Out East Foodies Top 10 Holiday Gifts From The East to West


Are you inundated with holiday cyber blasts from the usual? If you stroll down Main Street in Riverhead, a holiday market and gift boutique of edibles and handmade gifts from local artisans are sure to please. In Bridgehampton, Almond restaurant is cooking up a special meal to support a charity and the Topping Rose House is hosting a holiday market with over 50 vendors who will be showing off their edibles and crafts. If you simply cannot peel yourself away from the computer visit Salt of the Earth Seed Company for that certain someone who is a seed saver with a green thumb. Or perhaps some edible reads on wine, food and homegrown cooking to whet your appetite. Have you been contemplating a chicken or egg share for your family? Browder's Birds has it. Or maybe even a Christmas Stollen for a friend who has a sweet tooth; both forks are baking up this German specialty. 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. East End Holiday Markets: Locally handcrafted presents showcasing edibles, jewelry, soaps, pottery, arts and crafts.

    Topping Rose House Holiday Market: On Saturday, December 20th from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, 50 local vendors will be selling beautiful holiday gifts. Show-off your local holiday spirit by tweeting @ToppingRose and #TRHFarmersMarket. On the 3rd Saturday of each month through May they will be hosting an annual Farmer’s Market.

    Address: 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton, NY. Phone: 631.537.0870 

    Happy Holidays Gift Boutique: Tuesday, December 16th from 4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Local vendors: Southampton Soap Company, All Natural Bath & Body, Designs by the Sea Jewelry, Backyard BrineBizzy Bee DesignsTemptressYarnHamptons Mermaid CompanyMary Jaffee Pottery, Bonac FarmsValentines FarmLorna's Nuts & GoodiesLulu KnitsDanielle Leef photography.
    Door prizes, refreshments and lots of good, old-fashioned holiday spirit. 

    Address: 832 Scuttlehole Road, Water Mill, New York. Phone: 631.613.6041

    Riverhead Farmer's Market: Every Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. On February 1st, the indoor market opened its doors at the 8,000-square-foot old Swezey's Department store downtown in Riverhead. Hundreds of eager attendees piled in weekend after weekend elbowing their way to vendors. They quickly outgrew the space and moved a few doors down to an even bigger venue for more vendors and shoppers. 

    Address: 221 Main Street Riverhead, New York.

    East End Arts: Holiday Gift Boutique: East End Arts is a multi-award winning 501(c)3 not-for-profit arts organization serving the five East End towns of Long Island since 1972. East End Arts is committed to building and enriching community through the arts by way of education, support, advocacy and inspiration. At the holiday gift boutique you will find artful gifts made by local artists who are members of EEA. Members receive a 15% discount on all purchases. Hours: Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sunday Noon – 4:00 p.m. Closed Monday. Open until December 23, 2014. 

    Address: East End Arts Gallery, 133 East Main Street, Riverhead NY

  2. Almond Christmas Eve: 13th Annual Suckling Pig Roast: Would you prefer eating a suckling pig on Christmas Eve instead of The Feast of the Seven Fishes? For 13 years, Almond restaurant has been getting their hands on a few pigs from some local farmers. Chef Jason Weiner, roasts the pig in a hearth oven, carves them and serves with a couple of winter sides. A portion of the proceeds from the evening goes to the Pajama Program that gives pajamas to less fortunate children. They will also have an à la carte menu available. Call for reservations: 631.537.5665

    Address: One Ocean Road, Bridgehampton New York

  3. Edible Reads: Some of my favorite local folks who know a thing or two about food, wine and cooking homegrown:

    What the Fork are You Eating, by Stefanie Sacks is about what’s hidden in your food, an action plan with 50 time-tested recipes and how small changes in your food choices can make big everyday differences for your health. Stefanie Sacks MS, CNS, CDN is a Culinary Nutritionist, author, radio show host for Stirring the Pot on Hamptons NPR, educator, speaker and consultant. Sacks has been studying food and healing for 25 years, has her Masters of Science in nutrition from Columbia University, is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Dietitian Nutritionist and is a graduate of Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. 

    I like Pig, by Jimmy Carbone, the owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 and producer of Pig Island, New York City’s definitive annual pork fest, teamed with James Beard Award winning cookbook author Rachel Wharton to create a cookbook (e-book) full of porcine goodness. Every year dozens of chefs come together and celebrate the agricultural bounty of the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) at Pig Island. I Like Pig serves up some of the most popular recipes from the first four years of Pig Island.

    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. The book will be co-published with the Edible magazines group which includes Edible East End, Edible Manhattan, and Edible Brooklyn magazines, all of which will promote the book. Pre-order your book now for the release date of April 2015.

    The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, by Leeann Lavin features local food, local restaurants and local recipes. This book takes the reader on a private tour of outstanding chefs & artisanal growers of the Hamptons & Long Island. Great book for a cookbook collector or lover of the Hamptons and Long Island food scene.

  4. Christmas Stollen: During Christmas time fruitcakes of all shapes and sizes turn up, especially the American version that weighs a ton and is re-gifted more than any edible gift in history; I happen to like this version. The German fruitcake, Christmas Stollen, is made with dried fruits, nuts, spices and covered in lots of butter and sugar. This version I love and pretty sure you will devour it with all your bite.

    On the North Fork
    Junda’s Pastry offers plenty of holiday specialties and is known for their strudels and stollen.

    Address: 1612 Main Road, Jamesport, NY 11947. Phone: 631.722.4657

    On the South Fork 
    Krieg's Bakery 
    has been baking for the South Fork since 1985. Every Sunday my father would buy a bag of donuts; my favorite was the donut dipped in chocolate and filled with vanilla cream. They also make cookies, pies, cakes, danishes, fruit tarts, bread, gingerbread houses and their renowned holiday stollen, that is made with butter, nuts, green and red cherries, sweet pineapple, black and white raisins, almond marzipan and rum. You can get the top dusted with powdered sugar or leave plain.

    Address: 39 West Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays NY. Phone: 631.728.6524

  5. Balsam Farms Gift Baskets: Hundreds of different vegetables are grown in fields between Amagansett and Sagaponack. They offer beautiful baskets filled with their own jarred goods and locally sourced specialty items. Your choice of 6 jars (3 large and 3 small) of Balsam Farms products packaged in a farm basket. You can customize your basket by adding: additional Balsam Farms jarred goods, Balsam Farms Trucker Hat, Balsam Farms T-shirt, Balsam Farms Gift Cards, Amagansett Sea Salts and Bee's Needs Honey Products. Phone: 631.316.8784

  6. Long Island Beer Tours: Long Island's craft beer has award-winning breweries, festivals dedicated to the hops, and an active and impressive homebrewing community. Take in all the sights and flavors with a tour and tasting. There is sure to be a Long Island brewery to suit your tastes. Phone: 631.913.3817.

  7. 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. I am a huge supporter of Stephanie. She specializes in growing rare, and endangered heirloom vegetables, herbs, flowers, and has over 350 varieties of tomatoes; she is the tomato whisperer. Anyone who has a green thumb and is dreaming about sunny days ahead will appreciate these open pollinated, NON-GMO seeds.

  8. 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. Last time I was there they offered farm boots and some wool socks.

    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 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday & Sundays Noon – 5:00 p.m.

  9. 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 contribute to the magazine and write a column for What's in Season), Edible BrooklynEdible Manhattan and Edible Long Island. Check out their 80 Edible Publications to subscribe to a local or favorite edible region near you.

  10. Valley Wine Merchants Wine Club: Out East Foodie went west to Oregon this summer and visited with Andrew Turner, the proprietor of Valley Wine Merchants. He is a renowned chef and connoisseur of the best wines of the Willamette Valley and beyond. I am hoping in the near future East will meet West and Valley Wine Merchants will offer Long Island Wines. In the meantime, if you have a sweet spot for West Coast and International wines like myself, the custom wine club that caters to collectors, novices and wine enthusiasts may be for you. As a member you receive 15% off all retail prices automatically. You can read about Andrew in the Oregon Wine Press and The Oregon Wine Country Travel.

    Address: 112 S College Street, Newberg Oregon. Phone: 503.538.5388




The Fuss over the Feast

The Bottiglieri Family on my mother's side. My grandfather is in the seated row, far left and my grandmother is in the seated row second one in from the right.

When December comes rolling around, without fail I reflect on the days when our family was much bigger, we all lived closer and the Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes was a celebration that family and friends looked forward to each year. My grandparents on my mother's side, Renee and Frank were the hosts for this holiday tradition. Family memories and traditions of Christmas past were all wrapped up into each dish defining for us Baby Boomers and Generation X's their culinary traditions.

Grandfather, Frank Bottiglieri and Grandmother, Renee Bottiglieri on their wedding day.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian Christmas celebration that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes, however, some have been known to make 7-13 dishes; we made about 10. This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. In our family it was more like the wait for the linguini. We would begin feasting at 9pm and by midnight the linguini with calamari, clams, mussels, lobster and shrimp in a marinara sauce would grace the table.

The fuss over the feast would begin weeks in advance as my grandparents would order all the fish. The preparation of the Baccala, salted preserved cod, began days before. This would entail my grandmother soaking the cod in a large pot in the bathtub, changing the water and adding ice at intervels for a day or so until it was ready to make into a salad. Back in those days my grandparents had a "show bathroom" one that was not used. The only item that ever found its way to the tub was the Baccala. My grandmother was not fond of fish except for shrimp. I would hear her mumble under her breath as she prepared the marinara sauce for the linguini, "Your grandfather likes to make work for me with this stinking fish!"

The truth is my grandparents always made a fuss in preparing this holiday feast for family and friends. I even recall as a child on one Christmas Eve when my grandmother and my great Aunt Millie were dishing out linguini with lobsters for the town of Dobbs Ferry, NY. My Grandfather who was a butcher by trade owned a "mom and pop" butcher and grocery store in Dobbs Ferry. He was nicknamed "Barney" because he wore glasses and resembled a comic strip character at that time named Barney Google who had Googly Eyes. I personally would have called him the "Mayor" considering everyone in the town stopped by his shop for a chat or a pork chop. He was always into the more eccentric dishes of Chrstmas Eve and it was his job to prepare the marinated eel, scungilli salad, seafood salad and the fried smelts.

My grandfather in his Butcher and Grocery Store in Dobbs Ferry, NY. His Nickname was "Barney"

Other items prepared were the shrimp cocktail, fried calamari, baked clams and the Infamous Minestra which means soup in Italian. This soup is more like a side dish but that is what my Grandparents called it and so we keep the name for the sake of the tradition. This dish kicks off the Christmas Eve Feast and is made with escarole, black olives, raisins, pignoli nuts, olive oil and the secret ingredient, anchovies. These ingredients are layered in a large soup pot over low heat for a few hours and cooked down, without stirring. My grandmother once scolded me for stirring the Minestra, as if I committed some sort of a crime. So please - DO NOT STIR!! The layering of these ingredients creates a unique condensed flavor profile of salty and sweet. The saltiness of the anchovies complements the sweetness of the raisins perfectly, a must try. The recipe is provided below. 

A notable side dish was olive salad which was my grandmother's absolute favorite. She would chop a variety of olives into bits, mix with hearts of celery and their fronds, and add a little olive oil and pepper. She also made fried artichoke hearts and cardone which is also known as burdockMy grandmother was not fond of making the cardone as it turns your hands black. Cardone is a traditional dish, made by Italians for the Christmas Eve Feast and is absolutely delicious! 

Grandmother fixing the Christmas Eve Table

We had a few Italian desserts and my grandmother was in charge of the candied almonds, struffoli made of fried pastry honey balls, cenci made of fried pastry ribbons with powdered sugar, pizzelle which is a round flat waffle cookie and the anisette cookies which were made with a drop of anisette liquor for flavor and topped with lemon sugar glaze.

My grandfather made the ricotta cheese cake which happens to be the best my family and friends have ever had. It was moist, luscious and there was this custard like citrus infused bottom that would occur. I guess it was the way my grandfather separated the eggs, whipping the whites to full peeks and folding them with the yolks ever so gently with the ricotta, sugar and the zest of lemon and orange. We are still trying to master his recipe and sincerely believe it was how he carefully handled the ingredients like a pastry chef. I suppose him being a butcher may have had something to do with his precision and care. I wish I could have another day to watch my grandfather make this delicacy. Until a miracle occurs I will be practicing.

My mother was in charge of the Cheese Dainties. Oh, the memories in making these cookies, it was a 24 hour marathon. My brother John and I every year would help my mother whip the cream cheese, butter, and flour then dollop a variety of choice preserves in the middle. When baked we would sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. There was flour, preserves and powdered sugar everywhere! It took my mother days to clean, however It was the one culinary activity that we prepared for the Christmas Feast that made us laugh and be together. My mother had a circa 1950's GE oven. The previous owners of the house won a Pillsbury Bakeoff, winning a remodeled kitchen including appliances and the oven was part of that award. The GE oven remained in our kitchen until 2009. During it's later years, the oven would work for short periods of time and unfortunately after numerous attempts to fix it was retired of it’s oven duties. The “shell” of the oven door now hangs on the wall in her living room as an art piece because she had a very hard time parting with it.

My mother with her circa 1950's GE Oven Door which hangs on her wall as an art piece.

Today, our family makes a variety of these recipes. My brother continues the tradition on the west coast in Bend, Oregon with his son Sage and his significant other Jenny. They invite their extended family of friends to their dinner table for the linguini and other culinary additions to form their own traditions. Here on the east coast, we either celebrate at my mother's house in Hawthorne, NY or my aunt and uncles in Weston, CT. We make the Minestra, baked clams, fried calamari, linguini. The biggest challenge remains, the ricotta cheese cake.

The fuss over any feast should be cherished. We take some of the old and blend it with the new, just like we have done with making the Timpano for the past three Thanksgivings. Food traditions define for us a time and place with memories that hold a rich history about our heritage.

My husband Chris, Trixie our dog and I posing at our construction site for Sheridan Green.

Next year a new place and tradition for the Christmas Eve Feast will be held at our new home Sheridan Green in Hampton Bays, NY. The one wish I have is that my grandparents on both sides would be alive and our families can be in one place to celebrate old traditions which will be mingled with the new. Maybe by then we will have mastered the ricotta cheese cake. Happy Holidays and Happy Feasting!

Minestra Recipe


  • 4 large escarole bunches
  • 2 cup pitted black olives
  • 1/2 can anchovies
  • 3/4 cup pignoli nuts
  • 1.5 cups of raisins
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Chop the Escarole in medium size pieces and clean thoroughly with cold water. I find soaking the escarole and rinsing about 3 times helps remove the sand.
  2. Cut the black olives into 1/4 inch disks and chop anchovies into small pieces.
  3. In a large stock pot over low heat begin to layer the ingredients; 4 cups of escarole and half the remaining items. Then Repeat.
  4. Cook for 2-3 hours until the ingredients are rendered down and a broth occurs.

The longer you cook this down the better. Check on it once in awhile that you are not burning it, but DO NOT STIR! Serves 6-8