Orient, NY was our home away from home when we lived in New York City. It was the perfect balance to hectic city life with lots of space, great sailing and peace and quiet.
Sitting on the eastern-most end of Long Island (get it, so far east it is the Orient) sits our historic village of less than 800 people.
For those not familiar with the area, Long Island is in fact aptly named and at the end splits off into two directions. The South fork is where you’ll find gorgeous ocean beaches, gorgeous homes and gorgeous people, aka the Hamptons. And on the North fork you’ll find waterfront vineyards, working farms and gorgeous people.
We were a bit nervous to return, worrying that perhaps our memories were rose colored and that reality would reveal something less. But we were over the moon to find the hamlet had not changed and the small changes that have happened were for the better. We were welcomed by our friends Phil and Holly and Martha and John, and kids.
We anchored in front of the yacht club, which allowed for easy dinghy docking and shoreside access.
The yacht club’s junior racing program is really the envy of the area. When we were there, Orienters took all the top spots in an Opti regatta with 6 or so different clubs joining. The training goes on 6 days a week.
We were thrilled to learn about the oyster biz from our pals at Oysterponds Shellfish Co.
Orient has a deep history in oysters, in fact Orient was once know as Oysterponds and oystermen thrived harvesting them from 1874 until the brown tide killed them off in the 1980s. “The algae wasn’t poisonous to the oysters but out competed all the other algae and left the water filled with 99% brown tide which the oysters didn’t like to feed upon. It still shows up in some areas but not at the levels of the 1980″s.”* *From local historican John Holzapfel
The Tuthill family has the privilege of owning the water rights to the estuary where Oysterponds Shellfish Co. harvest their critically acclaimed oysters. Their family was one of the original settlers in Orient as deeded by the King of England in 1640s
But aquaculture is alive again and our buddies Phil and John are really helping the old guard ramp up operations. I think we helped them plant close to a half million baby oysters.
Roberto shucked some mature ones right on the spot, and they are delicious. If you see Oysterponds oysters anywhere, get them! They are hearty and briny and perfect.
Speaking of local foods, it was nice to sample some of the local fares again. Farm stand produce, clams that Phil dug up with his hands, mussels that we pulled out of Hallocks Bay.
Farm to table has always been a way of eating here, not just the latest trend and it continues to flourish. The nearby town of Greenport has some exceptional restaurants, The Frisky Oyster is as good as ever, even if its prices are higher than ever. Newcomer Brix & Rye has an incredible bourbon selection and delicious food. And Little Creeks’ fun shuck-your-own oysters has taken over White’s bait and tackle shop right at Mitchell Park Harbor. Linton’s store, now that he sold it it goes by its real name of the Country Store, has been taken over by a young couple selling very good sandwiches and prepared foods. The little store in East Marion has been transformed into a gourmet food store called Fork and Anchor. Greenport has a brewery making craft beers. And of course, all those vineyards are going strong.
I know these names don’t mean anything to most of you, but these places deserve a plug, check them out if you are ever out this way. People complain about the strict conservation and preservation rules out in Orient, but we hope they hold strong and keep up the fight because in our travels we’ve seen how overdevelopment ruins a place. And Orient is a rare pearl worth treasuring.