Saturday, July 04, 2009

all fridays should be like this

Strawberry fields forever

All Fridays should involve indulging in ice cream at 9AM, working up an appetite playing on a swing and walking in strawberry fields, enjoying a lunch of fresh and plump mussels by the water, and wiling away the afternoon basking in the sun while tasting wine at a vineyard.

Zoe and I started our Long Island Winetasting adventure very early to avoid the weekend traffic. So we found ourselves nearing the destination by around 9, when the wineries opened at 12! We killed time by driving through the Hamptons to gawk at the massive homes. We also walked through Main Street, where Zoe steered me to The Fudge Company. We asked for a taste of the famous Moosetracks ice cream, which of course led me ordering an entire cup. There's just no way to resist the vanilla ice cream with chunks of peanut butter-filled chocolate. My only regret is not taking a picture before we demolished this delicious treat.

Back on the road, we decided to stop at every ridiculously large object we came across. I mean, you try and pass a gigantic duck like this and not stop, I dare you.

So glad I left my wallet in the car because I would've come out of this souvenir shop with a bag of rubber duckies if I hadn't. The next extraordinarily large object we passed was a giant strawberry tied down to this shiny teal truck.

I forget what the farmer's market is called, but you can't miss that giant berry and the smaller yet still very noticable giant corn parked in front. Here you can pick your own berries from their strawberry field, or buy a pint in the market. We took a stroll down the fields and helped a little girl find berries (she became so convinced I had a gift for finding them that she wouldn't let go of my arm at one point). We ended up buying a pint of strawberries and the sweetest blueberries ever.

By then we'd worked up an appetite, so we drove over to The Old Mill Inn, a quiet restaurant by the dock known for serving the best crab cakes, lobsters and clam chowders in town. We sat on a table overlooking the Mattituck sound. We sampled the New England clam chowder of course, and it was perfect. The consistency was silky, and the soup was generously dappled with tasty clams and chunks of potatoes. I loved the soup but I was glad I saved room for the Moules Frites. The mussels were beautifully plump, fresh and sweet. Just heavenly with the white wine sauce dotted with tomatoes and garlic. The best Moules Frites I've had so far.

After a really satisfying lunch, we decided to go do what we came here for, which was to taste some Long Island wine. Our first stop was Sherwood House Vineyards, a very quaint vineyard in Mattituck. I loved the look of this place. You drive up on a dirt road that goes through the vineyard. At the end, there's a little shack surrounded by wooden benches and tables. The tastings are served on the table, and the server describes every wine in full detail, taking time to answer any questions you may have. In all honesty, the wine here was not stellar but I enjoyed the service and the attention paid by the servers and owners. Also, a tasting of 5 wines costs just $10! If I could go back, I think I'd rather just do an all-reds tasting. I wasn't too keen on their whites. If you're looking for a nice time but not necessarily life-changing wine, this is a good place to go.

Our next stop was Shinn Estate Vineyards. I was really excited to come here because it's been written about on The New York Times. I was quite disappointed with the service, though. The two owners were behind the counter with one other employee, but they seemed quite overwhelmed with the crowd. It took us awhile to get served. When we finally got their attention, glasses were placed in front of us but no wine was poured until minutes later, with another group almost getting served before us. No explanation whatsoever was given for any of the wine we tasted. On the other hand, the wine served here was vastly superior to that served in Sherwood. Their Nine Barrel Reserve Merlot was very good; complex and lush with the taste of potent berries. My favorite was the Cab Franc, which was also very lush and nicely spicy. But I wasn't sure that the two bottles were worth their price tags ($43 and $39 respectively). Who knows, I might change my mind and get some the next time we visit. After all, the thing with the Long Island vineyards is that their production is very limited and not readily available so it might be worth it. The prices for the tasting are very reasonable at Shinn, as well. It was just $8.50 for 3 tastings of their premium reds. I'd like to try coming on a Saturday or Sunday, when Shinn does a tour for $8.50 with complementary tasting.

After Shinn, we got the munchies and stopped for burgers and fried seafood at a random roadside joint. By then it was 4:45PM so we didn't have time for more tastings, since the vineyards close at 5PM. So we drove to Greenpoint, walked through the very cute town, rode a carousel, and capped off the day with slushy cocktails by the dock. All in all, an amazing way to spend a Friday. Thank you Zoe, and can't wait for Part Deux!

The Fudge Company is located at 27 Main Street, Southampton, NY.
The Old Mill Inn is located at 5775 West Mill Road, Mattituck, NY.
Sherwood House Vineyards is located at 2600 Oregon Road, Mattituck, NY.
Shinn Estate Vineyards is located at 2000 Oregon Road, Mattituck, NY.

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