February is a great time to stay inside and indulge on the East End. But by the same token, one doesn’t want to overdue it, since most forms of outdoor exercise are on “winter break” right now. I tested some plant-centric dishes to keep my motor running. Vroom. Vroom.
5. At the risk of opening with a negative, the fact is, with so few Greek diners it’s not that easy find good Greek food for lunch on the East End. Enter Hampton Gyro and Grill, which opened in Hampton Bays last year. Cue the spinach pie. Go!
Surrounded by puffy pita bread, Greek salad and falafel bites, this little slice of Elysium remains the star attraction. Whenever I’m in the vicinity now I need it bad. It’s what it isn’t that matters—not too wet, not too crumbly, not overly dilled. Positively just right. Fingers crossed, when the Princess Diner re-opens this season in Southampton we’ll have some fine spanakopita close to the Dan’s Hamptons Media offices.
4. As I was recovering from an injury (no, it wasn’t overeating-related) this month, my husband did a lot of the cooking. He really didn’t have the time to do it but wholesome food is key to recovery, so he went that extra mile. Along the way he discovered a delish shortcut that has now entered our regular rotation of home-cooked dinners.
When my in-laws lived in the Netherlands they had to get a little creative to satisfy their tastes. Though the Dutch are renowned world traders, local grocery stores in Holland tended to focus on selling cauliflower, leeks, cheeses and potatoes at that time. My mother-in-law developed a killer “pizza” of homemade dough covered with leeks that were sautéed in olive oil and sprinkled with bleu cheese. Hubby discovered that the thinner precooked pizza dough now in our local grocery stores make for a pizza experience to rival his mom’s thick, homemade dough. Try this at home!
3. Sag Harbor is so cool it has a soup pop-up every Wednesday. Not just “soup,” but the glorified Hawaiian deal saimin (pronounced sigh-min). You can expect a big bowl of noodles and goodies including pieces of that Hawaiian favorite, Spam, at the Hamptons Hawaiian Saimin Shop housed in Dopo La Spiaggia on Bay Street. I enjoyed a big bowl of Chicken Saimin one cold evening, but you can “build your own” by choosing your noodle (wheat or gluten-free), broth and toppings. Do get some of the shrimp chips and, if, like everyone the world over, you dig fry bread, a malasada (a housemade Portuguese donut).
But my fave dish was the furikake potato chips. House-made and seasoned lightly with flavors from Japan, they are the rare potato chip that’s not over-salted. Someone in Chef Jessica Taccone’s kitchen really knows how to work the mandolin to produce these super-thin, flat, crispy babies. It’s a good thing they come to my village but once a week! Though partners Taccone and Drei Donnelly have applied for permits to open a permanent saimin shop nearby….
2. Regular readers know that, due to my recent adherence to prescription medications, I’ve become something of a mocktail connoisseur. So I was delighted to try Chef Arie Pavlou’s latest at Bistro Été in Water Mill. I watched him make one, but he moves very quickly. I saw him rapidly snipping fresh lemon grass into a glass followed by flashes of muddling, sugar, muddling, raspberries, muddling, simple syrup, lime juice, seltzer, straining and stirring and ice. Oh, the smell! The color! It tasted great. (1.) I know this because I inhaled it through Chef Arie’s latest/greatest creation—a hand-carved bamboo straw! These things are so “Flintstones” and so Hamptons at the same time—they’re “Hampstones.” Light but solid and, yes, you get to take your new bamboo straw home with you to enjoy.
Okay, I didn’t actually eat a bamboo straw in February but esthetically and environmentally it was the very best thing.