The Soul of Slow Food
There are some meals you just don’t want to end.
I knew this immediately walking into the Living Room restaurant in c/o The Maidstone, a boutique hotel in East Hampton. Traveling on assignment for Luxury Travel Magazine, I arrived with pages of notes to ask the chef about his slow food cooking techniques, his use of local produce, and how his food reflects the creative spirit of a hotel like the Maidstone. Chef James Carpenter answered these questions not only with words – but with his food. All of it lovingly prepared and beautifully presented.I like a restaurant with a story, and the evening began by reading about the slow food philosophy of the Living Room that is provided on the menu. Whether your curiosity is piqued about the Swedish specialties on the menu or you’re looking for something more traditionally satisfying, you will be torn between many items on this menu.
There are many signs of a talented chef, but one particular skill is taking an ingredient I’m not usually drawn to, and reinventing it. This was the case with the herring that appeared on Swedish Smorgasbord. Herring would not usually be at the top of the list of things I want to keep eating, but the flavors here were beyond tasty. A grain mustard sauce that accompanied the variety of Swedish specialties was so delicious I would have taken a jar home.Other hits of the evening included homemade pork rilletete ravioli with a tomato bacon broth. Every bite of this dish was savored and every ounce of broth was soaked up by a crusty piece of bread. I couldn’t resist sampling the sauteed seasonal forest mushrooms with toasted brioche and flavored with brandy. At the suggestion of our excellent waiter, for my main course I chose the Swedish lamb meatballs with ricotta dumplings and kale — simply divine. My dining companion enjoyed a sweet potato puree with her grilled pork tenderloin that she called, ‘one of the best things to ever pass my lips’.
A meal this special deserves special wine. That is the job of the sommelier, Kelly Matis, and a job she does quite well. We were happy to try some local Long Island wines by the glass to accompany the different courses of our meal, and she always let us try a taste first before committing to the full glass. This is a prime example of service making a substantial difference in the quality of a meal.The Living Room restaurant gets many more things right beyond the food and the service – I loved the long, tapered candles adorning the tables. The funky print on the chairs gave the restaurant a whimsical atmosphere, and unlike the city where tables are packed so close you can hear your neighbors whisper, here we had space to breathe. Plenty of space. With no one waiting for our table, we could take our time on every bite of this memorable meal.
That’s worth traveling to the Hamptons for.
Readers – have any favorite culinary escapes from NYC to share? I would love to hear your suggestions in the comment box below.