Montauk, take me away

There's nothing like a quick beach getaway. Especially after you've had a few bad weeks. You forget about your hectic city life. Waves in the ocean become your biggest fear, and even though they knock you over not once, but twice, and you feel like a loser for being afraid (HOW you were a lifeguard for three summers, you have no idea), you're still happy because your skin feels salty and you're no longer snowy white.

Yes, people, I finally spent a weekend on the beach! My first one all summer. I went to Montauk with a group of girls that I've known for almost my entire life. Many of us met when we were as young as 4 or 5.

We are like family. We fight like siblings and laugh like old, old friends. Growing up, we practically lived at each other's houses, spent hours talking on the phone, played all sorts of sports, went to concerts, snuck into bars, kissed the same boys, took the train to Manhattan and the Stamford Mall, and ate lots of pizza and bagels and ice cream together.

I was one of the first to leave for college and they all came to see me off. I sobbed the whole way there. Leaving them felt like losing a limb. I stumbled through my first semester. I made new friends, but missed being a part of a big, boisterous group. After graduation, almost all of us moved back to New York.

These days, we're doing different things and are on separate paths. But the bond is still there. It's hard to lose when you've shared so much.

Even when it comes to eating, we know each other inside out. Ginger likes her French fries extra, extra, EXTRA crispy. Jeanne freaks out when different foods on her plate overlap. Courtney (who couldn't come on this trip because she was about to have a baby -- the first one of us to become a mom,), isn't big on sweets. Margherita and Renata, both raised in Italian families, love to cook. Nina's always up for Mexican. I'll spare you the details on everyone, but see what I mean?

This trip, a bachelorette for Margherita, involved lots of eating. There was our first dinner at Oyster Pond, a casual place where Renata and I both loved the striped bass with mango salsa and grilled veggies. At some point in the evening, I caught Jeanne and Sunetra trying to steal my glass of Cloudy Bay.

For our first lunch, we sampled what many believe is Montauk's best lobster roll. It was definitely the most generous one I've ever eaten. Packed with big scoops of lobster salad, it was hard to pick up.

There was too much mayo and everyone agreed something was missing. The bun could have been toastier, too.

I had one at the Clam Bar the next day and it was much better.

It was a much skimpier serving, but with just a touch of mayo and a lot less celery, the flavors really popped.

At Harvest, a pretty place that overlooked a pond, Renata and I ordered for the table. Food is served family-style, so we chose two pastas (farfalle with sausage and peas and penne with a creamy vegetable sauce), swordfish in a butter sauce, a whole snapper stuffed with lemon and ginger, a caprese salad, seared tuna, and everyone's favorite dish: pancetta wrapped shrimp with a warm bean salad.

Marg treated us to dessert on the patio and we retold some of our favorite stories from the past. An unforgettable trip to St. Thomas. A mean math teacher who ruined Mona's high school prom by telling her she failed Pre-Calculus. As all these girls will tell you, I love to reminisce. There couldn't be better people to do it with.

On our last day together, we bickered like old friends sometimes do. Rather than dwell, we said how we felt, then hit the beach. The sky was a piercing blue and the sun was strong.

Ginger went to return a bike she rented and came back with Coronas and the best malted I've ever tasted.

Huddled around Jeanne's cell phone, we called Courtney. She'd welcomed Fletcher Maxwell into the world that very day. The last time we all took a trip together was for her bachelorette, two years ago.

Before I headed home that night, we went back to the Clam Bar for our last dinner. We feasted. New England and Manhattan clam chowder, lobster, popcorn shrimp, tuna bites and corn on the cob. For dessert, we sang a bachelorette rendition of Happy Birthday and passed around slices of carrot cake and key lime pie.

When I got to my car, I was full and giddy. The weekend had flown by, but I felt different. Rejuvenated. Ready to take on the city, whatever curveballs it tried to throw my way.

I flew back to Brooklyn, making it home in just two hours flat. That's gotta be a good sign. Right?

Oyster Pond
4 South Elmood Ave
Montauk, NY

Lobster Roll (a.k.a "Lunch)
1980 Montauk Highway
Amagansett, NY

11 S Emory Street
Montauk, NY


Clam Bar
Montauk Highway (across the street from Lunch)
Amagansett, NY

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Anne Stesney said...

How amazing that you have such a large group of childhood friends.
Sounds like a perfect weekend, with old friends and lots of good food!

Anonymous said...

Right! That sounds like the perfect medicine. What a fun weekend and so nice that you're all still so close. Gorgeous picture! I hope the crazy rain this morning didn't ruin your good feelings completely...

Unknown said...

Those lobster rolls are making me hungry!

Anonymous said...

i was there and can attest to the deliciousness of the clam bar's lobster rolls... delish i tell you. and harvest, what a nice surprise to find a beautiful restaurant among the mostly casual restaurants in montauk. i highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

oh, and one more thing. lia's right on about everything she said. we're like sisters all of us so the fighting, hugging, crying.. it's all true.

Lia said...

Anne: I feel so lucky to have all of them!

Luisa: The rain didn't damper my day one bit. In fact it made it better since I got to work from home!

Karlyn: Me too! If our lunch hadn't gotten rained out today, we could have had some. Hopefully we can still meet before Fox makes his debut.

Mona: Thanks for biking with me so much while we were away. Those back rides definitely improved my mood.


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