Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 

        Profiles: Hunting for the Hunters Garden Association

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

       (Group photo of the Hunters Garden Assoc. c. 1900)

The Hunter's Garden Association. It may sound like a butch garden party, but it's actually a hunting club with a long history on Long Island, that still exists today.

Begun in 1833, it was and still is held twice a year, spring and fall, at an undisclosed location once known as Brewster's Lots. That region was said to be centrally located somewhere between Calverton, Eastport, Moriches and Riverhead.

Brewster's Lots at one time was prime deer hunting territory, that's why the group made it their meeting place. Over the years the deer population waned, then came back. A garden was reportedly planted there at some point, but it's long gone.

Twice a year, members would meet up in the woods, cook, eat chowder and socialize.

Sound kinda weird? I thought so. Why would a bunch of guys go up in the woods to hang out for the day and make chowder? It just sounded like there was more to it than that.

A friend of mine, who happens to be a current member, insisted there's really nothing much to it.

"We really just hang out and eat chowder," he insisted.

(Cooking chowder for the Hunters Garden Assoc., May 2016)

These days they still meet every May 19, then again in the fall in a secret location. I was able to ascertain that their meeting place is Manorville, which seems centrally located between those four original towns and villages, hmmm. 

My friend, who was asked to join several years ago, says that when he goes, he brings his own bowl and spoon. Everyone brings their own eating utensils, because none are provided.

The eel and clam chowders are cooked in a clearing in the woods, in large pots hanging over a open fire. 

After years of asking if I could attend and being turned down because I wasn't a member and because I'm a girl, my friend did finally bring me back a serving of the eel chowder.

It tasted like a fish stew, but the eel wasn't really seasoned much and it was full of bones, so a culinary experience it was not. I wondered why after all these years nobody had come up with a more interesting recipe for eel chowder, but then I learned how much work it is to catch them. Check out my post on the history of catching and cooking eels.

So the Hunter's Garden Association met again on May 19th 2016 in the Manorville woods. My friend brought me back some of the clam chowder this time. It wasn't half bad.

I'm still not sure they aren't up in those woods planning world domination, but I guess I'll have to figure that out by their fall meeting.

Poem published in Oct. 1944 L.I. Forum

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