up jams, chutney, pesto, and other treats made from local ingredients by Jeri Woodhouse.

But we were there for the wine and jumped right in to tasting. We started with Nappa's white pinot "Anamoly." A silky texture presented aromas and flavors of strawberries, cherry, and slight herbal notes. It's a beautiful white, and although their currently sold out at the tasting room, a new vintage is to be released around February 1st. From there, we tried a couple reds from John Leo, of Clovis Point, and Roman Roth, winemaker at Wolffer Estate. The first was a red blend and had nice balance, but didn't wow our palates. Roth's Merlot, on the other hand, was a very nice example of good Long Island Merlot. Smoked wood and ripe cherry combine with a balanced tannic texture to create a really nice wine.

Lastly, we tried our favorite of the afternoon, Nappa's "Bordo" Cabernet Franc. This is hands down one of the best Long Island reds I've tried. Full of intiguing flavors, raspberries, licorice, with notes of pepper and herbs. It has a full-bodied texture and is sure to satisfy any red drinker. I once read that Long Island is a perfect terroir for Cab Franc, and if this wine is any indication, it sure is.

We left with a bottle of the "Bordo" and after giving Beckett the Boxer some love jumped on the road again to hit up the North Fork foodie hot spot, Love Lane.

Love Lane Market

Mattituck's Love Lane offers visitors and locals some fantastic food options. From The Village Cheese Shop to Love Lane Kitchen and now Love Lane Market, it's one of the best spots to experience the locavore scene on the North Fork. We've frequented Love Lane Kitchen many times (here's another adventure that includes it), but since we didn't have a lot of time left, we decided to just grab a bite at Love Lane Market.

The newly opened market provides shoppers with a host of produce, meats, and other accompaniments, many of which are made on the North Fork or in New York. They are the only distributor of McCall Beef (read more about the beef here), Long Island's only local grass-fed beef producer. In the back of the market, they've installed a beautiful pizza oven, which creates some tasty looking pies. They have a number of salumi, prosciutto, and other charcuterie options. But if you just want something quick their sandwich options are a good bet.

We decided to go with their popular chicken salad sandwich, which turned out to be just as delicious as we hoped. When we lived in San Francisco and would go tasting in Napa, we loved to pick up a few things for lunch and have a picnic at one of the wineries we visited. Love Lane Market is the perfect spot to pick up just such a picnic for the North Fork. I can't wait for our next visit...we're gonna have one fabulous spread!

All in all, the adventure was yet another indication that exciting culinary spots continue to emerge on the North Fork, taking advantage of the food and drink created by its local community and grown in its fields. It's a place that truly appreciates slow food, good wine, and the Earth that creates it. So if you haven't, take a trip out east, pour yourself a glass of Long Island wine, and relax in this special place.

Here are few more pics of Love Lane Market....

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. There seems to be a lot to do (and eat) on Long Island.


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