Though it’s hardly a news worthy trend at this point, there are many places on Long Island where you can get an excellent Acai bowl. And the good news is, many of them feature other delicious and healthful dining options!
NY Beanery (631-598-2888, 114 Merrick Road, Amityville)
A charming rustic-modern coffee shop with a lovely staff who have the patience of Job. Their signature beverage, a vanilla honey latte, is truly delightful. The Hampton Bowl (unlike its namesake) is not only affordable, it is one of my favorite acai bowls you can get on the Island. Delicious, recognizable ingredients can suit even the pickiest palate. For something more adventuresome and tropical, try the Long Beach Bowl.
Crazy Crepe Café (crazycrepecafe.com, with locations in Selden, Smithtown, Miller Place, Ronkonkoma, and Mt. Sinai)
Crazy Crepe may be known for their delicious crepes (particularly the strawberry-banana-Nutella version named after the shop), but they also make a very reasonably priced bowls with a pleasant acai base. As with anything on their menu you, you can make it “crazy” by adding Nutella! Don’t miss the seasonal lattes here, especially in the Fall—they are stunning.
Vitality Bowls (631-652-4262, 96 E. Main Street, Smithtown)
There are a few things you can expect when coming to Vitality Bowls: excellent, fresh ingredients, innovative combinations, and ability to handle various dietary food preparation needs (though the onus is on the customer to request it). Because they prepare things from scratch, prepare to wait, or call in an order in advance.
Vitality Bowls features a lot of different types of bases, including graviola, acerola and pitaya. Some may find certain super foods an acquired taste, but they can accommodate and customize a bowl to fit your needs and preferences. If you prefer a hot pick-me-up, I love the Pitaya Latte and Superfood Mocha, which are made using Tend espresso from Shirley. They can add coconut sugar to taste, so don’t hesitate to ask for it. A new location has just opened in Commack, and they are offering a lot of coupon promotions worth keeping one’s eyes peeled for.
One of the loveliest moments of summer is carefully timed and involves rising early. It is truly unlike any experience you will find elsewhere on Long Island (much less just about anywhere in the country). What am I talking about? The transportive experience of Lavender on the Bay (631-477-1019, 7540 Main Road, East Marion) After you take in acre after acre flush with purple, sit in one of their Adirondack chairs, close your eyes, and simply absorb the smell of the blooms and the sound of the bees buzzing cheerfully. There is an admission fee, and it is extremely important to follow their website to know if the lavender is in fact blooming. East Marion is a tiny town, and the influx of people who visit the farm is great. I exhort anyone who visits to be respectful, quiet and discreet, for the bees, the other visitors, and the residences that dot the edge of the property. There are an assortment of lavender products and plants available for purchase. Plan well, get there early, and be prepared to have an enchanting visit.
Another year older may up the ratio of grey hair, but it also brings you another year closer to refining how you go about your mortal existence.
Such has been the case when it comes to the much lighter note of picking the yearly Christmas tree, which we now have refined to a well-oiled routine. Like everything else on Coastal Village Girl, I hope you can be the beneficiary of our trial and error...
I preface these reviews by saying every year we go out to the North Fork to get our tree.
If you want a beautiful tree with little to-do, the place to go is Santa's Christmas Tree Farm (30105 Main Road, Cutchogue, 631-734-8641). Like anything North Fork and seasonal, get there early. The Frasier Fir from the Carolinas is not fresh cut, but it makes for a stunningly beautiful tree. The Frasier holds ornaments and maintains itself well. The folks who work here are lovely, pleasant people, and the llamas and sheep are great fun for the kids. Santa once again was truly in his element and added that perfect touch to the festive trip. Unlike the camp sawing and lugging I recall from Christmas tree adventures out to PA as a child, the dirty work is done for you. While not inexpensive, the experience, customer service, festivities and priceless non-hassle pay for themselves.
Need to fortify yourself pre- or post-tree? The North Fork Doughnut Company (13175 Main Road, Mattituck, 631-298-7941) also known as "No Fo Do Co" has an array of sugary goodness to satisfy your sweet tooth. Try the Samoa which, complete with toasted coconut, captures its namesake Girl Scout cookie brilliantly. Maple Bacon had a nice flavor on the icing, but needed more bacon. The blackberry-filled doughnut was a stunner. Be sure not to pass up on a cup of the North Fork Roasting Company ("No Fo Ro Co"--- different business, same East End love of portmanteaus). It's got that classic "donut shop"
coffee flavor that can't be argued with. Service is fast and friendly, ambience screams Williamsburg meets a barn, and be prepared to pay for gilding the lily. A whimsical and seasonally cozy alternative to Magic Fountain.
Living in a part of the world with a staggering cost of living index has involves keeping eyes wide open for resources that allow for a meaningful quality of life.
To say that the library system has played a role in the life of our family would be an understatement. The opportunities it has provided remain at the top of the list. I couldn't be more grateful.
Books: The most obvious. In my past life as a person who could drop excessive amounts of money on a topic of interest at Borders (RIP), I find much of what I want right at the library. (And, when I don't, there's always the Live-brary, the online catalog that covers all of Suffolk Country). You can even check out magazines, audio books, and e-books. (Added bonus: When you check out books from our library in particular, it states on the receipt approximately how much money you've saved by borrowing).
Programs & The Children's Department: Whether you are 2, 12, 42, or 82, there is something for you. Library branches run a host of events, activities and classes throughout the week. The classes for the littlest ones are "mommy and me" style. The structured, age-appropriate activities amidst socialization guided by grown-ups makes for a remarkable "parallel play" opportunity for toddlers. Lots of great manners and conversation-building skills are developed while learning new things. The Children's Department librarians we have encountered have been creative, caring, engaging people who model a real love for literacy and learning. It is rare for us to go more than a couple of days without having something special coming up at one of our local branches, and sometimes, it can work out to be two or three classes in a single day. These are heaven sent on rainy and/or chilly days, especially when preceded or followed by a trip to the Children's Department, to play with puzzles and toys, read books, or even do a scavenger hunt.
Museum Passes: Want to visit a local museum for free? We've enjoyed seeing the Nassau County Museum of Art, Parrish Art Museum, Cradle of Aviation, Heckscher Museum, Maritime Explorium, and the Long Island Children's Museum. Different libraries offer different museum passes.
Strategies/Caveats: Depending on your branch and how popular the classes and museum passes are, it may be like a "mini Cyber Monday" when registration time opens. Get to know the dates, deadlines and popularity of what your library offers. At our local branches, some things fill up within minutes. I check out the classes I want to register for in advance and then put the registration dates and times on my calendar. When the registration window opens, I am quick to the draw. School breaks are a popular time to reserve museum passes, so plan accordingly.
If Heaven could ever truly exist on earth, then I am absolutely convinced it is located at Orient Point. That slim wisp of quiet, fertile land, dotted with charming historic homes and cradled in unapologetic blue on all sides holds a special place in my heart.
A summertime stop into town (which consists of a post office and a couple of shops) absolutely warrants a trip to the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Shop, a seasonal pop-up of the famed Brooklyn one. They serve Stumptown alongside the best pie you will ever find, anywhere.
We enjoyed the Bitter Chocolate Pecan at Whole Foods during the holidays and so decided to something different this time: the Salted Honey pie. Four words only, friends: “be still my heart”, followed by an exhortation: “You must go!”
But if you do go, blend in softly and slowly to this sweet little town, which has been largely unmarred by the hustle and bustle that defines summertime on Long Island. Allow this place to breathe as it is, and you too will breathe and open your eyes to still more than a slice of devastating perfection.
There’s nothing like a change in seasons to serve as a catalytic kick in the pants to one’s routine, but who am I kidding? As I stumble eagerly to my car at the crack of dawn, the sky pitch-black, the air thick with the song of robins and the hum of insects (whose identity has evaded me since childhood), I know that truthfully this was a long time in the making.
In the time since folding my old blog, my life is at once the same and drastically altered. I’ve become a parent, taken on personal and professional opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, gotten to know amazing people, and cemented a life in this place not simply as a happy observer but an engaged participant. I may never be the next Walt Whitman or host a show on the Travel Channel, but if I write something that resonates with another person or inspires someone to try something new locally, then this little blog has served its purpose.
But I digress… back to 4:15 am and bleary-eyed amongst nature’s sound effects in Suffolk County, it’s time to start what will be part of this summer’s rhythm: a quiet morning and exercise routine. In this case, my travels will take me on a regular basis to Williamsburg. After cobbling together time to do some informal research, I’ve put together something that will take me throughout the Island and allow me be home before my family get up for the day. (Another perk of summer’s pace and summer’s weather… this is a big part of why I find the change of seasons and routines welcome.)
With charming neighborhoods known for their beloved coffee shops, I’ve decided to explore as many as possible during my summertime sojourns. After morning exercise, The Hungry Ghost (721 Metropolitan Ave, 917-909-1918) pulls me in with its name (and wins me over with its proximity to the BQE). The slick, communal layout beckons customers to linger and converse, but today’s stop is one of immediacy, purely for refueling purposes. Latte is fair, service is fast to accommodate the start of the morning rush, and almond croissant is exceptional--- rewardingly airy and flaky.
So while this blog will focus primarily on life further east ---the beaches, water, wine country, farmland, and quaint micro-cultures that have captured my heart and imagination--- who can forget that two formidable boroughs lay claim to the westerly start of geographic Long Island? If Montauk is “The End”, then surely Brooklyn and Queens are “The Beginning”.
I’m also looking forward to “beginning” this new blogging journey with you.
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