Fire Island Fun

May 20th, 2015 § 0 comments

HG/BSK’s summer retreat during the 1960’s and early 1970’s was Fire Island, the long, slim, always hurricane threatened barrier beach between the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island’s Great South Bay. Fire Island was dotted with about a score of beach communities, each with a very distinctive personality ranging from overtly gay Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines (pioneers in out of the closet behavior) and prim and proper Point O’Woods. There were family oriented communities and those specializing in boy-meets-girl activities. HG/BSK had a house perched on a sand dune in Ocean Ridge, a community directly across the Bay from Patchogue, L.I.. Big, expansive windows and spacious front and rear decks. Spectacular ocean views and blazing sunset panoramas. Ocean Ridge was mixed: Some families. Lots of ad men and women. Journalists. Musicians. And, boys and girls playing the mating game. Booze and marijuana were very popular. Surprisingly, there were many outstanding cooks in Ocean Ridge (and Davis Park, a neighboring area). What made the culinary heights surprising was that there was only a bare bones convenience store in Ocean Ridge. Everything else had to come by ferry from Patchogue. There, Shand’s Market provided the basic foodstuffs. This was augmented by Karl Ehmer’s (sublime sausages and other German pork products); a fish store with Peconic Bay scallops and oysters and an Italian delicatessen (Mozzarella and many other good things). No autos on Fire Island (that’s why it was a paradise for the HG/BSK kids). Youngsters made spending money by meeting ferries at the dock and delivering food in their ubiquitous little red wagons. Here are some feasts HG remembers: Spectacular smorgasbord organized by New York Times journalist Glenn Fowler (and his Swedish girl friend). Catalonian fish barbecue by Catalonian sculptor Joan Junyer (friend and contemporary of Picasso). Joan and his wife, Dolores, grilled whole, gutted fish over blazing charcoal. Splashed the fish with crushed garlic, olive oil and paprika. Indonesian Rijstaffel cooked by two (names forgotten) Madison Avenue copywriters (and their wives). At least twenty dishes, all wondrously savory. Hobby Miller’s annual fish fry. Hobby was the developer of Ocean Ridge and operated as a real estate agent/builder and beloved unofficial Mayor. Manning some huge cast iron pans filled with hot oil, Hobby sizzled flour dusted fish fillets. The fish had just been pulled from the Bay and Ocean. A chic woman who had spent some years in Paris would issue an impromptu invitation to a mussel orgy. Big pots of mussels steamed in white wine, garlic, onions, parsley accompanied by crusty baguettes for dipping and icy, white jug wine. Yes, there were some misses. An eccentric woman gave a shrimp curry party. The curry was incendiary. Nothing to drink. Some bowls of yogurt. The yogurt will soothe the heat, assured the madwoman. It did not. Yes, lots of wonderful summer eating but the ultimate was HG/BSK’s platters of Clams Casino and linguine in white clam sauce, both made with hundreds of cherrystone clams plucked from the muddy bottom of Great South Bay by the HG/BSK family and their friends.

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