Before development rights were sold in the 1970s, the Hamptons was an agricultural region, made up of potato fields and duck farms. There is still something in the salty soil that makes everything that grows in this neck of the woods very special. As the restaurants in the Hamptons are seasonal, they often leave something to be desired… Cooking at home is my favorite way to eat Out East. Here are my 5 favorite places to buy groceries:
Almost every day in August, I drive to Balsam Farms in Amagansett to pick up ingredients. I go daily to ensure that I am getting the freshest possible produce. There is so much turnover at this farmstand, that almost everything you buy has been picked the day before — WOW! I most frequently purchase: Sungold baby tomatoes, cantaloupe, and corn. Their colorful bunches of fresh flowers inspire my embroideries. The Balsam Farms outpost in Montauk is good too; upon entering the shop, the fragrance transports you right to the farmstand.
Also, Catapano Farms is a farm on the North Fork with the #1 highest rated goat cheese in the country! You can buy Catapano goat cheese at Balsam.
This farm has been in the same family for 12 generations, and the Halseys know what they are doing! Their Strawberry Jam delicious in between layers of chocolate cake, on a cracker with brie, or for breakfast on toast, and their sunflowers are exactly perfect. My favorite picture that I have ever taken of my mom was of her holding a bunch of this spectacular sunflowers in late August probably 10 years ago at this point. Stop by this Certified Organic farm in Watermill.
As I am typing this list, I am munching on Carissa’s Honey Oat Loaf, which is baked with freshly milled locally grown oats and local honey. It is pillowy and sweet. My family also loves the Salty Soured Pickled Rye bread. The pies with meringue astonish any set of houseguests. The original Carissa’s location is right in the town of East Hampton, so you can pick up bread after morning exercise.
My aunt introduced me to this chicken farm a few summers ago, which I believe is how the Hamptons looked 70 years ago. There are dozens of chickens running around out front. There is an honor box to purchase eggs if the shop is closed. The chickens and eggs taste gamey and — actually — taste like chicken. Iocono does sell out on the weekends in summer months, so reserve your chicken. Save the bones for broth.
Of all the prepared food offerings in the Hamptons, Round Swamp Farm wins. We’re addicted to the chicken fingers, honey mustard, coconut shrimp, salads, and Lisa’s Chocolate Chip cookies. We love bringing the fried chicken to the beach; it is perfect with Pellegrino and a ripe summer peach.