A Slow Food Celebration


While residents and visitors alike spent this past Labor Day weekend celebrating the culinary culture of the East End by enjoying the bounty of local seafood and produce at their dinner tables and favorite restaurants, that same weekend, 3,000 miles away in San Francisco foods of Bridgehampton were being honored in a different manner. 

San Francisco’s Slow Food Nation 2008 brought 85,000 people to various tasting pavilions over Labor Day weekend in an effort to unite those committed to the slow food movement, one focused on the promotion of local, sustainable, organic food products from across the nation.

Among those products featured at Slow Food Nation 2008 were a trio from Bridgehampton. Art Ludlow’s Mecox Bay Dairy cheeses were displayed in the event’s taste pavilion. Mary Woltz’s honey from Bees’ Needs — which is produced in Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton — was also shown in the event’s honey and preserves pavilion and Channing Daughter’s wines in the show’s wine collections.

In honor of that event, and in an effort to reach out to the local East End community, the East End Convivium of Slow Food USA will host a tour of Ludlow’s Mecox Bay Dairy in Bridgehampton this Sunday, November 9 at 1 p.m.

According to Slow Food member Michael Denslow, Ludlow will guide participants through the cheese making process. Wine from Paumanok, Channing Daughters and Jamesport vineyards, Ludlow’s cheeses and honey from Woltz’s Bees’ Needs will be featured in a special tasting following the tour.

Sag Harbor resident and American Hotel owner Ted Conklin founded the local chapter of Slow Food USA seven years ago. The organization is dedicated to education and outreach and in addition to celebrating the biodiversity and land that sustains a bountiful local food culture, the group also seeks to promote respect and economic support for East End artisans like Ludlow and Woltz.

According to Denslow, in a nutshell, the slow food movement’s motto is “good, clean and fair.”

In addition to promoting events like the tour of Mecox Bay Dairy, Denslow said the group also sponsors farmers’ markets (including the one held in summer and fall in Sag Harbor), has educational initiatives like the Slow Foods-sponsored greenhouse at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton and holds dinners at various restaurants also committed to the same philosophy on food.

The organization is making an effort to reach out to year round members of the community with events like the Mecox Bay Dairy tour, said Denslow, which is $55 for non-members, $27.50 for members. After highlighting some of the achievements of sustainable food producers in Bridgehampton, Denslow said the chapter was looking towards the waterfront.

“Next up we would really like to do an oyster tasting,” he said. “The water where an oyster comes from enhances its flavor.”

While the slow food movement is about food, Denslow reminded its core philosophies ultimately protect some of the greatest aesthetic resources. When someone chooses to support a local farmer, for example, they are helping to save the vistas that make the East End one of the most desired locales on the eastern seaboard.

“Otherwise when you drive by that empty field what you will see is a condo,” said Denslow. “The last thing we need is more big houses, if you ask me. I would rather drive by and see a corn field.”