Fried Eggplant and a Donut Robot

Editor's note: Jenni Ferrari-Adler is guest-blogging on Serious Eats this week about her vacation in East Hampton, New York. Follow along: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Donut arigato, Mr. RobotoAfter the movie, still feeling a little burned by our meal at Wei Fun, J. and I head to Sam's Restaurant. Sam's is one of the few places that's been in the town of East Hampton for as long as I've been coming out, circa 1985, which is exactly what it looks like, and, better yet, sounds like. We go 12-inch, half-pepperoni, half-eggplant, garlic, and green olives. The eggplant ends up being breaded and fried, as in eggplant Parmesan, making me the fool who tried to be healthy and skip pepperoni only to eat a hefty quantity of fried food.

At home we are freaked out in the particular way of urban dwellers alone in a country house after a tense movie. We are used to the noises of sirens, crazy people, fighting drunks, and airplanes, but not these night noises of frogs and bugs. It wasn't Bourne—whose set-up is so specific, far-fetched, and not remotely about a couple being murdered in a country house—as much as the ten-plus previews we sat through before the movie, each one more terrifying than the last. The scenarios included: your husband is jailed in a foreign country (Rendition); your son is killed, forcing you into a life of crime (Death Sentence); and the disappearance of your little girl (Gone Baby Gone). Despite the pizza interlude, our adrenaline is high. It kind of sounds like someone is walking in the yard, or on the roof, or creaking quietly along the halls of the house itself.

J. gets out of bed and grabs a poker from the fireplace. We creep to the door that leads to the garage.

"Don't open it," I whisper.

He opens it.

"Don't go in there," I say.

He walks into the garage while I hold my breath from the doorway.

"There's nothing here," he says. We close all the doors between the garage and the bedroom.

"Don't worry," he says, "It's just animals."

"Then why did you just put the fireplace poker under the bed?"

Wednesday morning we're alive and off to find the weekly farmers' market on North Main Street. But first, a pit stop at Dreesen's for homemade donuts. Dreesen's used to be the name of the shop but now they just occupy a part of Scoop du Jour. From the sidewalk we watch the donuts fall out of the machine, which they call the donut robot. They serve them three ways: plain, covered in powdered sugar, and covered in cinnamon sugar. According to the sign on the window, they have "0 transfat." Only good old-fashioned fat. They are soft, buttery, and, perhaps best of all, warm. According to the website, they sell more than 400,000 per year. Also on their website, Alec Baldwin claims Dreesen's donuts are the reason for the popularity of the Hamptons.

jfa-salad.jpgAt the small farmer's market, we take our time. We buy feta cheese made at Catapano Dairy Farms, brandywine tomatoes, bell peppers, a cucumber, a small red onion, and mint for the ice cream later in the week.

At home I slice the red onion into lime juice to mellow it. I char the peppers over the stove even though there is a grill right outside—city habits are hard to break. I chop everything up. I grind pepper, sprinkle salt, drizzle olive oil, and set it out on a big white plate. This is the easiest time of year to make beautiful dishes. It's only slicing and assembly.

So which is more enticing: the salad or the donuts?

Sam's Restaurant

Address: 36 Newtown Lane, East Hampton NY 11937
Phone: 631-324-5900

Dreesen's

Address: 33 Newtown Lane, East Hampton NY 11937
Phone: 631-324-0465