A sea of smiles and sweet tunes rolled into Riverhead Monday night for the All for the East End event at Martha Clara Vineyards, which brought a thousand-plus guests to the Sound Avenue farm to dance and nosh the night away in the name of the region’s thousand-plus nonprofits.
Local vendors, including The Wandering Palate, Foody’s and Blondie’s Bake Shop, lined the event’s perimeter for general admission guests in need of something to snack on, but a VIP ticket allowed its owner access to a separate food tent, where a host of East End restauranteurs served up heavenly hors d’oeuvres. Picture-perfect seafood plates made up the majority of the bite-sized samples, including the North Fork Table & Inn’s, which prepared a delectable poached shrimp with red Thai peppers, lemongrass emulsion, green papaya and peanuts.
The seafood plates were all superb and thematically appropriate to the strictly East End affair, but because Riverhead’s Maple Tree BBQ strayed from the sea, they were a welcome addition to the line-up as my taste buds became fatigued with fish, and, in my mind, the barbecue joint served two of the evening’s most delicious dishes.
“For the first dish, we put smoked baked beans with an Alabama-style barbecue chicken on crostini with a white horseradish-based barbecue sauce, topped with red hot barbecue sauce,” said Maple Tree’s Sean Judge of their Monday evening offerings. “Our second is herb crusted potatoes, North Carolina-style barbecue pulled pork and white horseradish-based barbecue sauce.”
To transition my tastebuds back to seafood, I stopped at the table of “Cheffe” Collette Connor of the Inn Spot on the Bay, where I was able to sample the best of both worlds. The Hampton Bays eatery served smoked oysters on brioche with whipped cream cheese, cauliflower foam and fresh dill, which Connor said was just for garnish, but I ate the entire sprig anyhow. (I love dill.)
“The oysters are local, and so are we,” said Connor, who coined the term for lady chef, “Cheffe,” with Inn Spot on the Bay co-owner, Cheffe Pamela.
Gianna Volpe is a freelance multimedia reporter on the East End of Long Island and 2012’s New York Press Association Rookie Reporters of the Year. She received her bachelor degree in journalism with an emphasis in photojournalism at the University of Missouri in 2010 and grew up at the foot of the Palisades in New Jersey, which overlook New York City. She now lives in Riverhead. Follow her on twitter @agentjanefox .