This summer I fell in love with the North Fork.
Driving out east, as the smog, tension and anxiety of New York City wanes, you check your phone less and start paying more attention to the quiet two lane road that leads to a relaxing, delicious salvation.
I was lucky enough to get an invite from my friend Brewster McCall who (no big deal) happens to own a vineyard. His charming little guest house on his family’s alfalfa pasture is the perfect weekend pied a terre boasting three bedrooms, a full kitchen, and the most amazing maple tree. The house is just down the main road from the vineyard and we were able to meet up with Brewster for the vineyard’s weekly Friday burger night. The experience was super cute as the North Fork Table & Inn’s food truck serves the McCall Ranch’s Charolais beef raised on the vineyard. These McCall’s know how to do it right, and not only were they named the best New York vineyard in 2013, the property is sustainably wind powered and was the first to do so on the North Fork. After getting an up close and personal tour of the ranch, I fell in love with cow number 504 who because he was nursed by hand is approachable, friendly, and dare I say it--loveable…I had a brief City Slickers moment and wanted to bring 504 home with me and name him Norman. He’s a cow after my own heart going straight for my wine glass, a sip of the 2013 Cab Franc, and a lil' nuzzle. More on 504 in the next blog if I ever decide to become a vegetarian…
We also stopped at Breeze Hill Farms and met Amy Dawn the proprietor who told us all about her haunted farmhouse as we snacked on freshly made hot apple cider doughnuts. I repeat…HOT APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS. These suckers were pulled right out of the fryer, and a quick toss of cinnamon and sugar made these the best doughnuts I've ever tasted. She told us how she grew up playing in the orchard trees on the property and lives completely off the land. She and her team run the farm stand and take turns restocking produce and pulling hot pies out of the oven. After making fast friends, she invited us back to Breeze Hill for a farm-to-table meal she would personally prepare. Not for nothing, Im totally taking her up on this offer, as she fishes in a kayak on her private beach for her dinner and barters amazing homemade babaganoush with mushrooms on her farm.
A fifteen minute drive from our little guest house brought us to the charming town of Greenport. Here we had a quick snack at Basso where the cheese, and paper thin charcuterie is straight out of Italy. They also offer a tasty and authentic anti pasta of sundried tomatoes, shitake mushrooms, and roasted red peppers. Greenport is where you can catch the Shelter Island Ferry, and before or after you hop on the boat, there is Claudios, with the best waterfront real estate, and happens to be the oldest family owned restaurant in the U.S. *Insider Tip: go to the clam bar as it is right on the water and plays live music--also not as fancy as the mother resto.
A little ways down the pier is Little Creek Oyster Bar. It is a true standout in Greenport as it's a charming seaside shack where you get the privilege of shucking your own oysters. After a quick tutorial by our server, we were left with a glove, a knife, and our own technique. It was tough at first, but once we got the hang of it, they were the most delicious oysters I ever ate. The gratification of cracking one open makes it 10 times tastier than any oyster bar in the city.
I have to say that my North Fork visit is what I imagined summer on Long Island to be. The sunflower fields and local farms stands peppering the North Road are nostalgic and the amount of affordable farm fresh produce is overwhelming. It's farm and wine country where the vibe is laid back and carefree, and unlike it's sister to the south, there is no "scene", pretension, or all white party to attend. Don't get me wrong, the Hamptons are fabulous especially if you have a house, a pool and good friends to create your own party. However the North Fork has vineyards and nice people with farms wanting to cook for you. Im just saying that while everyone's worried about getting into the hottest restaurant of the summer that transforms into a night club at 9pm, Ill take a glass of Cab Franc and a cow any day.
<3 Love, Camille...