Last year I waxed poetic after my first visit to the Hamptons. After taking many trips since, I would be remiss to not mention the first food that I encounter each time I cross the watery boundary between Connecticut and New York. The Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich prepared on the hot grill of the Cross Sound Ferry is as satisfying as they come. Its ingredients are comfortingly simple and predictable: a fried egg, melty American cheese (my childhood favorite) and greasy crisp bacon- all sandwiched within an english muffin that is impeccably and artistically grilled (look at those grill marks! Is there a food stylist back there?).
While we are on the subject of morning foods, I must return to something I’ve mentioned once before: the homemade doughnuts at the Springs General Store in East Hampton. I love spending mornings on the Store’s front porch browsing newspapers, chatting with other customers and admiring the fabulous (often vintage) cars that fill the parking lot. On one particularly cheerful sunny morning I visited with artist Gabriele Raacke, whose work I so admire, and was reminded that the Springs remains the artistic oasis it has historically been.
Back to the doughnuts. They warrant revisiting because they have gotten even better since last year. When I took this photo, the doughnut was still warm from frying. It left lovely little grease marks on the paper when I lifted it up to eat. Know that it tastes just as good as it looks. Get there early, because they sell out quickly…
Like my grandfather Lou, I like to dunk my doughnuts in my coffee. Although while on the East End my choice is Hampton Coffee Company Peru Norte Organic blend, not my grandfather’s preferred Chock full o’Nuts (those cans come in handy later!)
Red Horse Market owner Pasquale Langella makes insanely good, creamy tasty fresh mozzarella. Even the water that it is packed in is brimming with flavor and good for bread dunking. I ate this mozzarella every single day last week. This cheese is more important to me than buttoning my pants.
A surprise treat – in addition to making a delicious burger LT Burger in Sag Harbor makes a great vegetable salad. Split for two as an appetizer, or as a full meal it is very satisfying: corn, cucumbers, red onion, heart of palm, black olives, scallions and feta cheese.
The vacationing crowds and hideous traffic were such that for the most part, I chose to stay away from restaurants. with the exception of Nick and Toni’s. The outdoor tables are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. So if- like me- you like to occasionally eat “Boca time”it’s a good option.
Many have said this before me, but I will add my voice to extol the delicious and addictive “zucchini chips” on the appetizer menu. My favorite thing to do with zucchini at home is to fry it up like a little Italian Nonni. But when they do the same thing at Nick and Toni’s it tastes better than mine. Each slice of zucchini is impeccably thin, brown, slightly crisp. Making generous use of the fresh lemon wedge really adds a fabulous dimension to the flavor. I have started to use lemon at home (A side note poll- what do you use to fry your zucchini? Lately it’s grape seed oil for me because of the high flash point…)
Lastly, a new addition to the menu since my last visit: Sweet Pea Ravioli in a butter tarragon sauce
The flavorful sweet peas were roughly mashed in the center of the delicate ravioli, providing a very satisfying texture. The butter sauce was light and mild, and the slight sweetness of the tarragon supported rather than overshadowed the taste of the peas. Fresh Pecorino Romano gave the dish a satisfying bite. I loved it.
After a very satisfying week of food in the Hamptons, I look forward to more tastes in the future. What should I try next time?