East End Eats: Save Gas with One-Stop Shopping at East Hampton Farmers' Market
The High Summer issue of Edible East End just hit the streets, and the theme is local solutions to the global food and fuel crisis. For instance we profile a produce dealer who will save half a million gallons of diesel this year by supplying large New York grocers with Long Island produce. In keeping with the issue’s theme, here’s a brief guide to the East Hampton Farmers Market held every Friday from 9 to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of Nick & Toni’s restaurant.
In its second season, this market is much improved from last year and truly offers the fixings for a complete meal—from clams dug that morning by a marine biologist-turned-charter boat captain, to bread courtesy of Southampton’s Blue Duck bakery, raw-milk cheeses from Mecox Dairy, and mountains of fruit and veggies. This cornucopia has inspired recent visits from Eli Zabar. With a notebook and blackberry in hand, he was seen taking down contact information for vendors who can help stock his latest project, the Amagansett Farmers' Market.
This year, the vendors decided to relocate from Nick & Toni’s large parking lot to their smaller, more shaded and intimate lot. The move has freed up more parking while creating a cozy feel akin to its forefather, the Sag Harbor farmers' market.
But the real toast of the market is the spare stand set up by Fish Hampton, a company that takes adults and children out looking for porgies, bass and whatever else is biting. Proprietor Eric Braun spearfishes for black fish (arrive early if you want these popular white-flesh fillets), searchers for clams and oysters with a mask and snorkel, and offers intimidating placemat-sized flounders and fluke. The stand also draws crowds for its plastic tank filled with sealife that Braun makes available for ogling, fondling and teaching guerilla ocean appreciation. “It’s called the touch tank,” Braun explains. “Unless you live in it. Then it’s the torture tank.”
Heading clockwise around the market from Braun’s stand are assorted mushrooms from Open-Minded Organics in Sag Harbor; a woman spinning yarn from Upstate wool; Peconic’s Wesnofske Farm selling veggies at relatively inexpensive North Fork prices; Blue Duck bread, pies and other baked goods; organic produce and non-organic fruit from a homesteader just up the road from the market; Wainscott’s Seafood Shop offering any seafood that you can’t find at Braun’s stand; Mecox Dairy; assorted Asian vegetables, stirfry sauces, kimchi, and other prepared foods from Peconic’s Sang Lee Farms; and produce from Balsam Farms in Amagansett, run by a city boy-turned-tractor hound who farms from spring to fall and works as a lawyer in East Hampton after the harvest.
About the Author: Brian Halweil is the publisher of Edible East End, the magazine that celebrates the harvest of the Hamptons and the North Fork. He is also publisher of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan (launching September 2008). He writes about the things we eat from the old whaling village of Sag Harbor, New York, where he and his wife tend a home garden and orchard and go clamming when the tides allow.