I can vaguely recall maybe one or two memories from my early toddlerhood, but my first real memory is from one late summer afternoon at age 3. I can still feel the weight of salt in the seaside air, hear the sounds of the fishermen’s deck boots sloshing through puddles of saltwater as they unloaded their bounty, and recall the smells of fresh fish as it was cleaned and cut right there in front of me. A family friend of my mom’s was a commercial fisherman and on that August day she took me down to Gosman’s Dock in Montauk to watch him and his crew bring in their haul. Their catch of the day: tuna.
If a gritty fisherman extends their hand holding a slice of raw fish to a typical three-year-old most will shriek showing a face of disgust and will hide behind their parents, but not this three-year-old. Although the fisherman did it as a joke (how was I supposed to know?!), I took it from his hand and ate it and I’ll never forget how fresh and rich it tasted. And although I had many of my teeth save a few molars, none of them were needed as the piece of raw fish melted in my mouth like chocolate on a hot day. From that moment, I was hooked. That day more than a sushi-lover was born.
My mom likes to remind me that when I was a child, she thought I would be a food connoisseur when I grew up. While other children were ordering off the kid’s menu I would make my case for whole lobster, lengua tacos, goat curry, or giant clam sashimi.
We evolve into a thousand versions of ourselves throughout our lifetime but my love for food never ebbed, only flowed.
Recently, I dined at Anker in Greenport with my husband and two of my closest friends that were visiting from out of town. Chef Diego Garcia and his team produced dish after dish of intricate flavors and varying textures. We all agreed that the meal wasn’t simply a meal, it was an adventure through taste and all the senses combined. Despite only getting to spend time with this couple once a year, the conversation that night wasn’t a catch-up and didn’t revolve around current events and happenings, instead we talked mindfully for hours about the experience in front of us, our thoughts on each bite and the journey of taste throughout the meal. That focus and exchange is one that tops my list.
Whether I’m traveling across the globe dining on authentic cuisine, eating my way through the North Fork at superb restaurants and eateries, or hosting local-only eats in my own backyard, it’s the food that gives me the most enjoyment. Discovering, preparing, eating, savoring, and sharing is indeed my love language.
It’s no surprise that our September magazine – The Food Issue — is always a favorite of mine. The North Fork shines for many reasons — from wine to beaches to live music, this place does a lot and does it well. But for me, when it comes to the North Fork, the cuisine takes the cake.
In these pages, you’ll learn about an 11-year-old’s love for baking turned business, a journey through big flavor in tiny forms, the growing trend of women-powered kitchens, and more.
I hope it leaves you full.
Michelina Da Fonte