The Cool House: restaurants
Showing posts with label restaurants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label restaurants. Show all posts

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In Vino Veritas: Verace

photo courtesy Nadine Bouler

We were very excited to meet the stylish Nadine Bouler and her husband, leading Long Island "green" architect James of Bouler Architecture, at Verace in Islip New York, the latest addition to the Bohlsen Family restaurant group. We had read such great things about it and knew that the design - by Bouler Architecture - was going to be stellar but we had no idea how exceptional it was going to be on both fronts.

the Architect looking over the second-floor balcony

The restaurant has a mix of traditional architectural details - lots of reclaimed wood, brick exterior, mahogany window frames - with cutting-edge elements: oxidized steel wall surrounds, a concrete patio water feature and a swirling, abstract vaulted ceiling. Retro orange tiles in the open kitchen and mushroom pendant lamps in the bar give it a groovy vibe while the softer elements, an upholstered wall on the second floor dining room and long drapes in the main room reduce the noise level and add a warm, cozy ambience. It's a knock-out. We were lucky enough to get a guided tour of the place by the architect himself. For the project history and all the before-and-after photographs - a de-facto virtual tour - visit Nadine Bouler's site.

photo courtesy Nadine Bouler

As for the food, Italian chef Francesco Torre is in the kitchen and here, too, there is a mix of rustic and modern. My Crab Ravioli on a Green Chard puree not only matched my shirt but had the right balance between the sweetness of the crab and the tart tang of the chard. Both The Guy and I opted or the Roasted Pork with Sweet Italian Fruit and Mustard Sauce as our "Secondi", which was deliciously moist with a real pork flavor. Props too for the authentic bolognese sauce and the better than traditional crunchy tiramisu! The wine, from both Italian and New York vineyards is custom-blended and stored in eco-kegs, then pushed with nitrogen to deliver a pure, unspoilt glass or carafe per order; no danger of corked wine here. Verace is also committed to delivering the best tasting, most environmentally-sound table water. To this end they offer only their own state of the art filtered water - flat or carbonated - served form reusable bottles.

Artist & Author Nadine Bouler, Manager Joe, The Architect, The Guy

Verace is a fabulous restaurant and I'm planning a return visit for one of the regular Monday Wine Dinner Events. And if they ever start a Facebook Fan Page, I'll be the first to join!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

By Land or By Sea*... with the help of a glass of Pinot Noir

A couple of creative bloggers and their significant others joined The Guy and me on an international voyage with an American twist at CREW Kitchen* in Huntington Harbor (Halesite) last night. An evening of hilarity and great food with a glass or two of wine (and beer) ensued, followed by a quick trip to Holland and the Scottish Isles back at The Cool House. I didn't take my camera with me (bad, bad blogger) so you'll have to rely on the photo essays of the Fabulous Graphic Designer and the Amazing Artist and Author for the fully illustrated version. Did we have a good time? Today I'm making restorative Chicken Soup while my liver has a chance to recover, so yes I think it was simply splendid evening...
*Five course tasting menu - choice of all meat or all fish, or do what the renegades do and mix and match; there's also a wine flight pairing. As always, the staff are super-accommodating - and the crab balls come highly recommended!
*Decor at CREW by the Awesome Designer, Julie Napoleon Brown

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Last Night

A cocktail followed by:

the setting sun over the bay

an inside joke

sparklers after dark

music and dancing at a local bar - expanding the evening and the summer fun...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Birds, Jellyfish and Sushi

Thursday wasn't just a successful day in terms of house maintenance, it was also the day I overcame one of my irrational fears.

I'm pretty sure my lunch partner had no idea I'm scared stiff of these things. After all, I managed not to do what I usually do when I find myself in close proximity to flying, flapping, feathered animals: scream loudly and run away as fast as possible.

I was sitting four inches from this scene so it was impossible to ignore mama bird feeding her babies. Every time we tried to take a photo she'd fly off but return a minute later with a tiny worm or caterpillar. It was just so darn cute I was fascinated and, because the nest is in a window box, protected from too close an encounter by the glass.  I have no idea what kind of bird it is but I'm guessing a warbler. Anyone know? Here's a couple of really quick videos of her hopping in and flying off. If you want to see them in person you'll need to go here for sushi.

We were supposed to be snapping shells and sea glass but between spending hours cooing over the baby birds and the earlier thunderous downpour we had to put those plans on hold. Despite the persistent drizzle we stopped at Huntington Harbor for a quick photo shoot.

There's always something to see, boats of course - or pedalos. This time the water was teeming with jellyfish. I'm not worried by sea critters (especially when I'm on land and they aren't) so I wasn't afraid to lean in close.

Of course no photo shoot is complete without a few shots of The Cool House and the yard in the rain. Lousy weather but a pretty successful day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

But is it lobster-proof?

The new MoMa Store catalog arrived and this Wooden Clutch from the MoMA Store caught my eye immediately. Made from curved hickory, it has a unique sculptural quality that makes me want to rush out and touch it, stroke it and make it it MINE. Unfortunately, it's currently on backorder, even worse it would cost $295 plus tax, and even with my member discount that's still more than I want to part with.
But the real question is: Can I go out dinner with it and not do it some terrible damage?
Last night we went to the south shore of Long Island to eat the lobster I was denied some weeks ago. It was a beautiful evening; the storms that had threatened never materialized so we were able to sit on the water and watch the sun set. This is a hands-on place - no bibs or water dishes - you just grab the seafood and tear it apart. We started with BYO wine, some shrimp and seaweed salad and then moved on to the main event - the much anticipated lobsters. I reached for mine, a 1 lb female, cracked the shell with both hands and showered myself in a delicious red spray of coral or lobster roe.
This was upsetting on two fronts. First, the coral is my favorite part and I didn't want to waste any and second, this stuff stains anything it touches bright orange. The sun was setting, so I figured it wouldn't be too noticeable, and I'd only shot myself, not my fellow diners, so I wiped up what I could, licked my fingers and continued eating.
After dinner we walked the boardwalk at Long Beach and went back to the Music Guy and Opera Diva's place for coffee and dessert. Under their kitchen lights the full glory of the damage I had wrought was revealed: shirt, shorts, skin - everything was orange tinged. Front and back. Don't ask how that was possible. But it was only when we got home that I saw the roe had made its way to my beloved lilac linen Birkin-style bag. Front, back, sides and even underneath, it was everywhere. A huge mess that proved beyond the capabilities of even Tide-To-Go. I've scrubbed it as well as I can and it may yet survive, but I think I will have to cover it in saran-wrap and don a rain slicker and a sou'wester myself before I tackle another lobster dinner.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lobster Day

"Is it lobster day, today?" was the first thing I asked when The Guy brought me coffee in bed. (Yes, he brings me coffee every morning. I know what you are thinking: spoilt cool house owner! Not really, I suffer in other ways.)

The reason I sounded like an excited six year old? Well, Saturday evening should have seen us eating lobster on the south shore of Long Island with friends but Music Guy hurt his back and didn't feel he could sit on a hard bench at the Shack, let alone wrestle a hard carapace to get to the delicious sweet flesh within. So I was denied, at least for the weekend. We made plans to go here today instead.

I haven't been to the Lobster Roll this summer but it's not for the want of trying. Back in early May on the return leg of my trip to Boston I dropped in for lunch but an absence of vehicles in the car park revealed that it was only open weekends until Memorial Day. Then there was a frustrating trip out to Riverhead in the season where I learnt that the are NOT OPEN ON TUESDAY. But today is Thursday, I have double-checked the opening times and I can see only one possible problem: Puffers are on the menu.

So should it be lobster, lobster roll or puffers? Decisions, decisions. It's really too hot for all this brain work.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Friday Night Fun

Because we'd taken advantage of the fabulous weather on Thursday evening and taken guests to Prime Restaurant for a sunset seafood and fish dinner on the deck overlooking Huntington Harbor we forwent (really, forwent? went without? denied ourselves? Whatever) our usual Friday night booze fest Martini and meal in town and made this vegetable thin crust pizza (recipe over here) instead. OK I had a Martini and some olives to start but it was basically a low-calorie supper.

Then because it was still early I had a crazy desire to get a jump start on the weekend by putting up the curtain rods for the drapery panels I bought.

Of course the previous sentence makes it sound as if I was actually wielding the drill when we know my role is to take photographs and alert The Guy to the fact that the middle bracket is 1/4" off center.

You'd hardly think from his smiling face that he had a drill in his hand and it was menacingly close to my eye, would you? Still, in the end it all went off quite smoothly. I believe the drink before dinner helped, and the pizza, of course. There's nothing worse than tackling projects with a rumbling stomach, is there?

There was only one teensy-weensy little problem. When the curtains went up. I HATED THEM. They're definitely oatmeal not pearl and I hate oatmeal. What was I thinking?

I couldn't bring myself to fess up to The Guy that I thought they were a mistake, especially as he didn't want drapes in the first place, so I lived with them until Sunday afternoon but in the end they had to go. We tried them in the our bedroom but they were still oatmeal. Not every plan is a good plan and I'm admitting this was not my best but at least we know what won't work in both the den and the master.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cake or death?

Guess what we will be doing this evening?
We have tickets to see Eddie Izzard at the Union Square Theatre in NYC. One little "oops" moment. I booked the tickets and didn't check the time of the performance. It starts at 10:30 pm. Since the bout of bugness we've haven't made it past the 10 o'clock news, so this should be an interesting experience. Hopefully the raucous laughter will keep us awake. What? You didn't think that was funny? Then check out this one

You liked it? He'll be gigging until March 8th..
The question is, should we complete the unique Britishness of the experience by eating fish & chips at A Salt & Battery first?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Going Modern

Shiro Kuramata, 49 Drawers (1970), Museum of Modert Art, NYC.
We renewed our subscription to MoMA and as no-one has to work today we popped in to the city to see the Lucian Freud exhibit. Just the two of us and twenty million other people who wanted to see modern art on a warm wet Monday morning. It's really not possible to enjoy looking at anything with these crowds so we cut our losses and joined friends for a long (4 hour) leisurely lunch at The Modern.
The $55 pre-fixe was possibly the best meal we have had in NYC since we ate there back in 2005. Light and velvety lentil broth with foie gras flan, garlicky carpaccio of sea bass, crispy trout and the tart apple and pear dessert were the stand-outs. The service was impeccable and the amuse bouche and complimentary petits fours were greatly appreciated. My only tiny quibble is that MoMA offers a 10% discount to members dining in their other restaurants but apparently not in The Modern. Still, I can't think of a better way to spend President's Day. It sure beats shopping my way to poverty.

Friday, December 07, 2007

You never know who's reading your blog

Last night we were invited to a special Northern versus Southern Hemisphere food and wine duel at one of the best restaurants in Huntington (nay, on the Island) Aix en Provence, during the course of which my neighbor told me he reads this blog.

It's always a stomach- churning moment when you find that someone you know has been reading your words. The first thought that ran through my panicked brain was "Did I write anything scathing about them"? I mean, I only put my true feelings and frustrations into this blog but I try to remain polite and positive. However I have noticed recently that a few of the posts were a little testy in tone. At one point I seriously considered changing it's name from Beach House to Bitch House. But I digress.

At some point during last night's very enjoyable dinner (on the whole we liked the Northern food and the Southern wines the best), my neighbor said I hadn't blogged about his house and I took that as carte blanche to write this piece.
I had wanted to write about my neighbors' renovation for a long time, but I was concerned they wouldn't want their house out on the internets for people from Honolulu to Hajdu-bihar to gawp at. I did once mention it in passing and I asked if they were keeping a blog or video diary of the experience but they weren't. They were too busy living it.

Vineyard Rd Fall 2007
Turning this old cottage and adjoining stables into a stunning home reminiscent of an English country cottage took twice as long as estimated and I'm guessing a whole stable-load more money but it was worth every second and every cent. The outcome is phenomenal and feels completely authentic. It certainly helped that one of the owners is a designer who had the vision to see through the dark and dirt to turn the stables into a huge light and airy living space with a master suite in the hayloft. They needed to be diplomats to deal with the locals constantly asking when they were going to be finished, or why they didn't just knock it down and build a new house on the land.

Now it's complete and truly this renovation should be featured in Architectural Digest. It's more impressive than anything I've seen on HGTV or Ths Old House. I cannot get over the way the two buildings flow seamlessly into each other. I love the way they kept some original windows, and had others replicated. The shingles they found match the originals perfectly. And the kitchen? Everybody who has seen it is madly jealous. It looks like a butler's pantry circa 1920 but it's functional and modern. How do you do light and airy yet keep it cozy? I don't know but she accomplished it, and she incorporated the sliding barn door into the interior too.

Steven has only admiration for the way the non-designer half of the duo coped with the cramped living quarters and cluttered chaos for two years while they were more than doubling the living space. And speaking of chaos I am secure in writing that when one of the neighbors has finished reading this, the other will have turned that Versuvius of boxes and bags full of Xmas decorations into a beautiful representation of an American winter wonderland.