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St. Patrick’s Day

By Bob Lipinski

“Irish diplomacy is the ability to tell a man to go to hell so that he looks forward to making the trip.” (Irish saying)

Bob Lipinski

Before you begin cooking the corned beef, you will need some good old-fashioned pants-slapping music. Naturally, the Irish Rovers or Clancy Brothers would be a great choice. Now, the best songs to listen to include “The Unicorn,” “The Orange and the Green,” “Goodbye Mrs. Durkin,” “Black Velvet Band,” “Donald Where’s Your Trousers,” “Bridget Flynn,” “Lilly The Pink,” and “Harrigan.”

To help celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, here’s the scoop on corned beef.

The term corned beef has nothing to do with American corn, but rather an English term from the seventeenth century, for curing and preserving a brisket of beef in salt, which at one time was in the form of pellets (or grains of salt), called corns. Today “corning” is the term used to describe the process of curing a brisket of beef by steeping it in a pickling solution.

Here’s what I use to cook corned beef. Photo by Bob Lipinski

Corned beef, a staple of all Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, is generally cooked by steam, although some cooks prefer to boil, bake or even microwave it (ouch, when you see the electric bill.) I have found that steaming the corned beef in a tall pot used for steaming clams minimizes shrinkage, maintains moisture and cooks in less time than other methods. Be certain the bottom of the steamer pot is filled with water, plus the pickling spices, which are often packed with the corned beef. (You can use a tablespoon of pickling spices, available in the supermarket if needed.) Do not trim off any fat pre-cooking; it adds to the moisture. Cook according to the package or your butcher’s advice. To keep the corned beef tender after cooking, let it rest for five minutes before serving. Now, remove any excess fat. To avoid stringy, cooked meat, be certain to slice against the grain.

Between the Irish music, the parade up Fifth Avenue and eating chunks of Irish soda bread, I enjoy beer on Saint Patrick’s Day. Everyone has their favorite and the most popular Irish beers are Beamish, Galway Hooker, Guinness, Harp, Murphy’s, O’Hara’s and Smithwick’s. However, my favorite is Guinness Foreign Export Stout, available only in four-packs. Guinness Stout is relatively low in carbonation and should ideally be served at 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you prefer wine, my suggestions for white wines are chenin blanc, gewürztraminer, pinot blanc, riesling and sylvaner. Red wines are barbera, Bardolino, Beaujolais, Chianti and pinot noir. Equally fine is rosé, white zinfandel and a blanc de noirs sparkling wine.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 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 [email protected].

On March 12, the Friends of St. Patrick held Rocky Point and Miller Place’s 67th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Green and gold were seen down Route 25A to Broadway, as residents from all over the North Shore braved the cold to take part in this year’s festivities.

Residents braved chilly temperatures Sunday, March 12, to cheer on the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Bagpipers, Girl Scouts, and more marched down Main Street in Huntington to celebrate the Irish.

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Kings Park celebrated the Irish at their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade this past Saturday, March 4. Residents from all over the North Shore enjoyed marching band performances, bagpipers and more.

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A scene from this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Kings Park. Photo by Mark D’Angio

The parade may be over, but the Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee has been keeping busy, working on the preparations for its 2017 Grand Marshal Ball and 2017 St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Within three weeks of the 2016 parade, one of the largest on Long Island, committee members were reviewing various phases of the 2016 parade. The first order of business was to select a grand marshal. In an unprecedented move, the McWilliams Sisters — Cathy Donnelly, Barbara Griffin and Marge Stajk — were named to lead the 2017 St. Patrick’s Parade.

This honor is believed to be unique, as three siblings were named grand marshals, the organizers said.

The McWilliams sisters were selected based on their Irish heritage, community spirit, and personal demeanor. Their parents, Edward and Margaret McWilliams, moved from County Carlow, Ireland, settling in Kings Park, where the parents opened the Park Diner in 1944. The family consisted of three sisters, Catherine, Barbara, and Margaret, and three brothers, Edward, Joseph, and Ronald.

The sisters attended St. Joseph’s School until the 8th grade, graduated from Kings Park High School, and raised their families in Kings Park. The parade committee noted that each sister donated time and efforts toward various charitable endeavors, especially as members of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 3.

The Grand Marshal Ball will be held at Flowerfields, on Friday, November 18. The event will consist of the presentation of the “McWilliams Sisters,” Irish music and dance, raffles, and live band. The Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day parade will be held on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

The committee thanked Kevin “The Professor” Denis for his extraordinary efforts as its chairman. As one of the Parade’s founders, he excelled at raising the necessary funding for the parade, which features more than 20 bagpipe bands, fire departments, floats, and organizations. During the past six years, the Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade has become one of the largest parades on Long Island. Denis will continue to aid the committee. Kevin Johnston was named the committee’s new chairman.

After a hearty St. Patrick’s Day meal, serve Irish Coffee, strong coffee sweetened with a hint of sugar and Irish whiskey then topped with freshly whipped cream, with dessert. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

What would March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, be without a couple of whiskey-laced Irish coffees?

“The mistress of the house should always be certain that the coffee be excellent; the master that his liquors be of the first quality.” — Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1755–1826, French politician and writer

Like many other drinks whose origins are clouded in mystery, Joe Sheridan (1909–1962) introduced Irish coffee in 1942. He was the head chef of a catering company at the Flying Boat terminal located at Foynes Field (now Shannon Airport) in Limerick from 1938 to 1945. Joe wanted to provide passengers a suitable drink after hours of cold planes and bumpy flights. Flight attendants would ease the pain by adding a shot of whiskey to hot coffee. The whiskey became Irish when the flights arrived or departed from Shannon Airport in Ireland.


Irish coffee

Ingredients: 1 teaspoon brown sugar; 1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey; 3 to 4 ounces strong coffee (not espresso); heaping tablespoon of whipped heavy cream

Directions: To make an Irish coffee, first fill a 6-ounce stemmed glass with very hot water to preheat and then empty. Place the brown sugar into the bottom of the glass and then add the Irish whiskey. Put a spoon into the glass and then pour in the hot coffee and fill three quarters and stir. The purpose of the spoon is to absorb the heat so the glass does not break. Then stir gently and add a heaping tablespoon of freshly whipped heavy cream, not one of the dairy creamers or premixed cream from an aerosol can. Serve without stirring.


Irish Coffee Story — Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco, CA

The Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco (or the BV as locals call it) is the birthplace of Irish coffee in America and continues to be frequented by tourists and locals, all enjoying their Irish coffee. According to its website…

“The historic venture started on the night of November 10, in 1952, Jack Koeppler, then-owner of the Buena Vista, challenged international travel-writer Stanton Delaplane to help re-create a highly touted ‘Irish Coffee’ served at Shannon Airport in Ireland.

Intrigued, Stan accepted Jack’s invitation, and the pair began to experiment immediately. Throughout the night, the two of them stirred and sipped judiciously and eventually acknowledged two recurring problems. The taste was ‘not quite right’ and the cream would not float. Stan’s hopes sank like the cream, but Jack was undaunted. The restaurateur pursued the elusive elixir with religious fervor, even making a pilgrimage overseas to Shannon Airport.”

In the 50 years since it was introduced, the Buena Vista has served more than 30 million Irish coffees! On a good day, the Buena Vista serves about 2,000 Irish coffees. It is the largest single consumer of Irish whiskey in the United States. The Buena Vista and its coffee has been a trivia question on “Jeopardy!”

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” 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[at]hotmail[dot]com.

Several decades after its creation, the Friends of St. Patrick continue a 66-year-old tradition with its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Residents sported green clothing, face paint and accessories on Sunday, March 13, to celebrate the not-for-profit’s Miller Place-Rocky Point parade. Members of the Suffolk County police department, local fire departments and elected officials joined the queen and royal court, and other groups in the parade. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), New York State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) were among those who treked more than two miles down Route 25A, from the Flying Pig in Miller Place to Broadway in Rocky Point.

While the parade celebrated this Thursday’s St. Patrick’s Day, it is also a way to unite the community, said Grand Marshal and Friends of St. Patrick committee president John Barchi.

“Back in those days these houses were just summer rentals, so the regular population was locked up all winter,” Barchi said about the late 1940s and early 1950s. “[It was] like ‘where is everybody? Let’s get everybody out.’”

In light of long, dreary winters in the area, businessmen John Sullivan and George Faulkner founded the Friends of St. Patrick’s committee in 1949. The duo established the committee to come up with a way to draw people out of their homes after the winter.

Now tens of thousands of residents attend the celebration. Upwards of around 50,000 residents have attended the organization’s parades in the past. But the not-for-profit doesn’t only hold the parade. It also organizes fundraising events associated with the celebration, like the crowning of the royal court.

For Queen Samantha Wooley, of Rocky Point, and members of her royal court, Ladies Janice Pearson and Emma Sweeney, the experience was exciting.

“You’re really representing the town so everyone’s eyes are on you,” Wooley said.

Wooley added that being a member of the royal court means supporting the community and being a role model to little girls. The opportunity also allows them to try something new.

“You put yourself out of your comfort zone and it’s really special,” Sweeney added.

Although the parade’s first Queen, Peggy McKenna, used a historic 85-year-old carriage to ride down Broadway, this year’s royalty drove down Route 25A in a Mercedes Convertible.

While the area and various aspects of the celebration has changed since the first parade in 1950, over the past few years the event became Suffolk County’s largest and second oldest parade, according to the Friends of St. Patrick’s website.

Barchi, who has been a member of committee for the past 18 years, was grateful to be the Grand Marshal for this year’s parade.

“Working with a group of the most honest, loyal and dedicated individuals who put this project together year after year is nothing short of a great honor and privilege,” Barchi said in an article on the Friends of St. Patrick website. “Their commitment to this community event, and the camaraderie among us is truly unique.”

Hundreds of people gathered into Huntington Village on Sunday, March 13 to watch the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Participants included bag pipers, local legislators, and local fire departments.