Dan's North ForkHampton Eats

Hamptons Epicure: Top 5 Things I Ate on the East End in January 2019

Virgin margarita, caramel potato cheesecake, arugula ricotta salad and more local delights.

Have you already made some memories in 2019? Filling up your phone with sunsets and celebrity sightings is a Hamptons hazard. For something to stand out, it really has to be outstanding. Though at times hard-won, these dishes stopped me in my snowy tracks because they came as a real surprise.

5. After about 37 goes at creating a light, nicely spiced caramel potato cheesecake, I think we have a winner. Many thanks to my upcoming cookbook’s volunteer recipe testers. Why potato cheesecake, you ask? I’ll be happy to tell you all about it when the book comes out. And I’ll happily sign and dedicate all 585,000 copies. That’s nothing compared to perfecting this dessert!

4. I don’t normally include off-the-menu items in my monthly top fives but when Ian Duke at Union Cantina offered to buy me a drink, I was so touched I blurted out: “I’ve given up drinking for a month, I’m hoping you have a virginal something on the bar menu, a virgin margarita, maybe?”

After a brief but pointed lecture on the lack of virginity in the Hamptons, Ian went behind the bar and came back with a very special margarita indeed. I’m not sure what was in there besides fresh lime juice, but do you really need much more than that, ice and salt to make merry with a load of tacos? I think not. Bottoms up!

3. Then Ian offered me what I assume was a sample from his new Union Burger Bar—a Long Island Breakfast Burger. Quality ground beef topped with crispy potato, an adorable egg that could have only come out of the business end of a quail and—you know it—bacon! The whole four seconds I was eating it, I wondered if I should add ketchup to this mélange. I guess not. One wonders what more he has in store.

2. Frankly, I didn’t expect my salad from the Specials Menu at our neighborhood place, Il Capuccino Ristorante in Sag Harbor, to be super-special. Though its name, Arugola Ricotta Salad, did intrigue me. But this arugula dish covered with ricotta was topped with velvety, green garbanzo beans that really hit the spot, even after I’d eaten my weight in Cap’s naughty garlic knots. The pine nuts and apple cider vinaigrette were truly the proverbial icing on the proverbial cake. (I never have room for the cake at Cap’s.)

1. This last one is a double. It was well worth the trouble of taking two ferries and parking in one of those spots along Main Street in Greenport where the passenger (me) has to crawl across the front seat to climb out of the driver’s door, because a huge planter blocks the curbside door. Kate’s Cheese Co. may be the best place to end up for a meal of two sandwiches—a Cubano, with an emphasis on that melty, melty cheese, perfectly toasted, along with one of their housemade ice cream sandwiches of ginger cookies and vanilla ice cream. I’m still dreaming about all of those textures, that touch of salty ham, those two distinctly different pickles…I’d climb through my car’s gas tank to get to those again!

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