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Smoked Tuna Belly Cake from Fyr and Salt (Courtesy of Fyr & Salt)

Every year, friends of ours throw two end-of-summer parties in one day. Yes, they are the most fun and most generous humans, ever. It kicks off with a kids’ party from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. that includes a face painter, a balloon artist, a pizza truck and the biggest bouncy houses you’ve ever seen, and then a second party the same night deemed adults-only. While the whole day is a blast, it’s the second party that lands its way onto my own personal favorite summer events list year after year. It’s at this affair that we actually get to enjoy full, uninterrupted conversations amongst good friends over excellent local food and wine. This year our friends hired Fyr and Salt to cater the event. While summer is long gone, I still find myself dreaming of the tasty, passed bites from that late summer night.

With a cool crisp in the air, chefs Jonathan Shearman and Max Mohrmann cooked up smoked and wood-fired bites and passed them around for hours. We noshed on decadent lamb chops, focaccia with whipped goat cheese and honey, local vegetables simply prepared letting their ripe flavors shine, wildly fresh grilled oysters and my favorite dish of the night, a smoked tuna belly cake. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I took the small plate from the server while nodding yes to “tuna belly?” and I absolutely didn’t anticipate that the bite would stay with me for months to come. 

I was met with a warm, plump cake that looked like a cross between a traditional crab cake and a meatball sitting on a bed of pickled vegetables, arugula and a hearty dollop of creamy yogurt.

That first bite was divine as were all the others to follow until the plate was clean. The tuna belly cake was perfectly prepared with smoky and sweet flavors balanced well by pickled red onions, hot peppers, cucumber and sprigs of arugula. The herbed yogurt gave a bright, creamy, and cooling effect that rounded out the dish. 

Mohrmann and Shearman later told me that they source most of their produce locally from KK’s the Farm and Deep Roots Farm, then together create dishes that are reflective of the season and what nature has to offer at that moment.

“We were inspired by a way to utilize the belly from the whole tuna we purchased from Southold Fish Market,” they shared. “We both love to fish in our free time and often smoke what we catch for our friends and family to enjoy, so we decided the belly would be delicious when brined, smoked and made into a fish cake.”

Not just delicious, no — the best thing I ate, it was.