Hamptons Epicure: Top 5 Things I Ate in June

Peas from Stacy Dermont's garden
Peas from Stacy Dermont's garden, Photo: Oliver Peterson

It’s mid-July and the good eats are coming fast and furious in the Hamptons. I’ve barely had time to reflect on my June adventures. Last Sunday I cracked a bottle of rosé and thought June thoughts.

June is for weddings. Which begs the question, why are 9 out of 10 wedding cakes terrible? Frankenfrosting, that underlayer of rigor mortis called fondant, otherwise edible cake chock-full of sprinkles—c’mon, this is why divorce rates are up—the bridal couple is doomed to go off on their honeymoon sugar-high and sickened. Oh, wait, I’m supposed to reflect on the BEST things I ate in June. When summer comes I like to keep it simple and eat more fish.

5. Halibut? I often cook fish at home but I’d never dared to try Flatfish. It’s so costly, I’d be pretty upset if I ruined it. But we had friends coming over for dinner and I get a demented thrill from cooking new things for company (take that, Martha Stewart, Alton Brown and anyone who’s ever tried to give me entertaining advice!). Plus I happened to know that one of those friends is a great halibut lover—she orders it almost every time we go out to dinner. So I started to research and found that, duh, halibut is extra-expensive because it has become so scarce. So I made a point of buying something truly local, in-season. And that was halibut’s cousin summer flounder. And it was good—real good with a side of my succotash.

4. The first peas from my garden. So delicate, so sweet and bursting with flavor! The very definition of green. It doesn’t get any better than this. Though the first carrot, the first raspberry and…wait for it…the first tomato, are all worth shouting about too.

Tomatoes from Stacy Dermont's garden
Tomatoes from Stacy Dermont’s garden, Photo: Oliver Peterson

3. The Blackened Avocado Taco from the MattiTaco food truck blew my mind. There were fish and pork and lobster tacos on offer and, yes, I tried them all. The charissa dusted avocado with pico de gallo, cabbage and chipotle aioli was the stand-out. I’d order it again—okay, I did—and the second one was just as luscious and satisfying.

2. The cod at the Dockside Bar & Grill in Sag Harbor. “The cod” is all one need say to have a platter of hot, fluffy fish over a bed of mashed potatoes, with a side of baby spinach, delivered to your place at the table. The “fluffy” bit is a breadcrumb treatment on top of the fish filet. It’s listed on the menu as “Fresh Herb & Crumb Crusted Cod with Lemon Beurre Blanc served with sautéed spinach & rustic mashed potatoes.” If the proprietors ever tried to take this item off the menu there’d be a massive backlash. But why would they? This classic dinner radiates comfort.

Claude's outdoor seating, Photo: Megan Overton
Claude’s outdoor seating, Photo: Megan Overton

1. Claude’s at the Southampton Inn, in Southampton, has been revamped, and its kitchen now holds Chef James Carpenter and many good things. His Satur Farms Little Gem Salad contains fennel fronds, micro greens, slightly pickled cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, radishes, pea shoots, tiny beet greens and, of course, Little Gem lettuce leaves, in a light shallot sherry vinaigrette. It’s summer on a plate.

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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