Out East Foodie's Top 10 Holiday Gifts from Montauk to New York City

The holiday season is in full swing from the Montauk Lighthouse to New York City's Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. If Black Friday and Cyber Monday didn't do it for you, this list may gleefully send you on your way to complete your holiday shopping. There is an array of gifts that is sure to feed the stomach and soul with a lot of local love and care. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and happy shopping!

Photography by James Slezak. To purchase this print and other works by James please visit: www.jamesslezakphotography.com

  1. A Love Shared: How does 12 signature sauces by the Long Island Culinary Collaborative chefs sound? And all proceeds of this limited collection of 100 gift boxes go to the ALS research and quality of life care for people with ALS. This was motivated by Chef Gerry Hayden of the North Fork Table & Inn who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. A Love Shared is a collaborative effort to raise awareness about ALS, to promote research for ALS and to raise money for quality of life care for needy ALS patients. 

    Here is what's in the box: 

    Lia Fallon — Mediterranean Fig Chutney / Claudia Fleming — Passionfruit Caramel / Terry Harwood — Ginger & White Soy Mignonette / Gerry Hayden — Red Pepper Jimmy Jam / Keith Luce — Duck Wing Sauce / Sam McClendon — Salsa Verde / Michael Meehan — Pickled Corn Relish / Christian Mir — Ginger Vinaigrette / Joe Realmuto — Townline Hot BBQ Sauce / Guy Reuge — Piccalilli / John Ross — Wild Beach Plum Sauce / Tom Schaudel — Thai Red Curry Broth

    I lost an uncle to this disease and thought this was an amazing effort and gift by the The Long Island Culinary Collaborative chefs as well as Jeri Woodhouse, of a Taste of the North Fork who made the chefs signature sauces. For multiple orders or to personalize your gift contact Jeri Woodhouse at 631.834.1816. Orders can also be picked up at Taste of the North Fork, 53975 Main Road, Southold, NY.
     
  2. A Taste of the North ForkThis is a perfect segue to Jeri Woodhouse of A Taste of the North Fork who for more than 10 years has been making local ingredient-sourced chutneys, jams, mustards, pickles, preserves, sauces, spices and vinegars from her own recipes. Her gift baskets are perfect for the holidays for that special someone who really wants a taste of the North Fork. Visit: 53975 Main Road, Southold, NY. Phone: 631.734.6100.

  3. Sweet’tauk handmade for the holidays fair: Do not let the size of this shop fool you as there are a plethora of magnificent handmade East End products from local artists, artisans and makers. I left there with a bag full of goodies, a one-stop-shop sure to please anyone on your list. Participants include: 41 Degrees North, Amagansett Sea Salt, Billy Wolf K-9 Coatery, Bob Golden Ceramics, Bonac Bees,  Dana Forbes Jewelry, Deborah Frasca, Ditch Ink, East End Fish Prints, Evonne, Glenn Glasser, Grant Monahan Photography, Gula Gula Empanadas, Jane’s Garden Pickles, Joe & Liza's Ice Cream, The Knot House, Laura Michaels Jewelry, Lazy Point Pottery, Let There Be Light, Lorna's Nuts, Made in Montauk, Michelle Minkoff, Miss Amy's Preserves, Miss Lady Root Beer (I used their root beer to poach pears and paired it with Joe & Liza’s Cinnamon Stick and Vanilla Ice cream, delicious!), Montauk Brewing Company, Montauk Community Garden, My Art Is My Temple, Quail Hill Farm Cookbooks and Hot Sauces (all proceeds of sales go to Quail Hill Farm), Red Hook Lobster Pound, Southampton Soap Company, Tauk Boards, Whalebone Creative and Sweet‘tauk’s all-natural lemonade infusions made with locally sourced fruit & herbs. You can grab a taste of their products during the holiday fair on Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 5pm until December 23rd. Location: 34 South Etna Ave, Montauk, NY, Phone: 631.668.5683
     
  4. North Fork Long Island Wine Club: There is nothing better than Long Island Wine Country delivered to your doorstep! I have sampled my share of these wines at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks and the Harvest East End and if you are not local or rather imbibe from the comfort of your own home this is a great way to sample Long Island Wines. The North Fork Wine Club is the only wine club that exclusively ships Long Island Wine from most North Fork and Hamptons Wineries each month. Visit their website to subscribe. Cheers!
     
  5. Jimmy’s No. 43: Anyone who is a foodie at heart loves Jimmy’s No. 43 for it’s craft beer and Slow Food approved locavore haven. But the man behind this establishment—Jimmy Carbone—I love more because his spirit to educate and support locally-sourced food and well-crafted beer is unwavering. He wears many hats and is co-chair for Taste of Tribeca, special adviser for The New Amsterdam Market and for Greenmarkets GrowNYC, co-founder of Hungry Filmmakers, co-creator of The Good Beer Seal and the host of Beer Sessions on Heritage Radio. I always say all roads lead to Jimmy Carbone and if there is a time to go to Jimmy’s No. 43 and visit with the man himself, it is now! Hurricane Sandy hit New York City and in particular Jimmy’s No. 43 pretty bad. Jimmy is looking for a few guardian angels to help Jimmy (Stewart) with “It’s a Wonderful Life” rally and fundraiser. This will run until December 15th and all you have to do is purchase a gift certificate to enjoy great beer. For every gift certificate of $25 or more that you purchase between now and December 15th, your name will be entered into their Rare Bottle Raffle. And they’ll keep adding your name for every $25 you spend (so if you purchase two $25 or one $50 gift certificate, you’ll get two entries; spend $100 and get four entries, and so on). Winners will be notified the week of December 16th (just in time to share with friends and family). Their gift certificates never expire, are transferable—they make great gifts—and can be spent on food and drink all year long. And if you want to support them at a Patron level ($500+) you’ll be invited to special events and receive extra benefits in 2014!  Visit for Some holiday cheer: 43 East 7th St. btw 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Phone: 212.982.3006. Website: jimmysno43.com

     
  6. Farm 2 Kitchen Long Island: Is focused on being the easiest and most convenient way for fresh, local products from Long Island's farmers & artisans to end up in your home. Simply sign-up for free and order at your leisure when you want to receive your farm fresh, artisanal groceries. They serve all 5 boroughs of New York City and Long Island and offer a full range of produce from conventional to 100% hormone, antibiotic pesticide & GMO free products. Besides giving yourself the gift of a free subscription for groceries you can order corporate & personal gift baskets for the holidays. They deliver to offices and homes across Long Island & NYC. Phone 631.223.8854 
     
  7.  Farmigo: Is a People Powered Farmers Market. So what is that exactly? They connect communities of people (workplaces, community centers, schools and other locations), directly to multiple local farms, providing a personalized online marketplace for local, fresh-from-harvest food as well as dairy, pastured eggs, cheese, fish and meat. Members in each food community shop at their dedicated Farmigo farmers market online, pick and choose their preferred items, and then have their orders delivered weekly to their food community site—Farmigo Champions—within 48 hours of harvest. They currently work with over 300 farms in 25 states across the United States. In the tri-state area they are in Long Island, Brooklyn, Harlem and North Jersey. The difference between this and a door-to-door delivery is the community aspect. They recreate farmers market communities where people come together with food as the connection— at the weekly community pick ups— run by Farmigo Champions. Members come together to chat about all things food and to simply connect about life. They are actively building Farmigo Communities across California and New York and are seeking individuals who are interested. This holiday season and for the days to come give the gift of Farmigo to your family and community.  
     
  8. Edible Communities Publication: Edible Publications is in 80 distinct culinary regions throughout the United States and Canada. They connect consumers with family farmers, growers, chefs, and food artisans of all kinds. Locally, in the tri-state area we have Edible East End, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan and the newest publication on the block, Edible Long Island where they are running a special Edible subscription of 2-for-1. Check out their 80 Edible Publications to subscribe to a local or favorite edible region near you.
       
  9. Ms. Michelle’s Urban Gourmet: When I met Michelle and Christopher it was at the Great Chef’s Dinner and they were one week away from being married. They are a dedicated Gluten Free Organic Bakery Café serving natural, healthy, organic, locally sourced, 100% gluten and soy free, all the time! For the past 3 years they have been growing leaps and bounds and are looking to relocate to a new space and a new grown up name, Ms. Michelle’s Gourmand. It is no surprise as their pastries, pies, cakes, smoothies, breads, tarts, wedding cakes and savory menu are absolutely delicious and would satisfy any gluten fanatic. This holiday season have Ms. Michelle’s cater your next gluten free party from sweet to savory or consider donating to their kick-starter campaign for their newly expanded space (you might get a treat in the offering).  Visit: 572 Middle Road Bayport, NY 11705,  Times: Tuesday - Saturday: 8am - 6pm Sunday 8am - 3pm Phone: 631.472.2524, Visit them on Facebook.
     
  10. North Shore Animal League: Adopting an animal is one of the greatest gifts of all. When Chris and I adopted our girl Trixie it was one of the best moments of our lives. December 5 through Saturday, December 7, over 70 participating Americana Manhasset and Wheatley Plaza stores will donate 25% of designated pre-tax purchases to the participating organization(s) of the customer’s choice. Purchases are not automatically eligible; you must register for a complimentary CHAMPION CARD. Simply designate North Shore Animal League America as your charity of choice and present your CHAMPION CARD when making purchases during the event. 25% will be automatically calculated and submitted to North Shore Animal League America. For more information visit championsforcharity.org or call 800.818.6767. To adopt or make a donation. If you are not in the tri-state area consider contacting your local animal shelter as there are so many animals who need a loving home. 

Grano Arso Pasta inspired by Chef Patti Jackson

All culinary and artisan roads lead to Jimmy Carbone, the owner of Jimmy's No. 43; a Slow Food approved restaurant and craft beer bar in the East Village of New York City. Thankfully, Jimmy's is a five minute walk from my New York City apartment, as their Monday night prix fixe dinner series is about imbibing craft beers with a chef prepared, locally focused meal that is not to be missed; especially if Chef Patti Jackson, formerly of iTrulli, is cooking.

In 2011, I met chef Jackson at my first Cassoulet cooking competition at Jimmy's No. 43. She was stationed right next to me and I was so excited to meet the chef of iTrulli, as I thought her talent for developing Italian fare, especially her pasta, was right on. I am very much inspired by chef Jackson and have been fortunate enough to indulge at a few of these dinners: Spanish tapas paired with hard ciders and Spanish beers of Iberian United, Vegetarian Nonsense™ Dinner paired with Italian craft beer curated by B. United, and most recently April Sours, featuring lambic and sour beers paired with a special tasting menu which included:

  • Chicken Liver Pate, Rhubarb Relish paired with Hanssens Gueuze
  • Smoked Mackerel Salad with Cress and Rye Crumbs paired with Alvinne Wild Undressed
  • Burnt-flour Pasta with Duck Sausage and White Beans paired with Vapeur, Vintage
  • Braised Bacon, Braised Spring Greens and Ramps paired with Vapeur Cochonne 1996
  • Savory Cheese Tart, Fig and Cardamon Toast paired with Alvinne Cuvee Freddy

I have eaten and made my fair share of pasta, but I have never heard of the burnt flour type, known as, grano arso, which means burnt grain. Grano arso originated in the region of Puglia as cucina povera, or "cuisine of poverty". There’s more than one story about the origin of using grano arso. Some say hungry peasants scoured freshly burned wheat fields seeking overlooked scorched stubbles, while another theory suggests that villagers would sweep their communal wood-burning ovens to collect the burnt flour that was left behind after baking bread. Today, burnt grain is not a necessity for survival, but of interest to the experimental cook or chef like Patti Jackson.

I was so inspired by chef Jackson's burnt flour recipe that I experimented the following day in my kitchen and followed her technique. 

Tagliatelle di Grano Arso with Spring Peas, Asparagus and Caramelized Onions

Chef Jackson made a Maccheroncini pasta which are pasta tubes, that she cut into 1-inch pieces. I decided to make a Tagliatelle pasta that are long and flat which held the ingredients nicely. My burnt flour could have taken another 5 minutes in the oven, however, my smoke detector was not happy, alarming me of when it thought the flour was done, so I had to stop. Be sure to open the windows or us your oven vents. The flavor of the burnt flour pasta is exactly like charred pizza dough and the color — a dark, toasted amber similar in color to cocoa powder.

 

Grano Arso

ingredients

  • 1 cup; durum flour

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Spread flour on a baking sheet and bake for 30 - 40 minuets; until dark in color and charred on the edges.
  3. Remove from oven and let cool. Sieve in a bowl; reserve.

Tagliatelle di Grano Arso

ingredients

  • 1 cup; grano arso
  • 3 cups; durum flour
  • 1 cup; hot water

Note: for this recipes 2 pieces of dough was used. The remainder you can freeze, 1 -3 months.

directions

  1. Place grano arso and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook.
  2. Slowly add the hot water and mix until moist and capable of sticking together
  3. Remove dough from mixer and place on a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand to form an elastic ball and divide into 4 pieces and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Flatten your 1 piece of dough a little and feed it through the machine, set to #1.
  5. Fold the dough in half and feed it through the machine again, still on #1.
  6. Repeat this process around 10 times.
  7. Change your setting to #2 and feed it through the machine once. No need to fold the dough in half again.
  8. Using the Tagliatelle pasta attachement feed the pasta through, lightly flour pasta on a baking sheet and let dry for 15 minutes.
  9. Continue with Step 1-8 with the remaining pasta pieces.

Assembly

ingredients

  • 1 cup, spring peas
  • 12 stalks of asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper
  • Generous amount of salt for the pasta water and for blanching the peas and asparagus.
  • 1 cup of reserved pasta water

directions

  1. Over medium heat in a wide skillet add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and caramelize until golden brown; set aside.
  2. Bring a medium size pot of salted water to a boil and add the peas and cut asparagus; blanch for 2 minutes; strain and reserve.

    note: before cutting asparagus snap off the woody base of each spear by bending the spear a few times to find a place where it breaks easily.
     
  3. Place vegetables with the caramelized onions and lightly fold together over low heat; reserve.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook until al dente, for about 3 minutes; remove pasta with a wide strainer and place in the pan with the vegetables.
  5. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 3/4 cup of grated pecorino cheese.; gently fold together.
  6. Place in a bowl or serving dish and lightly sprinkle with pecorino cheese.

Cassoulet Cook-off at Jimmy's No. 43

Jimmy's No. 43 in NYC is hosting it's 5th Annual Cassoulet Cook-off on Sunday, January 13th to benefit Grow NYC Greenmarket program. Chefs and amateur chefs like myself have been tweaking our recipes for this meat and bean laden event. In years past some have even made fish and vegetarian versions. 

Cassoulet is a famous dish that originated in South west France. There are many Cassoulet aficionados who proclaim what a true Cassoulet is and many verbal wars have been had. I have met a few of you over the years and enjoy hearing what you consider your perfect Cassoulet. Last year I placed 3rd for judges award and tied 2nd for people's choice. We will see what this year has in store.

If you are still contemplating on starting your New Years Resolution of losing a few pounds you may want to wait until January 14th.

(some ingredients I have sourced this year are: Duck from Crescent Duck Farm and Micro-Greens from Koppert Cress out east on Long Island and Pork from Flying Pigs Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC).

Open to the public. Tickets are available at Noon ($30 at the door) Cash Only.

Date: Sunday, January 13th, Time: 1 - 3pm, Location: Jimmy's No. 43 (43 East 7th St. btw 2nd and 3rd Ave)