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Hamptons Epicure: Enjoying the Holidays

What I Ate on My Summer Vacation

I love living in the Hamptons, but in high summer I need to get away now and then. My in-laws rent a 19th-century “camp” (a sweet, old house directly on the water) on Keuka Lake for a week every July. This year I had to join the family mid-week so I could attend Dan’s Taste of Two Forks event. My husband and son picked me up at Rochester International Airport.

We drove in my father-in-law’s silver BMW to visit old friends with a new baby in Brockport. The Beemer made it feel kinda Hamptons—I vowed to spend wildly, like a tourist, while visiting this old canal town.

Our first stop was Java Junction on Brockport’s Main Street. Twenty years ago, Java was founded by Roberta Gluck and Peter Apicella as an early East Coast un-Starbucks. Today it’s located down the street from where it began and it offers a full menu, in addition to its famous coffee.

I ordered the Garden Salad with sunflower seeds, bleu cheese and the house dressing, plus a cup of Peanut Stew. Delish. Husband had a Greek Panini with feta, olives and roasted red pepper. Teenage Boy went for the Popeye Quesadillas and was very pleased. Lunch was under $20.

On to Western New York’s legendary grocery store, Wegmans. We picked up a very heavy watermelon and some New York State Extra Sharp Cheese and some crackers. Husband also bought a large can of Genny Cream Ale to be funny (though he doesn’t mind drinking the stuff).

The baby proved even more adorable than anticipated. After I fed him oats and sweet potato, our hosts threw some Zweigle’s white hots on the grill and blackened them just right.

When the baby was put to bed we said our goodbyes and dashed off to catch Harry Potter in 3D in Pittsford. The 3D effects gave Husband a splitting headache so we popped in to “the mothership,” the Pittsford Wegmans. They have an entire aisle devoted to home canning supplies there! Alas, Dr. Headache rushed us in and out.

We stayed at my in-laws’ condo in downtown Rochester. In the morning we decided to fortify ourselves at Gitsis Texas Hots on Monroe Avenue. Gitsis is the kind of place that can be packed at 2 a.m. I saw the Black Crows eating there years ago when they were on tour and looking like they didn’t eat anywhere. While Nick Tahoe’s is the home of Rochester’s famous Garbage Plate, the Gitsis Plate is a great knock-off: two white hots or cheeseburgers or Italian sausages with macaroni salad or baked beans and homefries or French fries. Teenage Boy thought his parents were crazy to split one for breakfast, he enjoyed an Eggs Benedict. Did I mention that the Gitsis Plate is covered with chopped onions, mustard and a hot, beefy chili sauce? It was spectacular. Including juice and coffee, breakfast came to a whopping $15.33.

We cruised out of the city and into hilly farmland along Western New York’s oldest road, Route 20, and on to breathtaking views of the lake valley below.

We stopped at Keuka Korner convenience store for a cold drink. I passed on buying a mayonnaise jar full of Renko’s Pickled Polish Sausage.

My mother-in-law had picked local blueberries that morning. She served up a meal of pulled pork sandwiches, homemade coleslaw and generous, lemony helpings of blueberry cobbler.

We went to Hammondsport’s Village Tavern, drawn by the promise of “130 Beers” and air conditioning. While the others enjoyed a pitcher of Ithaca Flower Power IPA, I went for a Seneca Drum-Banger: Finger Lakes Distilling Seneca Drum Gin, a splash of Galliano and some orange. Refreshing and sweet, but not too sweet.

The following day found us in Penn Yan’s multiplex trying to escape the heat by taking in a non-3D Captain America. This theater’s concession stand offered “Our Own Version of Butterbeer.” Butterscotch syrup, seltzer and a mystery marshmallow product combined to make what my son defined as “gross.”

On the way back to the lake we stopped at a favorite winery, Hunt Country Vineyards, for a mixed case of 2009 Valvin Muscat, 2010 Pinot Gris and 2010 Dry Riesling. My perusal of Hunt’s extensive gift shop also netted an Ithaca Soda Co. Ginger Beer and some Yancey’s Fancy Cheese Curds. Sadly, the “ginger beer” was over-sweet and under-ginger. The Cheddar Curd had degraded to something between wax and rubber and the “Buffalo Wing” Curd seemed to be flavored with nothing but cayenne, rendering it both hot and dull.

I’m back in the Hamptons with two restaurant reservations set for this week (Almond and Luce’s Landing) and Serene Green’s sweet corn on the patio, about to be shucked…

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