Oh, the Taste

Karen Dutton, Maggie Bangs, May Oskan, and Dee Smith
Tea Lane Caterers encouraged all to "Have a ball this summer," and surrounded themselves with balls of all kinds, from beach and mozzarella to cherries and tomatoes. From left is Karen Dutton, Maggie Bangs, May Oskan, and Dee Smith. Photos by Ralph Stewart

By Eleni Collins - June 21, 2007

For new eyes, it is exactly as it is called, a taste of Island life, community, and atmosphere. For the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust, the Taste of the Vineyard Gourmet Stroll, held last Thursday on the lawn of the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, is one of two annual fund-raising events held to raise money to maintain the 14 historical Island properties in the Trust's care.

"Between the two events [a patron's auction party on Saturday], our net income was $240,000," said Chris Scott, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust. "It was a record-breaking year for us."

After spending approximately that much remodeling the Dr. Daniel Fisher House from roof work to gutters and trim, Mr. Scott is grateful for everyone involved, from Taste and auction attendees, to the vendors and chefs.

Amy Canepa
Amy Canepa of United Liquors, Ltd. shakes up a pomegranate martini.

New this year was the clear-top tent, which housed the musical entertainment, Jerry Bennett and the Sultans of Swing, as well as tasting booths.

For the over 75 combined restaurants, caterers, and vendors, it is a time to serve their claim-to-fame dishes and beverages, or to try out new recipes on the 700 attendees.

"It's a good arena to throw out new things," said Jim O'Connor of Chefworks Catering. For the first time, the O'Connors served lamb kafta, and lobster and scallop fritters. "We didn't see them," Mr. O'Connor said about the fritters. "We put them out and they'd be gone in 30 seconds. People waited around our table for them."

The chef of Mediterranean Restaurant also tried something new: sirloin, braised in tamarind. "I knew it was going to be cold, and I knew it was going to be windy," said chef and owner Doug Hewson "I wanted to do something different." Served at 175 degrees in the tent, the dish cooled just slightly enough that it warmed the body as it was eaten.

The taste of PJ's Café was a favorite among the crowd. Black Angus mini-burgers with a choice of sauces, were what co-owner Paul Sardini and wife Joanne chose to serve to represent them.

"Black Angus meat is one of the best you can get," says Mr. Sardini, who was participating in his second Taste. "I carry that same style burger, it's just larger, and that's why I did the mini burgers, because it's what we sell in the store."

Of his barbeque sauce: "I make it with my day-old coffee," he says. "It's something I came out with out in Breckenridge, Colorado. Back in the old western days, they'd let it sit and then soak their meat in it."

Chris Scott, Pat Snyder, John Schafer, and Pam Zilly
From left, Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust executive director Chris Scott, Pat Snyder, John Schafer, and Pam Zilly.

Along with fabulous food, some restaurants and vendors worked hard to present a memorable display. Sid Wainer and Son's booth had a smorgasbord of treats, from couscous with roasted vegetables and seasoned mozzarella, to a fruit and cheese platter. Accompanying the edible food, decorative artichokes and planted herbs covered the table, making it a true feast for the eyes and taste buds.

And what could look more delicious than dessert? Espresso Love and Farm Neck Café's tables were covered with delectable treats, from lemon squares and brownies, to mini coconut cream pies, respectively.

A taste of Island life would not be complete without seafood, and there was plenty. The Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group's raw bar had plenty of littlenecks and oysters. "The shellfish group did an amazing job," says Mr. Scott. "It seemed there were 1,000 oysters."

Wines from J. Lohr Winery, Rombauer Vineyards, and many others helped wash the food down, as well as many champagnes, beers, and martinis.

With a record-breaking event behind him, Mr. Scott was enthused about everything.

"The food was outstanding, the beverages were wonderful, and it was just a fun gathering of Island friends. Kind of the kick off of the summer."

energy drinks
A rainbow of thirst-quenchers: several flavors of assorted waters and energy drinks made for a colorful display.
Soigne's meringues
Soigne's meringues were a tasty and beautiful treat.
Lynette Lander
Sid Wainer and Son's intriguing display, run by Lynette Lander.
Lindy Kenny, Lori Rezendes, Lorraine Kieras, and Diane Kieras-Ciolkos
A healthy taste: From left is Lindy Kenny, Lori Rezendes, Lorraine Kieras, and Diane Kieras-Ciolkos, who presented Mona Vie, a Brazilian beverage made with acai fruit, an incredibly beneficial antioxidant.
Dana Radford
The entertainment: Dana Radford, foreground, at the microphone and Jeffrey Thomas in the background.
Joanne Cassidy
Joanne Cassidy entertains the crowd
under the clear-top tent.