August 01, 2007
Kiss & Tell
Escape From The Hamptons
After an hour and a half wait for my favorite restaurant, a 12 car back up blocking my driveway, and a moment when I got all gussied up and my guy looked at me and said, "Boy you look really tired," I knew it was time to get out.
I needed somewhere a world away but within an hour's drive. So I plotted my North Fork escape. Since even locals say they're not sure where to go, I am responding to your requests and putting together your romantic day itinerary.
In weary times I turn to my inner superhero – Spa Girl. While many know of East Wind in Wading River as an inn and event space they may not know about the new spa which just opened in October with all the bells and whistles of steam room, sauna, showers, pristine locker room, and falling-water relaxation room.
I threw myself on the mercy of my facialist Jacqueline and said, "Puffy, wrinkles, ick, help." She obliged with the Ultra Luxe facial complete with pumpkin enzyme and cardamom but also gave me three anti-aging pointers: get a silk pillowcase which doesn't pull on your skin; use a cotton pad soaked in whole milk to reduce puffiness; and clean your cell phone because it brings bacteria in contact with the T-zone of the chin. I'm putting her on speed dial. And even if it's not exactly world peace, a proper pedicure makes my world a better place.
When I met my guy at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport I was greeted with a smile, and "Boy you look so relaxed." While I didn't get a chance to stay overnight, I highly recommend booking a room at this completely renovated 1800s historic Victorian Inn. You never know what happens after the romantic honey tasting.
I had heard that the menu was really inventive here with food so fresh they even employ their own personal clam digger but was in heaven when a plate with four colored glass bowls filled with lavender, wild flower, clover and tangerine honey were presented with tiny spoons and almond pound cake. I actually called over the chef de cuisine Michael Ross and asked if we were allowed to lick it off each other's bodies. No problem.
You don't want to be on too tight a schedule as you're meandering down Route 25 so it was late when it came time for lunch, which is mandatory if wine tasting is in your future. Luckily, a local favorite which is always open, Legends in New Suffolk, serves lunch until 4:15 and is right on the water by a marina. (Note to self: drive the boat over next time I'm facing that hour and a half Hamptons wait.) Then share the bouillabaisse a la Lady and The Tramp.
Now if you're going to go wine tasting, plan ahead to see if you can arrange a tour. The vineyards in the area not only preserve the natural vistas, they are also putting out some amazing wines. At Bedell Cellars winemaker John Irving Levenberg, who started there in 2004, is reaching his goal of more food-friendly wine. He walked us through the process and his $1000-a-barrel French oak and explained a high alcohol content is like a blonde in a tight dress – too much.
The vineyards also hold back some of their best wine not available elsewhere with price point of $25 for a Bedell '05 merlot (a grape which flourishes in these soils). A similar Californian wine sells for $85. If you're not giving Long Island wines a chance it means you haven't tasted them lately.
To top off the night, reserve a table at the Seafood Barge by the window looking out over the marina and the bay in Southold. The fresh factor rules here. While you may be tempted to order the staple favorites, ask what chef Americo Mintegui has as specials. I don't even like striped bass cooked but the sashimi is delicious. Not to be cliché but a romantic day has to include oysters. In our case we got the basil, pesto, parmesan-baked oysters. And yes it's true what they say about oysters.
So I don't want to hear any more snobby Hamptons whining – just wine-ing. Head north young man and bring your gal.
You can find more of my writing at HamptonsHeather.com or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.