When it comes to exploring the Hamptons (which are on the East End of Long Island, New York, for those who don't know the exact geography), no one quite does it like renowned chef Ina Garten. She's the queen of elegant cocktails, the master of the art of dinner parties, and a culinary artist in her own right. Ina also happens to be the ultimate Hamptons guru when it comes to all things food and local experiences, which means that when summer rolls around and the first farmstand window is open for the season, we're scouting out her itinerary to provide us with the best of the best when it comes to Long Island's wine and beach country.
There are two things to know when it comes to the East End: for starters, there are two forks, one which goes to the North Fork (wine country) and one that goes to the South Fork (beaches, Montauk, and shopping). Ina's neighborhood of expertise happens to be East Hampton, but there's plenty to explore on both forks - especially if you're looking to get the whole local experience.
Get An Early Start And Head To The Farmstands
While there are plenty of farms and farm stands on both the North and South Forks, a favorite of Ina's is Amber waves, which is located in Amagansett. Pike Farms is another favorite of hers, which is not too far in Sagaponack, and it's easy enough to stop by both in the same day. On the North Fork, the stretch between Riverhead and Southold is full of farm stands but you'll have to have a quick eye - they vary in size and many are part of the farm from which their produce and local goods come from, so they're worth slowing down to stop for.
While Montauk Highway (27) is the best way to navigate the entirety of the South Fork all the way to Montauk, the North Fork can be seen one of two ways: via Route 25 or Sound Avenue. We'd recommend heading to the end on Route 25 and hitting those farm stands along the way, and then driving back along Sound Avenue, which is a bit less congested, more open, and gives way to farmland and beach views, whereas Route 25 is the main route for local vineyards.
The beautiful thing about Long Island's farm stands is that you can find nearly anything there, from fresh, local produce (anything from berries to squash) and homemade goods, such as jams, preserves, sauces, dressings - you name it. At some farm stands, you might be lucky enough to run into art from local artists or even antiques that are centuries old, many of which reside at the Jamesport General Store. Local dairy, such as cheese from Goodale Farms, poultry meat such as duck, and even local eggs can be found on most farms, as well.
The Shopping Is Unreal, Especially When It Comes To Local Goods
One thing that you'll come to learn very quickly is that farm stand shopping is very different from shopping at local groceries and markets. While the Hamptons (especially Southampton) have a reputation with Citarella, there are many other, local groceries to check out that carry items that can't be found anywhere else. According to Ina, Cavaniolas is a great place for picking up gourmet cheese on the South Fork. On the North Fork, the Cheese and Spice Market, found just at the beginning of the fork in Wading River, is a fun place to stock up on local cheese, meats, charcuterie, and other gourmet items from Long Island and around the world (including cheese and snacks that are specially-ordered from overseas!).
Another one of Ina's favorites is Loaves & Fishes, which is just a fun stop for walking around and picking up snacks or prepared foods while on the road. For anyone who has a sweet tooth, Tate's Bakeshop is an absolute must - their cookies might be available nationwide, but there's nothing like having one of these absolutely divine cookies from the source of its goodness. Looking for a breakfast or quick brunch option? Any one of these shops or the farm stands previously mentioned will undoubtedly have something to satisfy your hunger, and many of them offer ready-to-go takeout boxes for a quick and easy meal. For something sweeter, try a local pastry... There's nothing like it!
Take It Easy For Lunch Or Dinner
Whether you find yourself on the North or South Fork when lunch or dinner time rolls around, the good news is this: there's never any shortage of incredible restaurants on the East End. Seafood, especailly, is to the East End like New York City is to any cuisine you could ever think of.
A quick stop in Greenport with give way to a slew of restaurants and the town itself is easily walkable and if the weather permits, finish it off with a scoop of ice cream down by the harbor. If you're on the South Fork, Gosman's Pier is a great place to start for local seafood and is also home to a Ben & Jerry's scoop shop.