I heard Mocha Mott’s reopened its Oak Bluffs location last week, so I went to check out the soup everybody talks about and to sneak myself one of their Sunflower Bars.
What struck me before I tried my first spoonful of soup was the price — only $5 for a serving that was probably around 16 ounces. I ordered the Mediterranean Vegetable Soup, which also happened to be gluten-free and vegan. Somehow part-owner and chief soup maker Meredith Aldrich managed to make soup that wouldn’t typically have a whole lot of flavor taste really delicious. The mix of fresh veggies was chopped just right, and I could taste the Mediterranean seasonings.
I was proud of my soup choice, because I typically hang over the case full of baked goods and walk right past the other options. Every time I go to Mott’s I tell myself it’s perfectly healthy to grab one of their Sunflower Bars. I try to stay away from the homemade cookies, which measure at least six inches in diameter, but I’ve got a bit of an obsession with those chewy gluten-free Sunflower Bars. I also grabbed a hazelnut coffee to go with my lunch, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better cup of coffee around these parts.
Xavier Powers was manning the lunch counter, waiting on customers and putting their orders together as they moseyed in, glad to see the doors open again. Xavier has worked at Mocha Mott’s on and off for a dozen years. That’s another thing Mott’s has going for it — staff generally sticks around, making it feel like one big happy family.
“That’s one of the things that’s really good about it,” Meredith said when I caught her by telephone. “The people who work for me generally stay; I don’t have a high turnover rate. I feel like we have a really good scene. It’s very close-knit, and everybody really cares about each other, and everybody really likes working here.”
She and her business partner Tim Dobel bought Mocha Mott’s 17 years ago from Mott Hinckley. Their menu is created thoughtfully, with fair trade coffee and cage-free eggs. “We try to do the best we can to keep things reasonably priced, healthy, and fresh,” Meredith said.
She’ll stop making the soup in a couple of months, she said, then she’ll bring back some of the popular baked goods like the Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake, one of her personal favorites. This time of year, though, it really is the soup that brings a lot of the customers in, especially Tim’s homemade chili. Then there’s also the Cuban Roast Pork Soup, something I plan to go back for, and the Curried Sweet Potato Soup, as well as the sandwiches and bagels.
It’s great to grab a bite in a place that permeates that community vibe all year round. There’s typically an artist’s work displayed on the walls at each location, artists who wouldn’t ordinarily show their work at Island galleries. They can hang work for sale at Mott’s without sharing the proceeds; Meredith connects the artist directly with the buyer.
“I prefer to get people who are here year-round or seasonally that don’t make their main income through art,” Meredith explained. “The delivery guy who’s an amazing painter or the carpenter down the street. I feel like there’s so many talented people here, and you don’t necessarily see their work.”
Lucky for me, Meredith shared her own art in the form of those addicting Sunflower Bars. Enjoy.
In a medium, heavy-weight saucepan melt 2 cups peanut butter and 2 cups honey. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add 2 cups each of raisins, pecan pieces, shredded coconut, and sunflower seeds (or experiment and add whatever dried fruits and/or nuts strike your fancy).Mix well until combined.
Spray a sheet pan well with pan release, and use a silicone pan liner. Pour mixture into pan and bake at 350° for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
When the bars are set, they will look a bit dry and almost burned. If they are wet, they are not done. Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate to cool completely before cutting to size desired.