This past weekend I did something pretty strange: I went to Long Island and had a good time. Now before you judge me, let me explain.
It was a beautiful day, and we decided to make a pilgrimage to Long Island for some good all-American fun: pumpkin picking, corn roasting, antique shopping, and picnicking at a winery. Sounds kind of corny I know, but it was a really nice way to spend a Fall day. The weather was perfect for it: sunny, 70 degrees at most, and just a slight breeze – you could smell Fall in the air. Coming from Manhattan though, you have to make sure you are mentally prepared for this, because it is not a short trip – it’s past the last exit on the LIE in Mattituck/North Fork. Yea, I don’t know where that is either, but I can sum it up for you: pretty damn far.
Once you get past the city and the traffic (you will know this once the scent of urine and exhaust fades), you will be greeted by open corn fields, farms and wineries lining the roads. It’s almost surreal because it doesn’t feel like New York at all. Case in point: Harbes Family Farm. This was our first stop for some pumpkin picking. I don’t know how to tell what a good pumpkin looks like, but I rationalized that if it was round and orange, it was probably ok. See below for my pumpkin:
Orange and green – doesn’t get much more fall than that! Well maybe the scarecrow in the pumpkin patch does..
Anyway, so this is Harbes Family Farm. Aside from pumpkin picking, they have pony rides, pig racing (believe it), a corn maze (get it?), and an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and treats. I bought some candied walnuts, pumpkin, fresh sweet corn, and of course kettle corn. Oh and while I was shopping around, I gnawed through some roasted corn dipped in melted butter. Apparently I was in a corny mood (insert laugh here).
Oh how do I describe this kettle corn?? Imagine popcorn you get at the movies, but not disgusting and soggy. Does that help? Seriously, it was delicious. Some bites were buttery, some were salty, and some were caramel-y and sweet. It’s a perfect combination, but near-impossible to put down because you never know what flavor you’re going to get. It satisfies both your salt-tongue and sweet-tooth. I actually put it on my ice cream sometimes – it adds a salty/sweet crunch. Nums.
Now on to the roasted corn. It’s not so much the roasting of the corn, it’s the corn that’s being roasted. I’ll give Long Island one thing: you make damn good corn. I remember when I was a kid and my mom used to get “the good corn,” it meant it was from one of her friends who “summers in the Hamptons.” So clearly, we were in the right place for some roasted corn. They take the corn fresh off the grill, peel back the husk and dunk it in butter, no exaggeration on the dunking part. They didn’t have any here, but in my house I like to sprinkle a little Cayenne pepper on it too – gives it a nice kick to that smoky-roasted flavor. I wanted to get a pre-picture for you, but I was starving so this is what you’re left with:
You can see the blackened husks and the melted butter dripping off the plate right? So you get the idea – don’t be so selfish. After we got our fill of corn, it really only made us more hungry, so we packed up our picnic baskets and headed out to the winery with Yogi and Boo Boo.
The place we chose was Peconic Bay Winery in North Fork – really good choice I must say. They had nice white tables with navy blue umbrellas outside by the vineyards (very nautical), live music, a raw bar, and a nice selection of wines. We chose (to start) a Cabernet Franc which is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet. I am usually not a fan of Merlot, but this wine was nice and fruity, albeit a bit sweet. It was not very dry at all, and definitely needed to breathe a little more than I had allowed it to. What can I say? I was thirsty and I needed something to wash down my crackers and port cheese. Oh yes, we brought port cheese and water crackers – when in Long Island, do as the Long Islanders do!
The nice thing about this place was that you can bring as much food as you want, and just pig out and drink all day. We got there around 12:45 pm and didn’t leave until after 5. No one bothered us, even when my boyfriend spilled his wine (twice) all over himself and some kids toy, no one said a thing. We sampled three wines: the Cabernet Franc, a Rosé, and a Riesling. By the time we got to the Riesling I was kind of tipsy so I can’t really say I remember if it was good or not, but I’m sure I enjoyed it at the time. After we feasted, I wandered over into the vineyards to see the grapes (they were about 3 feet from our table, so the walk was doable in my drunken state), and I managed to take some nice pictures.
If you enjoy wine as much as I do, have the time to make the trip (and the weather looks promising), this is a really nice way to spend a Saturday or Sunday. And aside from our friend vomiting on the side of the LIE, it was fun, relaxing and casual; exactly what a weekend should be.
I realize the picture below has nothing to do with food, I just thought it was pretty.