I often think of cherries for the Independence Day holiday. Not just because of the founding-father, tree-cutting legend. But because the local crop ripens right about now–we spotted red fruit at the Halsey Farmstand in Watermill and at Wickham’s in Cutchogue.
But first prize for patriotic food display may go to the cheesemongers at Lucy’s Whey in East Hampton. For the fourth year running, the shop is offering an Old Glory-decked dessert, made by a baker in East Hampton. Sometimes the baker uses peaches for the stripes. This year, they are melon. “It’s delicious. It’s got a nice butter crust. It’s not too sweet. It’s balanced,” says Amy Thompson, who manages the Lucy’s Whey store at Chelsea Market and is readying the new Upper East Side location for August opening. This weekend, she’s camped out in East Hampton to help with the onslaught.
To top off the everything-you-need-for-your-pre-fireworks-picnic offerings, the store just hosted American-made prosciutto producer La Quercia, and will feature this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, a cookie popup courtesy of Josh Greenspan of the Beurre & Sel Collection of cookies, made with local butter and hand-harvested sea salt. “I feel like this week is the real test,” said Thompson, expressing what many local business owners are feeling. “If you can get through this weekend, you can make it through the season, right?” As for patriotic cheese advice, she pointed proudly to their case, crammed full of farmstead wheels and hunks made in America, and many from this region. For “total crowd pleasers,” she fingered two Vermonters: the Cabot Clothbound cheddar or the Pawlett from Consider Bardwell. “I want everyone to be happy with food on 4th of July.”
Even without the carnival of offerings at Lucy’s this holiday weekend, knowing and supporting your local food and drink maker is always patriotic, in our opinion. It keeps money local, encourages food diversity, strengthens the bonds of community. In the words of our forebearers, it helps create “a more perfect union,” at least between farmer and eater. Here are four other ideas to consider this weekend, or all summer long.
1. Boost your self-reliance with a gardening course at Bridge Gardens, or by finding some foraged foods.
2. Check out an East End farmers market (or two!) that you’ve never visited. There are ten that run between Thursday and Sunday.
3. Snag some grassfed ground meat for your grill, as we suggested in a New York Times opinion piece, this time last year. It’s delicious, thrifty and endlessly American.
4. Explore your backyard wine region, whether you visit a Long Island wine country tasting room or order a bottle at your favorite restaurant. For inspiration, check out our Behind the Bottle, Cult of Taste and Winemaker’s Wonderings.