Dining Features

Hamptons Epicure: Take It East As You Entertain

Noche de Tapas:
Take It Easy As You Entertain
When you live in the Hamptons, you have to cook to socialize. There are lots of fun restaurants, but the expectation is that you’ll invite people to your home to really connect. Because my husband and I review so many restaurants these days, we don’t entertain as much as we used to. We’ve fallen off of a lot of peoples’ dinner invitation lists as a result. (Or, possibly, it’s due to the way we behaved when we were invited in the past….)
My new friends Ana Nieto and Ivo Tomasini invited us over for a Noche de Tapas last Saturday at their home in Noyac. A “Night of Tapas,” hmmm. Ana and Ivo manage the Sag Harbor Farmers Market—so I knew the food would be good—and Ana is from Spain so she definitely knows from tapas.
Tapas is defined as small Spanish savory dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar. Ah tapas, you limitless little digestible, you!
I knew they’d just moved into their new home recently, so it’d be something of a housewarming. I looked forward to meeting some of their other friends.
Ana said we didn’t have to bring a thing— but the grill would be hot if we did want to bring along something to cook. They planned to prepare “a bunch of stuff.”
My husband decided this was a great opportunity to show off his latest, greatest recipe “Chicken Teriyakos.” So we packed the component parts along with a bottle of Wölffer’s rosé and we were off.
Ivo had two wood-burning grills ready when we arrived. Both had chicken, sliced mushrooms and asparagus in foil envelopes grilling on top. My husband got right to work gumming up one of the grills with his sticky, marinated chicken thighs (that’s actually a really good nickname for him—Sticky, Marinated Chicken Thighs!).
People milled around the grills and a picnic table, picking and choosing. There were several salads and a selection of cheeses and breads. Yum! This is the way to eat and to meet new people – food and relaxation at every turn.
After we’d been filling our plates and gullets for a while, Ana passed around cups of a fish stew Ivo had made. It tasted like the ocean. He’d made the stock from herring he’d found trapped along the beach and local potatoes. Perfect.
I realized that we’d been to noches de tapas before in our own home. Our best friends, the Guttersons, used to come over for what we called “Nibble Dinner”—lots of small bites of easy-to-prepare tidbits. You know you have best friends when you don’t feel the need to clean the house for them. Sadly, they had to move back to New Zealand. But nibbles – tapas – live on in the Hamptons!
The New York Times declared the tapasation of New York in the 1990s. Tapas continues to gain in popularity on the East End. Noah’s in Greenport offers “Tastes” such as two crab-stuffed deviled eggs as well as “Small Plates.” Jamesport’s Luce + Hawkins does Small Plates all day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, many featuring expertly made sushi by Chef Minoru Suzuki.
Hosting a noche de tapas is even easier than throwing a potluck dinner—encourage friends to bring yummy bits, rather than main dishes, to share. This means that any wines work— everything goes with something! Plus there’s so much to choose from, you don’t have to worry about guests with special diets not getting enough to eat. Have it outside – clean-up is a breeze.
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