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It’s that time again! The Hampton Classic Grand Prix Luncheon 2014. And a recipe for Soup from a Centerpiece.

It’s that time again! The Hampton Classic Grand Prix Luncheon 2014. And a recipe for Soup from a Centerpiece.
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The Bridgehampton Florist’s Personal Table
under the tent at the Classic
Edible Centerpiece!
The Heirloom Tomato Soup from the Centerpiece
Even Horses show up for the Grand Prix

The Hampton Classic is the season capper to what has been an extraordinary summer out here.  The weather has been nothing short of spectacular.   The sunny days far outnumbered any other kind and if anything we could use some rain.  And the nights have been blissfully cool saving everyone a fortune on air-conditioning.   The Classic seemed to come early this year.  It’s always the last week of August leading into Labor Day but this year, Labor Day is the earliest it can be.  Summer ending out here is a love it and hate it experience. We love it because it is now possible to drive the 6 miles to either Southampton to the west or Easthampton to the east in under an hour. The hate it part is, of course, back to the grindstone after quaffing the last bottle of Rosé.  So the Classic and its Grand Prix Day marks the end of a wonderful season.  

At the Grand Prix, it’s possible to view absolutely everything and almost everyone you could possibly see in the Hamptons in one afternoon.  What likely shocks first timers is the mix of people who come out for this show.  You can oogle all the celebrities in one fell swoop.  There’s J-Lo in Gucci.  Matt Lauer and Katie Couric chatting with Gayle King.  Mayors Giuiliani and Bloomberg, whose daughter Georgina came close to taking the $250,000 Grand Prix prize money.  And then there is everybody else—dressed in every imaginable thing to wear from the hideous to high fashion.  But oh what people-watching!  I have my favorites, pictured here.
The Incomparable Barbara “B” Smith, a beauty if there ever was one 
Horticulturalist Paige Patterson in an enormous hat 
One of my perennial favorites is Joy Marks, seen here with her husband Alan.
Ms. Marks changes outfits at the Classic.  This year she showed off
three looks…
I love to catch Ms. Marks both coming and going.
Another work of art. Another table from
The Bridgehampton Florist 

Then there are the tables set up just for this luncheon.  The décor is simply glorious—especially the work of our dear friends at The Bridgehampton Florist.  Michael and Jim must be completely exhausted having started the day readying the jumps, all of which are decorated by their sponsors.   They then move on to the tabletop for which they win annual prizes.  These lavish table settings are reason alone to make your way through the tents meeting and greeting.  But I have to say ours was extraordinary in every way.  Go to www.thebridgehamptonflorist.comand read Michael’s blog about how he pulled together this amazing display of heirloom tomatoes, grape leaves, farm stand flowers and

Sorry to make you wait for this year’s
Hampton Classic Cookie recipe!

stunning tableware.  The food—lobster salad, beef salad, pea and potato salads was prepared by Loaves and Fishes, the outstanding gourmet take-out shop in Sagaponack. Dessert was provided by the one and only Andrew.  Now every year we’ve highlighted his “Classic Cookies”.  This year he introduced a new almond cookie to the mix.  I promise the recipe soon.  But I had to give over this post to what the table was all about: Heirloom Tomatoes.

Once the event was over, I was allowed to take home all the heirlooms I could carry.  Luckily, we had an empty cooking carrying case that fit the bill.   I got the whole lot home and brought out my Home Preservation Bible: “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving” (2006 Robert Rose Inc.). I could write a whole treatise on the seven variations of canned tomatoes I produced the next day.  But I’d suggest buying the book since it’s an invaluable reference guide on ‘putting up’ everything from fruits to salsas to strawberry jam. You can find it here and tell them I sent you. https://www.amazon.com/Ball-Complete-Book-Home-Preserving/dp/0778801314/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409774932&sr=8-1&keywords=Complete+Book+of+Home+Preserving.  Meanwhile I want to share the recipe for Heirloom Tomato soup.  I did ‘preserve’ mine but you can make up a big batch to serve your guests this weekend and knock their socks off with flavor.

         The recipe is relatively easy. It makes a lot of soup but I would go with this large quantity because I can guarantee it not remain in your fridge for too long.   As you can see, I did not use all yellow Heirlooms for this recipe.  It requires 8 lbs. of tomatoes and I used a mélange yet the finished soup was a bright pumpkin color.  The soup gets more flavor from onion, carrots, basil and corn all cooked together in chicken stock.  It is then puréed so that it is smooth as silk.  However, I started out using the Cuisinart but quickly switched over to our Oster Blender which was far superior and much easier to work with.  Finally, I think salt in soup is a personal matter so the initial quantity will not prove to be enough if you like salt at all. Finally, since I was ‘canning’ the soup, I only added heavy cream when I heated a batch.  I highly recommend this addition.  It brings the whole dreamy soup to life.  Here is the recipe which I’ve named after our spectacular afternoon at the Horse Show.

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