Getting in a 'Downton' state of mind on LI
Are you ready to get in a Downton state of mind?
With the popular Brit TV series "Downton Abbey" returning to "Masterpiece Classic!" Sunday night at 9, there are many ways fans can get in the mood for Season 3 with the Crawleys and their family of servants. You can sample English-style food and drinks at local pubs, restaurants and a tea room or shop for furnishings that might have adorned the Abbey.
You also can revel in the imposing architecture of Gold Coast mansions dating from the era in which the series is set. If you haven't seen "Downton Abbey," this could be your introduction to what all the fuss is about.
Take afternoon tea
Robinson's Tea Room owner Loretta Vertucci's ancestors came from the Midlands in England, so she offers a tea service her British great-grandparents would have enjoyed. Afternoon tea offers a choice of 60 blends (including Earl Grey, English breakfast and chocolate macadamia nut), finger sandwiches on a three-tiered rack and large warm scones served with clotted cream and jam. The tearoom is decorated like an English country cottage with lace curtains and floral garlands.
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Live like the Crawleys (for an hour)
Several Gold Coast mansions date from the era in which seasons 1 and 2 were set. The exterior of Hempstead House at Sands Point Preserve could be a stand-in for Highclere Castle, the stand-in for the eponymous Abbey.
Huntington's Oheka Castle was completed in 1919 and is the second-largest private residence ever built in the United States. Tours of the estate and gardens include a stop at a room dedicated to film legend Charlie Chaplin, a frequent guest at Oheka. The Otto & Addie tour, named after original owner Otto Hermann Kahn and his wife, includes Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries for two.
Drain a pint
Long Island's English-style pub scene includes Croxley's in Farmingdale, Franklin Square, Smithtown and Rockville Centre, with the last most closely resembling an English ambience, says owner Chris Werle. Fifty-two tap beers are served, including English ales such as Bass and Boddington's. The menu includes shepherd's pie, fish and chips, steak and mushroom pie, and bangers and mash.
Dig into fish and chips
At Long Island Fish & Chips, the tilapia is beer-battered and prepared English style, says owner Devlin Ramirez. A plate of fish and chips is $10.95 and includes house-made coleslaw and tartar sauce. Ramirez says customers compare his fish and chips favorably with what they've had in England.
Owned and operated by English-born Chris Mead, English Country Antiques specializes in high-end English and reproduction furniture and upholstery. You can browse for some of the English traditional furnishings you might see in the Crawleys' rooms, such as cabinets, cupboards and chests of drawers.
If you're a hard-core "Downton Abbey" fan -- and really, there's no other kind -- it's not enough just to watch the show. You have to read the online recaps, follow @voiceofdownton on Twitter (spoiler-free tweets) and snap up related merchandise. The latest must-have is "The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era" (St.Martin's, $29.99), an illustrated companion to the new season compiled by Matthew Sturgis and Jessica Fellowes, niece of series creator Julian Fellowes. Along with character portraits and historical background, the book offers behind-the-scenes photos from the set. Now we know that the cast combats the chilly temperatures of Highclere Castle with puffy black down jackets and hot-water bottles.
-- Tom Beer