Back in June, I took a train to New York City to meet up with a group of my favorite bloggers for a weekend in the Hamptons (Ina Garten-style). We spent the first 24 hours of the retreat in the city, and managed to eat at three delicious Manhattan restaurants (more on that below). One of those places was Villard, the stunning mansion-turned-restaurant nestled inside the Lotte New York Palace. We sampled half a dozen of their best breakfast menu items, like a fluffy stack of lemon mascarpone pancakes, their “New Yorker pizza”—topped with pastrami smoked salmon, crème fraiche, asiago cheese, caramelized onions, and pancetta, banana and bacon beignets, thick-cut Billionaire’s Bacon, and my favorite of all, farro porridge, a bowl of whole grain farro with mascarpone cheese, golden raisins, mango, melon, apples, berries, and slivered almonds. It tasted sweet and just a tad tangy, with a completely pleasurable texture that alternated between creamy and chewy. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the dish was beautiful, too, topped with the daintiest little edible flowers. It was such a fun departure from my typical favorite morning grain—oats—and I came home determined to recreate it.
Creamy Farro Porridge with Fresh Fruit
My creamy farro porridge checks all the boxes of the original—it’s thick, creamy, mildly tangy and softly sweet, with the most satisfying chewiness. I lightened my farro porridge recipe by using 2% plain Greek yogurt in place of mascarpone, helping to lower the calories while still providing a thick, creamy base. And since the fresh fruit topping provides a substantial amount of sweetness to each bowlful, I only added 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to the mix, which proved to be warm and lovely when combined with a splash of vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon.
Though pearled farro takes about 30 minutes to cook, you can make part, or all, of this porridge ahead of time (boil the farro the night before, chop the fruit…), and portion it into individual containers for quick grab-and-go breakfasts throughout the week. And while I chose to use strawberries, cherries, grapes, and orange segments, you can really play around and use whatever’s in season or whatever you have on hand.
Hamptons Retreat Recap
I arrived in NYC on Thursday afternoon and checked into the super-luxe and elegant Lotte New York Palace, situated right on Madison Avenue, a stone’s throw from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, and Radio City Music Hall. My room was both chic and modern, and rivaled my old Manhattan apartment in size.
To kick the night off, our group met for dinner at Fig & Olive in the Meatpacking District. The menu is a contemporary take on traditional Mediterranean fare, and everything was fabulous—fresh, flavorful, and memorable.
We were up bright and early on Friday morning for breakfast at Villard, where I fell in love with the pretty farro porridge mentioned above. I ordered the avocado toast (toasted brioche, poached egg, avocado, crispy prosciutto, radish, and romesco sauce and double-dipped into all of our shared plates.
A few hours later, we headed out for lunch at Mamo where we were served dish after dish of truly delicious Italian (with a twist of French Provencale).
I loved everything we tasted, from the light and bright tuna-stuffed peppers to the raviolini al tartufo (mini ravioli in a creamy truffle sauce).
We arrived in the Hamptons (Watermill, to be exact) around 7pm that day, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that we were all blown away by the house Gina, Liz, and Lexi rented for us. It was quintessential Hamptons—a beachy yet elegant shingle-style house that Ina Garten would more than approve of.
We sat on the patio out back and snacked on an expertly crafted (not to mention truly addictive) cheese and charcuterie board with all my favorite DeLallo products, shrimp and avocado salad, and Liz’s famous Mexican Layered Hummus Dip made with Sabra hummus, that I may or may not have eaten the lion’s share of.
Saturday morning began with a breakfast spread of fresh fruit, hard-boiled Vital Farms eggs, all the trimmings for an avocado toast bar, and cups of freshly brewed, strong-as-can-be espresso, thanks to two hard-working Nespresso machines.
For lunch, we headed to Union Cantina in Southampton, where Chef Scott Kampf sent out all the restaurant’s finest: stuffed poblano peppers with quinoa and crab, Mexican sweet corn, chili-spiced skirt steak, tomatillo watermelon salad, and so much more.
After that, we were off to Bedell Cellars for wine tasting, frose, and a side of dreamy vineyard views.
On Saturday night we were lucky to have Chef Renee Blackman come to the house and create an amazing 4-course meal for us!
She stunned us with every last dish, from the marinated tuna and watermelon salad to the artful dessert table, even going so far as to incorporate ingredients provided by some of the retreat’s sponsors (think Green Giant’s Riced Veggies and Delallo’s new Veggie Marinades).
By the end of the weekend, I was reminded of how lucky I am to be able to do the work I do every day, and even more grateful for the blogging friends I’ve made over the last 7 years. Thank you Liz, Gina, and Lexi for including me in such a special weekend! And thank you to the weekend’s sponsors for your delicious generosity: Green Giant, DeLallo, Halo Top, Vital Farms, Nespresso, and Sabra!