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All-star chef pops up on North Fork

Keith Luce produced this washed-rind cheese and served

Keith Luce produced this washed-rind cheese and served it at a pop-up dinner he hosted Wednesday at Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck. (Feb. 20, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / Erica Marcus)

Last week,  I attended a “pop-up” dinner cooked by Keith Luce, formerly of Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport and a Newsday All-Star chef. Pop-ups are pre-booked, one-night-only events that usually take place in restaurant spaces that are in between tenants. In the case of Luce’s dinner on Wednesday, the venue was Love Lane Kitchen, the Mattituck restaurant that is only open for dinner Friday through Monday.

Luce left Jedediah Hawkins last fall and since then has busied himself with restaurant consulting jobs on a couple of continents and in Manhattan, taking care of his heritage-breed Mangalitsa pigs and putting together a charcuterie business, North Fork Market Artisan Curing. (Click here to learn more about the business.)

The dinner was a casual, family-style affair, and the flavors were exquisite. The mains included roast quail and grilled beef rib-eye, but I was especially happy to be eating Luce’s vegetables again. A salad of winter greens with sweet-sour onions and a platter of roasted squash, cauliflower and pumpkin seeds were highlights.

Just before dessert (tiramisu-filled cream puffs and espresso gelee), Luce brought out a seriously local cheese he’d made himself from the milk of North Fork cows who had only eaten North Fork grass and hay. He’d washed the rind with Greenport Harbor Brewery’s rye saison beer.

Another of the meal’s highlights was a crisp, effervescent little quaff from Greenport Harbor that included about 10 percent local sauvignon blanc grapes along with the grain and hops. Greg Doroski, one of the brewery’s brewers, explained that “there’s a history of adding fruit to Belgian-style beers, usually sour fruits like sour cherries or raspberries, but we wanted to do something that reflected the wine culture out here on the North Fork.”

The beverage has no name yet (bine? weer? vinale?) but a small amount of it will be released to the public later this year. Doroski said to check in with Greenport Harbor’s Facebook page for updates.

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