Out East Foodie's Top 10 Holiday Gifts from Long Island

We all can use some holiday cheer. Whaddaya say? To help ease your shopping woes for the pickiest and luckiest of folks, a holiday market in Bridgehampton and in Watermill has a plethora of edible and artisanal gifts that are sure to please. If you simply cannot peel yourself away from the cyber madness, visit Salt of the Earth Seed Company for that certain someone who has a green thumb, and if you received an incredible bonus this year (lucky you) and are looking to invest in something innovatively sweet, check out Sweet'tauk Lemonade. Oh, you want to whet your appetite for a special holiday meal? There is a list of imbibing reads that will have you chopping and supping. Have you been contemplating a chicken or egg share for a family member, maybe even a subscription to a community supported brewery for your beer loving friends? Yep, it's all there. These are just a few of my favorites to put you on your merry way. Let your local love shine, and support those who are the makers, the folks that enrich our souls with love and special care. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. Happy shopping!

  1. Salt of the Earth Seed Company: All heirloom seeds are grown on the North Fork of Long Island by farmer Stephanie Gaylor of Invincible Summer Farms. She specializes in growing rare, and endangered vegetables that are on the verge of extinction. Anyone who has a green thumb and is dreaming about sunny days ahead will appreciate these open pollinated, NON-GMO seeds.
  2. Kerber's Farm: Is a stylish "hamptons style" farmstand, minus the Montauk Highway crawl, that was revitalized in 2013 by the Huntington native Nick Voulgaris III, who has fond memories visiting the farm as a child. They make their own jams, pies, and jars of honey from their own bees. Some of the items are offered in specialty gift baskets. There is even a homemade apple pie kit that includes a dish and all the ingredients packaged in a sustainable wooden crate. While you are at it, grab a few of their apple cider doughnuts for the ride home.

    Address: 309 West Pulaski Road, Huntington, NY 11743 Phone: 631.423. 4400
  3. Sweet’tauk Lemonade: In 2012, Deborah Aiza, Founder and CEO of Sweet’tauk began making their premium lemonade in Montauk, NY and selling it at farmer’s markets and through their seasonal Montauk storefront. They built their initial following through self-distribution throughout the Hamptons, before successfully launching in Whole Foods Market Northeast Region and over one hundred independent markets in the NY metro area. Now, the next generation of lemonade, is raising growth capital on CircleUp, a leading online marketplace for private equity investing. Sweet’tauk lemonade is fresh squeezed, cold pressed, and never heated with less than half the sugar of other lemonades. It is the best lemonade I have ever tasted. And I am sure it will have sweet returns.

    Contact: Deborah Aiza   Phone: 631.668.5681  Email: deb@sweettauk.com   Web: www.sweettauk.com
  4. cHarissa: A Moroccan spice that is truly good on anything. This past June, cHarissa took first place in the “Cooking, Dipping or Finishing Sauce” category at the 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show and brought home the prestigious sofi Award. Earl Fultz at age 88, and his late wife, Gloria Elmaleh, started their business, cHarissa, to make and sell Gloria's Americanized version of the traditional Moroccan seasoning harissa. It truly is never to late to follow you dreams. Earl now 91 is spicing it up more than ever with—hot and mild—dry and oil based rubs that are available online and select retail stores.
  5. Edible Reads: Some of my favorite local folks who know a thing or two about food, wine, cocktails and heirloom vegetables.

    Long Island Food: A History from Family Farms & Oysters to Craft Spirits, by Tom Barrit, a prolific food blogger and Long Island native who serves up an eclectic bounty with a side of history that will entice appetites from Nassau to Montauk. He explores how immigrant families built a still thriving agricultural community, producing everything from crunchy pickles and hearty potatoes to succulent Long Island duckling. Experience the rise and fall of Long Islands bustling oyster industry and its reemergence today. And meet the modern-day pioneers in community agriculture, wine, cheese, fine dining and craft spirits who are reinventing Long Islands food landscape and shaping a delicious future.

    Behind the Bottle: The Rise of Wine on Long Islandby Eileen Duffy tells the story of Long Island wine from the people who made the region what it is today.  Long Island’s wine country draws 1.3 million visitors a year for their award winning and highly acclaimed wines. This book profiles owners, winemakers, and personalities from around the country and the world who make Long Island one of the hottest wine regions in the country. Eileen Duffy, Edible East End’s deputy editor, holds a diploma in wine and spirits from the International Wine Center and has been writing about food and wine on the East End since 2003. Anyone who is interested in Long Island wine should have a copy of this book.

    Forager's Cocktails: Botanical Mixology with Fresh, Natural Ingredients, by Amy Zavatto is a handy guide to imbibing the great outdoors through 40 inspiring recipes that is divided into seasons. There are great tips on how to best forage and preserve berries, herbs, flowers and other tidbits along the way. Forager’s Cocktails is a great tool for getting the most from backyards, parks, and woodlands. Get ready to craft one-of-a-kind cocktails. Cheers!

    Heirloom Harvest: Modern Daguerreotypes of Historic Garden Treasures, by Amy Goldman grows heirloom fruits and vegetables—an orchard full of apples, pears, and peaches; plots of squash, melons, cabbages, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and beets on a two hundred acres in Hudson Valley. She is a premier gardener with a strong focus on preserving our agricultural heritage and supporting biodiversity of beautiful and rare heirlooms.The images taken by photographer Jerry Spagnoli have a timeless beauty that is luminous. An inspiring book for anyone who appreciates the fragility and strength of nature. Would be a beautiful addition to a gardeners book collection.
  6. Edible Communities Publication: Edible Publications is in 80 distinct culinary regions throughout the United States and Canada. They connect consumers with family farmers, growers, chefs, and food artisans of all kinds. Locally, in the tri-state area we have Edible East End (I'm a contributor to the magazine and the columnist for What's in Season), Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan and Edible Long Island. Check out their 80 Edible Publications to subscribe to a local or favorite edible region near you.
  7. East End Holiday Markets: Locally handcrafted edibles, jewelry, soaps, pottery, arts and crafts.

    The Haygournd School Holiday Bazaar: Homegrown for the holidays, a food and craft bazaar that will feature:
    Backyard Brine, Browder's Birds, Bizzy Bee Designs, Chef Giovani, Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cake, Danielle Leef Photography. Designs by the Sea, Diaspora Books, East End Light, Goodfood, Hamptons Handpoured, Jesus Chris if our King Church, j-lilli designs, Ketsy Knits, Lavender of the Hamptons, Le Fusion, Lois Ooliver Handmade Goods, Lora Lomuscio Ceramics, Marilee Foster Beans, Mary Jaffe Pottery, Michelle's Urban Gourmet, Nofo Crunch Granola, NYR Organic, Old School Favorites, Peaceful Planet Yoga, Rustic Ladybug, Sew Enthused Creations, Southampton Soap, Stars Café, Temptress Yarn.

    Address: Hayground School, 151 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton  When: December 5th, 10am-4pm

    Holiday Gift Show with Southampton Soap Company and Friends: Three days of handmade holiday shopping featuring local artisans. Southampton Soap will give back 10% of their sales to their favorite charity each day. Last year was a great mix of food and craft. A perfect time to stock up on some gorgeous soap for you and those on your list. Make for a beautiful smelling stocking stuffer.

    Address: 832 Scuttlehole Road, Water Mill, New York. Phone: 631.613.6041   When: Tuesday, Dec. 15 from 4-8pm; donation to the The Retreat; Saturday, Dec. 19 from 10-3pm; donation to Flying Point Foundation for Autism; and Tuesday, Dec. 22 from 4-8pm; donation to i-tri Girls.
  8. Patty's Berries and Bunches Pure Local Honey and Edible Pepper Wreaths. You can pick up some of Patty's honey from her hives as well as these clever holiday dried pepper wreaths. Once the holiday season is over use these dried peppers throughout the year in your cooking.

    Address: 410 Sound Avenue, Mattituck, NY.  Phone: 631.298.4679
  9. Community Supported Everything: By now, we are all familiar with a CSA (vegetable share), and in recent years an egg or poultry share, but what about a Community Supported Brewery? Yep! You heard it hear. If you buy all three share you have a perfect meal.

    Golden Earthworm Organic Farm: Their full-season program runs for 26 weeks from June through November, which is the range of the local growing season on Long Island. Produce is picked fresh from thier fields, washed, boxed up, and delivered to your designated pick-up location every week. The shares contain 6 to 10 items, depending on the season and availability. Certified 100% Organic.

    Address: 652 Peconic Bay Blvd Riverhead, NY 11901  Phone: 631.722.3302 

    Browder's Birds: The Browder’s Chickens are certified organic by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC. Their hens are fed certified organic laying rations and live on a certified organic pasture benefiting greatly from the ability to forage daily. They have a pretty snazzy outdoor pantry of their own brines, pickled eggs, duck eggs, Christmas quiche, mayo, golden honey and dry rubs.

    Chicken Share: Their Chicken share runs for 20 weeks for a full share & 10 weeks for a half share and guarantees you a chicken each Saturday during your share time frame. 

    Winter Egg Share: Receive 2-dozen organic eggs twice a month.  

    Gift Certificates: These can be used to purchase organic chickens, organic eggs, and other products in season. If you want to shop from the comfort of your home they are offering free shipping for that special someone. They ship to the lower 48 states only, all others should call Holly and Chris at: 631.599.3394 for shipping information.

    Address: 4050 Soundview Avenue, Mattituck, New York. Hours: Fridays 3 - 5pm, Saturday & Sundays, Noon - 5pm.

    Bigalice Brewing: For $125 here is what you get for their Community Supported Brewery (CSB)
    Two new, empty half-growler bottles (each bottle holds 32 ounces), Two half-growler fills each month for 6 months; choose from any beer on tap, A Big Alice Brewing tote bag, 10% off merchandise and First opportunity to purchase special bottle releases.

    Address: 808 43rd Rd, Long Island City, NY 11101   Phone: 347.688.2337   Hours: Wed-Thurs, 5-9pm; Friday 5-10pm; Saturday, Noon-10pm; Sunday, Noon-8pm

    Moustache Brewing Co: For $150 here is what you get for their Growler of the Month Club: One 64oz Moustache Brewing Co. amber growler, One fill per month for a year in said growler, $1 off additional fills, Free birthday pint, 10% off all merchandise, Other perks and offers.

    Address: 400 Hallett Ave Riverhead, NY, 11901, Hours: Friday, 3-7pm; Saturday, 1-6pm; Sunday, 1-5pm
  10. Tend Coffee I have to admit, I'm a coffee snob. And I'm sure many of you would proclaim the same; coffee time is sacred to me and it needs to be good, real good. My first sip of this java jolt was at the Westhampton Farmers Market. Their coffee subscriptions are perfect for those with a refined coffee bean palate. Each subscription is based on pound, bean and grind.

    Address: 924 Montauk Highway, Shirley NY, 11967   Phone: 631.772.4707   Email: info@tendcoffee.com
    Hours of Operation: Monday-Saturday, 6am-8pm; Sunday, 7am-7pm

Dock to Dish Spears the Future of Sea-to-Table

As land-dwellers we have a 360-degree view of our agricultural landscape, an everyday convenience to absorb what is all around us: Amber Wave Farms is growing the season’s bounty, Browder’s Birds are grazing on pastures and in Montauk, N.Y. the fishermen are bringing fresh seafood to the docks. Nowadays, there are values that have gathered momentum in our agricultural landscape—“how was this tomato grown and who raised my chicken?”— is transferring over to the fishing industry. We know our farmers, but have you ventured beyond your local fishmonger and market and on to the docks to get to know your fisherman?

Well, this might be your chance. Dock to Dish, a CSF, community supported fishery, spears the future of sea-to-table by delivering fresh sustainably harvested seafood to your dish within 24 hours of being pulled from the ocean. 

And fish is not the only thing they are hooking into, awareness and education are on their radar. Every week a newsletter goes out to inform members of their weekly catch describing: who, what, when, where and why the fish was caught, a suggested recipe to go along with the catch, a sustainable write-up about the species and strict methods used during and immediately after capture. They are also dedicated to hosting a variety of events for members and guests about why it is so important to support your local fishermen and to become stewards of our seas. 

I was fortunate enough to attend their first event that celebrated the New York Times Best Selling book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food at Canio’s Bookstore in Sag Harbor and to meet the author, lifelong fisherman and the book’s James Beard award-winning writer Paul Greenberg

There are many challenges we face in sourcing local, wild and sustainable seafood. "Today we take more seafood out of the ocean every year than the equivalent of the human weight of China,” says Paul Greenberg. His scientific investigation and insight into how four wild fish: salmon, tuna, bass and cod frequently end up on dinner plates and whether they can be brought back from the brink of extinction was fascinating. “Our menus will be shaped in the coming years by aquaculture, we can expect to see limited options listed as the catch of the day. Local seafood, not too much and mostly bivalves is what we should be eating,” he says.

“It meant the world for us to have Paul Greenberg as our first guest speaker,” says Sean Barrett, co-founder of Dock to Dish. “Four Fish was a motivating force behind our launch. Now, having met Paul, we are able to see the relationship deepen and our understanding of his amazing work expand. As we continue learning the myriad of benefits in knowing our fisherman, we can now apply that philosophy to Paul and advocate that our members really get to know thy author.” 

L-R: Melissa Hillmer, Paul Greenberg, Sean Barret, Laura Luciano, Ralph Towlen, and bottom row Jamie Pollack

When I looked across the intimate Canios Bookstore there were many like-minded and familiar faces: Top-chef and avid fisherman Kerry Heffernan, Editor of Edible East End , Brian Halweil, Culinary Nutritionist and the host of Stirring the Pot on WPPB, Stefanie Sachs and New York State Field Outreach Representative of Fisheries for the Pew Charitable Trusts, Director of Operations for Shark Angels and scuba diver Jamie Pollack. 

Jamie Pollack diving with sharks

“The majority of fishermen see the fish from the surface when its caught and find the fun of the sport in the fight of the animal, I see the beauty of marine life in its natural habitat swimming around and interacting with it's environment,” says Jamie Pollack

Ralph Towlen, a spear gun fisherman and co-founder of Dock to Dish knows first hand what is beneath the hull and swimming in our oceans. Spear gun fishing is the most sustainable fishing method known to man. “We have zero bycatch, can harvest exact amounts, are able to analyze fish schools to pick the biggest and healthiest, and at times gender specific fish. If we see a female is carrying eggs we let the fish live and procreate,” says Sean Barrett. “Our restaurant clients are serving the freshest fish to over 700 people a week, combined with our CSF that is 1,000.” Expect to see a variety of local Long Island and New England fishes year round, including: black bass, blowfish, bluefish, haddock, hake, monkfish, pollock, porgy, skate, striped bass, summer flounder, redfish, swordfish, tilefish, tunas, wreckfish, mahi mahi, mullet, snappers, triggerfish and wahoo.

Another bonus to spear gun fishing is their conservation efforts to reverse the years of damage to the oceans ecosystem and marine life from lost drag nets and traps; these items are retrieved by Dock to Dish divers any chance they can get.

Paul Greenberg touched upon the Magnuson-Stevens Act or MSA. This was a law that was passed in 1976 and sets the standard for conservation, management and sustainable fishing in U.S. ocean waters. This act:

  • Kicked out foreign fishing fleets.

  • Established our Economic Zone which is about 4 million square miles of ocean 3-200 miles offshore and

  • established 8 regional councils to govern this vast territory. These councils are made up of representatives of coastal state governments, scientists and fishermen.

  • Set annual catch limits and accountability measures and

  • gave fish 10 years to rebuild.

The MSA was reauthorized in 2006 and is set to expire at the end of Sept 2013. “To weaken this world-class model now would be to ignore the innovation and sacrifice of those who built it over time, says Jamie Pollack.

When Congress reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Act, it should consider amendments to:

  • Minimize the habitat damage and bycatch of indiscriminate fishing.

  • Ensure that adequate forage fish are in the water to feed the larger ecosystem.

  • Promote ecosystem-based fisheries management.

This law has been proven to strengthen the health of our seas and Dock to Dish is a great example of a CSF who is following suit.

Paul Greenberg signed personal copies of his book for fans by request. Some read: Thanks for your work to protect our oceans. Because of you, the oceans are a better place. It is nice to know that the grassroots movement has hit our seas.

A few hours before the event I had received my weekly Dock to Dish newsletter informing me of my family share—4lbs of Golden Tilefish. I thought, “wouldn’t it be apropo to share the catch and have a dinner for friends and family, including Sean Barrett, the fisherman himself.” Fisherman to Dish—it does not get more tangible than that.

 While I was preparing our meal of: Arugula with Catapano goat cheese, beets and walnuts, grilled local sweet corn, North Fork heirloom cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella with homegrown basil, and pan seared Golden Tilefish with fresh herbs from Amber Waver Farms, friends and family were mingling. 

I observed something truly remarkable, a discussion around the meal we were about to have, in particular—the Golden Tilefish. Even my father who is an avid fisherman of these local waters learned a thing or two. Golden Tilefish is a deep-water delicacy; 250 to 1,500 feet deep where cold bottom temperatures range from 49 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit. What made the catch most special was who caught the fish—The Nolan Family of Montauk, N.Y. and where it was caught— in the Hudson Canyon. 

Sean Barrett, co-founder of Dock to Dish

Finally dinner was served; everyone grabbed a dish and helped themselves to the feast. As we sat down and took our first bite of this Golden Tilefish that has a sweet and mild flavor similar to lobster and crab; thoughts surmounted. “This is the freshest fish I have ever eaten” “simply awesome” “incredibly tender” “I never knew fish could taste this good”.  I would love to take all the credit and accolades for the taste of this truly spectacular fish; truth be told it is the fish that speaks for itself. There is very little you need to do to the fish when it is taken from the docks to your kitchen in a matter of hours— less is more flavor.

Over dinner we shared stories of past, present and upcoming future fishing trips; an evening I will always remember and cherish. I grew up fishing on the East End of Long Island, my fisherman and fishmonger is one in the same—my Pops. Similar to Paul Greenberg, my parents divorced when I was a child and his way to bond with my brother and me was to take us fishing; to this day all us kids still fish.

My brother and I fishing with Pops.

Brother John, Pops, Sister Kristin and Me

For Sean Barrett he saw his dream come to life; Dock to Dish created a dialogue around the dish, and before his eyes he saw first hand how he brought the sea-to-table.


Recipe for Pan Seared Golden Tilefish



  • Sea Salt and Pepper

  • 1 bunch of parsley and dill, chopped

  • 4 lemons and juice of 1 lemon

  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil



  1. Season fish with salt and pepper on both sides.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan.

  3. Lay 2 fish filets skin side down and let sear until you see the fish turning white along the sides for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is crispy.

  4. Once the flesh turns white about 1/2 way up the edges of the fish, turn it over and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining filets.

  5. Sprinkle with the parsley, dill and juice of one lemon over all of fish. Garnish with additional lemon wedges and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.

That's it!