Food & Drink

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Bob Lipinski with his latest book. Photo from Lipinski

Bob Lipinski, a local author and regular columnist for Times Beacon Record Newspapers and Lifestyle Magazine, recently announced the publication of his ninth book titled “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey.”

The 80-page paperback presents whiskey as a “101 Introduction,” covering the basics of each major whiskey category and countries of origin including blended American, bourbon, Canadian, corn, Irish, Japanese, rye, Scotch, and Tennessee whiskey.

To add another dimension, the book covers the history of whiskey, definitions, slang terms, drinks of presidents and celebrities and whiskey-infused quotes. There is even a chapter on classic whiskey cocktails.

“What butter and whiskey won’t cure, there is no cure for.” — Irish saying

Bob Williamstyn, proprietor of The Country House Restaurant in Stony Brook, says the book is “a great training tool for restaurateurs, distributors, and just about anyone else in the beverage business,” while Sean McCormack of Innovative Spirits adds that it is “an absolute must read for anyone who enjoys whiskey, and wants to learn more.”

The author will be conducting book signings for his latest book at Connetquot Public Library, 760 Ocean Ave., Bohemia on Dec. 1, Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, 120 Main St., Setauket on Dec. 9, and Patchogue-Medford Library, 54-60 E. Main St., Patchogue on Dec. 17, all from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The book is available for purchase at www.Amazon.com for $14.99.

Bob Lipinski conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or Bob@HIBS-USA.com.

Gary Shek is the manager of Wasabi Steakhouse in Miller Place. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Smile.

That’s what Gary Shek tells his employees at Wasabi Steakhouse in Miller Place. As the manager of the hibachi restaurant, Shek’s main concern is providing good service by tending to the customers and ensuring high-quality food — two reasons that encourage new and repeat customers to return to the restaurant.

The four-star establishment opened March 23, 2014. Since then, Shek is usually the main employee greeting guests when they arrive, and sends them off when they leave. While it may take him a couple tries, it doesn’t take long before Shek remembers the names and faces of his customers, which adds to the guest’s experience.

“Let’s say I see your face [one time], a year later, I will still say hi,” Shek said. “You make [the customer] feel like [they are really important]. Of course, business is very important, but the customer, you have to make them feel like family.”

According to Shek, some hibachi restaurants focus on having a classy or elegant style, while he wanted his restaurant to be more family oriented, since many of the residents he serves are families who may remain in the area until their kids graduate high school.

Gary smiles for the camera with Wasabi Steakhouse owner Kenny Ching. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Gary smiles for the camera with Wasabi Steakhouse owner Kenny Ching. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Kenny Ching, one of the owners of the restaurant, has known and worked with Shek since the mid-1990s. They met while working at the Secret Garden Tea Room in Port Jefferson. Ching said working with Shek is easy.

“I don’t have any pressure,” Ching said. “He can handle [work] pretty much himself. I don’t have to follow him. Training managers isn’t always easy.”

Shek credits his management skills to working in the hotel business in Hong Kong before he moved to Long Island in 1990. It was at the hotel where Shek tried to remember the names of hotel guests. It wasn’t until he transitioned to the restaurant business that Shek saw the difference between the hotel and restaurant business.

“From the hotels I [saw] the international [people from] different countries,” Shek said. “But here, [there are] local residents so I have to keep smiling every day [even if] I have a bad day.”

From 1995 to 1998 Shek also managed a Chinese restaurant for one of the individuals who owns Wasabi Steakhouse alongside Ching. Although Shek and Ching have to remember more types of dishes now than they did working at Chinese restaurants, they do their best to serve their customers and answer questions about the menu.

The service, as well as the food, is what keeps customers like Diana McGeoch and her family and friends coming back to Wasabi Steakhouse.

“We come here all the time,” McGeoch said. “Too many [times] to count. Fifteen plus maybe.”

“And he remembers us every time,” Brain Murray, a friend, said after McGeoch. “[The atmosphere is] very warm and welcoming. [Shek remembering our names] makes you feel special when you come here.”

Jean Casola of Rocky Point is another customer who dines at the restaurant for its service and high-quality food. Casola discovered the restaurant last year when she was celebrating her wedding anniversary.

“First of all, the service is amazing and polite beyond belief. Then the food comes out just the way you want it,” Casola said as she ate her dinner.

Shek said the restaurant goes out and picks up fresh cuts of fish and meats nearly twice a week, but also has fresh food delivered nearly five times a week. Leftover food is discarded after a day or more passes. According to Shek, some restaurants turn this food into an all-you-can-eat buffet.

While Shek acknowledges that people come back for the food and for hibachi, he doesn’t believe people come back to the restaurant because of him.

“I just want to be a successful manager,” Shek said.

But customers like Casola think differently.

Recently, Casola helped her daughter Faith pack for Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. She said her daughter misses eating at the restaurant, and in 30 days, so will Casola. She and her husband are moving to North Carolina to be closer to their daughter, but packing up means leaving Shek’s service and food at Wasabi Steakhouse.

“I don’t think they’re going to have anything like this there,” Casola said. “And they’re just not going to have another Gary, that’s for sure.”

Cops: No link between drinking in public and delis

Stock photo

Huntington Station residents say they are concerned with local delis serving beer on premises because they believe it has led to an increase in public drunkenness.

“It’s a problem. That’s what bars are for,” Jim McGoldrick, a Huntington Station resident said. “It’s a disadvantage for bar owners. It’s not right.”

While he admits drinking in public is a problem in the area, Suffolk County Police 2nd Precinct Inspector Christopher Hatton refuted the notion that delis serving alcohol are leading to an increase in public inebriation.

“The department doesn’t have any evidence that it leads to public intoxication, and it is also not illegal,” Hatton said in a phone interview. “I don’t think it’s a link.”

Hatton said that there is a problem with public alcohol consumption, which is illegal, especially in the Depot Road area. But he hasn’t seen any connections between the delis in Huntington that serve liquor on premises and an increase in public intoxication.

At a 2nd Precinct meeting in South Huntington in early August, many community members complained that the alcohol these delis serve is leading to an increase in individuals who are publicly intoxicated. They also didn’t understand how these establishments could both sell and allow customers to consume liquor inside the store.

Residents said they have witnessed people who are highly intoxicated attempting to cross the street, something they fear could lead to traffic accidents.

“We have a handful of calls from residents who speak about it,” Assemblyman Chad A. Lupinacci (R-Melville) said in a phone interview. Groups like Huntington Matters, an anti-crime civic group in Huntington Station, have expressed concerns.

Lupinacci said that his office is keeping an eye on the issue, as well as keeping in touch with New York State Liquor Authority, the agency that handles all liquor licenses. He acknowledged that there are safety concerns associated with this issue.

“It’s definitely something to take into consideration, the safety concerns,” he said. “I do think it is something we need to make sure isn’t causing more problems or unintended problems.”

In order for serving beer on premises to be legal, a deli must apply for a specific type of liquor license.

According to Bill Crowley, director of public affairs for NYSLA, a deli needs to apply for an eating place beer license. This license allows beer drinking onsite and for beer to be sold for consumption off-premises, as long as food is prepared and served at the location as well.

This type of license runs for three years, and the fee to obtain one is $480, plus an additional $100 filing fee.

NYSLA keeps track of all establishments with liquor licenses.

“We have enforcements and we do investigations, both randomly and complaint-driven,” Crowley said. These investigations include underage sweeps and can sometimes require many follow-ups before anything is uncovered.

Some local establishments that ran into problems with NYSLA actually didn’t have an eating-place beer license. In both instances NYSLA was involved with, the license called into question was a grocery beer/wine product license. This license allows for off-premises selling of beer and “wine products,” which is a beverage that can’t contain more than 6 percent alcohol by volume — also known as wine coolers.

Quisqueya Deli on West Hills Road in Huntington Station applied for a grocery store license, which only permits for the sale of beer consumed off premises. However, in March, the business was fined $2,000 by the full board of NYSLA for allowing consumption on premises. In July, the board voted to cancel their license.

Phil Solages, the attorney representing Quisqueya Deli, said the business had no comment.

Sayed Deli & Coffee Shop on West Pulaski Road also has a grocery store license. However, the business was fined $3,500 for sale to a minor in April 2012. An attempt to interview a store official was unsuccessful.

The NYSLA Full Board votes on the penalty when an establishment is found abusing its license. Depending on the severity of the violation, a business could receive a fine or get the license permanently revoked.

Many delis in Huntington Station have an eating-place beer license and have received no violations, according to Crowley.

“I know there are delis in Huntington Station, along New York Avenue, that serve alcohol on premises,” Hatton said. “They basically turn into a bar, to watch sports games, but it’s not illegal as long as they’re serving food prepared there.”

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AMVETS Post 1998 in Port Jefferson Station is hosting a fundraising barbecue to support aging and otherwise needy local veterans.

The nonprofit’s annual BBQ will fire up on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 1 p.m. at the American Legion Post, 1450 Hallock Ave., Port Jefferson Station. There will be chicken, hot dogs, burgers, clams, drinks and dessert, as well as a Chinese auction and a raffle.

Tickets are $25 for adults, and kids under 12 are free. They can be purchased through AMVETS Post Commander Barbara Alt at 631-509-4151 or Post Historian Ed Bednarek at 631-331-3853. The tickets will also be on sale at the American Legion on the day of the barbecue.

Contact Alt or Bednarek for more information about the event.

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By Bob Lipinski

Quotes are like recipes for our happiness. We enjoy their wit and often cite them; they inspire us, guide us, and often make us laugh. And sometimes, we need them just to keep our sanity. Below are 20 of my favorite cheese quotes.

■ “A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be oversophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality.” (Clifton Fadiman, American writer and editor; New Yorker book reviewer)

■ “A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1755–1826; French politician and writer)

■ “Age is not important unless you’re a cheese.” (Helen Hayes)

■ “Apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.” (Old English rhyme)

■ “Cheese complements a good meal and supplements a bad one.” (E. Briffault, French gastronome)

■ “Cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love.” (M. F. K. Fisher, “How to Cook a Wolf,” 1942)

■ “For lovers of wine or beer, cheese would have had to be invented had it not grown up with these two drinks.” (Edward and Lorna Bunyard, “The Epicure’s Companion”)

■ “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” (Charles de Gaulle, 1890–1970, president of France, 1962 speech)

■ “I don’t want the cheese. I just want to get out of the trap.” (Spanish proverb)

■ “If I had a son of marriageable age, I should say to him, Beware of young women who love neither wine nor truffles nor cheese nor music.” (Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette “Colette,” 1873–1954, French novelist, “Paysages et Portraits”)

■ “Never commit yourself to a cheese without having first examined it.” (Thomas Sterns “T. S.” Eliot, 1885–1956, British poet and critic)

■ “Once we hit forty, women only have about four taste buds left: one for vodka, one for wine, one for cheese, and one for chocolate.” (Gina Barreca)

■ “The clever cat eats cheese and breathes down rat holes with baited breath.” (W. C. Fields, American comic and actor, 1880–1946)

■ “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” (Stephen Wright)

■ “The only way to learn about cheese is to eat it.” (Ernest Oldmeadow, English gastronome)

■ “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” (Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874–1936; English poet)

■ “There were cheeses from the North, there were cheeses from the South. There were dozens of one which melted in the mouth.” (T. A. Layton)

■ “What is a harp but an oversized cheese slicer with cultural pretensions?” (Denis Norden, English comedy writer)

■ “Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.” (M. F. K. Fisher, introduction, “Vin et Fromage”)

■ “You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese.” (Anthony Bourdain)

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food; and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or boblipinski2009@hotmail.com.

An assortment of different Bootlegger drinks line the shelves. Photo by Alex Petroski

It takes guts to quit a steady paying job to pursue a dream. Not many people bet on themselves as boldly as Stony Brook University graduate and owner of Prohibition Distillery Brian Facquet did back in 2008.

He grew up in Commack, graduated from St. Anthony’s High School in 1991 and spent a few years in the Naval Academy before transferring to Stony Brook for his senior year. There he played lacrosse, majored in history and met his future wife Benat.

“I created a brand that’s rooted in history,” Facquet said laughing, during a recent interview, when asked about failing to put his pricey college degree in history to use. He received that degree in 1995.

“I did something stupid,” Facquet said. “I quit my job and just started doing this.”

“This” was creating an up-and-coming craft spirit brand called Bootlegger 21, which is based out of an old firehouse in Roscoe, about two hours north of New York City. The name, the packaging and even the boxes that the bottles are shipped in are all a nod to the Prohibition era in the United States in the 1920s when the sale or consumption of alcohol was illegal. People who continued to sell alcohol illegally were called bootleggers. The “21” represents the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition.

Facquet spent much of the 2000s in the corporate world, working for a couple of different technology companies. Successes in that field earned him an offer to be the East Coast vice president of Paylocity, a company that specializes in cloud-based payroll software, which Facquet was vital in creating. He turned down the offer.

“He’s always been entrepreneurial,” Phil Facquet said of his son Brian, who in 2000 went to his dad and asked him for advice about a business opportunity. Brian Facquet said that he was at Bluepoint Brewery in Patchogue.

“It was small at the time,” Facquet said. They had a few chairs, a keg and about three tables in an outside sitting area. The modest appearance didn’t scare him and he told his dad that he wanted to invest about $30,000 in the brewery. Both Facquets said that Phil was the greatest deciding factor in Brian’s decision to ultimately reject the opportunity.

“I always regretted not doing it,” Brian Facquet said. His dad admitted that he felt bad about being the voice of negativity back then, so when Brian went to Phil in 2008 and told him his new plan, his father decided to bite his tongue the second time around.

“I thought he was crazy,” Phil Facquet said.

When Brian Facquet decided to start making booze, it wasn’t going to be a hobby. He had no interest in going the route of the weekend warrior who brews beer in his garage and tried for a while to balance his steady paying job with his dream of, as he put it, “creating something that will be remembered.” He said he would go into the Tuthilltown Distillery, one of the sites of his vodka making exploits before he found a home in Roscoe, while he was on sales calls for his day job, overnight or on days when he was “playing hooky.” Eventually he decided he was going all in on Bootlegger 21.

“You’re talking to a guy that’s worked all his life for somebody else,” Phil said about his son’s decision to pursue his dream. “I’m ambitious within a corporate setting, but to risk my own money? I thought he was crazy, quite honestly.”  His father came around rather easily. He still lives in Commack, though he periodically makes the trip up to Roscoe to lend a hand for a few days whenever he can.

Brian Facquet’s ambition and confidence have paid off. Bootlegger 21 now offers gin and bourbon to go along with the vodka. Facquet said that when he started the company he had a hard time convincing anyone about the merits of a craft spirit that was locally produced. “You hope you have a good product, you hope you have a market, but you never know,” he said.

The market has changed now. Hand crafted is in. Mass-produced, conglomerate spirits with brand recognition still have their place in the market, but Facquet said that he’s found the millennial consumer is willing to give the little guy a shot. He didn’t necessarily see this coming he said, but he’s thrilled to reap the benefits of a more open-minded marketplace.

The fact that this is currently Facquet’s only business venture doesn’t mean he’s suddenly become a slacker. Presumably Catholic high school and the Naval Academy made that impossible.

“I don’t know how he does it,” his father said. “He’s burning the candle light at both ends, plus the center.”

Brian Facquet’s hard work has paid off as well. The corn-based, gluten-free vodka has been awarded gold medals and double gold medals from the Best Domestic Vodka competition, the Beverage Testing Institute, and the New York International Spirits competition. The five-botanical gin and corn-based bourbon are still very new to the market.

Facquet’s goal was to create something that will be remembered. It will be difficult to remember him after extensive consumption of his product, although his entrepreneurial spirit will last long after the buzz wears off.

For more information about Bootlegger 21 and the Prohibition Distillery visit www.prohibitiondistillery.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

Your mouth is on fire, your heart is pounding, your forehead is perspiring, your eyes are watering, your nose is running, your throat is dry, and still — you want more fire in your mouth. Why do some people enjoy this “fire” while others keep a safe distance from these incendiary little green or red peppers?

Capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the chili’s heat, causes the body to release endorphins (neurochemicals), the body’s natural painkillers that are akin to morphine. These chemicals give the body a sense of well-being and contentment, sparking desire for another round of eating fire. In addition, capsaicin also stimulates pain receptors in the mouth and on the tongue. The brain then orders the mouth to salivate, the nose to run and the gastrointestinal tract to step up its work. The body sweats to cool itself.

Contrary to popular belief, the heat in a chili pepper is not in the seeds. You will find most of the capsaicin in the placenta — the white membrane or veins in the pepper’s middle. However, because the seeds can pick up capsaicin on contact, it’s wise to remove both membrane and seeds if you’re heat shy.

Water does not put out the fire in your mouth because the oily resins in capsaicin are not water soluble.

Green chili peppers are high in vitamin C — in fact, one pepper has more vitamin C than an orange; when the red chili deepens in color, the hotter it is and the more vitamins A and C it contains. Chilis are high in fiber and low in calories and they contain no cholesterol or fat.

With chili peppers, the shape generally indicates flavor and heat level. The smaller and narrower the chili, the hotter it is; however, there are exceptions, e.g., the habanero pepper. Hot chili peppers originated in South America, and the precise birthplace is believed to be in the Andean foothills of central Bolivia.

Handling hot chili peppers
When handling chilies, wear rubber gloves, which protect not only the hands but also the face, eyes and other sensitive areas with which the hands come in contact. After working with chilies, wash your hands, the cutting board, the knife and the rubber gloves thoroughly with hot, soapy water.

Putting out “The Fire
Water does not put out the fire in your mouth because the oily resins in capsaicin are not water soluble. It’s the protein casein in milk that acts like a detergent, stripping the capsaicin from the receptors. Milk products such as yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cheese or even milk puts out the fire. Starchy foods such as bread, pasta, potatoes or rice tend to absorb or dilute capsaicin. Sweet desserts or even honey also helps modify the intense burning.

Pairing chili peppers with beverages
Most people prefer a cold beer to “put out the fire.” Beer and sparkling wines help cleanse the palate with their carbonation while at the same time they slightly anesthetize the inside of mouth. Fruity wines, such as riesling, chenin blanc, Gewürztraminer and white zinfandel afford a good contrast to heat and the fruitiness offsets some of the pepper’s heat. A glass of cold saké, dry white vermouth or even a dry sherry also pairs well. Avoid oaky wines and those full-bodied, red wines that are loaded with tannins. However, smoked chili peppers, such as chipotle, pair well with a red zinfandel or syrah.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food, in addition to sales, time management and leadership. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR Bob@HIBS-USA.com.

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Ribs are all fired up. Photo from Jonathan Levine/Smoke Shack Blues

By Steve Mosco

Thousands of years ago, mankind crawled out of its primordial origins, stood upright and decided to quit choking down chunks of raw flesh. These prehistoric freethinkers put meat to heat, creating a ritual that continues to compel the carnivore spirit in an endless quest for the slow-smoked supernatural.

The ritual is barbecue and it goes well beyond hot dogs and hamburgers hastily seared on a dirty backyard grill. It is a culinary style reserved for the meticulously obsessive chef, as cooking times can range from several hours to more than half a day and doneness is measured in burnt ends and smoke rings.

“Smoking is such 
an important 
cooking technique. 
In barbecue, it might be the most important.” — Eric Rifkin, Bobbique in Patchogue

Meat, time, heat and smoke; there are no secrets in barbecue, just obsession.

And the obsession is heating up on Long Island. A decade or so in the past, the number of barbecue joints on the Island could be counted on one sauce-stained hand. Now, slabs of brisket, piles of pork, racks of ribs and links of sausage are readily available in napkin-destroying glory in a growing number of eateries.

To travel the Island seeking out these restaurants is to explore the diverse nature of barbecue itself.

Barbecue is a fundamental element in America’s cooking culture; it is the only truly American cuisine, and like everything else purely American, its form is contingent on its regional influences.

There’s Memphis-style pit barbecue, which is high on the hog in rib and pulled form, served in a tangy, thin tomato-based sauce. The Carolinas offer two distinct forms of ‘cue, with North giving us spice and vinegar basted pork and the South opting a sauce that is more mustard based. Kansas City style cooks its meats super slow and super low over hickory wood, served with a thick and sweet molasses sauce. In Texas, meat is king, as dinosaur-sized beef ribs are served alongside a heaping portion of brisket and sauce is usually an afterthought.

St. Louis Spare Ribs
Ingredients: 4-5 pounds pork back “spare” ribs; Your favorite dry rub; Mustard; Your favorite barbecue sauce; Wood chunks or chips for added smoke (optional)
Directions: To start, choose some fresh pork spare ribs. Preheat your grill to 225-250 F. Wash and dry ribs, then trim and remove the membrane. Now rub in mustard on all sides. Lightly apply dry rub seasoning to both sides of the slab. Let stand for 15-30 minutes. Allow ribs to come to room temperature just before placing on the grill. Place a water or basting pan on the grill or within the coals for added moisture (optional). Barbecue at 225-250 F opposite coals with closed grill lid for 3-4 hours. Mop the ribs several times. To keep from overcooking, remove the racks when they pull apart easily, with meat still attached to the bone. Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Barbecue on Long Island is trending toward an amalgamation of styles, with professionally trained chefs taming fire to give the public what it wants.

Bobbique in Patchogue (70 W. Main St.) specializes in Memphis-style pit barbecue. For chef Eric Rifkin, it all started with an inspirational trip to Memphis, Tennessee. With a menu that includes such staples as St. Louis-style ribs, brisket and pulled pork, as well as barbecued salmon and shrimp, Rifkin’s slow-cooking technique utilizes an authentic, soulful southern charm that acts as a great equalizer at mealtime.

“Barbecue is a communal experience,” says Rifkin. “People come together, roll up their sleeves, feel, touch the meat. It’s become a comfort thing. It’s a ‘talk to the table next to you’ kind of meal.”

Rifkin is a classically trained chef with an impressive resume. In transferring his refined talents to the decidedly less polished cooking style of the pit, Rifkin developed his own art of smoke, one of barbecue’s essential elements.

“Smoking is such an important cooking technique. In barbecue, it might be the most important,” he says. “The smoke imparts flavor into cuts of meat that were at one time less desirable. The right kind of smoke used the correct way changes everything.”

Another chef blurring the lines between barbecue boundaries is Jonathan Levine, whose restaurant Smoke Shack Blues opens in Port Jefferson this September. A chef with an origin story that includes fancy cuisine of the French-Italian lineage, Levine’s career trajectory was altered by traveling through the Carolinas and Texas during a family vacation.

It was during that trip he experienced the powerful effects of low-temp cooking combined with smoke. The science of low and slow with smoke melts the fat within, and that translucent succulence bastes the meat from the inside while the outer bark encases the juices until it’s ready for the cutting board.

“Everything is kept inside the meat,” says Levine. “The same cut of meat that is unremarkable cooked one way is made incredible when cooked in true barbecue style. All of those juices rendering inside for 14 hours or so makes for a completely different eating experience.”

Levine recently gave locals a taste of what to expect from his forthcoming restaurant at multiple events at Benner’s Farm in East Setauket. He offered pork shoulder for Western Carolina style pulled pork, smoked barbecue chicken, pork ribs and even tins of his own barbecue dry rub.

“It’s so easy for a chef to toss his meat in a sauce,” he says. “But with a dry rub, there is really nowhere to hide. It is all about the meat.”

Molasses BBQ Chicken
Ingredients for glaze: Cider vinegar — 1⁄4 cup (4 tablespoons); Brown mustard — 1⁄2 cup (8 tablespoons); Molasses — 1 cup (16 tablespoons); Salt — 4 teaspoons; Fresh black pepper — 2 teaspoons
Other Ingredients: Chicken — 6 pounds; Salt — to taste; Pepper — to taste
Directions: Preheat grill. In a pan pour in cider vinegar, add mustard and mix. Add in the molasses, mix well, season with salt and pepper. Place the pan on hot coals and allow to simmer. Place the chicken pieces over indirect heat on grill and season with salt and pepper. Cover and grill at 350 F and cook for about 1 hour. After 20 minutes of cooking, brush the chicken with the glaze after every 15 minutes. When about to be done, sear over direct heat for few minutes.

The nature of Long Island’s cross-cultural barbecue style has even influenced a man who didn’t require an illuminating trip to America’s smoked-meat meccas. Lloyd Adams is a Texan through and through. A marriage brought him to Long Island in 1995 and by 2003 he started Laura’s BBQ Shack, a traveling Texas-style barbecue smoker that rolls into events like a traveling carnival of meat.

After a few years of struggling to find a foothold in the Island’s barbecue scene, Adams’ big break came at an event hosted by the Holbrook Chamber of Commerce. Long before many of the Island’s barbecue restaurants were even a gleam in a chef’s eye, Adams was schooling locals on true barbecue.

“I spent a lot of time explaining it as a cooking method,” says Adams. “I had to explain that the meat might be pink, but it is not raw. That pink you see is from the authentic smoke and the low-temperature cooking.”

But as barbecue continues to marinate and mature on the Island, people are becoming savvier; they are learning to embrace those pink smoke rings and burnt ends, according to Adams.

“People are much more educated about barbecue these days,” he says. “People aren’t going for it multiple times a week like they might Chinese or Italian, but it is growing.”

The ever-evolving Long Island barbecue scene will likely continue to expand to new flavor territories as each new generation cuts through the smoke and slides up to flames. Even in Adams’ own enterprise, the Texas-strong style has morphed to include much more pork than is usually found on slabs in the Lone Star state.

That’s merely one example of the ever-changing story of barbecue culture. And on Long Island, this quintessentially American style of making meat better will continue to raise its flavor profile.

“Whether you are cooking beef or pork or using one style or another, it is important to take pride in your barbecue and always be your own worst critic,” says Adams. “People here are willing to listen and to learn and I suppose that’s a good sign.”

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“I made a mental note to watch which bottle became empty soonest, sometimes a more telling evaluation system than any other.” — Gerald Asher, “On Wine,” 1982

By Bob Lipinski

As an author and professional taster, I generally sample and evaluate more than 50 alcoholic beverages — wine, spirits, beer, and sake — per week. And no, I don’t need an assistant. Some are good, some are very good to excellent; while others are, how do I say it, not very good. I prefer to talk about the beverage rather than assign it an arbitrary number rating.

For many, the wines of France evoke pictures of lush vineyards filled with ripe grapes, huge fermentation tanks and rows of barrels filled with some of the world’s finest wines. France’s reputation as a great wine-producing country is solidly based on centuries of winemaking experience and the country’s climate and soil, which are ideal for growing the world’s great wine grapes. France is divided into six major wine-producing regions. They are Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Loire Valley, and the Rhône Valley.

Here are my French wine picks:

2010 Frédéric Mallo Riesling, Réserve Spéciale, Alsace, France. Pale yellow color with a fresh aroma of stone fruit, citrus, pears, and red apples. Medium-bodied with a good balance and flavors of apples, cantaloupe and peach nectar. Serve it chilled with softshell crabs, raw clams or oysters, or just a dish of spaghetti with white clam sauce.

2010 Domaine Charles Baur Riesling, Grand Cru Brand, Alsace, France. Bright golden-colored with a lush, full bouquet of honey, apricot jam, dried fruit and nectarines. Full in the mouth with citrus, Granny Smith apples, and some minerality. I would pair with smoked salmon, smoked cheddar and Gouda, or some honey-cured ham.

2014 Grange des Dames, Ventoux, Rhône, France. A blend of grenache, carignan, and cinsaut grapes. Salmon-colored with an explosive, fruity, spicy bouquet; quite floral. Light-bodied, grapy and somewhat citrusy. Flavors of Red Delicious apple with an aftertaste of red cherries. Serve it with lobster, crab, or shrimp salad. It would be perfect with paella or jambalaya.

2013 Château d’Aquéria, Tavel, Rhône, France. A blend of grenache, syrah, cinsaut, and clairette grapes. Rich, deep rosé color, from brief skin contact with the grape juice. Red berry aromas, including cranberry and raspberry. Medium-bodied with flavors of musk melon, peaches, and red cherries. It drinks like a red wine, so don’t over-chill. Match this wine with grilled sausages, eggplant, and zucchini. Wonderful for light, red-sauced foods.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on Amazon.com. He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits, and food, in addition to sales, time management, and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at bob@hibs-usa.com.

Musican Bryan Gallo performs for winery-goers. Photo by Chris Mellides

By Chris Mellides

Beyond a gravel-strewn parking lot, a weathervane perched atop a rustic old potato barn stands tall and shines in the warmth of the weekend sun at Clovis Point winery and vineyard.

The neatly trimmed lawn below is home to a number of red tables and chairs that are occupied by families whose children play on the green grass beside the expansive grapevines that stretch for yards.

With the sunlight gleaming on high, I wipe the sweat from my forehead and casually pull down the brim of my hat to allow my eyes to adjust to the brightness of the outdoors. A gray oak barrel once used to age red wine now serves as a makeshift table and a temporary resting place for my camera equipment.

I pull a barstool close to the aged barrel and wait patiently to meet Kelly Bruer, Clovis Point’s general manager, for a chat and a tour of the facilities.

Kelly Bruer, Clovis Point’s general manager. Photo by Chris Mellides
Kelly Bruer, Clovis Point’s general manager. Photo by Chris Mellides

Bruer makes his way from the tasting room nestled inside the 150-year-old building. As I stand to face him, he greets me with a smile and a firm handshake. He asks me if I’m a wine enthusiast, but to his surprise, I tell him that I’d much rather prefer a stout beer or a frothy IPA.

“Sit down, sit down. Be relaxed, it’s a winery,” says Bruer. “Do you want some wine?”

“No, thank you, but I appreciate the offer.”

“Are you sure?” he asks. “I’ve got a nice, light wine that’s good to introduce beer drinkers to.”

After some more convincing I finally accept, and Bruer arranges for a glass of white wine to be brought to the table. At first sip, the effervescent blend tastes crisp with clean fruity notes, rounding out an overall full-bodied flavor.

“The wine that you’re having there is fermented and then it goes to the bottle and it rests a bit; it’s kind of a seasonal wine and we do it every year,” says Bruer. “It’s crisp and it’s light and it’s chardonnay, and if I didn’t tell you it was chardonnay you probably wouldn’t know it.”

A high-ranking vineyard and winery located on the North Fork of Long Island, Clovis Point first opened its tasting room in 2007. Much of the walls and beams of the tasting room and surrounding property remain unchanged since the 1920s and were preserved during the eventual repurposing of the structure.

Long Island’s long, warm summers and cooling breezes permeating from the neighboring Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean make for the perfect maritime climate. And the glacial soils unique to the East End have allowed vineyards like Clovis Point and the other 56 Long Island winemakers to be the largest producers of European grapes in the Northeast, according to the Official Website of the Long Island Wine Council, www.liwines.com.

“It can be a difficult balance for the musician and I do respect that, because I know it’s not just a matter of walking in the door and putting a guitar over your shoulder…these guys practice and
put time into it and that’s an important part for people to realize.” — Kelly Bruer, Clovis Point’s general manager

While the well-versed general manager of Clovis Point has held many titles in the past, including working as a journalist, a sous chef and a commercial lender, he admits to having always been drawn to the North Fork and its vineyards.

“I grew up here on the North Fork, and when I was 12 years old I started working at vineyards over the course of a few summers,” said Bruer. “I never thought I’d come back, but it’s exciting. I wake up in the morning and come to work, and I work in a beautiful vineyard.”

When he took the job as general manager in January of 2011, Bruer was thrust into taking on multiple roles, including a position in operations and in event planning.

Sharing similar responsibilities is Alicia Ekeler, the tasting room director at Lieb Cellars, another North Fork winery with a tasting room located on the estate. Like Bruer, the duties she undertakes can be tiring, but Ekeler believes those duties are rife with their own rewards.

“Three days of my workweek are spent planning all the tasting room events, managing the ongoing music schedule, staffing and scheduling,” says Ekeler. “On the weekends, I am in the tasting room making sure everything is operating smoothly and that our guests are leaving happy.”

And when her guests leave happy, Ekeler is happy. She says that she’s been in this role for just more than a year, but that she’s been with Lieb Cellars for almost two.

The crowd lines up at the counter of Clovis Point winery and vineyard. Photo by Chris Mellides
The crowd lines up at the counter of Clovis Point winery and vineyard. Photo by Chris Mellides

Something else that Bruer and Ekeler share  outside of their study of the culinary arts is their enthusiasm towards working with local musicians and affording them the opportunity to perform at their respective vineyards.

When selecting artists to feature at Clovis Point’s tasting room events, Bruer says that while originality and playing skill are important, it is vital for scheduled performers to understand that their live music should only add to the warm atmosphere rather than become the main focus of the day’s event.

“Explaining the wine and introducing people to the wine, that’s the more important thing,” says Bruer. “It can be a difficult balance for the musician and I do respect that, because I know it’s not just a matter of walking in the door and putting a guitar over your shoulder … these guys practice and put time into it and that’s an important part for people to realize.”

No stranger to Long Island’s winery scene, local musician Bryan Gallo shuffles into Clovis Point’s tasting room patio and examines his playing space. While sipping wine from a tulip-shaped glass he turns to face his audience.

Donned in black horn-rimmed glasses and a plaid button-down shirt, Gallo cheerily greets the crowd at Clovis Point. The Suffolk County native has performed at the vineyard several times over the last three years, so for many of the vineyard’s guests, this wasn’t the first time they’ve been introduced to Gallo and his music.
After tuning his jet-black acoustic guitar, he begins to play original song selections from his 2014 full-length album titled “Party Guest.” Gallo’s playing style combines alternative country-rock with wistful pop music elements.

As he strums his guitar, he’ll occasionally pepper in a bluesy harmonica to accent some of his songs. A sheet music stand faces Gallo and just beyond it are CD copies of his first major album release, along with a mailing list and tip jar that rest on the floor by his feet.

Friends and family joined together to share in Sunday’s performance at Clovis Point. Among those in attendance were vineyard club member and Setauket resident Steven Krinsky.

“We’ve been members of Clovis Point for the past seven or eight years, and we love the wine, we love the owners, and we love the staff. It’s a perfect trifecta,” says Krinsky. “The live music just adds another dimension [and] I think Bryan’s music goes perfectly with the wine and the whole experience of being at a vineyard.”

“It’s a very artistic feel in that you have the chance to spread your wings and do what you need to do and the people at the wineries are incredibly responsive to it.” — Bryan Gallo, Musician

At Lieb Cellars, live performances were first introduced in the winter of 2012 with the launching of the Friday Night Music Series. The series sticks to a rotating schedule featuring local musicians preforming a range of diverse genres from folk rock to opera sung in duet, according to Ekeler.

“We launched it as something for locals to do in the off-season; a chance for them to enjoy the space when it is not bursting at the seams as it tends to be in the high season,” says Ekeler. “We really try to explore different genres so that there is something for everyone every month, and it does not get repetitive.”

Like Clovis Point, Lieb Cellars receives many requests from musicians who are interested in performing at the winery, but those that are booked to play are often chosen because their playing styles are quieter and more relaxed to better suit the tasting room atmosphere.

For active musicians like Gallo, wineries are the perfect venue to learn how to engage with different kinds of audiences, while maintaining authenticity as an artist and receiving deserved compensation for live performances.

“I’ll always reach out to the wineries. Whether the [guests] plan on me being here or not, I feel like it’s always a really good synergistic relationship,” says Gallo. “People have picked up albums of mine because they’re interested, and they ask me ‘Well, when are you playing at Clovis again, or when are you playing at any of the wineries again?’ There’s a relationship there that just works.”

The unique relationship struck between musicians and the vineyards that embrace them is one that remains strong, and one that Gallo believes will endure well into the future.

“We don’t live in a small place, [Long Island] is a hundred plus miles back and forth from either end, so you can play a show out east and go out west the next day and you’re covering brand new ground,” says Gallo. “But out here, it’s just good. It’s a very artistic feel in that you have the chance to spread your wings and do what you need to do and the people at the wineries are incredibly responsive to it.”