I'm in corn heaven. It's July and that means there's corn at almost every meal at our cottage on Long Island. I remember when we used to have to wait until August for the good stuff, and by early September it was tasting like horse feed. Now, it's a world of hybrids. Corn comes up earlier, lasts a month longer, and is still sweet in early fall.
The picking no longer begins when the stalks are as high as an elephant's eye either. That's all fine, but what I don't understand is Riverhead corn. The first local corn is always from Riverhead, which is barely 20 miles west of East Hampton, where I ate my fill for many summers. At least that's where they said it was from at all the farmstands. Of course, we never believed them. After all, one only had to look at the barely knee-high corn growing all over the East End, not a tassel in sight. We'd laugh and give each other knowing looksâthis stuff's from New Jersey. Most of the time we turned up our noses and passed it by. It simply couldn't be fresh-picked if it traveled on the Long Island Expressway.
I had a rude awakening when we moved to the non-trendy pre-Hamptons, East Moriches, a lovely town just a stone's throw from Riverhead. When I started seeing local corn signs right after the Fourth of July, I headed to Riverhead to investigate. I stopped at a farmstand located in the middle of a cornfield. Low and behold, there were rows of beautiful, ready-to-eat corn stretching to the horizon. The stalks were barely five feet tall, a baby elephant's eye level. But even 15 minutes away, the corn in the fields was not ready. Riverhead must have an amazing microclimate. Other produceâlike strawberries, peaches, and tomatoesâripen earlier there, too. Perhaps it's the location: two miles south of Long Island Sound, six miles north of the Atlantic Ocean, a few yards from Great Peconic Bay.