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Victoria’s Secrets: The spider web widens

Chefs that night were Brian Burner, Randall Wilson, Angelina de la Luz, Juan Vargus, Dominick Scotto and Thomas Lopez. (Photos by Barbara Lassen)

After only a few months of owning Dan’s Papers, we’ve added to our Power Women of Long Island event with the Power Women of Dan’s Papers event. It was at the latter event where I met honoree Nancy Burner, a lawyer extraordinaire, with an office in Westhampton, who has become a dear friend of mine!

 Not only did Nancy and I bond personally, but I also hired her law firm for a real estate deal I was working on in Westhampton. 

My talented events team, headed by Demetra, Toni and sales manager Stephanie Bitis, found remarkable women on the East End to honor and I was lucky to get to know them in my new “community.” Meeting new people is like expanding my spider web of my life!

Nancy invited me to a wine tasting dinner at the Baiting Hollow Club, where her stepson Brian is the executive chef. The handsome clubhouse is situated on the 186 acres of land overlooking the Long Island Sound on the North Fork in Baiting Hollow. 

Nancy’s stepson welcomed me and introduced me to his wife Sandra and her friend and the connecting began! 

The 20-person gathering was hosted in a large room with a wall of windows facing out onto the lush golf course. There were reserved seats and I was grateful to be placed at the end of the large table, where I set up a UVC air sanitizer. 

I had my UV-C air sanitizer close by!

Being cautious with my mask on, I mingled with the guests as we waited for the six-course wine dinner to begin.

I was introduced to Christopher Vené, the general manager of the club. He not only operates this club, but multiple golf clubs across the region. 

Christopher Vené and Dave Foltz.

The wine tasting that he was offering to club members featured wine from the nearby Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard.

The vineyard’s new ownership was as courageous as Josh and I — we had acquired Dan’s Papers in the middle of the pandemic in September, about the same time the winery was acquired! We both had visions beyond the challenging times we’re in. 

Our talented photographer Barbara Lassen will be taking weekly photos at the vineyard that will record the vines’ regrowth and document how the grapes grow back after being drastically trimmed at the end of the wine season. It’s truly a remarkable gift of nature! Stay tuned!

The banquet table was set with multiple wine glasses and silverware. We were about to be treated to a great combination of food and wines.

We started with a crispy fried Blue Point oyster in an Asian vegetable slaw prepared by Dominick Scotto, corporate chef at Sysco Northeast. The dish was accompanied by Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard’s smooth and full-bodied Pink Satin wine.

The next course was prepared by Randall Wilson, the northeast regional chef at Harvest of the Sea. He created a scrumptious pan-seared sea scallop in a delectable sauce of apple, parsnip and bacon hash, served with a 2016 Riesling.

Next came a chopped salad featuring European cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes and red peppers, with Llano chili and goat cheese. The tasty salad was prepared by Angelina de la Luz, who is the chef garde manger at the Baiting Hollow Club. It was such a beautiful creation that I almost didn’t want to dismantle it. But I did!

Cucumber skin housed the salad.

During the various courses, great conservation with my contiguous new friends made the night even more fun!

The small portions helped me feel able to continue on to the next course, a slow-cooked rabbit cacciatore served with a creamy polenta and mushrooms prepared by Thomas Lopez, the executive chef of the Vineyard’s Golf Club, also on the North Fork. The dish was served with a 2014 Cabernet Franc.

The next course was my favorite: Braised Short Rib Wellington, which was prepared with roasted carrots and baby beets by Baiting Hollow Club Chef Juan Vargus. It was a showstopper of a dish, paired with a 2018 Red Velvet wine.

To complete the mouthwatering meal, my host and executive chef at the club Brian Burner had prepared an apple cinnamon cream caramel cake with a Vermont maple crème anglaise sauce. The delectable dish was served with Sweet Isis dessert wine. 

What a night! 

Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, who recently joined my spider web of friends, joined the party, too. 

Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar with former Brookhaven Town Supervisor John Jay LaValle.

In her off hours after running the town, being a real estate broker, a mother and a wife, she also has a passion for cooking. I saw a sample of her expert “creations” in a video that she has on her phone. I was so impressed, I asked her to create the desserts for our July 10 Taste of the Chefs of the North Fork event, which will be hosted in the Sea Star Ballroom, adjacent to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead. What fun lies ahead!

I am very grateful to Nancy Burner for inviting me to an evening filled with great food and people, expanding my spider web!

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