Eating and drinking your way though the village in a benefit culinary event.
By Emily J. Weitz
Drifts of ice float through the channel between North Haven and Shelter Island, where sailboats once bobbed. And that can be reason either to retreat into our respective hideaways or to celebrate. Sag Harbor has chosen the latter. That’s why this coming Saturday, February 5, is a day when you should hope you didn’t book that trip to Barbados or plan to meet up with friends in the city. Because with fireworks displays and restaurant crawls, live music and ice carvings, Sag Harbor is right where it’s at.
While this is officially the first annual HarborFrost, it’s an idea that’s been in the making for quite some time. Charlie Canavan of the Sag Harbor Hysterical Society has been helping take the bite out of winter for Sag Harbor residents for the past ten years with events like this Saturday’s culinary stroll, sponsored by the society. The purpose of the Hysterical Society is “to get people together for someone who needs a boost.”
Proceeds from these events have always gone to some member of the community who could use the help, whether it was someone battling cancer or a family that couldn’t afford to put dinner on the table. The recipient of this year’s donation is yet to be determined, but the event itself is more than enough reason to come out and connect with the community.
This year, five local restaurants are involved, and participants will get to sample some of the signature dishes of each. As they wander from place to place, they’ll be accompanied by three traveling musicians.
“The musicians will accompany us into the restaurants, we’ll get drinks, and enjoy the spread for 45 minutes or so,” says Canavan, “then we head to the next restaurant. Maybe we’ll stop in between for some songs on the sidewalk. We’ll do this four or five times.”
In addition, the stroll has been designed to take advantage of the other events of the day.
“We are going to lead the troops past ice carving and ice sculptures taking place on the pier, and another on the south side of town,” says Canavan. “We’ll time our stroll so I can bring participants to the wharf at 5:45 for the fireworks display.”
The stroll begins with registration at Phao at 2 p.m. Participants will receive chefs hats and crayons and the cash bar will be open “to get everybody warmed up,” says restaurant manager Harrison Platz. A special bacon infused bourbon cocktail will be featured.
“This is made with center cut double hickory smoked bacon with Basil Hayden’s Bourbon,” says Platz. The rest of Phao’s creative cocktails, like the Devilish Romance (Prosecco with St Germaine liquer and pomegranate juice) and the Sake Martini (Organic Crop Cucumber Vodka and Kaori Sake) will be available. House favorites like chicken satay with peanut sauce and cucumber salad, lamb lollipops in a garlic cilantro soy reduction, and curry puffs in fresh cucumber pickle relish will be served.
“We chose [these appetizers] for this event because they are representative of the style and quality our cuisine has to offer,” says Platz. “People rave about our lamb lollipops; they are fall off the bone amazing.”
Phao’s next-door neighbor, Sen, will also be donating food to the cause, so sushi rolls and crab cakes will be on hand.
At about 3:15, the group, in their giant chef’s hats, will be ushered down Main Street to Windmill Beach, where they can catch a glimpse of the Frosty Plunge (3:30). After that they’ll head over to Bay Street Theatre, where musicians from the weekly Jam Session will be in full swing. The three strolling musicians will join right in.
“The stroll itself is a tremendous way to build community spirit,” says Canavan. “Many of these people have never met, and they get to know each other as well as the fine restaurants they’ve never visited.”
After a taste of the afternoon jam, it’s back to the serious business of culinary consumption. At 4:30, LT Burger will have a spread of their gourmet style burgers.
“They’ve got a lot of cutting-edge things on the menu,” says Canavan. “Their hamburger, cheeseburger, and tuna burger are all very unique.”
After getting their fill of the down-home cooking at LT, the group will check out the fireworks display and then head up to New Paradise.
“They have the greatest chicken dinner you’ll ever eat in your life,” says Canavan. “This is off the charts.” When one of the restaurants wants to offer an entrée, they’ll cut it up into finger food portions so guests can sample the best of their menu while still pacing themselves.
At 7:30, the group is expected at Il Capuccino for real Italian cooking (have you HAD their garlic knots?). In a private dining room hors d’eouvres will be set out including stuffed mushrooms, rigatoni a la vodka, and eggplant rollotini. Then it’s down to Blue Sky by around 8:15, where the mussels meunerie should not be missed. The bar and lounge will be open late into the evening.
“It’s going to be lots of walking, singing, socializing and taking in the sites of HarborFrost,” says Canavan. “It’s an opportunity for these restaurants to show off a little bit, and we get to stroll around and take in the beauty of this little village.” The Culinary Stroll is $40, and proceeds go to a member of our community who’s in need. Sign up at Phao between 2 and 3:15 on Saturday. For more information call 725-7936.