The Fire Island Cookbook features 14 dinner party themes—one for each weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day—so we talked to the authors, Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, and asked them for their three favorite menus from the book.
As the duo explained, "We love all the menus. It would be easy to just pick the three obvious holidays: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day—but Fire Island is a very special place that has many unique reasons to create dinner parties that spark celebration. As food, wine, and travel writers, we are on the road quite a bit, and our favorite thing to do is bring home new recipes to try out on our friends and housemates in the Pines."
Rainy Day French:
When it rains on Fire Island, it really is a special occasion—you can’t go the beach or the movies or shopping. On a totally rained-out weekend, some of your housemates will stay behind in the city, so you can take over the whole kitchen and invite friends over too. Our Rainy Day French menu draws its inspiration from our first vacation with a gay biking group in Burgundy. It didn’t matter that we rode soaking wet for four days—our inspiration to keep riding was the delicious paté, Beef Bourguignon, and great wine waiting for us each night at dinner.
Height of the Empire:
The Invasion is something very unique to Fire Island. When you have a boat-load of drag queens visiting the Pines from nearby Cherry Grove it only makes sense to pull out the good wine glasses, dust off the fine china, and polish the silver. Our Height of the Empire menu, based on our wine travels through Vienna and Budapest, recalls the opulence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and re-creates a dinner worthy of visiting royalty.
Midsummer Night’s Dinner:
The Ascension Party comes in the middle of the summer. It’s usually so warm that we barely want to eat hot food, and we certainly don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking. Three of the four courses in this easy-to-prepare feast are served cold. Ascension often makes us think of Shakespeare’s comedy “ A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” You can meet the whole cast—the King of the Fairies, a beautiful Queen, a handsome boy who causes a quarrel, and maybe even Bottom, who is turned into an ass—all at this daytime disco in the sand.