June 28, 2013

Fabulous Fire Island -- The Recap

We had a wonderfully romantic getaway to the famous gay resort community of Fire Island Pines and neighbouring Cherry Grove.  We were saddened, however, to learn that we had just missed Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, and Jim Parsons, who had been filming in the Pines for their new movie "The Normal Heart". Alas!

It was a special highlight for us to be in the Pines during its 60th anniversary and it was made even more special when it was announced on Wednesday that section 3 of DOMA had been judged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. The historic announcement came rather fittingly from the drag queen hosting a delightful show tune sing-along, the hilarious Marti G Cummings. The room went wild and we were so very happy for our American friends as they continue to fight for marriage equality.

We stayed at the Madison Fire Island Pines, which you could classify as a B&B but it felt more like an upscale guest house. The hosts were lovely and the place was perfectly located for all of our wanderings to the beach, and to get food.  The complex features 9 rooms, a pool, a hot tub, and a rooftop patio. Everything is tied together by a stunning main room that is used as a central living and dining room. For a small charge you can have all-you-can-drink access to the Madison's well-stocked bar, and you are also welcome to hit up the nearby Pines Pantry to get groceries and cook in the Madison's kitchen. We highly recommend the Madison for your getaway! For the record, all are welcome in the Pines. Although primarily a GLBT destination, we had gay, lesbian, and straight couples all staying at the Madison. As one of the local owners said "This place is gay. Straights are welcome".

The oft-repeated quip is that Fire Island Pines (The Pines) is like Chelsea whereas neighbouring Cherry Grove (The Grove) is like Greenwich Village. We can now understand the comparisons having spent the better part of 4 days in both communities. For our taste The Grove is by far a friendlier, more down-to-earth place full of a wider array of people from within the LGBT community and straight couples alike.

There are no roads in The Grove or The Pines (save for a dirt path for service vehicles in the Pines) and the only way to get between the communities is to (1) walk either on the beach or through the inland sand dunes/forest of shrubs more infamously and crassly known as the "Meat Rack" or (2) hop on the water taxi. We braved the inland route on more than one occasion, taking the 20-minute trek through the mosquitos and other things that might like to nibble on you. Why they have not just built a boardwalk to connect the two towns is beyond me.

Mosquitos aside, we just loved The Grove and trekked there everyday after Low Tea at historic Blue Whale and enjoyed dinner and entertainment at Cherry Lane Cafe. We loved the food and friendly environment so much that we went back the next night. We also got to meet owners Jacque Piazza and Donna Bianco (we sat in the table behind them in the interview) since Wednesday night featured homemade pasta made by these proud Italian-Americans, and they came over to say "Hi" and chat. A special thanks as well to their amazing and welcoming staff, especially barmaid Keith (aka Lauren Order) and piano player extraordinaire Michael Roy. 

On our last night on Fire Island we trekked back to The Grove to take in an evening at Top of the Bay, which dates back about 40 years. We enjoyed drinks as the bar for their 2-for-1 happy hour, where we met two lovely and sweet lesbian couples (one from London, UK and the other from Brooklyn, NY). We then stayed for an outstanding dinner in the main dining room overlooking the bay between Fire Island and Long Island. We ended our day by walking back to The Pines along the beach as the light was just about to fade from the sky.

Memorable indeed.    [See photos from our trip in the entry below]

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