In August 2007, when I was (very!) pregnant with N, G and I decided to take a weekend holiday on the North Fork of Long Island — to celebrate our wedding anniversary and to have one last baby-free vacation. There’s a picture of me and G standing on the ferry boat to Shelter Island, my big pregnant belly barely covered by a bright red t-shirt and my hair blowing wildly in the strong salty sea breeze.
We loved the North Fork’s country atmosphere, the wineries, the farm stands, the beaches and the food — and thus an annual tradition was born. Every year, we load up the kids in the car and drive 2 hours to Greenport, Long Island, where we stay for a week of sun, sand and country living. It’s just our kind of place.
We stayed in a beachfront hotel a couple of years; other years, we’ve rented houses. One year, we stayed in a house haunted by British soldiers from the Revolutionary War (or at least I was convinced it was haunted!). Another year, we rented a “now-in-retrospect-it’s–freakin’-hilarious-but-it-was-not-so-funny-at-the-time” disaster, in which G had to sleep on a little bed under the stairs, saying that he felt like Harry Potter, while the girls and I slept in a low-ceilinged attic upstairs. Not to mention that the couch in the living room smelled like cat pee when it rained. (Now, we laugh about it!)
Last year we found our dream vacation house. We rented a little beachside cottage from a lovely Italian man with a bountiful vegetable garden, who gave us arugula and tomatoes and had a bottle of prosecco waiting for us in the fridge. The cottage was steps away from a private sandy beach on one side; on the other, there was a big grassy backyard fronting a lake. The layout of the house was a little odd, having walls that didn’t reach all the way up to the ceiling — which meant that we could all hear each other quite well from room-to-room. Not such a bad arrangement for a family with little kiddoes — although the owner had nicknamed the house “Nessun Dorma,” which in Italian means “nobody sleeps”(!). In any case, we had lots of fun there.
Unfortunately the house, like so many others, was wrecked in Hurricane Sandy. The Italian man put it beautifully: “As we always knew might happen, the ocean met the lake, and the house is no more.” He’s rebuilding, but the house wasn’t ready for us to stay there this year.
So we decided that this would be our year to go to Disneyworld instead! (That will be another blog post altogether!)
We’ve been missing the North Fork vibe, so this weekend we packed up the kids in the car and drove out to Greenport for a few hours. Here’s how we spent a totally enjoyable day:
We left Brooklyn by 9:30am and made it to Greenport a couple of hours later, in time for lunch. We took the girls to the carousel for a couple of rides, then walked over to the new Blue Canoe restaurant for lunch. The food is great and the view of the water from the deck is terrific.
Once we were back on the road, we hit our two favorite wineries: Palmer Vineyards and Sparkling Pointe. We really enjoyed the case of wine we got last year at Palmer, and they have a cool old-fashioned looking tasting room. Sparkling Pointe is run by a Brazilian owner who hosts bossa nova music at their Friday night wine tastings (I am dying to go!!). They sell sparkling wine, and since G was driving I got to be the taster this year (oh yeah — nothing like downing 4 glasses of tasty champagne in 10 minutes at 2:00 in the afternoon while the kids are in the car! Woo hoo!).
Our final stop was a place I can never get enough of, and would like to own someday: Harbes Farm. You name it, this farm stand has it — fresh produce and baked goods, corn fritters, roasted corn, pink lemonade, hayrides, a petting zoo, live music. (Yes, I am the “Stefon” of the North Fork!) I could stay there all day! I came away with bags full of fruits and veggies, a bag of sweet addictive popcorn and apple cider doughnuts. When they invent a transporter like they have on Star Trek, I am going there every day.
In between stops, we drove down country roads lined with trees, farms and fields of grapes. It is so nice to be able to get out of the city, even just for a day, to enjoy fresh air and a country atmosphere. (Thank you, Robert Moses.)
Of course we got caught in terrible traffic on the Belt Parkway coming back to Brooklyn. But we had some yummy apple cider doughnuts to tide us over!
Hopefully next year, we’ll get back on our regular vacation schedule and can spend a whole week in the North Fork. (No hurricanes this year, please!!)