A vital part of the food and wine scene on the East End is the many bed-and-breakfasts dotting the forks. They vary from cozy to grand, each reflecting the sensibilities of its owners. These owners are also ambassadors of the wineries, farm stands and farmers markets. They support the farms by serving their produce and fruit; they support the bakeries, the cheesemakers and maybe some day the pig farmers. They serve as guides for wine tours and recommend places to have dinner. Where this all intersects is their breakfast tables. Here they have the opportunity to interact with the customers and produce a meal that celebrates the flavors of our beautiful region.
Marilyn Marks at Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast, Southold
Marks, the president of the North Fork Bed and Breakfast
Association, relies on Sang Lee for its organic produce, Blue Duck Bakery for its breads and Harbes and Briermere for fruit.
“I go to Harbes at the end of the day to get their smashed berries,” she says, “and I turn them into compotes. I use that to stuff my French toast.”
She also has an extensive garden where she grows herbs and various nasturtia to decorate her dishes. The omelets are filled with Catapano goat cheese and the hash browns are made with local potatoes, seeing as how there’s always a bag for sale on the side of the road somewhere.
“My favorite meal of the week was always Sunday breakfast. I used to spend hours doing that,” she says. “Now I get to do it almost every day.
Sylvia and Gary Muller, chef Bruce MacVicar at Mill House Inn, East Hampton
The Mill House Inn is known for having one of the largest breakfast menus in the Hamptons. There are more than 30 items, including a Montauk lobster frittata, eggnog brioche French toast and scrambled egg sloppy Joes. MacVicar works with Gary, a chef in his own right, to come up with the menu that takes advantage of the Friday farmers market at Nick & Toni’s restaurant down the street.
The inn is famous for its cured salmon, which comes from Stuart’s Seafood Market.
“Some people have an all-salmon breakfast,” says Sylvia. “A salmon omelet with a side of salmon and salmon on a bagel.” Guests are welcome to create their own dishes, but most stick with the tried and true, which includes coffee from Hamptons Coffee Company and organic milk.
Soon, says MacVicar, the inn will start marking menu items with a “W” to indicate they fall in line with recommendations of the Wellness Foundation of East Hampton, which encourages healthy and vegan eating.
The dog-friendly inn also makes its own dog food using lamb, grains and vegetables.
Keith Luce at Jedediah Hawkins Inn, Jamesport
For those whose breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they could do worse than staying at Jedediah Hawkins. For breakfast only, Luce is the sole man in the kitchen, and the guests eat an up-to-seven-course meal of whatever is on the menu for that day.
They usually start with house-baked croissants and jam, then hot and cold cereals and yogurt. Then maybe some cured meat or seafood with savory breads and cheese.
“It culminates with some hot dish,” says Luce. “Maybe some vegetables, housemade bacon, duck or scallops and eggs from hens from my farm. People are starting to book just for the breakfast at this point.”
Luce works with local growers, including KK Haspel, who farms biodynamically, and the Wowak farm down the street.
And the eggs from chickens that run free on a 10-acre farm are famous. “The yolks are almost red and they stand on end,” says Luce. He makes his scrambled eggs in a double boiler. “They’re almost like custard.”
Joan Turturro at Orient Inn, Orient
Turturro has the good fortune to be just down the road from the Orient Berry Farm, whose produce she uses in her famous French toast. (The secret, other than being made by her, is to warm the milk before dunking the bread in it. “That way you’re really toasting it, not baking it,” she says.) The bonus for the guests is that they can visit the farm after breakfast and take a few pints back home.
“My guests are very healthy people,” she says. “Many run a five-mile loop before breakfast.” A lot of her guests come from Brooklyn, but many make the trip south from Rhode Island and Connecticut.
“The North Fork is becoming a foodie destination,” she adds.
Elsie Collins at the 1880 Seafield House, Westhampton Beach
Collins has found that her guests are trending toward a lighter breakfast. Healthful breads, like zucchini and pumpkin, are always available with coffee, tea and fresh orange juice. She will make a hot breakfast when it’s requested with milk and eggs from Goodale Farm in Aquebogue. She is also lucky to be walking distance from the Westhampton Beach Farmers Market, of which she is the founder and coordinator.
“It’s a great outing for the guests,” she says.
Claudia Fleming and Gerry Hayden at North Fork Table and Inn, Southold
When your breads are baked by the James Beard Award–winning pastry chef Claudia Fleming, expect people to try to wangle pastries.
“We’ve had people at the bar meeting inn guests and asking if they’d get them some muffins,” says managing partner Mike Mraz. “I say ‘Wait a minute! Breakfast is for guests of the inn only.”
North Fork Table does serve brunch on the weekends, when those muffins are available to the public. But a good pastry is hard to resist.
“We’ve had people book a room just for the breakfast,” he says. “And they live down the street.”
Anthony and Lisa Sannino, Sannino Bed & Breakfast, Cutchogue
Those who stay at this B&B receive the total attention of the owners: they only have one room. So breakfast is delivered to the guests, who are sometimes still in their pajamas. Lisa makes and delivers the food, which includes eggs from their eight New Hampshire Red hens. Individual quiches are flavored with herbs from the garden, and yogurt parfaits are covered in berries from farm stands. Of course local potatoes are turned into hash browns.
“People get excited to literally have breakfast in bed,” says Lisa. “And some of them can’t believe we get eggs every day.”