Hamptons Epicure: Thankful for East End Winter Pleasures

Ginger just went local—yum!
Ginger just went local—yum! Photo: manukaphoto/iStock/Thinkstock

Eating out on the town is part of my job. I enjoy writing restaurant reviews but I’ve found something even better—eating great food and not writing reviews about it. So simple.

On the Town: The simplicity of a meal of the Red Curried Lentil Coconut Dahl and a Greek Salad at Fresh Hamptons in Bridgehampton beckons me. Happily, their desserts are not naughty enough to tempt me—so I finish with a peppermint tea and leave feeling ever-so-wholesome.

The prix fixe at the Bridgehampton Inn. Homina. Homina. Everything that Chef Arie serves is out-of-this-world. The off-season prix fixe fits neatly into my Thursday schedule.

I have it on my “winter bucket list” to get back to Montauk’s Westlake Fish House. I think being surrounded by all that freezing, restless water will be beautiful. And there’s nothing better than Chef Larry Kolar’s cooking.

My favorite down-home dining experience is grabbing a Veggie Slice and splitting a Gorgonzola Salad with my husband at Conca D’oro in Sag Harbor Village. It’s my favorite in part because I can walk there and—if I stay away from dessert—I can walk back home. But it’s that everybody-knows-and-loves-everybody atmosphere that makes it “home.” My son, who is away at school in Canada, has a photo of “Conca’s” on his bedroom wall there.

Out on the Trail: Shop the year-round farmers market in Riverhead. It’s indoors, it’s held on both Saturdays and Sundays and—in addition to raw and prepared foods—there’s now a selection of locally made crafts right in Riverhead’s fabu downtown. There is shopping, art galleries, restaurants and historic theaters all right there!

If anticipation is your thing, there’s the Topping Rose House Winter Farmers Market, held just once a month in Bridgehampton. Their next market is Sat., Dec. 20. If you attend you’ll be sure to see me there. I stick around for the whole time, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. schmoozing and grazing.

And then there are all of these East End wineries to tour….Skip the weekends. Book winery visits on weekdays and you’ll get all kinds of special attention without the crowds or traffic. I love to pick winemaker (and ginmaker and cidermaker and cheesemaker and vinegarroon) Roman Roth’s brain at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. Coffee Pot Cellars’ tasting room in Cutchogue is bright and cozy, while Sherwood House in Jamesport is fabu. There’s an East End winery and an East End wine for your every mood.

At Home: Baking is “how we do” at my house. Sometimes it seems the only thing in the kitchen that’s not wrapped in a buttery crust is my husband. No sense turning up the thermostat when you can just as easily roll out some dough and throw a Maple Pumpkin Pie in the oven, right? In the morning it’s all about corn muffins and mincemeat cookies to gear up for a busy—or a stay-at-home, cozy—day.

I put up my share of fruits and vegetables last summer so I’m never without my home-canned “Boozy Peaches” or pickles. I may be most satisfied by the very easiest thing to put by—mint. I grabbed wads of the stuff from right outside my kitchen window. In Sag Harbor Village mint is a weed. I hung bouquets of mint upside down. Now I just crumble some leaves into my little stainless steel strainer and do the coolest thing in foodiedom to date—a “pour over.” Lately I’ve been throwing a slice of local ginger into the mug from Margene Farms in Mattituck—perfection.

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