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The Road Less Traveled: A Visit to Long Island’s North Fork (pt. 2)

With The Hamptons being as pervasive in the minds of many as the ever-present Kardashians, there has been an abundance of emphasis placed on the South Fork of Long Island and not enough on the North Fork. However, that’s changing …

Those along the Connecticut coastline, in Westchester County and points beyond have a welcoming getaway destination that’s easy to get to and difficult to leave. Thanks to the Cross Sound Ferry in New London, CT, the Long Island Wine Country is a scant 80 minutes away.

Welcome to Long Island’s North Fork.

From the Vine . . .

It has been said that we eat with our eyes first, then with our mouth. That analogy can also apply to wines: we ‘sip’ first with our nose, then with our mouth. As a wine novice, I’ve often wondered about the meticulous effort that goes into producing a bottle of wine. In Peconic, NY, I found my answer at Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard.

sannino collage

The husband and wife team of Anthony and Lisa Sannino went from being home winemakers to opening Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard in 2006. They offer a selection of wines, from Merlot and Cabernet Franc to Riesling and Chardonnay. Their reds are aged in wooden barrels with varying degrees of toasting (charring on the interior of the barrel which has a distinct flavor effect on the wine). Each toasted barrel (toasted either light, medium or heavy) provides a different nuance for the wine it holds. For my palate, the Spiced Wine, infused with spices reminiscent of autumn, was the standout winner of the day. It speaks to the season and, when served warm, is even more delightful.

sonnino collage 2

Sannino has a Vine to Wine program where one can gain hands-on experience in the winemaking process—from vine to wine. Program participants will not only learn about the North Fork region, but they will also have an opportunity to harvest grapes and immerse themselves in the winemaking process. All that hard work won’t be for naught, though, because at the end of the tunnel a custom barrel of wine awaits partakers.

[Video courtesy ww.MyLITV.com]

For those who may want to pamper themselves, Sannino also runs the elegantly appointed Tuscan-themed Sannino Bed & Breakfast. The B&B, comprised of one villa and one suite, sits in the middle of the vineyard with views overlooking the sprawling property. A full gourmet breakfast, using such ingredients as fresh eggs from the hens on their farm, in-season vegetables and herbs from the garden, is delivered each morning to the rooms.

Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard is located at 1375 Peconic Lane, Peconic, NY. Tasting room hours are Thursday through Monday from 12:00pm to 6:00pm; open from 11:00am on weekends. To reach the vineyard OR the Sannino Bed & Breakfast, call 631-734-8282.

For a Good Night’s Rest . . .

If the thought of country living tickles your fancy, you’ll want to book a stay at the Fig & Olive Bed and Breakfast. Nestled on nearly three acres of intoxicating landscape, Fig and Olive offers three ensuite rooms, each with a queen size bed and luxurious linens, WiFi internet, central air conditioning and Fig &Olive’s private label organic soap. Unfortunately, children under 16 are not allowed; however, if you plan to occupy all three rooms, exceptions can be made. Contact Fig and Olive for details.

fig and olive collage

Owners George and Lisa have been providing stellar service since 2012 and strive to offer their guests a home away from home experience. Fig & Olive thinks local, and follows through on this with their three course breakfast, served every morning in the dining room. Guests will also be delighted to know that there are several vineyards within walking distance.

Fig & Olive Bed & Breakfast is located at 580 Skunk Ln, Cutchogue, NY. 631-765-8895

For some, lodging is almost an afterthought; a value-based place to rest their weary bodies seems to be the only requirement when making a choice on where to stay. And then there are those who crave something different, a place that offers more than a queen bed with stiff sheets and the disturbing clippety-clop of unruly upstairs guests. When your North Fork weekend getaway calls for taking a step back in time, you’ll want your overnight destination to be Ruby’s Cove Bed and Breakfast. You would be hard pressed to find a livelier, more energetic or more gracious host than Donna Gruber, owner and proprietor of Ruby’s Cove. Donna oozes personality and her exceedingly hospitable and accommodating style sucks you in for the long haul.

rubys cove outside

With a vibrant décor and a varied collection of antiques, Ruby’s Cove is a treat for the senses. The B&B is awash in Donna’s eclectic style, from ruby red walls and a faux fireplace that greet you as you enter the foyer to oversized chairs in the parlor that can practically swallow a grown man whole to jazz and blues from a bygone era radiating from the speakers and compelling you to tap your foot or swing your hips to the infectious rhythm. As Donna herself put it, “It feels like a party’s ready to begin.”

While I didn’t have the pleasure of spending the night at Ruby’s Cove myself, I did have an opportunity to spend a little time with Donna as she put on her hostess hat, gave a tour of the B&B and laid out a mini-spread of snacks, beer from Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, wine and coffee. This welcoming spirit is more than part of the job for Donna. It’s about who she is, and that genuine warmth is an extension of Ruby’s Cove.

[Video courtesy ww.MyLITV.com]

The ambience of Ruby’s Cove is one of intimacy—there are only three rooms for rent, two of which have en-suite bathrooms and vanities just outside the bathroom. Each of the three rooms—The Divine, The Madeline (named after Donna’s grandmother) and The Ballast—feature Bamboo and Egyptian cotton bedding and towels, WiFi, an iPod docking station, plush bathrobes to use during your stay and an array of toiletries.

rubys cove collage

Getting a good night’s rest is one thing, but what about when you awaken in the morning? I’m not ashamed to admit I was a little big envious of the women in our group who stayed at Ruby’s Cove, especially after they painted an almost edible picture of the breakfast spread that Donna laid out for them. Rumor has it Donna makes a mean big breakfast with fanciful treats such as handmade chicken Asiago sausages, Red Rum Runner French toast, berry pancakes, yogurt, fresh fruits and more—the menu can change on a daily basis, and Donna does all the cooking herself.

Ruby’s Cove is one block from the downtown shops and restaurants, and a stroll away from the North Ferry Terminal where you can catch a ferry to Shelter Island.

You can find Ruby’s Cove Bed and Breakfast at 151 Bay Avenue, Greenport, NY or give Donna a call at (631) 477-1837.

Feeding the Need . . .

All was not lost for those of us who weren’t privy to Donna’s delectable breakfast fare. We also took a wee step back in time to Coronet Luncheonette, a Greenport Village mainstay since 1949. Coronet, just steps away from Harborfront Inn, sits at the corner of Main and Front streets and maintains the eatery’s heritage from when it first opened its doors.

Coronet Collage

Blue booths with coat hooks at the end of each one? Check. Yellow formica countertop? Check. Soda fountain? Check. Once we took in the aesthetics, it was time to inhale our food. I’m guessing Coronet doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase “small portion” because each plate that made its way to our table was filled with nearly enough food to feed two or three people.

Coronet serves breakfast all day, but they also serve lunch specialties. My meal consisted of a Malted Belgian Waffle which was nearly as big as the plate upon which it was served. Try as I might, even I couldn’t finish it, but I so wanted to. I’m guessing it was the side of bacon that did me in. Others around the table ordered banana pancakes, French toast and Florentine omelette.

The Coronet Luncheonette, 2 Front Street, Greenport, NY. Coronet Luncheonette is open daily from 6:00am to 4:00pm.

Also of note for the gastronomic-deprived is Noah’s on the Road, the meals on wheels counterpart to noah’s, a Greenport restaurant that features local and seasonal ingredients. Noah’s on the Road offers a rotating menu of items and, as the name hints at, Justin Schwartz, brother to noah’s executive chef Noah Schwartz, takes his kitchen with him wherever he goes.

noahs 7a

Earlier this year, Justin took the culinary show on the road in a 1964 Airstream Land Yacht. We caught up with Justin at Greenport Harbor Brewing Company on a Friday evening where he was serving a selection of tempting small plates which included Pomegranate Glazed Baby Back Ribs, Crab Cake, BBQ Duck Slider, Local Mushroom Arancini and Lobster Roll.

noahs collage

To find out where Noah’s on the Road is anchored for the day, check the noah’s website, or contact Justin at 631-333-2156 or by email.

nofo 2If palate-worthy sandwiches are on your radar, give NoFo Lunchbox a try. Their handheld delights crafted with fresh local ingredients awaited our group upon arrival at Waters Crest Winery (our lunches were served with a small orzo salad and a scrumptious cookie, but yours may differ). Their Grilled Chicken sandwich, which I practically inhaled, featured homemade pignaoli pesto, fresh mozzarella and greens on rustic ciabatta. They also do a Smoked Ham with brie and Granny Smith apples, and marinated hangar Steak with homemade chimichurri and crispy onions. Not in the mood for meat? NoFo Lunchbox has got you covered. They also carry a grilled Portobello sandwich with homemade sundried tomato pesto, as well as Eggplant with roasted peppers and homemade hummus and a Margherita sandwich.

If you’re heading out on the boat for the day or simply want a no-fuss packed lunch, NoFo Lunchbox has got your back … and your stomach.

Check out NoFo Lunchbox on the internet or give them a call at 631-876-5450.

For the Young and Young at Heart . . .gingerbread u polaroid

We had an opportunity to display our many and varied artistic talents at Gingerbread University, a uniquely wonderful spot for wee ones and grown-ups alike. As we walked through the front door, we were greeted by a Gingerelf who stationed herself behind a sweets shop counter that would make Willy Wonka blush—there were cookies and candies galore.

Although not a bona fide university, Gingerbread University “students” do engage in hands-on assignments. Armed with an array of gingerbread cookies—several chubby gingerbread men, a couple of pumpkins and even a bat—we took our fistfuls of candy and got to work on our masterpieces.

gingerbread u 5 polaroidDecorating gingerbread cookies is a fun respite for singles or groups, and it’s a wonderful activity that families can partake in together. The cookies come in a variety of shapes, and some change with the season – turkeys and pumpkins for an autumnal feel or traditional gingerbread houses, snowmen and trees to mark the Christmas holiday season.

Frederick H. Terry, Sr., aka Gingerbread Fred, is the innovative visionary behind Gingerbread University. Operating out of Riverhead, NY, Gingerbread University is open year round and plays hosts to decorating parties on-site and off-site.

You can find Gingerbread University at 3225 Sound Avenue, Riverhead, NY. Even though they do accept walk-ins, reservations BY PHONE (631-727-7309) are strongly suggested.

For more ideas on what to do when visiting Long Island’s North Fork, check out LI Weekends.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to read Part 1 of “The Road Less Traveled: Long Island’s North Fork,” featuring the Cross Sound Ferry, two wineries, a brewery, lodging and a tour company that specializes in wine tours.

Disclosure: Cross Sound Ferry provided me with the opportunity to experience this wonderful Long Island North Fork weekend. The views and opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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