Friday, November 30, 2012

Celebrate Local Food & Drink: Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown CookBook Signing at Long Island Spirits Distillery

On Saturday, December 1, 2012 from 2 to 6 pm, I am honored to be co-hosting a book signing at LiV Spirits in the Baiting Hollow artisanal distillery with my book: The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook.

The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook and LiV craft vodka makes a special, unique holiday and hostess gift package, too!

Experience a Homegrown treasure: LiV Long Island's First Craft Distillery
A visit to the website is practically a virtual vacation, enchanting and seducing the viewer away with spa-like music and beach scenery. A visit to the distillery and tasting room kicks it up a notch.

Previously, I wrote:
Vodka should be made from potatoes, not grain, in this Examiner’s lofty opinion. 
With a daily martini de rigueur at cocktail time, this Food & Drink columnist has earned her stripes. 
There is the ongoing debate about gin martini vs. vodka martini with gin always fretting and twitching that those juniper berries earned its crown as the only true martini spirit.  As a jazz-age impresario might have refined a famous song:
“You say pohtAto; and I say potato… let’s call the whole thing off”

Fact is, vodka is the number one, most favorite spirit in the world.
So gin enthusiasts can cry in their cup.

Following a spirits seminar at the New School where three authors spoke about “how rum, gin and vodka have changed history, Patricia Herlihy, professor of History Emeritus at Brown University writes in the introduction to her book, Vodka A Global History  ”There cannot be too much vodka, there can only be not enough vodka.’ Russian saying.”

Words to live by.  But forget those snooty imports.

What better locale than the verdant, picture-postcard farmland of the North Fork of Long Island, blessed with centuries-old potato farms and pristine waterways to produce an award winning artisanal vodka?
Besides, Vodka Herlihy cites LiV as one of the good guys – the best!

In fact, long heralded for it’s potatoes, the Island still grows around 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of potatoes per acre, where they used to grow more than 250,000 pounds per acre, according to Richard Stabile, founder and owner of Long Island Spirits and the genius behind the first distillery on Long Island since the 1880’s.

What took so long?

Long Island’s LiV distillery, also featured in the Vodka Global History, uses about two  million pounds of potatoes a year -- a very small percentage of Long Island’s bounty, according to Stabile. “I am very much into sustainability,” he added.

Stabile says he primarily works with three potato farmers: Ray Kioski,
Martin Sidor (how much do we love their local Long Island potato chips?!), and Zwalinki. 

All the Long Island growers Stabile works with grow Long Island white Russet and Maxi Russet potatoes.
“These local potatoes are sweet, with more skin to fruit, given their 2-inch diameter,” explained Stable.   “There is an inherent buttery feel or palate, that conjures a vanilla taste,” he added.

He recalled that it took about nine months to taste-test the various distillations before he arrived at that happy, eureka moment and to the vodka blend Stable liked. 
He tried yellow and fingerling potatoes but found the Russetts were best.
LiV shipped their first batch of artisanal vodka in June of 2008.
Today, they ship more than 5,000 cases a year.
The bottles are a clean look with a blue label.  Stabile says that imagery suggests the depth of the ocean. “We’re surrounded by water and we wanted to reflect that element of nature.”

“My heart and passion is in wine and spirits,” Stabile said.  He went on to describe how he was always a fan of potato vodka.  “I wanted to make what I like”

Another overlooked element to vodka, Stabile points out, is that all the spirits are Gluten Free.
So while it might seem a bit confounded to discuss spirits and health in the same context, it’s really not.  Truth be told, in the early days of spirits, it was all about the medicinal properties. 
To your health and all that….
(At the lecture this Examiner also learned that the term “quack” the term for a not so great doctor, came from the time when “doctors” wore long beak-like appendages on their nose filled with juniper berries/aka gin and they looked like ducks.)

LiV’s Stabile learned to make handmade or homemade wine growing up in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn. Later, his family moved to Smithtown, Long Island.
Layering on his childhood homegrown experience, Stabile was further enamored and infused with a spirits élan, given his career as a semiconductor sales and marketing executive who spent a considerable amount of time around Silicon Valley in the wine country of Santa Barbara.
Stabile described his international travel too but he saw he kept coming back to wineries and distilleries.

Another aha moment and smart business vision was when Stabile felt the year-round opportunity of distilling vs. the seasonal wine production appealed to him.
“Plus, I could see the results faster, “ noted this former tech executive turned distiller.  Old habits die hard.

After the World Trade Center attacks, Stabile moved back home to Long Island to raise his family. 
Strategically and methodically, Stabile drew up a business plan. 
He attended wine and spirits Cornell workshops at their education center in New York City, learning the distillation craft there and at other hands-on education classes and seminars.

Stabile found his dream 80-acre location on the Peconic Bay, East End of Long Island in 2005.
“It took about three years to get the premiere vodka distillery and tasting/sampling room ready for guests and commerce.

Stable detailed that there are four elements to vodka production, highlighting the raw materials or ingredients. 
And it can’t get much better than local potatoes or water or strawberries from SEPS Farms in East Marion. 

LiV Vodka Signature Cocktail...

1 1/2 oz LiV Vodka
3 oz Organic Lemonade
1/2 oz Strawberry Sorbetta
Preparation: Assemble all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice
cubes. Shake well and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a Strawberry
or Lemon Wedge.

To order The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Local Book Review for a "Local" Cookbook -- just in time for Thanksgiving

Here below is the text of a wonderful book review for The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook from the East End’s premiere newspaper, Dan’s Hamptons.
I am so grateful for Ms. Dermont’s detailed review, suggestions and support. 

And couldn’t agree more that the book is “sure to be the go-to gift of the season. No doubt it will appear beneath Christmas trees and Chanukah bushes across the Island.”
Further, Dermont says, “Fingers crossed, sooner rather than later, there will be a bigger and better “Volume II.”
I second that!

And I knew the book worked its magic when I read this in Dermont’s review: “I really enjoyed reading about many of the chefs’ backgrounds. I love their food and now I better know where it comes from. This book also introduced me to some chefs and restaurants I think I’d like to try…”

Enjoy the review. Enjoy the book’s Homegrown recipes. 
The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook is the perfect hostess Holiday gift:

I am giving thanks this holiday for the inspired chefs and growers who grace the book.  And our plates…

And I Love beach plum jelly too. 

The Only Hamptons Resource You Need

A “Local” Cookbook
NOVEMBER 17, 2012 By Stacy Dermont
The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, Local Food, Local Restaurants, Local Recipes by Leeann Lavin with photography by Lindsay Morris and Jennifer Calais Smith is sure to be the go-to gift of the season. No doubt it will appear beneath Christmas trees and Chanukah bushes across the Island.
Voyageur Press is putting out a series of these tomes honoring unique food cultures. Other editions include Boston and Chicago.

This book profiles 27 Long Island chefs, farmers and producers and its author has held a number of tastings, dinners and book signings across the Island. This included a recent dinner at 18 Bay on Shelter Island with chefs Adam Kopels and Elizabeth Ronzetti. The two chefs are featured in the book, providing a glimpse into this 16-seat gourmet restaurant that most of the public might not otherwise experience.

Some of the other area chefs featured in the book are Lia Fallon of Amarelle in Wading River, Starr Boggs, Keith Luce of Luce + Hawkins, Joe Isidori at Southfork Kitchen and Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming of The North Fork Table & Inn. Also featured are some of the many farmers and producers who bring forth delicious food from Long Island’s soil and waters. The book profiles Noank Aquaculture Co-op in Southold, Balsam Farms in Amagansett, Crescent Duck Farm and Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue, The Hayground School, Open Minded Organics and Mecox Bay Dairy, all in Bridgehampton and Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett.

The photos of food and scenes are naturally gorgeous, but the portraits leave something to be desired. I know that most of these people are considerably better-looking than they appear in this volume because I see them every week. More troubling, though, is that on the pages featuring portraits of chefs alongside those of farmers and baymen, the chefs’ names are listed but not the producers’. In case you’re wondering, the super cute farmer from Balsam Farms is named Ian Calder-Piedmonte and the Sylvester Manor farmer pictured is Creek Iverson, not Bennett Konesni, as you might gather from the text.

Overall I think that Lavin has done a good job highlighting some of Long Island’s best local restaurants and producers. Of course, in a burgeoning foodie culture like ours, you can’t include everyone. As Chef Tom Schaudel says, “It’s like Disneyland for food out here.”
Fingers crossed, sooner rather than later, there will be a bigger and better “Volume II.”
Missing, naturally, are some big players who just came to the table, including Tom Colicchio’s Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton and the All Star in Riverhead, which features a menu designed by Keith Luce. Both of these eateries opened a couple of months ago.
But there’s many a fascinating story told in this book and I suggest that you go right ahead and buy a copy for every foodie on your gift list. Locals will love it. As will native Long Islanders who now live “away.” People who sometimes visit our shores will also “eat it up.”

Lavin got quite a bit right (if you can forgive a reference to a “potato pasture”), like featuring the grand dame of local foodie culture, Anna Pump, the founder of Sagaponack’s Loaves & Fishes. I can’t wait to try her recipe for Lobster Potato Salad! I’m also jazzed to try making Keith Luce’s Apple Rosemary Fritters and Gretchen Menser’s Apple Gremolata. Yum!

I really enjoyed reading about many of the chefs’ backgrounds. I love their food and now I better know where it comes from. This book also introduced me to some chefs and restaurants I think I’d like to try, including The Grey Horse Tavern in Bayshore and Kitchen A Bistro in St. James.

Warning: Reading this book will make you hungry. I had to break for a PB&J midway through. (Yes, the jelly was local—beach plum!)
Bon Appetit!

‘The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, Local Foods, Local Restaurants, Local Recipes’ by Leeann Lavin (Voyageur Press, 2012) $30, available locally and online.

Link to the full story with graphics:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook Author Leeann Lavin to co-host reading, tasting & Hurricane Sandy relief event at AMARELLE restaurant, Long Island

The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook
Author Leeann Lavin to co-host reading, tasting &  Hurricane Sandy relief event at AMARELLE restaurant,  Long Island

On Thursday, November 15 at 6:30 p.m. Amarelle Restaurant in Wading River, along with Leeann Lavin – that’s me! -- the author of The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook and Examiner Food & Drink editor, will host a special reading, tasting and book signing event to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
Amarelle chef Lia Fallon will be preparing her recipes as featured in the book and both Lia and Leeann will be signing copies of the new cookbook.  The Andrews family – chef Lia’s inspired growers will be featured guests at the Homegrown book celebration.  The Andrews family farm and stand is located at 1038 Sound Avenue, Wading River, NY, 11792.  You can get your fresh, just-picked Thanksgiving menu ingredients, including winter squash, cabbage, sweet potatoes, red and golden beets.  And fresh eggs.  And… 
A special raffle to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts will be held to win a bottle of local wine, an Andrews Farm harvest vegetable basket, and a signed copy of The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook. In addition, 25% of the evening’s book sales proceeds will go to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief.

The Hamptons and Long Island Homegrown Cookbook is a collection of outstanding recipes from Long Island’s finest locavore, homegrown chefs who give every plate a striking sense of place, and the farmers they work with to bring the freshest locally grown, sustainable foods to their menus.  Filled with beautiful photographs and fantastic recipes, this book will be of interest to foodies and chefs everywhere and is available at bookstores and online retailers now.

Amarelle is located at 2028 N. Country Road, in Wading River, 631-886-2242. You can visit them online at
Voyageur Press
June 2012
Original Trade Hardcover with 4-color photos
$30.00 US
Follow Leeann and The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook on Facebook!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook event in the Garden State

What are you doing tomorrow night? Blow off the laundry and just come!

I told you Kim, co-owner of River Road books has a great sense of humor :)
Come out for a fun, informative evening. And support your local, independent book store. Especially one that is just getting power back, post-Sandy.... 

Her Email for tonight's event:

Aren't last minute invites the best anyway...? 

Because of Sandy, we've been waiting to see if we should reschedule this fun event, but have decided to go ahead. We miss you and we'd love to hear how you are. Please plan on coming...
Tomorrow night
Wed. 11/14
Leeann Lavin
River Road Books
Meet a fascinating author/writer/designer and enjoy an evening of warmth and cheer. Leeann will talk about her new book: The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, share anecdotes about the chefs and their feelings about fresh and local ingredients, sign books and answer questions.

Beverages and refreshments served.
Suggested donation $5 for a book fund we're starting this holiday season to replace lost books for hurricane Sandy victims.

RSVP 732-747-9455
River Road Books
759 River Road
Fair Haven, New Jersey 07704

Friday, November 9, 2012

Celebrate Long Island Restaurant Week: Foody's Water Mill Hosts Homegrown Harvest Menu & Slow Food East End Benefit

Bryan Futerman, executive chef and owner of Water Mill Foody’s Restaurant is a passionate homegrown chef who cares as much about his menu’s ingredients, his customers, and his community  -- in equal portions.

Somehow, he finds the time to talk to his local growers and their artisanal homegrown ingredients.
He explores the menu and the gardens at his inspired Homegrown garden: The Hayground School’s Jon Snow, as featured in the The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook,

Just the other day, Chef Bryan cited the Hayground School lunch menu, saying he enjoyed “a delicious bowl of white bean and Hayground Swiss chard soup & homemade baguette yesterday with John and all the students in Jeff's kitchen. An inspiration indeed!”

How much do we love that?!  A far cry from the usual brown paper bag stale sandwich school lunch bag that most remember!

Chef Bryan has artfully curated a seasonal harvest menu for the dinner to celebrate my book: 
The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook

The event will also benefit Slow Food East End.

For more information and reservations:


A Special Harvest Dinner with Author Leeann Lavin
Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook

Duck Liver Mousse Crostini
Exotic Spiced Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Soup Falkowski Oyster Mushrooms
Caramelized Peconic Bay Scallops
Halsey Cauliflower
Sauvignon Blanc Pan Sauce
Long Island Duck “Two-Ways”
Rutabaga Mash, Local Brussels Sprouts
Festival Red Reduction
Milk Pail Apple Croustade
Mecox Cheddar, Wildflower Honey, Caramel Gelato
Paumonauk Vineyards
2011 Sauvignon Blanc & 2010 Festival Red
Thunder Island Organic Coffee