The Big Things Mean So Much…

Stacy Dermont's tomatoes this week
Stacy Dermont's tomatoes this week

If “it’s the little things in life that mean so much,” what about the really small stuff? I’m thinking about the many small celebrations that can happen in a week, or even a day, on the East End.

On Fridays after work I often shoot over to the Hayground Farmers Market in Bridgehampton to pick up some Gula Gula empanadas and fresh bread and a side of what’s-in-season-this-week.

Last Friday I started thinking about my visit to this farmers market early in the day. As much as I’m into Gula Gula’s seasonal empanadas (i.e. Balsam Farm corn and onion, yum!) and the Indian potato ones rock my world—my fallback artisanal empanada is the vegetarian greens empanada. The greens are always cooked just so, very lightly spiced. The mix changes a bit depending on what greens look the best to owner Luchi Masliah on the given week—chards, kales, wild spinach—it’s all good. I developed a distinct hankering for some greens empanadas in their delish whole-wheat crusts, specifically one large and one small empanada. Only after I’d purchased them and dotted them with chimichurri sauce and strolled around the market eating them, did it occur to me that this was pretty raving weird—to get one large and one small of the same kind of empanada. Call me an empanada connoisseur—it did the trick.

On to dessert, naturally, at Joe & Liza’s Ice Cream market stand. A scoop of Rum Raisin in a sugar cone was just the thing. Definitely a sugar cone moment. What’s this? GOLDEN raisins instead of the more common dark raisins? Hmmm, it’s lighter; it’s a nice counterpoint to the rum flavor. I support this decision.

A stop at the Wölffer Estate table reminded me that their new batch of vinegar was released months ago—it was high time I snapped up a bottle—so I did. This year their vinegar is in a tall, cylindrical bottle, instead of a glass jug. I like it. And this rosé vinegar is precisely the right foil for the mix of Sun Gold, peach and heirloom tomatoes now ripening in my garden. Mixed with some good quality olive oil and black pepper—it’s summer perfection.

Now that we’ve come this far together, dear reader, I’m going to come out of the closet on some foodie issues. Hold onto your hops, it’s about to get heretical. Bear in mind that my views are mine alone and don’t reflect those of this magazine or company.

#1. Fresh pepper. I don’t always use freshly-ground pepper. For some things I prefer the more laidback ground-and-stored-in-a-jar pepper. There are a few dishes for which I actually prefer a finely aged (some would say “degraded”) white pepper as a note.

#2. EVOO. It’s overrated, it’s not for cooking and it’s not for every salad. I like it on bread and on endive, but most of the time I prefer some nice, friendly non-virgin of an olive oil. I don’t want the clean, pure olive flavor of EVOO  overtaking all other flavors.

#3. Flavored olive oils. Blech! Why inject a strong flavor into some unsuspecting fat? Why have I been making muffins with blood orange-flavored olive oil for months? Because someone gave me a bottle of the stuff and it’s too strong to use in anything else. Do you need to cover a nice salad in cotton candy in order to get it down? Of course not.

#4. Red wine. I prefer white. There, I said it. Yes, I’m a food critic. Yes, I know my way around wine tastings and wine pairings. Yes, I know that red wine can age forever and develop and it has so much more going on. I. Don’t. Care. Of course, white wines don’t stand up to steak, but I don’t often choose to eat steak. I generally prefer a good, dry white, and I’m not alone.

You can go right ahead and send your letters of foodie indignation to [email protected].

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