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food fanatic

WINE APPRECIATION:

more relatable (and affordable) than ever by marissa candela

Whether it’s red or white, to enjoy a fine bottle of wine is an experience in itself. Wine enthusiasts know the drill. Observe the color and clarity, and appreciate the aromas as the wine swirls within the glass, then taste. Observe the subtle nuances and notes, feel the weight of it on your tongue and enjoy its finish. While the “nectar of the gods” has existed for centuries with the oldest bottle of wine corked in 325 A.D., wine interest continues to soar, moreso in recent years with the help of mainstream media and box office hits like Sideways in 2004. What’s more, the popularity of California wines has enabled the U.S. to become a major player in the market. In fact, seventy-five percent of wine consumed in the U.S. comes from the States, leaving just 25% to the imports. Not surprising, as every state in the U.S. has at least 2 wineries, and California leads the way with 90% of production. Following is 88 fall 2009 woodbury

Washington, New York, (with Long Island producing some unbelievable wines) and Oregon. No longer is wine appreciation an otherworldly “snobby hobby,” It’s more relatable than ever.

Weeding Through the Vines Kevin Zraly, founder and instructor of the Windows on the World Wine School and best selling author of the number one wine book entitled, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course (currently celebrating its 25th anniversary) has traveled around the world for 40 years to 20 different countries, to build on his vast wine knowledge. But how much do you really need to know when you simply want to buy a good bottle at a great price? Zraly commented, “The overwhelming choices when someone walks into a wine store are staggering, moreso than 40 years ago. Part of my job is to find a $10 bottle of wine that tastes like $20. For me as a professional consumer, I’m still always searching for that great, well-priced bottle of wine. So to begin, simply find the best value – and there are many. In fact, in the history of world, this is the ‘golden age of wine’ in terms of quality.”

East Hills Wine Market on Glen Cove Road offers clients a wide selection and staff who are in the know, especially if you’re willing to try new wines. In fact, owner Matt Schweiger always advises his clients to take risks when making a selection. “The only way to learn or to gain experience is keep trying different wines. Why always go for the brand names? There are literally thousands of small production wineries, so try a wine that you have never heard of that is made with love and passion. There are just too many great bottles to enjoy under $20.”

Ladies, Did You Know? Women are the #1 buyers of wine in the U.S.; women also have a better sense of smell than men, and wine is all about its aroma.

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Wine has evolved for thousands of years. Just like you, each varietal has unique characteristics and is a product of its environment – a direct result of the love and care it’s shown from the vine to the bottle, just waiting to be uncorked.


A Note To The Novices… keep a note card handy to log your feedback on wines tried so you can reference it when venturing your next new purchase; or to be sure you can recall your new favorite.

The “Big

Six” Picks

Although we love rosés, too, let’s keep it simple by focusing on what’s known as “The Big Six.” For whites, this includes Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, in the order of lightest to heaviest. For reds, this includes Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, also in the ascending weight order. For food pairings, the rule of thumb is to match the weight of the wine with the food. To simplify, Zraly advises to think of these wines in terms of milk textures. For example, Riesling and Pinot Noir can be considered “skim milk,” Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot would be “whole milk” and Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are likened to “heavy cream.” Simply match them with foods that can stand up to the wine’s body and weight. To cut through some of the legwork, wine experts Zraly and Haskel have recommended excellent wines in each varietal that retail for under $20 a bottle, along with suggested food pairings. This should set an easy precedent for you to follow when making your own wine purchases.

Wine expert and consultant Brad Haskel, who has breathed muchneeded life into wine lists and instilled programs for top-rated restaurants on Long Island, also shares this philosophy. “Look for places that are not the über-hot region of the moment with a great wine making reputation. I pay a bit more attention to those because their prices soften a little bit, so you can find something excellent. For example, for a great French wine, look outside Bordeaux and Burgundy and you’re likely to find great wine at a much better deal.”

WHITES

Riesling Zraly’s Pick: Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling 2007 (Finger Lakes, NY) – $18

with a light cream sauce, or even with clams and oysters. It’s also great as an apéritif.

This wine presents a green gold hue, crisp acidity, a pronounced mineral character and layers of mango, citrus and pear blossoms in the nose.

Haskel’s Pick: Selbach Fish Label Riesling 2007 (Mosel, Germany) – $14

Food pairing: Overall, a Riesling would get lost under swordfish or tuna. Instead, so go with a lighter fish like Dover sole or flounder, perhaps

A racy, nervy Riesling at a very affordable price. Food pairing: This is tremendously versatile wine that is as at home with take out Chinese food, as it is with delicate fish.

Sauvignon Blanc Zraly’s Pick: Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Napa Valley, CA) – $17 Crisp and taut on the palate, this wine’s bright acid makes it bracing and refreshing – a wine of engaging distinctiveness, much like the appellation from which it originates. It’s meant to be consumed young. Food Pairing: As this wine has more body, you could put it with a red snapper or any other medium-bodied fish such as bass, shrimp or scallops.

Haskel’s Pick: Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Loire Valley) – $13

And for Pinot Grigio lovers…Try this recession

This wine, fermented in stainless steel tanks, is crisp and lively and can rightfully be referred to as a “baby Sancerre.”

proofpick by proprietor Matt Schweiger from East Hills Wine Market:

Food Pairing: Raw oysters and clams are a classic pairing for this wine. The lemony crispness of the wine can almost take the place of squeezing a lemon on the oysters and clams.

Il Conte Pinot Grigio 2006 (Veneto, Italy) – $11

Chardonnay Zraly’s Pick: Chateau St. Jean 2006-2007 (Sonoma, CA) – $13 This wine is more towards the medium style and is clean and crisp with a “kiss” of oak. Food Pairing: This Chardonnay is very much like a Pinot Noir – almost like a white wine masking as a red. Ideally, pair it with salmon, tuna, swordfish, lobster, or chicken. Haskel’s Pick: Darby & Joan Chardonnay 2008 (Southeast Australia) – $11

While there are elements of tropical fruit, oak, and lemon, no one element dominates, and the balance of the wine is its greatest asset. Food Pairing: A very classic pairing would be grilled wild Alaskan salmon. Salmon is a naturally fatty fish that matches up very well with the weight of this New World Chardonnay. Sautéed shrimp would also pair beautifully. The shrimp have an inherent sweetness that matches to the tropical fruit element of the wine.

This is a dry white wine exhibiting pale straw yellow color. The clean, intense aroma and the dry flavor with pleasant citrine finish make this Pinot Grigio a wine of character and versatility. It’s excellent as an apéritif and is the ideal accompaniment to seafood salads, fish-and shellfish-based pasta and rice courses. Also perfect with white meats, boiled or grilled fish and with soufflé.

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REDS

Pinot Noir Zraly’s Pick: Castle Rock Pinot Noir 2007 (Sonoma County, CA) – $14

Haskel’s Pick: Ramsay Pinot Noir 2007 (North Coast, CA) – $17

This elegant, well-balanced wine offers aromas of red fruit and spice. On the palate, there are flavors of plum and cherry with oak nuances, and the finish is long and harmonious.

Kent Rasmussen, one of the pioneers of the Carneros region, created this more cost-effective label to make Pinot taste as Pinot should, at an affordable price. This is no easy feat. Light and delicate, balanced with tart cherry flavors, this is a true quality Pinot Noir for under $20.

Food Pairing: Light to medium bodied, Pinot Noir is the ultimate wine to serve at a dinner party or while dining out in a large group as it is a nice pairing with a multitude of entrees. It’s the ultimate grape for fish, meat, and even Portobello mushrooms.

For avid wine enthusiasts, check out the New York Wine Expo being held at the Jacob Javit’s Center in NYC this February. Don’t miss this opportunity to sample over 600 wines from over 170 winemakers from around the globe in the Grand Tasting. Log onto: www.wine-expos.com/Wine/NY/ for tickets and information.

Food pairing: This Pinot would be equally at home with pork, or fish. A lighter bodied alternative, this is one of the easiest reds to make the crossover to pairing with medium to fuller bodied fish. Salmon is a classic pairing, but tuna or monkfish would also work wonderfully.

Merlot Zraly’s Pick: St. Francis Merlot 2005-07 (Sonoma County, CA) – $17

Haskel’s Pick: Praxis Merlot 2006 (Sonoma County, CA) – $15

A medium to medium-full bodied, soft wine with superb fruit depth and voluptuous, ripe berry flavors carrying into a long, lovely finish. Can be consumed younger than a Cabernet.

This is Merlot, before it was massproduced, cheapened, and had its name sullied. Bill Arbios, long-time winemaker at Lyeth, has used his experience and vineyard relations to develop some lip-smacking velvety Merlot, with a little complexity and guts.

Food pairing: Pair it with meats such as filet mignon; fat and protein cut down tannins (tannins cause the dry “puckery” feeling in the mouth following the consumption of red wine), allowing your taste buds to focus on the fruit. Pork, duck and cream sauces also help cut the tannins in Merlot.

Food pairing: A grilled pork loin glazed with olive oil, and doused with spring herbs would be delectable.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Zraly’s Pick: Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Central Coast, CA) – $15

Mondavi consistently delivers as one of the best wineries in the U.S. producing quality wines at varying price points. This wine has a sweet black cherry and dark berry fruit character and is supported by velvety tannins and well-integrated oak. This is a wine of excellent depth, richness and length on the palate. Food Pairings: Lamb and grilled foods, such as sirloin steaks, sausage and game meats.

Now

Haskel’s Pick: Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Napa Valley, CA) – $15 This wine is sourced by New York wine importer, “The Little Wine Company,” in the old style of a French nègociant. They found growers with great fruit in Napa, and bottled up terrific lush Napa Cabernet fruit with ripe and soft tannins. Fifteen dollars and good Napa Valley Cabernet are not usually in the same sentence. Food pairing: Classic pairing of a great grilled NY strip steak, and an easy-going Cab. It’s hard to beat that combination.

that you have suggestions for several excellent wine and food pairings, it’s time to test your palette with a tasting. From connoisseurs to those intrigued to merely step into the world of wine appreciation, it’s both educational and entertaining to host wine tastings in your home, ask a few more questions at the wine market, or simply step out-of-the box with any new wine accompaniment. As the economy continues its struggles, these are affordable options that may inspire you to venture toward more lesser-known’s, open your taste buds to a new experience and allow you to get lost in the beauty of the vine. |

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To find out more information on Kevin Zraly’s wine books and classes, visit kevinzraly.com or www.windowswineschool.com. For more info on wine consultant Brad Haskel, visit haskelconsulting.com. For East Hills Wine Market, 52 Glen Cove Road, East Hills call 516.625.0517 or online-wine-club.com.


food fanatic

Sweet on Sugar

on

by marissa candela Long Island, the recipe for success involves more than a winning idea and cosmetic overhaul; especially in a restaurant located in a nondescript Carle Place strip mall that debuted this summer when most of the North Shore flees east. Despite its taboo timing, Sugar has been bubbling over with clientele seeking quality fare, flair and fun minus the hassle of having to change venues after dinner or schlepping into the city to party. Sugar Dining Den and Social Club is a pretty sweet concept, filled with promise to put a much needed charge into the nightlife scene on Long Island.

The driving forces behind Sugar are manager Brian Rosenberg, who brings years of experience in the hospitality, culinary and nightlife sectors from both New York City and Long Island, along with Len Oliva and Joe DiGirolomo, owners of the Ciao Baby Restaurant Group, and entrepreneur Randy Narod. Sugar was born when Rosenberg was approached by the group to assist in amping up Ciao Baby’s nightlife, as he also spearheads a hospitality marketing and public relations group called BRNY. Unbeknownst to them, Rosenberg was in the process of searching for an ideal spot to bring his nightlife vision to fruition and was instantly smitten with the cavernous space. A partnership was sealed that very afternoon. Ciao Baby closed on July 1st, 2009 and reopened as Sugar on May 6th, 2010.

Having undergone a yearlong remodel and transformation, the design is nothing short of impressive. Once you get past the shopping center vibe, you’ll agree you’ve found a diamond in the rough. Upon entering its airy exterior, you’re greeted by a sleek, sexy bar and lounge where there’s an eclectic yet comfortable crowd cocktailing while music blares above. The unique domed ceilings give the space an intimate feel, but do not be fooled – you must be in the mood to embrace the aura of a boisterous environment; you will need to turn up your vocals to be heard. The spacious lounge is adorned with colorful mosaics by artist Fernanda Cohen and gives way to a hostess station and dining room predominantly comprised of tables flanked by spacious velvet booths for larger parties and after-hours table service. The backdrop of the dining room’s surround is glass enclosed trees that project a 3D hologram. Giving the illusion of an endless forest, this unique design was crafted by Louis & Dizon, famous for their work in such places as Butter and more recently, Lavo. And for those who can’t leave their sports behind, the oversized back bar flat screens are sure to please. But is it really possible to marry cutting edge cuisine with fabulous nightlife and not miss a beat? We sampled Sugar to find out. Attentive service with a smile starts from the outset, where our “Sugar-coated” server Anthony greeted us with a simple explanation of the small plate cuisine, recommending we order 2-3 dishes each. Small plate dining is both ideal for those who can appreciate the variety of menu offerings and festive for groups. Entrees are also available for those who don’t care to share.

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Sugar Dining Den and Social Club 248 Voice Rd, Carle Place www.sugarli.com Restaurant Hours:

Tues-Sat, 4-11pm Late Night Hours:

Tues-Sat, 11pm-1am Lounge Hours:

Thur-Sat, 11pm Chef Hok Chin, a native of Hong Kong, clearly brings his extensive experience from La Caravelle, Tavern on The Green, Essex House, and more. His first time working on Long Island, Chin had no preconceived notions of the area, but had a clear idea of what he would like to do. This was greatly appealing to Rosenberg. And although Chin is predominantly trained in French and American cuisine, the playful, creative menu is laden with global influences – an iota of Italian, a smattering of American, a bit of bistro, a generous helping of Asian fusion and sushi, so it’s hard not to find something appetizing. We started off perusing the specialty cocktail menu, which offers choices like a Black & White Cookie, Sugar-Sugar Lemonade, Swedish Fish and Sugar Sweet Cotton Candy, but opted to try the signature Pineapple Almond Joy, comprised of Bacardi Coco and Pineapple Rum, fresh coconut and pineapple juice with a generous toasted coconut rim. Too sweet for me, my dining partner enjoyed the martini, and I opted for a glass of Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc from the extensive wine list, which even offers sangria, sake and Sugar’s own brand of vino. The plates arrived sporadically, so not to be overwhelmed by too many dishes at once. And when sharing, the magic number of items is four. To start, we tried the honey maple glazed smoked pulled pork mini tacos. Four little crunchy shells were presented on a long dish decorated with chopped scallion and tomato that enveloped very tender, sweet pork – a fun dish that disappeared quickly. Another fine kick-off was the yellow fin tuna tartar cones, consisting of tender tuna inside a light, crispy cone and flavored with wasabi tobiko yuzu dressing topped with kimchi and seaweed salad. The dish was cleverly presented upright in a holder especially made for the mini cones. The calamari salad then arrived just in time. I mistakenly assumed the fish was grilled, not lightly fried. Even so, the rings were tender and crispy and nestled under a bed of arugula, fennel, mango and other mixed greens sprinkled with sesame seeds and sliced red and yellow peppers. The vibrant, zesty dressing comprised of Thai basil, lime and fish sauce had a spicy finish and contradicted the sweet mango, making the dish a standout. Another notable dish was the sea bass, reminiscent in flavor to shrimp toast due to its light, crispy coating. Generous pieces of tender fish rested atop a generous amount of duck sauce with a smattering of eggplant and topped with micro basil. And while the sweetness of the duck sauce was sometimes overwhelming, the dish then surprised with a pleasing spicy finish. We then ventured toward some Italian-inspired dishes. Skip the mediocre pot of meatballs and opt for the pizza, which is more of a focaccia reminiscent of a Sicilan slice in thickness, yet light in density. Topped with caramelized onions, creamy goat cheese and micro basil, the hearty pizza was first rate. Around 9:30 pm, tables in the center of the dining room started to be cleared, bar stools removed and lighted cocktail tables moved in, a cue that Sugar’s late night transformation was under way. While this was going on, a GNO birthday was taking place in the booth behind us, complete with a bottle of champagne adorned with celebratory sparkler and cupcake sliders. It was refreshing to see a unique spin on the celebration rather than yet another lackluster rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Our attention was brought back to the table with a one-two punch of culinary delights. First, a plate of outstanding hangar steak, tender and cooked to order and complimented by smoky potatoes, mushrooms and onions. Next, exceptional marinated teriyaki eel sliders arrived with guacamole, greens and a side of thick, French fried potatoes. And while we opted not to order any of the side dishes, the large sesame crusted tuna salad proved to be an ample, delectable accompaniment to all the shared plates. An unremarkable and somewhat dry chicken satay broke the winning streak, but redemption was soon found in dessert. At our server’s recommendation, we tried the peanut butter crepes. PB fanatics rejoice – these mouth-watering crepes served warm (the key) were packed with creamy peanut butter and chocolate and drizzled with more molten chocolate and broken Reese’s peanut butter cups. Fresh whipped cream and berries adorned the plate. Next visit, it’s definitely a tossup between the Dim Sum ice cream or the Sugar Orgy, which serves up to four people. At the meal’s end, the restaurant was fully turned over and the dining room cleared for dancing. We moved over to the bar and at 11pm, a dramatic intro from the DJ kicked off a multi-colored laser light show that emanated from the domed ceiling. The DJ commenced spinning classic and contemporary tunes, and both diners and loungers gradually made their way over to the dance floor. The booths were then gradually roped off for reserved table service with a late night menu. And naturally, the crowd shifts to the younger partying set as the night wears on. But don’t run off! The fun, eclectic mix of jet-setting North Shore-ites rubbing shoulders with sparkles, minis and cleavage makes for fascinating people watching while you get your groove on. Through it all, Sugar doesn’t take itself too seriously, even encouraging party goers to let their hair down in a controlled chaotic atmosphere. Whether you choose to go as a party of 2 or 20, Sugar offers a complete night out. So, if a trek to Manhattan for a fine dining and club-like experience seems daunting head to Carle Place. The food is surprisingly good and the overall atmosphere is a delight for the senses, offering pure escapism close to home. Just remember to wear your most comfortable pair of (killer) heels if you choose to dance the night away… |

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photos courtesy of Krav Maga Worldwide ©

fitness

Get Fit and Fierce with Krav Maga by marissa candela

Tired of the treadmill? Not afraid to break a nail while breaking a sweat? Then you may want to explore Krav Maga, which in Hebrew translates to contact combat. Slowly trickling over from the West Coast, this form of martial arts has evolved into a popular workout for A-list celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Jennifer Garner, Lucy Lui, Jennifer Lopez and Leonardo DiCaprio, just to name a few. The official self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces, Krav Maga training employs instinctive movements, practical combat techniques and real-life scenarios. It is said to be an intense physical and mental workout that builds confidence and esteem while simultaneously shaping the body. And the rules are; there are no rules. Basically, this down and dirty, no holds barred method uses any mode available for self preservation, which in this unpredictable world may come in handy…Darren Levine, the Chief Instructor of Krav Maga Worldwide based in California, a 6th degree black belt and is one of the highest-ranked instructors in the world, shared in a recent interview on the importance of Krav Maga for women in particular. “The main purpose of Krav Maga is self-defense and fitness, so training time is wisely spent on these core goals. To be able to defend yourself, you must be fit. The ante is raised when you’re a woman in your 30’s to 50’s, fighting for your own safety or to protect a loved one.”

Krav Maga in a Nutshell Imi Lichtenfeld, now deceased, is the creator of Krav Maga. Essentially, the Krav Maga self-defense fitness program emphasizes strength training to maximize a student’s capacity to cause damage to an attacker, as well as to absorb punishment, endurance so that practitioner’s can exert maximum physical effort during a physical encounter, flexibility to provide a greater range of motion, power and speed, and explosiveness to produce maximum effort or strength in a short amount of time. Devotees and A-List celebs have praised the program for its benefits, which is said to provide a true measure of safety, high level of fitness and feeling of empowerment all while having fun and remaining free of injuries. 72 spring 2011 woodbury

One anonymous Krav Maga student got fed up with “feeling mousy,” as her abusive ex-husband harassed her long after their divorce (yes, physical abuse exists on the North Shore, too). She literally took matters into her own hands because restraining orders weren’t effective in making her feel secure. Through Krav Maga, she gained the confidence, awareness and the ferocity to defend herself if needed. But is it as “badass” as it sounds? We found out for ourselves by attending a recent session at Kombat Masters of Long Island (KMLI) in Syosset. An unassuming forum of white cinderblock, punching bags, pads and mats, eager Level 1 (beginner) students, a mixture of men and some women and children of all denominations and ages, paired off and went through a series of self-defense exercises. The vibe and atmosphere were welcoming. Overhead hung a banner that boldly stated, “Refuse to be a victim.” Enthusiastic instructor Dean Angel first guided pairs through a series of self-defense exercises, such as “choke from the front with a push,” which involved successfully escaping from a strangle hold through a series of fluid movements. The class then circled and took turns with “360 degree defenses,” where each was taught to fend off attackers from all angles. Encouraged to shout, each student took turns being the attacker and the victim in the circle. No one flinched if someone fell to the ground, but camaraderie was evident as hands were extended to help them up. Krav Maga employs hundreds of moves, but fewer than traditional martial arts, so adequate self-defense can be learned in a few months of training 2-3 times per week. “Left and right punches,” and “knees to the head and body” were also mastered as participants practiced the moves over and over in their pairs, sweat and intensity evident on the faces of every student. Each wore loose fitting clothing


for freedom of movement but curiously, no telltale belts were adorned even though they are awarded through advancement starting from Level 1 and up. Siblings Dana and Jane Angel from Jericho started taking Krav Maga classes at KMLI in August of 2010, and have thus far been pleased with the results. Both intermittently commented, “It’s a very good self-defense workout that builds confidence and makes you more assertive.” They also touted that they’ve become leaner, stronger, more focused and have better overall reflexes, and have participated in KMLI’s Sunday women’s class taught by instructor Amy Morgenstern. Geared toward the fairer sex, the class teaches such things as rape defense, spotting danger signs, how to fend off attacks from behind, escaping from hair pulling, and more. If you’re interested in starting a serious Krav Maga program, be aware that there are questionable, watered down hybrids of Krav Maga being offered in some locations on Long Island. Be sure to inquire as to whether your instructor is fully trained and/or certified. And as far being a booty-kicking (and shaping) workout, Michael Blitz, Chief Instructor at KMLI and Long Island’s only Krav Maga black belt, commented, “There’s intense fitness in every class because we stress cardio for longevity in fighting. The bursting moves provide torch calories, so if you stick with it, there’s no way you can’t lose weight and define your muscles.”

Single gals, take note: The clientele at KMLI is 70% male. In addition to a few pro athletes and high caliber law enforcement agents, a number of doctors and surgeons also attend Krav Maga classes to relieve stress, get in shape and learn self-defense. As it gains popularity, female membership is sure to rise.

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But it does seem pretty intense, so injury may be of concern to some. However, Blitz was adamant on this topic and stated, “Since the inception of KMLI in 2001, I’ve only had two isolated incidents that were cause for real concern.” And if you’re looking for the formalities and philosophical peace and love ideals that often come with traditional martial arts programs, Krav Maga may not be for you. Shihan John Busto, a 6th Degree Black Belt and founder of Busto's Martial Arts in Plainview commented, “Krav Maga incorporates the basic movements of most martial art forms at a continuous repetition. Although, it can be a tough workout it does not offer the mental and spiritual benefits of a traditional martial arts program. I believe that a traditional program offers so much more, as it incorporates physical strength with skills to build self-esteem and develop discipline and focus.” So why not channel your inner Xena while learning self-defense and getting fit? For a unique and stimulating workout, try a Krav Maga class. Whether you’d like to prepare for unwanted encounters, stressful mornings, or even extra demanding days with the kids, it just may give you that extra boost of confidence in every aspect of your life. Imi Lichtenfeld, the Grandmaster of Krav Maga would say, “The purpose of Krav Maga is so that one may walk in peace.” | For more information about Krav Maga, visit www.kravmaga.com. For information about Krav Maga of Long Island, visit www.kmli.com.


food fanatic

Old World Charm

in plain view at Brasserie Cassis

by marissa candela

The experienced group of restaurateurs at Reststar Hospitality spent a great deal of time scouting the perfect spot for their new French restaurant, Brasserie Cassis. “We wanted to position ourselves more central than our other locations that are tucked away,” says Reststar’s Director of Operations Eric Machado. With centralized Plainview as their target, their watchful eyes steadily remained on a bustling shopping strip called the Plainview Centre right off South Oyster Bay Road. But prime storefront was needed to do it right. Finally, after Ruven’s Deli had been laid to rest, Brasserie Cassis gradually rose from its ashes and opened just before the New Year. As the group at Restar had already achieved success with the smaller Bistro Cassis in Huntington and Bistro Citron in Roslyn, they were fairly confident that faithful fans and newcomers from surrounding towns would frequent their latest venture. Judging by the sea of people and extreme noise levels I experienced on a recent Saturday night, they were right. Once inside the colorful Brasserie Cassis you’ll soon forget your position in a strip mall as you marvel at the authenticity of its imported Frenchinspired décor. Vibrant posters, red leather booths, elaborate gold moldings, rich woodwork, tasteful ornate ceilings, antiqued mirrors, warm globe chandeliers and marble tabletops evoke a true vintage Parisian brasserie. Mais oui, even Chef Alexandre Petard, who earned some of his stripes at Les Halles in NYC, hails from France. But does the food stand up to all this “authenticity?” Is it really just a local joint or worthy of a Saturday night drive? On more than a few visits, we found out. Plan to start with a cocktail at the old world bar with ample seating and a flat screen TV, but be sure to make a reservation unless you don’t mind

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lounging for too long. Our friendly bartender actually remembered we had waited over an hour for a table the week prior and immediately bought us a round for our trouble — très bon! While pondering what to order, the crusty baguette with chicken liver patè or sweet butter placed upon the table did the trick. Wait staff is at the ready with specials and helpful suggestions. For example, when advised that the Plat Du Jour (daily special) had run out, another comparable dish was recommended. To start, I highly recommend the shellfish. The fresh and flavorful blue point oysters from La Bar A Huîtres (oyster bar) or the not-to-be-missed moules (mussels) served in an impressive copper pot, where the lid cleverly serves as a shell bowl. But be warned, if you order the Moules Marinières in white wine and garlic, it may drive you to a bread dunking frenzy long after the tender mollusks are finished. More adventurous diners may want to try the Moules a la Crème de Pernod, sautéed in garlic and oil with a touch of cream and the distinctive flavor of star anise. Don’t be surprised if you dredge the bottom of the pot for stray moules long after they’re gone. And although the mussel portions were large, I began to wish I ordered the pommes frites (french fries) to accompany. Served with mayonnaise and ketchup, they were continuously being delivered to the surrounding tables in clever newsprint wrapping, a classic presentation from European curbside vendors. An alternate good start is the Niçoise salad, tossed with light and tangy dressing. Fresh field greens, tuna, black olives, tomatoes, haricot vert (green beans), red onions, potatoes, baby artichokes, eggs and capers make this ample appetizer quite filling.


For the main course, choose from les sandwiches to pátes italiennes (pastas) to pour 2 personnes (plates for two) to menu pour les enfants (the small children’s menu) to the creative, gourmet entrees or plats du jour. Those who yearn for comforting meat and potatoes should choose the Hachis Parmentier au Truffe Noire, a traditional shepherd’s pie. Stuffed with ground sirloin and topped with black truffle mash, it will satiate a hearty appetite. Carnivores may also opt for the Onglet aux Pommes Croquettes, grilled hangar steak with crunchy potato croquettes, watercress and fragrant red wine shallot sauce (we asked for medium rare and we got it). Other options include sirloin steak, roasted pork chop, braised lamb shank, roasted rack of lamb, marinated chicken breast and duck. Fish lovers also have much to choose from. The menu features salmon, sole, cod, trout, tuna and scallops. I enjoyed a dish called Tatin de Coquille St. Jacques; roasted scallops over puff pastry, carmelized onions and julienne vegetable Lillet sauce. In this dish, sweet, tender scallops were playfully accented with Tobiko (aka flying fish) caviar. The light sauce complimented the scallops and tender vegetable medley. All contents rested on a flattened puff pastry that was rather bland, but didn’t take away from the overall dish. For dessert, give the satisfying crème brûlée a whirl. Crack the warm, sugary layer and spoon into the velvety inside. And although the chocolate mousse was ordered, I received the very good Moelleux au Chocolat, a spongy chocolate cake with molten center served with a side of vanilla ice cream. To sum, Brasserie Cassis is not another run-of-the-mill local restaurant. Quite the contrary, it’s got character, wonderfully distinctive food and friendly service. Just remember to call ahead, especially on weekends, then aller! |

By definition, a brasserie is an informal French café that serves beer, wine and simple, hearty food. But Brasserie Cassis is not that straightforward. Brunch, lunch or dinner, the menu is quite creative and caters to palates both simple and complex. Plus, there are 13 carefully chosen wines by the glass (85 total) wines and 4 French and Belgian beers on tap (8 total).

Brasserie Cassis 387 South Oyster Bay Road Plainview, NY in the Plainview Centre

cuisine French Brasserie reservations 516.653.0090 hours lunch, Monday to Saturday, noon to 3 pm, dinner, Monday to Thursday, 5 to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 pm, Sunday, 5 to 10 pm, brunch, Sunday, 11 am to 3 pm

space Parties/large groups accepted, outdoor seating in good weather range Apps $7-$13; Dinner entrees $12-$27; Lunch entrees $8-$19; Fixed-priced Sunday brunch, $17.

more Wheelchair accessibility, casual atmosphere with few children, American Express, MasterCard and Visa accepted

woodbury spring 2008 97


food fanatic

Atlantica is Reborn

on Long Beach…is it worth the trip? by marissa candela Atlantica restaurant, a name you may be familiar with from its 12 year standing in the Westhampton Bath and Tennis Club, has relocated with some fresh fanfare on the second floor of the new $50 million Allegria Hotel & Spa in Long Beach. This recent project and hopeful hot spot is spearheaded by real estate and business mogul Allen Rosenberg. For those North Shore-ites whose navigation systems only head Hamptons east for beach-appeal, Long Beach sits just beyond the Atlantic Beach club strip in which many are familiar. The Allegria’s intent, alongside Chef Jacobs with Atlantica, is to be a luxury destination attracting both Long Islanders and New York City residents to spend quality beach side time without the bustle of Hampton’s pretense or traffic. Allegria’s owner Allen Rosenberg brought in Chef Todd Jacobs whose accolades include the American Hotel in Sag Harbor, Tierra Mar in Westhampton Beach and of course the former Atlantica, to oversee all kitchen operations and lead his vision of a gourmet restaurant within a destination hotel. “Todd is a guy who doesn’t put on airs, which fit since I wanted to create a restaurant and hotel without pretense,” said Rosenberg during our interview. “Also, I was impressed that he used the freshest ingredients available, most of which are local.” Their partnership was sealed by a simple handshake, prompting Jacobs’ big move from east to west shortly thereafter, to which Jacobs commented, “The current economy has made things pretty

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tough all over, but especially in the Hamptons because it’s more seasonal. In Long Beach, multi-million dollar condos and a more densely populated area bring much more opportunity.” The entire building was redesigned by Bali born Tonny Sadha, also responsible for the W Hotel in New York and Foxwoods Resort & Casino, to name a few. As a result, Atlantica has re-emerged with a sleek, modern interior ala South Beach with European flavor. Once inside, it’s easy to forget you’re still on Long Island. But does Atlantica’s American cuisine measure up to all this grandeur? Several weeks ago, we entered the restaurant through the hotel and rode the elevator up to the L’onda (translation: the “wave”) lounge at boardwalk level. The room was stylishly candle lit complete with inviting sofas and chairs surrounding its focal point, an over-sized dual-sided fireplace. On its opposing wall was a communal table available for larger groups. And although just a few souls were cocktailing at the lounge’s circular mosaic bar on a Thursday night, it’s likely the warmer season will bring beach goers and cocktail parties to this ideal setting. Directly preceding the main dining room revealed yet another sleek, white bar that seats eight where we relaxed with a pre-dinner glass of Bancroft Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Before we were seated, I couldn’t resist a short tour of the spacious, romantic main dining room designed in subdued blue and earthy beach hues complimented by angled framed mirrored walls that mimic the sparkle of the sun hitting the water. The wood floor is reminiscent


The glass enclosed wine room is a private dining area that surrounds 6 to 8 guests with racked bottles of various vintages.

of the boardwalk. Floating, color-changing fiber-optic light fixtures resemble jelly fish to create an underwater experience. It’s plain to see that designer Sadha took a lot of his design cues from the surroundings. The private dining room, which accommodates 16, also reflects a beach setting. The hanging light fixtures resemble droplets of water, while one textured wall plays off white sand, complete with starfish. The host then led us into an exclusive wine room, a glass enclosed private dining area that seats 6 to 8 guests flanked by racked bottles of wine between glass walls. Our server presented menus divided into “Sea,” “Earth,” and “Vegetarian,” and advised the menu changes frequently to reflect the organic and locally grown produce available for the freshest of ingredients. Five to six specials are also offered nightly. The wine list offers over 100 local, national and international wines. For the first course, we ordered a rich lobster and tomato bisque flecked with fresh parsley. Each creamy spoonful shined with flavors of fresh lobster. A hint of smokiness further heightened this very satisfying soup, quite comforting on a chilly night. To follow, a fresh sesame tuna tartare was served, bright pink and accompanied by a creamy, yet spicy wasabi sauce and vibrant mesculin greens in a light vinaigrette. This appetizer rested atop a crispy fried potato base, which added some welcome crunch and heartiness to the dish. We could not resist the Hudson Valley foie gras available that evening. This was served with smoked local scallop and greens topped by a colorful raspberry walnut vinaigrette. The foie gras was buttery on the inside and seared perfectly with a decorative cross mark on the outside. The scallop was tender and cooked to perfection while the sweet, nutty dressing balanced the dish nicely. Stepping out-of-the-box we ventured to try one of the Chef’s signature dishes at the suggestion of our server – a grilled oyster from the Shinnecock Bay served with American caviar. The warm oyster and salty finish from the caviar were unexpected and pleasant. Overall, all four starters offered layers of fresh flavors and were pleasing to the eye and palate. For entrées, we ordered the charbroiled organic Scottish salmon with lemon caper vinaigrette served with a medley of grilled vegetables and a pleasantly sweet organic brown rice. The fresh salmon was moist and tasty, and the vibrant, lemony capers added a welcome boost to the plate. Our sampling from the sea was a winner. 94 spring 2010 woodbury

Following, from the “earth” portion of the menu, was sliced oven roasted breast of Long Island free range duck served in a maple stout reduction with sautéed spinach and forest mushrooms with sweet potato puree. As duck is a hearty dish (and not at all dry – a common faux pas) the sweet notes of the maple stout reduction and potatoes complimented it well, as did the hearty morels on top. For steak lovers, do not miss the charbroiled grass fed filet mignon with forest mushroom cream, which is served with a medley of grilled vegetables and oven roasted Yukon gold potatoes. The combination of succulent beef with its creamy overlay was outstanding. According to the Chef, grass fed beef is full of vitamin B12, should that lessen your fat-fueled guilt. Accompaniments for each entrée were ample, colorful and fresh. Grand finales include a calorie-worthy velvety vanilla crème brulée and the chocolate hazelnut marquis that will stand up to the most fervent chocoholics (as such, this was our favorite). This dessert was so dense it’s a wise choice to share. Other selections catching our eye were s’mores, caramel apple pie tartlet a la mode and good ole homemade vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Although, as with most grand projects, it was a bit of a bumpy opening with controversial building issues, changes in location, staffing shifts and more, the rough waters have seemed to settle. As Atlantica is about to embark on its first spring and summer season sure to bring in plenty of business, time will tell if it can sustain the quality we experienced. For now, the fare and atmosphere have proven worthy of a new navigation setting. |

Atlantica Restaurant 80 West Broadway, Long Beach cuisine: New American

reservations: 516.992.3730

hours: breakfast Mon-Sat, 6am-11am, Sun 7am-11am;

Sun brunch*, 11am-3pm; lunch Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm; dinner Mon-Sun, 4pm-Midnight space: main dining area seats 130, exclusive wine room for 6-8 guests, L’onda lounge with communal table, private dining room for up to 22 guests, outdoor seating in good weather, Living room with fireplace, couches, separate menu with lighter fare and piano player range: Soups/Salads $8-$14; Apps $12-$20; Entrees $24-$40; Desserts $8-$10 more: wheelchair accessibility, children’s menu *Sun brunch, $38 per person includes unlimited appetizer buffet, entrée, coffee & tea and one Mimosa or Bloody Mary.


Woodbury