East End Dispatch: Montauk Munching, Shucking with Alec Baldwin, Nano-Brews and Every Other Sign that It’s Officially High Summer, People!

Call it beach-reading material. Clockwise from top left: Hal. B. Fullerton's "The Littlest Girl and the All-Head Cabbage," Alec Baldwin with baguette ring, a bunker-boosting poster, brewmaster Joe Hayes at the Black Forest Brew Haus in Farmingdale, and Harry and Art Ludlow with the flank of a cow.

“Jesus, look at those melons.” (Muskmelons, that is.) It’s not an uncommon refrain this time of year–I heard it earlier today at the Tomato Lady in Sag Harbor. The entire landscape east of Riverhead seems to be bulging. The plump beefy tomatoes, the oblong zucchinis, the chin-sullying plum. And the latest issue from our East End brethren, packed full of stories sure to inspire you to eat and drink more, or at least more thoughtfully.

So, take your time. Call it beach-reading material, or Central Park reading, or rooftop-reading, or whatever may be. Get inspired by the innovative Ludlow brothers of Mecox Bay, consider eating bunker (and other little fish), and plan your next Greenport getaway. Brush up on your Island nano-brews, see what proto-Mad Man Hal B. Fullerton saw on Long Island a hundred years ago, and think about the timing of sweet corn, like Alec Baldwin, who mentioned he was a “corn-iac” during a food-focused conversation with recently-back-from-the-Gulf marine conservationist Carl Safina. ” “You wait until September because it gets better the later it is. Don’t you agree?” We do.

As those bulging farmstands atest, Long Island is mighty fertile. Just look at the wondrous cabbage photo in the Delia Casa’s photo essay on Fullerton, who set out to prove—with camera and 240,000-acre experimental farm in the Pine Barrens—the fecundity of Long Island soil. As Delia Casa reports, Fullerton encouraged turn-of-the-century farmers to plant Long Island’s “wasteland,” and boosted freight shipping of produce—the ultimate goal of his employer, the Long Island Rail Road. This was decades before the first suburbs redefined “development” as fewer, not more, farms. But pioneering farm families like the Ludlows of Mecox Bay have endured centuries of agrarian peaks and valleys, partly because they were willing to reconsider and reinvent. Just a decade ago, Art and Harry Ludlow left potatoes and hitched their futures to a cornucopia of agricultural start-ups—from raw-milk cheese to an on-farm commercial kitchen to pastured pigs.

Entrepreneurship on the farm sure beats standing still. Just ask the dozens of vendors with rapt farmers market customers from Montauk to Westhampton. Or the “nano” brewers on Long Island’s beer trail, so small their limited supply gets drunk only at nearby restaurants and bars. (City suds scouts are already calling for bigger batches.)

Today, as much as anything, reinvention in our food chain bubbles up from what we put on our shopping list. Which is why from September 26 to October 6, Edible magazines across the state invite you to join in the second annual Eat Drink Local week by celebrating all the sips and sups that sate us.

  • Try one of our partner restaurants, like the dynamic duo Harvest and East by Northeast in Montauk. (Stay tuned for more on Montauk.)
  • Pour a new New York wine, like the Wild Ferment Chardonnay from Onabay.
  • Commune with some underappreciated local ingredients, like the small oily menhaden that Long Island boats have been scooping up and turning into fertilizer since the 1700s.
  • Attend the first Long Island wine auction, the Edible Institute at the New School, and the heirloom veggie auction at Sotheby’s.

Joining in is easy. And no matter what you do on our very fun, eat drink local to-do list, we promise you’ll end up inspired and well-fed.

Alec Baldwin, who mentioned he was a “corn-iac” during a food-focused conversation with recently-back-from-the-Gulf marine conservationist Carl Safina. “Don’
Brian Halweil

Brian is the editor at large of Edible East End, Edible Long Island, Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn. He writes from his home in Sag Harbor, New York, where he and his family tend a home garden and oysters. He is also obsessed with ducks, donuts and dumplings.

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