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A Day In the Life Of Sandy & Bert And Those Who Want To Join Them On The NOFO

With the exception of January into the beginning of April, there is nothing as corking, peachy and as sparkling…ie…wonderful as the North Fork of Long-Island. In April and through the end of December this world is filled with endless destinations and an ever evolving landscape.

In March and April, we start picking out our purposeful plants and flowers with Bill @ Hidden Ridge Plants in Ridge, L.I., N.Y. (https://www.facebook.com/hiddenridgeplants/) and with Cris @ Peconic River Herb Farm https://www.prherbfarm.com/

April is National Gardening Month  as plants come out of dormancy and the colors start to take over the landscape. May brings in full bloom flowers and folks are getting psyched for the Memorial Day holiday. You know the story…how does it go for June? 

June is bustin’ out all over
All over the meadow and the hill
Buds’re bustin’ outa bushes
And the rompin’ river pushes
Ev’ry little wheel that wheels beside the mill…

…and that includes a ride out to the Carousel in Greenport!

I don’t have to spell out the summer on the north fork. It’s a destination 24/7 and many of those destinations reside right here in my http://www.phoodographsandfinds.com blog.

There is absolutely something to be said for the ever expanding bounty of local ingredients and food technology that exists right here on the NOFO. Being literally surrounded by the fishing and  farming and the new and existing wineries and breweries, the North Fork has evolved into a foodie paradise. With an emphasis on the local seasonal cornucopia that is available, restaurants have become ‘world class’ bastions of freshness.  White, rose’ and blush wines are excellent and red wines are steadily improving from year to year, especially in the world of Bordeaux style red blends. Of course it’s always a matter of taste what is excellent and when you have been coming here as long as we have, you get a pretty accurate sense of excellence.

July, August and September is harvest time for unbounded fresh fruits and vegetables. The end of September and into October is an adventure with apple picking along with pumpkins and gourds coming into Halloween. November has Thanksgiving and the farms are still open along with the restaurants and vineyards. Around Thanksgiving, many of the farms close up for the winter…however the anticipation of the holiday leaves excitement in the air and that keeps the fun state o mind wide open…not to mention the wineries and breweries.

Now that we’ve set the calendar scene, a typical day trip can include many NOFO destinations that would be impossible to list in this single entry. Thus…we will take you on a typical day trip starting with our favorite spots and along the way we’ll stick in some more website favorites that will offer you the ability to choose from so many more destinations.


Are you ready?

Our first stop…The Peconic River Herb Farm.


For flowers, herbs,  peace and so much more in their “Outside In” garden shop…here is a destination that will excite you and calm you all in the same visit.

For flowers and herbs, their Nursery Mission says it all.

-To enable and encourage people to experience the peace and joy of gardening by providing a wide variety of healthy, reasonably priced plants that are garden worthy and will do well in our climate. (USDA zone 7)

-To encourage experimentation and exploration in the field of gardening by supplying a large diversity of plants and seeds.

-To provide through our display gardens, experienced staff, signage, online and printed materials and gardening consultations as much assistance, information and inspiration as possible.

-To encourage, both by example and education, ecologically responsible gardening practices such as:
Biological and cultural controls of insects, diseases or weeds
Decreased water use with xeriscape planting
Soil improvement through composting, organic soil amendments and mulch
Ecologically balanced  landscapes; increased biodiversity and preservation of native and heirloom plant varieties
-By helping, however modestly, to increase the number of gardeners and land given over to garden plots, and the diversity within these plots, we hope to contribute to a healthier, happier and more beautiful Long Island environment.

For ‘so much more’, just walk right into their “Outside In” Garden shop with local spices, honey and vintage goods for garden and home.

Meet Lois…first introduced to us at the PHF Vintage Market

For peace, it’s just a short walk to the edge of the Peconic River with picnic benches and comfortable arm chairs that will give you the opportunity to sit back, relax, take in the view (birds and all)… and BREATHE!

Wanna meet the owner? Just ask for Cris and tell her Sandy sent you!

Shell-fie Time at the Winter Riverhead Indoor Market with Cris and Co…

Next stop…Pie Central USA…

Briermere Farms in Riverhead…

I’m really not a pie person, however if one is going to start loving pies…here is your starting point!

Briermere Farms is a fruit farm and bakery on the North Fork of Long Island. All of their pies, bread, muffins, cookies, cakes, jam, and jelly are made right on their farm from scratch. There are no pre-prepared ingredients or fillings bought for use. Most of the fresh fruit used in their bakery is grown right there on their farm. Fresh veggies in the summer make this a definite stop all year round except for January and February when they are closed.

 Peach Cream Pie

You know what they say about Happy People…Phab & Phamous Blueberry Muffins!

Sandy & Kathleen

Uh-Oh! Covid-19 comes to Briermere in 2020

Diana with another winner…Blueberry Crumb Pie!

March 2020

Okeedokee Folks…Next Up…Small Holdings Farm at 965 Main Road, Aquebogue, NY, 11931


So check this out. This place is like a mini-museum of one-of-a-kind “country cottage antiques” for inside and outside of your home.

Say Helloooo Sherron! Call her cell phone number directly to inquire @ 516-639-9392 
Here’s their website for more information:
Okeedoke! Right on schedule…
Some of these restaurants are combined with more than one destination. Just click on the link and you’ll be able to pick out the restaurant and will also be able to avail yourself of farms, some of my recipes and, as well, several of our favorite vineyards such as Pugleisi, Rafael, Clovis Point and Croteaux…Home of Rose’ on Long Island!
Our latest phind…A phab red wine that comes out of our recently discovered  Suhru Vineyards in Cutchogue. It’s not often you see a red blend of 5 different grapes. Usually there are 3 or maybe 4. Those 5 in Suhru’s 2018 “Ember” include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
2018 Ember

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




A little background…

When Sandy and I discovered this restaurant in 2012 inside the Jedediah Hawkins Inn, it was named after the Chef (& Co-owner) Keith Luce and billed as Luce Hawkins. Each time we went it was terrific! Keith ultimately left to open up restaurants down the road in Greenport, LI., N.Y.  and the last I heard he is in the restaurant business in Canada.

Either way, Jedediah Hawkins in Jamesport is still a food destination and is widely  known for wonderful food and service!


Just Say YES…and you get Clovis Point, Potato Leek Soup and Keith Luce






New "Anniversary Shrimp & Clams Scampi" & Touring on The NOFO Election Day November 8, 2016

Say Helloooo to the Pugleisi Clan… and producers of our favorite summer wine…Bella Marie Blush!

You know what they say about Happy People!





Outstanding Burger & Shallot-Dusted Fries at The North Fork Shack in Southold, L.I. N,Y., USA


More to Come…Stay tuned…

BetsaPesto 2020!


Lettuce leaf basil is, in my opinion, the best for making pesto. It’s a popular Italian large leaf variety of sweet basil and one of the most productive. Also known as Large Leaf Italian, Large Leaf or Crispum Basil, these large large crumpled looking leaves can grow up to about 5″ long and produce, for me, the flavor I want in a pesto.

Oops! An example of what not to do! I certainly should not have let this flower so much, however it was a branch that was missed by me with all the basil growing so close together as seen in the pic below. But still…look at those leaves!

This year I blended about 30% sweet basil  and 10% purple basil (love the scent of purple basil) to my lettuce leaf basil and the result was, of course, phabulous! Don’t you worry about blending as it’s all a matter of taste and experimentation that I put myself through every year. That’s simply what chefs do..

Basically…and as I’ve said before…it’s creativity in the kitchen to stimulate and surprise patrons (and sometimes myself) with recipes that manipulate and finesse ingredients to reach a level of individuality that sets them apart from other recipes and even recipes for the same dish.

A quick tip: Basil once it flowers tends to produce a more bitter taste in the leaves. Pinching off the flowers is recommended to reduce bitterness unless you are specifically looking to harvest the seeds.

Ok…so here goes….

This recipe will prepare enough for 6-8 people as a main course. Since I usually freeze my pesto,  I do not use any cheese in the initial blending stage as cheese does not freeze well in pesto.  I will add the cheese to the pesto blend after thawing and just prior to serving.

If you are serving the entire recipe and not freezing, you can add the cheese while blending these ingredients.

Ingredients :

-2 cups packed tight basil leaves

-2 large cloves of fresh garlic (I prefer the use of a garlic press)

Why?…click this link and see “What are the differences between pressed, chopped, and sliced garlic”


-Heavy 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

As with most nuts, ‘toasting’  brings out more flavor. Heating nuts (I use a frying pan) will intensify the flavor of the nut  by warming the naturally occurring nut oils.

  • Place pine nuts in a dry (don’t add oil) frying pan large enough to hold them in a single layer.
  • Turn heat to medium-low and cook until fragrant and golden brown, keeping them moving (stir frequently or constantly).
  • When they’re golden brown, immediately transfer them to a plate to stop the cooking and prevent burning.
  • Yup…these are my nuts being flipped by me:-)

-1/3 cup garlic infused EVOO***.

***Infused EVOO offers a subtle garlic flavor. It’s a simple process by which you let the garlic sit in the olive oil for about one hour, stirring frequently to flavor the oil. You then separate the garlic from the oil prior to blending the pesto ingredients.. If you prefer a more substantial garlic flavor, you can simply add some of the garlic to the pesto ingredients that was used in the infusion process.

-Large half of a fresh squeezed lemon through a strainer to catch seeds

-2 pinches kosher salt

-4 turns from a pepper mill

-3/4 to 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  1/2  to 3/4 cup gets used when blending and the rest is served on the side to add at the table)

Pesto is usually made with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or some like Grana Padano (it’s also half the cost of Parmigiano-Reggiano) Either one works although I prefer Parmigiano-Reggiano.




-In a blender place EVOO, lemon juice and toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper and blend about 10-15 seconds.

-Add 1 cup basil and blend about 20-25 seconds Remove top and scrape sides with a spatula,

-Add second cup and blend another 20-25 seconds. Remove top and scrape again, then blend for another 10 seconds

-Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if you choose. Store by placing plastic wrap directly on top of pesto. This will keep the pesto a nice green as air will discolor and darken the finished product.The lemon I use in this recipe also serves two purposes: I love the flavor lemon adds to pesto and it also quite conveniently will help keep your pesto a nice green color.  

If freezing, use very small containers or an ice cube tray to make ice cube size chunks of pesto for the now and then individual size servings.


A quick appy just for the heck of it 🙂

Oh yes…a couple of more things! The pics you see represent a recipe that I tripled 🙂


Note that when made without cheese, it remains a vegan dish.


Hope you enjoy…and please…love your comments below!

Mangia Bene

Chef Bert


A Covid-19 visit to Portofino With Pizza Master Taner & Chef Carlos

Well…we’re back visiting in Goldens Bridge, N.Y. and where else does one go for lunch but to our favorite spot for ‘abeetz’***…ie…pizza @ Portofino Pizza & Pasta!

Jaw Dropping Size Pizza Slices & Taste to Match at Portofino’s In Goldens Bridge, New York (With a Quick Side Trip to KMA)


Ok folks…Welcome back!  We’d like you to meet again Pizza Master Taner and Chef Carlos.

All we can say is thanks again for your fine reception. We thank you for not only another phabulous pizza experience…but we felt comfortable and safe that all proper social distancing was in play along with face masks (except for the 3 seconds it took to take a pic of your smiling faces and your wonderful pizza!)

See ya fellas and till we meet again…Mangia Bene!

With that it was out to the car where the pizza party began for Sandy and me.

Check out that chicken parm slice as big as the 14″x 14″ box!

btw…Lower left are 1/2 slices 🙂

***A little sidebar…As a young kid, “abeetz’ was the way I got used to saying pizza. Pizza restaurants or parlors as some would say were much less common in Brooklyn in the 1950’s than today. As a matter of fact, the place where most folks would get pizza was in a bakery. That’s right…a bakery. There were really no pizza restaurants around as we see them today and where there was a substantial Italian-American population pizza was phonetically pronounced  “abeetz”. Additionally, there was no menu spelling either “pizza” or a “apizza.” …ie abeetz!

A True Vintage Emporium with Character on the NOFO in Greenport, Long Island, New York

Elizabeth Sweigart spends her days surrounded by hundreds of items, each with its own story to tell. The 26-year-old said she’s always been drawn to old things, whether it be a vinyl record or antique piece of clothing.

 It still shocks her, she said, that nearly four years ago she opened her own vintage shop in Greenport selling many of those items.

“It was pretty spontaneous,” Sweigart said.

Originally from Texas, she moved to New York in 2008 to study art at Marymount Manhattan College. In 2013, her father, Michael Sweigart, converted space at the former Suffolk Times building on Main Street, which he owned, to start the new business with his daughter.

The array of items for sale ranges from children’s toys to dishware, chairs, lamps, records, men’s and women’s clothing and jewelry.

“I believe there’s a little something for everyone,” Sweigart said. “I think people come in here looking for something and then walk away with something they did not expect to find.”


Let me start by saying in these Covid-19 times, Sandy & I have found sanctuary in our own backyard. Over the last few months we’ve done whatever we can to keep ourselves in a good state of mind and that state of mind keeps evolving in our backyard with our purposeful plants (can’t wait for the hummingbirds) and scene setters.

On our first unplanned visit to The Sweigart’s “The Times Vintage” we walked away with a few vintage fishing buoys we spotted sitting outside the entryway to add to our backyard collection.

Colorful styrofoam buoys at The Tin Shed in Apalachicola Florida ...

What really blew my mind…yes, blew my mind…was the selection of vinyl records courtesy of music lover Mike Sweigart (Elizabeth’s dad) that greets you when you enter. Beyond the nicely cataloged selection of records I have not seen in years, the visual impact of scene setters and one-of-a kind posters was in its own right…unique!

The entryway into The Times Vintage.

Are you looking closely at all those jacket patches on the vintage dress form?


Who else but…The Bee Gees…

We  had to control ourselves a bit from going further into the store because of the pandemic mentality (the abundance of hand sanitizer helped set us at ease)…however not before I also bought an ‘album’ by one of my favorite groups… appropriately named “LOVE” …actually 🙂

Ahhhhh…LOVE’S Best with Arthur Lee and my buddy Joel 🙂

Getting back to our sanctuary…Sandy and I both couldn’t help but notice one of those scene setters. It was a hanging piece of wood carved & painted into the Beatles Yellow Submarine that a local artist had made to help set the scene for the entryway album section. Sandy felt it would fit perfectly into our newly created  Beatles and Moody Blues state of mind backyard and so we asked if it was for sale..and it was.. I almost felt a bit guilty taking it out of the store, but I have the confidence in Elizabeth’s level of creativity and that they will find something else to replace it. Right Lizzie?

Look familiar?

On the day we came back to pick up the Yellow Submarine, it was around opening time and the store had not yet seen its first customer. With that, I decided to take a closer look throughout the entire store and found myself marveling at the abundance of so much art, fashion, and furnishings. I felt I needed to slow down to take it all in or I would miss something. As a matter of fact, that’s what one would need to do in order to absorb the nostalgia, one-of-a-kind selections,  and vintage clothing from 30+ years ago awaiting any visitor.

I’m one who understands the art of ‘visual display’ and you can see it throughout from the way items are individually displayed to the movement and flow of the colors painted on the walls pulling everything together!

Are you looking closely? See the Jubilee?

A one-of-a kind clock put together by Elizabeth’s mom!

Ok folks…Saved the best for last! Are you ready?

Meet Elizabeth!

To the Sweigart family…

We love your vintage  ’emporium’! You are genuine, sincere and gracious and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

All the best always….and we wish you continued success…especially in these times!

Sandy & Bert

Oh yes….Mike…This pic below is for you!

K Folks…As always, comments or suggestions or your own personal experience(s) much appreciated.

Hope you enjoyed the read.



Our 2020 Coronavirus Sanctuaries At Home & With Family & Friends

Everyone has their own definition of sanctuary. For Sandy & me, it’s fresh air, sunshine and the sound of waves at a beach. So much the better if these were all in Venice or Tuscany.

Today, however, all of our cherished sanctuaries are pretty limited since we are all surrounded by the Coronavirus***


Other than a grocery store once or maybe twice a week and a few family and friends ‘social distance’ and drive-by visits, Sandy and I took our first ride away from home the other day after close to 7 weeks. It was that time of year and nature was calling us out to Hidden Ridge Plants in Ridge, Long Island…our go to ‘phind’ nursery.

Hidden Ridge Plants…A Hidden Gem in Ridge, L.I., N.Y. Off The L.I.E. @ Exit 68

Upon arrival, we were greeted with the usual fine reception by Bill, the proprietor of this phabulous home of creative purposeful gardening ideas and unique plants.

While he’s showing us what’s new for the year, the conversation gravitates to the virus and lamenting to some degree what we are all going through. Most folks are wanting to get out and do things because it’s only natural and spending so much time at home is not so natural. In the course of this casual conversation between plants, herbs and the virus, Bill brought up the name Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian/author/pastor/martyr whose ideology he regards…and quoted him as follows: Dietrich Bonhoeffer Quote: “A home is a kingdom of it's own in the ...


After a few seconds of careful thought, I said “Yeah”! We were there buying plants and herbs to plant in our garden at home and right away I’m thinking about  how one can be much more appreciative of home as a sanctuary surrounded by nature…especially in this day of worldly “storms and stresses”.

So with that inspirational thought in mind, Sandy and I say Thank You Bill for your own introspective thoughts and feelings! Thoughts like this should inspire us all to not only enjoy the nature that surrounds us…but to look at your home in a brand new light!


So looking back to about the second week in March, we started to become more focused on our need to be careful of the bite that the Coronavirus was starting to take out of us all.

Closer to the middle of March, shelter-in-place mandates (people should stay in their homes unless they need to leave for “essential” activities and work) were becoming the norm across the USA. Those essential workers included health care facilities, grocery stores and other food markets, banks, media services, hardware stores, laundromats and delivery services, among others. Needless to say as well, police and firefighters. Additionally, new social distancing requirements of staying six feet apart from each other were also enacted in most if not all states. This included family members who lived in different locations since there was no way to tell who may have the virus. The fallout of all this made it virtually impossible to visit the kids and grand-kids as we all normally would.

Born then was the “Drive-by”.

This new social media trend inspired people to come together during this coronavirus pandemic to celebrate birthdays which involves a parade of streaming cars driving past the person’s home and at the same time observing social distancing rules.

Another definition of happy:-)

If it wasn’t streaming cars for a birthday, it would in its simplest form a short visit to…or from… family or friends sitting in the driveway or backyard distanced apart.



A little sidebar: A potential side effect to the drastic increase in Americans who are socially isolating – whether voluntarily or under orders to do so – is loneliness and other possible health issues, Dogs, meanwhile, provide soft fur, wagging tails and potential health benefits. Emotionally and mentally this is a stressful time, and pets offer a really amazing way to alleviate some of that. They are always happy and just want attention and love.  They’re calming! They don’t ask for much and you get a lot back in return. So folks…let me introduce you to Coby…the newest member of our family! One high pitched  “Hi Coby” and you’ll officially experience the king of wagging tails 🙂


A point of information regarding pets and the coronavirus:


Where did those palm fronds come from? No it’s not Florida …It’s East Norwich, L.I. New York

An extension of our Sanctuary…”Sheddy”!

For us, looking forward to an early morning visit to the local garden nursery was a plan we could all take part in.

The Zoom Video Communications ‘app’ also became the mainstream way to provide a ‘videotelephony’ and online chat service through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform technically used for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations.

So check this out…

Even with a limited supply of some foods and because a couple/few ingredients may be unavailable, we have plenty of time to get creative improvising. Funny thing is we discover different flavors and tastes that we may be able to perpetuate in the new world. Fortuitously, that’s a way chef’s create new dishes 🙂

Of course you can have the recipe!

BetsaPasta Updated & Healthier Meatball Recipe for 2019



So I think you have the food thing down pat…although more to come because now we have our first visitors to the house in two months. Yup, it’s May 4th, 2020 and we felt it was time to delight in a strict distancing visit from our friends Sharyn & Joel. Everything was done ‘by the book’ and since distancing was wholeheartedly observed, we were able to put our masks aside. Stimulating conversation and a home made meal made it a social success…so far!

Please stay tuned…more to come as we progress 🙂


The Captiva Farmer’s Market 2020 With A Quick Stop in Sanibel

Open to both guests of South Seas Island Resort and the public, the Captiva Island Farmers Market opened up their 2019 season on Tuesday, November 5th from 9AM – 1PM and will continue every Tuesday through April 28, 2020,  Items available for purchase include just-picked produce, seafood, cheese, freshly-cut flowers, native plants, prepared foods, soaps, candles, smoothies, organic meats and so much more.

Our first experience with the Captiva Farmer’s Market primarily introduced to us the foods we would wind up preparing for breakfast and dinner and the freshly cut flowers and plants we placed on our patio would enhance the overall tropical feeling during our South Seas stay. 2020 saw a few changes and additions that only added to the already outstanding list of local vendors.

New to the market was Simply Savory, a Florida-based gourmet and dessert dip mix company with over 40 flavors of dip. Phab!

Image result for simply savory dips pictures


SWFL Produce

Their mission: To increase the resiliency of the local food system in Southwest Florida by building infrastructure for fresh, well priced, sustainably produced food in our region. 

Folks…meet Steven, J.P. and Proprietor Derek…Happy & Serious about what they bring to their customers. Loved their Blueberries, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Strawberries and Sweet Peppers. Keep it up fellas…a fine addition to the market says me!


Next up…

Laurie’s  Pantry produces a wide variety of homemade gourmet Granolas and  Mueslis, using only the highest quality, all natural ingredients. The  company is committed to using natural and organic products in all of its  many dynamic flavor combinations sourcing the best ingredients from all  around the globe. 


Flavors of the Mediterranean abound at Chef Robert’s Kitchen. With 5 flavors of hummus, Tabbouleh, Baba Ghanouj, Pita Bread & chips, Stuffed grape leaves, spices and more, your taste buds will be on vacation. Exactly!

The Greek Feta is as fabulous as Boston’s own Chef Robert’s Smile! Trust me…Have I ever lead you astray?

A salad we made for dinner with Chef Roberts Greek Feta Cheese, SWFL produce and our favorite grilled chicken on the islands from Schnapper’s Hots!



Savoury Spoon, Fort Myers. Florida

A customer review:

This is a booth at the Captiva Island Farmers market, and other locations in the area. 
They have smoothies, waffles on a stick and sandwiches. 
The owners are friendly and personable. 
I had a ham and Swiss sandwich with homemade tomato soup and it was  great!  Prices are reasonable.  I want to try the s’mores waffle stick next time- it sounds yummy…

Simply put…What I had was a phabulous smoothie. Impressed me enough to write about it after just one taste! You know what they say about happy people…Yes?


Now…I’m not saving the best for last…I’m saving for you the last of the best!!!

We met Assiel from Dynasty Guacamole last year for the very first time here and at the larger Sanibel Farmer’s Market and we’re back to confirm for sure…hands down..this is the best Guac we have ever tasted. What impresses me the most is that it’s made right in front of you with the most wonderful ingredients (seen in the 2019 Dynasty Guac post) and my mouth waters just watching the process.

South Seas Resort, Sanibel & Captiva Farmer’s Markets, The Inspired Art of Matlacha & Shellfies, YES Shellfies!

So again…Please meet the cast and crew of Dynasty Guacamole…;makers of “The Best Guacamole In The World”!


Say Hello to the Dynasty Guacamole Queens Marie and Veronica with their Guac King Assiel

See deep down in the middle of the bowl those little chopped red onions huh huh? All the ingredients are there in both posts for you to see, The secret, however, is in the proportions. Either way…T.H.E. BEST!

We’re not ending this without giving honorable mentions to their perfect compliment to your favorite chip. What else but their Mediterranean Mango, Pineapple and Tomatillo Green Salsas. What else but?

…and now for that quick stop at the Sanibel Farmer’s Market…meet Lizzie @ Lizzie’s Lights…and maker of the best scented candles on the islands…says us!

Say Hello as well to Sandy, Alison and Lindsay…Major Lizzie fans!

Nature & Natural Warmth Flourish at Captiva’s South Seas Island Resort 2020

There is a state of mind that exists at our favorite vacation destination that simply does not exist anywhere else. If there is, we’d sure like to know about it. The best part of it all is that it’s all right here in the good ole USA off the west coast of Florida. As a matter of fact, it’s so close to nature that it touches on prehistoric. At South Seas, one is surrounded by a 330 acre protected wildlife sanctuary that is home to bottle-nose dolphins, West Indian manatees. herons and egrets galore, the very tropical white Ibis, the very friendly and very hungry huge diving for fish all day long pelicans. Frankly speaking…it’s an exotic bird paradise!

Of course there’s the golf course, the beautiful marina and so much more…however an environment like this can’t exist without the care and attention of the people who make it all happen. Your daily contact with a caring cast and crew that filters down from a responsible management system keeps that state of mind firmly in place.

So…check out the this years cast and crew who helped perpetuate the warmth for us and I’m sure many others in 2020!

Whaddathey say about Happy People?

I’m really not sure how it happened, but we missed this years “Shellfie” pic (a trend started right here at South seas in 2019 by my wife, Sandy) of the inimitable and uniquely extraordinary Everton!

So folks…here’s Everton (3rd row right, red shirt, and with his now famous Shell Cap…just ask Brian) in his 2019 Shellfies Of South Seas “Shellfie” pic who presence within this South Seas cast and crew would not be complete without him.

…and introducing the NEW GRAMPA SHADOW POSE!

Coming up next…The updated Captiva Farmers Market for 2020 and “If You Look Close, There’s Art Everywhere”!

Creativity Overflows At The New Kosher Pizza Roxx In Great Neck, Long Island, New York

Hello Folks….and Welcome to Pizza Roxx!

It’s rare that I write about any restaurant after one visit. What’s even more rare is that it happened to me twice on the same road…in the same town…in two restaurants right across the street from one another…and…within 2 weeks!

Meet Maya & Melissa of Pizza Roxx!

I was telling my friend Nat (of “Boys Of Spring­ — And Summer” fame) about this wonderful new bakery I found totally by accident in Great Neck by the name of Marie Blachere Boulangerie and he proceeds to tell me and Sandy about a new kosher pizza restaurant his daughter and her partners opened up in Great Neck. I said let’s go! So we immediately on the spot hopped into his 1966 woody wagon that he still drives from our ole surfing days and upon arriving at Pizza Roxx (509 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, NY 11023) discovered it was within eye sight of the bakery I wrote about just two weeks prior…and after just one visit! Coincidinky?

The Best Bread In France…And More…Comes to Great Neck, L.I., New York In The Name Of Marie Blachere Boulangerie


It just so happened the pizzas I/we tasted were all phabulous and deserved this immediate entry for you! Specifically, Eggplant Parm, Baked Ziti, Buffalo Cauliflower and…although the description doesn’t do it justice to call it Plain…a slice of Sandy’s favorite…Plain 🙂


So here goes…

What stood out for me were the many different kinds of pizza. When you’re a Kosher restaurant, you are limited in some respects based on what Kosher allows you to serve (no pepperoni here folks) and need to be creative with alternative choices. I really got a kick out of Tater Tot Pizza and had to hold myself back from putting ketchup on it. Don’t laugh…there’s a bottle of Heinz 57 on each table just in case. Besides…if you’ve never had it before you can’t knock it. Right?

 You know what they say about happy people.  Say Hi to Jackson showing off Tater Tot Pizza!!

How about French Fries Pizza huh huh?

Jennifer with Eggplant Parm Pizza above and below!


Buffalo Cauliflower Pizzaaaaah!

Meet Kosher Pizza Masters Brandon & Allen

…and where would we be without  Baked Ziti Pizza?

Look folks…We know there are really sooooooo many pizza restaurants all over. You’ll see many that I  have written about right here in www.phoodographsandfinds.com over the last 10 years espousing the virtues of specific restaurant menu choices. What is different here is that I have never written about a Kosher Pizza restaurant because I simply never found one that I enjoyed as much as this one. Of course much is subjective, however once my readers get to know my taste, it becomes trusted. The main difference between me and restaurant critics….

I write nothing negative about any restaurant. It’s all about my own experience and if it’s good, I’ll tell people about the specific dishes I/we enjoyed.

Simply put: www.phoodographsandfinds.com  is all about my food photos…and finds is all about cool places to visit off the beaten path and more effective ways to navigate them for optimum enjoyment,

MasterChef Contestant Is Top Shelf Food Blogger

www.pizzaroxx.com website coming soon!


As always, would love to hear from you. please feel free to comment below.

Mangia Bene

Chef Bert

A Must See By Christmas! A Truly WONDERful Holiday Phind in Deer Park…No Pun Intended!

Hellooo Everyone! I couldn’t wait to get back home this evening in order to create this entry for a super find you will truly marvel at. You only have a few days left…so don’t put this off!

Usually a find for me is a restaurant, a geographical destination where you are surrounded by food and/or wine…however this is an exception. The last exception was on October 26th, 2014 when I wrote about Sharyn and Joel’s (of Hamentashen fame) son Andrew.

“I Am Jewish” by Andrew Lusting. Uplifting to say the least! So…in the spirit of Hanukkah and the Jewish Holiday, here is Andrew! The link is below for those who trust my ‘taste” 

Now……Moving on to this one house WONDER in Deer Park, Long Island, New York that has put together a Christmas Spectacle…yes with a capital S that will simply have you, at the very least, saying “Whoaaah or WOW or YouGottaBeKidding or, well, simply Phabulous!!!

Sandy happened to have found it by looking on the computah for the “Best Holiday Lights On Long Island”…and up popped the Facebook page: Christmas lights Long Island map. As you pull onto 119 Liberty Street in Deer Park, I promise yours eyes will light up in anticipation of what is coming. Trust me, have I ever led you astray?

It will Entertain you, it will Charm you and it will leave smile on your face the entire time you are there.

The pics I am posting…as captivating and enchanting as they are simply cannot tell the whole story. Everything is moving, including this on it’s own page turning Christmas Story Book.

Are you ready to witness what will most likely turn out for you to be the #1 Christmas Spectacle on Long Island?

Plenty of movement in this pic! Just Wait…

You think those deer are just standing there? Nope…he’s just around the corner chomping at the bit and raring to go!!

If you think Santa’s Elves are just standing around in that garage…Uh -Uh!


Don’t worry…The Noelle Express train is coming any second now!

Use just a little imagination here….and HAVE  FUN!


Now…as promised…

A Phabulous Inspirational FIND…"I Am Jewish" by Andrew Lustig


As always, please feel free to comment in the comment box below. You have any Phabulous Finds you’d like to share…we’re all ears!


The Best Bread In France…And More…Comes to Great Neck, L.I., New York In The Name Of Marie Blachere Boulangerie


Marie Blachère was founded in the Provence region (just happens to be where I think the best EVOO in the world is produced) of France in 2004 by baker Bernard Blachère. The company is now part of Groupe Blachère, which also owns Provenc’Halles, a chain of fresh produce markets. After expanding to about 500 hundred locations in France, Marie Blachère opened up its first bakery this year in Great Neck, New York! They were voted as having the “best bread” in France for four years in a row and YOU now have access their wide array of bread choices and pastries right here on Long Island!

Let me not get ahead of myself here. Quite by accident I stumbled onto this bakery on my way to cruise through the streets of my beloved old Great Neck where I grew up just to see again where I and friends of mine used to live and take pictures of familiar sights that were dear to me…one of them being my Great Neck North High School. But I never made it on this trip because as I was about to turn left on Brokaw Lane off of Middle Neck Road toward the high school, I saw Marie! A quick U-ey and I had landed. I was hoping deep down that if was legitimately French, the flour they use to make the breads and pastries would be unbromated (a topic more people should know about)…and my hopes, wishes and dreams came true. Healthy flour per Manager Bradley M.

Meet Bradley! By now…You know what they say about happy people!

After perusing the vast and exceptional selection of breads, pastries, sandwiches and little croissant style pizzas…

Baguettes Rare…Medium…or Well. Your choice!

…I was finally able to make up my mind for my first taste test. Yes…there will be a second and a third and so on…but for now it came down to a peach tart (a special of the day for $10…usually $20)…a brownie…an almond paste filled croissant and a loaf of olive bread.

The Peach Tart…

Exquisite and with a soft crunch crust…just the way I like it,


The Brownie…

The best I have had for as far back as I could remember.


Almond Croissant…To be totally honest…quite costly and went for the day old 50% price discount and still ‘parfaite’…ie…perfect!


The Olive Bread…LOOK AT THIS!

First-rate flavor…texture…crispness…and no bromated flour!

All Breads…BUY 3…Get 1 FREE!

Now…please remember…

All of this is subjective. I just happened to be having dinner with some of my Great Neck North Class of ’66 high school friends last evening and was telling them how much i enjoyed this bakery and one of my friends says she had the brownie and it was too rich. So…what is too rich..ie…the definition of subjective. Bottom line, rich is relative and for me it was simply the best!

Something else I must add. I usually don’t write reviews unless I’ve visited at least twice since consistency is important. There is nothing like inconsistency…nest to the food and service…that will possibly prevent any of us  from returning to an eatery. As you can see, however, after one visit I’m impressed and confident enough to say something positive if all the choices on my first visit left me enraptured…ie…filled with delight and pun intended 🙂

And now…Saving the best for last…or perhaps the last of the best…

After introducing myself and showing my blog to Bradley, I asked to meet the baker and was introduced to Jannye. She was gracious enough to let me come around the counter to take this pic and answer my questions about the breads and some other bits of product information I was curious about…and then I was off and away. So for that I say Thank You Jannye!

Folks…meet Jannye…true baker extraordinaire. More happy people!

I had spent almost an hour looking and tasting and talking and felt this experience was something I needed and wanted to share. This place is a legitimate ‘phind’ and although not everybody is going to like everything (pretty much the norm anywhere), there will be for sure enough for everyone to like and love once you walk through the doors of Marie Blanchere Boulangerie and Cafe’.

*A point of Information…While not fully Kosher, they do not serve shell fish or lobster products

What one word could describe this bakery! Awww what the heck…Just Google Wonderful!

Before I close…I wanted to point out what most folks are not aware of and should be regarding bromated flour and why it is banned in all of Europe, Canada, and many other country’s…including China. Simply open this link and learn.


What Is Unbromated Flour?

Be on the lookout soon for Chapter 2:

Bien Manger

Chef Bert


As always…Please feel free to comment in the comment box below. If you’ve visited Marie Blanchere, tell us what you liked!



Emma’s Veggie Happy Thanksgiving Crudite’

Short and sweet…Well done Emma!

Paying attention to detail had never been an issue for Emma. As demonstrated here with her latest crudites platter that included a variety of different flavors, forms, textures and colors, it not only created  a delicious in season veggie tray, it also exuded an artful appetizing feast for the eyes.

Emma’s veggie choices for this season were all organic sweet red, yellow and gold peppers, baby carrots, orange cauliflower, red pear heirloom tomatoes and the sweeter tasting celery hearts….all sitting on a bed of purple kale.

To most folks, the success of a crudites flavor remains in the dip. For Emma’s dip…here are simple and easy to get ingredients and with a little twist using chopped water chestnuts.


1 1/2 pints sour cream (low fat or regular…your choice)

1 1/2 packages Lipton Vegetable Soup & Dip Mix

1   5 oz. can of sliced water chestnuts (almost any brand until you try enough of them to taste and use what you like)

One package Birds Eye frozen chopped spinach thawed to room temperature & **SQUEEZED DRY

Sprinkle of Kosher salt and a few turns of fresh mill pepper

Dash of garlic powder

Dash of onion powder

Mix all ingredients and add spinach at the end, Let sit overnight to let the flavors marry…and everyone is Happy 🙂

Birds Eye Fresh Frozen Chopped Spinach

**SQUEEZED DRY/Make sure all water is squeezed out and then place the spinach sits on paper towels to remove every last bit of water. COOL?

Image result for water chestnuts 5 oz can

Vegetable Recipe Soup & Dip Mix

As always, comments are always appreciated. Tell us how you make yours!

Mangia Bene’,


BetsaPasta ‘Half-Truth’ Grilled Barrel Cut Filet Mignon Bistecca alla Fiorentina Style With Lemon & EVOO

To me many of the best recipes created are food concoctions. I’ve seen many recipes in cook books that I will adjust to my own taste based on what I would like a dish to taste like. A perfect example is marinara sauce made with a mirepoix.

"Authentic" Marinara?

A mirepoix (chopped celery, carrots and onions or any combination of these 3 veggies for that matter) is usually reserved for a meat ragu or bolognese sauce. My mirepoix will sometimes use shallots instead of onion. This is simply another quick example of playing with the ingredients in a recipe in order to satiate one’s taste…not to mention the mirepoix in a marinara sauce. Experimenting with flavors is part of what creates new recipes and concoctions can be quite delicious. Do you know anyone out there who makes a Caesar Salad with French’s yellow mustard? That’s another story. As a matter of fact, here it is 🙂

BetsaPasta Caesar Salad circa 1956

To my point.

Classically a Bistecca alla Fiorentina (known worldwide as the king of steaks) is simply seasoned with salt, brushed with olive oil and grilled. It’s origin was in Florence, Italy and in order for this Tuscan masterpiece to be true to it’s original recipe, it must feature the porterhouse steak. Anything else would be considered fraudulent or at the very least a half-truth….which brings us to my preparation.

I use only a barrel cut Filet Mignon…by far the most tender cut of beef. Traditionally Bistecca alla Fiorentina is anywhere from 3-4 fingers in height and I have them cut from the thickest part of the tenderloin  2″-21/2″  inches thick so they can take the sear and not overcook too quickly.

Two ways to prepare:

Winter Style…

-Use a cast iron skillet. This means it is oven proof and NOT non-stick

– -Rinse steaks under water and pat dry. Let steaks get to room temperature before placing in skillet

-When ready to start cooking, be generous in coating the steaks with fresh mill pepper first and then kosher salt on both sides.

-Preheat your oven to 425 degrees

Set the burner on your stove to medium high. When hot, immediately place a a very small coating of  EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) in the center of your skillet and place the steak(s) in the pan at the same time. Sear for about 2-2 1/2  minutes on each side and repeat the process one more time for a total of about 8-10 minutes searing time. Remove the steaks and place in your oven for about 8-10 minutes for medium rare, the traditional way Bistecca alla Fiorintina is served. I say 8-10 minutes…however note it will depend on the exact thickness that will determine the doneness (yes, there is such a word) of your steaks to medium-rare.

-Immediately remove steak(s) from the oven and place on a plate. Squeeze a generous amount of fresh lemon on top of the steak(s) and then at least a tablespoon of EVOO on each steak.

-Cover with foil and wait about 5-6 minutes. Uncover your steak(s) and slice against the grain to your desired thickness. I like to slice thin at about 1/4″ per slice.

-Cover the sliced steak with all the combined natural juices from the steak, lemon and EVOO… and serve on a platter garnished with fresh Italian flat leaf parsley.

Summer Style/Straight Grilling (I use charcoal)

-Rinse steaks under water and pat dry. Let steaks get to room temperature before placing in skillet

-When ready to start cooking, coat with EVOO and then be generous coating the steaks with fresh mill pepper first and then kosher salt on both sides.

-Let the coals get white and place the steaks on the grill. No moving. No pressing.

-Sear for 3-4  minutes on each side and repeat the process one more time

-Immediately remove steak(s) from the grill and place on a plate. Squeeze a generous amount of fresh lemon on top of the steak(s) and then at least a tablespoon of EVOO on each steak.

-Cover with foil and wait about 5-6 minutes. Uncover your steak(s) and slice against the grain to your desired thickness. I like to slice thin at about 1/4″ per slice.

-Cover the sliced steak with all the combined natural juices from the steak, lemon and EVOO… and serve on a platter garnished with fresh Italian flat leaf parsley.

Hey everybody…Say Hi to Emma! We had lots of folks this evening in the USA and I had to prepare some of the steaks medium…but remember that traditionally the way to prepare Bistecca alla Fiorintina is medium rare. Oh yeah…saawwwy…no excuses…forgot the parsley for this presentation.

Bottom line…

It’s Bistecca alla Fiorintina without the NY Strip…with a squeeze of lemon…and with some EVOO…ie…my  phabulous ‘half-truth’ concoction:-)


As usual, please feel free to comment in the COMMENT box below with your suggestions…or…input your style

Mangia Bene,

Chef Bert






Pizza by Elizabeths in Wilmington, Delaware is Not Just Another Pizza Restaurant

Sandy and I were preparing for a day at the famous Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania…a must see anytime of year and especially in Spring and Fall.


As we always do when visiting Longwood Gardens, we booked a guestroom at our fave spot… the Fairville Inn located in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

Our host and hostess at the Fairville then suggested for a quick late evening dinner…Pizza by Elizabeths (no apostrophe needed here) just a few miles away across the Pennsylvania/Delaware border line in Wilmington.

We had no idea until we walked in, sat down and looked at the menu that Pizza by Elizabeths was way more than another pizza restaurant.

Besides the fact you can “craft”  your individual pizza or salad any way you like with healthful and organic ingredients, the main menu was of full with wonderful sounding appetizers and main courses,

This was validated by me as I walked around (one of my habits when checking out a new restaurant) looking to see what patrons were eating. I’ll even go so far as to ask what they ordered and of the couple I spoke to, they seemed quite happy with their dishes.

With the time we had, however, we would wind up ordering pizza and salad for a quick in and out…both of which were super-duper…ie…exceptional.

Meatball Pizza

Greek Salad with a salad dressing so good, we just had to buy some to go home with

I can’t write about anything else as we tasted nothing else, but you can trust me when I say this stop would be worth your time. Courteous and efficient waitstaff with extra napkins only added to our visit.

We’ll be back!

Folks…Meet Holly! You know what they say about happy people:-)



Here’s a peek at what you can expect if you want an overnight stay at the Fairville Inn!

…Complimentary tea service in the PM…English style

…and for phab breakfast!


As always, please feel free to “Comment” in the box below. Lovin’ the input!

Mangia Bene’

Chef Bert

Jaw Dropping Size Pizza Slices & Taste to Match at Portofino’s In Goldens Bridge, New York (With a Quick Side Trip to KMA)

You wouldn’t know by looking at the relatively small front entrance of Portofino’s Pizza in Goldens Bridge that inside awaits for you the biggest and some of the best slices of pizza anywhere! Let me clarify…among the best…yes for sure. The biggest…there are none bigger! How about a 28″ diameter pie with slices that measure approximately 12″ wide x 15″ from top to bottom?

Seriously…our eyes popped when Sandy and I first saw the pizza at Portofino’s. With several visits over the last couple of years there is no denying the consistency in taste, texture and flavor of the slices served at Portofino’s has earned it a top spot in  https://phoodographsandfinds.com/https://phoodographsandfinds.com/

We love Pizza Rustica in Miami, Florida and Pietro’s in Oyster Bay, N.Y. (both seen in my blog) and now we have found another destination for you to enjoy just a couple of miles north of Katonah, N.Y.  right off Rt. 684.


Ok folks…say hello to gracious pizza masters extraordinaire…Naum and Faton 🙂 I’m sure you haven’t forgotten what they say about Happy People…Yes?

Say hello to Taner too!

Sandy with her slice…

Bert with his choice…and below…a few more choices:

So as long as you’re on your way to view the browns, reds, yellows and golds of Autumn, this would be the perfect opportunity to stop at Portofino’s and, as well,to see some phabulous art at The Katonah Museum of Art just a short distance from Portofino’s. The Katonah Museum of Art…ie…KMA is a non-collecting institution geared towards visual arts, located in Katonah, New York. The museum presents changing exhibitions that cross a spectrum of artistic disciplines, cultures, and historical periods. Here are a few pics of our favorite works of art on our most recent visit last week.

More info?  http://www.katonahmuseum.org/ 

In closing…the bottom line at Portofino’s is that whatever we have tried was excellent and yes…applaudable! So you know…they’ve got a full menu of Italian specialties. Next time…we’re going for the eggplant parm hero!

Want to know more…check out https://www.portofinoofgoldensbridge.com/

Next up…a phabulous Italian restaurant we found in Pennsylvania just a couple of miles from the Delaware border. Stay tuned.


As always…The comment box below is waiting to hear from you!

Mangia Bene!

Chef Bert

It’s PEAK HOUR at Meyer’s Farm in Woodbury, L.I., New York, USA!

It wasn’t until Sandy said take a few nice photos of fruits and veggies did It hit me that this entry was long overdue. We’ve been coming to Meyer’s for flowers in spring, and superb produce in summer and fall for almost 30 years. NOW it’s time, or should I say about time, to share with you a phabulous phood phind of fresh locally grown superlative fruits and veggies.

Meyer’s opened in 1922 and for so many years it was fruits and veggies, however over the years they have expanded their product line to include so many categories of food (local cakes, pies,  honey and more) that you will just have to stop in and experience the scene for yourself.

We love the incomparable selection of fresh lettuces…and at $1.50 each, it simply falls in line with their overall extremely fair price structure. You know what they say about Happy People….yes?

How about 50 ears of their own corn for $17.00 huh huh?

Their brilliant selection of potatoes opens your eyes wide….Hmmm…be back with the pic.

Today I saw something I’ve not seen before at Meyer’s Farm. It was a sample platter of sliced heirloom tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella, red and gold roasted peppers and fresh basil. As well, a tasting of  their tomato crostini. Where have I been? Stephen was kind enough to show the green tomato without the toppings so we could see it through and through. In all my years of tomato growing, I’ve  never tasted a totally green tomato so sweet.

Thanks for my pic Stephen! I’d really like to know a little bit more about that fabulous crostini bread.

Even with all our trips out east to the NOFO (north fork if you don’t know by now), I’ve not experienced this totally green heirloom sweet tomato like I did today with the help of proprietor Stephen Meyer. Live and learn!

Ohhh..and of course…how could I forget? My rai·son d’ê·tre!



The environment is simple and straightforward. You walk in and see food  beautifully displayed with folks eager to help you find whatever you may be seeking,

Keep it up fellas and gals. Our environs would not be the same without YOU!

Hey Peter, sorry I missed ya for this entry. I’ll be back for a phab pic and get you in later. Cool?



As always folks…would love to hear from you in the Comment box below. Tell us about your favorite spots and any particular products you enjoy.

Mangia Bene…

Chef Bert









Never Heard of Goody’s “Soft-Baked” Granola Till Today. Check it Out @ Whole Foods. Have I Ever Led You Astray?

I have this belief that much in life as all about timing’. Seems simple enough…yes?

Well as it turns out…my timing was pretty good today if it just happened to be that I was interested in seeking out some new granola….which I was. As I was exiting the fruit and veggie section at Whole Foods and looking for the granola aisle, I run into this fella offering tastes of his granola and I say to myself ‘Kismet’…ie…destiny…meant to be. He asks me if I want to taste any of the 5 choices on his display table and I jumped right in. “For sure”! He tells me his product is ‘hand made’ in Brooklyn and introduces himself a “Goody”.

Meet Goody…Granola Personality Extraordinaire!

For me…always sensing a possible food story if it’s something I enjoy… it’s only natural (pun intended today) to get the names of the people I meet in the word of food…so I ask if that’s his first or last name and he replies “It’s Goody…my friends call me Goody”.  Okay Goody, this granola is phab!

Bottom line here…short and sweet like it is with many of my phood finds…this is a granola worth seeking out. What I especially appreciated: as sweet as the taste was, there were only 12 grams of sugar in 2 full ounces. Not only that, every ingredient was healthful!

So…next time you’re in Whole Foods, make it your biz to seek out my latest discovery and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to meet and eat with my latest phood find personality…Mr. Allen “Goody”.

Thanks for your fine reception Goody…see you again for sure!

You can see below the ingredients listed in the 5 flavors we tasted today. Pumpkin pie and cranberry we missed…thus more to come.

Ingredients: oats, sunflower seeds, raw slivered almonds, roasted peanuts roasted cashews, coconut, dark chocolate, dried cherries, honey, molasses, peanut oil, vanilla and almond extract, cinnamon.

Goody’s Base Granola: Ingredients: oats, sunflower seeds, raw sliced almonds, roasted peanuts roasted cashews, coconut, honey, molasses, peanut oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon.

My Personal Favorite: Ingredients: oats, sunflower seeds, raw sliced almonds, roasted peanuts roasted cashews, coconut, dried blueberries, honey, molasses, peanut oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon.

Ingredients: oats, sunflower seeds, raw slivered almonds, roasted peanuts roasted cashews, coconut, dark chocolate, honey, molasses, peanut oil, vanilla and almond extract, cinnamon.

Ingredients: oats, sunflower seeds, raw slivered almonds, roasted peanuts roasted cashews, coconut, dark chocolate, honey, molasses, peanut oil, vanilla and almond extract, cinnamon.

My Jericho, NY Whole Foods


As always folks…we love your comments. Feel free to input in the “Comment” box just below “Leave a Reply”

Mangia Bene

Chef Bert


North Fork Doughnut Co. = NOFODOCO on the NOFO. Where else?

This may be the shortest and sweetest (pun intended) blog entry yet. The North Fork Doughnut Company opened up last summer and I/we have to say it’s the only doughnut we eat…anywhere!

Doughnut Worry! Meet Happy Mackenzie with my favorite! Oh yeah…cool shirts, nice hangers 🙂

My favorite preserve just happens to be seedless black raspberry and when we went it to check out this new doughnut shop last summer…just guess what the jelly doughnut is filled with. Yup…you guessed it and now I can’t  pass the place without going in for a black raspberry filled jelly doughnut or 2 or 3 or 4!

Now here’s the interesting part. ALL of these doughnuts look like they are out of a storybook and simply delightful, however we haven’t tasted any others.  I’m sure this will change as we keep visiting…but for now…trust me when I/we say this doughnut texture and flavor combined with the fine sugar coating makes this the best jelly doughnut we’ve ever tried…and with a flavor to be savored.

At home with my Black Raspberry Filled Jelly Doughnut

Check out some of the other NOFODOCO possibilities!

Cereal Killer

 Classic Boston Creme


Hmmmmm…gonna have to get the name of this one…

OGS Strawberry, Vanilla & Chocolate

On our most recent visit, we were greeted by more happy NoFoDoCo cast members showing off their famous Cannoli doughnuts.

Folks…meet Kelsey & Brett. Smiles like that could make doughnuts taste better!  🙂

Check out their website to see what doughnuts are there for you as the menu can vary.

The coffees…hot or iced are deliziosa and delisioso…and the selection of tea’s compliment whatever your doughnut choice may be. So go ahead in and savor!



As always, we love comments in the “Leave A Reply” box seen below….so please don’t be shy 🙂


Mangia Bene’

Chef Bert


Crab-cakes & More at Braun’s Seafood Grill in Cutchogue, L.I., N.Y, USA

Hi Folks! Well we’re back on the NOFO at Braun Seafood Co., a full-service seafood distributor that delivers THE freshest selection of fish, clams, oysters, and lobsters to restaurants and markets throughout Long Island and beyond. They’re in business since 1928 and when you are in business that long your formula is working well.

Attached to this iconic retail seafood location is Braun’s Grill, which Sandy and I first discovered about 6 years ago. We  just love looking forward to our day trips to the NOFO in summer and winter where, over the last almost 20 years, most of our favorite restaurants and new favorite restaurants exist. Peruse www.phoodographsandfinds.com and you will see many of those foodie heaven restaurant posts for our faves on the north fork of Long Island.

Today we bring to you another phood find with our winner for the best crab-cake on Long Island.

Braun’s Grill Crab-cakes prepared by Chef Brandon

Of course everyone who enjoys crab cakes has their own favorite (please share with us if you are so inclined), however this one is ours…and that’s just the beginning.

In the winter months, except for when they close in January, we just love coming out to Braun’s to savor their soups and warm the soul. Yup, 120 miles round trip for soup…and, well, maybe a glass of Long Island wine at one of the 40+ north fork (NOFO) wine country vineyards.

Lobster Bisque

Our friend Jude…lovin’ her lobster bisque!

Yes, there are also posts right here on my blog for those of you who are curious to find some of our favorite NOFO vineyards, phood finds and restaurants too! Here are just a few we’ve visited along with Braun’s 🙂

Just click and you can delight in them as well!

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

New "Anniversary Shrimp & Clams Scampi" & Touring on The NOFO Election Day November 8, 2016

Just Say YES…and you get Clovis Point, Potato Leek Soup and Keith Luce

Lobster bisque, crab bisque or shrimp corn chowder are our favorite soups at Braun’s and they also serve New England & Manhattan clam chowders…even though the list can vary from visit to visit.

Not quite finished…

OK…are you ready? Short and sweet…literally. There is no better coleslaw ANYWHERE! That’s right, Coleslaw!! TRUST ME!!!


Now…here are a couple of especially important details that I feel compelled to mention, and that I cannot overlook, when I write about any restaurant. There ‘needs’  to be a certain level of creativity in any restaurant’s kitchen to stimulate and surprise patrons with recipes that manipulate and finesse ingredients to reach a level of individuality that sets them apart.  Consistency from one visit to the next is also key. If any restaurant cannot accomplish these unique functions and because I write nothing negative, they simply cannot be included in this blog.

That said…as you enter Braun’s Grill, you will see on a large easel a list of daily specials and although I have not tasted everything I have seen, I have spoken to people who have ordered many of the specials on different occasions we have visited and each response is nothing short of…yes…special…ie…phab!

Daily Specials…Even the hand writing looks appetizing 🙂

Just today on the list of specials was a blackened striped bass taco with a fresh cantaloupe salsa.

My mouth is still watering from seeing this blackened stripe bass being prepared by Chef Brandon in the kitchen and then given to Cathy, Braun’s food plating expert, manager and personality extraordinaire, to enhance it’s presentation with a distinctive and savory coating of cantaloupe salsa.

Oh yes…and here’s Brandon preparing our crab-cakes. You know what they say about happy people?

Brandon’s Happy Crab-cakes

One more phab looking dish that I watched being prepared by Anne Marie just before we were leaving was Baked Chopped Clams with a secret bread crumb recipe topping. I’ve never actually ordered them before, but will next time.

Anne Marie’s gloved hands preparing Braun’s Baked Clams…chopped style. A little sweet butter on top and bake!

As busy as they were during the frenetic pace at lunchtime, the staff seemed to exude a certain level of pride in what they were doing as you can tell in thee pics I took.

Say Hey Sadie!

Happy people! Meet Maryann & John…two Braun’s fans who popped in for lunch and commented how they enjoyed  that little dash of  Old Bay garlic & herb seasoning sprinkled on top of their phabulous crab cakes.

Saving the best for last…or should I say…The Last of the Best! Food Master Cathy,,,Me…and Special Guest Chef Cara.

Again…you know what they say about happy people…Yes? Ok…well…just so you do know…they make you happy with their food!

Well folks…Sure would love to hear from you in the comment box below. Suggestions…sharing…insight…ideas? Don’t be shy…

Mangia Bene’

Chef Bert





BestaPasta Independence Day Lobster Rolls Served with Roasted Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella and NOFO Marion Gardens Organic Lettuce Leaf Basil

Short and sweet folks. Summer time is lobster season for us. It just happened to be July 4th, thus this entry is simply titled Independence Day Lobster Rolls.

The only difference between this recipe and my past recipe is the addition of a bit of fresh flat leaf parsley that is growing abundantly in our backyaaad!

OK? Ready…Set…GO!

The pics below will show you exactly what you should remove when I refer to the “triangular tips of the lobster claw meat”. The top pic shows the entire triangular tip. The bottom pic shows you what you should remove (the 4 pieces seen on the lower right). Are we clear?

Just so you know…I bought these particular lobsters at Uncle Giuseppe’s @ 7.99 lb steamed and in order to get the approximate 1 1/2 lbs. of lobster meat, I purchased  a bit over 4 lbs. of lobster…or 3  1 1/4–1 1/2 lbs. each.

Enjoy 🙂


Don’t be shy folks. I look forward to hearing from my readers with comments or suggestions in the comment box below.

Thanks much,



The Best of The Summer Fancy Food Show 2019 at The Jacob Javits Center in New York City

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I know that many of my readers and folks who find us are looking forward to recipes, food destinations and restaurant pics…however keeping you informed of what is new and different in the world of food is very important. The major trend over the last few years is wellness (as seen in several of my past entries). I know you can see it as you shop…thus I sincerely hope you can appreciate where www.phoodographsandfinds.com  takes you.

Kudos and a huge thank you goes to the Specialty Food Association for organizing what I consider to be among the best  food shows in the world with exhibitors from all over the world!


First and foremost…Knowing how to pick the best at a show like this can only be based on what we tasted and what we liked. I’d like to thank Chef Richard and Chef Marcelle for attending with me as their input and perspective about the foods we tasted always helps in writing more objectively and open-mindedly.

Chef/Baker Richard

Chef Marcelle

So let’s get to it! What better way to start off than pasta-aaah!

Within the first ten minutes at the show we discovered a totally unique concept in pasta.

Get this: Italian organic half whole wheat semolina pasta by IRIS. The key words here…Half Whole Wheat. 

So let’s discuss this. First and foremost, I and most, if not all, of my readers have never heard of half whole wheat pasta. It’s always been semolina or whole wheat semolina. We know whole wheat is a healthier way to go by virtue of fiber content and the natural benefits of whole wheat, however in most instances taste and texture are sacrificed and many of us simply stay with  regular semolina. Already, we’ve tried the IRIS whole wheat version from a few of the products given to us at the show and we can tell you that the whole wheat pasta (6.6 grams of fiber per serving) is the best we have ever had. The half whole wheat pasta with 4.2 grams of fiber per serving tasted just as good as the semolina pasta (2 grams per serving) we all know and love.

Manuela Massaro, Project Manager Carla Gambini and Alberto Rota.

So meet the happy Organic City folks who represent Iris pasta.They simply radiated passion and enthusiasm about their products and I couldn’t wait to get home to get a whiff of the aroma they claimed steamed out of their cooked pastas. After pouring the pasta into the strainer I swear I could smell something that distinguished their pastas from others I’ve eaten. Power of suggestion? To some small degree maybe. Either way the taste was distinctive and I’m sold on these products.

Bottom line…this is what we come to these shows for. We look for new and innovative products and thanks to these folks we now know what is coming down the road. 

Although we now know the product is being manufactured in Italy, it is not yet available in the USA as they were seeking a distributor. if you want to be the beneficiaries of this new product, simply try to help to create a market for it by asking your gourmet grocer for IRIS pasta so we can all enjoy them! I know for sure I’m going to do my part.

Please read the material seen below in their product information sheets and keep this name and these different types pf pastas on your radar. Trust me…have I ever lead you astray?


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Next up:

Feltman’s Hot Dogs “Most likely the best hot dog you’ll ever eat in your life”


Feltman’s of Coney Island…The Original Hot Dog 1867 is how it is marketed.

The history of the hot dog took me by surprise and for sure most of you will be just as surprised. The story is super long and if you want to know and understand all you really have to do is Google charles feltman worked for nathan’s

Meet Michael Quinn…proud and passionate about the original Coney Island, New York staple that he has revived using the same hot dog recipe created by Charles Feltman, They are also producing (a testament to wellness by many food manufacturers at the food shows nowadays)  their new uncured beef hot dog. Their Feltman’s Deli Style Mustard made with apple cider vinegar was perfect!

Meet Elliot Simhon…Feltman’s “business man”! You know what they say about happy people…yes?

Way to go fellas. Effective today, we are fans!

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Next up…Coco  Goods!Meet Sales Manager Phong Ho,  and VP of Sales, Jim Downing

There are lots of reasons why one should consider coconut products to benefit health-wise and here are just a few that Coco Goods and we feel are important to emphasize. We just also happen to think their products were best coconut products at the show. Plain and simple…short and sweet we loved their organic coconut water and coconut milk. We’ve tasted their products several times over the last couple of years and we are happy to introduce their company to you.

Coconuts have emerged as a versatile food  because of the many surprising health benefits. Here are some of the ways a coconut can positively improve one’s health.

Boosts Energy Levels

The reason why coconuts are able to improve one’s energy level is that coconuts are rich nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. In addition, coconut water contains far less sodium and sugar when compared to other sports drink. At the same time, coconuts are also rich in a variety of electrolytes such as potassium, chloride, and calcium. This proves to be very effective when it comes to boosting energy levels and re-hydrating after a heated workout.

All of these ingredients essentially make coconut water an energy drink of sorts. With the combination of the rich assortment of vitamins and minerals as well as helpful electrolytes, coconut water is a rich source of energy.

Helps Digestive Problems

Another thing that makes coconuts unique is the fact that it contains lauric acid. This is important because lauric acid converts into a substance called monolaurin. This monolaurin is vital in helping the body’s gastrointestinal system fight off parasites, viruses, and worms. It also serves as a deterrent to a variety of infections of the intestinal tract in adults and children. In the process, coconut water will also help re-hydrate the body in the process. This can prove to be useful for those who suffer from diarrhea or constipation.

Weight Loss

For those who happen to be at an unhealthy weight, coconuts can be a surprising source of assistance. This is because of all of the electrolytes that the coconut contains. With the rich amounts of calcium and potassium that is in a coconut, the body’s metabolism will naturally increase. This means that whatever you eat may be converted to energy or nutrients much faster as opposed to being stored as fatty deposits and subcutaneous fat. Therefore, those who have weight issues may want to consider incorporating coconut water into their daily regiment.

Cardiovascular Health

People who tend to have blood pressure issues also suffer from hypokalemia, or low potassium levels. Having coconuts can replenish those levels to a degree and assist the body in retaining a healthy blood pressure reading. Also, there are other studies that have suggested that coconut water can increase HDL, or good cholesterol in the body. This makes coconut water a viable option to improve one’s cardiovascular health.


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It was the last day of the show and on the way out of the show, virtually all of the exhibitors are handing out tastes and samples of their products. One of those for me were 2  little 5.1 ounce cans of cold organic Italian espresso. Cans of Espresso? Organic? 100% Arabica Wha? Hmmmmm!

So I took them graciously and before I had the opportunity to open one up I was being handed a fresh made hot espresso with a small piece of chocolate from the next booth over. So into my bag went the 2 little 5.1 ounce cans of Italian espresso and I didn’t see them again until I returned home and they went directly into the refrigerator.

Almost a week went by before I was home in the middle of my not peak hour and decided to try one. I popped it open, poured it into a glass over a few ice cubes and right there was my first ever iced espresso with one gram of sugar topped by a velvety thick  reddish-brown crema that would for sure be appreciated by connoisseurs.  Delizioso! I also woke up:)

Bottom line…after much research, Nuts…I can’t find it…but I will! 


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Next up…An Extraordinary French Confection!


This segment will be written by Chef Marcelle. Since she conversed with these folks in French, she has a better understanding of the product.

OK Marcelle…It’s all yours!

Dragees Reynaulds Is a manufacturer of sweets based out of Marseilles in Provence specializing in what the French call “Dragees“ and “fourrages”.

“Dragees” are Jordan almonds covered in a hard sugar coating available in different colors and often used as favors for weddings, baptisms and other celebrations. These delicious sweets are offered in beautiful packaging’s from bulk for occasions to elegantly wrapped boxed gifts.

The fourrages” translated into “coverings” consist of chocolate and other candies or nuts covered in either hard flavored sugars, chocolate and other flavorings such as caramel, pistachio or raspberry with very distinct colors and defined flavors.

Of particular beauty in presentation are the chocolate fourrages that emulate the sugar-coated almonds or dragees available in different colors. One presentation that was particularly striking was a hard cellophane box with a third of the dragees in red, a third in white and a third in blue depicting the French flag; the chocolate was of good quality and the crunchiness of the coating  gave a mixture of textures to the treat.

Perusing and tasting these products immerse you for a moment in the French café experience.



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While we’re on the subject and confections…here’s one we found in Italy. I absolutely loved this soft nougat almond torrone covered with a divine dark and white chocolate too!

Seriously…you can SEE how phab they are!


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Onward folks…

Introducing Amarena Fabbri Wild Cherries in an all natural syrup…

These luscious and intensely flavorful Amarena cherries from the province of Emilia-Romagna are one of the most sought after all over Europe. The Fabbri family has been producing these luxurious wild cherries in syrup since 1905 from the guarded original recipe of founder Gennaro Fabbri. The local wild cherries which are a dark red variety with a sweet and slightly bitter flavor are preserved in a rich syrup made from the juice of the same fruit. Heaven!

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Why Pasta di Gragnano is Good For You…

Pasta di Gragnano
If you’re gonna eat Italian pasta…do it the Gragnano way.

Pasta di Gragnano is considered among the best pasta produced in Italy and here’s why…

– Location makes the difference. Pasta di Gragnano is produced in the small town of Gragnano, on a plateau facing the Gulf of Naples, at an altitude that varies between 350 and 600 meters, near the Monti Lattari, where the water is less calcareous and the climate is mild and slightly damp throughout the year; these elements allows the pasta to dry in a gradual and natural manner (essicazione naturale). This slow process safeguards the proteins and nutritional qualities of wheat, which in turn give the cooked pasta a better taste and greater capacity to keep its texture.

– Equipment matters. The art of making Pasta di Gragnano has been handed down in this territory from generation to generation and some techniques are still crucial for obtaining a quality product: these include trafilatura in bronzo. The machines (trafile) used to work the dough, a mixture of durum wheat and calcium poor water, give Pasta di Gragnano its signature roughness; a rough, porous surface holds the sauce so much better.

– In praise of durum wheat flour. The type of wheat used influences the flavor of the pasta, the ability to stay al dente, and to absorb the sauce. The cultivation method also affects the quality of the wheat grain. Pasta di Gragnano is made using durum wheat of the highest quality, which has a high protein content. In fact, in order to be certified Pasta di Gragnano, it has to contain at least 13% protein, whereas regular pasta normally has 11,5%.


What caught our eyes here were some of the never before seen the shapes…

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There is one exception at the Fancy Food Show that I include in every post.

It’s because without their attendance and because I have a soft spot in my heart for their former USA Parmigiano Reggiano Queen Nancy Radke who retired from the company recently, this show for me  and many others would feel incomplete!

I guess this is my way of saying “Nancy, you are missed…and thanks for the memories!

So…for now…Bert & Fede say Arrivederci per ora…grazie per essere venuto…ci vediamo l’anno prossimo.

Buon appetito!

English Translation: Goodbye for now...thanks for coming...see you next year.
Good appetite!

…and as always…please feel free to comment in the Comment box below. Love hearin’ from ya!

Bert 🙂

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Hidden Ridge Plants…A Hidden Gem in Ridge, L.I., N.Y. Off The L.I.E. @ Exit 68

Just open www.phoodographsandfinds.com and take a look at the very first sentence… “Cool places to visit off the beaten path and more effective ways to navigate them for optimum enjoyment”  Do you know where Ridge, Long Island is? I’m thinking that’s part of the reason why this broad-spectrum garden center is/was a well kept secret. Until last year even I didn’t know about Ridge, Long Island. Oh well…I do now and so will you!

Check out these phab flower pouches!

Theeere’s Sandy!

Wild (for flowers) Will

Sandy and I met the owner Bill Erdmann  just last year and Sandy needed no more than one year to figure out his natural habitat was exactly what she/we needed and wanted to be a part of our backyard garden.

You know what they say about happy people…yes?

…and happy young cottontails too? For sure!

…and it all filters down to happy customers! Right?

NOW…It’s one thing to find a garden center that has a large selection of plants and flowers. They’re all over the place and many are really quite beautiful.  It’s totally another thing, however, to find a garden center like Hidden Ridge hidden in Ridge with hard to find plants like the Buddleia Butterfly Bush and the Scaevola Fan Flower…among others!

Image result for buddleia

Image result for scaevola fan flower

Specifically, we are talking about purposeful gardens that address habitat, edible and sustainable. We have actually been practicing for the last 4 or 5 years the relationship between gardening and connecting with nature. Besides seeking out plants and flowers with beauty and extraordinarily intricate designs, we have been searching for plants with a dual function (both Hidden Ridge trademarks).

Our backyaaaaad! Life’s A Garden…Dig It? See the hummingbird top right?

I, for one, love seeing the bumble bees buzzing around and pollinating our flowering plants. Their impact as natural pollinators is critical when it comes to impacting ecology…and they are gentle too. Feeding them along with the beautiful hummingbirds and butterflies is not only fun and gratifying to watch, it’s good for the earth. As well, consider all the pleasing scents these types of flowers and plants release.

We’re also learning from Bill about edibles and medicinal plants and flowers. Between what we’ve learned from this master gardener and the direction we have taken with the use of organic soil and some sustainable plant types that don’t even need an organic soil, growing lots of perennials and veggies and tomatoes from seeds we have saved, I’d say we’re doing our part in making the world a better place to live.

Bottom line… You can too! just get yourselves over to see Bill at Hidden Ridge.  Right now YOU have the perfect opportunity to get in there while the getting is good. It’s the perfect time to start planting and It’s the perfect time of year to start taking day trips out east. On  your way you can stop in to see Bill at Hidden Ridge…or…you can make him the main reason for your trip. We’re by Exit 43 off the LIE and it takes us about 40 minutes.

Bill & Bert

Trust us with this find…..have I/we ever lead you astray?

Inside the secret gardens at Hidden Ridge Plants

As always…please feel free to comment below.

Enjoy the read,

Chef Bert

Ikibana Paralelo, Barcelona, Spain/Japanese & Brazilian Fusion

A friend of mine tells me he is traveling to Barcelona, Spain with his family. When it comes to me and food, all I want to know is what restaurant they enjoyed and would he take any pics of his favorite dishes. Short and Sweet: He comes back to tell me about the best sushi he ever ate. Now…as we all know and I’ve said before, everything about food in any restaurant is subjective. So why would I write about a food experience someone else had when everything I’ve ever written about has been what my wife Sandy and I have eaten and enjoyed? Maybe it was his enthusiasm. Maybe when someone says it was the best they ever ate, I could take the opportunity to share it with you.

So folks, that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna share a rave review about the sushi at Ikibana Restaurant in Barcelona, Spain and back it up with one picture taken by my foodie friend Jack.

Thank you Jack for the pic and for your vivacity and eagerness to share. Looks phab to me, and if anyone is traveling to Barcelona, you now have a restaurant where you can enjoy what you see right here.

Master Chef Contestant Is Top Shelf Foodie / Long Island Weekly November 2-8, 2016

And as seen in the above article:  “While newspaper reviews help plant the seed for where Spitz will be taking his palate, word-of-mouth from friends whose food tastes he respects are far more important. It also fits with Spitz’s desire to share the discoveries he’s made during his travels in the most glass half-full kind of way.”


As always…we look forward to your comments, suggestions or any input you may have.

Mangia bene’

Chef Bert

The Best of The 26th International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York @ The Javits Center

Hi Folks…and welcome to The Best of The 26th  International Restaurant Foodservice Show…according to me 🙂

Besides new and innovative food and beverage products, what I always look for when attending these huge shows with such a vast number of exhibitors is ‘what is trending?’. What I discovered at this International Restaurant Show was a state of mind that is currently permeating the entire food industry. and with a monumental emphasis on sustainability, In addition, vegetables, plant-based proteins, fermented foods along with cannabis and hemp as ingredients were well represented. This most certainly was associated with the Healthy Food Expo New York as one of the 3 main events included in this show. This and the Coffee Fest made it feasible to attend all 3 shows at the same time. Just phab!

in a brief and clearly expressed manner, let me address one word you will be hearing wherever you live so there is clarity on the meaning of SUSTAINABILITY. You can certainly do more research, however here is the definition I felt best conveyed what is sustainability in easily understandable terms.

Sustainability: Meeting our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. (Brundtland Commission 1987,..formerly known as the World Commission on Environment and Development/WCED).
It has three components – environmental conservation, social responsibility, and economic development. While most people primarily associate sustainability with
environmental conservation, it is about people and the health of our communities.
Most importantly to me, it addresses OUR future generations. PLEASE think about that!

Espresso and Pizza 🙂

According to Tom Loughran, VP for the Clarion UX  Food & Beverage Group (the owners and management of this show) “There is so much excitement leading up to these 3 events, which will showcase thousands of new products for food industry buyers including everything from restaurant equipment to plant-based proteins and the newest specialty coffees and teas”. Not only is there excitement here, there was so much new,  exhilarating and inspiring information that it just simply wasn’t  possible to cover it all. I will however, as I always try to do, bring out as much as I can. So here goes…

First and foremost, you should  know that in 2017, The Huntington Post wrote

‘Plant-Based’ Will Be The Hottest Food Trend Of 2018: Report’

In 2018, The Washingtom Post wrote

The hottest food trend right now isn’t ‘vegan’. It’s ‘plant-based’

So now in 2019 it’s really gained traction and one would be wise to be open up to any degree on this now well entrenched “Trend”.

Although many people associate protein with animal sources like meat and eggs, and plant sources like beans, many vegetables also contain significant amounts of protein. Protein in vegetables was for a long time, and still is, a primary concern of mine.  I’ve always wondered where my protein was going to come from if I reduced my consumption of meat…ie…burgers, chicken. Logically, fish would be a healthy source of protein, however would fish all the time be enough…and would Iget tired of just fish as my main source of protein?

I’ve  discovered that with the level of proteins in veggies, one can lead a healthy life on a plant based, or even a partial plant based diet. Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan or otherwise, you should want to know which plant based foods are richest in protein. Take away the word vegetarian/vegan and you are taking the first step toward a healthier existence and you’ll be helping to save the planet with each bite.

Read on: While experts consider a “plant-based diet” completely free of animal products, consumers have begun to see a subtle difference of meaning in a term that evokes vegetables and healthfulness but spares diners the label of “vegan” or “vegetarian”. They see a gentle nudge to eat more vegetables, not an admonition to stop eating meat – leaving, for some, just enough wiggle room to sneak in a nice lobster, burger or that occasional steak. Not only  that, the costs will be much lower and most importantly, the health benefits are striking!.

Check this out for a happy medium…

Did you ever hear of a Flexitarian?  The Flexitarian Diet is a style of eating that encourages mostly plant-based foods while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation. It’s more flexible than fully vegetarian or vegan diets. So…If you’re looking to add more plant foods to your diet but don’t want to completely cut out meat, going Flexitarian may be for you.

Just so you know…Chef Gordon Ramsey acknowledges this vegan trend is on the rise and the food industry must adapt. That also means more will be available for you and easier to find. Just keep an open mind.

So let’s get to it for my picks of the best at The 26th International Restaurant & Food-service Show of New York. My top pick for one of the best and most innovative food product concepts at this show goes to Oumph!.

Oumph! is a ‘100% plant based product made from organic and Non-GMO soybeans that are made in a variety of shapes and consistencies. It is extremely rich in protein and fibers and a perfect source of folic acid and iron. It is also low on calories and almost fat free! ‘The driving force behind it is renowned Swedish chef Anders ”The Duck” Linden. He has been working in the kitchen since the 80’s and is well known for his energetic and innovative style. Oumph! is his latest and most impactful project to date’.


The fun starts when this Soy based based ‘chicken’ preparation can be seasoned or spiced up any way you like. It was delicious!

Meet a smiling Anders “The Duck” Linden

Thank you Anders for the tour. I enjoyed everything I tasted. Continued success!


I loved this next product! Summer is starting early with Smartfruits 11 Non-GMO Fruit and Vegetable mixes and concentrates boosted with highly functional super-foods that deliver all the essential nutrition that nature intended.  


Folks…meet Kheedim Oh…The Chief Minister of Kimchi at Mama O’s.Make your own Kimchi? That’s for me.  I’m really not so sure how many of my readers will react to this choice…however I’ve always like the mildly hot and sweet taste of kimchi and to find a product that will let me make my own was…are you ready…Captivating!. I was so impressed with the kimchi made right in front of me that it it deserves a place right here. Sincere thanks for understanding 🙂

“Using only the best ingredients, we take extra time to insure that your kimchi tastes great from the first bite to the last.  Our kimchi is full of probiotics and prebiotics which fuel the probiotics making it a perfect symbiotic food”!


Mama O’s is made right here in Brooklyn, New York. Cool, huh?


From Kheedim’s Kimchi we go to Beth’s Farm Kitchen for some of the best tasting jams I have ever tasted. I’m so lucky. Everyone I meet is smiling. Folks…meet Jodie

A brief history and direction:  Beth’s Farm Kitchen has been making quality products since 1981. The business was started by Beth Linskey, the author of many of the recipes that continue to be their customers’ favorites. In November of 2016, the company was purchased by Jodie Emmett & Guillermo Maciel.  Jodie & Guillermo chose BFK not only because the jam tastes fantastic, but also because they have a deep belief in the value of supporting local farmers, a company ethic from the start. They take daily joy and pride in connecting customers with the flavors and experiences of the Hudson Valley.  As farmers themselves, Jodie & Guillermo plan to grow the ingredients for their own products, as well as to introduce a line of dairy products from their flock of sheep along with the jams, chutneys, spicy sauces, relishes and and mustard’s they currently produce.  For me, however, right now it was the jams and preserves that stopped me in my tracks.


Up next, a great new source for truly fabulous tomatoes in all shapes and sizes…the Neil Jones Food Company

Hey Mark…thanks for lunch! We’re in each others future.

Excellent and my favorites! Folks…I have to say that there are certain products I find that sometimes even I am not able to buy because of the minimum purchase required…however there are those who read this blog and do have the capacity to be able to secure the products I have found. If this helps make folks aware of the best products around, then I’ve done my job. In the case of these tomatoes, I have approached Restaurant Depot and we’ll see if they will possibly start carrying these Neil Jones products.


Why Bear’s Breath Ketchup? Because they “make ketchup for people who don’t like ketchup”.

Folks meet Taylor Rausch on the left, CEO and Co-founder of Bear’s Breath!

According to Taylor, Bear’s Breath Ketchup was created as a daring answer to a simple question; “Does ketchup have to be boring!?”. Along the way we answered other questions such as “Why is ketchup made with so much sugar and preservatives?”. Before your eyes is a unique low-sugar ketchup alternative made with natural ingredients and a savory flavor profile featuring a subtle, spicy finish that will have you terrorizing breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Bear’s Breath ingredients: Fresh Tomatoes, Chicken Broth, Chipotle Peppers, Garlic, Jalapeños, Roasted Green Chiles and Bear Slobber. When I casually asked Taylor what was that last ingredient, he said it was the secret to the spicy taste of his ketchup. Yes. the ketchup  is spicy and if you like spice this one’s for you. I, for one enjoyed the flavor, however the spice for some may be a bit…shall we say…robust. As I say, everything is relative and subjective, however it’s still makes it into my best. 


Let’s revisit Galvanina Italian Organic Sodas! See the full line here:

The Best of The New York City Summer Fancy Food Show 2017


Did someone say Steelhead?

In my life I’ve never heard of this fish and obviously have never tasted it. So why am I writing about it? It’s because I’m trying to learn as much as I can about sustainability in food, to try and make an impression on those who read what I am writing and inspire whoever I can do your part to help create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. Sustainable food isn’t just about the food itself, it’s a combination of factors including how it’s produced, how it’s distributed and how it’s consumed. 


You know what they say about happy people…yes? John & Bert

In meeting the folks at Hudson Valley Fisheries for just a short time, I was impressed with their mission and want to share it with you. Hudson Valley Fish Farms (HVFF) is a new kind of fish farm. They are a land-based recirculating aquaculture system raising “egg-to-plate” steelhead trout for the regional market, hiring and training local workers while commercializing cutting-edge aquaculture industry knowledge, all to prove a model for sustainable fish farming in the Hudson Valley. Owner John Ng will tell you, “If you’re looking for responsibly raised steelhead, we’re the only game in town.” But that’s just the first of many good reasons to seek out HVFF steelhead.

If you aren’t familiar with steelhead (Rainbow) trout  it has a very similar texture to salmon. I’ve read the flavor is ‘vaguely reminiscent of salmon, though slightly milder, sweeter, and more delicate’.  It has been described as salmon at it’s best,,,although any description of food is subjective and I’ll take it at face value since I’ve not yet tasted it myself.  The folks at Hudson Valley Fisheries refer to it as salmon’s tastier cousin!

Furthermore, steelhead trout has proven itself to be a very sustainable alternative to salmon. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has given a big stamp of approval to steelhead trout, dubbing the fish as a green, “Best Choice” for consumers looking to eat and buy sustainably.

So…to the folks at Hudson…can’t wait to get up there and get a taste of what everyone is talking about. Just look at these pics!

Not quite sure what happened to the missing word in this pic…but here they are anyway:

Sashimi grade steelhead, suitable for raw, cured, smoked, poached, grilled, sauteed, and roasted preparations:-)


Next up…

Teti Bakery pre-shaped flatbread pizza crusts. The best thing about this product was two-fold.

1.Taste was wonderful

2.Four is unbromated

Not sure how this happened again…but that espresso and pizza combination seemed to work:-)

What my readers will get out of this product is simply a nod from me that if you can find it, buy it. Like some of the products i find, there’s simply no way for even me to secure it because of the large minimums to purchase. Oh well…Mangia bene’!


Ok…I really need to do some real fact finding for this next category. As much as I would love to see a natural product like this work, the research must be done. Every now and then I have symptoms that are quite similar to gout and the drugs on the market are simply too much for me to take. Too many side effects from these prescribed medicines make it important to me to find a natural cure to alleviate these symptoms described medically as a form of arthritis. As i attend these food shows, I have seen more and more companies offering water soluble Industrial hemp derived  CBD and CBD oils that claim to genuinely address such issues as joint pain, anxiety, stress, migraines, menstrual cramps and depression. Nowhere, however, do I see where it is approved by the FDA or any other medical body. As much as I don’t see this, there are many who swear by the results and effectiveness of these products.

All you nice people…we are in each others future. More research and information to come…please stay tuned!


The Best Cappuccino I have ever had! Nuts..and look at that artwork!

All I can do is put these pix in front of you and maybe someone who wants a wonderful coffee, espresso or cappuccino experience can make use of these commercial style brewing machines.

It’s better than saying nothing!


Slow roasted or Char-grilled Veggies from France…WOW! Story is coming…


Sparkling Water from Trees…Wha? Story coming…


Bert with David & Stephanie…You know what they say about happy people!

The last stop I happened to have made at this show was at the Purezza Filtered Water booth. I have to tell you that I got a real kick out of having my frizzante’ dispensed like beer and WOW…it tasted wonderful. I don’t know about you, but if I saw water or sparkling water being dispensed in this manner in a restaurant setting, I’d certainly be asking about it…and that’s assuming the waitstaff hadn’t already explained it to me/us,

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What I discovered was this Italian designed Purezza water system turns ordinary tap water into premium filtered still water or sparkling water, which is then served in Purezza customized and refillable water bottles. Just imagine, under ordinary circumstances, all the shipping fees, storage fees and freight charges one must pay for in order to get that single bottle of pre-bottled water imported or even domestic water or delivered to your table. Ultimately, the customer receives at a modest cost a limitless supply of perfectly chilled, beautifully balanced, high quality great tasting water. 

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One last note: A lot of bottles of water like San Pelligrino, do have healthful minerals, however one must also watch out for the unusually high salt content in mineral water. Ultimately, I’m not writing about the choice here, I’m simply saying that serving Purezza’s wonderful products will  help restaurateurs to reduce their carbon footprint by eliminating the transportation, storage and refrigeration costs associated with traditional prepackaged bottled water, and enabling them to minimize waste and their environmental footprint. That’s also what this show is all about!


Fresh Origins/Gourmet Sweet Botannicals… MicroGreens…Edible Flowers Story coming!





As always, please feel free to comment in the “Comment” box below. Love hearing from you!

Mangia Bene,

Chef Bert

The Best Pizza in Miami is Pizza Rustica on Lincoln Road…Simple!

Independent Pizza Rustica Customer Review:

I have to say it again! Unbeliveable pizza!!! This is my second review. Unlike other “2nd reviews” there was no change of opinion. Pizza Rustica is simply the best pizza in the world (just the opinion of me, my two boys, my nephew, dad and brother-in-law…plus one of best buddies when we came to Miami some 7 years ago). Its sooooo good. And at around $5 for a giant square. C’mon man!!! Its just too amazing. Nothing comes close to fantastic taste/value and stomach satisfaction. On one hand I’m glad there is not Pizza Rustica in Toronto (I’d be a whale). Actually there is a “Pizza Rustica”, but they only used a name. I tried it once…it was OK, but it was not “The real Pizza Rustica”.

I think most of you would agree that reading a review like this from a customer would for sure get you in there for lunch or dinner.  Every restaurant has it’s reviews and of course all you have to do is look at the reviews and make your own decision. In addition to the positive review this customer gave, consistency is also one of the most important factors that will keep customers coming back again and again…and it’s this consistency that keep us coming back…not to mention the extra napkins 🙂

Meet a smiling Carlos!

When starting off our day in Miami, we look forward to the ever evolving Wynwood Art District. Known for its many colorful graffiti art  murals, Wynwood is one of the city’s most happening destinations in South Florida. Wynwood Walls is an outdoor museum showcasing large-scale works by some of the world’s best-known street artists. The surrounding streets have converted warehouses housing craft breweries and funky art galleries.

At the same time, we like to walk the Lincoln Road Mall and stroll about looking at the shops. To be 100% honest, It’s also the home of our favorite pizza spot when visiting Florida…ie…PIZZA RUSTICAhhhhh! For several years we have been coming here and it wasn’t until now that I decided it was time to write this review. Why? The timing was such that I just happened to run into a smiling and sincerely happy Pino the proprietor.

Bert & Pino

I have to say one of my habits in running into the owner or manager of any pizza restaurant is to get the lowdown on the flour. By now you know my concern with bromated flour in pizza.  

So gracious was Pino that he quite proudly brought me towards the back of the restaurant to show me the bags of beautiful King Arthur (unbromated) flour used to make their pizza.

As well, he proudly pointed to all the cans of Italian tomatoes they use and that’s really all I needed to know.

Knowing the tastes we experienced in the past and seeing the ingredients I was not able to see on any prior visits convinced me that not only is this pizza the best taste and texture around…it is also among the healthiest.

What more could you ask for? Pizza Rustica uses Italian tomatoes, unbromated*** flour, extra virgin olive oil and the pizzas are topped with healthy and unique ingredients like seasonal organic produce and natural chicken breast. Salads are made the same way. The produce is sourced daily, and they only use 100 percent whole milk cheeses.  

To Pino…We say thank you for the tour and we look forward to seeing you and your most happy staff all again soon! You know what they say about happy people…Yes?

Hello Rene’

Say Hey to Maria…Mario…Ana…Roxana and Natasha. You know what they say about happy people…Yes?

On the way home, another must stop is Zak The Baker.

Truly Fabulous Food & Art Finds in Wynwood, Miami, Hollywood & Liberty Park, Florida


Mangia Baby!


Unbromated flour*** Google “bromated flour in pizza” and educate yourself.


As usual, hope you enjoy the read and we would love to hear your comments and/or suggestions in the “Comments” box below.

BetsaPasta’s Arthur Avenue Inspired Veggie Hero, Sub, Hoagie Creation…Yum City!

As much as I love my Arthur Avenue Teitel Brothers ‘deli’ in “The Beautiful Bronx” for most of my Italian delicacies, I have to confess that my go to source for fresh mozzarella cheese happens to be just down the street at Casa Della Mozzarella.

Photo of Casa Della Mozzarella Italian Deli - Bronx, NY, United States

They specialize in serving New York City with the best Mozzarella rated by Zagat for over a decade with phrases such as  “The Best Mozzarella This Side of The Atlantic” and “The best Mozzarella In NYC, No Questions Asked”.

Short and sweet…it’s true!

BetsaPasta’s  new veggie Italian hero, sub, hoagie!

-Fresh baked bread…preferably made with unbromated flour

-Sliced grilled baby artichoke hearts with stems (Teitel Brothers)

-Casa Della fresh mozzarella

-Red roasted peppers marinated in olive oil and garlic (Teitel Brothers)

-Banana peppers ( readily available almost anywhere)

-Sprinkle of dried oregano, dash of Kosher salt and ground pepper

-Blend of EVOO*, red wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar and Manodori balsamic (Manodori is my choice for balsamic vinegar, however use what you are happy with). 2.5 Tbsp EVOO, 1 tsp. each vinegar. Whisk with oregano, salt and pepper.

Note: You can mix and blend your favorite oils and vinegar’s since we all have our own tastes and, of course, it’s all subjective, As well, red roasted peppers are readily available in many gourmet markets

One thing I will tell you. Depending on your timing…

Lucky day…

Unlucky Day is when the line can be out the door and down the block…but you can always get a phab slice of Full Moon Pizza while you’re waiting at the end of the line 🙂


Seen in “Blog Entries”  December 15th, 2013

Hey Hey Ralphie…How ‘Bout A Slice O Full Moon And Some Cannoli?

As always…PLEASE feel free to comment below 🙂

Mangia Baby!





The Taco Beach Shack Mexican Restaurant in Hollywood, Florida. “A Local Gem”

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For us, what’s really special at The Taco Beach Shack in Hollywood, Florida, is their signature Korean short rib and/or brisket  tacos, burrito’s and salads. There are really so many other dishes that are wonderful, however the bottom line here is that these are quite unique in the world of Mexican fare.

Their Margarita’s are phantabulous and worth $10 or $35 for a pitcher. Go Monday eve for the same  CLASSIC MARGARITA (Tequila Blanco, Fresh Lime Juice, Agave, Triple Sec (choice of: Strawberry , Guava, or Passion Fruit) and these truly delicioso  margaritas are just $2…yup $2.

The service is efficient and the ambiance is relaxed and comfortable. Been referred to as a “local gem”…trust me and go. Have I ever led you astray?

Mangia Baby…or should I say Comer Bebe!


Short Rib Burrito bowl


Brisket Burrito Bowl


Short Rib Tacos

The Best Pastrami On Rye Resides At Hershel’s East Side Deli…And It’s Not In New York!

Let me preface this ‘Declaration’ since we’re in Philadelphia!

First…a little “deli’ background. It started for me in New York City with Max Asnas and the Stage Deli’s traditional  “Lox, Stock and Bagel” and then the Carnegie Deli back in the 1950’s. Iconic deli’s for sure….the Stage closed in 2012 and the Carnegie closed the last day of 2016.

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Carnegie Deli Closes Doors After Possible Gas Tampering

Growing up in Great Neck, N.Y. with my friend Kenny Pines, whose father Leonard Pines founded Hebrew National Kosher Foods, put us square in the middle of Kosher deli central. For us in Great Neck in the 60’s and early 70’s it was SQUIRES Delicatessen owned and operated by the Kleckner family and after Squire’s closed, the go to ‘deli’ was…and still is with many devoted fans…BEN’S Kosher Delicatessen owned and operated by Ronnie Dragoon with locations in New York and Florida.

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Many Jewish American delis aren’t even kosher anymore and are commonly referred to as “kosher-style” delis. For example, you can get a pastrami reuben with swiss cheese and sauerkraut at New York City’s Katz’s Delicatessen and, as well, here at Herschel’s with cole slaw in place of sauerkraut.

In 1888 Katz's Deli was the first Jewish American delicatessen to open in New York.   A little tidbit: In 1888 Katz’s Deli was the first Jewish American delicatessen to open in New York.

A little history: The demographics of the neighborhoods in which many of us grew up (for us it started in Great Neck the 1960’s) supported these various first Kosher and then Kosher style eateries. They were food driven and  they were also informal community centers where folks could gather to talk politics, get news, reminisce about the old country, discuss arts and announce life events. Jewish American’s from across the religious, economic and political spectra could collect at these places to discuss a broad range of varied but related ideas and intermingle in the comfort of an environment that served good food and made them feel welcome.  These were the types of restaurants our families gravitated to…thus making us all experts in the world of pastrami, corned beef and brisket. Right Kenny? 

Bottom line: I guess I’m trying to say I’ve tasted them all and now want to share with you our latest and greatest phood phind smack dab in the middle of Philadelphia, PA.

Folks…let me introduce you Hershel’s proprietor Steven Safern (that happy lady smiling in the back is Mrs. S.), whose dad was a manager and partner in Katz’s Deli in New York. Katz’s may be the best to many folks…but just because you’re in New York and just because you are Katz’s doesn’t mean you are the best…at least in my eyes. Our choice is here!

Not gonna be in Philly anytime soon…try Katz’s…IF you can get in.

So here’s the story. Sandy and I go to the Philadephia Flower Show almost every year at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and simply enjoy the theme based shows. This year the theme is Flower Power, but that’s another story. Every time we go, it’s lunch and dinner at the Reading Terminal Market with Hershel’s and a choice of so many other food destinations.

Just a little tidbit about the Reading Market itself: Considered by many as one of the finest public markets in the U.S., this one-of-a-kind with no equal (in our opinion) market blends together state-of-the-art systems technology without sacrificing its historical integrity. It’s not only a popular hometown attraction, but also the most popular Philadelphia tourist destination after the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. More than 80 merchants offer patrons fresh produce, meats, fish, groceries, flowers, baked goods, crafts, books, clothing, as well as hard-to-find specialties and ethnic foods. Shopping and dining become a pleasure in this warm, inviting, and unique atmosphere. The Reading Terminal Market, as it was over a hundred years ago, is reminiscent of personal, neighborhood shopping, and still offers something for everyone. A trip to Philadelphia would not be complete without stopping here.

For us…Hershel’s is the standout with it’s mind-blowing Pastrami, Brisket and Corned Beef served by one bunch of happy folks. You know what they say about happy people…Yes?

Succulent Pastrami