1. Where to Stay
Experience European hospitality at Greenport’s whitewashed Morning Glory Inn (from $225), where owners Renate and Klaus Wilhelm serve German puff pancakes topped with fresh berry coulis for breakfast and make their own lavender water to wash their Belgian linens. Book the “Love Deeply” room, the largest of three options, for its king-size bed, separate sitting room, and spa-like monochromatic décor.
Check into The Greenporter (from $109), a mid-century-inspired property that was recently certified by the Green Hotels Association for recycling rain water and meeting other ecofriendly standards. A two-night stay at the 30-room hotel includes complimentary breakfast at the attached La Cuveé wine bar, which has an impressive 45 local wines available by the glass.
For a faster return trip home, stay in Riverhead, where the North and South Forks split off, at the Hotel Indigo (from $140), a 40-year-old property last renovated in August 2010 when it joined Intercontinental’s boutique hotel chain. Sip martinis made with locally produced LiV vodka ($12) at a table on the poolside patio and enjoy an eclectic lineup of live musicians Thursday to Saturday evenings.
2. Where to Eat
Sample bivalves from both sides of the North Fork (from $12 for a half-dozen) at the newly opened North Fork Oyster Company in Greenport, the only restaurant in the area with a visible raw bar that allows you to see what’s being shucked. Join locals at the bar in the nineteenth-century former carriage house for a pair of oyster shooters ($10) before moving to the covered patio for seasonal dishes like monkfish “osso bucco” style with cauliflower purée and heirloom tomato puttanesca ($28).
Stop by the lauded North Fork Table & Inn in Southold during the day to eat from its eight-month-old lunch truck, which is really a camper turned kitchen hidden behind a wooden facade. Chef Gerry Hayden was nominated for a James Beard Award this year, and here he serves refined takes on lobster rolls ($16.50), North Fork–style pulled-pork rolls ($8), and artisan frankfurters ($4). Place your order and then eat on one of the blankets spread out on the lawn in the inn’s backyard.
Make a reservation at the year-old Luce & Hawkins restaurant inside the Jedediah Hawkins Inn, a former sea captain’s mansion in Jamesport. Chef Keith Luce was a sous chef in President Clinton’s White House and serves a farm-to-table menu with items like North Fork duck wings with chili-garlic sauce ($12) and duck breast with soba noodles and a farm egg ($22), with many ingredients sourced from the chef’s farm located three miles away.
3. What to Do
Spend a day exploring some newer additions to the area’s slate of 48 wineries. Start out with a tasting ($17 for four wines) at Sparkling Pointe Winery and order caviar ($14 to $26) or Vosges chocolate ($10) from a vineside armchair. Head to Shinn Vineyards for the new vintner tasting ($25), during which owner David Page lets guests sample from the barrel and taste current vintages of reserve wines not available during regular tastings. Call ahead to One Woman Wines in Southold to see if they’re hosting Tastings Under the Stars, a bi-monthly campfire outing from 6 to 10 p.m. with cheeses, tapenades, hummus, and other tapas available ($6 to $10).
Catch the sunset at one of the best spots on the North Fork. Drive about four miles up Nassau Point Road in Cutchouge to a thin neck that juts out into Peconic Bay. Once you can’t drive any farther, you can walk out on the sandy peninsula, which puts you halfway across the bay. (Depending on where the tide is, visitors may be able to walk into knee-deep water.) Stake out a spot and bring a bottle of wine as you watch the night sky unfold while you’re surrounded by water on three sides.
Sip pink wines and pick up cooking tips at Croteaux Vineyards, where they only make rosé. Tastings ($10 to $15) take place in a gravel-lined garden styled to look like Provence with cheerful red-metal seating. Chat up owner Paula Croteau about her first cookbook, Farmhouse Kitchen Favorites, which was published in November and focuses on seasonal recipes. In the winter, she teaches cooking classes in the winery’s farmhouse.
4. Insider’s Tip
For a non-vineyard picnic alternative, head to Peconic River Herb Farm (open daily through October 31), where locals are known to spend the afternoon wandering the nursery’s lushly landscaped riverfront in Calverton. Visitors are welcome to spend time hiking the fourteen-acre property and meandering through the display gardens and lovely greenhouses. The farm sells cold drinks and encourages picnicking on the riverside lawn space or at their picnic tables and Adirondack chairs scattered throughout the property.
5. Oddball Day
Start your day in Greenport with coffee ($1.55) and an apricot scone ($2.75) at The Sweet Spot (300 Main St.; 631-477-6595), a newly opened eatery run by the owners of the North Fork Oyster Company. Then walk to Mitchell Park, where you can step into a camera obscura, a life-size pinhole camera that projects a 360-degree image of the surroundings into a darkened room. Use the joystick to control the lens and see what’s going on around town. Afterward, drive out to the end of Cedar Beach Road in Southold to the Suffolk County Marine Environmental Learning Center to join marine biologists who teach how to grow oysters, scallops and clams. Visitors can lend a hand to the working shellfish hatchery, community water gardens, boat-building shop, touch tank, aquariums, and wetlands. Afterward, wash off the shellfish at Cedar Beach; no permit is required in the parking lot, and there’s no fee to enter the pristine and uncrowded beach. After you’ve worked up an appetite, head back to Greenport for lunch or an early dinner at Sushi Sasuke Club, where chef Taka Meguro serves local fluke tempura with garlic, scallion, fried leeks, dried cranberry, and a spicy lemon and local wine dipping sauce ($12) and the popular tuna espresso roll special ($14): tuna, avocado, and espresso wrapped in soy paper. Next door you’ll find D’Latte (218 Main St.; 631-477-4060), a little pastry café known for its gelato (from $3.25). Later, take advantage of the North Fork’s optimal positioning for star gazing and head to the Custer Institute (suggested donation $5), a small observatory in Southold that’s open to the public Saturday evenings, 7 p.m. to midnight. You’ll have a guided tour of the night sky from volunteer astrologists while looking through powerful telescopes.
Dan’s Papers, the local weekly, keeps up with what’s happening on both North and South Forks.
North Frkd is where two weekenders, a photographer and designer, share their stylish North Fork finds.