Monday, August 11, 2014

Mini Vacation!

At the end of July we took what might be becoming our annual trip to the Hamptons in Long Island to visit with my sister, her fiance, and Gracie and Jacob.  In order to avoid driving for 5 hours, we take a high speed ferry right out of our city and we are there 40 minutes later.  It's about an hour drive from there to my sister's house.  I took a couple of snapshots of my little city from the ferry - so fun to see it from that perspective!

The Charles W. Morgan Whaling Ship docked at our City Pier

The downtown of my city

Ledge Lighthouse

My beach, that I run by and from which you can see the Ledge Lighthouse

The first couple of days, Jacob was away at his very first sleep away camp so Gracie got to have some one-on-one Uncle Mr. Helen time which made her quite happy. How many uncles do you know that would let their seven year old niece put full on face paint on them and then paint in return? (Why yes, I was having a martini LOL!)

We had fantastic food - both eating out and also a meal that Mr. Helen and I provided since they will never let us pay for anything.  We brought over NY Strip steaks that Mr. Helen cut special and then we bought all farm fresh produce and also used items from my sister's garden.  That's the meal I should have taken pictures of because it was every bit as good as our fancy eating out meals.

In any case, on one night we started by going to Wolffer Estates Winery to hear some jazz.  We like their Rose wine so much that we ended up buying a couple bottles to bring back with us.

Then we took off to have a cocktail on the porch of the Topping Rose House, which is a small luxury hotel with a new restaurant opened by Chef Tom Colicchio who is probably best known for his Craftsteak Restaurants and for being the head judge on Bravo TVs Top Chef.  It's beautiful and expensive - even the one cocktail we had was very, very expensive!  But it's an experience, you know?

Then we walked across the street to Almond for dinner.  They gave us a great table by their uniquely decorated window.  The food was delicious and the portions generous - we all took home leftovers.

Asparagus appetizer that my sister and I shared.  It has sliced black truffles and a fried egg on top - delicious!

Another appetizer we shared - garlic sauteed farm fresh green beans two ways

Mr. Helen loves seafood. These are mussels that he is STILL talking about

This was a sea bass special.  I almost wish I'd ordered it.

My entree.  Four cheese macaroni and cheese with proscuitto.  It was delicious and the portion was huge.  I brought half home.

Both the guys got this dish: Steak Frites. Grilled Hangar Steak with truffled french fries.  I'm not sure I've seen so many fries on a plate.  Lots of leftovers.

The dessert Mr. Helen and I shared:  A Chocolate Cherry Trifle with Pistachio Shortbread.
O-M-G is all I have to say about it.

The next day, we took the drive up to Montauk which is the furthest point of Long Island.  We went to the Montauk Lighthouse and Museum, which I really enjoyed.  I guess I hadn't realized the history there with Montauk Indians, which are still in fairly large numbers on Long Island.  While I didn't enjoy the fact that once again, Indians were chased off land they'd owned for years, "for their own good," I did enjoy reading about it and seeing photos from the 1800's all the way up to the present day.  We got to climb the 137 steps to the top of the Lighthouse and the views are spectacular!

A monument to all the fishermen lost at sea

I was excited to see this Amistad Memorial because the Amistad also has connection to Connecticut

We also spent some time shopping in Montauk and I told Mr. Helen if we ever could have a full-on vacation right there, I wouldn't mind.  It reminded me a bit of Cape Cod and I loved it.  After playing with Gracie in the pool for several hours, we went out for our second fancy dinner.  Bay Kitchen Bar is a new restaurant that opened this year at a marina.  It got a New York Times review and it's almost impossible to get a reservation there.  It's supposed to be the place to be for sunset.  Unfortunately for us, it clouded over and we didn't get to see that. Here's the thing:  it was cram packed busy and it seemed the service suffered from that - almost as if they aren't ready for crowds.  The food and drinks were pricey and I honestly thought the food was better at Almond.  My sister's fiance, who has lived in the Hamptons his whole life, said if they don't get their service issues together, their business will suffer because there are too many excellent restaurants available.  We still enjoyed each other's company though!

Limoncello Cosmopolitan, one of their specialty drinks.

Oyster appetizer - ewwwww!  I didn't eat any.

Crab Cake appetizer

My salad

My fish and chips, which were quite good but the fries at Almond were better.

Mr. Helen's Whole Belly Clams

For the second night in a row, my sister ordered sea bass

Lobster Ravioli

The last couple of days of the visit, it rained.  Saturday it poured actually.  Ironically, it seems no matter where we go, full on vacation or mini vacation, we bring the rain.  Saturday morning we picked Jacob up from his camp.  You haven't lived until you've heard a 10 year old describe a week of sleep away camp with other 10 -12 year old boys.  We laughed so hard my cheeks hurt.

So we hung out for a couple days and, of course, Uncle Mr. Helen agreed to go in the pool on Sunday even though it was drizzling.  My sister and I went and visited the the Hamptons Designer Showhouse to see how the rich live.  It's a monstrosity - something like 18,000 square feet and each room is designed by a different designer.  We actually didn't love it - much preferred the house we'd seen last year. But it's really fun to walk through a place like that, and dream.

Sunday night we headed home on the ferry, taking Gracie with us because she was coming to her Cows and Cones camp in Connecticut: week around farm animals culminating in milking a cow and making ice cream.

We also brought home wine, baked goods from Tate's Bake Shop, and a container of Detox Salad from a local organic grocery store... which I am going to try to recreate, it was just that good.  Stay tuned!


  1. That looks like a really fun and relaxing vacation! And yes, please share your version of that detox salad! I thought it was corn, but then realized it looks like quinoa. Very interesting.

    1. It is quinoa based, but there is corn in there too!

  2. So much good stuff going on in this post! I actually don't mind a couple rainy days on vacation - it almost forces you to stop and read a book or do a puzzle!

    Whole Foods has a detox salad - here is a recipe that you might like!

    Yep, to me service makes or breaks a restaurant, which is why I would strive to give the best service when I worked at the restaurant - people work hard for their money and I always felt it was my obligation that they have a great time!

    1. I prefer no rain when I am on a beachy vacation. After all, rain keeps one inside and we wanted to be outside!

  3. How cool to take that high-speed ferry - and what a treat, to see your city from such a different perspective. Sounds like a great mini vacation...not too much effort to get there, so lots of energy to explore and do fun things.

    1. My sister would run us crazy every day if we let her, but we 'did' insist on sleeping in a bit since our nights were going until nearly midnight every night lol!

  4. Pretty, pretty pictures! It's funny, I have never been that crazy about LI. My sister lived there for a few years (where she met her husband) and maybe it was the drive through the city that did it, but I never liked it much.

    Food looks amazing!

    1. I think Long Island is interesting because it's very, very different depending on where you go. Even the North Fork is quite different from where my sister is and I've heard people say it's quite different closer to NYC. We'd actually like to go back and stay on the North Fork and take some winery tours.

  5. What a fabulous mini-vacay! Thank you for taking me along for the experience!! The food pics--- wow, so good!! Beautiful scenery there!

  6. I can't tell how much I enjoyed reading this post and look at all the great pics. Another great vacation.

    I love the view from the ferry to your town, nice to see how it looks from that point of view.

    And I love the pink shoes!!!!!

    1. I've gotten a lot of wear out of those pink shoes - they are fun!

  7. OMG Montauk!!! My favorite vacations as a child were in Montauk. But we were not in as nice an area as you visited, LOL.
    Oh it looks so lovely. Now I will have to post my vacation postcard post too. You've guilted me into it!