After living here for over a year now, I feel like I know the North Fork well, even like it’s my home. But the South Fork still feels like a foreign land to me. I can count the amount of times I’ve been there on one hand. But a craving for Indian food and a desire to check out a new gourmet grocery market in Southampton led me down that way so I decided to take full advantage.
9 a.m. After some breakfast at home, I am on my way. The North Fork has many a land preserve for hiking, and I’ve explored a lot of them. So it only felt natural to find one on my drive down to show me the South Fork. I stopped at Cranberry Bog for a quick walk around the pond to get some movement in before my next stop. I walk a few laps and take in the still woods.
11 a.m. I am ravenous, and one type of cuisine the North Fork doesn’t have is Indian. Luckily, there’s a spot in Southampton just off of the Sunrise Highway. It’s tucked back a bit and can be missed, but this is a place you are going to want to check out. During the week, they have an all you can eat buffet for lunch. To be honest, a buffet in COVID times seemed a little scary. But Saaz is incredibly clean. Masks are obviously required, and they make sure you are using a fresh plate, require you to wear fresh gloves every time and have glass dividers in front of the food. Plus the food is delicious. For about $18, I got fragrant basmati rice, creamy saag paneer, spiced yellow dal and tandoori chicken. I also recommend their mango lassi, a creamy, sweet drink made from yogurt.
1 p.m. Next, I head to downtown Southampton. After walking around, I find the new Hen of the Woods. It’s mostly a gourmet market, but as the owners Suzy Yang and Jonathan Bernard described it, it’s a chef’s pantry. To one side is a produce case, but it’s not filled with celery and carrots. Instead, mushrooms that could house fairies, thick stalks of asparagus (called colossal for a reason), funky pasta shapes, vegan cheese and gooseberries stocked the shelves. To the right, a seafood case displays slabs of red-orange salmon, thick disks of white scallops, bags of mussels and clams and tiny jars of roe. In the middle are bottles of rich oil from all corners of the world, Little Fork vinegar from the North Fork, sea salt from Amagansett, jarred sauces, dried beans, boxed crackers and a selection of cookbooks. At first glance, this place is a chef’s dream, but Yang and Bernard are hoping to cater to anyone who wants to up their cooking game. Bernard, who is a farmer and forager, and Yang, who has worked as a chef, stock the store with their favorite ingredients from their favorite purveyors. And even if you aren’t a home cook, their chef, Kait Kelly, takes ingredients from the store and makes to-go prepared foods. I left with dinner for later — salmon salad, pasta with morel mushrooms and peas and some chocolate chip cookies.
3 p.m. I need something sweet. I walk over to Sant Ambroeus just around the corner to finish out the day the fancy way — with a gelato in a European-esque cafe. I go with my regular flavor, hazelnut, and sit down to savor the creamy and sweet gelato, only after snapping about 25 photos of it in front of the window. In true Hamptons style, a New York City-based beauty influencer that I follow on YouTube and Instagram pops in with her husband. I recognize them, say hi, recommend the gelato and go on my merry way with the glow of meeting a pseudo celebrity to accompany my ride home.
5 p.m. I finish off the day in true East End fashion — a walk on the beach. I have to take advantage of what the South Fork has and head to Coopers Beach. The long stretches of smooth sand and big frothy waves have a whole different feel to them. A gentle mist and a delicate breeze guide me down the beach one way and try to keep me from going once I turn back. But the glow on the jagged waters from the setting sun tells me it’s time to go home.