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The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene

Beyond fruitcake: 12 Christmas foods to hate

Fruitcake, the butt of many regifting jokes, is

(Credit: Newsday / Ken Spencer)

Christmas is not only a time to overindulge in foods that you love, but also to confront foods that you spend most of year successfully avoiding.

To come up with the following patently unscientific survey of stomach-turning yuletide specialties, I polled a thoroughly unrepresentative sample of friends and colleagues.

First on many lists was, not surprisingly, fruitcake, with respondents’...

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Feast of the two fishes for an easy Christmas Eve

Soft-shell clams need only be steamed, hence their

(Credit: Barbara Alper)

Some of you are doubtless scrambling to put together a piscatory feast for Christmas Eve. Zealous cooks will honor the number of apostles with 12 fish courses, while merely ambitious cooks will honor the number of sacraments with seven.

Lazy cooks, this is for you: two easy-as-cake seafood recipes, one for steamers, one for baked salmon.

EXTREMELY BASIC STEAMERS

2 to 3 pounds steamers

Melted...

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Great LI bakeries for Christmas

The croquembouche is a conical tower of cream

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

It’s a bakery time of year. Whether a showstopping professional dessert is one of your Christmas traditions (one of my colleagues refuses to celebrate Christmas without a croquembouche from Fiorello Dolce in Huntington) or you’ve just realized that you are not going to have time to make your own cookies, Long Island bakeries are here to help. Here are a dozen of our favorites, all of whose cases...

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Swingbellys in Long Beach gets tweaked

A half rack of baby back ribs is

(Credit: Linda Rosier)

Swingbellys Beachside BBQ, one of Newsday’s Top 10 barbecue spots, has renovated its dining room, tweaked its menu and entered into a partnership with Speakeasy, the nearby bar and grill.

Swingbellys owner, Mike Bonino, is still part of the team, but his former partner Sean Sullivan, who brought Swingbellys back after the devastation of superstorm Sandy, is no longer involved.

Jake Marlin,...

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Waiter, there’s a knish in the mall

The potato knish is the signature item at

(Credit: Orchard & Grand)

Orchard & Grand, a New Jersey-based company whose mission is bringing the knish to the mall, has opened a Lower East Side-themed food kiosk at Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream. It's on the main level (Kohl's side) in front of Foot Locker, between Forever 21 and Old Navy.

For the uninitiated, a knish is a savory filled pastry whose most famous incarnation is the deep-fried square made...

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Long Island restaurants: 2014’s Top 20

At Ristegio's in North Patchogue, chef Richard Lanza

(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)

It’s been a year of nonstop eating and judging for Newsday food critics Peter M. Gianotti and Joan Reminick. And now they have compiled their lists of the best restaurants that opened on Long Island in 2014.

Steve Bellone and Edward Mangano, if you're keeping score, Nassau takes this one by a nose: 11 of the 20 restaurants are in Nassau. American/New American was the winningest cuisine, trailed...

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Amerrickana Tapas & Bar opens in Merrick

At Amerrickana Tapas & Bar in Merrick, sliders

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

It’s Long Island's second small-plates-restaurant opening of the week. Amerrickana Tapas & Bar has taken over the Merrick storefront that used to be Surf ‘n Turf Mediterranean Grill. With its neon-accented bar and bright-white wooden accents, the week-old restaurant has a much more feminine feel than Surf ‘n Turf.

Tapas is defined loosely here; Spanish is one of very few cuisines not referenced...

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Cuban sandwich diplomacy

A Cuban sandwich served at the reborn Cafe

(Credit: Newsday / Ana P. Gutierrez)

On Wednesday, the Obama administration announced its intention to pursue full diplomatic relations with Cuba. Long Island restaurants are way ahead on that score; you don’t even need a visa to enjoy a good Cuban meal and a mojito in Nassau or Suffolk:

Corazon de Cuba is at 26 E. Park Ave., Long Beach, 516-272-4200, corazondecuba.com

Havana Central is at Roosevelt Field, 630 Old Country...

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Chow Down Diner in Bethpage falls flat

The cheeseburger deluxe at Chow Down Diner in

(Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

Since it opened in February, Chow Down Diner has been going steadily downhill.

In her initial review, Newsday’s Joan Reminick praised “its sleek decor and contemporary-retro vibe” but noted that its “real attraction” was “the cuisine of chef Steven Del Lima. Instead of offering the typical encyclopedic diner menu, Del Lima presents a well-edited repertoire of cleverly tweaked American classics.”

Now,...

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Happy Hanukkah; fry latkes Tuesday night

Latkes

(Credit: iStock)

At sundown Dec. 16 this year, Jews usher in the Festival of Lights. But Hanukkah could just as easily be called the Festival of Olive Oil.

The holiday commemorates the 2nd century BCE uprising of the rebellious Jewish Maccabees against King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The victorious Maccabees returned to the Temple in Jerusalem to find it desecrated. The king’s troops had defiled all but...

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