Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bits and Morsels: summer's glorious goodies

Summer specialties at The Harbor Raw Bar & Lounge in Montauk.
by Erin Frankel

Labor Day is nearly upon us, which means, sadly, summer is over. BUT ... there is still time to seize many of summer's glorious goodies.

With that in mind, here are some fruitful ways to end your summer in New York on a flavorful note.

The garden view at The Maidstone.
Get some respite from the late August Hamptons hysteria and book a table at the secret oasis, otherwise known as The Maidstone. Tucked behind the cozy Living Room restaurant is an idyllic candlelit patio where (summer) locals can loiter for hours. Scenery aside, The Maidstone has one of the best menus on the East End.

Swedish chef Mathias Brogie's Nordic menu reveals his love of the simplicity of traditional Swedish cuisine along with his appreciation for local seasonal ingredients. This is most palpable in his twist on the Swedish Steak Tartare, which is skillfully prepared with a mixture of mustard, capers, red onion, and local red beets; or in his steamed Prince Edward Island mussels soaked in an unusually creamy blue cheese green pepper sauce. The staff is there to walk you through every ingredient, which makes the whole dining experience all the more enticing.

The Maidstone

207 Main St, East Hampton, NY
(631) 324-5006
Steamed Prince Edward Island mussels at The Maidstone.
At Bacchanal, chef Scott Bryan, who earned his pedigree at Apiary and Veritas, puts an interesting spin on the French classics. Bryan has created one of the more provocative summer menus, sharing his solid French technique with culinary inspirations from France, Italy and Spain. The result is sophisticated yet approachable. A good example is chef Bryan's skirt steak, which is spiked with a bold consistency of Spanish spices of black bean chipotle tinga. Grab a table at Bacchanal before the mass influx of New Yorkers return from their Mediterranean summer vacations. We are confident Bryan can one-up them on their Costa Brava eats.

146 Bowery Street, New York, NY
(646) 355-1840
Bacchanal's grilled skirt steak with black bean chipotle tinga and spiced avocado.
Summer connotes seafood and yachts (some larger than others), and at Harlow East you can savor the fleeting taste of both. The menu includes marina-side local catch paired with local East End wines. Chef Danny Ye derives inspiration from his Korean roots and apprenticeship at Nobu and puts an elegant spin on classic seafood standbys. A must-have dish is his gorgeous lobster rolls made with avocado, tobiko, teriyaki and a savory Japanese spread of Kewpie mayonnaise wedged between pan-seared buns. And for lighter more refined beachside fare, we're loving the grilled halibut dressed in a spicy miso glaze with a side of spring vegetables in a hijiki soy vinaigrette. Who needs dessert when nothing is sweeter than fresh seafood and sweeping harbor views.

Harlow East
1 Long Wharf
Sag Harbor, NY
(631) 725-5858
Outdoor dining area on the wharf at Harlow East.
The grilled halibut from Harlow East.
Lobster Roll Sliders from Harlow East.
Watermelon Martini at Doppio East.
Summer also writes a permission slip for fruity and dainty drinks. And though you can find them most anywhere, Doppio East's Watermelon Martini cocktail has become a favorite summer staple. This quintessential summer sip is a perfectly calibrated combination of light citrus and sweet watermelon notes.

We prefer to enjoy this warm-weather cocktail while sitting on Doppio East's backyard deck in between bites of prosciutto crostini (prepared with whipped goat cheese, prosciutto, fig mostarda, and truffle honey on toasted baguette slices with drizzled olive oil) and the cavatelli lamb sausage topped with broccolini, chili flakes, and creamy sheep's milk ricotta. Even macho men do drink watermelon martinis over the summer, so get over it.

Doppio East
126 Main St
Sag Harbor, NY
(631) 808-3444
You don't need to be in the South of France to enjoy refined French Mediterranean cuisine in a romantic outdoor garden. The original Nolita French eatery Le Jardin Bistro, which shuttered four years ago after a long 15-year stint, recently moved to the far reaches of Avenue C. But locals and visitors alike are already flocking to it.

There's delicious classic French bistro fare, but the bi-level gardens are the reason to make the trek if you don't live nearby. There's a rustic, no-frills open-aired porch on the first floor; while upstairs, there's a hanging terrace decorated with green plants and vines, evoking summer nights in the South of France. And with enough glasses of their special Domaine de la Fontaine and rich hearty French classics like the rich and hearty Cassoulet, the Seafood Bouillabaisse, followed by the sensational flourless chocolate mousse with toasted walnuts, hey you never know ...

Le Jardin Bistro
115 Avenue C, New York, NY
(917) 475-1213
Le Jardin Bistro's Coq au vin.
Le Jardin Bistro's Cassoulet.
Tis the season for mussels, sea scallops, lobsters, and oysters. At Montauk's newest dockside restaurant you can enjoy all of the above, which would under normal circumstances require a trip to Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor. Here, you'll dig into globally inspired seafood selections like the Drunken Lobster, East-Meets-West Mussels, seafood bouillabaisse, and seared scallops in a Thai lobster broth over soba noodles and a sesame cracker. Bonus: Don't miss the tiki-hut embellished outdoor area situated right next to the harbor, which provides a perfect spot for a multitude of shareable summery cocktails and oysters.
The Harbor Raw Bar & Lounge
440 W Lake Drive, Montauk, NY
(631) 668-8260
The Drunken Lobster with a side of farro at The Harbor Raw Bar & Lounge.
Seafood bouillabaisse at The Harbor Raw Bar & Lounge.
The Grey Lady Escobar Mule.
Choosing a single lobster roll is no easy task. But for its sheer consistency, it is hard to resist Gavin McLaughlin's New England inspired roll at Grey Lady — comprising chunks of Maine lobster (shucked daily) on a buttered bun, garnished with chive and celery salt.

A perfect end of summer accompaniment to their lobster roll is Grey Lady's newest Escobar Mule. Mixed with house-made ginger beer and Escobar Vodka Silver, this new gluten free vodka brand is both sugar-free and distilled from potatoes. Not a bad way to wash down one of your last meals of the season.

Grey Lady
77 Delancey St, New York, NY
(646) 580-5239
The Grey Lady lobster roll.
Summer demands frozen eats. Founder and chocolate doyenne Maribel Lieberman is satisfying sweet tooths at her new Soho outpost of MarieBelle, with an amalgam of fresh frozen treats exclusively for the summer months. Gelato flavors include rose petal, lavender, pistachio, matcha green tea, hazelnut and vanilla. Seasonal fruit plays a huge role in her sorbet offerings, which include lychee and passion fruit — and so does her award-winning rich dark chocolate and robust espresso flavors.

But the real crowd-pleasers here are MarieBelle's iced chocolate drinks ($7), inspired by her critically acclaimed hot chocolate line, ranging from Aztec, a 65% dark chocolate, spicy with a hint of cayenne, and earthy cardamom.

MarieBelle New York, 212-925-6999
Moldova's Independence Day is today, August 27th, making it the perfect time to taste Eastern Europe's best-kept secret. With Russia's embargo on Moldovan wine, which previously made up 30% of the country's wine exports, the US has picked up the slack.

Moldova is one of the oldest wine regions in the world with historical mentions dating back to Homer's Illiad. With 276,000 acres of vineyards, Moldova grows and produces over 30 types of indigenous and western European varieties.

Wine of Moldova has just launched their campaign to promote Moldovan wines in the US as a result of US Secretary of State, John Kerry's trade agreement to assist and promote exports from Moldova.
On the piña colada front: Owl's Brew — an iced tea fresh-brewed in micro-batches and "crafted for cocktails" designed to pair with a variety of spirits, beer and wine — has designed a high-concept redo recipe of piña colada. Coco-Lada is a blend of black tea, coconut pieces, chai spices, pineapple juice & agave. Just buy the bottle and mix it with spiced rum, vodka, or champagne. Then shake it up or stir and serve over ice. And voila.