Navigating East Hampton's Food Scene One Market at a Time

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Every weekend during summer months, droves of beach-goers descent on the eastern tip of Long Island known as "The Hamptons." Since I was literally 0 years old I've spent my summers in East Hampton, we're talking back in the day before the Hamptons were "The Hamptons." Before Gucci overtook Penny Lane, before Theory replaced Ina Garten's famed Barefoot Contessa, and when A&P was the only grocery store option. No Citarella, believe it or not.

Both then and now my Hamptons memories center around food (shocker). The smell of fresh roasty coffee at Barefoot Contessa, the intoxicatingly sweet taste of the first freshly picked summer strawberry, and sweet Hamptons corn purchased from Bistrian's Sweet Corn, a roadside stand near the East Hampton fire station.

Quiet obviously, the town of East Hampton has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. But, for those in the know, many incredible, older, not quiet hole-in-the-wall, food merchants still exist.  I wouldn't necessarily call these shops local haunts, but you do need to know about them to know about them. If that makes sense. And also I should say, they aren't necessarily cheap. But, if you hit East Hampton and are looking for an insider's guide to navigating the food scene (not restaurants), this is for you. 

Fish: Naturally, when I think of East Hampton, I think of fresh seafood. Stuart's Seafood Market carries EVERYTHING you could possible want, incredibly fresh, straight from the ocean. This market has been around since 1955 (!) and also offers prepared seafood like clam chowder, shrimp salad, and such. 41 Oak Lane; 631-267-6700

Baked Goods: Round Swamp is both a bakery and, now, little gourmet shop. Emphasis on little. My parents have been shopping here for as long as I can remember, when it served as more of a bakery. But, in recent years Round Swamp has expanded into a Barefoot Contessa-type market selling everything from fresh lobster to take-home foods (salads, crab cakes, roast chicken) to fruits and veg. But what everybody really comes here for is insanely amazing baked goods. The Tri-Berry Muffins have been sold here for at least 20 years, a mix of raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry, the lightest most moist muffins you will find. I also love the mini chocolate chip muffins, fudgy brownie bites, bikini muffins, banana chocolate chip bread, key lime pie, and freshly baked pies. All amazing.  Note: Prices are on the higher side and weekends bring long lines, but this place is worth it. 184 Three Mile Harbor Rd.; 631-324-4438; website

Poultry: If you're looking for real grass fed, farm fresh chicken and eggs, hit Iacono's Farm. Make sure to call at least one day in advance to reserve your chicken because they sell out fast. Back in the day one could just show up at the grassy farm, enter the tiny retail shack, and pick out a bird. But due to the Hamptons' proliferation, now calling in advance is required. Oh, and those chocolate chip cooks are pretty great too. 106 Long Ln.; 631-324-1107

Groceries: Years ago I used to visit the Amagansett Farmers Market for heart-shaped shortbread cookies topped with rainbow sprinkles, coconut ForzFruit ice cream bars, and, around Halloween, little plastic figures with a pumpkin head filled with orange and brown candies. Meanwhile, my parents would shop for fresh local corn and whatever else they wanted to serve for dinner. A few years ago the market was taken over by  Eli Zabar (Zabars), and he transformed the sleepy shop into a more pricey gourmet affair. Come here for cheese, charcuterie, meats, appetizers, fruit, and vegetables. And maybe an ice cream bar every once in a while. 367 Main St.; 631-267-3894

Fruits/Vegetables: I personally try to hit local farm stands as much as possible. Pig Pen Produce is close to my parent's house, but these stands ubiquitously dot the town, offering the seasonal bounty.

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