The week after Labor Day is my favorite time of year to vacation on the North Fork because the tomatoes and peaches are at the height of their splendor. And last week I managed to consume a couple of pounds of each.
Every morning I cut up a Wickham’s peach, put it in a bowl with chopped toasted almonds and Greek yogurt and enjoyed my breakfast with a cup of Aldo’s (Greenport) espresso. At some point after noon I would make a salad of tomatoes and farro, whole emmer wheat berries. (Chop up a variety of heirloom tomatoes, toss with chopped mint or basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and plenty of good olive oil. Boil farro in salted water until tender, drain and pour directly into the tomatoes. Let it all stew for a while and serve.)
One night we had the tomato-farro salad alongside a rotisserie-roasted duck from Love Lane Market in Mattituck, another night with some gorgeous grilled swordfish from Southold Fish Market. Both dinners yielded delicious leftover lunches.
The day before we left I served the tomato-farro salad with a clam chowder I made from cherrystones and little necks from Southold Fish Market, potatoes and thyme from Sang Lee Farms in Peconic, pancetta from Wayside Market in Southold, leeks and parsley from KK’s. After stopping at three farm stands I learned that there was no local celery to be had on the North Fork, so I was forced to buy it from California, via King Kullen. Oh, the shame!
Generally, we did better eating in than out, but the exception was dinner at 18 Bay on Shelter Island. Highlights from the four-course dinner (a great value at $55) were the seared scallop with sweet corn; lamb sparerib with spiced yogurt and cucumbers; fresh pasta with ricotta, Swiss chard and truffle butter; a simple, elegant almond cake.
I picked up some mementos of my trip. Food, of course. At Taste of the North Fork in Southold I stocked up on cHarissa, the life-changing Moroccan-style condiment made in Peconic, as well as a jar of preserved lemons that continue the North African theme. They’ll have to see me through to next summer. The peaches and tomatoes I brought home with me will be gone by the weekend.