Hamptons Hot Picks for the Weekend


“Montauk Top” by Dawn Watson.

It’s Friday. And that means it’s Hot Picks time.

Topping my personal list for the weekend is the opening of “Natural Abstractions + Landscape Loves” at the Montauk Library tonight, Friday, March 24, from 6 to 8 p.m., since it’s my show and all.  Please come if you can make it. Check out some of my newest work here. 

Portrait of Michael Holman by Rob Northway_shot in livingroom

Also tonight, which I’m sad to have to miss, is “Confessions of a Subculturalist,” written and performed by Michael Holman, at the Southampton Arts Center at 7 p.m.  Get tickets here. Tomorrow night at the SAC, it’s a “Live” show with Nilson Matta’s Brazilian Voyage Trio, presented with The Jam Session, starting at 7 p.m. Click here for music tickets. 

And since we’re on the subject of theater and the performing arts, be sure to get your tickets for “Imagination,” now staging in Quogue courtesy the Hampton Theatre Company. It looks like a really good romantic thriller. Can’t wait to see it.

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Want some art by the late, great Don Saco? Saturday is the perfect day to pick up work from this true gentleman who was also  a commanding artist. Stop by 117 Cobb Isle Road in Water Mill starting at noon for an arts estate sale of his work.


And don’t let the title fool you (it nearly slipped past me, I’ll admit it), there’s what I’m sure will be a great reading of “May 39th” with the talented Chloe Dirksen and J. Stephen Brantley at the Malia Mills pop-up gallery in East Hampton on Saturday night too. Cool.

May 39 big1


Also on Saturday afternoon,  the Watermill Center will host an opening reception for William Stewart’s “Works on Paper” from 2 to 4 p.m.

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Then on  Saturday night, there’s a fundraiser at the Southampton Publick House for our friends at Our Fabulous Variety Show.

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And Saturday also marks the grand reopening of RJD Gallery, formerly of Sag Harbor and now on Main Street in Bridgehampton. The big to-do, which will feature lots of great art, plus cocktails, music and mingling,  starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. Especially now, I’ so glad to see art, and that comes with it, rising from the ashes. Literally in this case.







Also on Saturday, the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center is hosting  award-winning songwriter and local favorite Gene Casey, who will give a concert at 8 p.m. in celebration of his newest album.



On Sunday at 6 p.m.,  Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor continuing 25 Years of Cinema with the Hamptons International Film Festival by screening one of my very favorite true-crime movies ever–“Heavenly Creatures.” Among other things, including budding lesbian love and matricide, it’s a film that marks the very first time I ever saw Kate Winslet on film. She is EXTRAORDINARY in this movie. If you haven’t seen it, make sure you catch it on Sunday or sometime soon.

It’s also the last Sunday Salon time of chanting, ayurvedic food and meditation with Kate Rabinowitz and Rameshwar Das in Bridgehampton. Here are the details for that:



And lastly, don’t forget that next week is East End Restaurant Week. Yum!  Click here to see the list of participating restaurants.


Wine & Dine: 1770 House

the-1770-house-chef-michael-rozzi-spicy-local-fluke-tartare-hijiki-pickled-cucumber-wasabi-tobiko-radish-photo-credit-robyn-leaWhen you go to the 1770 House in East Hampton, you know that you’re consistently going to get one of the best meals you’ve ever eaten. Such was the case for my most recent Wine & Dine foray. I dare to say it was the VERY BEST paired dining experience that I have ever had!

Take a minute to let that sink in. All true.

The evening at the 250-plus year-old inn and fantastic restaurant, headed by Executive Chef Michael Rozzi, was spent in the Tavern room downstairs. Exactly my favorite place to spend a cozy winter night.

I don’t usually even ask to bring a guest when I’m reviewing (though it’s nice to have someone share the experience, reviewing–as awesome as it is–is not ever to be confused for a  night out on the town at a restaurant’s expense) but Carol at 1770 insisted, which was a class touch. So I brought my friend Lisa, who also reveled in the sublime experience.

We started with warm house-made (everything at 1770 is house-made and as fresh as fresh can be) rosemary and sourdough rolls. Scrumptiously light and oh so aromatic, they were deelish. And of course, we were treated like royalty by pro waiter Carl (a true service expert),  sommelier Michael Cohen, Debbie and a bevy of gracious staffers, and even a table-side visit from the Executive Chef himself (wow!). The entire evening was sheer bliss, punctuated by incredible food, gracious hospitality and damn fine wine!

“It’s my take on a deep-winter menu that’s looking forward to the spring,” said Chef Rozzi. “It’s seasonally appropriate and makes best use of what’s naturally available.”

For the first of our seven-course tasting menu, thoughtfully curated by Chef Rozzi and Mr. Cohen (both at the tippy tops of their games), we started with the famed Montauk Fluke Tartare. Beautiful to look at and heaven to the palate, this showy “signature dish” is the perfect combination of  super fresh fluke with pickled cucumber, black seaweed, radish salad and wasabi tobiko. Yum, yum, yum! It was paired with a clean, light and bright Greek wine (yes, there is such a thing as exceptional Greek wine. Who knew?), a 2014 Moschofilero ‘Fteri’ from Troupis Winery in Tripoli, that was probably my favorite sip of the night.

It was just the “beginning of the rollercoaster,” said Michael, the sommelier. He was not kidding. What a thrill ride!


1770 House Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad. Snapshot by Dawn Watson.

The next pairing consisted of Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad Sundried Tomatoes, Lemon & Parmesan Dressing and a 2015 Sancerre ‘Silex’ from Domaine Gerard Fiou in the Loire Valley, France. Oh boy, am I ever a Brussels sprouts fan and these most certainly did not disappoint. Love that the dish also featured Halsey apples. Rich, creamy and expertly dressed, they were a brand-new take on a veg that I thought I had all covered. Wowsa! I would eat this dish every single day if I could. And the wine, slightly oaky and mellow, it was a beautiful sip on it’s own but really shone in combination with the “meatiness” of the dish.

Then came the Roasted Mushrooms over Homemade Brioche Toast, with Baby Kale, Caerphilly Cheese, Red Endive & Aged Balsamic and the 2012 Pinot Gris ‘Reserve’ by  Trimbach in  Alsace, France. Both the dish and drink were perfect representatives of a fine deep-winter menu and were elegance exemplified.

On to the entrees. First up was my personal favorite, the Roasted Codfish with Winter Truffle Sauce Haricots Verts, Organic Purple Carrots, Pommes Purée and a 2011 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru ‘En Remilly’, Domaine Chavy from Burgundy, France. This cod was so perfectly prepared; the grill was gorgeous and the texture was flaky and tender. The vegetables were incredible too. And the wine, when tasted alongside, opened up a way that was both surprising and welcome. Incredible!



On to number five, the Rohan Duck Breast with Spiced Butternut Squash, Bok Choy & Raphael ‘Portico’ Sauce 36 and a rich and plummy 2013  Pinot Noir, ‘Givry,’ Domaine Ragot Chalonnaise from Burgundy, France. Rich and sumptuous, this was another of the night’s perfect pairings.

Lastly, it was Lisa’s favorite — the Slow Braised Beef Short Rib Winter Truffle Risotto & Local Kale, which was perfectly fork-tender and somehow both elevated and accessible, and a 2013 Barbaresco, De Forville, Piedmont from Italy. “That’s exactly what Italy in winter looks like,” said sommelier Cohen. When are we moving there??  : )

Finishing with a bang, we got the Warm Date Cake with Toffee Sauce & Salted Caramel Swirl Gelato (This is my personal favorite dessert of all time, and it needs to be my birthday cake every year!) and the Ricotta Cheesecake with a Hazelnut Crust Blueberry Compote & Bourbon Caramel. Enjoyed with creamy and delicious cappuccinos. Heaven! The entire evening was an embarrassment of riches. Stopping several times to stop and simply tuck away the memories and sensations that we were so fortunate to experience, it’s one that we won’t forget. Thank you 1770 House!!!




‘Share’ This Family-Style Cookbook


Ted Allen, Chris Santos and Marcus Samuelsson. All photos by Julian Cassady.

Family-style dining champion Chef Chris Santos was feted by some big names in the food business this week for the release of his cookbook, “Share.”Those who showed up to celebrate Chef Santos’ achievement at Stanton Social in Manhattan included Chef Marcus Samuelsson and Ted Allen.

“SHARE: Delicious and Surprising Recipes to Pass Around Your Table” is the first cookbook by the acclaimed restaurateur and judge on the Food Network’s “Chopped,” though I doubt it will be the last. The cookbook, which serves up more than 100 extraordinary “big platter” recipes and small plates, delivers his creative take on old-school favorites that cooks can make at home.

During the party, a special menu of signature dishes from “Share” were served, including: Potato and Goat Cheese Pierogies, Crab cake corn dogs, Cobb salad bites, Chicken taquitos, Chicken Arepas, Crispy Hard Shell Fish Tacos, Kobe Sliders, Philly Sliders and Warm doughnuts. Guests also enjoyed the night’s signature cocktail, La Presa, from Jägermeister and ended the night with a heartfelt speech from Santos and sweet surprise – a SHARE covered vanilla cake, enjoyed by all.

Chef Santos is best known for his work as a judge on “Chopped.” He’s also appeared as a guest chef on the “Today Show,” the “Early Show” and the “Rachel Ray Show” and has been a repeat guest chef at the White House and Camp David. His restaurants include Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex and VANDAL.



Last Call for Dinner and a Show Tonight


If you’ve never been to the James Beard House in the city, now’s a great time to check it out as Damien O’Donnell, local chef and co-owner of Harbor Bistro  in East Hampton will be cooking dinner there TONIGHT at 7 p.m.

There are still a very few tickets left for prestigious dinner, which chef O’Donnell has been invited to cook at the James Beard House. One of the highest honors for a chef, the multi-course meal at JB will be complemented by wine pairings and an  “East Meets East End” theme, highlighting local resources infused with his signature Asian-style, paired with Wölffer Estate wines.


Photo of Damien O’Donnell shot by Diana Lee.

The evening begins with a cocktail receptions and passed hors d’oeuvres paired with Wölffer Estate Noblesse Oblige Extra Brut Rosé 2013. Hors d’oeuvres include: Yellowfin Tuna Poke with sweet onions, macadamia nuts, ginger soy sauce and spicy mayonnaise; Winter Fluke Ceviche, with coriander, tomatillo relish and avocado crema on plantain chips; Tandoori-Spiced Fried Oysters Red lentil hummus and spicy raita; Bonac Clams
Jalapeno ponzu and cedar plank-roasted tomato salsa; Mongolian Beef Short Rib Lettuce Wraps and Crispy Kataifi. The five-courses dinner will feature: Baby kale-carrot salad, with toasted almonds and red curry sauce and Wölffer Estate The Grapes of Roth Dry Riesling 2015; Sea Scallops with risotto croquette, sherry-pickled shiitakes, marinated beets, celeriac velouté and tarragon and Wölffer Estate Perle Chardonnay 2014; Roasted Crescent Farms Duck Breast with roasted squash hash, five-spice walnuts, bok choy and blood orange-star anise gastrique; Maine Lobster Tail Tempura and Wölffer Estate Caya Cabernet Franc 2013; and Kobe Beef Tataki with shaved Brussels sprouts, red endive, pancetta, watercress, apple and yuzu-soy butter Wölffer Estate Fatalis Fatum 2013. Dessert  includes: Pistachio Financier, Lemongrass bavarois and passion fruit sorbet and Wölffer Estate Decencia Botrytis Late Harvest Riesling-Chardonnay 2015.


Tickets to the dinner cost $175 per person, $135 for members, and can be made by calling the James Beard House directly at 212-627-2308 or online at http://bit.ly/ODonnellBeardHouse.

Feel like staying a bit closer to home but still want the night to have some drama? Then head over to the Springs Presbyterian Church and check out the Springs Community Theater Company’s production of “Steel Magnolias,” starring Susan Conklin, Claire Hopkins, Shelley Bennett, Virginia Haller, Jayne Freedman and Vay David.

If it’s a  great night and a good cry (and a lotta laughs too!) you’re interested in, you better make sure that there’s a ticket waiting for you. I went last night and the place was absolutely PACKED, with good reason. It’s been that way for all the performances so far, and tonight’s 7 p.m. show is the very last performance so get on the horn (call Barbara Mattson at (516) 658-5735) or reserve online right now before it’s too late.




Wine & Dine: Topping Rose


Dawn Watson photos.

I had the honor of dining at Jean-Georges’s Topping Rose in Bridgehampton last night. I went for fun with a friend and not for a professional review but I think it’s always good to share some impressions.

Not having been there since the kitchen was under the direction of Tom Colicchio, I’ve been extremely curious about the restaurant. As I know that both chefs favor a high end vegetable-forward, farm-to-table experience, my expectations were just as high with this newish iteration as they were for the Top Chef guru’s fare. I was not disappointed.  The food was delicious, though definitely on the expensive side.


I started with a Cucumber Mint Martini, though made with vodka and not gin ($18). It was very, very yummy and refreshing, but best imbibed only once. There was also a delicious sip of the Sancerre, Jean Vincent 2013, Loire, France ($15) to follow.

We didn’t do starters but I enjoyed the Bay Scallop special appetizer, which was served atop pureed cauliflower ($21 I think). Mmm mmm good. Additionally, I tried the Roasted Romanesco, Brussel Sprouts, Balsamic and Herbs side ($9). Tasty. My friend had the Bucatini and Short Rib special (???), which I recall from past visits under the former management has always been perfectly prepared. She agreed.

We shouldn’t have ordered dessert but it’s hard to say no when you’re having a luxury culinary experience. I tried a cappuccino ($8) and the Almond Cake, Poached Quince, Pear Sorbet ($13), which was quite good and the pear sorbet was outstanding! I’m definitely making that sorbet at home. She tasted the Yuzu Saint-Honoré, Coconut Cremeux, Kaffir Chantilly, Yuzu Curd ($13) which was okay if a  bit understated for my taste, particularly as it sounded so intriguing. We also sipped an incredible Moscato d’Asti, G.D. Vajra 2015, Piedmont, Italy ($14) or was it the Chardonnay Blend Diosa, Wolffer Estate 2012, Hamptons, NY ($17)? Hmmm. Whatever it was, it was a great note to end on.

Recommended, but not for the faint of wallet.



Hamptons Hot Picks: Saturday & Sunday, October 22 & 23

Goodbye sizzling summer. Sniff sniff. Hello awesome autumn.

I guess it’s officially fall. But that doesn’t mean that we have to hunker down and start hibernating. To the contrary, it’s time to get out there and enjoy life. So let’s soak up all the fun we can before (what’s been predicted to be a) brutal winter.


Baron’s Cove is hosting an Octoberfest celebration on Saturday. Photo by Doug Young

Like beer, food and good times? Head over to Baron’s Cove in Sag Harbor, which is hosting an Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, October 22, from noon to 5 p.m. Expect German-style treats such as pretzels, sauerkraut, bratwurst and Steckerlfisch, and lotsa tap offerings too. Plus live music with Tom and Lisa starting at 2 p.m.



Later on Saturday, check out Halsey House in Southampton by candlelight from 4 to 5 p.m. Tours run approximately every 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy cider and cookies before or after your tour.



And on Sunday, October 23, head up to the North Fork for a very special Sunday Supper at Sep’s Farm in East Marion from 1 to 3 p.m. The farm-to-table culinary event, which will be held in a restored barn on the farm (COOL!), will serve as a fundraiser for the Cormaria Retreat House in Sag Harbor. The shindig is being put on by chef and TV personality George Hirsch and our ol’ pal Alex Goetzfried—chef, food writer and photographer extraordinaire. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door and that includes everything but the wine and beer. Yeehaw! Get your tickets here.  Or get the 411 by emailing SundaySupperUSA@gmail.com.


Wine & Dine: Nick & Toni’s


Brunch has never been better at Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton. Dawn Watson photos.

Whenever you go to Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton, you know it’s going to be a treat. This past Sunday’s brunch was no exception–though the food and service were, as always, exceptional.

After having learned that brunch had returned at the notable restaurant, I reached out to my friend Lisa Tamburini, with whom I’ve shared many a fine meal at place that is catnip to the most famous of Hamptons celebrities. Given the option of seating, we choose our favorite cozy spot next to the windows by the pizza oven. It’s great for the sunlight, though the shadows didn’t do my shoot-from-the-hip food photography any favors. Apologies for my selfishness.  : )

Before our starter came–the Romaine Salad with Caesar Dressing, Garlic Croutons, Grana Padano (with optional chicken), which was delicious–we were treated to raspberry mini muffins that were absolutely incredible. They were baked by Rachel Cronemeyer, who is the pastry chef at all Honest Man Restaurants, including Nick & Toni’s, Rowdy Hall, La Fondita and Townline BBQ. I just love getting those little extras, especially when they are so fantabulous! Yum, yum, yum!


Dawn Watson photo

Later chef de cuisine Bryan Futerman came out to join us and talk food. In addition to adding to making us feel like bigshots by stopping by, he let us in on the secret that the legendary Nick & Toni’s chicken (one of the eatery’s most popular items on the menu no matter the time of day) comes from a place called Super Bird. Fitting.


Dawn Watson photo

Next were the entrees; the special Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Mozzarella Pizza for me and the Eggs Benedict with House-cured Pancetta, Poached Organic Eggs, Fine Herbs Hollandaise for Lisa. Wowsa. Bonus: there was more than enough to take home.


Dawn Watson photo

We finished up with cappuccinos and a shared dessert unlike any other I’ve ever had. It was some type of ice cream apple cake concoction and man oh many was it incredible! Get it. You’ll be very happy that you did.

Sunday Brunch is back at Nick & Toni’s, every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Brunch features an a la carte menu with specialty brunch cocktails. Can’t make brunch, then head out for dinner. Bonus–there’s a new fall menu, and the wood-burning oven pizzas are back. The pizzas are available Sunday – Thursday all night. And, the Choice Prix Fixe has returned as well. The special prix fixe dinner menu comes with three different price points for diners to choose from and is available Sunday through Friday starting at 6 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.


This little table setup at Nick & Toni’s says it all: rustic luxury at its finest. Dawn Watson photos.