Column: (Tasteful) festivals for a North Fork fall

The North Fork Foodie Tour was an utmost civilized affair. Here Farmer Fred Lee leads a tour of Sang Lee Farms in Peconic. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

The North Fork Foodie Tour was an utmost civilized affair. Here Farmer Fred Lee leads a tour of Sang Lee Farms in Peconic. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Fall means festival time on the North Fork.

But writer Andrew Simmons decries food festivals, those gluttonous, indulgent feasts loved by so many Americans, as unrefined occasions antithetical to the sustainable food movement.

“They proudly revel in the relentless, boorish stuffing of faces, unchecked public intoxication, and wasteful excess,” Simmons wrote in a takedown published this week on Slate.com.

Obviously, Simmons wasn’t referring to the harvest festivals so often held this time of year on Long Island’s top fork. But for argument’s sake, let’s imagine a “festival” organized to educate its participants that allows them a taste of products while helping them forge a bond with the men and women behind the food.

The result looks a lot like last weekend’s North Fork Foodie Tour, an annual fundraiser to support the North Fork Reform Synagogue in Cutchogue that highlights the NoFo’s food producers.

Unlike the unrestrained bacchanals described in Simmons’ essay, the tour, now in its eighth year, was an utmost civilized affair.

Every farmer I interviewed described the event as a “win-win” for the synagogue and their business. Foodies, many from western Long Island and some from out-of-state, descended on the farms Sunday for tours and tastes. And many spent dollars buying produce and artisanal items at stops on the self-guided tour.

I even found myself purchasing a few things — including lemon pepper chevré from Catapano Dairy Farm and an egg sandwich from the North Fork Food Truck parked outside 8 Hands Farm — as I covered the event. And I couldn’t help but express to organizer Kay Freeman what a genius idea the tour was.

Here’s to many more successful years.

Now, on to some other, not-so-loutish festivals: Harbes Orchard hosts its apple festival this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 13 and 14, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at its Riverhead farm. And a harvest party will take place at Lieb Cellars’ Cox Neck Road location in Mattituck on Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. The event will feature winery tours and live music by Points East.

Lenz Winery in Peconic will host its annual Merlot Classic on Saturday, with 60 different red wines from around the globe. Tickets are $50 for the general public and $25 for Lenz subscribers. Visit the events page on northforker.com for all the details.

One Comment

  • North Fork Foodie was a wonderful experience. I learned so much and loves to hear how the individual farmers etc. help each other out and share some bipeodicts. Very educational to see the variety of Agricultural businesses we have on LI besides farms and wineries.