Tracy's New York Life | A New York City Lifestyle Blog: Life on the North Fork: Food, Wine and Sunsets

Life on the North Fork: Food, Wine and Sunsets

by Tracy Kaler
A tranquil sunset on the Long Island Sound
"Let's go and see what it's like." Those were my words back in 2010, and I'm really glad that with a bit of prodding, my husband agreed to take that drive 80 miles east. When I said "it," I was referring to the North Fork of Long Island, rather than the South Fork: land of sugar-sand beaches, Mercedes convertibles and seersucker pants. Though certain pockets of the Hamptons are more laid back and don't require a flat iron, clean shave, or red-soled stilettos, the see-and-be-seen beach destination can be more exhausting than it is decompressing. And, when leaving Manhattan, both Michael and I opt for a change of scenery – one that is not at all like New York City.

This is our fourth summer spending time on the North Fork, which sounds more like an eatery than a wine or coastal region. Up until the past several years, few New Yorkers made the trip to the less busy, more casual Hamptons neighbor. But recent press will undoubtedly alter the demographic, which has been mostly East End locals, fellow Long Islanders on a winery day trip, and a few city folk seeking more solitude and less hype. Featured this past June as the Un-Hamptons in the New York TimesI suspect one of New York's best-kept secrets won't be a secret much longer, if it's not been found out already. 
Bogey and I wait for the sun to set.
The North Fork is a place in which you can wear a baseball hat and flip-flops, toss a ball with your dog on the beach at any hour, drink local wines, and grill a piece of fish that was caught earlier that day. Sound like another time and place? It sort of is. But, the beauty is the proximity to New York City. Depending on the locale, the commute is just 90-105 minutes (without traffic) to towns like Riverhead and Jamesport; and, more like two hours-plus further east to the quaint village of Greenport, or Orient Point, where you can catch a ferry to Connecticut.

The North Fork is country meets beach meets foodie destination, and the latter will no doubt become more predominant in the next several years. Though we prefer cooking to eating out when we're visiting – we shop at favorites like Briermere Farms for fresh, local produce, and the best fruit pies on the Eastern Seaboard, Southold Fish Market and Braun Seafood in Cutchogue, and the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck – no trip is complete without a meal at Love Lane Kitchen. Love Lane's lobster roll easily rivals those we've eaten in Maine, and the fish tacos are tastier than any I've tried in Manhattan to date.

Love Lane Kitchen makes a killer lobster roll!--photo via Love Lane Kitchen
Other recommended eateries include the upscale North Fork Table & Inn in which NYC veterans Gerry Hadyn and Claudia Fleming run the show. Noah's in Greenport, boasts a full dinner menu and a raw bar, and aMano Osteria & Wine Bar brings out the Italian in all of us. I might mention that those are just a sampling of the culinary scene in the side-by-side country towns surrounded by farms and vineyards, with the Peconic Bay separating the North and South Forks, and the Long Island Sound hugging the coast. 

Some beach-goers might say, "It's not on the ocean." Or, "It doesn't have the nightlife of the South Fork." It's not; and it doesn't. Sound beaches are rocky, rugged, and more wild than flat, wide, sandy beaches on the ocean side. Sun goddesses fancy sugar sand to pebbles and shells, and though I love a splash of sun-kissed color, in the afternoons, I'm inclined to relax in an old farmhouse, sipping Chardonnay, devouring cheese, and listening to live guitar music at Sherwood House Vineyards, instead. Or for a quieter experience, I'll lounge on the spongey green lawn at McCall Wines, catching a few rays as I toss back a glass or two of Marjorie's Pinot Noir rosé or Ben's Bordeaux Blend, then admire and pet the Polo ponies between tastes.

Vines at Sherwood House
Lazy day at McCall Wines
As far as the evenings, they're absolute bliss on the North Fork. With wine in hand, sand between toes and a painterly sunset in the distance, my boys sit next to me, and we're mere steps from the Long Island Sound. That's all the nightlife I need.
Mike and Bogey


Rose ~ from Oz said...

I love your North Fork get-a-ways Tracy - you all look so happy and relaxed! I'm on a mountain get-a-way at the moment, so thinking of you and do enjoy!

tracy kaler said...

Thanks Rose! How fun--I love the mountains too. It's important to get away every now and again. Always great to hear from you :)

Phil Holtberg said...

The North Fork is a beautiful part of LI. We also used to go out there when we lived in Suffolk County. It's so close to NYC but feels like a vacation far away. Great pics Tracy!

tracy kaler said...

Thanks, Phil. It is lovely! I have been out here since August 1. I'll be back early September. I love it here, but I am missing NYC :)

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