Have you been to the Tisbury Farm Market lately? How about the Vineyard Grocer? Both owned by Brazilian-born Elio Silva — a Vineyard resident for 23 years — the markets offer a wide and unique array of goods.
When you walk through the doors of the Vineyard Grocer, formerly the Natural Food Barn, on State road in Vineyard Haven, you are greeted with a sale display that might include Kettle Corn, a new Yogi brand tea designed especially for troubled skin, organic olive oil, Terra vegetable chips, hemp seeds, Jose Cuervo margarita mix, or Tom’s of Maine deodorant and toothpaste.
The Grocer has ready-to-go meals in the hot case such as empanadas with chicken, beef, or corn and cheese, baked shrimp pie, as well as boxed lunches with veggies, rice, potato puree, and choice of meat.
Specialty products include quail eggs, and spices run the gamut from candied ginger to shredded coconut. Also for an on-the-go snack, nuts, pretzels, and seeds, in every manifestation you can imagine: salted, unsalted, covered in dark, white or milk chocolate, raw, roasted, you get the point.
The Grocer carries freshly baked Rickard’s bread as well as an extensive selection of gluten-free and allergy-safe products, from cookies, crackers, pastas, bread, cake and pancake mixes, even difficult-to-find flours such as potato, sorghum, rice, spelt, and almond.
Along with artisanal pastas, the freezer section is stocked with fine ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt. I tried the Talenti brand of coconut gelato (in the name of research) and was delighted by this delicious frozen treat. It’s both creamy and light, with sweet slivers of shredded coconut, the Talenti brand boasts all-natural ingredients, no high fructose corn syrup, and fresh pasteurized milk with no growth hormones.
For hydration, choose from a variety of exotic juices such as peach, pineapple, guava, and mango. The Grocer also stocks eco-friendly cleaning and personal-care products.
A few doors down, at Tisbury Farm Market, you can pick up fresh meats, cheeses, house-roasted coffee and produce. In the summer, the Farm Market beckons with baskets and bins of fresh fruit and vegetables on the quaint country porch. This time of year you have to go inside for the goods. They have Kombucha (it’s back!), and prepared foods by Marvin Jones, former Vineyard restaurant owner, such as his famous guacamole, sesame noodles, hummus, pesto, quinoa salad with black beans and pineapple, as well as a hot soup served everyday. In the small but plentiful produce department you can find pomegranates, Crenshaw melons, mangoes, different lettuces, squashes, Brussels sprouts, as well as seasonally appropriate root vegetables such as potatoes, yucca, and eddos.
The meat department offers standards such as steak and chicken as well as bacon, cured meats, sausages, and less commonly consumed (but consumable nonetheless) cuts like all things pig — ear, tail, feet, and belly.
As you make your way to the register you come face-to-face with the cheese section, overflowing with Feta, Brie, Ricotta Salata, Asiago, Emmental, Camembert, mozzarella, and raw cheddar. Some of these will pair nicely with a locally made Asian pear jam, or cranberry chutney, which are also available at the market.
For the final temptation: chocolate, perhaps spiced with (gasp!) bacon. And just when you think you are done shopping, having made your way through the tiny market, you might find a sample of say, sopressata, or a new and interesting cheese at the register, sending you right back where you came from to pick up just one more thing.
If you aren’t sure of what to do with some of these lesser-known edibles, the market offers a monthly cooking class. Call 508-693-2223 for more information.