The Hamptons Through the Kitchen Door
As you know, I always say the only reason to travel is to eat. Yes, you may have to find something to do between meals; beach, museums, graveyards, shopping, but the real reason to get away is to get fed.
And what better place to find great food than The Hamptons in the middle of the summer. The country roads are lined with Farmers’ stands. The fish markets are straining at the seams with just-caught fish. Local shops offer prime meats, gourmet groceries, specialty items made in Manhattan and delivered daily. What’s not to love?
Not that you hear all that much about the food. The New York Times ran a big piece in Sunday’s paper detailing, in excruciating detail the ways to get there from Manhattan: jitney bus (two classes), train (a moving bar), helicopter (for the very-well heeled), or car (for those with the stomach for endless delays).
But did they mention the food? Not one word.
Here’s my report from five glorious days shopping, cooking, eating both at our Quogue beach house home away from home as well as in beach front joints and fine dining restaurants.
Bottom line? I gained 8 pounds but it was worth every ounce. Came right back off when I got home, so who cares?
First stop: farmer’s markets which bulge with locally grown tomatoes as big as the head of a baby, red all the way through and sweet beyond measure – unless you count those tears of joy. Corn just snapped off the cob, green beans, and other locally grown produce.
We loved Olish Farms, Eastport Manor Road, Eastport NY 11941 631 325 0539. You can’t miss it. They have a big line of wheel barrowsfront, over run with flowers. Yes, I wanted to take one home, but I was too big to fit in the car. Their Maple Apple Pies are famous. Don’t miss them.
Next for the main attraction: fresh fish. Cor-J Seafood Corp. 631 728 5186, 36 Lighthouse Road, Hampton Bays, NY11946, is everything a seaside fish place should be. Bulging with fish just plucked from the sea, teeming with fish mongers whacking those fish into manageable cook-sized pieces, staffed by knowledgeable helpers who guide you to choices you may not have known existed. I was in heaven. Yes, everyone who works in there was wearing black rubber boots, yes you might get splashed with a bit of water or fish scales. But who cares? Only the squeamish,
After we had sated our desire for fish,
Couple places we’ll have to save for the next trip. Garden of Eve Organic Farm, 4558 Sand Av, Riverhead, NY 11901 631-722-8777. http://gardenofevefarm.com. Growing everything organically. Great eggs, produce, pumpkins, garlic, and as one reviewer opined, “you can pick out a chicken for your dinner which is cool so long as you don’t look her in the eye.”
To celebrate an important birthday we went to Starr Boggs,5 Panlato Drive, Westhampton Beach, NY, 11978. 631 288 3500. Call for a reservation. And, take note, the unwritten dress code calls for white and black. Pants, shirts, frilly dresses and blouses, but only in the de rigueur color scheme.
The chef-owner, Starr Boggs, yes that’s his real name, was raised on the Eastern shore of Virginia on a farm where his family grew most of what they ate. He is a master with fish. Don’t fail to order his signature crab cake – even if you just get one for the table. Starr, says, of his own easy elegant restaurant in an old house, “where it’s always good to eat.” Amen to that.
With Andy Warhol prints on the walls, and open-flung doors to gorgeous gardens where you can eat outside, the service is spectacular, the prime meats butchered on site, and the fish just plucked from the sea. It’s my idea of the best of The Hamptons.
Here’s a recipe from Starr Boggs for their signature dish, courtesy of the cookbook, The Flavor of the Hamptons, which you can order from the Westhampton Garden Club, P.O. Box 854, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978. Great recipes, gorgeous photography. A real glimpse of The Hamptons, through the kitchen door.
Starr-Boggs Almond Crusted Flounder
Courtesy of Starr Boggs Restaurant
Large Black back flounder filets (pin bones removed)
½ cup flour, for dredging
2 eggs beaten with ½ cup. milk for the egg wash
1-1/2 cups plain bread crumbs + 2/3 cup chopped sliced blanched almonds for the Almond Crubs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 bananas, peeled and sliced lengthwise
3 ounces molasses + 1 ounce dark rum for Rum Molasses Syrup
- Baste banana halves in Rum Molasses syrup and bake in 375° F. oven 8 to 10 minutes.
- Season filets with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper. Lightly flour both sides of the filet then dredge in egg wasy, and place in the almond mixture and coat lightly. Set aside.
- Heat 2 12-inch sauté pans over moderate heat with oil and butter, and heat until buter froths. Add breaded filets. Brown and turn over, lower the heat and continue cooking until the filet is done (no more than 5 minutes).
- Serve on a warm dinner plate with glazed bananas on top.