Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good Packaging Goes a Long Way

I spent the Labor Day weekend out in Sag Harbor, Long Island with my friend Kathie Russo, her talented artist, boyfriend Dave O. and her three incredible children, Marissa, Forrest and Theo.

Kathie picked me up from the Hampton Jitney stop in town and we walked over to Cavaniola's Kitchen, the new addition to Cavaniola's Cheese Shop and Cavaniola's Wine Cellar, each in their own little buildings just behind the main strip of Sag Harbor.

The Kitchen has a great visual impact, it's clean with a lofty ceiling and filled with refrigerator cases displaying their artful and creative, ready made foods. On the right, there's a shelved reach-in case with sandwiches, salads and their beautiful jars of layered foods. I fell in love with these and obsessed on the Tuna Nicoise until I finally came back and got it the next day. It's layered in a Ball jelly jar with flaked white tuna, lightly dressed, on the bottom, baby mixed greens and heirloom grape tomatoes, gigante beans, more lettuce and tomatoes and topped with sliced chorizo and two lemon slices. It is perfection in a jar! I love the way it looks and it would make a great hostess gift, it's like sand art with food! It's not so easy to eat as a composed salad but I wound up eating it for dinner on the train going back home and worked my way through the layers which I dressed with the lemon and was very happy.

I also got the Mini Maine Lobster Roll, served on a baby Brioche and tucked into a wax paper bag that reminded me of so much that I couldn't pinpoint a memory. I have to admit, the lobster was delicious but needed a little more zing for me, so I dressed the bun with some dijon mustard and it was much better.

The Wine Cellar, housed in one of the oldest buildings in Sag Harbor, was having a tasting and we ducked in to see Kathie's daughter Marissa, a reporter for the Sag Harbor Express, doing her thing and covering the wine tasting and taking photos. The owner, Michael was a New York City architect, designing for Bloomberg Media and decided he wanted a slower pace of life for his family and moved out to Sag Harbor to follow his Wine and Cheese dreams. I'm glad he did, his cheese shop is stocked with some of the most incredible flavors and I'd be tempted to rate it higher than my usual favorites in the city, Murray's and Fairway in Red Hook.

For dinner on Saturday night, Kathie brought out leftovers from a dinner party they'd had the night before and friends brought over a salad that I'm still thinking about. Her friend Kevin is another artist and masters everything he touches. He tossed mixed baby lettuce, fresh husked corn off the cob, toasted pistachio nuts and dressed it with mashed avocado, lime, agave, lemon thyme and salt and pepper. My mouth is watering...We gorged ourselves on the salad, roasted baby beets and parsnips, sauteed kale and beet greens and baby ribs of lamb, mixed sausages and sirloin steak and lots of Rose wine to transition from summer to fall. For dessert she served brownies (made from a mix that was undeniably good) with fresh whipped cream and raspberries.

Sunday night was simpler, but equally delicious. Kathie soaked and roasted fresh local corn on the grill and served it with melted butter and feta cheese to put on top of the corn and a platter of sliced up farm stand tomatoes with mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic and minced basil from her garden. I took things a step further and got some fresh mint from the garden and mixed it in with corn I took off the cob and the melted butter and feta cheese. It was such a perfect meal for the end of summer and the best of the season's produce.

I'll be sad to see summer go, I didn't feel like I got enough of it but it's too late now...On to the next season and root vegetables and squashes...

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