Posts made in January 2013

On the North Fork, the "Finds" keep coming at Croteaux Vineyard, Rafael Vineyard & Grana Trattoria Antica

 2011 Voyage Sparkle Cuvee
Sunset at Croteaux
Paula Croteaux & Bert
What separates Croteaux Vineyard from other vineyards on Long Island is that they produce rose’ exclusively. Their sparking rose’, in particular, is one of the best we’ve tasted anywhere!  

In their own words:
“We are dedicated to making dry, fruity, fun to drink pink wines styled after those made in the South of France for centuries. The fruit from our vineyards is grown and harvested specifically for this purpose. The results show in ripe, extremely drinkable rosés that strike a subtle balance of fruit flavour and crisp acidity. Most rosés are made as a by-product of the red wine-making process, bleeding off the first pressings not desirable for full-bodied red wines. This first-run or “Saignee” becomes rosé almost by accident. The taste, color and wine style vary depending on the fruit grown for red wine. 
We approach rosé differently. We grow and harvest our fruit specifically for the purpose of making rosé wines. We harvest early when fruit is optimum; and when the skins are just thick enough to allow for subtle color and tanin in the wine making process. Fruit is transported to the winery and de-stemed, then pressed in a hydraulic French “Basket Press” in 3-4 ton loads. The juice is immediately separated from the skins, giving the wines a pale pink, salmon or pheasant eye color. Stainlesss steel fermentation combined with oak barrel fermentation rounds out the style of each wine”.


Sparkling wines are quite hot nowadays. It started with Prosecco, a sparkling wine from Italy, several years ago.

If you observe the trends, you will find many restaurants have replaced Champagne with sparkling wines. The main reason is many of these wines are just a satisfying as Champagne and for less than half the cost.
For years now, I would greet dinner guests with a glass of Prosecco in my home and would suggest my BetsaPasta clients do the same. I have now included this beautiful pink sparking Croteaux wine to my repertoire and I can guarantee you will include it to your wine collection should you make the time to visit..

Take it from me! The next time you are on the north fork in Long Island wine country, stop in for some cheese & wine… and say hello to Paula & Michael Croteaux, the personalities behind the success of this off the beaten path vineyard on South Harbour Road in Southold. 

Update: Michael Croteau sold the business in 2018 to New Jersey financier Randy Frankel and Kristen and Daniel Pennessi, who own The Menhaden hotel in Greenport. In a previous interview with Northforker magazine, Mr. Frankel said he intends to keep the character and identity at Croteaux, which produces exclusively rosé wine.

“Croteaux has always had a great atmosphere and we’re happy to be keeping it alive,” he said. “There wasn’t anything to change, so we just want to keep it as a place where everyone can visit and have a great experience.”

                                                                                       Up next…Rafael Vineyard 

Nick & Bert

                                                                                 Entrance to Rafael at Dusk

                                         Next up…Rafael Vineyard in Peconic, Long Island, New York, U.S.A

Down the road a bit on Route 25 in Peconic is Rafael Vineyards.
We decided, at the last second, to stop in here at the end of the day and caught them just before closing. The timing was perfect because we had the tasting room to ourselves. It’s not so much a selfish thing, but more that we were able to have the attention of our server. In this case, we were fortunate enough to meet Nick.
If any of the Petrocelli’s read this, this fellow has personality. He’s a keeper. He knows his wines and sure knows how to welcome his guests.
The impressive wines for us were the La Tavola Bordeaux-style red blend (40% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Malbec…yes Malbec) and the the Portico Port.
My feeling is that Long Islands best reds are their blends. It all started with Osprey Dominion’s 1997 Meritage blend and I’ve loved most of them ever since. 

                                                                                             Up Next…

p;             Ahhhhhhh….Grana!

You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me Crust

                                                                          Bert with David Plath of Grana Trattoria Antica

   Pizza Margherita

                                                                                     Mushroom Pizza


Some folks say it’s the crust…some say it’s the sauce. To me, it’s been more about the sauce than the crust, since most pizza parlors/restaurants don’t usually get both down perfectly. When, however,  you have your first pizza at Grana, you become a believer in the crust theory. The thin crust Neapolitan style pizza’s cooked in a wood burning oven at Grana will have you muttering to yourself why you have never experienced a crust like this. We see it all over in bakery’s…but not usually in pizza’s
I, like I’m sure many of you, have eaten at many well known pizza haven’s such as Lombardi’s, Waldy’s and Grimaldi’s in NYC. They all have their followers and there is no mistaking the fact they are all great…by most people’s definition.
There is, however, a relatively new kid on the block by the name of David Plath, proprietor…along with wife Nancy, and baker extraordinaire. All you have to do is drive out to Jamesport on the north fork of Long Island to treat yourself  to a brilliant  tasting crust with a texture and flavor to match. This, combined with the freshest local ingredients, will have you on a day trip out to the north fork just for the pizza. Actually, it’s simply another reason to find your way out east.
Since we have only visited once, we haven’t had the opportunity to taste David’s pasta dishes.
Next time for sure.

By the way, one pizza is enough to satisfy two with a normal appetite…so with a couple of sodas, it’s about $18.00-$20.00

Don’t forget to ask for a bit of EVOO to drizzle on the crust.
Mangia Baby,
*As usual, please don’t hesitate to comment below. If you have a favorite dish at home or in a restaurant, tell me/us about it.
*A quick note to Famous Chef David of Carmine’s fame…please send me the recipe for the Pomodoro Sauce.
***Coming soon…You won’t believe this story:
THE REAL Famous Original Rays is back… alive and well… and only in one location… in NYC

Caprese Vinaigrette In It's Simplest Form

For Mark in Beechhurst, N.Y…the latest recipient of Manodori Balsamic created by my friend Chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana fame….you’ll have to wait until summertime for the tomatoes in this picture, however you can still create magic with the vinegar.
Find the right tomatoes now along with the always available fresh mozzarella and chiffonade of fresh basil and you are home free!

Another simple recipe for a wonderful lettuce and tomato salad (serves 2):

3-4 oz. mixed baby lettuces
1-1.5 Tbsp. of great EVOO*
Splash of red wine vinegar
1 tsp.balsamic
*EVOO = Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Slice room temperature tomatoes and place on the side
Sprinkle a large pinch of kosher salt and  a couple of turns of  the pepper mill over lettuces
Add EVOO and vinegar’s
Toss gently & place into serving bowls
In same bowl salad was tossed in, add tomatoes and a drizzle of EVOO. Toss very gently and place on top of salad and serve

     As usual, please feel free to comment…and remember you can always adjust recipe’s to your taste

                                                              Mangia Baby!.

Happy New Year's Eve Meat Balls!

I’ve always liked all beef meat balls…and any recipe for these have only developed or been modified over the years by my changing taste buds and any chef’s desire to improve a recipe. A little more garlic, a little less garlic…fresh or powder, parsley or no parsley, bakery bread crumbs or store bought…seasoned or plain, ketchup (that’s right, ketchup) or no ketchup, etc. etc.
Look at meatball recipes and you will see all of these ingredients used in one recipe or another.
For the first time ever I decided to try the traditional, some call authentic, recipe using blends of ground beef and veal OR beef, veal and pork.

The main reason I decided to blog this recipe out of all the other meatball recipes over the years was because 2 of our guests for this late night New Year’s Eve dinner claimed not only were these the best meat balls they ever ate…they added the words “in my life”!
Adding those words meant something to me…and therefore I felt it was worthy enough to post for all eternity. Hopefully, your sentiments will be the same.

2 lbs beef, veal, pork blend in equal amounts (beef & veal blend works fine)
2 whole eggs whisked
1 cup 4C no trans-fat seasoned Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 cup corn oil
1 cup EVOO + 1 Tbsp.
1 large clove fresh pressed garlic
1 small to medium onion / coarse chopped
2 tsp. kosher salt
12 or so grinds fresh pepper
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup…that’s right, ketchup!

*Sautee the onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp. EVOO* until transparent .
*Add to bread crumbs and mix until absorbed
*Add the meat and all the other ingredients
*Hand squeeze until mixed well and shape into golf ball size balls. Be gentle when rolling…do not hard pack
*Cook in corn oil/ EVOO* (blend using 1/2 cup of each oil per each of two batches) on both sides until brown…remove from oil and lay on paper towels to absorb excess oil
*Change the oil once…frying half the meatballs and repeating with new oil for the second batch.
(Suggestion:you can use the wiped dry empty can of tomatoes used to make your sauce to carefully pour out first round of hot oil)
*Do not add meatballs to the sauce. Serve along side your favorite pasta dish ladling sauce at that time
*EVOO = Extra Virgin Olive Oil

That’s it…Done! Simple!

Yield: About 35 meat balls

                                                    As usual, your comments are welcome.
                                 Please feel free to comment below by clicking on “post a comment”.

                                                        A Happy & Healthy 2013 to all!

                                                                      Mangia Baby
                                                                  ps pix forthcoming