Out East Foodie's Top 10 Holiday Gifts from Montauk to New York City

The holiday season is in full swing from the Montauk Lighthouse to New York City's Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. If Black Friday and Cyber Monday didn't do it for you, this list may gleefully send you on your way to complete your holiday shopping. There is an array of gifts that is sure to feed the stomach and soul with a lot of local love and care. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and happy shopping!

Photography by James Slezak. To purchase this print and other works by James please visit: www.jamesslezakphotography.com

  1. A Love Shared: How does 12 signature sauces by the Long Island Culinary Collaborative chefs sound? And all proceeds of this limited collection of 100 gift boxes go to the ALS research and quality of life care for people with ALS. This was motivated by Chef Gerry Hayden of the North Fork Table & Inn who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. A Love Shared is a collaborative effort to raise awareness about ALS, to promote research for ALS and to raise money for quality of life care for needy ALS patients. 

    Here is what's in the box: 

    Lia Fallon — Mediterranean Fig Chutney / Claudia Fleming — Passionfruit Caramel / Terry Harwood — Ginger & White Soy Mignonette / Gerry Hayden — Red Pepper Jimmy Jam / Keith Luce — Duck Wing Sauce / Sam McClendon — Salsa Verde / Michael Meehan — Pickled Corn Relish / Christian Mir — Ginger Vinaigrette / Joe Realmuto — Townline Hot BBQ Sauce / Guy Reuge — Piccalilli / John Ross — Wild Beach Plum Sauce / Tom Schaudel — Thai Red Curry Broth

    I lost an uncle to this disease and thought this was an amazing effort and gift by the The Long Island Culinary Collaborative chefs as well as Jeri Woodhouse, of a Taste of the North Fork who made the chefs signature sauces. For multiple orders or to personalize your gift contact Jeri Woodhouse at 631.834.1816. Orders can also be picked up at Taste of the North Fork, 53975 Main Road, Southold, NY.
  2. A Taste of the North ForkThis is a perfect segue to Jeri Woodhouse of A Taste of the North Fork who for more than 10 years has been making local ingredient-sourced chutneys, jams, mustards, pickles, preserves, sauces, spices and vinegars from her own recipes. Her gift baskets are perfect for the holidays for that special someone who really wants a taste of the North Fork. Visit: 53975 Main Road, Southold, NY. Phone: 631.734.6100.

  3. Sweet’tauk handmade for the holidays fair: Do not let the size of this shop fool you as there are a plethora of magnificent handmade East End products from local artists, artisans and makers. I left there with a bag full of goodies, a one-stop-shop sure to please anyone on your list. Participants include: 41 Degrees North, Amagansett Sea Salt, Billy Wolf K-9 Coatery, Bob Golden Ceramics, Bonac Bees,  Dana Forbes Jewelry, Deborah Frasca, Ditch Ink, East End Fish Prints, Evonne, Glenn Glasser, Grant Monahan Photography, Gula Gula Empanadas, Jane’s Garden Pickles, Joe & Liza's Ice Cream, The Knot House, Laura Michaels Jewelry, Lazy Point Pottery, Let There Be Light, Lorna's Nuts, Made in Montauk, Michelle Minkoff, Miss Amy's Preserves, Miss Lady Root Beer (I used their root beer to poach pears and paired it with Joe & Liza’s Cinnamon Stick and Vanilla Ice cream, delicious!), Montauk Brewing Company, Montauk Community Garden, My Art Is My Temple, Quail Hill Farm Cookbooks and Hot Sauces (all proceeds of sales go to Quail Hill Farm), Red Hook Lobster Pound, Southampton Soap Company, Tauk Boards, Whalebone Creative and Sweet‘tauk’s all-natural lemonade infusions made with locally sourced fruit & herbs. You can grab a taste of their products during the holiday fair on Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 5pm until December 23rd. Location: 34 South Etna Ave, Montauk, NY, Phone: 631.668.5683
  4. North Fork Long Island Wine Club: There is nothing better than Long Island Wine Country delivered to your doorstep! I have sampled my share of these wines at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks and the Harvest East End and if you are not local or rather imbibe from the comfort of your own home this is a great way to sample Long Island Wines. The North Fork Wine Club is the only wine club that exclusively ships Long Island Wine from most North Fork and Hamptons Wineries each month. Visit their website to subscribe. Cheers!
  5. Jimmy’s No. 43: Anyone who is a foodie at heart loves Jimmy’s No. 43 for it’s craft beer and Slow Food approved locavore haven. But the man behind this establishment—Jimmy Carbone—I love more because his spirit to educate and support locally-sourced food and well-crafted beer is unwavering. He wears many hats and is co-chair for Taste of Tribeca, special adviser for The New Amsterdam Market and for Greenmarkets GrowNYC, co-founder of Hungry Filmmakers, co-creator of The Good Beer Seal and the host of Beer Sessions on Heritage Radio. I always say all roads lead to Jimmy Carbone and if there is a time to go to Jimmy’s No. 43 and visit with the man himself, it is now! Hurricane Sandy hit New York City and in particular Jimmy’s No. 43 pretty bad. Jimmy is looking for a few guardian angels to help Jimmy (Stewart) with “It’s a Wonderful Life” rally and fundraiser. This will run until December 15th and all you have to do is purchase a gift certificate to enjoy great beer. For every gift certificate of $25 or more that you purchase between now and December 15th, your name will be entered into their Rare Bottle Raffle. And they’ll keep adding your name for every $25 you spend (so if you purchase two $25 or one $50 gift certificate, you’ll get two entries; spend $100 and get four entries, and so on). Winners will be notified the week of December 16th (just in time to share with friends and family). Their gift certificates never expire, are transferable—they make great gifts—and can be spent on food and drink all year long. And if you want to support them at a Patron level ($500+) you’ll be invited to special events and receive extra benefits in 2014!  Visit for Some holiday cheer: 43 East 7th St. btw 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Phone: 212.982.3006. Website: jimmysno43.com

  6. Farm 2 Kitchen Long Island: Is focused on being the easiest and most convenient way for fresh, local products from Long Island's farmers & artisans to end up in your home. Simply sign-up for free and order at your leisure when you want to receive your farm fresh, artisanal groceries. They serve all 5 boroughs of New York City and Long Island and offer a full range of produce from conventional to 100% hormone, antibiotic pesticide & GMO free products. Besides giving yourself the gift of a free subscription for groceries you can order corporate & personal gift baskets for the holidays. They deliver to offices and homes across Long Island & NYC. Phone 631.223.8854 
  7.  Farmigo: Is a People Powered Farmers Market. So what is that exactly? They connect communities of people (workplaces, community centers, schools and other locations), directly to multiple local farms, providing a personalized online marketplace for local, fresh-from-harvest food as well as dairy, pastured eggs, cheese, fish and meat. Members in each food community shop at their dedicated Farmigo farmers market online, pick and choose their preferred items, and then have their orders delivered weekly to their food community site—Farmigo Champions—within 48 hours of harvest. They currently work with over 300 farms in 25 states across the United States. In the tri-state area they are in Long Island, Brooklyn, Harlem and North Jersey. The difference between this and a door-to-door delivery is the community aspect. They recreate farmers market communities where people come together with food as the connection— at the weekly community pick ups— run by Farmigo Champions. Members come together to chat about all things food and to simply connect about life. They are actively building Farmigo Communities across California and New York and are seeking individuals who are interested. This holiday season and for the days to come give the gift of Farmigo to your family and community.  
  8. 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, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Manhattan and the newest publication on the block, Edible Long Island where they are running a special Edible subscription of 2-for-1. Check out their 80 Edible Publications to subscribe to a local or favorite edible region near you.
  9. Ms. Michelle’s Urban Gourmet: When I met Michelle and Christopher it was at the Great Chef’s Dinner and they were one week away from being married. They are a dedicated Gluten Free Organic Bakery Café serving natural, healthy, organic, locally sourced, 100% gluten and soy free, all the time! For the past 3 years they have been growing leaps and bounds and are looking to relocate to a new space and a new grown up name, Ms. Michelle’s Gourmand. It is no surprise as their pastries, pies, cakes, smoothies, breads, tarts, wedding cakes and savory menu are absolutely delicious and would satisfy any gluten fanatic. This holiday season have Ms. Michelle’s cater your next gluten free party from sweet to savory or consider donating to their kick-starter campaign for their newly expanded space (you might get a treat in the offering).  Visit: 572 Middle Road Bayport, NY 11705,  Times: Tuesday - Saturday: 8am - 6pm Sunday 8am - 3pm Phone: 631.472.2524, Visit them on Facebook.
  10. North Shore Animal League: Adopting an animal is one of the greatest gifts of all. When Chris and I adopted our girl Trixie it was one of the best moments of our lives. December 5 through Saturday, December 7, over 70 participating Americana Manhasset and Wheatley Plaza stores will donate 25% of designated pre-tax purchases to the participating organization(s) of the customer’s choice. Purchases are not automatically eligible; you must register for a complimentary CHAMPION CARD. Simply designate North Shore Animal League America as your charity of choice and present your CHAMPION CARD when making purchases during the event. 25% will be automatically calculated and submitted to North Shore Animal League America. For more information visit championsforcharity.org or call 800.818.6767. To adopt or make a donation. If you are not in the tri-state area consider contacting your local animal shelter as there are so many animals who need a loving home. 

Edible Long Island Launch Party Prompts my Resurgence with an Autumn Panzanella Salad

This past week I joined fellow Long Island food and drink enthusiasts at chef Tom Schaudel’s Jewel Restaurant in Melville, New York, to celebrate the much anticipated launch issue of Edible Long Island, a magazine that celebrates the stories of what we eat and drink, season by season. 

In typical Out East Foodie fashion I was tasting, sipping and photographing Long Island’s best food and drink while conversing with like-minded strangers and friends. 

Mirabelle Duck Rilette with cornichon walnuts marmalade

Jewel Restaurant: Oysters with Mango Caviar

Deb Aiza of Sweet 'tauk  

Roots: Dickens Cider with Candied Bacon

T.W. Barrit of Culinary Types blog

As I took a bite of the candied bacon strip that was in my dickens cider by Roots Bistro Gourmand, I locked eyes with my virtual friend T.W. Barritt, a contributor to Edible Long Island and author of his fantastic blog Culinary Types; I felt like I found my long lost friend. After a minute of us enthusiastically greeting each other, T.W kindly states, “You know Laura, you are a week behind on your blog.” Two different emotions came to mind: complete joy that he follows my blog weekly and major anxiety about what seems to be a setback. I am not sure if T.W. noticed but the sweat started to pool on top of my brow—it was a perfect start to our in person friendship. So thank you T.W. for following my blog and the gentle reminder (we chuckled together) on my delay. 

For over a year now it has been one big blur for my husband Chris and me, an amazing race of sorts to get our home Sheridan Green done before the years end. The combination of managing and constructing the building process, our professional jobs (that pays the bills), my blog and trying to nurture relationships with friends and family has been a feat. So once in awhile, sweat pools above my brow for feeling harried and other times overjoyed with excitement. 

Two weeks ago we were able to sneak away from the daily grind to have dinner with dear friends of ours in New York City; we had not seen them in two years. This gathering reminded me of the homemade meals and spirits we would share with family and friends: breaded grilled flounder with the infamous panzanella salad during the summer months on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, gnocchi made three ways for the Gnocchi Fest in December at our friends Bed and Breakfast, The Sea Spray Inn in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, cassoulet at my aunt and uncles in Weston, Connecticut where we would always cook a feast for no special occasion, corn and flour tortillas for fish tacos during the winter months in Todos Santos, Mexico at my aunt’s compound where my brother’s family from Bend, Oregon and other family members would get together for a vacation and last but not least sipping wines from the Willamette Valley visiting friends in Portland, Oregon.

However sad it may seem that we have not seen most of you in a very long time, I have a feeling it is going to be very hard to get rid of you once Sheridan Green is complete.

We are one month away from being moved in and as I type this the kitchen cabinets are being installed and the trim is getting set in place, Yippie! The 7kw solar array is ready to run the geothermal system so we won't have any energy bills or require fossil fuels to heat and cool the house. 

The hot yoga studio is ready for Heat Mizer temperatures, the kind of heat that us Bikram yoga fanatics love. The Edible garden above the carport awaits some attention, so in the meantime I have been taking biodynamic workshops with the great KK Haspel so we can apply those practices on our property. And for the first time in my life I am the proud owner of a car, a Ford CMAX hybrid; it has been one heck of a ride—no pun intended.


Soon all our friends and family from afar can add the East End of Long Island as your next viticultural and culinary destination. Not only will this be a home for loved ones to gather but a place where like-minded people can come together to talk story, enjoy amazing food and drink and share inspiration in a great space.

In honor of our friends, family and all the edible gatherings we have shared in the past I created an autumn panzanella salad to indicate where we are today. I had such fond memories making this salad over the years that I wanted to create one that reflected the season.

Cheers to all of you who have been so supportive, to T.W. Barritt for reminding me how fleeting time truly is and for my husband Chris who is making it all happen—I love you.


Autumn Panzanella Salad

ingredients salad


  • 1 dumpling and 1 acorn squash (you can use butternut squash) 
peeled, sliced and seeds removed and reserved.
  • 1/3 cup of squash seeds
  • 3 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 8 (3/4-inch cubed) whole grain bread
  • 5 red medium sized beets, peeled and quartered (reserve the beet tops for the salad)
  • 2 cups of beet greens roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh sage, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 10 slices of fresh ricotta salata (as you desire)

ingredients for vinaigrette

  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup




  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Toss the cubed bread in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of sea salt. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Take the reserved seeds from the squash and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with dash of sea salt and toast in oven for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Slice and peel the squash. Toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of sea salt. Bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Do not over cook. (note: you may find it easier to peel the squash (for acorn and dumpling) after the slices are baked
  4. Toss the beats in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and cover with tin foil. Bake for 40 minutes or until fork-tender.
  5. Slice the ricotta salata cheese and set-aside

    for vinaigrette
  6. Whisk together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette.
  7. In a large bowl begin to layer all ingredients (squash, beets, bread, seeds, and beet tops) except for the cheese. Lightly, toss all ingredients with the vinaigrette and let sit for 5 minutes. Place ricotta salata on top of the salad and serve.

    Serves 4 people