Wednesday, August 26, 2009

La Fondita also of acceptable delicousness

La Fondita is a fairly fabulous destination, despite that it's a Mexican lunch counter, so I was skeptical about the food but, happy surprise, it's good. The portions are small, but the tacos and specials and so on are sophisticated, flavorful & made from nice, fresh ingredients. And the whole vibe is fun, with loud music, an outdoor garden to eat in, bronzed & fabulous vacationers.

sexy-trashy-money and good fish at Sen in Sag Harbor

The Long Island edition of the NY Times recently did a story recommending six restaurants out here that don't suck (a very tall order, as I've discovered) and last night I tried another one, Sen, a sushi place in Sag Harbor. We arrived at 8:15 with no reservation and got a table for two by 8:45. Service was good, and the sushi was a B+, which, in a no-grade-inflation world (my world!) means it was very good. I'm reserving an A+ for sushi I haven't yet tried, probably in Japan, and an A for sushi in L.A. Sen gets wild rave reviews out here , which it would deserve not just "for Sag Harbor" but anywhere. Also, if you are into the sexy-trashy-money scene, it was good for that. A hot, tall man in fashion track pants taking out model-y girl in a vintage fringe top and skinny jeans. Two sexy Italian girls dining outside (one with the brastrap-showing look; good look!) with a companion in white loafers and a navy sweater over the shoulders, etc. Everyone looking tanner in the dark. It was loud, people seemed drunk, the food was good and the wait had barely died down by the time we left at 10pm........ I liked it

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Status safari: expensive, amusing jackassery at Mary's Marvelous in Amagansett

I still love the food at Marty's (especially for the prices) but will admit that Mary's Marvelous wins big in the people-watching department. We saw Alec Baldwin there last month. As Ivan noted, he was wearing *pants that unzipped at the knees to become shorts*. (Ivy, mind blown: "Where does a guy like that even get such a garment!?" I'm sure he's going to rush out and buy some). So we were there for breakfast the day before yesterday and, looming out of the pre-caffinated chaos I saw a guy, or rather I saw a watch. Lately Ivan has been schooling me in the secret language of watches, and this one was gold and shiny with a leather band and I thought that a person who could read the code would have a lot to say about this door-knocker. Turns out the watch was a Panerai, and the guy was wearing a matching promotional cap for the watch. He also had a keychain sticking half out of his pocket so that everyone could see it was a keychain for a Maserati. Otherwise the outfit was classic prep: a braided belt, cargo shorts, tucked in white buttondown with a blue check. Now, an innocent like me would probably be impressed, but Ivan says that 1. it's only a grand a month to lease a Maserati, an option available to many wanna-bes and 2. the watch is a sucker purchase. An expensive watch can be an investment; there's a hot resale market and they hold their value well. But Panerai brand is sort of a fake. It was a military watch in the 40s and then fell into obscurity until recently being revived by a big ad campaign as a luxury brand. Its value hasn't held & grown over time; the ads have created a perception of a tradition of value but not the reality. Also, it's neither fish nor fowl, because it was a steel bracelet utilitarian thing that's now been tricked out in gold. Sort of silly. But deliciously silly!

"lobster roll" hate it; American Hotel in Sag Harbor, love it

So there are all those fish frys on the way to Montauk, one called Cyril's, one just called "lobster roll," and driving past them you know that they're going to be tourist traps, but still they're so perfect looking, and fried fish or a lobster roll is such the quintessential food for Montauk, that you want to stop. Well, I suppose the food is edible, but neither is that good and they're both painfully overpriced. I had the lobster roll at "lobster roll" yesterday and it was slightly too mayo-y and totally chock-full of celery, which feels like a cheat at $20 for a sandwich on a hot-dog bun. Both the lobster roll I had last weekend in Wellfleet and the Fairway lobster roll are much better. Sorry the pic is unappetizing. That's $56 for lunch for two, not including tip.

Also too bad, I don't have a pic of the GOOD restaurant, the American Hotel in Sag Harbor. I saved the Times article about how all the restos out here suck with a few execeptions, the American Hotel being one of the exceptions. So far, this jibes with my experience. And, yes, it was truly delicious. The hotel looks stodgy when you first walk in, but the dining rooms are very cozy, rich, welcoming. It's like a little warren in there with gold-framed paintings and cool wallpaper and moose heads, all a bit eerie and Ancient-Mariner.....sort of the authentic thing that all these modernist interiors with the antlers and white-on-white brocade wallpaper are trying to strip down and imitate. We had the spectacular seafood plate of oysters, clams, mussles, and shrimp. I didn't know until the end that the mustard sauce was for the clams, but that's my fault. The experience was otherwise splendid, some of the freshest shrimp I've ever tasted, sublime local oysters, mussels were great.... Ivan's scallop risotto was also wonderful, as was the clam chowder. The desserts and the bar offerings are old-school, as would be expected, and the wine list is as thick as a September Vogue. Ivan was impressed that they had two pages of Spanish reds (his thing) in tiny type. I think dinner for two was $165 or so, so that's obviously very expensive, know, skip the "lobster roll" and breakfast at the Golden Pear and you'll make up for it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Summerhouse: What I've learned

Probably the best summer innovation comes from Jeff Howe, who discovered that this hippo-shaped baby pool can be turned into an adult flotation device. The mouth provides shade on a sunny day and the pool part keeps you comfortably immersed in the water, without the trouble of having to swim. The shape also catches the breeze at night, causing the hippo to endlessly cruise the pool, casting shadows on the wall of the studio.

The other stuff I've learned all falls into the less idyllic category, and is mainly about how hard it is to be hosts every weekend all summer long. I've always associated summer chilling with effortlessness, and I love to host, cook, dress tables & plan menus and all that. Even though it's work, it's never seemed like work until this summer, when you add endless washing of sheets and towels, general house hassle for two houses, scheduling guests, giving directions and so on. It's basically been a two-month-long dinner party, plus child care and I do feel somewhat like I haven't had the chance to relax and enjoy it. So what have we really learned? Maybe that we need a housekeeper from 5 to 9 every night (not practical, I know!), maybe that we need fewer weeks and fewer guests. Or maybe in some happy alternative universe we'd get really good at the grill, quickie but delicious summer sides, blender drinks and so on, so we could accomplish the same pleasant environments with less chaos. Maybe.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

White Crest Beach, Cape Cod stunningly gorgeous, questionable water

When I saw this beach I felt like I'd seen it before in a dream, or like it was the kind of place that someone might have described to me, late at night in a bar somewhere while I said, 'I have to see that, I have to go', with real yearning. You can't quite get it from the picture, but to get to the beach you go down a steep hill of sand. So it's like a beach that's also a mountain, or at least the side of a mountain. I found it to be very magical. Unfortunately, the water was brown and full of seaweed and smelly. I'm curious if this was an unlucky day or if it's always like that.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hatch's Fish Market, Wellfleet, MA

Wildly overpriced but cult market in Wellfleet, Hatch's fish market. The t-shirts are kind of cute and at $15 are a comparative steal .

More East Hampton beach info

I've refined my understanding of the East Hampton beach parking situation. Not all the beaches have pay parking during the week. I've now discovered that Indian Wells does NOT, but Main Beach and Atlantic Beach do. Also, this just in from Hither Hills on the way to Montauk:

Maybe you already know about this, but Jon found this great state park beach that's only seven dollars a day to park, you can pay park on weekends, and has all the capitalist beach accouterments you need (food shack, deli, bathing suit shack, showers). It's part of a camp ground, so it's not the fashionable Hamptons scene, but there's so much empty beach on either side that it doesn't feel like you are stuck with yahoos, and there were no radios on the beach or anything. We had a really peerless day at the beach today, just GORGEOUS. Although the water practically was carribean warm! but still sparkly and refreshing.

Forgotten Boston childhood treat: Emack and Bolio's

When Emack & Bolio's ice cream shop arrived in Wellesley when I was a kid the whole venture seemed exotic....the weird name, the tall chalkboard wall with all the little hand-lettered signs, the unheard of flavors. My favorite flavor was key lime pie, which was tart, barely sweet and had delicious textural swirls of graham cracker crust. Well, Emacks hasn't spread to the rest of the country like Ben & Jerry's, and that's both too bad and kind of nice since it remains a special local thing. We stopped at the one in Wellfleet this weekend, and I must say that the ice cream has stood the test of time & then some. It's Ciao-Bella-like in its light perfection and bright flavors. The flavors are everything-but-the-kitchen-sink (wonder if this was where Ben & Jerry got it?) if you like that, which I do, and use really great chocolate & other high quality ingredients.

Here's the sign out front. An entry in the time-honored tradition of cheesy small-town signage---two others: The Chocolate Sparrow, Puppies and Pickles

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Beware the Carriage House! Love the Meyer lemon and tarragon martini

These little Cape Cod towns are picturesque but full of lurking dangers....the bad food, the terrible room at the inn, etc. We're here for a wedding and had a few near misses. Our first rooms at the Duck Creeke Inn (C3 and C4 in the carriage house) were dark and smelled worrisomely organic. Fortunately, we were able to switch to quaint rose-and-lace rooms in the main house. No A.C. but still an improvement. My dad read some internet reviews of this place before we came and said that many people commented that the room quality really varies. So, beware the carriage house!

We also went so far as to sit down at the Lighthouse restaurant on Main Street before the lack of other clientele and fried-bar-food menu made us think twice. Ended up at the delicious Bookstore & Restaurant on Kendrick Ave by the harbor. Not everything stood out, but the special of local clams in butter and the lobster roll were both fantastic (lobster fresh, not too much mayo), perfect, seaside, cape-town fare. The place also had great specialty drinks... a meyer lemon and tarragon martini, a lemoncello and iced tea drink! The used bookstore out back was cool but ridiculously overpriced. I bought a pamphlet about crops in the Soviet Union for $5. Who else would ever want that?, you ask. Good question! They should have paid me to take it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

London hotel recommendations, cozy, classy, British

A friend asked for some recommnedations this morning.....

The Knightsbridge
My favorite hotel in London, located on a lovely mews next to Harrods, expensive but worth it, if you can afford it. I love it so much because it feels homey but still glamorous, designed but not trendy. My favorite room with the red poppy curtains is on the first floor directly over the entrance portico and if memory serves, you can step out on the roof. One of the Firmdale hotel chainlet, in my opinion its best.

The Zetter
This is that obvious kind of hip retro boutique hotel but is still pretty fun. The rooms are decorated with awesome, funky textiles, vintage books and a hot water bottle with a chunky knitted cover. The "studio" room on the top floor is like a little apartment (no kitchen). And it's in Clerkenwell, so if you want to spend time in Hoxton/East London it's a good location. There might be deals on price, it's varied quite a bit the different times we've stayed.

The Vancouver Studios
This is where I stay when I'm on my own and pretending I'm in my 20s. It's dirt cheap (L50 night?), the kind of hotel with a kitchenette in the tiny room, but it's in one of those charming old London buildings and it's clean and the beds and linens are ok. I usually get flowers, put out my books and throw a scarf over the bed and voila, quaint. Also, it's on Prince's square near Queensway, the park, and Notting Hill, which is just where you want to be, unless you have a strong reason for needing to be near another neighborhood.

A few other things we've tried: a site called home away that rents out flats. It is a pain to search through their listings and the place we found was tiny, but perfectly acceptable. And there is Guesthouse West in Notting Hill, which is small and too party-central for us, but cheap for a boutique hotel and located just where you want it to be.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Marty's Old Stone Market, Mary's Marvelous, Golden Pear Cafe / Breakfast and Lunch in East Hampton

(Photo is of the Golden Pear, see below)

Marty's market on Old Stone Highway, maybe 5 minutes by car north of Amagansett, is the best breakfast/lunch place I've found so far, probably no accident that it's off the main highway. Seating is either outdoors with a view of a parking lot or there's a long table stuffed into the aisles, last I saw it piled with stuff & not looking very appealing as a place to sit, but never mind that. Prices are reasonable and the sandwiches are made-to-order and delicious. Yesterday had a cubano with pickles and mayo, a brisket bbq, and a fresh mozzarella amongst our group and everyone thought they were great. They also make all kinds of deli take-out lasagnas, roasted banana cake, rice pudding, spinach pie, cakes and cobblers to order. Overall there's an authentic home-made, small-town vibe, which is what I'm looking for when in the countryside.

The other two local cult breakfast/lunch places I've heard of around here are Mary's Marvelous in Amagansett and the Golden Pear, a chain with an outpost in East Hampton. Mary's is more sophisticated, looks more like a baked-goods shop, has a full espresso bar (unlike Marty's) and some deli stuff. I tried a $10 quart of pea soup that was quite good and had a nice muffin from there as well, but there's no grill and the sandwiches appear to be pre-made. Jury is still out. Tried the Golden Pear this morning and.....found the high prices to be exploitative feeling (a $14 waffle), the vibe soulless and the aroma of hazelnut coffee unpleasant, but the food wasn't too bad. It looked worse than it tasted. Sort of reminded me of Sarabeth's kitchen, which once seemed gourmet and exciting and now hasn't really kept up with the changing, ever more sophisticated palate of American diners. The omelet of the day was spinach, tomato and goat cheese, for example, which feels kind of 80s.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blue Parrot East Hampton in fact rotten

Not worth saying much about, but we went to the Blue Parrot, supposedly a hot opening in East Hampton village. It was Thursday at lunch & there were plenty of tables and the service wasn't overtaxed, which is what I'd been worried about....but there may have been a reason for that. The first bad sign was that the lime that came with the Dos Equis was slumped over the mouth of the bottle like a Dali clock, slimy and rotten. We should have cut our losses and fled. You can tell when a culture of lack-of-care has its grip on a place, and the food will never be good under those conditions. And it wasn't. I could smell my fish sandwich as it approached the table. The quesadilla used Chedder cheese (which melts too greasy for a need Mexican cheeses) the overdressed side salads didn't even try to be "mexican influenced." Killer Mexican indeed.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The BBC List, improved

I've been tagged on Facebook again with this fake BBC book list. The conceit is that these are great books that everyone should have read and most people have only read 6. Probably anyone participating has read more than that, and thus gets to feel well-read, which might account for the success of the meme, but the list is a maddening mishmash of pop trash and classics, wih sort of seems to focus on British literature but then doesn't really, includes 'Hamlet' twice, etc. I am hereby amending it to be a better list of must-reads, including books by Brits and their subjects (Australia! Canada!). Caveat that I'm working off the original list, so it's not really MY 100 top reads, but my interpretation of what their British popular classics should have been. And I'm tweaking it a bit to make it more vacation-read friendly, to go with the theme of the blog.

Original list (with my x's indicating what I've read, below my list).


1. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (original list had many Austen; I love her, but one represents just fine)
3. Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy (ditto Hardy)
4. Dracula, Bram Stoker
5. Middlemarch, George Eliot
6. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
7. Vilette, Charlotte Bronte
8. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
9. The Bible (this was on the original list and I'm not going to remove it, though it doesn't much seem to fit)
10. A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare (complete works was on the other list; I'm making it easier to check that box & picking my favorite play.)
11. Hamlet, William Shakespeare
12. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
13. Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
14. Ulysses, James Joyce
15. The Inferno, Dante
16. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
17. Germinal, Emile Zola
18. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
19. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
20. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
21. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
22. The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
23. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
24. Under the Volcano, Malcom Lowry (Replacing Madame Bovary, since there shouldn't be any Frenchies on a British list!)
25. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry (I haven't read this but it was on the original list)
26. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (I haven't read this but it was on the original list)
27. Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (have cut out most Americans but, at random, left a few)
28. Collected Stories, Flannery O'Connor (to replace To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee)
29. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
30. Notes From A Small Island, Bill Bryson
31. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
32. Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
33. Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
34. Catch 22, Joseph Heller
35. The Regeneration Trilogy, Pat Barker
36. Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
37. Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell (1984 and Animal Farm were on the original list)
38. Burmese Days, George Orwell
39. Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves
40. I, Claudius, Robert Graves
41. The Sea, The Sea, Iris Murdoch
42. The Magus, John Fowles
43. A Maggot, John Fowles
44. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
45. The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith
46. The Moviegoer, Walker Percy (to replace A Confederacy of Dunces; John Kennedy Toole)
47. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute (?)
48. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess
49. Lady Chatterly's Lover, D.H. Lawrence
50. Of Human Bondage, Somerset Maugham
51. The Return of Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse
52. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulk
53. The Swimming Pool Library, Alan Hollinghurst
54. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
55. The World According to Garp, John Irving
56. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
57. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons (haven't read this)
58. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
59. The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureshi
60. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (haven't read this)
61. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding (this was on the original list!)
62. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
63. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
64. Arlington Park, Rachel Cusk
65. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
66. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
67. Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee
68. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
69. Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth
70. Possession, AS Byatt (also a dubious stet from original list); possible replace with Night Watch by Sarah Waters
71. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
72. In the Place of Fallen Leaves, Tim Pears
73. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
74. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
75. Atonement, Ian McEwan
76. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
77. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
78. Crime and Punishment, Fydor Dostoevsky
79. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
80.(Ok, because they included some Russians, I'm going to do my Russian must-read list, starting here): The Brothers Karamazov, Fydor Dostoevsky
81. Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
82. Evgeny Onegin, Alexsander Pushkin
83. Collected Stories, Nikolai Gogol
84. The Compromise, Sergei Dovlatov
85. Moscow to Petushki, Venedikt Erofeev
86. Heart of a Dog, Mikhail Bulgakov
87. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien (original list had this huge children's section)
88. His Dark Materials, Phillip Pullman
89. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
90. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
91. A Grief Observed, CS Lewis (Substituting for the Chronicles of Narnia, which really fall apart towards the end)
92. Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
93. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
94. Dune, Frank Herbert
95. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
96. Farenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
97. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
98. Watership Down, Richard Adams
99. Charlotte’s Web, EB White
100. The Dark is Rising, Susan Cooper


1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - x
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien x
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte -x
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee -x
6 The Bible - x
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - x
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell -x
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman x
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens-x
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott -x
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy x
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - x
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien x
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk x
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger -x
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (Augie March, and it was a real drag!) x
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell x
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - x
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens x
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - x
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - x
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky x
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck - x
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - x
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy - x
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens x
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis x
34 Emma- Jane Austen-x
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen-x
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis - x
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - X (seriously? jesus!)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres x
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden -
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne -
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell - x
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - x
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving x
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - x
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy -x
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood -x
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding -x
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan - x
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert x
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen-x
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley x
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -x
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - x
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov -x
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt x
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold _ x
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac -x
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy- x
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding x
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker x
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - x
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce x
76 The Inferno – Dante - x
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt-x
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell x
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker - x
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert x
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White - x
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad -x
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery -x
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks x
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams - x
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole -x
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare - x
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl - x
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"What if I lived here?"

Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you can't look at real estate:

This house at 364 Old Stone Highway has one of those "the owner is crazy" signs in the front yard saying it is for sale. When I stopped to take a picture, I saw a curtain in the window move, and hot-footed it away quickly.

There was an open house at 450 Old Stone Highway from Hampton Realty on a somewhat exposed & uncharming plot of land, that looked like it might be a vintage farmhouse, no pic.

No. 284 Old Stone Highway had an open house sign from Prudential Douglas Elliman, though it wasn't clear if it was the front house or the back which was for sale, since both were vacant. In front was a tiny, cheap-but-clean redo of an original farmhouse, keeping some original detail and adding some fun touches like a back wall off the kitchen that opened entirely up to the pool area and would be great for grilling & parties. In the front yard was a stand of the beautiful, twisted, inclement-climate trees that grow around here. The back house looked to be either new or gutted, probably new, with a fancy white granite island other status symbols of modern design-living.

Here are the trees:

This is the house in the front, you can see the open wall detail. The next pic is the house in back, followed by two details from the interior of the house in front. You can see one of those steep staircases like they had in old farmhouses.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Worst Grilled Cheese/Best Mac-n-Cheese at Atlantic Beach, East Hampton

I'm not proud that I've eaten my way through the menu at the beach shack at Atlantic Beach it is. I've now had the veggie burger, the 'beach burger' with russian dressing, bacon and fixins, the PB&J, the grilled cheese, the mac n' cheese, the lemonade and probably some things I'm not thinking of. (All drinks come in styrofoam cups so enormous you could use them to quarantine the head of a dog who's recently had surgery. Yay, environment.) The grilled cheese was, as my friend Karren said, probably the worst grilled cheese ever made, even on the scale of bad beach grilled cheeses. The classic of the genre is made with slices of orange American cheese, the kind that goes rubbery instead of melting, and butter-pasted Wonder Bread fried golden and crispy. That's a humble meal, a classic combination of semi-chemical flavors, but it can be delicious at the right moment. The grilled cheeses at Atlantic Beach use the orange glue-cheese and the cheap bread but were limp & barely browned. File under the category of things I didn't know could be fked up. The mac and cheese, on the other hand, costs $3 for a styrofoam cup of it & may have come from outer space, but it's pretty good. If anyone wants my critique of the burger or veggie burger, feel free to ask.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Children on the Deck of the Summerhouse

Content of relevance to no one, testing the image-post capabilities. 

Hamptons Parking Update

There is a whole cult of hype around the parking permits here and how difficult it is to park by the beaches and if it's even worth it to get a house if you are not a permanent resident, a situation creating a miasma of fear and belonging--or fear of not belonging--made worse by the fact that the rules have just changed. 

Well, I just learned that you can park at any of these supposed exclusive beaches on the ocean during the week for around $20 a day, and during the weekend you can take cabs. So, though it's pay to play here as always, it's very possible to enjoy your vacation without a permanent resident pass. And, frankly, on the weekends when the parking lots are crazy-crammed, taking a taxi starts to look smart option. 

Scrappy East Hampton Springs is better than "South of the Highway"

My Hamptons philosophy has always been to be anti- the anti-Hamptons people. The East End of Long Island is fking gorgeous and has long, wide beaches with tall waves and the ice-cold water that puts the sublime chill in a summer day, one dip and you're cool and comfortable on the beach for hours, so who really cares if the people here are too fashionable or too trashy or too sceney or what? If you don't like them, ignore them. And if you do, then there's lots of fun to be had.....  

I've always come here to visit a particular college friend (whose parents have an amazing house, a pool and a membership to the Maidstone Club) and we never went out at all, just trundled from beach to pool to sitting around on the deck with wine, being in our 20s talking about who and when we might get married and what we'd become in our lives, and smoking cigarettes and being perfectly happy.  

Fast-forward 10 years to trying to find a house here. My Central Park South dentist recommended Devlin McNiff real estate and insisted that we live "South of the Highway,"---which is very nice mansion-land if you can and want to live like the Pasha of Pashminaville (to flash a best forgotten 90s status symbol). And then there are the people who are like "Oh the Bay, the Bay, the Bay is so much cooler" and you think, "Yeah, but it's flat and it smells like fish."  

Here is what I have concluded: You need a car anyway, so if you want a semi-rural experience with tiny saltbox cottages and yards with tumbledown sheds and country stores, a neighborhood where it's nice to walk around peeking at houses that look like they're lived in by locals--the heart of the place, the bones, that which made it cool in the first place, the Hamptons lived in by Jackson Pollack and Sylvia Plath (that last one I don't know really where she lived with Ted Hughes baking cakes just like Gwynnie in a movie but it should have been here), the the Springs is for you. It will not be significantly inconvenient for beach-going.  

Also, apparently the Bennett family was one of the first to settle the East End and in these parts, on Neck Path and Old Stone Highway up to Louse Point (Rouse Point?) you see lots of mailboxes that say Bennett.