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

Bottle of Grappa, Photo: Oliver Peterson
Bottle of Grappa, Photo: Oliver Peterson

Nothing is in season in February on the East End—except some seafood and good times. I’ve been having a ball and, hey, no traffic. I revisited some old haunts and tried some new things….

#5 (Okay, I had this experience on January 28—but that was after deadline for my “January Top 5.”) I headed to the Springs Tavern for a Jackson Pollock birthday celebration (he would have been 106), with pretty low expectations. I’d never eaten at the newly revamped Springs Tavern and I was aware that a Jackson Pollock sort-of-cookbook came out in 2015. But how well did this starving artist eat in the mid-20th century? Well. If he and his wife, Lee Krasner, turned out the goods like the Springs Tavern kitchen did that night, he must have been a true gourmand! One of the simplest of offerings was the most outstanding, the Cross-Country Johnny Cakes (named for Pollock’s trip across the U.S. during the Depression with his brother and a bag of cornmeal) served piping hot with butter and maple syrup. I’d welcome Jackson Pollock and his kitchen know-how to my table any time.

#4 Speaking of ghosts, I’m haunted by Chef Ari Pavlou’s grappa. I heart all grappa—the brandy made from grape pomace—and frequently have to convince restaurateurs that, no matter how “rough” it is, I want to try theirs. Not Chef Ari. As soon as he heard I was a fan, he poured a “shot” of his “home brew” from a glass rifle-shaped bottle. His Bistro Été in Water Mill is reopening next month (with an expanded dining area) after a winter break. Happily, he gave me a small bottle of his grappa to tide me over. It’s powerful stuff but has a delightfully perfumed finish.

#3 Our office building’s oldest pizza. You know how your company celebrates something with “a pie” and then the leftovers are stored in the basement refrigerator for the intern to munch on? Last Thursday, stuck in the offices trying to get some damn assignment “off my plate,” I was starving, I was that intern. That slice of Scotto’s three-days-young plain cheese pie was a lifesaver. It got me thinking about the best pizza toppings to order for pizza that may be allowed to “mature.” Definitely not pineapple chunks, very possibly black olive slices….

#2 The Roasted Satur Farms Winter Squash Bisque made by Chef Noah Schwartz at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead is a bowl of creamy love. Savory, curried with just a hint of sweetness in the roasted pumpkin seed garnish. Suffolk Theater must be the biggest venue on the East End pointedly using local ingredients. Bravo!

Corner Bar beer coupon

#1 The kindness and community spirit of my chosen hometown of Sag Harbor still catches me off guard sometimes. Exchanging my blood for beer felt really right. Despite my extreme squeamishness, I’m a regular blood donor so, naturally, I gave during the recent Jim Federico Memorial Blood Drive at the Sag Harbor Firehouse. All went as well as can be expected and, as I was scarfing down a giant slice of focaccia sandwich, a young woman came by to thank me for donating and to offer me a gift. I have no memory of what my other two options were, but I happily accepted a coupon for a free pint of beer at the Corner Bar. I’ll never go drinking with John Steinbeck at the Black Buoy, but I quite enjoy lunch with author Danny Peary at the Corner Bar. Of course I ordered a local draft beer with my coupon—a Montauk Session IPA. Cheers!

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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