Sunday dinner involves the community and local goods.
WESTHAMPTON BEACH—The house is near storybook perfect. There are chickens in the yard, the garden is being prepped, and plugs of lettuce are sprouting on the back deck. Inside it gets better, a full table set with plates and silverware for two courses. Salads are already placed on chargers under a large crystal chandelier. It’s Sunday night dinner for the Rev. Charles Cary and his wife, Millie, at the white Victorian parsonage across the street from the Westhampton Presbyterian Church, where Cary serves as pastor.
“Chuckie doesn’t really have a weekend,” says Millie, referring to the worship her husband leads Sunday mornings. “So we have regular Sunday dinners and invite members of the church and the community.”
Always up for a challenge, Millie went out of her way to make this dinner as local as possible. To start, she serves cold kombucha tea she had bought the day before at the Tanger Food Truck Derby from Martine Abitbol, who was manning the Wandering Palate truck.
“I’ve never had it before, but it was made here,” she says. On the coffee table are cheeses from Mecox farm and the 5 Spoke Creamery in Goshen, New York. Fromage blanc from Goodale Farms in Riverhead provides the base for a horseradish spread and a vehicle for herbes de Provence. Millie made the focaccia with olive oil she bought in the Paumanok Tasting Room.
Chuck sits down with a local beer to talk about the church and house. This is his second turn as pastor here. The first stint was from 1985 to 1999. Then for 10 years he taught at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. The three-story parsonage was built in 1889 with small parlors. The church itself was founded in 1742. “Probably licensed by the crown,” says Chuck.
(From the kitchen we can hear Millie. “Oh, my God, she’s taking a picture of the inside of my refrigerator!”)
Chuck continues: “All the furniture is ours. Once we were visited by a family that used to live here when their father was pastor.” Millie has scallops planned for dinner with Chinese broccoli from Sang Lee. “We’ll see how this works,” she says. “Never had it before.”
Talk turns to family recipes, and as the broccoli sautées, Millie brings out her family cookbook to share her meatloaf recipe. The cookbook is a three-ringed binder with each recipe in a sheath of plastic and pictures of children and grandchildren scattered through. It’s illustrated.
Meat for the meat loaf, she does not get locally; however, she approves of the new butcher, the Cow Palace, in Westhampton Beach. She is open to local meat ideas. And the plan for the summer is to have an organic garden. Millie tells a story about the garbage men accidently carting off her compost heap while she was working at the church rummage sale.
Dinner is served family style with a platter of roasted potatoes following the seared scallops on a tomato caper sauce and the broccoli. Chuck says grace and then tells a story about the confirmation students at the church who went around the room taking turns listing the talents of their classmates.
Everyone talks about the chickens and how they’re supposed to lower your heart rate. Chuck gets up to refresh a wine glass with Paumanok’s 2012 Chenin Blanc. Dessert comes out, and then the pastor starts clearing the table.
“He cleans up and sets the table,” says Millie. “I don’t know what side the fork goes on.” •