What’s love got to do with it? Everything. If you’ve traveled the world seeking the most beautiful landscapes with the most delicious foods, the most enticing wines and the most stimulating people, as I have, but you live on the East End, as I do, you will have to conclude, finally, that everything you seek is right here. Maybe not the ultimate superlative in every category (especially if you are looking for bananas, mescal and mountain peaks) but a dynamic mix of wine, food and culture are all here, from Orient or Montauk to Riverhead.
So that does it. I love the East End best of all and I’m staying home for the summer.
Still, there are more decisions to make: Do I stay in my yard under a shady tree, sipping a dry rosé or venture forth to some of the Long Island’s lovely locavore events? Hmmm, let’s see what’s happening.
First of all, I would absolutely venture forth to one of the weekly concerts in Southold or Riverhead. The Wednesday night Southold Showcase Concerts started last night (June 26) with Gene Casey & the Lone Sharks at that village’s Silversmith’s Corner on Main Road. And Riverhead Townscape’s Friday night concerts get going July 11 in Grangebel Park with the local band Who Are Those Guys. These concerts, and also the Monday night dances in Greenport’s Mitchell Park (beginning July 7), are the ultimate community parties. Just show up for the music, bring a picnic or dance your heart out. It’s as elaborate as you want it to be.
I like to meet up with friends early enough to settle in with more than enough food and beverage to share. Usually we have bubbles, then something pink and something more to go with whatever food we’ve brought. We might have sushi or pizza, but more often it’s fried chicken from the Salamander Café (if we’re in Greenport) or my special seafood salad made with lobster, shrimp, celery, ginger and lime on buttered, toasted buns. With North Fork Potato Chips, of course. By August, we pack Marilee Foster’s heirloom tomatoes and Goodale’s goat cheese or Mecox Bay Dairy’s Atlantic Mist. When peaches and berries are in season, I bring a container of sliced fruit macerated with lemon verbena — divine!
It’s always fun to make the rounds of the tasting rooms and if your focus is on the wines, I highly recommend a midweek visit so you can sample your favorites without the clangor of the crowds. From Friday to Monday, I suggest you try the local foodies’ own North Fork hangout in Peconic, the Winemaker’s Studio and its adjacent fooderia, Provisions and Ingredients, both owned by Anthony and Sarah Nappa. This winemaker/chef duo features their own wines, plus those from several other artisanal producers of local wines, beers and spirits. With smart, friendly service, top-quality food and beverages and off-the-beaten track location, the Studio/Provisions has become a sanctuary for real East Enders.
When it’s live music you seek with your wine, follow the wine trail to those vineyards that invite visitors to spend an afternoon sipping to some sybaritic tunes. Corey Creek in Jamesport is always mellow on Sundays as is Lieb Cellars, offering live music alternating at their two locations, Mattituck and Cutchogue. If you want to pump it up, try Sparkling Pointe in Southold, a bubbles-only winery with a Brazilian theme throughout. Its owners, who dance in Rio’s Carnaval parade every winter, are bringing Carnaval here this year on July 26, complete with dancers in feathers and a rousing drum band.
Over in Sagaponack, Wölffer Estate has a long-standing following among locavores at its Twilight Thursdays, Sunset Fridays and Saturdays. Stop in at the winery or farm stand for free live music, wines by the glass and yummy charcuterie.
On July 26, Wölffer will also host my favorite mid-summer event, the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs and Champagne New York. Honoring chef Bobby Flay this summer, the JBF has lured New York’s best chefs to this super-charged extravaganza.
While our local chefs are busy in their own restaurants, the chefs from the city are in a lull and they love to come beachward to hang out with each other while showcasing their favorite foods sourced right here.
We will be well into summer, with farm stands groaning under fully ripened peaches, tomatoes and zucchini, when the Lenz Winery will host a more intimate celebration of summer, “Dinner in the Vines,” with Greenport’s star chef Noah Schwartz on Aug. 16. Out in the vineyard, under the stars, you can capture the full essence of an East End summer.
Ms. Hargrave was a founder of the Long Island wine industry in 1973. She is currently a freelance writer and consultant.