East End Nest With Tamara Matthews-Stephenson

Photo by Gabby Stephenson

Summer entertaining made easy by tapping into local resources

If you are a local Hamptonite you may know La Fondita restaurant. It is a fabulous little no-frills Mexican take-out shop that our family loves in Amagansett. You order from the window and carry your food on a tray to picnic tables in the backyard. The food is delicious and the closest to my Mexican-born sister-in-law’s cooking that I have found in the area. The tacos are not laden down with tons of cheese, and the salsa is very fresh with hints of cilantro and garlic. They offer daily specials, and the Baja-style fresh fish tacos taste like the ones we had during a recent trip to Southern California.

La Fondita offers their items to go, so when planning my annual summer family party (a group of us have been hosting these Wednesday night summer parties for eight years now) I made it easy for myself and ordered up at the counter. When I arrived to pick up the food, the helpful staff offered me a full explanation of how to assemble it all with marked instructions on each container. I went home armed with chicken, beef and fish tacos, beans, rice, spicy corn on a stick, guacamole and homemade salsa and chips. The only work was putting it together and warming up the tortillas just before serving so it stayed fresh – we even waited to encrust the roasted corn with the chili mayonnaise until the last few minutes before serving. La Fondita sells their own delicious tomatillo (green) sauce and various red sauces, and since the secret to Mexican cooking lies in the sauces, I recommend buying them here.

Summer entertaining is about keeping it casual, with delicious food and great company. I added some fun elements to the evening by picking up a piñata from The Party Store in the parking lot in East Hampton. I stuffed the colorful piñata with candy to rile up the kids, because a family party is not complete without hyperactive children running about, don’t you think? I ordered up hot pink-and-white striped tablecloths from my favorite rental company, Bermuda Party Rentals. The ladies over at Bermuda are very helpful and keep a wide array of rental linens in stock, from florals to solid colors. If you are hosting a large gathering they have everything possible, from lanterns to cutlery. Next, I pulled out my best Frozen Mango Margarita recipe (salt and all), made homemade quesadillas and stopped by my favorite farm stand, Round Swamp Farm in East Hampton, to scoop up fresh artichokes. I steamed the artichokes and served them with melted herb-infused lemon butter as an appetizer. The planning was a snap, made easy by the reliability of all these local resources. Although I love to cook, this party was particularly fun for me because I did not become frazzled and enjoyed my delicious homemade margarita with a parasol umbrella on top!

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