There are moments in special places that crystalize the essence of pure joy. For me one such place was a tiny croissant bakeshop in France on the busy street Rue due Joseph Vallot in Chamonix, France beneath the massive shadows of Mont Blanc. Every morning I would get up and trek over with French francs (then later in time, Euros) and purchase a few croissants, baguettes, and a brioche for my still sleeping family. The aroma of the croissants baking along with other special French pastries was heaven on earth. Arriving back at the rented apartment with the breads for my then awakening children and then hearing and seeing their joy as they each took their first bites still conjures up the best of life memories.
Now I have the same sort of experience on Shelter Island whenever I walk into The Marie Eiffel Market/Café, located at 184 North Ferry Road (Rt. 114) across from The Dory Bar and Restaurant on Dering Harbor. Marie Eiffel Market opens early by Hamptons standards at 7 a.m. When you step inside you feel a little touch of France but on Shelter Island. Amazingly enough I travel to Dering Harbor, Shelter Island via my 22″ Catalina sailboat and always arrive quite hungry and excited. I have often written articles suggesting in my opinion the best lobster rolls in the Hamptons are made there due to a unique French sauce and fresh baked brioche.
The people who live and vacation on Shelter Island are very different from regular Hamptons people. They wait for ferries to come and go and quite frankly must make due with what is on the island. Their pace of life is more relaxed and scaled back from the frantic reality that is what “The Hamptons” have become. In front and back of Marie Eiffel’s are chairs and tables to sit and sample the tasty treats she has baked or is selling. Visiting the website provides for you with a menu list of your options and treats. I do recommend you visit the website because reading the options of the market, butcher shop, bake shop, and specialty menu will leave you salivating.
Just this last Sunday of September 2018, my friend and daily sailing buddy Todd Wickersham and I arrived late as Marie Eiffel and crew were closing down. When she realized my love of her market, she changed gears and personally attended to our order of a lobster roll and Parisian Sandwich. She explained there was not one broche left for the lobster roll and she would have to put it on a baguette. OMG it was spectacular! She then glanced at her pastry collection and gifted us with a lemon tart, an individual chocolate raspberry birthday cake along with an apple tart L’ae. Needless to say our sail back to East Hampton was fueled by a delightful Marie Eiffel sugar high! It was on that long sail home from North Fork to South Fork across all of Gardiner’s Bay that I decided to dedicate this Sixty-Something column to Marie Eiffel for bringing such a pleasant touch of France to Shelter Island.