Hamptons Epicure: Top 5 Things I Ate This Month – January 2018

Add kale to your chickpea and lentil stew!
Add kale to your chickpea and lentil stew! Photo: Nataliya Arzamasova/123RF

If January has doldrums they don’t get past the security wall surrounding the Hamptons. Truly, it may be cold outside but things are heating up in local kitchens (and we’re not just talking about Long Island Restaurant Week, which runs through January 28).

I’m frequently bowled over by the inventiveness of our local chefs and home cooks. My annual “Top 10 Things I Ate” was so popular with our online readers I was asked to do a Top 5 monthly. As you can see, 2018 is off to a delicious start—the following items have already taken me to my thumbs-up emoji place.

Honorable mention: Chocolate whaaat? Until recently I didn’t know that the words, let alone the ingredients, chocolate and hummus could go together. You know what chocolate is, and hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas. When I told my friend Chef Bunnii Buglione that my vegan mother-in-law was visiting and I needed an inspired dessert, she brought over a tub of homemade chocolate hummus that we shaped into a heart-shaped “cake.” Apparently chocolate hummus is “a thing” now and often marketed as “vegan fudge.”

#5 Deliciousness begins at home. I recently nailed the recipe for a fresh ginger dressing that I plan to feature in my upcoming cookbook. Ginger is “local:” farmers grow it on the North Fork. I enjoy this dressing poured over a salad of local wheatberries and roasted local vegetables—beets, carrots and turnips.

#4 Chef Eric Weiner read my mind! I went to the Artist & Writers Night at Bridgehampton’s Almond last week to hear my friend Marilee Foster read. Naturally, every course of the dinner prominently featured potatoes because Marilee is a Sagaponack potato farmer. The second item on the night’s menu—“Beans & Potatoes”—was Marilee’s beans, spuds and baby arugula drizzled in a gingery dressing. And it was fabulous. In a deft touch, Chef included some sesame oil in the dressing and kept all simple-simple. Bravo!

#3 Pot roast for breakfast? Oh, yes. Okay, I’m not sure what it’s called but…I went out for brunch with Chef Bunnii to Orlando’s Café in Hampton Bays—her neighborhood spot…so I left the ordering to her. What arrived was a large plate of—essentially—huevos rancheros covering a big chunk of meat. This must be a cure for something—hangover, general ennui, light deprivation, scurvy—probably all of the above!

#2 A wish for fish. The tahini-crusted cod special at Bistro Été in Water Mill was sheer delight—the flesh was cooked perfectly and the balance of umami richness over a bed of local spinach with its natural acidity shining through, c’est manifique! Chef suggested pairing it with—surprise!—a Côte du Rhône with a slight vinegar edge. A sublime match. This restaurant re-opens March 15, following its “hibernation.” (No rest for the wicked: the owners are adding a dining room.)

#1 A blizzard miracle. Just last week I picked a bunch of kale from my home garden, threw it in a Moroccan chickpea-lentil stew and this green was fabulously sweet and nutty! Yes, after our low temps and a blizzard, this crucifer was still hanging on, waiting patiently to fulfill its destiny and earning it the nickname “no-fail kale.” I plan to plant kale every year now—just in case this particular kale doesn’t last forever.

You can follow Stacy’s informed and opinionated foodie adventures on Twitter @hamptonsepicure. She is currently at work on a Hamptons-centric cookbook with co-author Hillary Davis.

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