Italy, meet Bayville. On Labor Day weekend students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Bra, Italy, had dinner at 18 Bay, a Sound-side restaurant owned and operated by chefs Adam Kopels and Elizabeth Ronzetti. The visit was part of an international field trip organized by Analia Musso, a tutor at the university, which was the brainchild of Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, the international movement in defense of flavor.
And it was an opportunity for the chefs, Slow Food members and devoted followers of Long Island cuisine to show off the bounty of the region. “It was really an honor for us to communicate to the students,” says Kopels. “I wish I had another three hours and 21 courses, because the region never gets the due respect.”
For their part, the students—mostly Italian but some from Germany—had to settle for five courses carefully selected by Ronzetti and Kopels.
The first, lobster and bluefish with a slightly spicy watermelon-beet salad, was picked to show the range of the market: high-end, the lobster; low-end, the bluefish, a fish Kopels says is misunderstood, mostly because it doesn’t travel well. The second course was cannelloni with housemade ricotta and yellow tomatoes from one of the chefs’ favorite farmers: the Aliperti brothers in Greenlawn. The third course was cod, fava beans and fresh grated corn. This choice, says Kopels, gave the Europeans a different take on the fish, which in Italy is usually eaten dried and salted, and the corn, which is usually consumed after drying, as polenta. The fourth course featured beef from Painted Hills Ranch in Oregon—grassfed, antibiotic- and hormone-free. That lit up the eyes of Musso, who is from Argentina and speaks three languages. The beef came with creamed kale.
For the finale, the chefs served peach and blueberry cobbler. “We wanted to make sure we were focused on a meal that was really American,” says Kopels.
18 Bay, 18A Bayville Avenue (between Bayville Park and Bayville Road), Bayville. 516.628.0124. 18bayrestaurant.com
Eating in Italian
It’s perhaps the most daunting four-course meal on the East End until the wine starts flowing. Picture six non-Italian speakers at a banquet at East Hampton’s Cittanuova restaurant, the table before them stacked with plates, glasses and carafes of chianti and pinot grigio. Not a sip of water or wine, nor morsel of chef James Gee’s food will be allowed anyone until he or she asks in Italian to be handed a glass or a plate.
Massimo Papetti, who heads Cittanuova’s Language & Linguine course, holds up a fork, announcing ” forchetta.” “It’s an effective way to remember essential, survival Italian,” says Carolyn Papetti, Massimo’s wife and Cittanuova’s general manager.
Two hours later, the now-laughing group has learned 50 to 75 Italian words. They’ve eaten antipasto, risotto, pastas like pasta cacio e pepe, an ancient Roman dish, fish or meat like abbacchio scottadito, lamb chops with a mustard-garlic-balsamic sauce, vegetables, gelato.
“It’s delicious, fun, silly. If you speak in English, no one will even look at you,” says Ivy Winick Dressler. Says Linda Lacchia, “Massimo makes you feel comfortable, relaxed. As a result you remember.” Diners acquire enough basic Italian to navigate menus, catch trains or, in Jeff Gurciullo’s case, to handle wedding arrangements and dinner for 45 for a friend living on the Amalfi Coast. “There’s no point in teaching grammar when you have four lessons of two hours each,” says Carolyn.
The Papettis dreamed up Language & Linguine for Cittanuova after they moved to the East End from Rome five years ago. Carolyn Fromm from East Hampton met Massimo, a university economics graduate, in 1998 while teaching English in Rome. The Italian taught Carolyn the fluent Italian she now speaks as both worked in the Eternal City, where she won sommelier certification.
Each dinner covers one city: Rome, Venice, Florence or Naples. “I also teach them a second language—the hands language,” grins Massimo waving his fingers to demonstrate what common gestures mean from “I am hungry” to “What a bore!” —Geraldine Pluenneke
The next $295 four-meal sessions begin October 20. Four to six groups of diners meet weekly. Five or six sessions will run through next Memorial Day. Some diners return to take level two, level three, even level four courses. Cittanuova: 29 Newtown Lane, East Hampton; 631.324.6300; cittanuova.com
GO FISH (FOR $10)
When the federal Magnuson-Stevens Act—the ancient (and some say outdated) law that governs how Americans use their waters— recently required all states to have some sort of fish management plan in place by 2011, New York decided to establish a fishing license for all recreational fishing, ostensibly to help monitor what is being pulled out of the water. Individuals must purchase a $10 license (the first time recreational fishers have been required to do so in state history), and party boat captains (already required to buy a license) must buy an additional $400 license.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the state had few answers to greet the many questions that fishers had leading up to the day the licenses went into effect. The Department of Environmental Conservation, which is administering the program, had trouble with its licensing software: No one knew where to buy the licenses, questions regarding enforcement received vague replies, and the law included no information about what, if any, the fines would be for putting “a bamboo pole” in the water without your license in the back pocket of your overalls. In addition, no one was sure where the licensing
fees were going. Would they come back to the areas of the state—read Long Island—where saltwater fishing predominates?
“There is no question the license will be a pain in the butt,” says Carl Safina, a writer for Edible East End who also fishes and heads the Blue Ocean Institute. “I take a lot of people fishing very casually. They don’t really fish, don’t really plan to fish again, just want to come and try it once. The marina says they won’t sell licenses. That means telling people to make an extra stop. And what if we’re leaving at 5 a.m.?” Fishers can’t buy extra licenses for friends or family, for instance, and you must present an ID to get a license, a requirement that several fishers interviewed greeted with an independence-minded “Why?”
Enter the opposition. The trustees of three East End towns held a rally at the end of September, complete with elected officials and members of the fishing industry, to protest what they were calling a tax that, like most others, was destined to only go up. Also decried was the need to buy a license by October 1 that would only be good until the end of the year, when a new license would be required. Southampton and East Hampton town trustees were calling for Southold to join them in filing a temporary restraining order. County legislator Ed Romaine called for a tea party where everyone would fish without a license; Bill Rocchetta, president of the East End Captains Association, waved his captains license in the air, called the fee a $400 grab and said, “If this was Chicago, it would be racketeering.” (As of press time, the town trustees had received a 30-day delay of the new requirement.)
Still, Safina points out that New York has long had a freshwater fishing license. “Somehow, everyone upstate copes,” he says. “Other states have them. I go to other states, I get my three-day license, no big deal. They cost the same as lunch from a deli.” And in terms of the long-term political ramifications, there may be a silver lining. If sport fishing means something to the state budget, anglers will command more clout and can demand more service. “We’ll just have to live with the inconvenience,” says Safina, “and then demand better fishing in return.”
For more information and to see if you’re breaking the law by throwing a line off a bridge, check the DEC Web site: dec.ny.gov/permits/54950.html.
If you happen to be in Bridgehampton on the Monday evening before Halloween, don’t rub your eyes—you are in fact seeing more jack-o’-lanterns than you’ve ever seen before. It’s the annual Bridgehampton Lions Club pumpkin-carving contest, an event that for the past decade has been growing in size and creativity, while still remaining a local hometown happening.
The brainchild of John Musnicki, owner of a marketing design group with an office in East Hampton, the contest takes participants of all ages and provides guidance by creating new categories that morph (and inspire even the most jaded carver) every year.
“That’s the fun part,” he says, “the catalyst for some of the creativity that happens,” even in years like this one when cucurbitcompromising weather means slim pickings in pumpkin patches.
Last year’s categories included Pulp Politico, Scare Do, Punka-licious and Freaky Tiki. Some years, says Musnicki, people don’t know what to do and then see what others have come up with. The second year, a category’s entries blossom.
One year a category was Nice Mug. “The intention was faces, but somebody carved a Candy Kitchen mug,” he says, referring to a popular local eatery. It won, but the category was dead. “If I didn’t take it out, I’d get a whole bunch of mugs. That’s the kind of nonsense that goes on.”
The categories are for all ages, and the Lions encourage parents to carve with their kids. And the winners, says Musnicki, end up fairly evenly divided among the age groups. “We don’t really keep track of the winners,” he says.
As spectators stroll the rows of creations, puppeteer Liz Joyce of Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre in Sag Harbor will entertain and infamous drumming troupe Escola de Samba Boom will get things moving.
And the judges will tally. There are two guest judges every year and three who have been there since the beginning. “I can’t reveal the names,” Musnicki says, “It’s too important. Every body knows them, and they could be compromised if we disclose the names.”
The organizers start accepting entrants at 5 p.m., Monday, October 26, on the lawn of the Bridgehampton Community House, Main Street, Bridgehampton. Entertainment, including puppetry and drumming, will begin around the same time. Musnicki suggests potential entrants view the galleries of past carvings and this year’s categories at bridgehamptonlions.org.