Island Dispatch: Edible East End’s Spring Issue and the South Fork’s First Open Farmstand

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Photo by Lindsay Morris, the photo editor of Edible East End.

The prize for earliest farmstand open on the South Fork goes to Under the Willow organic farm, an unassuming self-serve stand wedged next to Bay Burger on the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike. Just as the spring issue of Edible East End hit the streets—and weeks before most other farms have even put seeds in the ground (potatoes excepted)—Dale Haubrich and Bette Lacina (respectively, an ingenious Iowa-raised, pHD-educated farm boy and a back-to-the-land, bohemian from the West Village) are peddling bags of baby spinach and Red Russian kale, bunches of spring onions, half-dozens of eggs, and pouches of pungent, leathery sun-dried tomatoes.

When Edible first wrote about this bio-intensive couple in the fall of 2005, Haubrich shared some secrets for squeezing as much harvest as possible (from bamboo shoots to strawberries to Asian pears) out of the few acres he farms in Sag Harbor and East Hampton, while Lacina showed us how she stores, processes, ferments and other wise puts up the harvest. And they keep on keeping on.

But they’re not the only story of interest for those New Yorkers planning trips out East. Our latest issue takes an in-depth look at the region’s rum-running heritage (if it weren’t for some bravehearted Long Island fishermen who scooped up barrels of booze dropped offshore by European and Canadian liquor makers, the thirst of Prohibition-era New Yorkers would have gone unquenched), as well as a winery that just released the region’s first post-Prohibition brandy.

A new South Asian grocer in Riverhead dishes up much-needed ethnic eats, while Sag Harbor’s Little Kitchen offers devout regulars to-die-for tortilla soup and other south-of-the-border flavors. A Mattituck restaurant is plying its customers with weekly Kyoto-style sushi, while the Blue Ocean Institute offers guidance on mixing marine science into the kitchen.

We talk to winemakers and vineyard managers about the style of wine our ocean-surrounded glacial moraine yields best. And we visit with four East End residents in the business of teaching people how to eat, whether they are vegan, raw foodists or modern-day practitioners of millennia-old Ayurveda.

Homesteaders like Haubrich and Lacina might pluck their own Meyer lemons, adapt a friend’s recipe for chicken potpie, or harness a stainless steel steamer or other favored kitchen appliance. But they never tire of new ideas or, better yet, forgotten notions. “On a farm what you keep is a form of preparedness, an arsenal for the unknown,” writes Marilee Foster in her honest accounting of her farm’s past and future. “Whatever cruel season, whatever broken part, the answer is but a cutting torch away.”

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