Monday, June 30, 2008

Valencia Tavern

The only thing that might remind you of Spain at Valencia Tavern (and it's a stretch) is the large sculpture of a bull chained to the ground out front. Other than that, the outside of this bar is pretty unremarkable, and that's probably the way the patrons and owner would like to keep it. If you're looking for a trendy place to show you your face, go somewhere else. Valencia Tavern is the real deal. That's why we like it.  

You can only grasp the full charm of this truly local meeting place by going inside (don't be afraid). Black and white pictures of an old Huntington hang on the walls. Above the bar there are signs that say things like "shoes and shirts required, bras and panties optional" and "time flies when you're having rum."

To keep you busy while you drink, there's a pool and shuffle puck table (and you better know how to play). In a little room with a fireplace, there's also a dart board with numerous trophies (there are obviously some champion players at Valencia - who knew?), and a Galaga and Ms. PacMan video game (how 1980's).

The staff is funny and friendly and the customers range from bikers to middle-aged local residents to young patrons. With all the wanna-be trendy spots turning up in the area, it's nice to know that a place like Valencia Tavern exists. If you like hanging out with the locals and good friends, good drinks and a good time are your main priorities, then this is the place for you. 


236 Wall Street
Huntington, NY 11743

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cold Spring Harbor

There's definitely too much to say about Cold Spring Harbor in a single blog post, but we'll do our best to give you an overview. Having mainly been a port town (well, hamlet really) in the mid-nineteenth century, Cold Spring Harbor became a tourist location after the whaling economy began to dwindle around 1860. Located on Long Island's North Shore, Cold Spring Harbor was originally named for the natural spring that still flows there. And, if you like to hit the bottle (the water bottle that is), you can fill your empties with the stuff. We can't promise any fountain of youth or anything (honestly we really don't even know for sure if the water is clean), but c'mon, a natural spring right here on Long Island, that's cool, don't you think? 

We've also heard that, at one time, Cold Spring Harbor had several hotels. Today it seems the Swan View Manor Bed & Breakfast Inn is the only one. The size and style of each room varies - we've had a tour. If you will be staying here, you should visit first. Since the hotel is convenient to Northport, Huntington and Laurel Hollow, it could be a good place to book for guests attending a local wedding in these nearby towns. 

More recently, Cold Spring Harbor has become known because of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory - the place where THE noble laureate JAMES WATSON was director! If you're unfamiliar with Cold Spring Harbor Labs, we suggest you check out their website and visit them for a tour. The details may be found at their site.

Cold Spring Harbor is also home to the Dolan DNA Learning Center, the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum and the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium so there are some big lessons to be learned in this tiny little town! But, if you're too cool for school, you may choose to hike, dine or shop instead.

You can take a hike in Cold Spring Harbor State Park. The entrance, with its steep, hilly steps, is reminiscent of the Dipsea Trail in Mill Valley, California. Home to great horned owls, red-tailed hawks and other interesting birds, this park is a nice place for birders. The park is also the start of the northern trailhead of the Nassau/Suffolk Greenbelt Trail, which extends for 19.2 miles to end on the South Shore of Long Island. That's right, you can walk from the North to South Shore (you would definitely need more than a day for this)! 

If you'd rather chill instead of trek, spend a few hours on Main Street where you'll find interesting shops and restaurants. 

Gourmet Goddess (which also happens to be one of our favorite places in Cold Spring Harbor) is worth visiting for the decoration alone. The store sells very unique adult and kid's clothing as well as specialty sweets. 

In terms of restaurants, Trattoria Grasso has a small, but nice bar and live jazz in the evenings. The oysters, drinks and desserts are good (we like them better than the meals). 105 Harbor is a little pricy, but the view of the harbor makes a seafood meal worth it if you're sitting in front of the window. 

And, for those of you who live in the area (or just really love libraries), Cold Spring Harbor Library is the nicest one on Long Island (we're not fooling around).  Sporting a huge reading room, a lovely fireplace and rows of windows, this library makes you feel like you're in the reading room of a Long Island Gold Coast mansion (nothing wrong with pretending). Curl up with a book and stop every so often to take in the beautiful views of the water.

Monday, June 23, 2008

House of Dosas

House of Dosas is basically heaven for any hungry vegetarian craving authentic South Indian cuisine, but the omnivores seem to like the delicious Dosas (thin rice crepes) and Uthappam (pancake made from rice and lentil flour) just as well, if not better (trust us - we've seen the eating in action). Located in Hicksville, Long Island, House of Dosas should not be missed by anyone who enjoys good Indian food. 

The main reason to have a meal at House of Dosas is because it's delicious, but once you try the place, the wide selection of Dosa and Uthappam on the menu, the friendly staff and the reasonable prices (ranging from $3.50 for an appetizer to $9.95 for a meal) will have you going back for more...and more...and more.

Some of our favorites include (but are definitely not limited to) the Vada (fried lentil doughnuts), the Masala Dosa stuffed with onion and potato and the Plain Uthappam (why mess with a good thing, sometimes it's nice to keep it simple). These are served with Sambar and Coconut Chutney, which add a nice kick.  

We also like the Mixed Vegetable Uthappam with onion, chili, coriander and peas. And, for those of you who like it hot (and yeah, that would be very), get the Gunpowder Masala Dosa, which is spread with spicy chutney.

What more can we say? Dosas are damn good! 

416 Broadway
Hicksville, NY 11801

Thursday, June 19, 2008

CSA = Community Supported Awesomeness

Community Supported Awesomeness is what we like to call Golden Earthworm Farm's Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA). With twelve years of farming and seven seasons of CSA, this certified organic Long Island farm is expanding to get as many fresh produce to the locals as possible, and we couldn't be happier about that! Through Golden Earthworm's CSA program, we receive a box of luscious vegetables every week for 26 weeks and, with every batch, it just gets better and better! 

Protected by a North Fork land preservation program, Golden Earthworm Farm rests on two pieces of beautiful land in Jamesport that you can feel good about. The eighty acres currently in production are farmed organically so the goodness spreads from the farm, to the food and through the community.

To say we've been satisfied with the program (which is now in it's third week of the summer share season) is an understatement. So far from Earthworm we've tasted delicious Red Radishes, Baby and Bunched Arugula, Boston Lettuce, Spinach, Rhubarb, Swiss Chard, Toscano Kale, Romaine Lettuce, Green Crisp Lettuce, Cilantro, Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Sugar Snap Peas, Garlic Scapes and Strawberries. If vegetables could talk, the ones from Golden Earthworm would jump out of the box telling tales of the good life on Long Island's North Fork - they have that spa glow that can only come from spending the perfect amount of time soaking up the sun and getting pampered and hydrated! Of course they taste as good as they look - Mmmmmm!

While the 2008 CSA program is full for this season (sorry folks), you should prepare to partake next year by tasting Golden Earthworm's grand greens from their farmstand in Jamesport or at the Saturday farmer's market in Huntington, Islip or Port Washington. 

For those of you coming out to the East End for the summer, the ride home from Jamesport provides the perfect opportunity to grab some vegetables to bring back with you to the city.  

For others who live in Queens, learn more about the farmer's markets and CSA programs in your area.

Golden Earthworm, thanks for making every week, well, golden! Now if we can only get Briermere Farms to throw a pie into every share, life would almost be perfect.

652 Peconic Bay Boulevard
Jamesport, NY 11947

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thaid Up

Listen up Long Islanders (we know it's hard, but this is important)! For what is arguably the best Thai food outside of Queens (that would be Long Island City's Tuk Tuk), head to Sarin Thai Cuisine restaurant in Greenvale. Every time we go here (and we go often) the food is FAB!

Whether you like meat or fish, chicken or veggies, there's a Thai dish at Sarin for you.

Some of our favorites include the Papaya Salad (sweet and spicy), Crispy Snapper special (melt-in-your-mouth tasty), Gang Puck (a vegetarian's delight with or without tofu) and the Pad Thai (always good). Accent these dishes with some Sticky Rice and a refreshing Thai Iced Tea - YUM!

For all of you city folk, Sarin is also the perfect way to end the day as you drive home after a scenic Long Island ride on 25A or a stop at Martin Viette Nursery or Scarsella's.

43 Glen Cove Road
Greenvale, NY  11548

Friday, June 13, 2008

What A Fluke!

"What a Fluke" is what you could be saying if you head to Captree State Park for a day of fishing. Located on Long Island's South Shore, at the eastern tip of Jones Beach, the park has a boat basin loaded with charter boats for cruising, fishing and partys. The boats range in size and price (depending on how long and what type of fishing or activity you'd like to do). Common catches are Fluke, Flounder, Blackfish and Sea Bass. Some boats will also take you Shark fishing!

Many visitors also come to the park to fish at the dock by the bay. This is a great activity to do with the kids, especially since you can also watch the many species of sea birds and observe the crabs crawling along the dock - there are a lot! 

In the summer, the park provides guided nature walks and bird watchers come to view the various types of seagulls, terns, pelicans, black skimmers, common loon, plover and ducks. A variety of other birds (some less common in our area) have also been sighted at Captree - very exciting for birders!

If you arrive early, you can find a spot on the shore of the bay and picnic in the park for lunch. Be sure to enjoy the lovely view of the Fire Island Lighthouse in the distance and the scenic boats cruising off in the horizon. 

Entrance to the park is free if you have a yearly New York State Parks Pass, which you can purchase for $59.00. We highly recommend this option, especially if you'll be taking advantage of other New York state parks! Without a pass, there is an entrance fee of $8.00.  

Robert Moses Causeway Exit 40 South to Park

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Breaking the Waves

Escape the heat wave by cooling down at Robert Moses State Park. Swim, surf or fish in the approximately 5 miles of ocean beach, or take a nap on the soft sand while listening to the breaking waves - one of our favorite things to do! 

Once you're done swimming and napping, head over to the Fire Island Lighthouse to explore a little bit of the western part of Fire Island National Seashore (yes this is one of the only parts of Fire Island you can get to without taking a ferry). Park in Field 5 at Robert Moses State Park and follow the scenic boardwalk, which will lead you directly to the lighthouse.

We're sure you'll enjoy having fun in the sun, but there's one bit of advice we suggest you take: Arrive and leave early to avoid the return traffic on the causeway.  The park opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. The entrance fee is $8.00 unless you have a New York State Parks Pass ($59.00 for the year).

See you at the beach!

Robert Moses Causeway (exit 40)
Box 247
Babylon, NY  11702

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Walk in the Park

Whether you like to run, bike, walk, swim, fish or golf, you can do it in Sunken Meadow State Park. Located in the town of Smithtown, on the North Shore of Long Island, this is a great place to bring the family for a nice day outdoors. 
It is said that Sunken Meadow has one of the most difficult cross-country routes in the state of New York! If you are not big on running, take a walk on the park board walk or on the park's six miles of hiking trails. As you walk or run also be sure to enjoy the views of the lush trees and the Long Island Sound.
Not a walker or runner? Play a game of golf instead. Featuring 27 holes (play 9 or 18), the course rates range from $15.00 for nine holes on a weekday to $29.00 for 18 holes on the weekend. 
More of a swimmer? Jump into the Long Island Sound to enjoy the park's three miles of beach.

We're sure that whatever activity you decide upon, you'll enjoy your day at Sunken Meadow.
Route 25A and Sunken Meadow Parkway
Kings Park, NY 11754


Monday, June 2, 2008

Guggenheims on the Gold Coast

Located in Port Washington (known in The Great Gatsby as "East Egg"), Sands Point Preserve is open year round. Entrance to this 216 acre preserve, which costs $2.00 on weekends, allows access to several nature trails and the shoreline. For an additional $6.00, the tour of Falaise (named after the French town) is well worth the trip if you are interested in Long Island's Gold Coast. Built in 1923 for Harry F. Guggenheim (the nephew of Solomon R. Guggenheim) and his then-wife Caroline Morton, Falaise is, in our opinion, the highlight of this park.
The home is interesting for a variety of reasons and, for the most part, is exactly the way Harry Guggenheim left it. During the tour, you'll gain insight into the influence that the Guggenheim family had on space travel and the newspaper industry. You'll also see the room where it is said that Harry Guggenheim's friend, Charles Lindbergh, completed his first book, We
The tour guide will also point out some very interesting architectural elements on this French Medieval style house. Outside, these elements include the lava stone columns and smeared brick construction. Inside, you'll see antiques such as art by known artists and their schools as well as wood carvings, 1920's and 1950's furniture and clothing which was worn by Harry Guggenheim. Harry's horse racing trophys and memorabilia may be of particular interest to racing fans as well.

Open May through October, Falaise can be toured Thursdays through Sundays at noon, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm (with exceptions during the Medieval Festival in September when there are several days that no tours are permitted). 
127 Middleneck Road
Port Washington, NY 11050