If you’re looking for a food-filled winter adventure up north, you’ll want to stop by the White Fences Inn Water Mill, near Southampton, and take advantage of a new Foodie Fanatic package being offered in partnership with local farmers, vineyards, and restaurants.
The package is coordinated by Elizabeth Brodar, owner of the inn and a culinary artist, expert planner and organizer, and overall fun lady to be around.
The modern design of its interior immediately stands out as different from the other traditional Hampton properties. Our room had a small fireplace built into the middle of the wall, an IOS volcanic stone soaking tub, a full body spray shower with five nozzles, a mini-bar with complementary drinks, and a fluffy king-size bed.
“The area is typically more traditional, but there are more up-and-coming young people travelling here often, so you have to keep up,” she said.
Bailey, a four-year-old goldendoodle, is the real master of the house, but, ever the gentleman, he will only enter your room if you welcome him in.
We didn’t have much time to roll around with Bailey upon arrival since we were due for a tour of the Mecox Bay Dairy.
The farm is not your typical tour set up for school walk-throughs: It is a no-frills operation with the sole purpose of churning out milk and cheese.
Farmer Art Ludlow says that New Jersey cows are better suited for artisanal cheeses, and he makes many of his cheeses with raw milk, which keeps the vitamin D intact. There are almost 1,000 cheeses in his “cheese room,” an immersive space where all of his cheeses go to age gracefully. There are Cheddars, Brie, goat cheeses, and other varieties that simply cannot even be categorized.
An impromptu tasting was done right in the room between the barn and the “cheese-making room,” where he sliced a few rinds and served it to us right off of a giant blade.
We were pleasantly surprised that we loved all of the cheeses, even though we can be finicky — they were lacking in the sour, bitter aftertastes that turn us off from the softer cheeses, typically. It must be the magic of the farm.
For dinner, we took a twenty minute drive — it’s worth it — to the Stone Creek Inn.
After spending many years in the French restaurant scene and serving as executive sous chef of Tavern on the Green, chef Christian Mir and his wife Elaine renovated the historic Ambassador Inn and opened up their restaurant in 1996. The inn, built in 1910, was a speakeasy and liquor storehouse during Prohibition.
To start, we were brought a truffle egg cream amuse bouche that is not on the menu and is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.
Next came the octopus, served with olives, garlic and tomato, which was succulent and zesty, followed by a rack of lamb served with squash puree and beef short rib with lobster. Both were equally savory and incredibly rich — chef Mir’s French training shines clearly through every dish on the menu.
The next morning, Brodar herself whipped up a three-course breakfast of champions for us right in her kitchen.
She calls it a “chef’s whim” breakfast because she doesn’t want to cook the same thing every day and just does what her heart tells her to do that day.
Fortunately, you can trust her whim.
The first course was a pumpkin pecan streusel coffee cake; the second, a yogurt panna cotta with pistachios, clementines, and honey; and, lastly, salmon eggs benedict served on brioche. All were delectable.
We had a couple of hours to rest after breakfast and get ready for the big finale, a cooking lesson with chef Jennilee Morris, a fixture in the Hamptons culinary scene and co-founder of Grace and Grit Catering.
Brodar, ever cheerful and accommodating, welcomed us right into her huge and immaculate kitchen and let us use up all of her spoons, plopping the dirty ones right down on the counter.
Armed with two boxes full of ingredients, including Bay scallops, butternut squash, and organic pasta, chef Morris spent three solid hours teaching us to make a three-course meal fit for a king, walking us through everything from fresh basil pesto to shallots and garlic cream sauce.
We did not make it to vineyards or the oyster farm, but it is included in the Foodie Fanatic package: Wolffer Estate Vineyard is a family-run winery that offers vintage chardonnay and red blends, among others, and features a European-style barrel. All of the wines contain only estate grown or locally sourced fruit.
What I know about the Widow's Hole Oyster farm, which is also included, is simply that they are given “the spa treatment,” which sounds very interesting.
The Foodie Fanatic package includes a private tour and tasting at Wolfred Estate vineyard, the tour and tasting at Mecox Bay Dairy, a tour and tasting at Widow's Hole Oyster farm, the private hands-on cooking class, and an appetizer and two entrees at Stone Creek Inn (beverages not included) and costs a total of $800.
The rooms at White Fences Inn, with breakfast included, run $250 to $495 during the winter season.