First World Problem: my job involves eating and drinking the best the East End has to offer and writing thereof.
So what do I do on my rare day off? I travel across the East End eating and drinking and taking notes and photos.
It’s a living.
Recently, my husband and I determined that we’d spend a day hitting places that were new to us. We’re regulars at Mattituck’s Goodfood. (“good food period”) and decided to end our day’s journey there by splitting an order of their famous bread pudding. With this in mind, virtually any journey is conquerable.
To get to Mattituck from Sag Harbor, we’d have to cross Shelter Island. Geopolitically a part of the North Fork since the modern era began here (in 1652), Shelter Island has a lot to offer foodies—Vine Street Café, Ram’s Head Inn, organic produce from Sylvester Manor and yellow beach plums in season. We were set to hit Maria’s Kitchen for lunch. We’ve gazed longingly at the little yellow house that is home to Maria’s many times as we crossed the island from ferry to ferry for the past several years. But we’re usually in a hurry to get from one fork to the other.
Before Maria’s opened a few years ago, the space housed a health food store and eatery. You can still find a number of healthy offerings within. But now there are also dazzling arrays of bottled hot sauces and dried peppers! Husband and I enjoyed a made-to-order taco salad and fish tacos with chips and guacamole served by Maria’s handsome cousin.
The service was so fast and friendly, I think we’ll stop from now on, even when we’re in a hurry.
Since we were in no rush on this day, we decided to mosey over to the Shelter Island Craft Brewery, located right next door to Maria’s. There we found another friendly proprietor, James Hull. Also the resident brewmaster, Hull proudly shared how he often uses lemon verbena from his own garden in the brews. So we should not have been surprised that our tasting flight, served in a cute wooden paddle-like tray, offered a number of intentionally sour beers. Or maybe the trend is to be “tart.” In any case, since we’ve both lived upstate, we’ll go back sometime to be really judgy about the “Buffalo Hot Wings served with blue cheese and celery.”
We were off to the North Ferry. We wanted to check out the 8 Hands Farm shop, which opened last fall on Cox Lane in Cutchogue. It’s a cool space housed right on the farm. Pass through a thick layer of handmade woolens and some horn jewelry and you’ll reach a wall of refrigerators stocked with prepared goods from the farm, including stocks. At the back of the main room you’ll find a deli counter in front of the kitchen, where various housemade sausages, including a breaded pork sausage (pojarski, $12 each), plus pork chops and other cuts, grass fed lamb, dry-aged beef and pork poupiettes ($16 each) are on offer by the piece or by the pound. When we stopped in, farmer Tom Geppel himself was behind this counter. There’s also local produce and breads for sale.
Geppel’s mother-in-law was working the cash register. “8 Hands” refers to the Geppel family of four, Geppel, his wife and two kids, who tend the farm.
Time to pop over to Sparkling Pointe in Southold for a bubbly tasting. I’ve yet to find a sparkling wine that I don’t like. But Sparkling Pointe’s Topaz Imperial is one of my very favorite domestic iterations. So we stocked up.
Whew! We must have burned a lot of calories since lunch at Maria’s, so we were off to Mattittuck for our bread pudding dessert. Of course we found lots of gifty and snacky offerings at Goodfood.—and at Agora the Little Greek Market across the street. You can’t have too many hostess gifts, so we stocked up on goodies as well. It’s always an adventure to “take stock” of the North Fork. In my mind I’m wandering back there again right now…