I recently heard that New Yorkers drink the most iced coffee per head of capita than anywhere else in the US.  Where I come from, 'Iced Coffee' is usually served rather weak and with lashings of whipped cream (a la Starbucks frappuccinos) so I must admit it took me a while before ordering one... However, iced coffee here is just coffee and ice cubes [non-purists can also add mik] ...very refreshing on these sweltering hot days...hence, I am now hooked!!

This latest drink was inspired by the maple syrup that happened to be sitting on the bench (left over from breakfast ) when I was making iced coffee the other day.  I don't usually add sugar to my coffee, but this latest brand I have is particularly bitter so I made up the coffee as usual and added a little of the syrup afterwards...the result - delicious!!

Maple Iced Coffee (makes 2-3 glasses)
1 batch of freshly brewed coffee (about 2 cups)
1 cup milk
1 cup ice cubes
maple syrup to taste (about 1 - 2 Tbspns)

Brew coffee, add milk and maple syrup to taste and pour over a jug of ice cubes.
Pour into individual glasses adding extra ice if needed.

A friend recently gave me a great tip - if you have a whole bunch of bananas going spotty and want to keep them for later in the week (or month) - FREEZE them.  A little helper was recently in the house and we had a morning to fill, so decided to make use of those frozen bananas with these easy muffins. I also added some pomegranate seeds to the second batch (about 5 or 6) which were also just as delish!

Banana Choc Muffins

Pantry Must Haves

1 stick/100gms butter
1 egg - beaten
4-6 ripe bananas - mashed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 tspn baking soda 
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups of self raising flour
150 gms chocolate (the good stuff!) - roughly chopped
Optional : 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Soften butter and add to mashed bananas.  Add beaten egg, sugar, honey and vanilla. Add in baking soda and stir in flour (don't overmix).  If using, stir through pomegranate seeds.

Pour into muffin tins or line cases with parchment paper (more for effect!) and sprinkle with chopped chocolate.
Bake at 325 F for 30 - 40 mins.

The proof is in the eating!
View of the dunes - Amagansett
So ever since I first saw The Hamptons in movies,(remember 'Weekend at Bernie's' in the 80's anyone?) and in episodes of 'Sex and the City', I admit, I was both fascinated and dying to check out this playground of the rich and famous.  Last weekend, and after two years of trying to persuade the husband to take me there, I luckily got my chance, when we were invited to Amagansett with our neighbours to stay at their family beach house.

After naively planning to leave home 'after lunch' on the Friday of a long vacation weekend (July 4th) I was glad I took friends' advice and left at the crack of dawn [6am] as the traffic can get ridiculous heading out to Long Island.  [I had heard horror stories of 5 - 7 hour journeys when it should only take 3!!].  Added to this, the country was in the middle of a heatwave and with two kids in tow, I didn't want to take any chances...!

Amagansett is possibly one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen so far in the US - white sand, gorgeous dunes and a relaxed, understated, beachy vibe that is a direct contrast to other more ritzy and flashy towns in the Hamptons.  Our hosts were so welcoming and also relaxed, that after a couple of hours and a drink or two (Eebie's sublime Coco-jito's were just the thing!) it felt like we'd been there a week.  Phyllis is a real foodie and had whipped up a divine chilled beetroot and cucumber soup (click here for recipe)for the first night. 
Saturday was spent beachside before we headed out to a local lobster shack to buy dinner.  Fish Farm at Multi Aquaculture Systems, on the delightfully named 'Cranberry Hole Road', has stunning views of the harbour below.  The place is fantastically rustic, though not for the faint of heart, as there are pecking geese, guard dogs lurking and when the wind shifts, a distinct fishy smell.  The seafood business must also be a risky business we decided!  All that aside, the food turned out to be fantastic and the staff, super friendly.  
Having not eaten good seafood for so long, husband went a little overboard (pun intended) and bought pretty much some of everything, except the fresh fish kebabs...(well there is always next time!) and that night [after the obligatory lobster race] we cooked up our feast...clams and oysters, lobster so unbelievably sweet and a divine olive bread loaf to mop it all up with!  

The Race...

And the feast...

Driving through the roads of East Hampton the next day was like entering another world, with such staggering displays of wealth and ridiculously large houses - one reputedly with seven kitchens...(seven?  I can't seem to find stuff in my single kitchen!!) - though many were not even visible from car/street level.   Our friends pointed out Kennedy homes, the real Martha's and Jerry Seinfeld's as a deliciously sweet honeyish smell wafted through the car windows, which we all jokingly referred to as the 'sweet smell of success and money' but which turned out to be a hedge flower in bloom.  And the hedges are gigantic (for added privacy) despite the fact that most homes are half a mile from the road anyway!  

To be honest though, I would much prefer to stay right on the beach in a little shack than in some of the mansions we spotted...it's the simple things that make me happiest, like watching the kids running on the beach at sunset...oh and lobster!!