Harvest East End Cheers to 40 Years of Winemaking on Long Island

Long Island Wine Country had a lot to celebrate about. In fact, 1,300 enthusiasts of wine and food, including Governor Andrew Cuomo joyously gathered under a festive billowing tent to raise a glass and cheer for 40 years of winemaking at the 4th Annual Harvest East End at McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue New York. The regions farms, fishermen, 34 local top chefs and 43 vintners showcased the bounty of the land, sea and vines. It was the first year that this vinous and edible gala was held on the North Fork of Long Island and how fitting considering two pioneers were honored for giving rise to one of the world’s most exciting viticultural and culinary destinations: Louisa Hargrave co-founder of Hargrave Vineyards (now known as Castello di Borghese Vineyard) for planting the first vitis vinifera grapes with her former husband Alex Hargrave, and John Ross, who established Ross’ North Fork restaurant that featured local wines and grown food that helped ignite the farm-to-table movement on the North Fork; all of which was 40 years ago.

Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo. Photography credit: Jessica Guadagno

“Put tourism together with the wine industry, and they can grow an entire region,” says Governor Cuomo. “And that’s what you’re seeing here on the North Fork of Long Island.”

The Master of Ceremonies was Joshua Wesson, a leading authority on wine and food pairing, the founder of Best Cellars and author of Williams-Sonoma Food & Wine—A New Look at Flavor that he signed for fans. Harvest was presented by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and organized by the Long Island Wine Council with support from Merliance, that benefited four important regional charities: East End Hospice, Group for the East End, the Peconic Land Trust and the Long Island Farm Bureau.

And to top it off Out East Foodie has come full circle—It was my first anniversary. Last year’s Harvest East End was my debut where I was introduced to the edible artisans of the East End: chefs, fishermen, farmers, cheesemakers, and vintners to name a few. I am humbled to be surrounded by the people of this region who are passionate and dedicated to their craft or cause. I have told the stories of a few over the course of the year, shared recipes that have been inspired by the bounty of the two forks and am honored to continue to do so. This fall our sustainable home Sheridan Green will be complete. It will be a place where like-minded stewards of the land and sea can come together to talk story, enjoy amazing food and drink and share inspiration in a great space.

A wine and food celebration

Guests were given their own personal wine glass that was attached to a lanyard like strap to put around your neck to ease the juggling dilemma between holding a wine glass and a plate of food; thank you Harvest East End for this welcomed convenience as balancing the glass, camera, plate of food, iPhone and purse is a social media hodgepodge. 

Beautifully designed wine labels by Bouquet Wines from Mattituck, New York

My husband Christopher enjoyed the wine tasting and particularly liked Mattebella Vineyards Old World Blend.

Coolfish Grill and Wine Bar served bay scallops mango ceviche; the mango was an unexpected twist.

Mirabelle at Three Village Inn served a unique Crème brûlée that was made with duck eggs, infused with vanilla bean and topped with a sprinkle of maple bacon crumble, simply fantastic.

A refreshing and delicious watermelon gazpacho that was garnished with a Koppert Cress micro shiso amongst a beautiful flower arrangement.

First and South restaurant may have topped their chocolate covered pork rinds from Dan's Taste of Two Forks. In an oyster shell they baked an edible cracker mocking the shell and placed the oyster, and a dollop of homemade horseradish and ketchup on top, brilliant.

The North Fork Table and Inn made a spicy marinated McCall Ranch Beef summer roll with wasabi aioli.  This tasted as beautiful as it looked.

Gourmet Sorbet by the Sorbabes: Top-strawberry rhubarb crumble (my favorite), Right-pistachio with sea salted caramel, Bottom-coconut chai with macaroons and Left-passionfruit lychee. All gluten-free and non-dairy made with seasonal ingredients.

Jewel restaurant by Tom Schaudel served a corn chowder with crab. The balance of this dish was singing the bounty of the two forks, was truly lovely.

A Taste of the North Fork made meatballs with cHarissa, hummus and cilantro. The meatballs had a Moroccan flare of interesting spices from the cHarissa, really tasty.

To continue with the meatball theme a Mano Osteria and Wine Bar made a veal meatball with a lobster bisque sauce. I was unsure about the veal and lobster combo, but it was a match made in heaven.

The heart of the billowing tent was lit up with colorful lanterns, as the VIP attendees sipped older vintages and special selections of East End wines presented by Empire Merchants. Although there was a white picket fence that separated the VIP's from the rest, we all had a few things in common, the love for wine and food in Long Island Wine Country.

Southampton Soap Company's Sudsy Craft

Deborah Lukasik and Chris O'Shaughnessy, owners of the Southampton Soap Company

"All soaps are not created equal. Do you know what is in yours?" This is Southampton Soap Company's philosophy and I think they are onto something.

Nowadays many businesses actively initiate a move towards greater sustainability. Food and beverage are an integral part of this equation, described as: local, organic, GMO-free, pasture-raised, naturally grown, biodynamic and farm-to-table to name a few. These terms are an indelible imprint on my mind, a personal checklist when purchasing and consuming edible products. But when it comes to skin care (I have to admit) my checklist is not as robust.

You are what you eat, but what about what you put on your body? Considering that the skin is the largest organ, and greatest protector of our being, shouldn't we be nourishing our skin with the same amount of care as we do when ingesting food and beverages?

12 years ago, Deborah Lukasik, co-owner of the Southampton Soap Company did just that, she began making soap for herself due to skin sensitivities—learning this craft from two very good friends who live and make soap in Florida. Her need to make soap became a passionate hobby, giving them as gifts during the holidays.

In 2010, Deborah organized —at her now soap studio in Southampton—an Artisan Market during the holidays where 25 local artists would sell handcrafted gifts. "The idea was to buy local and handmade gifts that have soul", says Deborah. While she was selling her soap a friend asked, "Why don't you sell your soap all the time?" When Deborah mentioned this to her husband Chris, he recalled a story his father shared him when he was a child. "My mother worked at a beach club in Long Beach, New York and became friendly with the chairman of the board. He had invited my mother and father to his house and in the foyer at the bottom of this grand spiral staircase was a giant taxidermy polar bear. My father said, 'All he does is make soap, you should make soap Chris.' "

If a major corporate soap company can do it — so can they. 

In 2012, Deborah and Chris heeded this wise advice and together they officially launched Southampton Soap Company. For the past two years the couple has been boosting people's spirits with their all natural artisanal soaps that are made in small kettle batches. Their soaps are 100% vegetable-based, scented with essential oils, adorned with herbs and botanicals and then cut by hand. They also use local and organic additives whenever possible.

"The history of artisanal soap has been a guarded craft", says Chris, who is a carpenter by trade and the technical / scientific craftsman behind their handcrafted molds and recipe calculations. According to Deborah, making soap is part science, part art, part sensual and part ritual. "Working with my husband has been magical, we compliment each other so well", says Deborah, who is the creative genius behind her sudsy craft. "I love to make jam, which is similar to making soap; a soothing process, an ancient ritual of stirring the kettle."

Chris' handcrafted soap molds.

Soap ready to be cut.

The couple has three children and their youngest Griffin who is nine years old helps stuff the soap sachets for their gift sets. He showed me his stuffing technique but that is top-secret. Southampton Soap Company creates gifts for weddings, corporate events and for his and her. For the gentlemen an Old School Smooth Shave Kit that comes with brown windsor clay soap in a reusable mug and a brush. For the ladies a Soap Gift Set  with hand picked shells, driftwood and sea glass from the Southampton beaches and for everyone a Relaxation Gift Set of mineral salts, soaps, a loofah, beeswax filled glass votive candle and a hand dyed silk lavender eye pillow. Deborah emphasized her love for making custom natural soaps for the home or business. Her process is very similar to the way I would approach a branding challenge for a client; researching the obvious and obscure: concept, color, texture, functionality, and senses.

Sachet that Griffin Stuffs with soap. Soap Bars: Top - Calendula, Middle - Seaside Spa, Bottom - Oatmeal Almond

Deborah, Chris and their Son Griffin looking for sea glass for their gift sets.

Sea and beach items that Deborah hand collects for her gift sets.

"When the mood strikes we make soap", says Deborah. Sometimes finding the time happens in the middle of the night. They call this "Midnight Kettles", I would like to call it "Midnight Magic" as their soaps have nourished and healed individuals suffering with acne, psoriasis and eczema. 

I tried my hand at making felted soap that I found to be therapeutic; a long and respected process wrapped with sheep's wool. The end product is a textured, easy to handle slip resistant soap that acts as an exfoliating scrub for the skin.

Deborah demonstrating how to make felted soap.

Felted Soap with Sheep's Wool

And don't our dogs deserve the best? Our four-legged friends were not forgotten. They created a Shampoo Bar for Dogs that come in wilderness, herbal and citrus; all of which contains essential oils such as neem to help keep pests at bay. My dog Trixie stayed in the tub the entire time — which is rare — and I lathered her up with the wilderness blend. Double bonus: her coat is soft and so are my hands. 

Shampoo Bar for DogsL Wilderness, Herbal and Citrus Blend

My dog Trixie getting a bath with the Southampton Soap Company's, Shampoo Bar for Dogs - Wilderness Blend

Their soap blends are a treat for the senses; luxurious as a spoonful of Spy Coast Bee Farm's honey and as aromatic as Koppert Cress' Shiso Green Cress. If I can eat their soap I would. And I am happy to say my skin care checklist is now synonymous with my sustainable food and beverage cohorts.

Southampton Soap Company Soap Blends

"Being a part of someone’s daily wellness routine and creating a product that I know is renewing their spirit from the day is exciting", says Deborah. "Once you see how different you feel you want to feel like that again and again." 

Southampton Soap Company has been developing a new skin care line that will be announced very soon. You can inquire about their all natural soaps by calling their Southampton office at at: 631.259.3898 or email: southamptonsoaps@gmail.com 

Visit: www.southamptonsoapcompany.com.  Interested in buying soap visit here.

Koppert Cress is Growing in Riverhead

Among the North Fork's farms and wineries, there has been a curious buzz about the renovated greenhouse that sits on 30 acres at Sound Avenue and Horton Street in Riverhead. The vibrant colors and aromatics that are contained in this state-of-the-art greenhouse facility are that of Koppert Cress, a company that specializes in flavor packed Microgreens, Micro vegetables and Specialties. These are seedlings of heirloom plants, which have their own specific effect on the senses. They deliver unique greens uncut and alive in their natural state all year long for chefs, hotels, caterers and gourmet markets throughout the world.

Koppert Cress: Rock Chives Cress, Sakura Cress and Affilla Cress

My first introduction to Koppert Cress was at the 3rd Annual Harvest East End in Bridgehampton and shortly after the 6th Annual North Fork Foodie Tour. My taste buds were dazzled with flavor. I tried the Popcorn Shoot that was the width of a toothpick and 3-4-inches long. The sweet condensed corn flavor was as if I shoved about 100 perfectly harvested kernels of corn in my mouth and somehow was able to chew. I then sampled the Affilla Cress, that taste like fresh peas, Salty Fingers, that have a crisp salty punch and Micro Wasabi that is spicy like horseradish. The amount of flavor these tiny morsels hold is outstanding and almost unbelievable until you try them. I suppose it has something to do with the seeds, which are culled from around the world and sold in their infancy to maximize potent and exacting flavors.

Koppert Cress, Specialties: Popcorn Shoots

Koppert Cress, Specialties: Salty Fingers

To top off my experience I was presented with the Sechuan Button, the yellow bud of a flower found in Africa, South America and some parts of Asia. To try this is startling: the sensation starts with a sweet tingling on the top of your tongue, followed by an overall “Pop Rocks” explosion in your mouth with a numbing effect. You will either hate it or love it (I am on the fence) and sure you will never forget the first time you try it.

Koppert Cress, Specialties: Sechuan Buttons

Koppert Cress started on July 1, 2002 in Monster, Netherlands, after being purchased by Rob Baan. In 1993 and 2001 the company received the prestigious AGF Innovation Award. This biannual award sparked further developments and since then Koppert Cress has grown to be one of the leading horticultural businesses in the world.

In October 2006, Koppert Cress launched its first franchise in the United States purchasing the former 30,000-square-foot Peconic Greenhouse in Cutchogue, New York.

The company selected the North Fork for logistic and climatological reasons. Cutchogue is perfectly situated close enough to the restaurants of New York City and the surrounding area, which are considered the country’s culinary epicenter and exactly where Koppert Cress wanted to be.

Nicolas Mazard, Director of Sales & Marketing for Koppert Cress USA

So, when Nicolas Mazard, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Koppert Cress contacted me to schedule a tour of the greenhouse in Riverhead—I jumped at the invitation. I met Nicolas on a very cold Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. in front of the newly renovated greenhouse that was beaming from the reflection of the sun. The beam of light was very reflective of Nicolas’ proud sentiment towards this new expansion and the Koppert Cress products, which he calls “our children”.

Sun Beaming on Koppert Cress' New Greenhouse in Riverhead on Sound Avenue and Horton Street. 

Scupper detail on Koppert Cress' New Greenhouse

Nicolas’ is of French decent and the combination of his studies is very unique. Having a Degree in Horticulture and in Sales, Merchandising and Related Marketing Operations makes him a passionate Farmer with a marketing mind.

“I have been working for Koppert Cress for 10 Years,” says Nicolas. “I started out as a Marketing Manager for the French Market in the Netherlands and in October of 2006 came to the United States to help establish the Cutchogue location and eventually became the Director of Sales and Marketing in 2008.”

As we walked through the greenhouse Nicolas was extremely happy to see his trial microgreens taking well to their new environment. He affectionately states, “Each plant is like a lady and has a different tolerance to the cold”. The water and room temperatures in the greenhouses are carefully monitored and the staff uses biological pest control methods, releasing the natural predators of unwanted insects.

Nicolas Mazard, Director os Sales and Marketing admiring how well the trial plants are taking to their new greenhouse.

You cannot help but notice that the greenhouse is four times the size of the Cutchogue location.

“This new space can provide more products across the United States for our consumers. I am proud we will be the largest microgreens grower in the United States in terms of volume. This will allow us to spread our wings and grow,” Nicolas explains. “I want people to understand what we are doing, and the good we are doing on many levels.”

Nicolas Mazard’s passion and goodwill is evident. He is a horticulturist at heart and a marketer in his mind that’s not only enamored with Koppert Cress products but someone who genuinely cares about his community.

 “Hiring a lot of people will stimulate the economy on the North Fork,” says Nicolas.

“We are also in discussions with a well-known culinary institute in New York City on developing a special partnership and program for the school.”

Koppert Cress Apple Blossom

As I was admiring the 30 acres where the new Koppert Cress greenhouse sits, I asked Nicolas, “Is this where you were thinking of hosting an annual farmers market?” He said, “Yes, imagine all the good we can do by lending a hand to our fellow farmers and community.”

Koppert Cress will be coming to the New York City farmers markets in the near future. Check out their facebook page to get the latest updates.

All year-round you can call ahead to place an order and pick up your items at the Cutchogue greenhouse. In warmer months you can buy from the farmers stand at the front entrance. Phone: 613.734.8500. Address: 23423 Middle Road / Route 48. Cutchogue, NY 11935. Website: http://usa.koppertcress.com/