Food and Fame at the Heart of the Hamptons

Never underestimate the centrality of the Hamptons. I’m not just referring to the East End as Manhattan’s summer home. We’re also a foodie apex by nature.

Suffolk County is New York State’s most productive agricultural county thanks in large part to our remaining Hamptons and North Fork farmers.

On Saturday morning while I was buying my weekly eggs and greens and other assorted Dale & Bette’s Farm goods from their stand at the Sag Harbor Farmers Market, a nice young woman was asking them all about their farm. I noticed that the woman was actress Liv Tyler. Holy hairy hobbits! Of course I kept my cool and just smiled back at her when our eyes met in passing—but Liv Freakin’ Tyler and her personal chef choose to eat what I do. Huh! Celeb central.

On Sunday I drove over to the Foster farmstand in Sagaponack. There’s something primordial about Sagaponack—despite all the new houses—there’s something in the air and the soil. When I pass by the General Store, the old burying ground and into that stretch of farm country that abuts the ocean, it seems to get quieter even as the birdsong gets louder. It’s like someone set the wayback machine to some permanent, previous Sunday afternoon. Nostalgia central.

The Foster farmstand on the Foster farm, one of our oldest working farms. Hundreds of years have passed while this earth has been cultivated season after season.

Sagaponack has the richest farmland. I come here for the rhubarb. It’s picked from a healthy, no-maintenance patch that’s been doing its thing for years. I’m too late as usual; it’s a very popular stand. Rhubarb central.

I decided to head over to East Hampton Gourmet (EHG) behind Newtown Lane to see what was cookin’.

You know how there are bakeries where regular customers will stand outside in early morning sleet if they have to, to be sure to get their warm croissants or chocolate babka? I never thought of EHG as that kind of place—they do so many different things, so many cuisines. But I’m addicted to Maggie’s Everything Crackers produced just a couple yards away from the front counter. Made of rice and lentils and everything but wheat—I’m certainly willing to stand in line for them—but usually there’s a package or two on the shelf. Well, she’s come out with a new cracker flavor— “Majorca,” which features saffron threads, fennel pollen and black cumin seeds. Oh my. I can’t get a package; they can’t keep any on the shelf at all. Apparently the latest thing to do in East Hampton is to stand in line and call out to Maggie in the kitchen—“Don’t close the package—I’ll take it!” Cracker central.

I know Maggie is a flavoring genius—I’ve  eaten her tofu turkey and also liked it—but I think it’s the lentil component that makes these crackers SO GOOD. But when it comes to the Majorcas I may never know.

Funny thing, on Saturday night I went to a party in a field full of solar evaporator tables. That’s not the funny part. This was the Amagansett Sea Salt’s farm and when I asked co-owner Natalie Judelson what her next flavored salt would be she told me, “Far East End Blend with toasted sesame and nori.” Flavor central.

We are on the “Far East End” and the cutting edge and right in the middle of it all.

Look out world!

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