Whenever I dine in one of the newer restaurants out here, I think of all the vanished restaurants that once inhabited the same space. Saracen used to be Sapore di Mare which used to be Charlotte’s Pond. The Laundry is now The Lodge, and the original Laundry has moved toward Amagansett. Wednesday night, my mother and J. and I go to The Lodge at 9 p.m. without a reservation. Despite it being August in the Hamptons, we’re seated immediately. Between the drizzly weather and the red-brick warmth of the dining room, we crave winter comfort food. J. orders meatloaf. My mother has a diet Cokebecause she ate a big lunch at X2O Xaviers on the Hudson. I order tuna but checkthis has finally, finally become roteabout the use of peanuts and peanut oil. The waitress returns to say the tuna is a no-go because the sauce contains peanut oil. I switch to salmon, even though I rarely like salmon as a restaurant entrée as much as salmon smoked on a bagel or raw and rolled in rice. This salmon ends up being really goodrare, seared with horseradish, and served over succotash. I imagine the Omega 3 fish oil smoothing out my complexion.
For lunch on Thursday we make the same salad as the day before. We have all the ingredients left but only a skimpy amount of feta. We fork-fight for the bits.
Next up is fresh mint ice cream. We steep mint leaves in warm milk for an hour and strain out the leaves. The recipe from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop promises a “bright emerald green,” but oursperhaps the milk wasn’t hot enough?looks custard yellow. Up until now, I’ve only made ice cream from the Cuisinart instruction booklet, Philadelphia-style, an easy no-cook mixing of cream and sugar. French-style ice cream means exacting work, like tempering egg yolks but making sure they don’t scramble. I have flashbacks to the French Culinary Institute, where I hated cutting potato after potato into precise football shapes.
During the last five minutes of the machine’s mixing cycle, we pour in half a bag of chocolate chips. Later, when we take the ice cream out of the freezer, the color has improved to an appealing white. The mint taste is strong; the texture is decadently creamy. We serve it in glass bowls with chocolate chips scattered on the plates. We wedge Kathleen’s cookies, like tuiles, into the scoops. Or, rather, they used to be called Kathleen’s cookies, made by Kathleen King of Southampton. Now they’re called Tate’s cookies and are available everywhere (even in the Korean deli on my block in Brooklyn). I know I went crazy about Levain cookies the other dayan infusion of chocolate for my deprived chocolate receptorsbut these are my real standby favorites. Crisp and salty, they make an excellent ice cream topping.
Once I won a recipe contest in the East Hampton ice cream parlor we used to call Sedutto’s or Kathleen’s; it’s now Starbucks. I designed a sundae called the Coffee Cookie Crumble, which was basically coffee ice cream with Kathleen’s chocolate chip cookies. The prize was lunch for two. I took my brother. We had hot dogs, and he ordered a chocolate Coke. Considering that chocolate and Coke were two of our favorite things, this had seemed like a good idea, but the combination was off-putting. Unlike lobster, tomato salad, and ice cream, which I’ll happily keep working to perfect every summer, chocolate Coke was a one-time experience, never to be repeated.
Tomorrow, the lobsters.
The Lodge Bar and Grill
Address: 31 Race Lane, East Hampton NY 11937