(This article first appeared in the August 9, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)
It’s another warm, summer night as the sun begins to set over Lake Montauk. Coast Kitchen at Montauk Yacht Club is surprisingly quiet at 6 PM on a Friday, but with the crowded streets in town it’s a welcome change of atmosphere. As I sit in the white wicker chair overlooking the pool and deck area, I inhale the salty air flowing from the outside — indicative of The End.
Before beginning a long-awaited evening of fresh catches I order a Rosie from the cocktail menu — cucumber vodka, watermelon, Aperol, crisp white wine, and fresh mint, each sip lingering on my palate like dew on fresh morning grass.
First course, the seafood platter. A salty spread of Blue Point oysters, Little Neck clams, peel and eat shrimp, one pound of king crab claws, with horseradish mignonette, onions pickled in red wine vinegar, cocktail sauce, and lemon on the side. As I learned the proper way to eat a crab claw (break it apart like a wish bone, dip and eat), my mouth filled with freshness. The shrimp was thick and meaty, likely one of the thickest shrimps I had eaten on Long Island, as I dipped it in the delectably spicy horseradish sauce.
Up next was the Montauk cioppino — clams, shrimp, squid, market fish, and mussels all swimming in a light tomato broth, drizzled with garlic aioli. Minus the market fish, which was underwhelming, the tastes and textures of this dish was exquisitely executed. Unlike the seafood platter, the shrimp in this dish were smaller to better scoop up. The broth opened up the flavors individually while seamlessly blending them together. A touch of the aioli sauce completed each spoonful with a hint of garlic. Save the bread for last, as dipping does wonders after it’s had the chance to soak in each ingredient.
Finally, the four-pound lobster with drawn butter and lemon. Cut, dip, drizzle, repeat. On the sides, a cauliflower-creamed spinach, roasted cremini mushrooms, and parmesan mashed potatoes, all three served in cast iron pots, ideal for sharing. Guests would be remiss to leave out the parmesan potatoes as part of their order. With crunchy fries on top, each mouthwatering forkful is in anticipation of the next.
No meal would be complete without dessert. A chocolate croissant bread pudding is served in a cast iron pot with dark chocolate pearls on top, whipped cream, and salted caramel ice cream. In addition, a key lime pie with a raspberry puree, whipped cream, lime garnish, and raspberry sorbet on the side is a wonderful choice. The sorbet is a welcome tie-in to the lime richness of the pie and the overall plate, an ideal end to a satisfying meal.
A consistent piece throughout the dishes were florals, edible of course. Whether you decide to eat them or simply admire their colorful beauty (I admit, I tried a few), it’s a unique touch to the restaurant.
As the restaurant began to fill up a bit more it still retained an undisturbed essence, which can likely be attributed to its off-the-main-road location.
With a menu featuring a variety of items, not just the seafood I eagerly devoured, Montauk Yacht Club’s Coast Kitchen will be serving their summer menu through the end of September.
Coast Kitchen is located at 32 Star Island Road. Call 631-668-3100 for reservations.
Get ready for 28 new flavors to add to your foodie bucket list!
The number 28 was originally inspired by a blog documenting my Golden Birthday Adventure. This number transitioned into an entire series on how to live life to the fullest. After Springing to Action comes a more concise post about my true passion- FOOD! They say don’t go shopping when you’re hungry, so I’ll advise the same warning: Do not read the below on an empty stomach.
Strollo’s Lighthouse is a soft serve Italian ice spot with several locations in New Jersey. As with any experience, I went to ‘the original’ in Long Branch. All the flavors were tempting but I went for the Strawberry, Pistachio & Peanut Butter combo!
American Whiskey is a whiskey aficionado’s dream! A New York Sour or Old Fashioned done right, there’s no messing around here- you’ll be tempted to drink yourself back to college days. To [slightly] sober up eat their classic burger or butcher steak. Simple in design, memorable in flavor.
Vauxhall, in Huntington, had the largest warm pretzel I had ever seen. With Ale Mustard Cheddar Dip and Espelette House Mustard (just enough spice!) the entire thing was gone in minutes. I paired that with their original Vauxhall Stout (GUINNESS, VANILLA VODKA, SAIL AWAY COLD BREW), a sure fire way to ensure a returning customer!
Verde Kitchen in Bayshore’s town is great for some quality T&T- taco’s and tequila! Pulpo taco and Pomegranate Margarita were the top favorites (so many options, so short a lunch break).
The Lake House, also in Bay Shore but on the water, provided a Roasted Berkshire Pork Chop worth salivating over. Green Apple, Yam, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Gratin, Maple-Bacon Vinaigrette, Cranberry Mostarda- it’s fall freshness in your mouth (though, technically I had it in summer).
Bay Kitchen, in East Hampton, though closed until May 2018, had a $1 oyster happy hour. Right on the water, the shells were ripe for the picking.
Serafina’s location in East Hampton was a popular spot for a Saturday night. I’d been to the locations in NYC but this was a first. The ALLA NORCINA & 4 STAGIONI personalized size pizza pies were perfecto!
Caliente, an inaugural Hamptons event to benefit Long Island Cares, The Harry Chapin Food Bank and OLA of Eastern Long Island, was an evening of delectables!
Estias Sag Harbor is a quaint local spot right off the Bridge-Sag Turnpike. Freshness you almost wouldn’t believe (if you haven’t been yet). You’ll likely see the owner Colin Ambrose around as well- who can take the best Instagram food photo?
SagTown Coffee reopened this summer 2017 after months of renovation. The newly inventive draft latte made with cold brew espresso is nothing short of a caffeinated miracle. Read more about the reopening, along with other caffeine spots, here.
Cowfish in Hampton Bay’s has a great outdoor bar aside from a lofty inside. The iron skillet cookie is every bit of sugary sweetness one could ask for.
Isola is a fresh take on an old space in the Historic District of Shelter Island. Every dish tied into the next in a distinctive flow of flavors. Read my full review here.
Over to Jackson Wyoming….
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is the quintessential bar in Jackson, Wyoming. Technically, I didn’t eat here and drinking at that elevation (6,200FT) with acute altitude sickness was ill-advised. However, I’m adding it to the list because it’s an absolute must-see in town!
Cowboy Coffee, a few steps away and sticking to the theme, has a list of food items with suitable names to lure in tourists (it worked for me). Try the Cow Puncher of turkey, cheddar cheese, red peppers, banana peppers, lettuce and mayo on their outside deck as you people watch. Don’t forget a cup of coffee!
Picnic and Persephone are two individualized coffeehouses I wanted to group together because of their unique personalities. Picnic is more of a locals spot whereas Persephone is in the main town. Grab some coffee, a pastry or a light lunch and take in what the area has to offer. Picnic also serves alcohol, best of both worlds.
Bin22 is a tapas bar in the back of what appears to be just a wine store. After you’ve navigated through the endless bottles, sit outdoors and try the housepulled mozzarella or grilled snake river wagyu steak- you will thank me. I’m hungry just remembering it!
Chicken Fry benefiting the Wilson Fire Department. It’s an entire fundraiser [hosted by the fire fighters themselves] revolved around frying chicken in the woods. Tin garbage cans filled with the stuff. Dozens of them. Add in some ‘sloshies’ to the mix (a heavily infused alcoholic slushie that apparently I never knew about here on the East Coast) and you’ve got a good ol’ country time!
Back home to the North Fork….
Little Creek Oysters paired with Greenport Harbor Brewery, a delicious combination. I shucked my first oyster at this little establishment on the docks, hidden in the back with Bait & Tackle written above. Every week they feature an original Greenport Brew (O.G.). My personal favorite (after visiting the 2nd brewery location in Peconic) was the Black Duck Porter beer. For a full review on the pairing read here.
Claudio’s in Greenport holds title as the oldest single-family run restaurant in the United States. Go for the lobster, anything else seems uncharacteristic. Thirsty? Try the Sangria or Prohibition Lemonade.
Bruce & Son is situated for ideal people watching in town. Sad to say, the deliciousness I consumed no longer seems to be on the menu- Duck Hash- duck leg confit, potato, shallot, frisée, chive blossom, citrus, fried duck egg & toast. Hopefully it makes a reappearance!
Noah’s is a culinary masterpiece on the North Fork. Its farm to table restaurant boasts unique savories such as Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash Bottoms and Crescent Farm Duck BBQ (the polenta cheese, mmmmmm). Keep an eye out for Noah’s on the Go- a food truck with its own dishes (loaded steak fries, just say yes).
Luncharitos for some East End T&T! Shrimp taco’s, strawberry margaritas. Enough said.
Industry Standard switches up the menu constantly, so it’s hard to make a suggestion if it’s not on the menu a week later. That in mind, go for the atmosphere, the revolving flavors and a bartender that mentally transports you to the East Village.
The Giving Room is both yoga studio and health center in Southold. Their juices are guaranteed to give you the immunity boost you need- plus they’re delicious! Check out more here.
North Fork Roasting Company gives another kind of boost- caffeine- and only steps away from The Giving Room. While all of their drinks prove better than any Starbucks, their breakfast Waffle Egg Sammy is a home run hit. And make sure to say hello to the resident dog, Sinatra, who’s on most of the NoFoRoCo gear.
Love Lane Kitchen on Love Lane in Mattituck is the perfect breakfast nook (but they serve lunch & dinner too). For people watching, for a local feel and for filling plates. I’d recommend a meal but let’s go with the generic ‘gotta try them all.’
That’s the roundup of my Summer of Food. May your bellies be full and your taste buds satisfied.
Until next time [check back for 28 Reasons to FALL]- In Omnia Paratus!
A meal is much more than food on a plate, it’s an experience of the senses. The tastes of a rich wine, the tantalizing aroma of freshly prepared ingredients, the visually distinct surroundings, the chatter of good company and the satisfying feeling of placing your hands on your stomach after the final bite. Mmmmmm!
Jody LoMenzo understands this concept as she curates a dining experience of delicious detail. Her company, A Joyful Gathering, brings people together over individually crafted plates of food.
“I’ve always been a firm believer in bringing people together around a table. Enjoying a meal, enjoying the company, and creating a joyful gathering,” LoMenzo explained how she came up with the name of her latest business venture.
Upon moving to Virginia 28 years ago LoMenzo, a noted media professional, started to turn a hobby into a side business. With a full-time career and raising a daughter, preparing dinner for others in peoples personal homes became a creative outlet that was well received.
“Friends asked me to cook and to do their parties. I love entertaining, it’s a natural passion,” LoMenzo reminisced about growing up in Bellmore, a town on the south shore of Nassau County, with a family that had a love for food and Sunday dinners. “It’s my way of giving people an opportunity to take a break, breathe the air, sip the wine.”
Now, she has returned to her home grown roots on Long Island to serve the Hamptons community effortless entertaining directly in their homes.
“I’m not a caterer in the sense I don’t do large scale, mass produced food. I am making food prepared to the menu, to the host’s wishes with my suggestions,” LoMenzo stated.
The relaxed lifestyle of the Hamptons, whether it’s full time or a weekend escape, brings to mind a sense of serenity. Like anywhere else, the idea of unpacking groceries and entertaining guests after a long work day brings additional stress. Between the deer, the darkness and the drinks, driving after an evening out can become treacherous. A Joyful Gathering fixes all of these issues in the most splendid way.
LoMenzo buys the groceries, cooks, serves and cleans, all directly in a clients home, a full circle service. She enjoys interacting with guests by making an appetizer or dessert together. She even offers cooking classes!
“One time I brought homemade pastry and the group of people helped peel, slice and cut apples into bowls with cinnamon and sugar, flour and spices. Groups of two paired off to make their own apple tarts for dessert. It was interesting the different shapes and sizes, it even turned into a funny competition.”
More than just personalized cooking, A Joyful Gathering includes an option for wine pairings. LoMenzo works with local wine merchants to taste the local grapes that compliment her dishes. She is also offering her services as an auction item at fund raising events. Her recent auction at Southampton Animal Shelter’s Spay-ghetti Dinner was a raving success!
Preparing food is an art form of the senses. However you choose to “come to the table and break bread” let it be ‘a joyful gathering.’ Cheers!
A Joyful Gathering is available solely on the east end right now, primarily on the South Fork. Brunch and dinner services are competitive to a restaurant, approximately $30-$50 a person depending on the ingredients used. In efforts to maximize the experience, buffet services are offered for 20 people or less, sit down meals for 10, and food and wine pairings a capacity of 12. All bookings must be made 10 days in advance.
Email Jody for more at firstname.lastname@example.org