Monday, November 9, 2015


Having two counties, Nassau and Suffolk, there are certainly an abundant amount of places to visit on Long Island.  I decided to do a day trip of just half the day.  I plotted out 4 spots in the Southern end of Nassau County and went with my old college buddy, Nancy.  
We started with the furthest town of Bellmore.  Having discovered the Philadelphia Pretzel Factory on my trip to Reading, PA, one franchise is located in this town.  Reading was doing a buy 15 for $5 deal.  I don’t expect to come out here often and I wanted to share pretzels with my neighbors as well. Not all locations have the same deal.  This place has a deal of 50 pretzels for $20.  I don’t think that I can coat soft pretzels in chocolate, but I can melt chocolate and dip pieces into it.  I like to use these flattened pretzels to make sandwiches, especially pressed ones.  Hey, you don’t even need to add salt to the innerds.  Ronnybrook Farms has this cinnamon butter that contains a bit of salt and sugar as well.  Great to spread on the pretzel. 

Rockville Centre was now on the itinerary wanting to visit the Center for Science, Teaching and Learning.  They have 17 acres of woods, fields, streams and nature trails to explore.  Not being able to do much walking, I decided to forgo this for the live animal exhibit.   No alpacas, though.  There was a replica of a dinosaur going back to the ancestry of chickens.   Perhaps that is why there were mostly featured creatures in the outdoor area.  All were caged and not for touching.  Some are reluctant to come directly to you.

The owls were so cute and could care less if you are admiring them. 

Next cage had a duck and pigeon. 

It’s apparent that the duck lets the pigeon do all of the talking.   Onto the pheasants, male and female.  His plumage is so colorful.  Hers is not as it helps her to be camouflaged.   

The adorable hawk will come right up to you. 

Skipped the peacock and peahen, looked at the turtles in a pond and headed for the goats.  Oh, those kids.  They were let out for a while to help “clean up” some leaves and acorns.  They are pretty friendly and “petable”. 

Inside is an area mostly used for teaching children.  The animals are taken out of their abode and you get an up close visit.  You can touch most of them, but not hold.  A Chinchilla was brought out.  I couldn’t help petting it a lot.  I would never have a chinchilla jacket but if I did I would spend most of the time feeling the fur.  

Three small birds are named, the Three Stooges.  They have been taught “window tapping”.  

The final creature observed was a huge parrot who is used to Matt one of the staff members. He had been assisting us throughout.  You can see the parrot through the window as he does his thing.  With all caged animals, photos are okay but no flash and no feeding them.

Not having indulged much on the pretzels, it was time to indulge in having lunch.  I chose a place called Press 195 as it was one of the restaurants that showed up on the search engine for “Rockville Centre restaurants”.   The menu looked interesting enough and it appears that they also have a restaurant in Bayside, Queens. 
There is a whole story that goes along with several partners that began with one restaurant in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn (No longer there).  Press 195 is well known for their sandwiches, especially panini style.   That is where the “press” comes in.  Their Belgian Fries are one of the most popular items as well.  Of the partners, Chef Brian Karp, is the brains behind the food.  I was able to meet Chris Evans, director/owner.   Jimmy Volz is the third owner.  John “Little John” Annechino is a half partner with the Rockville Centre location. 

Brian creates the dressings and sauces that pair with the food.   We started the meal with a few appetizers, one of which was the Baby Beet Salad.  It has roasted beets (fresh), baby arugula (aged enough so that it was not immediately taken from its mother), shaved Parmesan Reggiano (no shaving cream used in this process), with a delicious fresh lemon Dijon vinaigrette.  
A second appetizer, just as tasty, was the grilled Asparagus (“grilled” as in the cooking vs putting a spotlight on it and asking its whereabouts).  It comes with fresh mozzarella (so fresh that they have to slap its face), tomatoes and their famous pure maple syrup basil pesto.   A truly OMG taste bud experience.

All of the sandwiches are served on handcrafted Ciabetta Bread.  I heard that the “number 38” was one of the most popular, so I went for it.  Grilled marinated sliced steak, avocado, sweet onion jam, and fresh mozzarella.  The dressing is a creamy roasted pepper.  

Why stop at Ciabetta Bread when you can create a sandwich using a knish!  It’s a whole meal in itself!  A Meatloaf knish was chosen.  Just think about it.  Like having a portable Sheppard’s Pie with an added Vermont cheddar cheese and a side of gravy to dip it.  If you like celebrating Thanksgiving all year, they have one with turkey, cranberry pear chutney, fontina cheese and gravy.  I hear that you can create your own sandwich.  I will do that at the Bayside location.
We might have engaged in topping the meal with dessert if it weren’t for our last stop, Chocolate Works.  This franchise stems from the original Fifth Avenue Chocolatier located on Madison Avenue.  John Whaley was the owner with the factory located in Long Island City.  John passed it on to his son, Joseph and it was moved to Valley Stream.  John decided to expand by building (or taking over an existing store) these franchises as well as now moving the factory to Freeport.
The chocolate itself is provided by the factory.  Aside from being able to purchase the chocolates and other candies, each of the stores has an area devoted to the hands on experience.  Perhaps you can have a birthday party for the kids.  I’m sure it would be a different idea for a bridal shower or part of a “girls’ getaway”.  Both children and adult Workshops are given as well. 

This particular location is owned by Stephanie Soloman who has also taken on a locale in Manhasset, on the north shore of Nassau County. Katie was there that day making the chocolates.

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