The many tastes of the barrier island


Tasting by the Sea returned to Long Beach on May 11, featuring food and beverages from local restaurants and breweries around the barrier island.

The second annual event, hosted by the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 17, fundraises money to support the AOH’s various charitable initiatives, such as donations to the little league, local schools and churches, scholarships, movie screenings on the beach, among others.

People crowded the gymnasium of the Long Beach Catholic Regional School to taste the local flavors and listen to live music by the band Kin & Tonic.

AOH President John McGovern and Vice President Greg Schmalenberger were instrumental in planning the fundraiser this year, which attracted more than 200 people.

“It was great seeing so many members of the community come out and taste the food of the various restaurants around town and help the AOH provide charity donations to local groups and organizations throughout the year,” Schmalenberger said.

Tasting by the Sea allows residents and visitors to sample the large variety of food offered in the area, he said, and it gives new establishments an opportunity to introduce their cuisine.

A variety of local eateries participated, including the Beginnings, the Cabana, Speakeasy, the Saloon, the Inn, Whale’s Tale, Blacksmith’s Breads, Lost at Sea, Grotta di Fuoco, Lily’s, Swingbelly’s Beachside BBQ, Mio Posto, Jetty, Long Beach Sandwich Company, Brixx & Barley, Mary’s Irish Shop, JJ Coopers, the Junction, Buoy Bar and Corazon de Cuba.

The restaurants showcased their spring and summer menus, and offered promotional coupons and deals. It was also an opportunity to socialize with the chefs and managers of the local eateries and learn about the way they cook and prepare their food. Last year, Schmalenberger said, he learned about the process of smoking meat from Swingbelly’s and the history of sheperd’s pie from Mary of Mary’s Irish Shop.

“It was a pleasure to attend the AOH Tasting by the Sea and introduce a couple new summer menu items, such as tidbits, seafood and our daily specials,” said Anthony Grassi, manager of the Inn. “It was great to see lots of familiar Long Beach faces along with many new ones, too! We look forward to a great season.”

“This tasting is an incredible opportunity to allow us owners, chefs and wait staff to speak about our products while having the pleasure of meeting residents of the community personally,” said Shane Herbert, co-owner of Blacksmith’s Breads, Lost at Sea and Speakeasy.

The event featured dishes like pulled pork sliders, sandwiches, chicken curry, grilled cheese, chicken wings and more. Guests also sampled drinks provided by local microbreweries including Barrier Brewing, Bronx Brewery, Lagunitas Brewing and Austin East Ciders.

“It’s excellent — I like the diversity of food and beverages,” said East Hampton, Conn., resident Kevin O’Sullivan, who visited friends in Long Beach for the weekend. “Everyone really likes JJ Coopers. It’s great because I’ve never been there before, but now I might go.”

“It was good to see a bunch of people get together and have fun,” Schmalenberger said. “It was a great atmosphere to kick off the summer season.”