Good Taste

0
Frozen fruits and vegetables can be dehydrated right out of the bag.

It’s no secret that processed and packaged foods are laced with weird preservatives and pumped with way too much sodium. Camping food is no exception to the rule. Normally, so many calories are burned and nutrients depleted on a backpacking trip that the body can handle a couple of not-so-ideal ingredients. Unless, of course, you have food intolerances, and at least one item on that long list of packaged ingredients is guaranteed to set off your stomach.

Use a dehydrator to make a trail mix from dried fruit and your favorite nuts or seeds.

This was the problem I contemplated when planning a recent backpacking trip through Glacier National Park. Fresh food wasn’t an option four days in, and if I was going to carry my food over fifty-something miles of trails, it had to be light. Most backpackers get by with little pouches of dehydrated meals, like Mountain House or Backpacker’s Pantry brands. It’s not that they aren’t tasty (though pretty much anything tastes good when it’s freezing and you just hiked 20 miles), but they are full of junk, the vegetables are skimpy, and the meat comes from an unknown source which is made doubly scary when the water is sucked out and it turns to a dry, pallid gravel.

There were two options, as far as I could see. A) Eat packets of tuna three meals a day for five days, constantly attracting hungry grizzly bears, or B) Skip the middleman, and make my meals at home with a food dehydrator.

The food dehydrator is an intimidating object. Mine turned out to be way bigger than I expected, taking up half the kitchen table in my small apartment. It resembles a UFO, and though there are no blades to cut yourself on, it looks like it could easily warp you into another dimension if you pressed the wrong button. Then of course, Google complicated things by showing me “about 232,000” different ways to use it. Could I dehydrate the meat and veggies at the same time? Should I turn them halfway? Would I ever use this ginormous appliance again after my vacation? Some web sites said yes, some said no.

Eventually, I ignored all directions, cooked five homemade meals that I felt would taste good as mush, threw them into the dehydrator at 160 degrees, and waited eight hours until they felt dry to the touch. Then I poured them into plastic bags and hoped to God they would work.

“What if they don’t rehydrate right?” my boyfriend asked. “Are you sure they won’t make you sick?” my mom asked. There are ways to ensure success, I told them: You weigh the food before and after dehydration, so you know how much boiling water to add. To kill off bacteria, meat has to reach at least 145 degrees for at least 20 minutes. Of course, I hadn’t actually checked either of these things, so there was only one way to test my meals: The night before my flight, I boiled up some water and made a sampling of each. Beetlebung Farm zucchini noodles with Black Water Farm ground beef and pasta sauce. The Good Farm chicken curry. Pulled barbecue shoulder roast from Grey Barn with sweet potatoes. FARM Institute eggs and bacon. I was bringing my local ingredients on the trail with me, and they tasted just as good as the day I got them at the farm stand. And no, Mom, they did not make me sick.

It was easy cooking on the trail. I brought along my trusty insulated canteen, boiled some water on a mini fold-out stove, mixed it with my meals, and gave it about 15 minutes to come back to life. The temps drop this time of year in Montana’s mountains — we even got a little snow — and I was glad to have a hot meal in place of cold tuna fish. Plus, there was something extremely satisfying about having done it all myself. I felt like a true pioneer, preserving my food from the harvest to take up into the mountains with me. Sure, the technology of my UFO dehydrator made it easy, but the skill set is one that can benefit any self-sufficient kitchen dweller.

Maybe you don’t backpack, but maybe you have a garden on Martha’s Vineyard, and it’s harvest time, and you are still drowning in tomato and zucchini and who knows what else. Dry the extras to use in recipes. Maybe you love kale chips — try making them in the dehydrator. Maybe you love potato chips, but your bag got a little soggy at the beach — pop them in the dehydrator and they will be good as new.

Jan Buhrman, caterer and food educator at the Kitchen Porch, says a dehydrator is an especially good tool on Martha’s Vineyard because “the air is too moist, you can’t dry anything.” She uses her dehydrator for drying herbs, raw foods like corn tortillas, and preserving tomatoes “because they taste so wonderful at the peak of the season.” She’s also a big fan of making fruit leathers (kind of like a healthy Fruit Roll-Up) in the dehydrator. Looks like I may be using my dehydrator again after all.

Jan Buhrman’s Fruit Leather

  • Fresh fruit (quince, peaches, beach plums, berries, apples, pears, grapes)
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Sugar (if needed)
  • Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)

Rinse the fruit. If you are working with peaches, plums, etc., take out the pits and chop the fruit. If working with apples or pears, peel and core them, then chop. If working with grapes, remove the stems. You will need to adjust the sweetness based on your taste, so sample the fruit before proceeding. Note how sweet the fruit is; add sugar as needed.

In a large saucepan, add a cup of water for every eight cups of chopped fruit. Bring to a simmer, uncover, and let cook on a low heat for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the fruit is cooked through. Place the fruit in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste the fruit and add sugar in small amounts to desired level of sweetness. Add lemon juice one teaspoon at a time, along with a pinch or two of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or allspice.

Continue to simmer and stir until any added sugar is completely dissolved and the fruit purée has thickened, another 5 or 10 minutes.

Put the purée through a food mill or chinois. Alternatively, purée it thoroughly in a blender or food processor. Taste again and adjust sugar/lemon/spices if necessary. The purée should be very smooth.

Pour the purée on dehydrator sheets and place in the dehydrator.

We usually keep it in the dehydrator for 12 to 24 hours. The fruit leather is ready when it is not sticky and has a smooth surface.

When the fruit leather is ready, you can peel it, roll it, and place in plastic wrap. Keep it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

— Jan Buhrman

 

0
The Startini cocktail from l'etoile. — Nicole Jackson

The Vineyard has a different flavor after Labor Day. We all know there’s a change of pace once school starts up, the college kids ship out, and the out-of-state plates take off on the last of the full ferries.

Before long, vineripe tomatoes will be vine-ripe pumpkins, and fall flavors will be in full swing in our bars and restaurants. For many, this Labor Day weekend will be the last chance to grab a drink on the waterfront, and sip up the last drops of summer. Strawberries…watermelon…lemonade…an icy glass dewey with condensation — these drinks simply won’t be the same come September. Thirsty yet? There’s a lot of great summer drinks on the Island, so to ease your decision-making process, we surveyed a sample of bartenders for their favorite recipes.

The Island Girl: Deep Eddy Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka with watermelon and basil from Atria.
The Island Girl: Deep Eddy Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka with watermelon and basil from Atria.

Jay Bergantim of 20byNine

Whiskey is a great way to warm up in winter or fall, but our friends at 20byNine, which opened up on Kennebec Avenue in Oak Bluffs earlier this summer, understand the importance of a cool summer cocktail. Their in-house whiskey guru invented this unique cocktail as a lighter addition to their menu of old-fashioneds and other traditional whiskey cocktails.

The Number Four

  • Peach Moonshine
  • Pineapple
  • Lemon
  • Shake and strain over ice into a cocktail glass
  • Garnish with a lemon twist

Goes best with: 20byNine’s quinoa salad. “They are both light; they balance each other nicely,” Bergantim said.

 

Lawrence Labounty of Copper Wok

Sale of hard alcohol is prohibited in Vineyard Haven, but Lawrence Labounty doesn’t let that stop him from mixing up a great cocktail. He recommends this White Peach Sake Sangria for a summer’s day.

White Peach Sake Sangria

  • 1 1/2 ounces white peach sake
  • 1 1/2 ounces pre-mixed juice of equal parts lemon juice and orange juice, half part sweet agave, and a splash of pomegranate juice
  • Shake over ice, strain, and top off the rest of the glass with prosecco
  • Garnish with blueberries and orange slices, or “get really fancy” and use raspberry and mint

Goes best with: “Any kind of spicy or ethnic cuisine,” Labounty said. Coconut green curry chicken anyone?

IMG_9804.JPG
Harbor View Prosecco cocktail with lemon and St. Germaine.

Mike Brown of The Wharf Pub and Restaurant

Anyone with a garden is probably drowning in cucumbers right now. If you’re tired of salad, slice them into some water with lemon for a refreshing blast of hydration. Better yet, use them to garnish this cocktail that they serve at The Wharf in Edgartown.

Cucumber Lemon Martini

  • Pearl Cucumber Vodka
  • Splash of St. Germain Elderberry Flower liqueur
  • Splash of sour mix

Goes best with: The Wharf’s Pan Roasted Cod entrée with littlenecks, linguica, onion, tomato, garlic, and herbs over mashed potatoes.

Brad Tolbert of Park Corner Bistro

What says summer like a tangy-sweet lemonade? Make a grown-up lemonade stand at your home bar with this recipe from Park Corner, located in Oak Bluffs.

Strawberry Lemonade

  • Fresh muddled strawberries
  • Limoncello
  • Ginger purée
  • Tito’s vodka
  • Club soda

Goes best with: Park Corner’s crispy pig wings.

IMG_5143.jpg
The Trade Secret margarita from Beetlebung in Oak Bluffs.

Kate Shea of The Seafood Shanty

The Shanty, on Edgartown harbor, is known for their mojitos (also a great summer drink), but their namesake is this Shan-tea, a tasty take on a vodka John Daly.

The Shan-Tea

  • Fresh muddled lemon
  • Firefly Sweet Tea vodka
  • Water
  • Shake and pour over ice

Goes best with: The Shanty’s lobster rolls and vinegar fries.

0
Elijah Dunn-Feiner prepares to tackle a root beer float in 2012. — Susan Safford

Ninety percent of the time I make really healthy choices. I eat right and I exercise. Most days of the year I spend in the gym, trying to squat or pull up more than my body weight. But then —  three glorious days of the year — I spend trying to eat more than my body weight. The first is Thanksgiving. The second is Christmas. The third is whichever day I go to the Ag Fair.

Julien Sapirstein munches on popcorn in 2011.
Julien Sapirstein munches on popcorn in 2011.

At this point in my life, I’m over stuffed animals, and I understand carnival games are money-sucking scams. I still hate clowns. But I’ll never be over Fair food.

Let me start by saying the Martha’s Vineyard Ag Fair is one of the nicest fairs on earth. I didn’t grow up here. I didn’t even summer here as a kid. But back on the New Hampshire border where I’m from, we had our own version of a county fair. It’s actually gotten a lot nicer in recent years, but it used to be the kind of place where the people belonged in barns more than the animals did. Still, I loved it, because I got to have fried dough and lemonade for dinner, and even though it meant cutting sticky sugar out of my hair for weeks, my mom would let me try to eat a whole candy apple on my own.

Now, on the Vineyard, I attend the Ag Fair with several friends. Within minutes of arriving we all lose each other, because everyone scatters immediately to their favorite food stand. When we find each other again, we swap bites, then break for round two.

I don’t need to wax scientific to tell you how strongly food and memory are related. We remember food smells best, and our olfactory bulb is connected to the part of our brain that registers emotion.

I thought I’d ask a few Islanders on Facebook about their favorite Fair food. It turned out I was asking them about their favorite Fair memories.

“Definitely the fried dough,” said Cody Chandler of Edgartown. “It’s our family tradition.” Claire Lindsey of Oak Bluffs is a fan of Football Tempura “mostly for nostalgia’s sake.” Dick Iacovello of Vineyard Haven likes the corndogs because he has fond memories of visiting with the guy who sells them.

My friends in the office confirmed my suspicions. “Root beer floats,” said Nicole Jackson, our graphic designer. “It reminds me of being a kid.” Eleni Roriz, our Calendar editor, shares my fondness for the strawberry shortcake stand. “I know it’s lame, but it’s something I’ve gotten every year since I was little,” she said.

Abigail Wilkinson enjoys cotton candy at the 2009 fair.
Abigail Wilkinson enjoys cotton candy at the 2009 fair.

Food at the Fair haven’t changed much. Corn on the cob and West Tisbury Firemen’s burgers have been around since anyone can remember, and newer ventures like Local Smoke’s pulled chicken and pork, and Floaters root beer floats were natural fits to the world of carnival food: the same cotton candy based meals that grace all fairs everywhere.

There’s something of an American tradition to it, and I like to think it’s more than a culture of obesity trying to eat as much sugar as possible. My parents took me to the fair and let me eat caramel apples, because a long time ago their parents took them to a fair and let them eat caramel apples. It was for the same reason we pass down our grandmother’s apple pie recipes through the generations, and bake them on the holidays.

One day, maybe my friends and I will take our own kids to the Ag Fair, and I like to think the strawberry shortcake lady will still be there. But we’re not quite ready to let go of our own childhoods yet. I still get an awful lot of caramel apple in my hair.

0
The egg salad sandwich, featuring FARM Institute eggs, roasted red peppers and house made chips. — Kelsey Perrett

It’s a rare occasion when I trade out my preferred wardrobe of gym shorts and Dumptique-procured flannels for fancier garb. Usually it takes a funeral. Needless to say, the idea of putting on “real people clothes” just to eat has never much appealed to me, and the day my boyfriend puts on a suit coat it will probably be funny enough to go viral on YouTube.

The sunny dining room at The Terrace is a great lunch setting.
The sunny dining room at The Terrace is a great lunch setting.

But on jaunts into Edgartown, land of boat shoes and high heels, party dresses and pink shorts, I start to question my own poor fashion sense. Not because I care to hop on a yacht, but because I really want to eat at some of the delicious upper-scale establishments. My unwillingness to put on a dress often means I miss out on some key dining news. So when I walked into the Charlotte Inn this week on an entirely unrelated assignment, I was excited to learn that The Terrace has been serving lunch all summer long, and will continue to do so through Labor Day weekend.

The Terrace is one of the most aptly named restaurants on the Island. Situated just off Main Street in Edgartown, the Charlotte Inn is basically one big English garden. Actually, owner Gery Conover has been back and forth to England about 28 times, and in addition to furnishing the entire inn with an art gallery, he has engineered the grounds with beautiful private gardens worthy of cucumber sandwiches and high tea.

The restaurant itself is situated on a pleasant, brick-paved veranda, with indoor and outdoor seating. The glow of the afternoon sun through lush greenery mingles with the trickle of a fountain — it’s like eating in the world’s classiest greenhouse. The sheer aesthetics of it were enough to encourage the staff to start serving lunch. “It’s such a beautiful setting in the afternoon to be sitting outside and having a nice lunch,” executive chef Justin Melnick said.

The return of lunch with Chef Melnick is actually a nod to the Inn’s past. “Lunch used to be a big thing at the Charlotte Inn,” Chef Melnick said. “We decided to try it out again with a soft opening this summer.”

The Terrace Spinach Salad: sliced apples, house cured bacon, blue cheese, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, and warm vinaigrette.
The Terrace Spinach Salad: sliced apples, house cured bacon, blue cheese, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, and warm vinaigrette.

The menu is short and sweet, featuring classic American fare with a twist of creativity. “I try to work with as many local ingredients as possible,” Chef Melnick said. The lunch menu features lots of eggs — such as deviled eggs and egg salad — all from local chickens at The FARM Institute in Edgartown. Salads are founded on a bed of Morning Glory greens. “The main focus is finding the best ingredients and manipulating the food as little as possible,” he continued. “It’s about just letting the food speak for itself.”

One item that’s definitely making a splash is the lamb burger, with meat from Northeast Family Farms, caramelized onions, blue cheese, garlic and dill pickle, on a grilled brioche bun, with house-made chips. Chef Melnick also enjoys serving chilled soups on a hot summer afternoon, but he puts so much care into each dish, it’s hard to pick favorites. “People ask me all the time what’s the best thing on the menu, and now that I have two children, it’s sort of like choosing between them,” he said.

But here’s the best part (in my humble opinion): according to Chef Melnick, “lunch is certainly more casual than dinner.” That means no suit coats required, but do respect your location (you’re going to look damn silly in gym shorts). With quick service, only one course, and extremely reasonable prices ranging from $8 to $26, lunch at The Terrace is an all-around treat. It’s like buying a fancy dress half off, looking fantastic in it, and finding out that “real people clothes” are pretty comfy and breathable after all.

The Terrace: serving lunch Friday through Sunday through Labor Day; dinner nightly. For reservations and more information, call 508-627-4751 or visit thecharlotteinn.com. Also check out the new book, “The Charlotte Inn: Behind The Times on Purpose,” available now from Vineyard Stories.

0
The "Bananas Foster" sweet panini at BeeDees. — Photo by Kelsey Perrett

It’s August. We’re all busy. We all feel overworked and overtired. And we probably are, but in the spirit of “there’s always a bigger fish,” let’s consider this: at least four new restaurants have opened on Martha’s Vineyard in the past few weeks.

Anyone who has worked in food service — especially here, especially in summer — knows that the restaurant business is notoriously taxing. Long hours spent on tired feet in hot kitchens are already a hassle, but imagine doing it all from scratch in the busiest month of the year. Our brave friends at these new restaurants are marching fearlessly into August, reviving old haunts and adding new hotspots to the Island restaurant scene, maternally serving up food to strangers, some of whom have faces only a mother could love — and attitudes to match.

Truthfully, our servers and managers, hosts and cooks deserve culinary medals of honor. So take some time from your busy schedule and enjoy these newly opened spots. And don’t forget to tip your servers, and send compliments to the chef.

Veggie pizza by the slice at Isola.
Veggie pizza by the slice at Isola.

Isola: Back in the day (if you consider the 90s back in the day) Isola was the name of a Martha’s Vineyard restaurant owned by Todd and Olivia English, Glenn Close, Michael J. Fox, and Boston Bruins great Cam Neely. As of July 25, 2014, Isola (it’s Italian for island) is the name of the restaurant in Edgartown’s Post Office Square where Lattanzi’s used to be, owned by the Sullo family and featuring chef Max Eagan, all of Rocco’s fame. By day, Isola’s store front serves organic coffee, baked goods, pizza slices, and other lunch options. “I wanted to do a lot of raw foods,” said Gabrielle Sullo, manager of the store front. Healthy treat options, like the “amazeballs” are naturally dairy, sugar, grain, and gluten-free. When the bell tolls 5:30, the bar and restaurant open up for drinks and tasty Italian style entrées. “We’re getting busier as the word gets out,” said Gabrielle. “We’re definitely getting a lot of local business.”

Takeout window now open from 11 am to 7 pm. Bar and restaurant open for dinner every night from 5:30 to 10 pm. 774-549-9428.

Southwest style shrimp wrap from BeeDee's.
Southwest style shrimp wrap from BeeDee’s.

Bee Dees:

No offense to Pirate Jack’s Burger Shack, which used to grace this location on Oak Bluffs Avenue, but a peanut butter slathered bacon burger with fries isn’t exactly proper beach take-out. Pirate Jack’s replacement, Bee Dee’s, specializes in lighter fare, especially healthy to-go options such as salads, wraps, and paninis. The coolest part is they now deliver via tricycle to The Inkwell and Oak Bluffs Town Beach (Pay Beach), so sun soakers don’t even have to get off their sandy beach bums for lunch (order online at beedeesmv.com, or use their delivery app).

“We’ve had a lot of enthusiastic response about the delivery,” said co-owner Barbara Ciccolini. “It’s something Oak Bluffs has needed for a while. We were longtime visitors to the Island, and we always had that argument about who was going to go to town to get food. We also wanted to fill that void of food that was fresh and not always fried.”

Create-your-own sandwich options are available for omnivores, herbivores, vegana-vores, and glutenfree-a-vores, as well as flavorful salad combinations that can be rolled into a wrap. It’s not all rabbit food though: sweet-toothed O.B. dwellers can try a sweet panini on sweet bread or pound cake, filled with a combination of chocolate, bananas, sweet preserves, and topped with vanilla bean ice cream and housemade sweet sauces such as caramel. Bee Dee’s is friendly to Islanders and vacationers alike, offering a 10 percent discount with an Oak Bluffs hotel room key, and 10 percent Wednesdays for Island employees.

Now serving lunch and dinner from 11 am to 9:30 pm. Breakfast available at 7:30 am Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 508-338-2220; beedeesmv.com.

"Amazeballs" at Isola's take out store.
“Amazeballs” at Isola’s take out store.

Fishbones: This prime piece of real estate on Oak Bluffs Harbor was bought out by Santoro Hospitality Group, owners of The Lookout Tavern, earlier this year, and strollers along the harbor have been anxiously awaiting its revival.

Though the name and logo of the waterfront bar and grill haven’t changed, manager Lisa Hawkes says the new Fishbones has updated it all. Not just the building, but chef Justin Stenuis has helped reinvent the menu with a Caribbean twist on seafood. Items such as coconut shrimp and blackened mahi mahi with mango salsa made their debut at Fishbones for the July 26 season opening.

“It was hard finding staffing in the middle of the summer, and we wanted to complete the new kitchen and the new menu,” said Ms. Hawkes of the late-season opening. “But we wanted to make sure if we were going to do this, we were doing it right.”

Now serving lunch and dinner from 11 am to 10:30 pm (bar until 11). 508-696-8227; fishbonesgrille.com.

Jimmy Sea’s:

After a brief hiatus, Jimmy Sea’s returned on July 17 under new ownership, but with the same old beloved experience of eating pasta straight from a pan bigger than your head.

Chef Scotty, who has been with Jimmy Seas for almost 20 years, is still manning the kitchen. Specializing in seafood and Italian flavors, Jimmy Sea’s offers linguini, scampi, and ravioli dishes with shrimp, lobster, beef, chicken, and more with tomato, pesto, and cream bases.

They’ve also hopped on the gluten-free bandwagon with some of their pastas, and new this year, they are offering house special pastas every night. “It got busy instantly,” said manager Olga Brown. “But our crew caught on right away, and it’s been a pretty smooth start.”

Now open for dinner from 5 pm to 10 pm. 508-687-9702; jimmyseaspanpasta.com.

0
Island Cove co-owner Mary Gosselin fires up fuel on the outdoor grill for hungry mini golfers. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Sometimes the most satisfying food comes from the most unexpected places. No,
I don’t mean the time that you late-night dumpster dived at Dunkin’ Donuts in college (though in my…I mean YOUR defense, they do pristinely package their still-fresh baked goods before disposing of them).

What I’m talking about is those hidden gems of food spots. Holes in the walls. Best kept secrets. Like finding out Tisbury Farm Market might be one of the best coffee spots on the Island: the coffee is hot and strong, the price is right, and there’s never a line. I was going to keep that tidbit to myself, but I’m offering it up as my reward to you for reading my column, and continuing to read it after I discuss dumpster food.

So here’s another one for you: go play mini-golf, and make sure you work up an appetite, because the grill at Island Cove Adventures in Vineyard Haven is heating up. This shady cabana-style food stand has been around since 2002, but few people realize that Island Cove’s menu ranges far beyond ice cream. Mary Gosselin, who owns Island Cove with her husband, Ray, has a long history with food. A nutrition major, Ms. Gosselin came to the Island after college, where she learned the choreographed art of short order cooking at Island restaurants such as the Dock Street Coffee Shop.

“I wanted to own a restaurant, my husband wanted to own a mini golf,” Ms. Gosselin said. She gave her husband the go-ahead, on the condition that “I don’t have to be involved.” As it turned out, getting involved opened opportunities Ms. Gosselin didn’t know existed. She had already decided that the hospital work available for a nutritionist was not for her.

Grilled chicken, onions, and peppers on flatbread with Mary's special marinade.
Grilled chicken, onions, and peppers on flatbread with Mary’s special marinade.

“I was the first person people met when they were diagnosed with medical conditions. I was dealing with 40-, 50-, 60-year-olds who were scared, sick, and I was taking away their comfort foods,” Ms. Gosselin said. So she turned her attention to preventing health issues instead. “I decided I wanted to work with children, because then we could avoid that scary conversation. I wanted to teach kids to like chicken and vegetables, and make good food that tastes good.”

The mini-golf business provided the window to working with children that Ms. Gosselin sought. “I like to cook for kids because they are so spontaneous. If they like it, they’ll tell you, if not, they will too,” Ms. Gosselin said. “Most kids can deal with grilled cheese or a hot dog, but I have a lot of kids that love my grilled chicken. I feel like that’s a personal win for a child to fall in love with chicken.”

Having healthy choices at the mini-golf course was a given. Families were playing together, kids were powering up the rock wall, expending huge amounts of energy. Ms. Gosselin felt it necessary to provide them with the right fuel at the right price. In addition to burgers, dogs, and flatbread pizzas, there are vegetarian and gluten-free options such as fruit smoothies and a sweet potato black bean veggie burger. Prices range from $3.50 for a hot dog, to just under $7 for Mary’s specialty: chicken breast and veggies in a secret marinade, served atop a toasted flatbread.

“Everybody needs to eat, and we made a decision to keep it reasonable,” Ms. Gosselin said. “It’s hard to find good food at a reasonable price, especially in a venue like this. It’s what I would want to find if I were traveling with my family. What a surprise that I can have a veggie burger, or my child who’s gluten-free can join the family for dinner. And it tastes good.”

Island Cove manager Taylor Rasmussen holds out a "Dinosaur Crunch" ice cream cone covered in rainbow sprinkles.
Island Cove manager Taylor Rasmussen holds out a “Dinosaur Crunch” ice cream cone covered in rainbow sprinkles.

Ms. Gosselin says offering quality food and ice cream just adds to the positive family atmosphere. “It’s the only place I see families not texting,” she said. It instills the nostalgia for a perfect childhood vacation that Ms. Gosselin says families come back and thank her for year after year.

When I was a kid and went on vacation, my brother and I would always insist on playing mini-golf, mostly so we could beat each other with the putters behind my parents’ backs, or climb over the features into the appealing neon-blue ponds to fish out extra balls (also frowned upon). To bribe us into less-obnoxious behavior, my parents would dangle the possibility of ice cream in front of us. Looking back, a muggy night, a round of mini-golf, and a dripping ice cream cone defined what it meant to be a kid in summertime. Add to that a healthy meal, and a scramble up a rock wall, and you’ve got a real hole in one.

For more information, call 508-693-2611, visit islandcoveadventures.com, or look for Island Cove Adventures on Facebook.

0
No plastic allowed at Porto Pizza. — Photo by Michael Cummo

I’m not a cash carrier. I find my funds flutter away much more quickly if they are withdrawn from my bank account in paper form. $20s quickly transform into $1s which fade away into lost poker games and eaten chocolate bars until my wallet is empty again anyway, so why fill it with cash to begin with? Because so many businesses on Martha’s Vineyard are cash only.

%&*$!@! is the sound I make in my head when I walk into a cash only business, forgetting I must hit an ATM before I can get a coffee or a slice of pizza. %&*$!@! is the sound many tourists make out-loud when they are tired and hungry, have just traveled for hours, are holding five pizzas and a squirming monkey in a poopy diaper, and NO they do not have any cash and NO they do not want to go find the nearest ATM. It’s a real pain in the %&*$!@!. So why do businesses bother?

There’s money saving to consider: businesses are required to pay a transaction fee for plastic, which can range from 1 to 6 percent of a purchase. Several businesses I spoke with, including Mocha Mott’s, Giordano’s, Porto Pizza, and Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, cited this charge as a deterrent for adopting card readers. All four managers and owners said the cash only policy was “simpler.” But it goes beyond that. Jirka Pavelka, owner of Porto Pizza, said he is trying to find a provider for his business to accept cards, but the service and the equipment are proving costly. “Different cards have different fees,” he said. “It’s an expensive process that we’re trying to find the best solution to.”

Carl Giordano, of Giordano’s Restaurant in Oak Bluffs, has been on both sides of a cash only business. While the take-out window of Gio’s is still cash only, the dining room section of the restaurant began accepting cards three years ago. “We’re trying to maintain an inexpensive family atmosphere,” Mr. Giordano said. “And we’re a seasonal business. In the dining room, when we began accepting cards, the extra percentage meant we had to raise our food prices. We already have the extra costs, being an Island, of food shipping, plus a town-imposed Oak Bluffs meal tax. I wouldn’t want to have to raise the cost of a slice of pizza any more.”

The hope is that some of those costs might be matched by customers spending more money paying with a debit or credit card. “Maybe they’re buying another bottle of wine that they wouldn’t have if they only had cash,” said Mr. Giordano, admitting that the cash only policy in the dining room might have deterred some customers, or limited their spending.

“The takeout window is a different animal,” Mr. Giordano said. His main reason for staying cash only at the takeout window is time saving. The line gets so busy, he said, that if everyone paid with a card, the printing and signing of receipts would inhibit the line from moving steadily.

Steady lines keep happy customers. But what about customers who find themselves lacking in cash? “It definitely annoys them,” said Kate Merges, a manager at Ben and Bill’s, “but I’ve never had a really horrible experience.”

“There’s so many ATMs near these cash only businesses, especially on Main Street and Circuit Ave., that most people don’t find it to be a huge deal,” said Laura Gilman, a manager at Mocha Mott’s. Although some might argue that ATM fees can easily turn a $2 purchase into a $5 purchase for the customer.

Still, the cash only model remains popular among small businesses. It minimizes bookkeeping, prevents fraud, and allows businesses to receive payment on the spot without waiting for transactions to process. And, of course, the tip jar is more likely to fill up when folks receive change in cash.

But anyone who has seen the line spill out into the street from a cash only Circuit Avenue sandwich spot knows that even “small” businesses on the Vineyard don’t feel so small in the summertime. Perhaps it’s time businesses find an easier solution than memorizing directions to the nearest ATM.

Finding a solution

There’s a lot of ways for small businesses, even start-ups, to work around the cash-only dilemma. Nat’s Nook and Not Your Sugar Mamas in Vineyard Haven, for instance, have adopted card swiping systems that require little more than an iPad. The technology is constantly evolving. Cash-only businesses can even accept payment online and via mobile phones with tools like PayNearMe andElavon.

Let me be clear: I love many of these cash-only businesses. They are staples of our community and serve delicious food and drink. Card reader or no, I can’t imagine an Island without homefries at Dock Street, the buffalo chicken at Skinny’s Fat Sandwiches, ice cream at Mad Martha’s, pizza at Fella’s, La Choza burritos, or a Menemsha picnic from The Bite. Even the dance floor level of The Lampost requires cash. Personally, I think the walk to an ATM is worthwhile if it means getting delicious food or drink from one of these spots. But once in a while, a little food for thought is a healthy addition to any diet.

In the meantime, since we love our cash-only businesses so much, here’s a handy map to show you where you can find an ATM before you order.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the Menemsha Galley only takes cash. The popular eatery and ice cream stop with the million dollar harbor view also takes credit cards.

0
Looks weird, tastes great: the Nobnocket Nectar from Tisberry. — Kelsey Perrett

This article was supposed to wait until August: what better time to talk about cold and refreshing drinks? But the humidity has been so oppressive the past couple of weeks that it seems the dog days of summer have come a bit early, and I’ve found myself drinking more smoothies than ever.

A "Mighty Green Monkey" from Blissed Out.
A “Mighty Green Monkey” from Blissed Out.

The great thing about smoothies in the hot weather is not just that they’re cold. Their liquid form is very easy to digest, so you don’t get that bloated food coma feeling while it’s already creeping on 80 percent humidity. They’re a great way to squeeze in servings of fruit and veggies (especially leafy greens), and they’re super easy to modify if you have dietary restrictions or intolerances (Hint: great ice cream replacement for the dairy-free crowd). Lots of Islanders favor smoothies as a quick-grab breakfast to sip on while stuck in traffic at the drawbridge. I’m a fan of the smoothie as an afternoon snack, a blood sugar and vitamin booster late in the day when I feel like crashing.

I recently bought a new blender. I splurged and got a Ninja, an impressive stack of whirling blades that could chop, process, pulse, or purée a diamond. I’ve been making all kinds of delicious treats. (My favorite: coconut milk, almond milk, a banana, almond butter, and a scoop of Not Your Sugar Mamas Be Cozy chocolate powder). The only problem with the blender is it appears to have a violent streak. Those samurai blades have already hacked my fingers to shreds on several occasions, and I’ve become rather wary of it.

For my own safety I’ve decided I’m only allowed to use (and wash) the blender under adult supervision. At the very least, with someone nearby to either drive me to the hospital or call an ambulance.

A Chocolate Almond Bliss "Milkshake" and Spinach & Mango smoothie from Not Your Sugar Mamas in Vineyard Haven.
A Chocolate Almond Bliss “Milkshake” and Spinach & Mango smoothie from Not Your Sugar Mamas in Vineyard Haven.

Luckily, we have so many great smoothie spots around the Island, I can get my fix while I learn how to fight a Ninja.

Blissed Out: When I told a certain Editor-in-Chief the price range of smoothies at Blissed Out, ($8-15) he exclaimed “What do you get, a puréed Filet Mignon?” That would be gross of course, but he was correct in assuming you pay for exceptional quality here. All the juices and smoothies are not only fresh, but made exclusively from organic, vegan ingredients that are free of dairy, gluten, and refined sugar. Try replacing your coffee with the “Mocha Maca Mashup” for an extra energy boost. Main Street, Vineyard Haven, or at the “Bliss Bus” at Eden on State Road, Vineyard Haven.

Not Your Sugar Mamas: While we’re on the topic of dairy, gluten, refined sugar free superfoods, it’s necessary to give a shout-out to Not Your Sugar Mamas in both Vineyard Haven and Edgartown. This year, they began delivering fruit smoothies and dairy free “milkshakes” that are just sweet enough, and remarkably good for you. I like the Chocolate Almond Bliss: raw cacao, almond butter, coconut, cashews, dates, and coconut water. The dates sweeten things up, and the cashews blend into a rich creamy texture. $13.95. Beach Road in Vineyard Haven; Winter Street in Edgartown.

Tisberry: Traditional fruit and yogurt smoothies are the obvious choice at this froyo hotspot, but the dairy isn’t a must. They recently converted their other smoothies into almond milk blends. I usually enjoy a veggie boost with the refreshing, gingery Nobnocket Nectar, but lately I’ve been eying the PB&J smoothie: Strawberry, raspberry, banana, peanut butter, almond milk, and apple juice. Woah. Prices range from about $5.95 to $6.95. Cromwell Lane, Vineyard Haven.

Y Cafe: Sweet and simple, the Y Cafe at the YMCA of M.V. in Oak Bluffs offers few smoothie choices, but they do each well. The best part about the Y is its convenient location in a traffic-free zone near the roundabout. The cafe is open to the public, and it’s a great spot to stop if you’re not quite headed into any town. Plus, they make healthy post-workout snacks. The strawberry banana blends fruit with yogurt and soy milk, as does the tropical blend, which is a combo of banana, pineapple, mango, and orange. $5 for a small, $7 for a large. Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs.

Morning Glory: The farmstand at Morning Glory no longer hosts its smoothie bar, but fret not, they are bottling smoothies (and juices) for the super-on-the-run. Using ingredients inspired by the seasonal harvest, mixed with organic yogurt and milk, and a banana to hold it all together, the staff at Morning Glory delivers the freshest bottled smoothies around (so ditch those Naked bottled sludges). Right now they are offering strawberry and nectarine, peach, and pear flavors. They also hope to revive their popular Green and Good smoothie soon: banana, strawberry, kale, and cucumber or orange juice. $6.95 pint. Meshacket Road, Edgartown.

Tocco Puro: Remember that talk about a smoothie as breakfast? Tocco Puro in Edgartown does it perfectly with their “Morning Smoothie.” It comes in a variety of flavors, but central to every Morning Smoothie is oats and protein powder, which will fill up even the heartiest bacon and eggs fan for only $5.95. South Water Street, Edgartown.

Beetlebung: There are a lot of great smoothies using coffee out there, but Beetlebung (in Oak Bluffs and Menemsha) has realized the perfect pairing for a real fruit smoothie is green tea. It’s crisp, refreshing, and blends into organic lowfat yogurt or soy milk surprisingly well. Choose from strawberry, strawberry-banana, mango, or mango-banana. $5.26 for a small; $5.79 for a large. Basin Road, Menemsha, or Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs.

Espresso Love: Like the two aforementioned cafes, Espresso Love is known for their coffee drinks, but they also offer up three styles of fresh fruit smoothies, all priced at $6.50. Their green smoothie blends baby spinach, banana, apple, almonds, and almond milk, but you can skip the leafy greens for a berry or peach smoothie, too. Church Street, Edgartown.

I also encourage you to practice the ancient art of smoothie-making at home. Just remember to keep calm in the face of danger and never, ever, lose sight of your opponent under a sinkful of soapy water.

1
Tarragon Chicken Salad, Fella's Take Out, West Tisbury. — Kaylea Moore

Nothing ruins a good beach day like hunger. Okay, there’s rain. Sunburns. Shark attacks. But let us not stray down the path of cynicism. My point is, a long leisurely day on the beach is made much better by food. And what better food for a picnic than a sandwich?

Compact, easy to transport, easy to eat, delicious: it’s almost as if sandwiches were made for the beach. That can’t be why they’re called SAND-wiches, can it? (Actually, they are named for John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich…but I’m boring myself now.) Here are some of my favorite sandwiches for some of your favorite beaches.

Edgartown: Whether you’re headed to Left Fork or Right, stop first at the Katama General Store, which offers quick and easy prepared foods, including sandwiches, straight from their coolers.

Oak Bluffs: If you’re beaching it in Oak Bluffs, you pretty much have all the restaurants on Circuit Avenue, Kennebec, and the harbor to choose from. One local favorite is Humphreys, for monster sized sandwiches on freshly baked bread of your choice. I’m partial to their version of the Gobbler — turkey, cranberry sauce, and Thanksgiving stuffing on warm whole wheat bread.

Vineyard Haven: Really the only public beach choices in Vineyard Haven are Owen Park Beach and Tashmoo, but sandwich choices are aplenty. Best bet? Waterside Market on Main Street. Their toasty ciabatta bread holds up their dense sandwiches quite nicely, and it’s just a short walk from Owen Park. My favorite is the Farmhouse: chicken, bacon, onion jam, pecan goat cheese, and fresh spinach.

Up Island: The opposite of V.H.:many beaches, fewer dining options. It all depends where you’re headed, or where you’re lucky enough to get a beach pass. Lambert’s Cove? Fella’s Take Out take’s care of classic sandwich cravings. Their chicken salad, mixed with the crisp herbal flavor of tarragon, is great for a hot day. Otherwise, the Cronig’s deli also offers sandwiches to go, along with other prepared foods. (Stock up on fruit, chips, drinks, and other beach snacks here too).

Heading farther up Island? Stop at 7a Foods for a sandwich that usually contains a surprise ingredient, like blueberries or marcona almonds. I can’t say enough about the Liz Lemon sandwich: hot, housemade pastrami, turkey, swiss, coleslaw, russian dressing, and potato chips on rye. The genius of Tina Fey embodied in sandwich form.

If you’re up as far as Chilmark, better stop at the Chilmark General Store. There’s no turning back from here. Heading to Lucy, Squibby, Philbin, or beyond, you’ll want rations. For extra endurance, choose the “Road Race,” named for Chilmark’s Middle Road 5K, stuffed with roasted chicken, avocado, house-made romesco sauce, aioli, basil, and arugula on ciabatta.

And enjoy

Mission accomplished, you have the perfect sandwich for your perfect beach day. Don’t eat it in the car before you get to the beach. Do eat it before the bread gets soggy and the mayo turns. Protect it from sand and seagulls. Share with friends. Ignore that silly “wait 20 minutes before swimming” rule, and have a blast.

0
The Local Smoke smoker is the perfect machine for cooking barbeque slow and low, and initiating good times. — Tim Laursen

The Fourth of July is arguably the biggest barbeque day of the year in America. For those fortunate enough to have the holiday, or maybe even a long weekend off, there’s a pretty standard way to pass the day that includes praying for sunshine, lounging on a beach or boat, fireworks, and of course, throwing meat on a grill. In every group of family or friends, there’s usually a designated grillmaster that aces it every time. Otherwise, it’s some dopey dad in a Kiss the Cook apron, who serves up charred burgers with raw centers every time. This article is for that guy. Because some of the best pitmasters on the Island are about to drop their BBQ knowledge. And if even that fails, one of them offers takeout.

A pig pile at Smoke 'N Bones: Memphis ribs, 1/2 chicken, pulled pork, cornbread, and beans
A pig pile at Smoke ‘N Bones: Memphis ribs, 1/2 chicken, pulled pork, cornbread, and beans

“Slow and low, that is the tempo,” insisted my good friends The Beastie Boys. They may have been talking about the beat behind their rhymes, but the same applies to good barbeque. Really great smoked barbeque can take hours to perfect. According to Tim Laursen of Local Smoke, it’s all about “patience, good fire control, and understanding the heat source.”

Local Smoke, which debuted their local BBQ creations at the Ag Fair in 2010, is comprised of  Mr. Laursen, a sculptor/musician, and farmer/stonemason Everett Whiting. Mr. Whiting’s family has been holding roasts for generations, but Laursen said, “it’s sort of a vacation for us to become pitmasters.”

Local Smoke raises their own pigs and they use chicken from Whippoorwill Farm, Cleveland Farm, or The Good Farm. They are also big fans of local lamb, and beef ribs. “People should try beef ribs,” Mr. Laursen said. “They’re nicely marbleized and have giant bones.”

Mssrs. Laursen and Whiting use an old-fashioned smoker to maintain the correct temperature, slow cooking the meat for hours, sometimes half a day. The smoker, which has a firebox built in, runs the smoke through chambers to cool it to the ideal temp of 190 to 240 degrees. They use a paprika-based dry rub of 15 spices before the meat hits the fire, then baste it. “I’ve experimented with injecting beer and moisture,” Laursen said. “I’ve also been working on a vinegar based sauce — I love that tangy after-splash.” But overall, Laursen said, the idea is to keep it simple: “The flavor the dry oak wood imparts is unique in itself.”

While an old-fashioned slow cooker is awesome, it’s not essential to good BBQ. A charcoal fire will do the trick. Here are Laursen’s tips for the home chef cooking pork butt, shoulder, or ribs:

“Let the charcoal get grey before you cook. Identify the hottest part of the fire, move the heat to one side, move your meat to the other side, and put the lid on. You also want to keep a tin foil tray underneath with water for moisture. Cook it low and slow. Don’t touch it, don’t poke it with a knife or cut it open. Once you put it on, let it be, so it develops a nice crust. We’re talking surface temps of 600 to 900 degrees: charcoal burns hot, so it’s about keeping the meat from burning while it cooks slowly. Be patient. Leave them for the first hour, hour and a half, before turning.”

Chicken and ribs get their glaze on the grill at Smoke 'N Bones.
Chicken and ribs get their glaze on the grill at Smoke ‘N Bones.

Okay, so let’s say something goes horribly wrong. The freight vessel delivering all the  charcoal to the Island gets commandeered by pirates. Or, your drunken slob of a friend topples into the grill, knocking all of the meat into the fire. What do you do? You do what Islanders do every day they want good barbeque: call up Smoke ‘N Bones.

Owner Stewart Robinson says 40 to 60 percent of the business at his Oak Bluffs restaurant comes from takeout, so don’t be ashamed. They also run a huge catering business. All their meat is treated to a dry rub, marinated, and smoked for four to seven hours at a low heat. “We’re one of the only spots in New England that does a real Southern style barbeque.” Mr. Robinson said. His chef is straight out of North Carolina, so you know it’s true.

Mr. Robinson added, “We use only the best cuts of meat, we don’t fool around here.”

Offerings include all the staples, such as baby backs, pulled pork and chicken, and brisket. One of the most popular sides is “Stewart’s World Famous Onion Rings,” which aren’t at all greasy. There’s also a great kids menu.

As far as grilling at home goes, Mr. Robinson noted that “everyone has their own style.” Everyone has their own favorites too. Edgartown Meat and Fish Market prepares great marinated meats and kabobs that are as simple as picking up and placing on a grill. Soigne is a good place to snag sides. Black Sheep does cured and smoked meats in addition to awesome cheeses. Reliable Market and Shiretown Meats have butcheries. It’s always optimal to check farm stands for local meat too. I got some killer ribs from Blackwater Farm last week. There are as many options on the Island as there are people.

Mr. Laursen told me that he recently visited Prospect Park in Brooklyn, while scores of families were out barbecuing. There were Armenians, Russians, African Americans, South Americans, all with meat sizzling away on a grill. Each smoke cloud smelled a little different, each style unique, but it was all based on the same idea.

“Barbeque is an equalizer,” Mr. Laursen said. “It’s simple, and timeless. It brings everyone together. It’s a complicated world, everyone’s lives are different, but when they’re standing next to a barbeque, it’s pretty universal what you’re supposed to do: relax, enjoy company, knowing there will be food. That’s what summer’s all about.” Now what could be more American than that?