The Year in Edible East End: Farmed Fish, Controversial Covers and Historic Storms

Looking back over an entire year’s worth of Edible East End stories brings a certain awe (how did we do it in just one year) and peacefulness (look at all we made it through). If you recall, the growing season kicked off with drought and wild fires, and ended with Superstorm Sandy. Along the way, new food and drink ventures were birthed (Montauk Pearls, Pine Barrens whiskey), the farm landscape shifted (lots more livestock and wind turbines), and the East End’s food culture changed (community gardens sprouted from Hampton Bays to Riverhead). Here’s a month-by-month recap:

January. Long Island’s first post-Prohibitioin distillery, Long Island Spirits, in Baiting Hollow added a brown booze to its shelf of vodkas. Pine Barrens whiskey was a collaboration with Blue Point Brewery and sold out immediately. It makes a smokey Manhattan.

February. We celebrated Valentine’s Day with the cake pops and town-specific bars from Mali B., the Greenport sweets maker that graced our winter cover. Speaking of Valentines, the same issue featured an exclusive photoessay of the Corsican feast served at the first gay marriage in Southampton.

March. Multi-Culti Night, the annual international food fest put on by Sag Harbor school district parents, produced a cookbook, which photo editor Lindsay Morris shot and Edible East End designed and published. (Buy one here.) The region’s schools also announced the first large-scale farm-to-cafeteria buying effort on Long Island, including 45 districts.

April. Demonstrating the westward spread of the East End’s local food movement, the third annual Small Farm Summit welcomed urban farm role model Will Model to Hofstra to plot how to replace Nassau Counties lawns with vegetables. (Look for Edible Long Island in summer of 2013.) Long Island wineries also debutted a new grower-certified, region-specific wine sustainability standard that is among the strictest in the nation..

May. More than half the seafood we eat on the planet is now farmed (rather than wild caught). This year saw the first deep water fish farming of striped bass in our region—the fish has already replaced branzino and other imported species as the whole fish option at Nick & Toni’s. In related news, this year saw several widespread shellfish closures, from Shinnecock to the Sound. Fortunately, there were plenty of new beer options to ease the pain of no clams and oysters—from Blind Bat to Long Ireland to Montauk Brewing Company.

June. Our fourth annual Eat Drink Local week (radishes! porgies!) included a food and film night at Silas Marder’s Gallery, with films curated by the Parrish Art Museum and tacos from La Fondita, clams from Clamman, and Greenport Harbor Brewing Company suds. We look forward to lightning rounds, Art of Brew and other fun at the Parrish and Marders in 2013.

July. We got to talk at the Group for the East End’s 40th anniversary gala, alongside Alec Baldwin and the Group’s Bob Deluca, focusing on water quality and how to inspire conservation in the region in the coming decades. Java Nation also moved to Bridgehampton and we all—somehow—survived.

August. This was a month of events and parties, as it usually is. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited Quail Hill Farm to preview her revolutionary New York-inspired Farm Bill vision. We held our first Food Truck derby and not even tornado warnings kept away the hungry crowds. We made a list of the best golf course eats, lounged a Montauk beach club and helped the Great Chefs Dinner raise over $150,000.

September. Many farmers added animals to their operation this year, including sheep, goats, cows and assorted poultry and found ready customers for the meat, milk and eggs. Farms and wineries were also among those pushing our region towards energy self-sufficiency.

October. Voting on our fall cover reached a fevered pitch, with big turnouts from the Peconic Community School, the Cornell Healthy Places Project and lots of opinions about grapes, raw milk and bread. We rocked out at the music and farming festival Plant & Sing, while Sylvester Manor scored a land preservation victory just a few weeks later.

November. Superstorm Sandy descended on the region, causing unprecedented storm surges and coastal damage that touched many waterfront businesses and low-lying farm fields. On a more positive note, Edible Schoolyards of the East End smashed its Kickstarter goal to produce a school food cookbook.

December. We ended the year with a packed winter issue that included an essential locavore gift guide, our picks for sparkling and dessert wines, a visit to the wine-focused Comtesse Therese Bistro, just in time for Winterfest and the 40th anniversary of Long Island Wine Country. Happy New Year.