Hamptons Epicure: Top 5 Things I Ate in May

Saaz Indian Cuisine owner Sameer Mohan, Photo: Stacy Dermont
Saaz Indian Cuisine owner Sameer Mohan, Photo: Stacy Dermont

Good food and drink are good in any language. Thankfully, we have a delicious convergence of various cuisines and traditions on the East End. And lucky for you I’m out there chomping and imbibing my way through them 24/7.

#5 Basil is not yet in season but Schiavoni’s Housemade Pesto might convince you otherwise. It’s really salty and really tasty. I guess you might expect this from a local grocery store founded by Italian brothers in 1941. The old Sag Harbor store got something of a makeover during the off-season. There is a lot of gourmet cheese to be had. Roba buona!

#4 Was it the best fish taco I’ve ever eaten on any coast? No. Was it the best fried fish taco I’ve ever eaten on my way home from Southampton on a Monday night? Definitely. Aji “Authentic Mexican Food” truck provided. Ah, layers. Breaded and fried whitefish, freshly cut cabbage and radish, wrapped in a corn tortilla with a glob of guacamole and a lime wedge alongside… a bit of the sublime in my Prius, in the Milk Pail Fresh Market parking lot in Water Mill. Do squeeze lime juice on that filet AND give it a splash of one of the truck’s sauces—if you can—the last time I was in the Milk Pail I signed a petition to Southampton Town to allow the food trucks to return. (You, dear reader, may wish to sign that petition.) Sé que lo disfrutarás!

#3 Succotash. This corn stew is not a southern dish. It comes to us from the Narragansetts of Rhode Island. I studied up and created an East End version for my upcoming cookbook. All the dishes in the book have to pass my-husband-the-picky-eater-test. I tweak them until they get his passing grade—which is a pause after his first bite, followed by an “mmm.” Apparently this dish was off the charts, because he exclaimed, “This is really good!” Who am I to disagree?

#2 Are you in desperate need of a wine to pair with a very dark chocolate dish? It happens. Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton has just the thing, their Petit Verdot. This black grape is so very dark and deep it beckons with a promise of oblivion. The winery wants everyone to enjoy petit verdot, so they won’t let you buy more than six bottles at a time. Sounds like a fabulous “lost weekend.” Se perdre dedans.

#1 I have a recipe in my upcoming cookbook for “kale poppers” that I’m quite happy with, but when I have the kale pakoras (always plural, in my experience) at Saaz Indian Cuisine in Southampton, all I can say is, “Ahh, the mothership!” These babies are so light they’re crunchy and they’re spiced to perfection. A green, round gift to the world from this age-old culinary culture.

Bonus: The Zero at Bistro Été in Water Mill speaks in any language. If you’ve ever done Weight Watchers (and, much like square-dancing and listening to Taylor Swift’s music—in reality—pretty much everyone has), you know from “zero.” A zero-Weight-Watchers-Smart-Points entrée that tastes, smells and looks great could only be the brainchild of Cordon Bleu–trained chef Arie Pavlou. Raw zoodles—zucchini spaghetti—fresh tomato salsa (Is there a whisper of mango in there? Anchovy?), a sprig of fresh basil to stir in, lots of fresh cilantro and lime topped with grilled shrimp.

Thank you, Chef Arie! For those about to lose, we salute you! (Fear not. Chef Arie still offers foie gras, escargot and caviar.)

Stacy is currently at work on a Hamptons-centric cookbook with co-author Hillary Davis. Follow Stacy’s informed and opinionated foodie adventures on twitter @hamptonsepicure.

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