I was on to something: My son, Mario, ordered a cream of zucchini soup (with no cream), and then ordered another one. So today, I woke at dawn, eager to bake something with the mound of zucchinis that have burst forth from my garden. Why such a zucchini fury? It’s the one vegetable all my children like in the form of soup or cake. Cold zucchini soup is one of the only green things my son will eat, and a puree is easy to make: Blend, cook with onions, add Amagansett sea salt and pepper. Next came gluten-free banana-zucchini bread with walnuts, substituting vegetable oil and milk with healthier alternatives—coconut oil and coconut milk. After I read Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food a few years ago, I realized many kids have a problem with green foods. But I took a different approach: I learned how to cook with the good ingredients and not just hide them. When we featured Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover, I read her cookbook It’s All Good and got my youngest one, Carolina, eating avocado toast as a snack.
While the kids’ first request is usually a unanimous “PIZZA!” at La Parmigiana, Paul’s Italian Restaurant or Tuscan House (where there are many alternatives for my gluten-free eating habits), there are plenty of other options that please us all. Here are some of our favorite dishes in our hamlet, Southampton, and where to find them.
• I’ve been going to Le Chef for more than 20 years with my parents, and I get such a kick out of taking my kids there with their grandparents. Now my teenage daughter, Bella, likes to meet friends there for dinner. Besides the pureed soups, they nosh on croissants with ham and cheese for lunch, and fresh daily local fish like flounder, which is nut-crusted and pan-fried.
• At 5-year-old Little Red, sister to Red Bar, the outdoor patio with rubber grass lining the walls is a playful backdrop against dishes like the lobster and corn quesadilla. Other standouts include chicken paillard, grilled with lemon and black pepper over arugula-tomato salad; and tuna tartare with herb salad, cucumber relish and ginger vinaigrette.
• I love the seafood at Plaza Cafe. My favorite is Orient Harbor oysters topped with a dollop of vodka creme fraiche, and Pacific sturgeon caviar followed by this summer’s seared scallops set in a sweet polenta with cherry tomatoes.
• Family-owned Silver’s is only open for lunch, but I’ve been dining there since I was a kid, when it was a breakfast place selling newspapers and cigars. Today, I go for the lobster bisque with succulent lobster chunks, a dash of cream, and cognac and sherry followed by my son’s favorite: whole roast duck-leg confit on a bed of baby greens, pecans and grapes.
I take inspiration from the many great restaurants throughout the East End and the incredible chefs who work tirelessly to feed all of the discerning palates, big and small, out here. Check out our “Chefs’ Cookbook” feature in this issue for some fresh new ideas on what to serve your loved ones as the season comes to a close.
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