It's officially summertime and I couldn't be happier! 'Tis the season for lazy afternoon cookouts, trips to the beach, oyster-shucking, and plenty of chilled rose. Several weeks ago, a group of friends from NYC headed out to Long Island to kick off the summer with an all-day barbecue and birthday celebration for our friend CJ Guinness. CJ and another good friend, Jon Passavant, had rented a quirky old farmhouse in Bellport (complete with a retro turquoise camper van) for the months of April and May, to share with friends as a retreat from the city. Memorial Day weekend was our last chance to enjoy this tranquil spot, and we decided to make the best of it.

The day was absolutely perfect: sunshine and blue skies, no humidity, and green grass everywhere (which, as a New Yorker, is novel!). We spent the morning chopping vegetables for salads, shucking Blue Point oysters bought just down the road, and seasoning fresh halibut and steaks. The food duties were split amongst friends–Lindsay Tarquinio (the talented chef behind The Simple Delights) made two beautiful salads (a corn-tomato-basil, plus a watermelon-mint-feta combo) and a slew of sauces for the oysters.

Her husband Gavin grilled the halibut and steaks, and I made a couple more salads: quinoa with cucumber, tomato, feta, and olives, plus an arugula avocado one. And to top it all off, Sarah Glover (the fabulous Aussie creator of Bondi Bikkies) made an insanely delicious chocolate ganache concoction in lieu of a birthday cake. The boys dragged a heavy wooden farm table out into the grass and we heaped it with food. Everyone served themselves and sat around all afternoon, eating, drinking, talking, and eventually napping in the hammock. Shoes were kicked off, a football was thrown, and laughter rang through the air.

It was a day I won't soon forget. We live such busy lives in the city, it's vital to get away every so often with good friends to remember the things that are important. Here's to many more days like this, savoring the sweet things in life. (Thanks to Nate Poekert and Sara Beth Turner for so beautifully capturing the day!!)

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All photos above (#1-8) taken by Nate Poekert; All photos below (#9-19) taken by Sara Beth Turner

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Photos (#9-19) above taken by Sara Beth Turner