A “Local” Cookbook

The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, Local Food, Local Restaurants, Local Recipes by Leeann Lavin with photography by Lindsay Morris and Jennifer Calais Smith is sure to be the go-to gift of the season. No doubt it will appear beneath Christmas trees and Chanukah bushes across the Island.

Voyageur Press is putting out a series of these tomes honoring unique food cultures. Other editions include Boston and Chicago.

This book profiles 27 Long Island chefs, farmers and producers and its author has held a number of tastings, dinners and book signings across the Island. This included a recent dinner at 18 Bay on Shelter Island with chefs Adam Kopels and Elizabeth Ronzetti. The  two chefs are featured in the book, providing a glimpse into this 16-seat gourmet restaurant that most of the public might not otherwise experience. Some of the other area chefs featured in the book are Lia Fallon of Amarelle in Wading River, Starr Boggs, Keith Luce of Luce + Hawkins, Joe Isidori at Southfork Kitchen and Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming of The North Fork Table & Inn. Also featured are some of the many farmers and producers who bring forth delicious food from Long Island’s soil and waters. The book profiles Noank Aquaculture Co-op in Southold, Balsam Farms in Amagansett, Crescent Duck Farm and Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue, The Hayground School, Open Minded Organics and Mecox Bay Dairy, all in Bridgehampton and Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett.

The photos of food and scenes are naturally gorgeous, but the portraits leave something to be desired. I know that most of these people are considerably better-looking than they appear in this volume because I see them every week. More troubling, though, is that on the pages featuring portraits of chefs alongside those of farmers and baymen, the chefs’ names are listed but not the producers’. In case you’re wondering, the super cute farmer from Balsam Farms is named Ian Calder-Piedmonte and the Sylvester Manor farmer pictured is Creek Iverson, not Bennett Konesni, as you might gather from the text.

Overall I think that Lavin has done a good job highlighting some of Long Island’s best local restaurants and producers. Of course, in a burgeoning foodie culture like ours, you can’t include everyone. As Chef Tom Schaudel says, “It’s like Disneyland for food out here.” Fingers crossed, sooner rather than later, there will be a bigger and better “Volume II.” Missing, naturally, are some big players who just came to the table, including Tom Colicchio’s Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton and the All Star in Riverhead, which features a menu designed by Keith Luce. Both of these eateries opened a couple of months ago.

But there’s many a fascinating story told in this book and I suggest that you go right ahead and buy a copy for every foodie on your gift list. Locals will love it. As will native Long Islanders who now live “away.” People who sometimes visit our shores will also “eat it up.”

Lavin got quite a bit right (if you can forgive a reference to a “potato pasture”), like featuring the grand dame of local foodie culture, Anna Pump, the founder of Sagaponack’s Loaves & Fishes. I can’t wait to try her recipe for Lobster Potato Salad! I’m also jazzed to try making Keith Luce’s Apple Rosemary Fritters and Gretchen Menser’s Apple Gremolata. Yum!

I really enjoyed reading about many of the chefs’ backgrounds. I love their food and now I better know where it comes from. This book also introduced me to some chefs and restaurants I think I’d like to try, including The Grey Horse Tavern in Bayshore and Kitchen A Bistro in St. James.

Warning: Reading this book will make you hungry. I had to break for a PB&J midway through. (Yes, the jelly was local—beach plum!)

Bon Appetit!

 

‘The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, Local Foods, Local Restaurants, Local Recipes’ by Leeann Lavin (Voyageur Press, 2012) $30, available locally and online.

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