The Covid-19 pandemic has stolen a lot from us: the lives of more than 210,000 Americans (and counting); countless jobs and small businesses both locally and nationally; whatever faith we had left in the federal government—and that’s just the tip of the fast-melting iceberg.
But in a true testament to local compassion, generosity and ingenuity, the tragedy of this year has given way, in places, to inspiring displays of fortitude and unity, as residents have embraced a new normal and local businesses have pivoted to survive and serve them.
Here are 6 pandemic-inspired pivots we hope will persist even after the pandemic is over. (The pandemic will, eventually, be over, right?)
Baldor’s Home Delivery
Back in the spring, for the first time in 30 years, Baldor—one of our region’s most legendary distributors of fresh, seasonal produce and specialty food products—began making home deliveries available, in what has proven, truly, the COVID-prompted pivot of our dreams. As a result, consumers finally have the chance to buy restaurant-grade produce, seafood and meat directly from Baldor themselves. And the best part? They deliver everything straight to your door. For more information, or to place an order, head to baldorfood.com.
Bohlsen Restaurant Group’s Central Market
A boutique, chef-curated marketplace that delivers the finest hand-selected ingredients and meal kits directly to your door, Central Market began as the Bohlsen Restaurant Group’s answer to an island-wide problem earlier this year: Where, when you don’t feel safe going out, are you going to get food? Now, months later, it’s a service we never want to live without—thanks to offerings like their Filet Mignon Wellington Kit, which comes with everything you need to make 4 full-sized wellingtons, 2 substantial sides, and 4 decadent, individual desserts for just $130. Order yours at centralmarketbybrg.com.
Cocktails to Go
First of all: How did we live without cocktails to go in the first place? Second of all: What do we need to do to make sure we never have to live without cocktails to go ever again? Like so many locals, we’ve loved seeing local bars and restaurants respond to this loosening of the law, and have been so impressed by not only the creativity of the cocktails on offer, but the creativity of their packaging, from Aquebogue to Amagansett. In Amagansett, in particular, Coche Comedor’s to-go margaritas are a delight we never want to say goodbye to—not even after we retire our masks.
Before 2020, dining al fresco was something we enjoyed in moderation—only when the weather was perfect, or the view too beautiful to deny. Now, it’s an everyday indulgence, and we are, enthusiastically, here for it. Even as the weather cools, we’re welcoming the opportunity to bundle up and enjoy a great meal in the crisp, fall air outside. Why? Because local restaurants are, in a word, killing it—transforming the outdoor seating they adopted as a necessity into an experience we, as diners, get to enjoy as a luxury. In Bridgehampton, Almond does a particularly beautiful, this-feels-like-we’re-on-vacation-shimmering job.
Direct-to-Consumer Uni, Mushrooms, and More
For roughly two years now, farmer and forager Jonathan Bernard has been the secret weapon of New York chefs, supplying them with uni and all sorts of amazing mushrooms—and earning the nickname ‘the Uni Bomber’ from chef Jeremy Blutstein in the process. But with restaurants shuttered earlier this year, and then reopened at significantly reduced capacities, Bernard—who is commonly known by his Instagram moniker @streetleafsjonny—began accepting orders for his extraordinary offerings from ordinary consumers. Slide into his DMs or send him an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to place yours.
Fish Market Food Trucks
Is there a more welcome sight than a pick-up truck, parked on the side of the road, full of fresh-caught fish for sale? Not this year. With restaurants’ ordering either completely shut down, as it was earlier this year, or significantly reduced, as it remains now, local fishermen-and-women have needed to find new buyers. So they’ve taken, literally, to the streets, parking on the side of local roads and waiting, as fishermen do, for bites. It’s hardly a spoiler alert to say we’re biting—and, if you haven’t yet, you need to. We’ve never had fresher fish, or seen such affordable prices.