Travelogue Port Jefferson: Sometimes the Best Places are in your own “Backyard”

P7230056I’ve been meaning to start a new “category” titled Travel Destinations, so herein comes my first entry.  Most of us spend quite a bit of time researching a new destination before we travel, and given the time and planning that goes in to it  - why not share what we learn, observe and experience along the way?  First hand recommendations are always the best. So if any of you have been to a destination lately, and want to write a blog or just share a special place to visit or stay or eat, comment here!

To celebrate my mother in law Carol’s very special 75th birthday, we planned a brief but full jaunt over to Port Jefferson, Long Island this past weekend.  This entailed a 35/40 minute drive north to take a ferry across Long Island Sound from Bridgeport, CT, a ride that took a little more than an hour.  Our hotel, the Danford, was 45 steps from the ferry dock, and once we got settled there, we took a walk through town and popped in and out of a few quaint shops.  The day was gray and showering on and off, but not a deterrent to our plans.  After our lunch (a decent fried food fish shack) we got into the car, and drove to Long Island’s wine country, about 25 minutes away.

I had no idea that Long Island had so many vineyards – probably at least fifty or so.  Our first stop was the Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard.  The vineyard was quaint and pretty, and the fields of vineyards themselves quite beautiful.  With a bit of a stretch, you could almost envision yourself in the midst of Napa Valley. We adults shared a tasting flight, were not overly impressed, and took off to the next vineyard, Roanoke.  Here we tried a flight of white (four wines, including an ice dessert wine that tasted of apricots) and a flight of red.  I really enjoyed most of these wines, and we decided to buy a couple of bottles along with a bottle of garlic infused grapeseed oil.  Given that we had up to this point four very patient children in tow, we decided not to push our luck and therein ended our winery tour, and headed back to the hotel.

After formally settling into our rooms, the boys and their Aunt Robbie took off to a wading beach next to the hotel, while Mark and I set off into town to sniff out some cheese for a little pre-dinner cocktail hour.  Our guest of honor had a room on the third floor of the hotel with a large porch off of it, and between the four adirondack chairs that were there, and a few beach chairs we brought up, we had a nice relaxing cocktail hour (and the weather cooperated) enjoying a Roanoke Vineyard Chardonnay, and the best block of Cabot Vermont cheddar we could find (and by the way, the only block of cheese this fine town had to offer).  Port Jeff, take note: you could use a cheese shop.

The Danford Hotel was a series of rambling buildings, and we made our way over to the main building to have dinner at the Wave restaurant.  The restaurant was bustling and a bit too noisy, but the service was excellent and the food was delicious.  While some of us enjoyed a delicious looking steak and rack of lamb – the rest of us had fish – starting with some excellent sushi rolls.  One of these rolls was the Angry Crab and Mango Roll, with lump crab, mango, nori and tobiko.  Another, called the Wave Roll, contained lobster, av0cado, crab, sesame, cucumbers, tobiko and ponzu – both delicious.  Carol and I had the Gorgonzola and Pine Nut crusted Chilean Sea Bass (yummy), which came with parmesan mashed potatoes with rosemary aioli, truffled creamed spinach and oven roasted grape tomatoes.  Mark had the Pan Seared Cod fillet with artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and eggplant, tomatoes, spinach, feta, kalamata olives, lemon, tomato broth, yogurt sauce and purple potatoes.  By description, his entry seemed overly complicated, with too many tastes competing, but it was also a winner.  Conveniently on one side of our table was a long couch, and before Sam’s grilled cheese arrived he was zonked out; Jack shortly followed.

Saturday we awoke to a brilliantly sunny day – but were prepared for a scorcher with a predicted 97 degrees forecasted.  After breakfast, we went to Cedar Beach, about 10 minutes from the hotel.  It was a very pretty beach, a combination of white sand and stone, with high bluffs visible at either end – not too dissimilar from Block Island.  The water was refreshing, and the kids had a ball swimming, although they were on the lookout for rather ominous plate-like red jellyfish that washed in from time to time.  We then went back to the hotel, had quick showers, and checked out, throwing all our stuff into the car.  A short walk from the hotel and across from the bustling harbor, we popped into The Catch.  If you ever happen upon this restaurant, the Lobster Roll and the Cod Sandwich with cheddar, avocado and tomato were excellent.

It was then time to make our 3:00 departure on the ferry, so we walked across the street, Mark drove the car aboard as we waited to walk on board, and then had a quite enjoyable crossing back to Connecticut.  Forty minutes later we were home.

For being away for a mere 32 hours, we all agreed that it had felt like we were away for at least 3 or 4 days.  It was fun, relaxing, and special family time – and one of the best things, it was a destination in our own backyard – something that we had talked about doing but had never done.  Especially for you Fairfield/Westchester County residents, it’s an easy destination that should be on your list.  The travel is worry free and short, and bringing our car along also made everything very easy.  So the next time you’re looking for an adventure – try Port Jeff, or just look in your own backyard for those special places that are easily overlooked.





  • Wendy Says:
    7-26-2010 08:27:18

    We’re glad you found a block of Cabot cheddar! Your celebration weekend sound lovely.

  • Dave Says:
    7-27-2010 08:07:42

    I am leaving for Bridgeport tout de suite.

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