Columbus Day Weekend

It was a very international breakfast table today. Joining us this weekend: a family from Paris, a couple from India, a couple from Canada, and a relatively local couple from Westchester County.  Breakfast conversation literally spanned the globe! (The Southwest Souffle added yet another international dimension. ;))

We’ve had a very international month, actually. This past week we enjoyed meeting our very first visitors from Thailand, followed by a lovely mother and daughter from Australia. Later this month. we’ll host a series of guests from England.

There is much to do this holiday weekend: there is a Harvest Festival in Southampton, with a sidewalk sale, hayrides, a soup contest between a number of the village restaurants, delis, and caterers. Those who love the movies will enjoy the Hampton International Film Festival, which this year has venues here in Southampton as well as East Hampton. A very popular option and show stopper (literally, a traffic jam) is Pumpkintown, a seasonal park of slides, cool things to climb on, corn maze and good old pumpkin picking, located right on the highway near Watermill.

Shops, highways, and farmstands were all very busy on this perfect Autumn day. Temps were in the mid 60’s, with clear skies and a slight breeze. Just the weather our dog Truffle most loved.

Truff’s been gone just about a year now, and we are still missing her. So I headed over to ARF (Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, where we adopted her 14 years ago now) to get a puppy-love fix by walking some of the adoptable dogs through their lovely woodland trails, kicking through the fallen oak leaves of autumns gone by. We’re not ready to replace Truff yet, but when we do, there is no more laudable shelter than ARF…truly, a home away from home. The shelter holds an ARFan reunion each year, and when we’d bring Truffle back, she’d bound out of the car, run straight for the front door, wagging and grinning, eager to greet the volunteers…no unhappy associations for her!

Tonight we’re heading up to Bostwick’s for their closing night…the end of fifteen years on Harbor Marina in East Hampton. It will be a bittersweet night. We’ll enjoy owners Kevin Boles and Chris Eggert’s other two restaurants, Indian Wells Tavern and Cherrystones, but will miss that great sunset view over the water on summer eves…

Ah well…Onwards, Autumn!

Quote of the Day:  It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. —P.D. James

Slipping into September

Maybe it was because Labor Day was so late this year, but somehow, summer slipped away and whoa, here we are already in mid-September.

When I first came to the East Coast and the seasons were still so new to me, I noticed that it was literally as though Mother Nature flipped a switch on Labor Day and put that note of Fall in the air. Certain trees, such as the horse chestnuts, have begun to drop a few leaves and nuts (to the delight of the considerable squirrel population in these parts). While the water at the beach, and especially our pool, is still swimmable, and daytime temps are mostly still in the 70’s, the evenings cool down to the point of needing a sweater.
Actually, nothing much has slowed down at A Butler’s Manor even though Labor Day is behind us, but oddly, it FEELS slower. The pace of life is more relaxed come September. A certain frantic-ness that hangs over the Hamptons in August almost like a miasma dissipates like the humidity after Labor Day. After a summer spent trying to stay off the crowded roads, all the locals breathe a collective sigh of relief and rejoin the community. Chris even went off this afternoon to attend a meeting of the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons, where they were giving a talk on what besides the ubiquitous mum you can plant for fall…

Truthfully, September is my favorite month. The warm days and cooler evening temps give the garden a chance to post at least one last hurrah of color before autumn really sets in. It’s a big travel month for overseas guests who are often making their first trip to the Hamptons, and because we feel a little less frantic too, we can spend more time helping them maximize their visit. It’s also a favorite time for brides, as September is a big month for weddings out here. This weekend, we had guests here from two different wedding celebrations.

Even the wildlife sense the return to a quieter time. On my early morning walk today, a deer stepped out from behind a stand of tiger grass in front of a house about 1/4 mile south of us. She and I were no more than 10 feet apart, and she skipped nimbly into the center of North Main Street (mercifully quiet on a Sunday morning), but seemed disinclined to entirely cross the street until — of course! — her tiny fawn emerged to join her. (When you see one deer, you know there is ALWAYS at least one more.) But I admit, while I watched until they had regained the other side of the street in safety, I also told them to please not visit our garden…

With everyone in the house at a wedding last night, Chris and I had a chance to wander out to Bostwick’s in East Hampton for a drink. The overcast weather hadn’t affected business much — both the bar and restaurant were doing thier usual roaring trade. Bostwick’s has always been a favorite of ours for a relaxed dinner and drinks with a bonus of a sunset view; we’ve been fans of any restaurant that owners Kevin Boles and Chris Eggert have opened since the inception of their first, Santa Fe Junction, back in 1993. Alas, this will be Bostwick’s last season at Harbor Marina, as the owners of the marina have renovations in mind. We’ll miss those sunset views, but know that Kevin and Chris’s welcoming ambiance and the friendly service of their loyal waitstaff will be present at their other two restaurants, Indian Wells Tavern in Amagansett and Cherrystones in East Hampton. I just wish they had a restaurant in Southampton!!
Quote of the Day: If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day weekend. —Doug Larson

Lobsters and Lottery dreams

I love my early morning walk…it helps clear the sleep from my mind and gives me a chance to plan the day. Yesterday I was walking one of my favorite routes — from A Butler’s Manor through Southampton Village south into the estate district — when I happened upon a discarded scratch-off lottery card in the street outside of one of the large mansions on South Main Street, and had to giggle at the irony: the game was called “Set For Life,” and evidently nothing matched up. I could just imagine the disappointment of the person who’d tossed it away. Guess he won’t be purchasing a house in that neighborhood THIS week.

Speaking of Southampton’s estate district, if (like us) you’re not fortunate enough to be a member of the Meadow Club over on First Neck Lane (36 grass tennis courts and a pedigree that spans centuries) and therefore not able to partake of their Lobster Feast every Tuesday during the season, there is now an alternative right in the village. Jean MacKenzie Koster, who owns both the popular fish market The Clamman and Four Seasons Caterers, has renovated the old John Duck’s restaurant into a lovely catering facility with a large, airy dining room flanked by terraced private gardens. This summer, Four Seasons is opening its dining room on Tuesdays, 5 – 9:30 pm, for a classic clam bake. There is an all-you-can-eat buffet which includes some yummy pasta dishes, fresh salads, corn on the cob, mussels and clams, as well as finger-lickin’-good barbecue chicken and the sweetest lobsters Chris and I have had in a long time. A dessert bar completes the price-fix menu. For a small additional fee, a raw bar offers peel and eat shrimp, clams and oysters. And on top of it all, there is live entertainment to enhance the experience, and even a firepit on the lawn from which you can enjoy the fireflies as they twinkle amidst the garden borders. AND it is stumbling distance from A Butler’s Manor…no need to drive! Works for us!

Actually, early in the week is a great time for classic lobster dishes — lots of deals on those messy, crack and peel whole steamed crustaceans, served with a plastic bib and lots of paper napkins, corn on the cob and maybe a potato, and a vat of melted butter –yum! These casual eats are best found at some of our waterfront restaurants, like Sunwater’s Grill, Tiderunners, and Oaklands in Hamptons Bays, or Bostwick’s in East Hampton, but you can get it just a bit more upscale (as in a cloth napkin and interior seating) at Indian Cove in Hampton Bays or even Bobby Van’s (Tuesdays only) in Bridgehampton. When it comes to summer, if it means a lobster and –bonus! –a waterview, we’re all for it!

Yes, waiter, I’ll have the lobster, please.

Quote of the Day: The world is my lobster. —Henry J. Tillman

First sunset!

After what seems like endless days of drizzle or rain, the other day the sun made a welcome appearance, and Chris and I took the opportunity to go out to one of our favorite places, Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton, to have dinner with a sunset.

We have a couple of favorite places there: Harbor Bistro and Bostwick’s, and since we hadn’t yet been to either of them since the summer season opened, we decided to have an early dinner at Harbor Bistro, then enjoy the sunset over drinks at Bostwick’s (which they are justifiably famous for).

At Harbor Bistro, we opted for a couple of appetizers apiece: Chris had the toasted corn and jumbo lump crabcake was large, handmade, and delicious, with so much fresh crab and sweet corn that, especially with the addition of the sunshine over the marina, you could believe it was truly summer. I had a yellowtail poke with avocados (this California girl loves anything with avocados!) and a Mediterranian Shrimp-Quinoa salad, which was marvelous with a light lemon vinaigrette. Chris also had the slow-cooked duck and mushroom crepes, which I thought were yummy, but he was dismayed to find was made with tarragon, a herb he happens to dislike. Still, overall the food was marvelous and the setting restful and sun-warmed, and just what the doctor ordered. Afterwards, we journeyed up the road a half-mile or so, and had a margarita in the always-lively bar at Bostwick’s. Longtime bartenders Fran and Bill commandeered everyone’s attention as the sun went down, and we all clapped and cheered…almost like the impromptu party for the same reason each night at Mallory Square in Key West. It seems like it’s the first real sunset we’ve seen this season!

The US Golf Open has been upIsland at Bethpage Black this week, and a couple of our guests have tickets. While it isn’t close by (about an hour and fifteen minutes or so away), the guys have been enjoying the opening rounds (and tomorrow, the final) during the day while their wives have been enjoying the Hamptons.

Speaking of sunsets, because the weather cleared up on Friday, Chris and I took the Mini over the Meschutt Beach in Hampton Bays, where each Friday night between 5 PM and sunset, there is an impromptu classic and muscle car display….bring your own, or just enjoy the sight of a few dozen beautifully-restored (or incredibly hot-rodded) old vehicles. There were some spectacular old Camaro z28 and SS muscle cars there last night, a pristine old Ford Country Squire Woody wagon (with all three seats and a longboard surfboard on the roof!), and many more beauties. Live music plays at the Beach Bar until sunset, and parents enjoy it with a beer or some beach food while kids and dogs have a great time on the beach. We stayed only an hour or so, but enjoyed it (and a sunset!) immensely. And then came home to see the first fireflies of the season!

Over breakfast this morning, Phyllis and Debbie, mother and daughter from Connecticut and Maryland respectively, were talking with Grant and Michele, from Kansas City…and they learned that all of them had lived in the same town in Oklahoma at the same time, only a few blocks apart!! What are the odds!?

Quote of the Day: If I can put one rosy touch of sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God. —G.K. Chesterton