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

Blueberries, bananas, and coconut on top of acai served in a white bowl.
Photo: iStock

Ah, March. For the first three weeks of the month it looked like this top five would be all pizza. But the weather lightened up and with that came some fresh ideas and treats. Spring is a time to try new things. Okay, new-to-me things—namely an acai bowl.

Have you had this trendy treat? As the term “bowl” implies, you scoop it up with a spoon. It’s like a child’s idea of a gourmet meal, made from healthy dessert elements: neat layers of frozen berry puree, granola, freshly grated coconut, blueberries, strawberries, sliced banana drizzled with honey on top. Or maybe it’s a dream dessert for a bear or a woodland imp? Anyway, it’s really fun and not terribly sweet. I might have a second one someday soon. I definitely will when we can grow acai locally. Right now it’s grown in the subtropic regions of Central and South America. But climates change.

A more traditional treat, rice pudding, arrived in a new form at my desk last week. Lucky Lou’s Gourmet Rice Pudding, produced in Calverton, has long been a favorite among Long Islanders. Sometimes you need the comfort of rice pudding so much that the plastic container matters not.

Lou’s is a perfectly acceptable form of the genre. Significantly, the cinnamon on top is finely ground and ample. And the pudding is sold in two sizes at Schmidt’s Market & Produce in Southampton: the 6-ounce “fat pill of indulgence” and the 12-ounce “I can’t see my feet and I don’t care.” So far I’ve only “indulged.” Come our busy season, I might hafta trade up. Rice is not local yet either, but as Lou’s motto says, this pudding is “almost as good as mom’s, “ which is certainly “close to home.”

I’d heard tell of Lenny’s Pizza in Jamesport as a place to go. I’m so often disappointed by tall tales of pizza fabulousness, I didn’t rush to conquer, but nobody told me I could effectively revisit the Conca D’oro pizza experience there. Lenny’s vegetable slice takes me right back to Conca, my Sag Harbor hometown slice joint until they closed in 2017. The eggplant on Lenny’s slices is not battered, and yet the slice altogether is a touch greasier than Conca’s. But it works. Next I’ll have to investigate Lenny’s gorgonzola salad to see how it stacks up to my “Concadoric” ideal.

Is the true test of pizza how good it is cold? I think so. Dan’s Hamptons Media management staff came back to our Southampton offices with leftover pizza from an event at Centro Trattoria & Bar in Hampton Bays. Oh my. I think they’ve earned using those images of Italy on their promotional materials. This pizza is worthy. A just-right crust topped with perfect, red sauce covered with mozzarella that says, “I’m really salty and rich and exactly what you need.” This pizza must be among the very best when it’s hot. But I look forward to having it cold for breakfast someday soon.

My writing partner Hillary Davis and I turned in our manuscript for The Hamptons Kitchen last week. The 256-page tome was two years (one oven, one dishwater, one major operation followed by complications, three Pyrex pie plates, several wine bottles and a lamp) in the making. I mean, I’ve long known that “you gotta break some eggs to make an omelet,” but this was a ridiculous commitment.

I figured I’d start to date (my husband) again and get a long-overdue pedicure/facial/massage/waxing/blow-out. But I could not have imagined the waves of profound relief that washed over me. Everything shifted and I didn’t know what to do with that. On a whim, I took myself out to lunch. I chose well. I sat down with a big plate full of steaming goodness at Saaz in Southampton. A nice, young server who didn’t call me “ma’am” even once brought me hot naan and ice-cold water unbidden.

I included Saaz’s kale pakora in one of my top five round-ups last year. They weren’t in the lunch buffet this day and that was perfectly fine. The potato pakora more than sufficed.

Yes, I ate the chana masala, yellow dal, and chicken tikka masala all together, covered with yogurt, wrapping everything up in naan—followed by a little bowl of rice pudding. Completion.

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