The Hamptons

I skipped the jitney and took the jet! The Hamptons was always a bucket list destination for me…finally, the summer of 2015, I stepped into the wonderland that is the Hamptons. As a Bostonian– we go to “the Cape.” It’s what we do. It is our go-to summer/weekend getaway. West Dennis & Cape Cod will always be my salty air vacation hang out, but the Hamptons IS the fancy-pants NY cousin to Cape Cod…a delightful excursion. The Hamptons is all about hospitality–guests stay at friends’ homes–not hotels. There is hardly hotel to be found. It is breakfast nooks, lunch outings, clinking glasses, exquisite shopping, dinner parties, and bonfires on the beach… I was ready!

My “worstie,” Alys and I traveled to the affluent coastal chic villages of Long Island at the invite of my two fabulously gay friends and their three Italian greyhounds – a ubiquitous girls’ weekend.

Their little cottage on Towd Point was cozy and welcoming with a gorgeous lake front and sun-shiny umbrella-ed patio. We woke to cool, yet sunny, northeast mornings and steaming cups of coffee on the deck. The days were sunny, warm and balmy- a nice break from the oppressive humidity of tropical South Florida… We opened up all the windows, and let the summer breeze fill the house with the fragrance of summer blooms, grass and trees! Smells like August in the northeast…

Our friends were gracious, generous and seasoned hosts, they knew the best spots… Lunch was divine! Pierre’s unique location on main Street Bridgehampton is in the heartbeat of the charming and extraordinaire Hamptons—quaint and casual. Tarte flambée Alsacienne aux lardons et oignons (thin crust topped with fromage blanc, onions, and bacon) was sinfully delicious. The clinking of rosé filled flutes started at lunch and sipped along into the evening…

Main Street was a parade of bespoke boutiques, art studios, galleries, cafes, and antique barns with vintage ice cream shops tucked into the scene. Pops of color were subtly present in a dress code of whites, creams, pale blues, crisp navy and jute; all punctuated with a wide brimmed hats and statement jewelry. The children were just as stylish as their well heeled parents. Palm Beach regalia on vacation…but better!

We dined on a fairy tale of food –scallops, risotto, lobster, local vegetables, freshly picked corn on the cob from the road side stands, and lots of rosé – did I mention the rosé? The Beacon was a weekend fave in Sag Harbor. The mussels, artfully arranged in the bowl like a sand castle, were delish, with crusty bread soaking up the white wine, garlic broth.

One evening’s festivities took us to the gloriously artful Madoo Conservatory and Winter House— artist, writer, gardener Robert Dash’s enchanting two acre organic garden in the village of Sagaponack. This splendid plot of botanicals and wild flowers was a quintessential Hamptons experience… a late summer garden party with a family style dinner served inside the rustic home. A vintage, hand scraped and painted door served as a bar – as a focal point on the emerald green lawn. The yummy menu was grilled Flank steak, rosemary roasted red potatoes, sweet corn on the cob, bright veggies and mixed green salad… as was the rosé… did I mention rosé? Again, the attire was a collection of white linen, white jeans, elegant tunics, and Stubbs and Wooten slippers. The flicker of lightening bugs and a stunning orange, coral, lavender, pink sunset painted across the sky were picture perfect rsvps.

Sant Ambroeus in Southampton, with an outdoor vine-covered patio, secluded from the buzz of Main Street was scrumptious as it was swanky… the ribbons of artichoke salad, veal, pasta… again, perfectly paired with a delicate rosé… in fact our favorite color of the weekend was rosé – a flawless complement to the magnificent sunsets.

THEN, there was Tate’s. The sweetest part of the weekend has to be the Hamptons’ infamous Tate’s gluten free cookies, which became our must have snack, breakfast treat, go-to dessert and tote essential. The perfectly crunchy chocolate chip cookies were heavenly—so crispy and buttery, rich but not overwhelming, they simply melt in your mouth and just one is never enough! Alys ate most of them…

When is summer of 2016 getting here? I am in white linen state of mind… clink!

Take a Field Trip to Swank Farms

Swank Specialty Produce represents the best of what southeast Florida ingredients are all about — bright vegetables, exquisite greens, and fragrant herbs. On Sunday, April 26, I traveled west to join one the best events in Palm Beach County–Swank Table in Loxahatchee Groves. This event has evolved quite a bit from its humble beginnings – now the feast is staged in the county’s largest outdoor dining room– a barn for about 300 guests. With Palm Beach as the social hub of the season—this was quite a feat or Fete?

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The drive is 50 miles of rural farmland and rugged, un-paved, dirt roads. But to arrive at Swank Farms is a celebration of all things fresh, lush and nutritious. Casual attire of jeans, sandals, sundresses, flats and boots, and wide brimmed hats deem this a true (vegetable) garden party.

Upon arrival to the farm, we were welcomed with a specialty cocktail from Buccan – the Matador. The vibrant cocktail of tequila, fresh red pepper and pineapple juices with lime and agave was cool and very refreshing on this excessively warm and humid afternoon. We toured the hydroponic growing houses and traveled along nibbled and noshed on shrimp ceviche shooters plus a Bento Box of treats and then we “planted ourselves” at the table for the al fresco dinner. We were seated at long, farm house tables with white cloths, gleaming glassware and freshly picked floral centerpieces.

Together with the best of boutique farmers, ranchers, artisanal producers, micro-brewers, and organic wine makers, chefs from five different local restaurants put on a culinary feast for their closest foodie-friends – family style seating.

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Swank Farms provided all the participating chefs with a veritable “garden pantry” of ingredients to choose from when creating their menus. The seasonal options include: Beets, Carrots, Summer Squash, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Broccoli and Radishes, plus a variety of greens: Lettuce, Baby Kale, Leeks, Shallots, Beet Greens, Pea Greens, Escarole, Arugula and Dandelion.

In true epicurean manner, local chefs embraced these glorious ingredients and created a dinner masterpiece where we indulged from one course to the next. Giant platters of steaming, flavorful vegetables, bowls of soups and savory sides and as this was the “Meat Lovers” dinner—massive butcher blocks of delicious meats and beef.

Each Swank Table event will give back to the community by donating a portion of the proceeds to local charities; along with the Palm Beach Food and Wine festival, this event will benefited Food for the Poor.

Join Swank “down on the farm” and local chefs will orchestrate a memorable feast that will delight the palate and enliven the spirit. It is a true celebration of life and food. The pink and lavender sunset across the treetops and gardens was a magical dessert course. This event couldn’t be more delicious!

Dinner price is $160 per person (all inclusive) and reservations are required. Swank Farms Specialty Produce, 14311 North Road, Loxahatchee, Florida 33470. Next season’s schedule is already visit http://www.swankspecialtyproduce.com/ for details and ticket sales.