Briermere Farmstand Pies
©Mary Engels, September 2009. Reprinted with permission from Demosnews.com
It took hurricane forces for me to wait online early one morning for a farm stand blackberry pie – but that’s exactly what happened on a late August weekend.
Town after town’s beaches closed due to Hurricane Bill this past summer. The greenish grey tides rose and fell, crashing heavily against the shore. Every year, these miles of gorgeous, white sand lure beachgoers to the southern tail ofLong Island,New York. On the farthest tip lies the town ofMontaukwhere surfers vie to ride the best ocean waves in site of fishing fleets. A few miles inland,East Hamptonentertains its celebrity clientele with a smattering of upscale boutiques and restaurants. Then there’s a sleepy, blue-skied haven known as Hampton Bays where I had
a chance to see cars piling along the main beach road filled with people looking for a place to go swimming.
But, the undertow was of such magnitude that lifeguards were not letting anyone but the most experienced surfers near the waters. We watched well-toned boarders ride ten to fifteen foot swells about a mile offshore followed by spectators’ gasps and the clicking of cameras. Unfortunately, anyone else looking for an easy day at the beach ended up driving through flooded roads only to be turned away due to the dangerous riptides and undercurrents.
It was apparent that “Bill” would continue his reign through the weekend requiring us to try a new activity.
TheHamptonsoriginated as farmland and most main roads have stands of locally grown produce, home baked pies, jams and fresh-cut flowers. Briermere Farms in Riverhead was the one in particular recommended by our neighbors who would return with boxes of apple tarts, muffins and especially pies. They said that this was ‘the pie place’ but you had to get there early for a better selection. At eight the next morning, foregoing the coffee and throwing my hair back in a ponytail, we drove twenty minutes to the farm stand – and there was a line. We had not even parked before the air was filled with the scent of warm apples, berries, and piecrusts baking. Briermere is a pretty stand. The long row of outdoor wooden tables display reasonably priced white peaches, plums, zucchini, tomatoes, and lettuce among other fresh produce. Full pots of mums and dried flowers decorate the deep green trim of the main house and a chalkboard lists the names of pies as you enter. Inside, glass cases are filled with varieties that range from strawberry rhubarb, apricot, blackberry apple, boysenberry, peach, raspberry plumb and more. Their pies are a heaping nine inches round and average about $16 each. They also bake even more decadent fruit topped cream pies. We must have been in “pie shock” as a burly man in a navy tank top pushed past us for an apple crisp and a loaf of bread. It took a few moments to decide, but the man behind the counter was patient and friendly.
We headed back to the car carrying our coveted white pie boxes, plus fresh basil and a couple pounds of peaches. We had chosen not one, but three different varieties: boysenberry and blackberry apple, as a dinner party dessert for that evening, and a strawberry-rhubarb to thank our neighbor for telling us about Briermere’s farmstand. My first slice was of the blackberry apple with its thin and buttery crust. The fruit inside was basted in its natural juices, fresh and summery, with a light texture that you would wish for during the humid days of late August. The boysenberry was equally delicious without tasting overly sweet. Neither pie felt as though you would need hours of exercise to burn off the calories, but as a healthy dessert instead. After trying a slice or two, was it all worth it? Hurricane permitting, we’re going back tomorrow to try their muffins and jams.