Winter Excitement

As promised, this week At Quaquanantuck is kicking to the bottom of the column any technical issues, considerations or frustrations, preferring to get right into the exciting world of Quogue in wintertime.

First up, it has come to At Quaquanantuck’s attention that the remarkable and devoted crew at the Village Office, who keep things running so delightfully smoothly around these parts, very thoughtfully brought in a cake recently to honor the natal anniversary (or birthday, if you will) of our equally dedicated Mayor, Peter Sartorius. While the actual date of said anniversary has not been disclosed, At Quaquanantuck joins in the general salutations and best wishes for many, many happy returns.

Any and all readers who would like to share bits of news or interesting anecdotes are encouraged to send along any such items to AtQuaq@gmail.com. These are the threads, after all, from which a community is woven.

This is the last weekend to see the Hampton Theatre Company production of Amy Herzog’s dramatic comedy “4000 Miles,” which has been winning the hearts and minds of theatergoers in the first two weeks of its run.

The play examines the often contentious relationship between an elderly, old-school left wing  grandmother, played by Diana Marbury, and her disaffected, 20-something grandson, played by Ben Schnickel, who shows up on the doorstep of her Greenwich Village apartment in the middle of the night near the end of a cross-country bike trip.  

Supporting Ms. Marbury and Mr. Schnickel are another HTC veteran, the lovely Amanda Griemsmann, and a newcomer to the company, Samantha Herrera, whom critics and audiences alike are hoping to see more of in future productions.

Just five shows remaining for “4000 Miles”: on Thursday and Friday at 7; on Saturday, January 28, in a bonus matinee at 2:30 and again at 8 p.m.; and the final performance on Sunday, January 29, at 2:30.

New this season, the HTC is offering $15 discount tickets for audience members 35 and under. For more information or to reserve tickets, visit www.hamptontheatre.org, or call OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.

Weather predictions are looking pretty good as of this writing for the “Light the Night Winter Trail Walks” coming up at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, January 28, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Adults and families are asked to arrive at the QWR between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. for a self-guided stroll through the gently illuminated forest trails to the accompaniment of the ambient sights and sounds of the Refuge.

Trail walkers can warm up before or after their walk near the cozy fireplace in the Nature Center with hot cocoa and cookies. The fee is $10, or $5 for kids 12 and under. Check-in will be inside the Nature Center; and reservations (631-653-4771) are preferred but walk-ins will be welcome.

On Sunday, January 29, the QWR is hosting a “Winter Birding at the Refuge” program from 9 to 11 a.m. This winter birding walk around the ponds and grounds of the Refuge, free for adults and families, will meet first in the Nature Center to look for wintering waterfowl on Ice Pond with a spotting scope.

The walk will then proceed north along the trails to find such woodland birds as golden crowned kinglets, various woodpeckers, and possibly cedar waxwings or a brown creeper. The walk will include a visit to the Fairy Dell area. This hike will be led by MaryLaura Lamont an avid birder, naturalist, and Park Ranger from William Floyd Estate Fire Island National Seashore.

A charming program for the little ones (age 3 to 6) on “Antarctic Penguins” is coming up at the Quogue Library on Saturday, January 28, at 11 a.m.

The group, which has to be limited to 12, will be reading the book “One Day on Our Blue Planet … In the Antarctic” by Ella Bailey. After learning about animals that live in the Antarctic, the kids will make a cute penguin craft (with these birds as the model, how could it be anything other than cute?) to take home.

Call the library at 631-653-4224 to reserve a spot.

Later on Saturday, the library will host an informative program for the environmentally inclined, a “Moriches Bay Project Family Program” from 1 to 2:30 p.m. As many area residents know, the not for profit Moriches Bay Project has taken as its mission the improvement of water quality in Moriches Bay and restoration of the health of the bays through oyster farming and eelgrass planting.

Saturday’s program will include information about Quogue’s own FLUPSY (Floating Upweller System)—installed at the Village Dock through the efforts of Mayor Peter Sartorius, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the Quogue Library—which is designed to improve local water quality by playing host to oysters and clams.

Information about the FLUPSY (it’s fun to write and to say; try it) and how to get involved will be provided before the audience breaks into small groups so that the young ones can build an oyster cage.

The Sunday Author at the library this week will be Jean Mellano, who will read from and talk about her book, “Slipped Away,” starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 29. “Slipped Away” looks at the life of the late Steve Tarpinian, a beloved coach, swimmer, companion and entrepreneur whose vision established the landscape for triathlons on Long Island.

Mr. Tarpinian suffered from depression, and yet in spite of that, as Ms. Mellano details in her book, he touched the lives of many and shared much joy and love with others.

Books will be available for sale after Ms. Mellano’s talk. Visit www.quoguelibrary.org or call 631-653-4224 for more information.

At Quaquanantuck followed its own advice and went to see the film at the PAC in Westhampton Beach last weekend, “Elle,” directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Isabelle Huppert.

While it must be acknowledged that “Elle” can be more than a little unsettling at times, in the writing, directing and acting categories this is filmmaking at its most powerful, stimulating and entertaining. The film manages to go deep into the darkest psychology imaginable, subverting one trope after another without losing the ability to make the audience laugh in the midst of gasping with incredulity as “Elle” serves up one surprise after another.  

And Isabelle Huppert gives one of the greatest performances At Quaquanantuck has seen, a beyond-Streep tour de force. The final credits had only just started to roll when no less a cinéphile than Quogue’s own Graham Russell leaned forward and excitedly started asking: “Wasn’t that great? Wasn’t that great?”

It’s no surprise that Ms. Huppert has been nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her work in this film. It’s beyond comprehension that “Elle” wasn’t nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (a category it won at the Golden Globes) or for that matter Best Picture.

Three other Oscar notes tied to the World Cinema series at the PAC for Quogue film buffs: First, one of the films that was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, “Toni Erdmann,” will be shown at the PAC February 17, 18 and 19. Second, as has become a tradition, the “2017 Oscar Nominated Short Films—Live Action” will be screened on Saturday, February 25, and Sunday, February 26.

And the third note might come as a surprise to anyone who saw the exceptionally strange film “The Lobster” at the PAC or any other venue when it came out last summer: the dystopian fantasy about love and relationships has earned screenwriters Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou an Oscar nod for Best Original Screenplay. If the category was Most Original, this film would win without a doubt, hands down.

This week’s globetrotting menu at the Inn Spot on the Bay down by the Ponquogue Bridge features fabulous fare brought back from Japan by Cheffe Colette and Pam.

The three-course $38 prix fixe on Friday and Saturday, January 27 and 28, will feature Japanese spinach and wild mushrooms egg rolls; watercress soup; shumai steamed crab dumplings ; and curly cucumber and daikon salad for appetizers.

Featured entrées include: house made Chashu pork over creamy stir fried rice; hibachi blackened tuna pieces; stir fried udon noodles with vegetables; chicken morsels cooked with ginger and scallions with poached quail eggs; and a Japanese pizza of marinated sliced beef teriyaki over a sweet potato pie crust with hoisin sauce.

Because the Japanese have no traditional “street food,” Colette and Pam are filling that category this week with “Under Street Food” Japanese stuffed pancakes, known as okonomiyaki, for $6.

Don’t forget: on the first Thursday of February and continuing on Thursdays until spring, Colette will be offering the next series of cooking classes at the Inn Spot on the Bay. Classes include demonstration, recipes, some hands-on preparation, tastings and a glass of wine. The fee is $45 per class; buy 10 classes and get one free; reservations required.

For more information or to make reservations, visit www.theinnspot.com or call 631-728-1200. If the spirit moves you, please don’t hesitate to let Colette or Pam know that you learned about their offerings from At Quaquanantuck.

Next up on the international tour: Spain, on February 3 and 4.

So, that’s it for this week’s musings. The technical stuff can have the week off. Follow if you will;  write to At Quaquanantuck at AtQuaq@gmail.com; go forth and make the most of this wondrous place in space and time.

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