|The lighthouse at Montauk Point|
On the third and last day of my winter weekend in the Hamptons, I woke up, said goodbye to my wonderful hosts at the Southampton Inn, got in my rented car, and drove to the end of the earth. Montauk Point, at the very eastern tip of Long Island's south fork, is surrounded by ocean on all sides. There's not much there: an understated lighthouse, a snack bar, a rocky beach strewn with seaweed.
|The deserted beach at Montauk Point|
In the summer, I imagine, it's a cheerful place, kids throwing rocks into the water, all ages feeling the possibility of distant lands and adventures. On a gray day in March, with rain clouds thickening above, it felt ominous and oppressive. I stood on the deserted beach and watched dark thoughts gather in my head. Why was I suddenly obsessing about undertows and boogie men during my peaceful, solitary long weekend? I didn't know, and I didn't want to stay to figure it out. Maybe three days alone is too much for a woman used to the company of a husband, the chatter of children, the community of an office. I headed west, back toward the tony town of East Hampton.
I always crave lobster rolls when I'm on the East coast - fresh lobster tossed with a little mayo, on a buttered, grilled, split-top hot dog bun. In summer there are some fine lobster rolls to be had in and around the Hamptons. In March, not so much.
|Two famous seafood shacks along Highway 27, shut up tight until summer|
|House-made delicacies at Villa Italian Specialties in East Hampton|
But I didn't let it get me down. A bit farther down highway 27 I found Stuart's Seafood in Amagansett, tucked off the main road behind a couple of inconspicuous houses. Four different people told me a stop at Stuart's was a must for any food lover. Even on a chilly March Sunday, people kept coming in to buy local Peconic bay scallops or furious lobsters dragged from their cozy tanks. I got one cod cake and one lobster cake, each lightly breaded and fried. I dipped them into Stuart's homemade tartar sauce and ate them sitting on the hood of my rented car. Tasty and fresh.
|Lobster and cod cakes at the unassuming Stuart's Seafood in Amagansett|
I headed for the American Hotel, which Lee Ellis, the manager at the Southampton Inn, had described to me as "the center of the slow food movement on the east end." Built in the mid-19th century, the hotel has a winding warren of dining rooms with the kind of smooth-worn wood, painted-over door jambs and slightly shabby upholstery you just never find in the bright new construction of California. I love buildings that feel their age. I took a table in a bright, narrow garden room. It would have felt almost European, except that behind me two couples were comparing the merits of the ski schools in Gstaad and Park City. Sag Harbor may not feel like the Hamptons, but it's still one of the playgrounds of the rich.
I ordered the lobster BLT. Not that I needed another meal, really, after the Villa sandwich and the seafood cakes. But lobster...I needed more lobster. The sandwich came with a bracing salad of radicchio, endive and frisee, lightly dressed, just salty enough. Were they growing greens in some hothouse on the North Fork?, I wondered. I was about to ask, and then I realized I was tired of taking notes. The salad was good. The lobster BLT satisfied my craving. A relaxed meal in a beautiful room: the perfect way to end the weekend.
|I got the lobster I'd been craving at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor|
As I got into the car to drive back toward Manhattan, I felt the first raindrops of the weekend. It poured all the way back to the city, but I couldn't have cared less. March may not be beach weather, but I had exactly the weekend I needed: peaceful, relaxed, and on my own.
Thanks to the Southampton Inn, which provided me a beautiful room during my winter weekend in the Hamptons. Please visit their website - if you're headed to the east end of Long Island, it's a lovely, well located and extremely reasonable place to stay.