It’s high season for interlopers: Jimmy Fallon was spotted gathering brunch ingredients on Sagg Main Street last Sunday morning, and Bobby Flay has been frequenting the bar of Southfork Kitchen.
Late-night and Food Network stars aside, a few short weeks ago, we had the pleasure of bumping into a pair of urban refugees, and local food celebs in their own right. The power couple of pioneering picklemaker Rick Fields and chef-author Susie Cover recently decamped Brooklyn for a couple weeks of vacation-house-share at the East Deck in Montauk.
Fields and Cover, who met at a pickle festival (of course), have been escaping to Montauk for a few years. On this trip, with their packed their toddler twin daughters in tow, they discovered the Montauk public pool with its sprawling shallow section that is sort of like a nearly-free, hydro-nanny, and cooked nightly communal meals. (Cover also fielded press calls/emails for her soon-to-be-released book.) And on one particular night, the whole family ventured to kid-friendly La Fondita in Amagansett where they picked up a few big bags of tacos to share at their Montauk abode.
“This soup is good,” said a slight sun-charred, “beach-brained” Field, who dug into a bowl of tortilla soup, while he waited and occasionally chased after an errant daughter. Field is well-known to Edible readers, not just for the advice he doles to upstart food entrepreneurs, or for his winning EDL challenge effort, but for the company that he started in 2004, whose briny offerings are now eaten nationwide.
Cover has her own serious food biz chops. As a cook and caterer, and then a developer of made-to-deliver prepared foods, and most recently a new book about cooking for a family. And, at La Fondita, we took the opportunity to ask her about the anxiety parents might feel (read as, “I feel”) about their kids eating, even when—like Cover—they have tasty items like spinach-cheese squares in their repertoire.
“No one is perfect and I certainly have days when I am frustrated and they will not eat a thing,” she said, noting how her children were quickly making a dinner of tortilla chips and guacamole, and not much else. “I think you have to be able to let it go. Your frustration can feed their energy and they are not going to starve, so just move forward. But the key is not to give up. Keep trying new things and mix it up. Writing a book does not make you immune to normal kid’s behavior, it happens to everyone.”
And kids change, of course. In our house, I shared with Cover, Clio still doesn’t sit still when she eats, but she is much better about using her fork and at least making a solid effort before she joyfully declares, “I’m done!” Cover nodded knowlingly and suggested, “not making the meal time into a ‘big deal’. Talk, sing and eat, for the younger ones. And when they are old enough begin to talk about the food and the origins to make it interesting.”
Speaking of interesting meals, for Field’s turn at the stove a couple nights before their Montauk vacation came to a close, he scoured the Thursday Montauk Farmers Market and a few favorite grocers to make “ramen in a chicken stock infused with a ham hock we got and smoked from Cromer’s. There were also leeks in there, corn, scallions, 9-minute eggs, and some bamboo shoots I pre-fried with the mint hot sauce from the Montauk Thursday market. I also made a wilted radicchio salad with olives and flat parsley, grilled some Vidalia onions and roasted tomatoes in my mother’s style with breadcrumbs, parmesan, oregano and shallots. Mostly local stuff. A potpourri of culinary influences.”