Seasons by the Sea: Mob Wives and Donut Robots

“Long Island Grown: Food and Beverage Artisans at Work”
What would a panel about food and wine artisans of Long Island be without samples of their bounty? Laura Donnelly

This spring I had the honor of moderating the Peconic Land Trust’s “Long Island Grown: Food and Beverage Artisans at Work” panels for the third time. Sponsored by Edible East End, they manage to get the best people from the North and South Forks who are involved in farming, fishing, winemaking, beekeeping, baking, duck wrangling, cooking, mushroom growing, candy creating, fermenting, brewing, and more.

The sessions, which are held at the Bridge Gardens in Bridgehampton, are always followed by what they simply refer to as “refreshments.” It is more like a feast, created mostly by Rick Bogusch, the magic green thumb and chef extraordinaire of Bridge Gardens. Homemade paté with pistachios and apricots, kale pesto, warm blue cheese dip with garlic and bacon, sheep’s milk cheese with cranberries, and flourless chocolate cake. Roman Roth of Wolffer Vineyards may bring a fresh and sprightly rosé, Vaughn Cutillo of Montauk Brewing presented us with a growler full of a brand new I.P.A.

Each season when I am told who the panelists will be, I feel like a pimply teenage boy who has been practicing “Stairway to Heaven” on his dinky guitar and I’ve just been asked to fill in for Jimmy Page. (That’s a little Led Zeppelin humor, folks.) I am that in awe of these local heroes; they are rock stars.

This year’s sessions included the chefs Kevin Penner, Joe Realmuto, Noah Schwartz, and yours truly. Kevin Penner was excellent because he is smart and has strong opinions, Joe Realmuto brought the gravitas of years of experience running numerous restaurants, Nick and Toni’s being the swellest. Noah Schwartz was adorable — he brought his parents and lobster-stuffed deviled eggs from his eponymous restaurant in Greenport.

Highlights of the past panels were Michael Kontokosta of Kontokosta Winery explaining why the winery frowns upon those big ol’ limousines full of bachelorettes coming to get bombed and not much else, Nadia Ernestus of Hamptons Brine explaining the probiotic benefits of raw fermented foods, and watching Mirijana and Keith Knott of Wild Feast Foods whip up the freshest ceviche with mango and microgreens.

This past Sunday’s guests were to be Alexander Damianos of Pindar and Duck Walk Vineyards, Patty DiVello of Patties Berries and Bunches, and Tom Wickham of Wickham’s Fruit Farm. I had researched the Damianos family history of grape growing and winemaking on the North Fork. Alexander’s father, Dr. Herodotus Damianos, was one of the first winemakers there, along with Alex and Louisa Hargrave. He had a conflict at the last minute and sent his tasting room manager, Michael Krummenacker, in his stead. This was most entertaining, because apparently a lot of the Real Housewives (New York, Beverly Hills) love to drink and film at Duck Walk. Along with the Kardashians and the cast of “Mob Wives.” But all I wanted to know was “What the heck is blueberry port?!” We did find out during the refreshments portion of the afternoon.

Patty was a bit shy and hard to draw out, but she came alive when describing the teenager in a stolen car who plowed through a row of raspberry bushes and the unsolved mystery of 2007, when someone burgled 11 blueberry bushes. Horrors!

Mr. Wickham warned me ahead of time that he might go on and on, and he did, but he was such an engaging speaker, professorial and kind, that it was worth every extra word. Mr. Krummenacker was a hoot, funny and full of tasting room tidbits, like trying to get one of the Mob Wives to clean up her potty mouth. I forgot to ask myself questions about being a pastry chef, but I did bring sticky toffee date cakes and ginger snaps.

We learned what a Belshaw Adamatic Donut Robot is, and that Mr. Wickham’s wife named the Empire apple. Ms. DiVello’s favorite berry is the first Early Glow strawberry of June, and the Real Housewives like rosé. A lot.

The question-and-answer portions are always informative as well. We often get the Quail Hill farm apprentices, and everyone in the room is like-minded. We all care about the future of farming and fishing, we like knowing that the wheat for Carissa Waechter’s bread comes from Amber Waves, andhat the fields that once only grew potatoes now grow hops for beer and raise bison, and cows and sheep and goats for cheese, and organic mushrooms and berries and all other forms of fruit and vegetables. We also like the refreshing adult beverages served with Mr. Bogusch’s delicious offerings at the end of each session.

Here’s to the hard-working folks of the Peconic Land Trust and Edible East End and all the women and men taking care of our seas and bees and land.

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The panel of speakers at Bridge Gardens included Patty DiVello of Patty’s Berries and Bunches, Tom Wickham of Wickham’s Fruit Farm, and Michael Krummenacker of Duck Walk Vineyard. Laura Donnelly