(Briermere Farm on North Fork of Long Island)
With no guests coming this Easter, this allowed my husband and I and our daughter to undertake a last-minute outing on Saturday to one of our favorite places…the East End of Long Island. There are two forks on the East End: The North Fork and the South Fork with its infamous Hamptons and celebrities.
Long ago we decided we prefer the North Fork. It’s quiet, bucolic, inviting with its authentic farms and farmsteads, old farmhouses, and signs of lives of average people hard at work. When the kids were young, we visited twice a year: once in fall to gather pumpkins, wander in the fields, stop by one of the local beaches, and picnic. In Spring we liked to visit for walks on the local beaches and a quick lunch at one of our favorite spots. It was the ideal getaway just a 90 minute drive from our home.
We fell in love with a particular area called New Suffolk (just beyond Mattituck) which reminded me (still does) of the undeveloped Long Island I knew as a child. The homes are modest, the lanes are narrow and inviting, the beaches are rocky and the water crystal clear, and the quality of light and air are very special. We often fantasized about owning a home here, which we could no longer afford. In the past decade the area has been “discovered” and home prices have skyrocketed. Sigh.
Our first stop on our journey is Briermere’s Farm Stand (see featured photo) which has become a widely frequented stop for all tourists and locals. We used to go there for our Thanksgiving pies, but gave that up when the lines began to trail out the door. We try to go on odd weekends now, hoping the place won’t be so busy. Today was perfect: we grabbed. peach-raspberry pie and a bag of chocolate-chip-pecan cookies.
It’s too early in the season for fresh vegetables, so our visit was a quick one.
Our next stop was our favorite eatery: Love Lane Kitchen on Love Lane.
It is my go-to stop for a Lobster Roll lunch which consists of a hefty portion of lobster salad atop a brioche bun, accompanied by a sizable portion of garlic fries. It is pricey, but I consider it one of my few culinary indulgences…and heck, I only do it once or twice a year.
We love the ambiance of the place: working and middle-class clientele; local artwork along the walls; quirky seasonal decorations; a young, local waitstaff;
and a very sunny interior for bad weather days, or a quaint outside patio for good weather days. You won’t find any celebrities here; just a bunch of people happily eating delicious food.
It’s a Norman Rockwell vision of a warm and welcoming community eatery. Every town should have one.
(My husband and daughter at Love Lane Kitchen. Do they look happy to be there?)
Our third, planned stop is the local beach. This stop had an unexpected surprise. An osprey nest, perched on a pole opposite the tiny post office, was occupied by two osprey who happened to be “at home” when we stopped by.
We are big fans of osprey since their comeback after the DDT years nearly rendered them extinct. They are magnificent, wild-looking birds. In flight their wingspan is enormous with very attractive bands along the edges.
We tried to sit on a bench at the beach, but it was colder and windier than we had anticipated, so after about 10 minutes of gazing at beautiful Peconic Bay, and a bit of fantasizing about how we’d still love to live here, we retreated to the warmth of our car.
Our final stop was Pindar Winery. The North Folk is loaded with wineries and has been for several decades now. Pindar was one of the first to arrive and we haven’t been back in maybe ten years or more. Outside it was freezing!
We found the inside quite inviting, however, with many small groups scattered throughout the tasting area, some at the bar, some at tables. We purchased a bottle of their Chardonnay and sat at a sun-drenched table, gazing at the warmth of the wood-clad barn which once served as a potato barn, one of the East End’s primary crops. The stained glass window occupying one corner of the barn was magnificent, and I’m sure it was not part of the original barn.
By chance we struck up a conversation with the cashier who turned out to be the son of the original owner, a Greek doctor. We traded some memories of days long ago when the East End was not a “destination” journey. We felt like pioneers going out to the original opening of this winery three decades ago.
Well fed, well imbibed, well rested and restored, we got back into our car as dusk began to arrive and headed for home with our peach pie, a bottle of Reserve Merlot, the memory of a tasty and satisfying lunch and another memorable day on the East End.