Tiger Lily Cafe: Art and Juice Menu Before Urban Standard, Baked, and Mud, for me there was Tiger Lily Cafe in Port Jefferson. It was a 10 minute drive from Miller Place and it’s safe to say that I spent time there every weekend for over a year. In high school I wasn’t particularly adventurous and never tried their wheatgrass shots or any of their more interesting freshly juiced combinations, but the veg/vegan friendly cafe hooked me on their Provincal and Roma sandwiches (sliced brie, pear, crushed walnuts, mesclun greens and house white wine honey mustard; and fresh mozzarella, Roma tomato, mesclun greens, and basil pesto mayo, respectively). When my mom and stepfather left Miller Place for Williamsburg circa 2003, I found fewer reasons to be down Port.

Tiger Lily Cafe: Frittata and Salad

Last weekend, I found myself with some spare time before meeting up with Vinny, so I wound my little car up, around, over and down Belle Terre hill (a half-mile stretch that still haunts my dreams due to the number of laps run during cross country training) and took a seat at the window. It was a strange time between breakfast and the hamburgers I’d planned to have with Vinny, but as I was hungry, I tried my first wheatgrass shot while deciding on a more filling option.

Tiger Lily Cafe: Wheatgrass Shot. Photo by Dan Schumacher

Tiger Lily Cafe: Wheatgrass Shot. Photo by Dan Schumacher

I am glad to now know that I am no fan of the wheatgrass shot. Its ounce of pure, just-mowed-the-lawn, slightly sweet, spicy soupiness (with more than a bit of garlic essence) is too much for my delicate self. It did help me decided to buy some food to help kill the taste. Yeah.

Tiger Lily Cafe: Cold Case

Tiger Lily Cafe: Cold Case. Photo by Dan Schumacher

Of the vegetarian and vegan options, I opted for a slice of tender roasted vegetable and cheese frittata. It did the job and held me over until our hedonistic burger fest a few hours later. It felt good walking through Tiger Lily’s door nearly 10 years later and finding that its heart (along with most of the menu) had stayed the same, a bit like a grandparent’s house (without all the fake plastic fruit).

Tiger Lily Cafe: Wrap Menu

Skip produces The Gourmetro. He dislikes wheatgrass shots about as much as mowing the lawn on a hazy August afternoon. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

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Sam Adams Infinium. Photo by Dan Schumacher

Sam Adams Infinium. Photo by Dan Schumacher

When Amy came back to the office saying she’d just seen a Champagne-like beer made by one of the oldest German breweries (and Sam Adams), I was intrigued. She went on to explain that the distributor had to get on a list years ago and received only one case. Very intrigued. And then she mentioned the price: $20. However shocked, I still wanted to pop a cork on one of Sam Adams’ Infinium.

Infinium - In Snow. Photo by Dan Schumacher

Infinium - In Snow. Photo by Dan Schumacher

Amy brought a bottle back to the office a few days later, but I have to say that none of us were impressed. Maybe it was the temperature, maybe it was so much different than any beer we’d tried before, or maybe it was a bad bottle. Who knows, but I was not too excited about the bottle I had sitting in the basement.

Infinium - Poured (close up).  Photo by Dan Schumacher

Infinium - Poured (close up). Photo by Dan Schumacher

This past weekend, I opened my bottle and shared it with the house. The fast-acting and intense head was the first thing we noticed, as well as its light golden color and fine, Champagne-like bubbles. After two minutes, the head subsided and we began to smell sweet crisp apple (or persimmon, thanks Atlantic).

Infinium - Glass. Photo by Dan Schumacher

Infinium’s combination of beer and Champagne, while not altogether seamless, is certainly interesting. Once on the palate, the acidity and carbonation were on the forefront but quickly transitioned to beerier notes of caramel, cloves and nutmeg. Hoppy bitterness is present but doesn’t receive the spotlight. At the finish, the 10.3 percent alcohol by volume booziness mixes with the apple scent from the nose reminding me of calvados. (I love calvados.)

Would I run out and grab another bottle? No, probably not. The prohibitively high price, for me at least, outweighs the beer’s novelty and flavor. Now that I’m back in New York and have access to so many new and interesting brews, I’d rather just move on.

Skip produces The Gourmetro. He loves beer and was the founding beer columnist for Birmingham Magazine. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

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Leaving Long Island for a bit was entirely necessary and, as per usual, Southwest Airlines gave me a quick, on-time, and uneventful flight. After the disaster I’d suffered through with U.S. Airways the week before, it was refreshing to have such a spot-on aero experience (for those who missed it, my flight left two hours late from Williamsburg, so I missed my on-time connection in Philadelphia only to discover that my options were waiting two days in the airport–at my own expense–or driving the four hours back to Long Island–at my own expense. When I retrieved my bag, which was inexorably loaded on the next flight to Islip, it had been rifled through and picked over. Awesome. Thanks a lot.). Anyway, it was great to return south, however briefly. Similarly to when I left New York City, I find myself missing people–my southern family–much more than the place.

New Year's Eve - Steak & Eggs BrunchAfter the particularly anticlimactic Mobile Moon Pie Drop (“OK, it’s coming down but there’s no count down. Is it time yet? They’re just chattering. Oh wait. It stopped. Um … Happy New Year!) a few of us started the first morning of 2011 with an odd, hopefully non-portentous, brunch: leftovers from 2010. Medium-rare hanger steak, fried local eggs and some crunchy toast seemed as good a meal as any to start the year. We added some orange juice for health, prosecco for happiness and strong coffee for determination.

New Year's Eve - Childs at CentraleNew Year's Eve - Trattoria Centrale Cappuccino (very wet)New Year's Eve - Trattoria Centrale BrunchEating (and writing) at Trattoria Centrale is one of the things I miss most about The Magic City. Geoff and Brian do such a consistently wonderful job of serving simply delicious food in a comfortable environment. Over my four days, I ate breakfasted in Trattoria Centrale twice. Sunday, I revisited my favorite brunch item–the breakfast za, with its sausage, potatoes, and perfectly poached egg–and was lucky enough to try Emily’s dish of eggs, sausage and pesto on a bed of creamy polenta. I was skeptical at first, but once all the elements come together, it was sublime. When Kim and I were there working, Geoff would steam up what he called The Kim Special. It is essentially a really wet, sweet cappuccino.

New Year's Eve - Urban Standard Red Velvet CupcakeNew Year's Eve - Urban Standard Red Velvet Cupcake (eaten)Urban Standard was my home away from home, and I missed the hell out of their red velvet cupcakes and Brandon’s expertly pulled espresso macchiatos. It was (and as it turns out, is) one of those places where practically everyone knows my name (and are usually glad I came). The fish sandwich with pickled onions is usually a safe bet, too. This cupcake help revive my spirits after a positively disgusting bowl of Yeti Chocolate Pudding at The J. Clyde the night before (it was nothing but a big ol’ vat of sickly sweet mess. No delicious Yeti Stout flavor.)

New Year's Eve - The Atlantic in JanuaryThis post has just a few of the things I miss about living in Birmingham. I was lucky enough to spend time (never enough) with people I miss. Upon returning to Long Island, I remembered that I hadn’t been to the beach since September. I bundled up and headed to Dune Road. The sand crunched with a bit of lingering snow and the roiling surf was rougher than expected. It would have been a perfect walk if not for the blistering wind. After a few minutes with it to my back, I realized what an awful return trip I’d have so I turned back toward my waiting car.

How did you spend New Year’s Eve? Was it delicious?

Skip produces The Gourmetro. He was ready for a cold walk on the beach, but the wind was intense. Intense! Important Disclosure: Trattoria Centrale paid once paid him a one-time sum to reword their website. That was a while ago now and has nothing to do with how much he loves their food. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

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Christmas Special

by Skip on December 28, 2010

in Dining,Recipes

Christmas 2010: Peeling Potatoes

Christmas 2010: Peeling Potatoes

Elizabeth and I headed to Williamsburg, Virginia for Christmas festivities with our mom and stepfather. Throughout the long weekend and near-blizzard we cooked up some perennial favorites, including swedish meatballs (above), shrimp “pate,” and broccoli strudel. Before any dishes were dirtied, we had some cocktails (of course). Liz’ favorite cocktail is something like a pared-down cosmo: equal parts vodka and cranberry juice, shaken and topped with sparkling wine.

Liz with Martini

Most of our family favorite comfort food recipes are yellowing magazine and newspaper clippings from the 1970s or from a vintage Calico Pantry Cookbook. A number of these recipes include margarine (gross).

Shrimp "Pate"

Shrimp "Pate"

The shrimp pate–really a jellied shrimp dip based on Cream of Mushroom soup, celery and onions–has evolved with the times. The story goes something like this: there was a time when lump crab meat was cheap and available (Oh the glory!). As time passed it became less and less so, and one day, without warning, the crab of yore was replaced altogether with pasteurized crap. The real thing disappeared from Eastern Long Island grocery shelves (and freezers). Instead of abandoning the recipe, we substituted shrimp for crab. Sometimes we still call it crab dip, even though it’s been nearly 20 years since it’s seen a crab. It isn’t too pleasing to the eyes but it is really delicious.

Swedish Meatballs

Last year’s broccoli strudel was a bit too spicy for mom with its’ wild and crazy 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper, so this year it was reduced to a paltry 1/16 teaspoon. Next year she vowed to return to the original proportion.

Broccoli Strudel

Makes 10 first-course servings
Source: Unknown

1/2 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/4 cups milk
4 ounces Swiss or Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1/2 pound phyllo
1/4 cup bread crumbs, divided

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, salt, and ground red pepper until blended. Gradually stir milk into mixture, and cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Stir in cheese and broccoli, and cook until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Make a 20-by-12-inch rectangle of phyllo on waxed paper, brushing each sheet with reserved butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon bread crumbs. Continue layering phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter and sprinkling bread crumbs on alternating layers.
  4. Spread broccoli mixture evenly onto one long side of phyllo, covering about half the rectangle. Roll from broccoli-covered side, in jellyroll fashion.
  5. Place roll, seam-side down, diagonally on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush with remaining butter. Bake 30 minutes or or until golden. Cool strudel 30 minutes on cookie sheet or wire rack before slicing.

The strudel can be made three or four ahead and refrigerated. Reheat at 375 degrees for 15 to 30 minutes.

Skip produces The Gourmetro. He’s mentioned broccoli in the last two posts but hardly ever eats it. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

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    Drinks: 21st Amendment Fireside Chat

    by Skip on December 17, 2010

    in Drinks

    21st Amendment Fireside Chat Box. Photo by Dan Schumacher

    21st Amendment Fireside Chat Box. Photo by Dan Schumacher

    Red Brick Brewery‘s Brown Ale was the last beer I bought based on its packaging, and I was unfortunately rewarded with its delicious taste. I say ‘unfortunately’ because that event may have fostered the notion that a well-packaged beer would be a tasty one. However promising 21st Amendment Fireside Chat looked on the counter, it was ultimately one of the most disappointing beers I’ve ever tasted.

    21st Amendment Brewery's Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale - Cans and Box. Photo by Dan Schumacher

    21st Amendment Brewery's Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale - Cans and Box. Photo by Dan Schumacher

    Comment if you think I am totally off base, but I am of the opinion that because packaging is an essential aspect of a product, a company that pays attention to its details might be more likely to use that detail-oriented approach on the product’s insides. I will not go so far to say that the folks at 21st Amendment did not pay attention to Fireside Chat’s insides, but there was a clear disparity in the packaging and the beer.

    21st Amendment Brewery's Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale - Poured. Photo by Dan Schumacher

    21st Amendment Brewery's Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale - Poured. Photo by Dan Schumacher

    After two (albeit brief-yet-rambling) paragraphs, it’s time to discuss the Fireside Chat. I kept opening the cans in hopes that the rich brown spiced ale would yield anything more than wimpy, over-spiced, under-carbonated crap. The only notable aspect of Fireside Chat is the aftertaste of cooked  broccoli water once the dominant cinnamon and clove notes subside. That sour, vegetal flavor killed Fireside Chat for me, more so than the body or bullying spice notes. The combination of light body and maltiness reminded me much more of Doppelbock than ale.

    I’ll give 21st Amendment another try at some point, just not soon.

    Skip produces The Gourmetro. He wrote a beer column for Birmingham Magazine, and as much as he loves beer, he tends to take it without broccoli. Check out his published works on Aisle 9, and talk with him on Twitter.

    21st Amendment Brewery's Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale - Cans 21st Amendment Brewery's Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale - Cans and Box 21st Amendment Brewery's Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale - Poured 21st Amendment Brewery's Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale - Box 21st Amendment Brewery's Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale - Box (side)

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