Exploring local bounty at the North Fork Foodie Tour

foodie tour north fork the farm

Photo by Rachel Young | Tomatoes at The Farm in Southold.

OK, I’ll admit it: I’m not an adventurous eater. Growing up, dinners at my Rochester household consisted largely of boring but blissfully predictable meals, like roasted chicken and mashed potatoes — and, darn it, I liked it that way.

But I’m willing to try new things, so I was excited to attend my first North Fork Foodie Tour. The 7th annual self-guided tour, hosted by North Fork Reform Synagogue, featured stops at the region’s premiere food destinations, mainly farms, vineyards and an eatery or two.

A little after the tour’s official 10 a.m. start time on a sunny Sunday, I paid my fee at event headquarters, the Peconic Land Trust Agricultural Center at Charnews Farm in Southold, and received a map of the 16 venues and a wristband that enabled me to sample food and take part in tours at each stop.

It was time to eat.

On my own with little idea where to begin, I started my tour nearby at The Farm, a family-owned and operated organic operation in Southold that grows flowers, fruit and vegetables using biodynamic techniques. I sampled three varieties of cherry tomatoes and especially liked a dark-hued type farm volunteer Jennifer Plewka referred to as a “black Cherokee.”

But three tiny tomatoes doth not a breakfast make, so I drove over to Croteaux Vineyards, also in Southold, where owner Paula Croteau laid out samples of Spanish olives doused in garlic, lime zest and various spices. I was hesitant to try one, having had a nasty first encounter with olives at age 11, when I mistook one for a large blueberry. But these olives were surprisingly delicious and perfectly seasoned. I also tasted the winery’s 2012 “Jolie” Cabernet Franc Rosé, a refreshing, full-bodied wine fermented entirely in stainless steel.

Later, I took a quick tour of A Taste of the North Fork’s production kitchen in Cutchogue, where I had a slice of fresh watermelon with a sauce made from chocolate and red wine. That sauce was so good I would gladly have eaten an entire vat.

By this time, it was just past noon and renowned North Fork chef Keith Luce was scheduled to give a 1 p.m. tour of his four new Greenport eateries — MAIN, MEET, NOSH and PREP.

The Square was packed with prospective taste-testers. After the chef described his vision for the project, a large group, myself included, crammed into NOSH for a free scoop of gelato. The salted caramel seemed to be calling my name — and it did not disappoint.

Since dessert traditionally signifies the end of a meal, it made sense to end my tour at NOSH. I wasn’t able to check out all 16 tour stops but left reassured that my belly was full of go