Summer is truly my favorite time of year, and I am sad to see it go. For the most part, I stayed fairly close to home and enjoyed all that Long Island has to offer, including its food. Sometimes it’s nice to take a trip or two also. Here are the top seven dishes I ate both near and far.
I kicked off the summer late June, by making a quick overnight trip to the Culinary Institute of America. If you haven’t been there, I strongly suggest you go. It is a place to be experienced, and a place where you can watch future chefs in training. I had the most magnificent dinner at The Bocuse Restaurant, which is known for its French food and impeccable service. My meal was outstanding, but what was really over the top was dessert – homemade sage ice cream made tableside with liquid nitrogen. Not only was it a sight to be seen, it was probably the creamiest ice cream I have ever eaten because there is no time for crystals to form. I know you’re probably thinking sage? Yes, it worked. The flavor was light and subtle and it was served in miniature homemade ice cream cones. Each week the restaurant serves a different ice cream flavor. While you’re in Hyde Park, be sure to check out Franklin D. Roosevelt’s house, just down the road, where you will learn a thing or two about our 32nd president.
2. New York Beach Club
What a nice surprise this turned out to be! The private New York Beach Club opened its doors to the public at their new restaurant in the beginning of the summer. I was invited to come and check it out, and both the food and view were equally fantastic. I normally like sea scallops pan seared, but Chef Adam Nolan-Charles’ lightly fried sea scallops with Sriracha aioli were outstanding. Light and crisp, they were packed with flavor and were perfectly cooked. If you missed NYBC this year, then make sure you get there next summer. They had some wonderful great live bands on the weekends as well.
3. Mango’s Dockside Bistro
Marco Island, Florida
There is nothing better than sitting under palm trees by the water while eating colossal-sized sushi at Dockside Bistro in the quaint seafaring community of Marco Island. I loved their fiery sushi with tuna and jalapeño, and their cocktails are as tropical as they come. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon lunch, or happy hour at sunset.
4. Maguires Bayfront Restaurant
Ocean Beach, Fire Island
I’m embarrassed to say that as a native Long Islander, this past summer was the first time I had set foot on Ocean Beach in Fire Island. It was fantastic! After a few hours resting on the beautiful beach, it was time to head back to town for some lunch. A police officer highly recommended I check out Maguires, which was beautifully situated on the Great South Bay. I absolutely loved their fresh shrimp spring roll with Thai dressing. It was the perfect afternoon lunch, and it paired beautifully with the Coco Loco cocktail.
5. Navy Beach
Montauk has always been my top summer destination, and a trip over to Navy Beach proved to be a most memorable food evening. Known for their small plates, it’s easy to try a lot of dishes at this comfortable, on-the-beach location. The staff is friendly and fun, and the atmosphere is perfect for just about anyone. Bring the kids or have a date night, and soak up the most magnificent sunsets you’ll ever see. It was hard to choose which small plate I enjoyed the most, but thinking back I’d have to say it was a delightful salmon tartare with cucumber, avocado, Greek Olives and wasabi crème fraiche. Definitely on my go-to list for next summer.
6. Sweet’tauk Lemonade
I first found out about Sweet’tauk lemonade over the winter when I was asked by my editor to write about their product for Edible. What makes their lemonade so special is that zero to 1 gram of sugar is used in most of their products, which are all natural, fresh squeezed, cold pressed, organic and non-GMO. They have a store front located in town on South Etna Avenue, but I caught up with founder Deborah Aiza and Donald Newman at the Montauk Farmers Market in August. I bought a bunch of flavors, and then ended up going back to the store where I bought two of everything. It is clearly the best tasting and healthiest lemonade you can drink. My personal favorite is Montauk Sea Salt Lemonade made with deep ocean trace minerals and marine collagen peptides. It tastes like summer in a glass!
7. Osteria Leana
For those of you who are familiar with my work, it’s no secret that one of my favorite go-to restaurants close to home in Osteria Leana. Chef Peter Van Der Mije brings Italian food to a whole new level, at this fun, farm-to-table restaurant. No summer for me would be complete without my favorite pasta dish – the “Summer Chitarra.” Homemade fettuccini is tossed with fresh local sweet corn, chunks of lobster, shaved parmesan and truffle oil. It is a taste sensation, and I’m glad I made it in before the fall menu arrives.
So thank you, Summer for providing me with some wonderful and memorable places to eat. I’m sorry to see you go, but I’m looking forward to the warm and delectable dishes the fall will bring me.