It is no secret the North Fork offers endless opportunities to spend time outdoors in the summer. It is also an ideal place for small gatherings and large soirees, and a time to really showcase our exterior spaces for family and friends. Nearly every facet of the East End can come into play in terms of entertaining. Designed exterior spaces outfitted with furniture and décor from local retailers, caterers and food trucks at parties with kegs of local beer and wine (yes, wine), landscaped gardens, local shellfish, and so much more come together to form the ultimate summer gathering.
Interior and exterior styles should offer the same representation of the homeowner’s style and personality. Norine Pennacchia, designer and owner of touchGOODS in Southold, says the North Fork has its own style that is a mix of eclectic and casual looks. Mismatched styles are trending currently, making personalized design unique and fun. “This trend is full of repurposed objects that mimic the character of the North Fork,” Pennacchia shares. “Like buoys, boat wood bars, sail shades, old barn doors turned into tabletops, wine barrels turned into pub tables, tree stumps as side/extra seating. I could go on!”
Of the popular brands touchGOODS carries, Bend Goods products particularly lend themselves to unique outdoor design. Founder Gaurav Nanda endeavored to apply his artistic talents to create functional works of art in the form indoor and outdoor seating and tables made of hot-dipped galvanized iron or stainless steel, the latter of which is perfect for coastal environments, finished in bright, funky colors and metallics.
“My customers are looking to add bright and graphic metal chairs and accent pieces to juxtapose their existing rustic furniture,” Pennacchia shares, recommending Bend Goods to help achieve this look. “Pieces that add a modern edge to their outdoor spaces.”
Natural elements are a given for outdoor spaces as well. Peter Clarke of Clarke’s Garden and Home in Greenport shares adding greenery around furniture helps to enhance the aesthetic. “Typically, plants, both flowers and foliage, in pots or containers help to soften the transition from outdoor decks, patios and terraces to larger outdoor spaces,” he explains. “Conversely, potted gardens bring elements of the garden closer to these more intimate spaces for entertaining. As in indoor rooms, coffee tables and side tables need a bit of décor and potted plants and flowers can do just the trick.”
A current North Fork trend that complements the mix of styles in furnishings is a mix of plantings as well. Textured, simple plantings with the use of grasses and foliage rather than flowers and colors provide a neutral, natural look. Cactus and succulent plants have grown in popularity for indoor plantings, and Clarke says this is a great option for outdoor areas as well. He also notes having conversation areas for cocktail and lounging areas be separate from outdoor dining areas, and the increase of outdoor fire pits, pizza ovens, and kitchens around grills.
Clarke’s Garden and Home also sells outdoor décor and accessories to add to exterior living spaces. “Sunbrella cushions and pillows are one of the most important accessories to enjoy outdoor furniture,” Clarke says. “Oil-burning torches and lanterns bring illumination to dark summer nights. Solar lanterns are an easy accessory and maintenance-free. Re-chargeable lanterns and lanterns with built-in Bluetooth enabled speakers allows you to enjoy light and music in the garden with only one accessory.”
A vital aspect to outdoor entertaining is food and beverage. The North Fork’s bounty of farms, shellfish, gourmet markets, wineries, breweries, and more serve up the opportunity to create a menu of entirely locally sourced bites and dishes.
Find certified organic fruits and vegetables at Sang Lee Farms in Peconic, in addition to a selection of homemade salads like gluten-free Thai lime chili fusilli, summer quinoa, and Asian slaw, or dips like their creamy herb spread and ginger scallion dip to accompany crudités. At the farm stand they also carry selections from other local farms and producers including Mecox Bay grass-fed beef and pork, North Fork Egg Farm eggs, Catapano goat chevre and feta, North Fork Roasting Co. cold brew coffee, and more.
Love Lane in Mattituck has proven to be the ultimate one-stop shop for stocking kitchens and wine cellars. Lombardi’s Love Lane Market holds countless Italian specialties with pasta, sauces, cured meat, cheese, and accompaniments for hors d’oeuvres and other appetizers. They also cater events with food displays as beautiful as they are delicious. Treat your guests to simple yet gourmet, rustic food like charcuterie, Italian pastas including Filetto di Pomodoro and Eggplant Parmigiana, fresh raw or roasted vegetables, bruschetta, and more.
Find interesting and funky cheeses at The Village Cheese Shop, and don’t forget baguettes, crackers, olives, nuts, and other sides for your cheese board. Hop over to Roanoke Vineyards Wine Bar and pick up vintages from their own vineyard in addition to Channing Daughters, Brooklyn’s Red Hook Winery, and Wölffer Estate. Just around the corner from Love Lane is Agora The Little Greek Market with a fine and diverse selection of food products like specialty Greek groceries, traditional desserts and cookies, and other imported goods.
When hosting a larger soiree, nothing says backyard party like a keg. For traditional beer lovers, pick up your favorite craft brew to tap from Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. or Crooked Ladder Brewing Company. Wine lovers can also enjoy kegs thanks to Bridge Lane Wine including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, rosé, and more. They also serve wine in boxes and cans, too.
You can’t forget local shellfish. Stop into Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market for freshly harvested oysters, and local fish markets like Braun’s Seafood and Southold Fish Market for fresh fish, clams, shrimp, and, if you’re in a pinch, prepared seafood dishes you can heat in the oven or on the grill.
As for serving, Pennacchia’s suggestion helps establish that North Fork sense of community no matter the party size or occasion. “My biggest tip for designing an outdoor space is to keep it fuss free,” says Pennacchia. “Create self-serve stations where guests can prepare their own plates and drinks to encourage mingling.”