The sign out front of the quaint white church said ‘Journey to Forever’…. well I didn’t think we were going quite that far but it seemed like a pleasant invitation to come explore the beautiful North Fork of Long Island.
If you’re wondering where we are it was described to me like this. Imagine Long Island as a gold-fish, the mouth connected, by the Brooklyn Bridge, to New York City’s Manhattan and the elegant long tail, trailing North East, divided into the North and South Forks.
The area described as the Hampton’s is situated in the South Fork. It’s a place where the well-heeled of New York come to escape the long hot summers (you may have seen it featured on ‘Sex and the City’ or more recently ‘Revenge’). There are sprawling mansions, manicured gardens and expensive cars. None of this was unexpected. What surprised me were the pretty little towns, country lanes, ancient shady oak trees, sheltered bays, small boats bobbing on the water…picture postcard perfect.
We began our journey in the village of West Hampton. I’d arrived here last night by train, deranged by 30 odd hours of sleep-deprived travel and completely oblivious to my surroundings. What I saw today was a pretty little town with holiday makers doing their thing…having coffee, browsing boutiques and picking up last-minute supplies for the busy labor day weekend. We too picked up some essentials… Boston cream donuts, ripe peaches and a guide to Long Island Wines. Armed with the map we head 40 minutes North, then turn right onto Main Road, NorthFork. Greenport, at the far end of the island, will be our destination but in the meantime we have scores of wineries, picturesque towns and farm stalls to checkout.
Grape vines and oak trees tell me we’re in wine country.
Ripening pinot grapes suggest the harvest is just around the corner…
We arrive, just past the tiny town of Jamesport, at the restored barn that is the tasting room of Clovis Point wines.
My sister will be driving so she patiently watches on as I try the whites. Brezan introduces me to their un-wooded Chardonnay and I buy a bottle of this crisp dry white to take away.
We turn off the main road into Mattituck. Jane tells me that the wine industry has seriously revived this little town. The place is buzzing with hip little shops and restaurants befitting a wine district. Jane makes a detour to Pike Street.
Our first stop is Agora, the little Greek market, in Pike Street.
It’s filled with specialty produce and home-baked pastries. Joanne Cosonas is the friendly owner and we follow her advice and, along with a bagful of groceries, pick up two hot spanakopitas.
Next we turn onto the quaintly named Love Lane.
We find a shady spot, a park bench and stop.
Where we sit and eat the delicious spinach pies…yum!
After lunch we can’t resist looking inside the local market…they sell rotisserie duck!
And we load up with a few essentials…house-made sausage, bread, Spanish anchovies and Mattituck honey.
Next stop is the Village Cheese Shop.
And we’re spoilt for choice but settle on the Rochetta, a semi soft, yet pungent cheese… perfect on the sour dough we’ve just bought.
As we leave I see an article about the business women who have led the revival on Love Street…what a brilliant job you’ve done Ladies! We vow to return.
Our next stop is McCall Wines.
Nicola Plimpton is the charming owner and she pours us wines to taste. Again I can’t resist the un-wooded Chardonnay and buy a bottle to add to our provisions.
Back on the road we see cute little houses, being fixed up and brought back to life.
We start to think about how nice it would be to live in this part of the world.
We see that people had the same idea a very long time ago.
Down a tree lined lane we find the 365 year old house.
Jane knocks and we wonder about the people who’d lived here and what their lives had been like.
And in the ancient cemetery I wonder about the stories these pioneers could tell on their journey to forever!
Coming up, Shelter Island, beach bars and houses for sale.
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