Grist for the Mill: Spring 2006


Getting through the off-season is sometimes a challenge. Even the most mild and protracted winter cannot eliminate the yearning for the rebirth that only happens in spring. The scent of buds breaking, the sound of birds singing, the feel of grass greening, the sight of seeds germinating. It seems to take forever to arrive and then when it comes—time to plant peas, the frost-free days of May, weeds going to seed, tomatoes ready to can—it comes too fast and furious.

But this time is also perfect, simply because it confirms that the cycles of life do go on. There’s another fleeting chance to net some spawning alewives or harvest the most tender dandelion greens.

So, we feel particularly grateful to be celebrating the first anniversary of publishing Edible East End. If last spring’s cover of alien-looking asparagus announced our arrival, then a spring chicken and some eggs conveys hopeful renewal.

A new season seems to always encourage new ventures—restaurants, farm products, crop varieties. Winemakers, like Erik Fry at Lenz Winery in Peconic, wrestle with a new vintage after a particularly unique growing season. Greenport greets a new cluster of restaurants devoted to what comes from its backyard. Farmers and chefs look for variations on the East End’s first two crops—asparagus and strawberries—including pickled asparagus and asparagus guacamole or strawberry margaritas and strawberry muffins. At Catapano Dairy in Mattituck, goat herder Karen Catapano and cheese maker Michael Catapano welcome the year’s crop of kids to their newly expand- ed farm, inspired by some national recognition of their chèvre.

Perhaps fittingly, another theme that predominates in this issue is that of cooperation. It’s not unique to spring, but it’s often essential to the success of new ventures. At the Southampton Community Organic Farm, an acre nestled just beyond the Hampton Jitney’s main hub, a group of 20 gardeners carries on the tradition of cooperation at the East End’s oldest community farm. Farther east, on the busiest dock in Montauk, six fishermen, who have managed to stay in business for two decades partly by forming a cooperative to buy the dock and market their catch, are now joining forces to open a new era in East End cuisine. On a bluff with sweeping views of three states and just across the water from tourist-clogged Gosman’s dock, this blue collar alternative will offer boat-to-table fare—squid, lobsters, skate, porgies, and the freshest denizens of the deep caught by the owners of the restaurant.

Edible has benefited from cooperation too. We are proud to be the exclusive distributor of the program for Landscape Pleasures, the annual garden symposium and tours organized by the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton. This year’s event will feature the edible landscape and bring participants to some of the East End’s most beautiful home gardens and working farms. We’re thrilled that the interest in edible landscaping is taking root, and it’s another reason that this issue is twice the size of last year’s. In the last year, we have been continually surprised by the volume of fascinating stories held by the East End, and repeatedly flattered by the support from our readers, advertisers, and others who crave some closer connection to their food. Thank you and we hope you don’t mind that, as sometimes happens around food, the magazine has gained some weight.