June 27, 2012
Picture this: The sun is setting in Bridgehampton, you have a glass of wine in hand and are chatting on a wraparound porch, biding your time until dinner at Tom Colicchio’s new place, just steps away. This will all be possible when Topping Rose House—a historic Bridgehampton home turned luxe, food-focused inn—opens in late August.
The former Bull's Head Inn at the corner of Route 27 and the Sag Harbor Turnpike is being carefully renovated to become a 22-room retreat and spa within walking distance to everything we love about Bridgehampton, from Almond and Pierre's to Loaves & Fishes Cookshop and C&W Mercantile. Millions have been poured into the renovation of the Greek Revival-style mansion, built in 1842 for Judge Abraham Topping Rose and his family.
The entire property evokes sweet Southern hospitality, especially when it comes to dining. Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio joined owners Bill Campbell and Simon Critchell to head up the restaurant, which he says will focus on vegetables and produce grown on the property’s one-acre farm.
Topping Rose House will be open year-round so guests can enjoy the Hamptons beyond spring and summer and into the colorful fall and quiet, cozy winter. It will debut with seven rooms, Colicchio’s restaurant, bar, and a Barn for entertaining. An additional 15 rooms will be added in late 2012.
June 26, 2012
Hilaria Thomas with Alec and Ireland Baldwin
East End Problems: A Priceless East End Bakery
Are we summer people tough customers? On Saturday afternoon, on my way to the opening of Chaise 23 (15 Lumber Lane, East Hampton), a workout studio that uses a modern update of the Pilates chair with pulleys above your head and a bench seat with hydraulics, my young son Declan and I stopped at Wainscott’s BreadZilla for a snack.
To be fair, BreadZilla uses Saturday afternoons for cleanup. Declan, who loves lemon squares, chose a palm-sized lemon tart. I wanted to try the iced coffee. There were two cups left in the freezer with ice (one appeared used). Meanwhile, the iced coffee thermos only had a few drops left. So I used hot coffee with the ice. I set the tepid cup on the counter with the lemon tart. “That will be $12,” the young man behind the counter said sheepishly.
“What? How much is the coffee?”
“And the tart?”
I didn’t take the tart, and then it took what felt like ten minutes to get my change. I mentioned that the encounter didn’t feel entirely normal, and my son started crying in the car. "Dad, why do you have to be so difficult?" He likely had his heart set on the tart. Yes, I had been a prisoner of a priceless East End bakery.
It was the old Round Swamp Farm gambit. They can charge what they like for an item. But if they simply marked the prices on their wares, they likely wouldn't sell. Apparently, one time when Lauren Bacall got her bill at Loaves & Fishes, she just yelled out for everyone in the store to hear, "That's crazy!"
Alexis Roderick and Billy Joel
Group for the East End Anniversary Benefit
That night, I stopped at Group for the East End’s 40th Annual Anniversary Benefit at Wölffer Estate Vineyard. As I drove up, my buddy Claire Mercuri, Billy Joel's publicist, arrived and was fretting that she was about to run out of gas. Of course, both pastry sticker shock and enormously successful people about to run out of gas are East End problems.
At the event, Alec Baldwin was also enduring an East End problem. He and his young, attractive bride-to-be, Hilaria Thomas, in a hot orange dress, had drawn every party photographer in the Hamptons. The charity had all the photogs line up on a step and repeat, which Baldwin, wearing cargo pants, an elegantly cut blue blazer and a white shirt with a large open collar, studiously avoided. Billy Joel chatted with reporter or two. But Baldwin, who had recently gotten into a dustup with a photog, no longer feels charitable about doing press.
Also on Saturday, I brought my family to Longhouse Reserve, for a gardening contest: Planters on and off the Ground V, on view through July 28. I spotted Jack Lenor Larsen, who owns the estate, riding a golf cart. He’s getting on in years, but he still manages to zip around the grounds at an impressive clip. Matko Tomicic, executive director of Longhouse, had to beg him to try the cart when they first got it. And now they can barely get him off of it. The East End problem? How to negotiate your sprawling estate at an advanced age?
Heart of the Hamptons
Next stop that night was the American Heart Association's 16th Annual Heart of the Hamptons Ball. I spotted the behemoth tent on Mitchells Lane in Bridgehampton, but the sign out front was for Taste of Hamptons, an event that takes place later in the summer. So Dispatches saw the tent and knew there was a party, but no one was quite certain if they had arrived at the correct tent. East End problem.
Sharon Bush (Lauren’s mom) was wearing a bright pink dress and had a snappy date on her arm. "Is this Heart?" he asked after Bush introduced us. My sentiments exactly.
June 25, 2012
Occupation: Owner, Enclave Inn Hotels and East Hampton Studio
When did you start coming to the Hamptons?
I moved here full-time in February of ’99 from Detroit, Michigan.
What’s your best, worst, or most hilarious Hamptons memory?
Some of my best memories are at the ocean with my two sons; boogie boarding and hanging at the ocean all day and night. It's pretty magical.
Do you have an inner circle or group of friends that you hang out with most often in the Hamptons?
I live in the Hamptons full-time but do have a group of wonderful summer friends that have become more year-round. Josh Guberman is my oldest and closest friend. We met through a mutual friend about seven years ago.
What are your East End traditions or must-dos every summer?
I am a big fan of the Monday drum circle, going to the ocean late at night, especially when it's raining, and polo matches with my sons. They are getting older and it’s not as cool to hang out with me, but we have always gone to at least one or two polo matches and The Hampton Classic together.
Who throws the best parties?
Way to hard to say! Coming from inner city Detroit, any party in the Hamptons is a step up!
Where do you go for a drink and what’s your usual?
I’m not a big drinker, but I love to people watch. My favorite is iced tea at Golden Pear or wine at 75 main. Keith [Davis] and Zach [Erdem] both do a great job and are friends.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten in the Hamptons?
I love Danny at Fairway Restaurant. It's my type of place. I get the same thing every time for the past 12 years. I also love The Hamptons Players Club—it's a new place in East Hampton. Frank [Cilione], Neil [Levinbook] and Dave [Levinbook] make you feel like family. It has everything you want in a place to eat.
Where do you go to totally unplug?
I'm a beach guy. Put me in a chair with waves hitting my feet and I'm good!
What’s the last thing you bought in the Hamptons?
I bought East Hampton Studio, a giant movie production facility that I am trying to do concerts, events, and host charities at. On a smaller level, this morning I bought a slice of pizza for a late breakfast.
Last night of the summer, where can we find you and what are you doing?
I have been with Josh [Guberman] and the crew the last handful of years, so I guess the same this year as well.
What’s the difference between a true Hamptonite and a weekender?
I don't believe there is a difference. I only think of nice people and ‘not so nice’ people!
June 22, 2012
Bike on the fence at Main Beach —@zomberto, East Hampton
June 20, 2012
Tony Ingrao and Margaret Russell at God's Love We Deliver Midsummer Night Drinks
Overheard on the LIRR
The armies of fresh-faced summer sharers that invade the Main Streets of the various Hamptons hamlets each summer never fail to entertain. On the LIRR Saturday morning, my car was filled with young sorority types whose entire vocabulary seemed to have been borrowed from a Gossip Girl script. Every third word was "seriously," "obviously," "totally," "like," "exactly," "absolutely," or "OMG." And the cadence of speech was so slow that each letter seemed to have extra syllables. Their voices cracked as they attempted to add extra inflections to every sound. In the seat behind me, the young women were dissing a Debbie Downer housemate, who would apparently always discuss being so tired when she wakes up after drinking and sleeping only two hours. (Seriously? That was totally her choice, right?)
Midsummer Night Drinks
That night, God's Love We Deliver held its elegant Midsummer Night Drinks at Woodhouse Park, the East Hampton home of Tony Ingrao and Randy Kemper. Stellar choice. Dispatches had visited before, but the exquisite gardens rolled and curved on and on with follies and statues for what seemed like three-quarters of a mile. Apparently, Ingrao and Kemper have added two lots. “Now we’re just refining,” said Kemper. “We’ve gotten it down to where we only have two people working here. One is a tree guy, and one takes care of the lawns and weeding.” This garden is a waking dream. Seriously!
Sailor Brinkley Cook, Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel, and Jack Brinkley Cook at SoFo Goes SoHo
SoFo Goes SoHo
And speaking of acreage, SoHo Meets SoFo was the theme of the South Fork Natural History Museum fête on the museum's bucolic 800 acres. Christie Brinkley brought her children, Sailor and Jack, who are now as tall as or taller than the also present Alexa Ray Joel. Bites included shrimp cocktail in little glasses and tiny passed lobster rolls. Brinkley’s eponymous line of organic skin care products made the gift bag.
On Shelter Island, Olympic runners Frank Shorter and Joan Benoit Samuelson helped to pace the annual 10K. My wife, on her birthday, came in third for her new age group; and then we stayed on the island for dinner at a friend’s idyllic house.
Meanwhile, Kelly "I Can Make You Hot” Killoren Bensimon hit Banzai Burger in Amagansett and ended up jumping behind the counter to make vegetarian rolls with Japanese chef Isao. But ultimately, she just ended up downing a draft PBR and a cheeseburger.
And on Father's Day, Dispatches dined at Duryea's—you can’t beat the views—and took the train back from Montauk at 7:30 PM, following the spectacular sunset from Montauk to Bridgehampton. On this train ride, I overheard loud but witty runners who amused me. One told a story of staying out late, not eating dinner, drinking, and then getting up for a spin class to meet a friend. Halfway through the class, he lost his vision and then blacked out—but not before knocking over the water cooler. Another gal spoke of ho-hum sex with a new partner who had stepped up his game in the sack over the past weekend. "What do you mean?" asked her male buddies. “More dominant . . . less wimpy,” she answered.
Sensitive types need not apply.