Chef Anne Burrell’s Braised Lamb Shank

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Yesterday I posted a link and photo to Chef Anne Burrell’s braised lamb shanks with gremolata, along with a picture of the finished product which, if I say so myself, looked very much like Chef Anne’s (except I took it before putting on the gremolata).

She writes in her recipe that you must take your time and really brown the shanks. The deep brown color lends so much to the flavor in the end. She asks you don’t rush this part. I agree. The outcome is worth the patience. And when adding the tomato paste, be sure to cook those ingredients well to get a dark, rich flavor.

If cooked to the letter, you should have a hearty autumn dish that’s simply scrumptious. The braised meat is nearly fall off the bone tender. Don’t skip the gremolata. When I sat down and had my first bite I thought, this is delicious. Then I remembered I had yet to add the gremolata. Let me tell you, it adds a hint of citrus flavor and brightens up every mouthful. I didn’t think it would make as much of a difference as it did. It truly enhances the meal.

She suggests serving it with crisp polenta cakes to soak up all the sauce. This is a great idea, but as I served this for lunch, I merely paired it with fresh local apples and a good red wine. Perfect!

Chef Anne Burrell’s braised lamb shanks are a real winner.

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Lovin’ Latin at D’Canela, Amagansett

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D’Canela offers Mexican and Latin cuisine in a small restaurant on the Main Road in Amagansett. D’Canela is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also brunch on the weekends. You’ll find it’s fairly quiet at most times during the week, making it a good place to meet a business partner or have a romantic interlude. On weekends the place fills up, but you can usually find a table, unless it’s in the summer, then larger parties generally will have to wait, so call ahead.

The owner, Luis, is usually in the building and keeping things running smoothly. His staff is bilingual in English and Spanish, and nothing is lost in translation. The staff is friendly, kind, and attentive. They’re unobtrusive, letting you enjoy your meal, but within range should you need anything. The only thing I’ve ever become impatient with is getting the check on occasion. On the flip side, they never make me feel rushed.

The breakfast menu offers typical breakfast fare such as eggs, meat, home fries and toast, as well as Eggs Benedict, various omelettes, French toast, granola, Irish oatmeal, pancakes, and a salmon platter. On the Latin side, you have a choice of several dishes from breakfast burritos to breakfast quesadillas, to tamales and one of my favorites, huevos rancheros, to name a few.

The lunch menu offers some more authentic Latin dishes. For example, the posole soup is one of my favorites with mote (big, soft corn kernels), pork, avocado, onion, cilantro and a variety of mildly spicy seasonings to make a delicious broth to tie it all together. There’s also a very good black bean soup. For appetizers there’s guacamole with chips, nachos, enchiladas, and two of my favorites: tostones (flattened and fried unripe plantain) with guacamole and chicharron (crispy pork), and torttle rolls made of napa cabbage, avocado, black bean purée and jack cheese, made and cut to resemble sushi. Delicious. On the lighter side for an entrée they have a variety of salads, those with grilled chicken, a Cesar salad, a warm spinach salad and more. There are sandwiches and burgers and sides. You’re sure to find something you like. You can also ask for their dinner menu at lunch time and if it’s ready to go in the kitchen, you’re in for a treat.

The dinner menu has similar appetizers, salads and soups to the lunch menu with some interesting and equally delicious additions. The entrées, which are too many to list, all have a unique flavor and stand on their own. They’re not simply four combinations of four ingredients. You’re offered a strip steak with is very flavorful with just enough fat, not too much. You have your typical Latin fare such as burritos, chalupas, enchiladas, gorditas, fajitas, quesadillas, tacos, and tamales. But there are also dishes from Columbia, Mexico and Ecuador, like the bendeja paisa, carne asada, and churrasco, respectively. You will not leave the table hungry. There are three kinds of steak, two kinds of seafood, and a very American children’s menu.

D’Canela will give you good food at a decent price and decent service. I usually go when I want to get away from the hustle and bustle of busier restaurants. They have dancing Saturday nights and great mojitos! Give it a try for lunch or dinner. Breakfast is nothing over the top. I almost forgot to mention, they make a mild chicken curry that’s very good. I’m not sure if it’s on the menu, but ask for it. It’s generally served with their sautéed spinach which is done beautifully with garlic and oil. The stuffed poblano pepper with jack cheese is one of my favorites. I can never finish the carne asada, but it’s worth a shot. Go with several people and eat family style to taste as many dishes as possible. You can’t go wrong. And if you care to, ask for the owner, Luis, he is affable and will remember you.

Best Breakfast Sandwich

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Good day, everyone.

Yesterday morning I went into Mary’s Marvelous in East Hampton for an iced cappuccino, a bacon, cheddar and chive scone, and a lemon, ginger, lime, agave drink.

Let me begin by putting it out there that Mary’s, as it’s known, is a bit on the pricey side, even by Hamptons standards. The iced coffee and delicious scone were within reason, but the lemon-lime drink was $9 which I thought was a bit ridiculous given the ingredients are so inexpensive. There was no fancy bottle or label or any kind of packaging that would up the price in my opinion. I was a bit dismayed to pay this price because I enjoy this drink, but $9? (I heard through the grapevine they had a pie on sale last year for $40!)

Having said that, let me tell you why I keep going back to Mary’s. Simply put, the food is always fresh, homemade, and delicious. One of my favorite items is their breakfast sandwich. Take a look at their breakfast menu. My favorite breakfast sandwich is egg, ham and Swiss on a roll. It’s not a typical roll, it’s a seedless, soft, oblong roll. They cook it on what looks like a panini press to get the outside of the bread crispy and warm the inside so the cheese melts. I’m not exactly sure what kind of magic they use to create this deliciousness, but it’s a must have if you like breakfast sandwiches. They offer organic ingredients, turkey bacon, gluten-free bread, and so many more choices to suit most any palate.

Now, let’s take a look at their lunch menu. What I enjoy about their lunch menu is their choice of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options that are full of flavor. I always lean toward their paninis, but take a good look at the menu before making a decision as each item I’ve ever tried is just as delicious as the next. They also offer mini sandwiches if you care for a little less sandwich, or perhaps want to pair it with one of their soups. You’ll need to go back more than once to try their array of sandwiches of mouth watering combinations.

Mary’s also has freshly made juice and smoothies. Yum! My favorite, that’s not on the menu, is a combination of berries and ice with just a touch of apple juice to lend some sweetness. It’s cold and refreshing. Their green drinks are all described in detail on the board behind the counter and can contain everything from flax seeds to whey protein. You can choose soy milk if you don’t care for cow’s milk. And you can add or take away ingredients to create your own. However, I wouldn’t try that when it’s busy.

Mary’s also serves terrific, homemade baked goods. At the top of my list are the scones. My favorites being the scones that seem to have been left off of their online menu. My two favorites are the bacon, cheddar, chive scone and the gruyère, black pepper scone. Delicate, sometimes more dry than others, but bursting with flavor. I’m big on consistency and the scones aren’t always made exactly like the time before. Yet, oddly, it’s not disappointing. They’re always good. I’m not a huge fan of sweets, but word of mouth is Mary’s assortment of baked goods are tasty and, again, all homemade.

Also visit Mary’s Marvelous on Main Street in Amagansett.

So, Mary, even though I sometimes find your prices to be high, I’m still a loyal customer because your food shines through each and every time. One small complaint is that service can be on the slow side, even when it’s not busy. And the little East Hampton store fills up quickly. I’ve watched the workers behind the counter to see why I sometimes feel I’m waiting too long. I’ll say this, the staff is obviously trained to be methodical. Everything they take out goes back in it’s place. The milk containers for frothing milk are cleaned before the next drink is made, the espresso machine is wiped down, and it stays clean. So, again, to have to wait a couple extra minutes knowing my food and drink is being served in a clean environment is well worth the wait.

Where they get ya. When you stand in line to pay, you’ll normally be standing by their cold case where they offer beverages, cold soups and salads, and pre-made sandwiches. A quart of soup is $10. A beverage can be close to $10. So, there’s another $20 you’ve spent just by being tempted while you’re standing in line. Good strategic marketing, I suppose.

On parking at the East Hampton store, ugh. There are only three parking spots out front, then several across the road or down the street. This can be challenging in the summer. But overall, you should go. Be prepared to pay a little more than usual, but know it will be worth it!

Best Seafood Shop

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Good day, everyone. As promised, I want to let you know about three seafood shops all worth a mention: the Seafood Shop in Wainscott, Stuart’s Seafood Market in Amagansett, and the new Amagansett Seafood Store.

The Seafood Shop on the Main Road in Wainscott is a favorite if I’m in the area. Because there are seafood markets just as good and closer to home, I don’t make the Seafood Shop my first choice for fresh seafood. It’s simply a matter of convenience. However, I look at their daily menu which you can find online to see their daily specials. I have gone out of my way for their soups and bisques. They don’t skimp on the amount of seafood in their soups. Their fresh seafood selection in on par with most seafood shops. There’s a good selection of prepared seafood dishes along with meals you can have cooked to order. I plan on trying a lobster to go soon to compare it to many lobsters I’ve had in the area. If you’re in Wainscott, check it out. It’s across the street from the post office.

My new find is the Amagansett Seafood Store on Montauk Highway, in the Amagansett IGA plaza. I believe it’s going to stick around for a while. Their selection of fresh seafood is, again, on par with most seafood markets. But, they’ve added some items to their menu that have been winners with me and friends. Let me say that a couple of my closest friends are avid fishermen and were excited to try the assortment of dips and seafood salads I brought to a recent gathering. I wish they had a website because I can’t possibly remember all they have to offer, but their dips are out of this world! They also offer a wide variety of cooked to order seafood dishes that are listed on the huge chalk board behind the counter. I’m going to go in there today to refresh my memory because this is an inadequate description of what they have to offer. Then I’ll refresh this post. What’s also convenient is there’s a liquor store next store and a supermarket next door to that. You can make one stop for your seafood dinner. Parking can be a bit difficult, but worth it.

My favorite seafood market is Stuart’s Seafood Market on Oak Lane, off the Main Road, in Amagansett. Stuart’s offers an impressive assortment of fresh seafood. I’ve never wanted anything they don’t carry. The only problem is, for popular items, you may want to go earlier in the day rather than later as they may be sold out. They have the highest quality seafood around, such as sushi grade tuna. They offer delicious, fresh local seafood as well as a wide variety of global seafood. It makes me want to spread my culinary wings and try new things. Additionally, they offer an impressive assortment of homemade salads and prepared foods such as:

Sliced Scottish Smoked Salmon
Lobster Salad
Shrimp Salad w/ Dill
Yellow Fin Tuna Salad
Smoked Crabmeat Salad
Cole Slaw w/ or w/out Mayo
Red Bliss Potato Salad
Sugar Snap Pea Salad
Basmati & Wild Rice Salad
Orzo Salad w/ Tomato & Feta
Hungarian Cucumber Salad
Sesame Seaweed Salad
Hijiki Salad w/ Edamame
Baked Stuffed Clams
Fish Cakes, Lobster Cakes, or Crab Cakes
Poached Salmon w/ Dill Sauce
Cedar Planked Salmon
Sesame Seared Tuna
Teriyaki Tuna Burgers
(New!) Lobster Summer Rolls
Lobster Bisque
Manhattan Clam Chowder
New England Clam Chowder
Gazpacho
Fish Stock
Smoked Whitefish Pate
Homemade Cocktail Sauce
Homemade Tartar Sauce
Homemade Guacamole
Homemade Ginger
Key Lime Marinade
Homemade Key Lime Pies

Homemade Soups

Manhattan Clam Chowder
New England Clam Chowder
Lobster Bisque
Mediterranean Fish Soup
Conch Chowder
Mussel Chowder
Downeast Fish Chowder
Crab Asparagus Bisque
Oyster & Artichoke Bisque
Low Fat Oyster & Corn Chowder

Lobster Dinners
1 1/4 LB. Lobster
Steamers or Little Neck Clams
Mussels
Corn on the Cob
Cole Slaw
Melted Butter & Lemon

Cooked & Ready to Serve!
Larger Lobsters Also Available

On more than one occasion I’ve hired Stuart’s to do a clambake, both for home and on the beach. You bring the drinks, they’ll do the rest. Clambakes include the following and is priced based on the number of people:

1 1/4 LB. Lobster
Steamers or Little Neck Clams
Mussels
Corn on the Cob
Red Potatoes
Layered in a disposable kettle.
Ready for stovetop, grill or beach fire

Going down to one of the Hamptons many local beaches and having Stuart’s bring their truck down onto the beach is a great time for all. Take advantage of the bon fire and toast marshmallows and make s’mores after a delicious seafood extravaganza. Feel free to order more from their catering menu. Also, for the true foodie enthusiast, check out their pig roast. There’s a $400 additional charge for the pig to be roasted on site, but I feel the excitement is worth the price. An aside: I have a dear friend who has a homemade, coal fired slow cooking grill he keeps in his yard. He’s treated guests to 250 lb. pigs and lamb on this grill. It’s a long process to watch over it and cook it to perfection. For those who comment, I’ll let you know where you can get fresh pigs, lambs, chickens and more for a reasonable price. If you’re not familiar with what a reasonable price is for, say, a 150lb. hog, you’re looking in the ballpark of $400. This is comparable to Stuart’s price and you needn’t do all the work.

Also impressive at Stuart’s are their pantry items, small cheese selection, and desserts. Grab your Old Bay Seasoning from the pantry, perhaps some freshly homemade cocktail sauce from the frig, some fresh lemons, cheese, crackers, and pies. My son particularly enjoys the buttery shortbread.

You can’t go wrong at Stuart’s. I suggest going in and looking around. Their prepared foods section alone is worth the trip. When on Oak Lane, look for the big flag, then turn down the driveway and you’ll find Stuart’s tucked away in the back.

Please revisit this post later today as I will be adding much more detail about the Seafood Shop and the Amagansett Seafood Store. But, Stuart’s is hands down the most popular seafood market around and well worth the price in my opinion.

More On Take Out

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Just had lunch from Breadzilla in Wainscott. I had the shrimp salad on a homemade squishy roll, and my lunch partner had the hippy-dippy, a sandwich with cheddar, avocado, tomato, carrots, alfalfa sprouts and mustard mayo on honey wheat bread. The shrimp salad was fresh and looked like chopped medium sized shrimp, mixed with mayo and celery, topped with shredded lettuce, and seasoned with pepper on a seedless roll. Very good but could have used a pinch of salt, in my opinion. They consistently use what I consider to be the right amount of mayonnaise. Just enough to bind the ingredients without a lingering mayonnaise taste. The hippy-dippy was super fresh and delicious. The mustard mayo doesn’t overpower the delicate fresh vegetables. The carrots are shredded and raw, in case you were wondering. My non-meat eating friend enjoys this option on a regular basis. But don’t be fooled by their menu. They have much more to offer, such as freshly baked breads, bagels, and pastries. I personally enjoy their scones. They have a simple but impressive cheese collection in the cold case as you walk in. They offer an array of already prepared foods made on the premises, such as individual meatloaf (could really serve two), pizza with various toppings, and cold soups and salads among other items made fresh and changed daily. Look in the cold case for yesterday’s bread and buy it at a discount. The cinnamon swirl bread is incredible! It consistently has a good sized streak of cinnamon-sugary goodness running through it. Day old cinnamon bread is perfect for French toast. They post their menu each day with the specials for that day. They usually offer three types of soup, most often at least one will be vegan, and sandwiches and platters. If you are cutting carbs, ask for your choice of sandwich on a bed of fresh greens instead. I have always been accommodated when I’ve asked for a substitution of greens for bread.

Breadzilla is busy at lunchtime, so I recommend calling ahead. I also recommend knowing what you want before you call. I once called and asked what the soups of the day were and was told, “It’s on our website”. I don’t think the young lady meant to be rude, I think she was just really busy. I’ve always had straight forward, good service. They have never messed up my order, which is saying a lot considering how busy they can be, especially in the summer. Oh, there’s a clear cell phone policy: get off your phone if you want to be served.

There are several take out places in this little area in Wainscott. In front of Breadzilla you have Twice Upon A Bagel, and the Seafood Shop right next door. I’ll discuss the Seafood Shop in my next review. For now, know it’s always fresh!

Twice Upon A Bagel, obviously, sells bagels. But, it’s more of a bagel store/bakery/deli combo. They don’t have a website, but you can read reviews on yelp.com. Unlike most of the reviews that call the staff unfriendly and the food wildly overpriced, let me say I’ve only had pleasant and efficient service. Having said that, I have noticed the staff to be a bit frantic in the summer, so I don’t doubt service could be compromised at times. As far as price, I think there’s a bit of “it’s the Hamptons” you have to swallow when you get here to not be pissed off at the overall high prices virtually everywhere. High compared to what? Say, compared to a good Jewish deli in the city. It’s not my first choice of bagel joints in the Hamptons, but it’s not the worst either. I’d like to mention Goldberg’s Famous Bagels at this time. Located off Pantigo Road in East Hampton. This is where I go for my bagels on the south fork.

Goldberg’s, as it’s simply known, is more of a true bagel store. There’s a counter just for ordering bagels, and a separate deli counter for ordering everything else. They have terrific sandwiches, with combinations of freshly made chopped liver with brisket, pastrami, corned beef, turkey…you name it. There are many sandwich combinations already laid out for you on their menu, or feel free to choose your own ingredients. We’re not talking Carnegie Deli big, but you get a good serving of meat on each sandwich. Enjoy one of their homemade soups. (I once ordered their matzo ball soup. Excellent. Not salty, and the matzo balls were light and airy. But, I accidentally ordered a large portion which is a quart of soup, just FYI.) A small soup and half of a sandwich will fill most. For breakfast, they offer various egg sandwiches as you’d see in most deli’s. Goldberg’s takes the breakfast sandwich a step further and will add a delicious hash brown on your egg sandwich along with your choice of cheese and meat. There’s even an egg sandwich with roast beef, cheese, and a hash brown which I’ve found sinfully delicious. I believe this combination is aptly called the “Not So Healthy” breakfast sandwich.

Aside from the numerous sandwich combinations on bread, bagel, roll or flagel (basically a flattened bagel), Goldberg’s offers many other good eats behind the deli counter. There’s falafel, herring, kasha varnishkas, pickles, knishes, smoked fish, and most deli salads you can imagine. At times they sell noodle pudding. And there’s always freshly squeezed orange juice.

Reviews I’ve read online, more often than not, give Goldberg’s a positive rating in every category. I do, however, have one small complaint. I asked for a smoked fish platter, ordered it ahead of time, and for around $18 I felt their portion and selection of smoked fish was insufficient. I had more garnish than smoked fish it seemed: cole slaw, pickle, lettuce, tomato, onion. Outside of that one time, I’ve never had a complaint.

Most people order to go while some take advantage of the few, perhaps four or five, cafeteria style tables to enjoy their meal. There’s a flat screen TV if you care to catch up on the news, and the story of Goldberg’s on the wall. They also have a small outdoor seating area.

Caution: like most good places to eat, it gets busy and you will have to wait in line. You can call ahead if you’d like, but I’ve often found it takes a few tries before someone answers the phone during a rush. I, personally, don’t mind standing in line because it usually takes me ten minutes to figure out what to order. By the time I get to place my order, I’ve often only just decided. It’s virtually painless.

If you’re feeling naughty, try their deep fried French toast. Oh my goodness! The bread is thick, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside. Served with butter and syrup, a small portion will most likely fill the average person as it’s so rich. I haven’t had this in a while. But I guarantee, one of these cold mornings I’ll get a hankering for this fried French toast and I’ll be sure to take a picture.

Now that I’ve discussed two local bagel stores, I feel it would be remiss not to mention Hampton Bagels on North Main Street in East Hampton. I admit, because this is the most convenient bagel store near my home, I do frequent the place. However, the parking on the side is ridiculous, I will only stop if I can park in front. Your order may need to be repeated several times, and even though your order is written down, you may not always get what you asked for. The line quickly gets long and, because it serves little more than bagels and sandwiches, I get bored. The coffee is mediocre and service is not normally with a smile. The staff looks harried when it’s busy. Yet, if you find you’d like to be a regular here, I’d get to know someone behind the counter. Your chances of receiving the right order and a smile are greatly improved with a little banter. Hampton Bagels has an interesting “text in your order” feature that I’ve been too afraid to try. The next time you stop in, grab a card on the counter and try texting in your order. The card promises it will save you time.

The bagels, flagels, bialys, and salt sticks are pretty good and there’s a wide assortment, as well as a vast array of types of cream cheese. You can see them making the bagels right in front of you in the ovens when it’s busy, as well as the freshly made orange juice. To be clear, Hampton Bagels is a decent bagel store, but there are some staff and parking issues when it gets busy.

If you’d like more information about any of the aforementioned, please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer.

Thank you!