One of the enduring pleasures of chronicling food and drink people is glimpsing their passion. The heavy-eyed baker who rises at four in the morning is smiling by the time fresh loaves are ferried from the oven. The brewer aching from hauling kegs kicks back and laughs with suds at the end of the day. A farmer’s dirt-caked hands draw strength from the satisfying act of raising food to feed others.
The work is never as relentless as it is this time of the year—people pack into restaurants and tasting rooms like sardines, farm stands are groaning with the weight of just-harvested crops; the photosynthetic activity in our fields peaks. We wouldn’t have a growing season without the persistent heat and sun of August. And still there is endless joy in the payoff.
Love of the water united stand-up paddle diva Gina Bradley and jewelry designer Susan Rockefeller to raise funds for ocean conservation. A mutual love of wine and food inspired the daughter-and-father team of Courtney and Tom Schaudel to open the vino-forward Petulant Wino in Aquebogue. A taste for Italian wine varietals guided the nine acres planted at Southold Farm + Cellar.
The blossoming of new food and drink businesses is the best evidence of this underlying love. There’s South Fork & Spoon, the latest in a crop of farm-to-you meal-delivery services in the region. Salt of the Earth Seed Company is the East End’s first seed library; it’s already raising and selling 14 varieties of tomatoes, in addition to beans, snow peas, fennel, celery, radish and chicory. The South American– and Italian-inspired Station in East Quogue brings us gazpacho, grilled octopus, rib eye with chimichurri and salsa criolla—with notes of citrus everywhere—lamb chops with salsa verde and local seafood sprinkled throughout.
And, of course, this passion is most persistent when it’s passed down from generation to generation. At Sang Lee Farms in Peconic, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, three generations have planted Chinese vegetables, and not just bok choy. They please farmer and eater, including writer Dorothy Hom, who recalls foo gwa, or bitter melon, from her youth in Brooklyn. This summer the Lees started a farm camp to teach kids and adults how to raise and cook food. “If you know how to grow it and how to cook it,” Fred Lee says, “you’re going to be healthier, more aware and a better consumer.”
Sounds exactly like what we do here. Through our pages, our digital space and our live events, we guide our readers to make better choices as eaters.
So, can some peaches, discover a new winery, host a sunset picnic at the beach, and savor the rest of your summer.
The blossoming of new food and drink businesses is the best evidence of this underlying love.
Brian Halweil, Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @BrianHalweil