Good Taste

Local restaurants share go-to Super Bowl party recipes.

The Wharf's chowder fries are loaded with clam chowder, cheese, bacon and scallions, and are perfect for the big game. – Photo by Michael Cummo

There are two types of Super Bowl fans: the true sports fans, faces painted and yelling at the screen, rooting for their team; and the fans who don’t care who wins or loses, as long as there’s food at the party. Personally, I fall into the latter category, and the only way you’ll get me to attend a Super Bowl party is by rattling off the menu and letting me know what I can bring to the table. If you’re like me, you’re bound to enjoy these indulgent Super Bowl–inspired recipes. If you’re the true-sports-fan type, just sit back and mindlessly eat while the big game is on.

Nothing says football like chili, and Offshore Ale Co. has shared their famous chili with us. For a Super Bowl party, set up the chili in a Crock-Pot to keep warm, and create a chili bar by placing a variety of toppings on the table, such as shredded cheese, sour cream, fresh herbs, and cornbread.

Offshore Ale Co. Pork and Black Bean Chili

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ tsp. dried red chilies

1 medium jalapeño, minced

1 large white onion, diced

1 pound lean pork (loin or butt shoulder), cut to ½-inch cubes

½ cup Offshore Ale Brown Ale

1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 14-oz. cans black beans

¼ cup root beer

2 Tbs. ancho chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

½ 16-oz. bag frozen corn (optional)

1 sweet red pepper, diced (optional)

2 Tbs. salt

3 Tbs. hot sauce

Preparation

In large heavy-bottom pan, heat oil, crushed dried red chilies, and jalapeño until sizzling. Add onions and cook until lightly browned.

Add pork and sear. Pour in the brown ale to deglaze the pot, stirring constantly.

Add tomatoes, beans, root beer, and dry seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low simmer. If desired, add corn and red pepper; heat through.

Adjust seasonings, if necessary; add salt and hot sauce. Simmer 10–15 minutes on low, and it’s ready to serve.

If you don’t have a lot of time, and need to bring a delicious recipe to a Super Bowl party, we’ve got you covered. Make these simple, New England–inspired Chowder Fries, just like they make them at the Wharf Pub!

Wharf Chowder Fries

1 bag of frozen fries

1 quart clam chowder

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

½ cup bacon, cooked and chopped

¼ cup fresh scallions, chopped

Preparation

Cook the fries as directed on package until crispy and golden.

Place in individual oven-safe bowls and top the fries with clam chowder, cheese, and bacon. Broil for 2–3 minutes until bubbly, and top with fresh scallions.

We all know you can’t have a Super Bowl party without wings, so to help us make the crispiest, most delicious wings, Chef Tony Saccoccia of the Grill on Main in Edgartown offered some great tips and tricks. Seriously, try these wings — they’re amazing. Also, Chef Saccoccia recommends that everyone own a FryDaddy, an electric deep fryer that will make your life a crispy heaven!

Louisiana-Style Fried Chicken Wings

2 pounds chicken wings

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups Louisiana hot sauce

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

Preparation

The evening before, mix the chicken wings with the buttermilk and hot sauce. Let marinate overnight.

Preheat your fryer oil to 350ºF.

Drain the buttermilk/hot sauce mixture from wings, and make a dredging flour by whisking together the flour, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.

Focus on coating every area of the wing — commit to the dredging, it’s essential to the crispy coating.

Shake excess off, and fry until golden brown.

And instead of the usual bruschetta, make The Newes from America’s Roquefort Stilettos: warm, toasted French bread with bacon and a blue cheese spread that will knock your socks off!

Roquefort Stilettos

1½ pounds cream cheese

1½ pounds blue cheese

½ oz. Dijon mustard

½ oz. Cholula Hot Sauce

2 French baguettes, sliced lengthwise and slightly toasted

1 cup bacon, crispy and chopped

Preparation

Whip together the cream cheese, blue cheese, Dijon mustard, and hot sauce.

Slather on baguettes, and broil until bubbly and golden brown.

Sprinkle with chopped bacon and serve.

 

What’s healthier?

A Simple Green Smoothie includes nut milk, spinach, banana, strawberries, avocado, and honey. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

Once the new year kicks off, most of us are scrambling to jot down a couple of resolutions. Whether we make it to February with our resolutions still intact is another story, but let’s give everyone the benefit of the doubt and believe that a healthier you is one of the resolutions you’ll actually keep this year.

We’ve all heard of green juices and green smoothies as part of a healthier lifestyle. We know they’re packed with vibrant ingredients that provide our bodies with needed nutrients. We know we should be chugging back the green juices on a daily basis as an addition to our diets. But we also know how tedious it is to clean that pesky juicer/blender that stands on your counter, smirking at you. Fear no more — I’ve got a couple of easy-to-clean juicer and blender recommendations, as well as an insight on juicing vs. blending.

Let’s talk about the main difference between a green juice and a green smoothie: fiber! When juicing, you’re extracting all those nutrients and vitamins from the produce, leaving behind the fiber. When you’re blending, you throw everything in the blender and go! So you’d instantly assume that blending is healthier, right? Not so fast.

Fresh ingredients for Healthy Green Detox Juice. Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
Fresh ingredients for Healthy Green Detox Juice. Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

Juicing is great for those of us that can’t digest fiber as well as others, and it’s also fantastic for people who want a quick nutrient boost. Since you don’t have to handle fiber, nutrients rush directly into the bloodstream and give you that quick fix. Just be sure to have a good balance of fruit and vegetables — too much fruit means you’ll get a sugar rush and ultimately crash.

Blending is great on occasions when your green smoothie is your only breakfast. Because of the added fiber from fruit peels and vegetable skins, you’ll be satisfied for a longer period of time, and might even make it until lunchtime without mindless snacking. Blending is also a more inexpensive option, because you’ll need less produce per serving.

So it’s up to you to decide what your body needs: a quick, nutritious boost to get the morning started with a green juice, or a heartier green smoothie that will keep you satisfied until lunchtime.

Healthy Green Detox Juice

Makes 2 servings

2 small apples, quartered

3 stalks celery

2 stalks rainbow chard

1 cup baby carrots (or 2 medium carrots)

1 inch fresh ginger root

1 large orange, quartered (not peeled!)

2 small cucumbers

Make sure to wash everything.

Run everything through the juicer and drink immediately.

Simple Green Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

1½ cups nut milk

1 handful fresh spinach leaves

1 banana, chopped

½ cup chopped strawberries

½ avocado, peeled

1 tablespoon raw local honey

Blend the nut milk and spinach leaves until fully mixed.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

For moderately priced juicers, check out the Waring Pro JEX328 Health Juice Extractor or the Hamilton Beach 67650A Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor. For moderately priced blenders, look at the Hamilton Beach Wave Crusher Multi-Function Blender or the Ninja Professional Blender 1000. Be sure to stop by LeRoux in Vineyard Haven to check out their juicer and blender offerings!

—Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

During the busy, hot summer months, Sam Decker, the sommelier and wine expert at Atria in Edgartown, trains his staff weekly on the intricacies of wine service. A much appreciated practice, because we all know what it’s like to sit down at a restaurant, ask our server to recommend a wine to pair with our steaks, and receive some generic response, like “a red wine would work.” A trained front of the house staff with wine knowledge isn’t only a service to the customer, but to the kitchen as well — once the staff knows the wine list and its appropriate pairings, the kitchen’s menu items will shine.

Sommelier Sam Decker pours a Californian wine for tasting and discussion at Thursday's wine class. —Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
Sommelier Sam Decker pours a Californian wine for tasting and discussion at Thursday’s wine class. —Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

Mr. Decker and chef/owner Christian Thornton saw the potential in these wine trainings for the staff and realized that consumers might also be interested in learning more about wine. Thus, the M.V. Wine School was born. Whether you’re a group of friends looking for an interesting night out, a beginner yearning to learn more about your favorite wine, or a couple looking for a romantic experience to share over a most romantic beverage, M.V. Wine School is for you.

I had the opportunity to attend the school and take the “American New Wave” workshop this past week. I left with a solid knowledge of what American winemakers are currently crafting, and a few new favorites. Each class is intended to broaden wine knowledge, discover new wines from around the world (in this case, California), and learn how to accurately taste wine. Limited to 16 students, the classes guarantee an intimate setting, where guests can be comfortable asking basic questions. Chef Thornton also offers a light food component to the classes, pairing the unique wines to some fantastic food.

American New Wave

“Being a slave to Europe is as much a mistake as saying that super ripe California is a great expression. Both ends of the expression miss the important center of the argument, which is to take European notions and see how they’re best at expressing California. You’ll never hear what the land is saying if you just say, ‘in Europe they do this.’” — Ted Lemon of Littorai, a biodynamic vineyard and poster child of new wave wines in America.

What makes a wine uniquely American? Is it the sunshine that infuses that intense ripeness into the fruit? Some winemakers like to think it is, and they express it through their creative wine-making process. California new wave wines are Old World inspired, focusing on ambient yeast instead of inoculating the fruit with commercial yeast. This allows the wines to develop at their own pace, instead of forcing a particular feel. Through giving up that control, winemakers hope to forge a unique identity to American wines, based on the belief that the place matters more than the fruit itself. This is he true sense and definition of terroir, where the grape growers care as much (or even more) about the land than the grapes themselves.

Food pairings at the Martha's Vineyard Wine School. —Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
Food pairings at the Martha’s Vineyard Wine School. —Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

You’re probably thinking to yourselves, wow, these grape growers really must make an amazing wine if they take such good care of their land. But the current dilemma that new wave American wines face is that the grape growers aren’t necessarily the winemakers. Vineyard land is some of the most expensive agricultural land in the United States; prices in the Napa Valley reach up to $300,000 per acre. Winemakers who cannot afford those prices (and honestly, who can?) are paying to cultivate leased land, to work alongside grape growers to ensure proper harvest practices. The rise of “crush pads” or cooperative-style wineries, where winemakers buy fruit from all over the area and come together to crush, ferment, and age their wines in a common area, has helped ease the pain of the high land prices, but will this become the way of life between grape growers and winemakers of the U.S? These communities of wine entrepreneurs have a huge task ahead of them, but in the meantime they are offering the consumers some unique wines.

One co-op is the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, where winemakers convene to create wines and sell them directly to the public. Lompoc has the second largest concentration of tasting rooms in Santa Barbara County, making it a great destination for wine lovers, especially since the person pouring the wine is often the same person who created it. With over 20 wineries in the Lompoc Wine Ghetto, it’s a fun place to continue your journey after taking a workshop at the M.V. Wine School this winter.

Wines tasted: 1.Copain Rosé of Pinot noir, 2013, Anderson Valley; 2. Steve Matthiasson Napa Valley White 2012 (blend of Sauvignon blanc, Semillon, Ribolla gialla, Tocai friulano); 3. Lioco Indica 2011, Mendocino (old-vine Carignan); 4. Wind Gap Syrah, 2012, Sonoma Coast; 5. Dragonette Cellars Pinot noir, 2011, Sta. Rita Hills.

Some new wave producers you should check out: Steve Matthaisson, Tegan Passalacquia, Nathan Roberts, Duncan Arnot Meyers, Ted Lemon, Abe Schoener, Matt Licklider, and Kevin O’Connor.

Upcoming workshops at M.V. Wine School:

Exploring Burgundy: Wednesday, January 21

New Italy: Wednesday, January 28

Tour of Provence: Wednesday, February 18

For more information on the MV Wine School and to sign up for classes, visit mvwineschool.com or emailsamdecke@gmail.com.

Chilmark Coffee makes a great local gift. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers

This holiday season, support small Island businesses and shop local, especially if you’re shopping for the foodie in your life. The Island has so many unique gift ideas that won’t break the bank.

For coffee lovers, Chilmark Coffee’s sole roaster, Todd Christy, has been roasting up new beans. Ethiopian and Kenyan coffees are his latest roastings ($17.50). Online, a special gift pack of ‘two bags in a box’, are available for $30 shipped. chilmarkcoffeeco.com.

Peppermint bark and chocolate dipped candy canes, both with 70% cacao from Enchanted Chocolates. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers
Peppermint bark and chocolate dipped candy canes, both with 70% cacao from Enchanted Chocolates. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers

For the tea lovers, Vineyard Teas hand-blended by Holly Bellebuono will warm up anyone’s cold winter nights. Herbal, black, and green loose leaf teas make an elegant gift. Two of her best sellers include the Katama Chamomile Calming Blend Tea and the Martha’s Vineyard Wise Woman Tea ($16.95). vineyardherbs.com/teas.html.

Chocolate lovers have a few on-Island options that will make anyone’s sweet tooth happy. Not Your Sugar Mamas is offering “healthy treat plans” (starting at $49.97/month). These subscription boxes to their cookies and chocolate bars allow you to set up monthly shipments of NYSM products. notyoursugarmamas.com.

Another chocolate option is New Moon Magik’s Enchanted Chocolates. I recommend giving a bag or two of their “Keep It Real Hot Chocolate Mix” ($12). Made with 70 percent cacao chocolate and vanilla sugar, it’s the richest hot chocolate you’ll ever taste. etsy.com/shop/NewMoonMagick.

And because chocolate is the best gift, don’t forget Murdick’s Fudge an Island tradition that  offers a three-slice fudge gift box ($32.95), crafted with the freshest fudge flavors of your choosing. You can also add caramel corn, peanut or cashew brittle, and salt water taffy to your order. murdicks.com.

Martha's Vineyard Sea Salt is now available in five varieties. —Photo courtesy MV Sea Salt
Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt is now available in five varieties. —Photo courtesy MV Sea Salt

For salt lovers, especially those who love artisanal, small batch sea salts, Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt is a great gift idea. With their “hostess with Artisan Ceramic Salt Cellar” option, you can get two ounces of this gorgeous Island salt paired with a salt cellar ($35). mvseasalt.com.

For beer lovers, both Bad Martha Beer and Offshore Ale sell some great apparel, barware, and other beer-related goodies online. Wrap your friends and family up in a Bad Martha Chappy Wrap ($89) or give a set of Offshore Ale Pint Glasses ($6.95/each). offshoreale.com and badmarthabeer.com.

Vineyard edibles found at LeRoux Gourmet. — Angela Prout
Vineyard edibles found at LeRoux Gourmet. — Angela Prout

At LeRoux Gourmet, foodies and their shoppers have a one-stop-shopping paradise: assemble a basket of olive oils,  MV-produced sea salt, honey, chocolate, teas and coffees and top it off with a bottle of LeRoux’s Cranberry Pear White Balsamic Vinegar. lerouxkitchen.com.

For the cookbook lover, there are some delicious options from Island authors, listed below. Instead of ordering online, support local Island bookstores like Edgartown Books and Bunch of Grapes.

  • Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories by Susie Middleton
  • Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook For Guys by Steven Raichlen
  • Kale, Glorious Kale by Catherine Walthers
  • Morning Glory’s Farm Food: Stories from the Fields, Recipes from the Kitchen by Gabrielle Radner

Whether you decide to purchase on-Island gifts or decide to bake up some homemade treats as gifts, remember that the season is more about how you’re making your friends and family feel, and less about how much money you spend on them. Create memories by getting into the kitchen to do some baking, or stepping outside for a walk on a local farm while sipping warm cider. ’Tis the season!

Chowder from The Newes from America. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Once the temperatures drop, we instantly start craving steaming-hot soups, stews, and chowders, especially here in New England. Although the month of October seemed like an extension of summer, November has arrived, with its chilly nights and threats of snow. So pull out the slow cookers, the Dutch ovens, and the stockpots, because it’s time to start making soup. We’ll also explore the Island in search of some of the best soup offerings during the off-season, as well as giving you some tips and tricks from Island chefs.

Chefs’ favorites

Jan Burhman of Kitchen Porch Catering tells us that this time of year, she loves roasting butternut squash — both for dinner, and as preparation for soup. “It’s easy and nourishing,” she says. Ms. Buhrman starts most of her soups by gently sautéing two onions or leeks in butter or coconut oil and sprinkling in curry powder and minced ginger (interchanging spices depending on desired flavor). Then she adds her favorite stock and stirs in roasted squash, letting it simmer for 10 minutes. A quick pulse in the blender creates a smooth, seasonal soup.

Chef Jeremy Davis of The Port Hunter says his all-time favorite soup to make is an aromatic blend of spices and fresh herbs. “I make a fantastic red and green curry broth using fragrant lemongrass and rich coconut milk,” he says. By sautéing the curry paste with his favorite seasonal vegetables and housemade broth, he creates a base that he then uses alongside fresh seafood like mussels. The secret behind a great soup, according to Mr. Davis, is “it either has the property to warm you up or cool you down.”

For Chef Christian Thornton of Atria, “Nothing is better than matzo ball soup. The smells and memories it evokes in me are amazing.” When you visit the restaurant on Main Street in Edgartown, you’ll notice he keeps the matzo ball soup at home and creates gorgeous, silky-smooth soups for his customers. His current favorite? Oven-roasted butternut squash soup with curry crème fraîche and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Good Taste recommendations

My recommendations, based on generous amounts of soups I’ve consumed in the past five years of living on the Island, are solely based on flavors. Be sure to check them out if you can:

In Edgartown, try the French onion soup at The Newes Pub. It’s broth-based, with a hint of sherry wine that pairs perfectly with its topping of bread and three varieties of cheeses. It’s the perfect way to warm up on a chilly day, especially by the fireplace at The Newes, a perfect winter spot.

In Oak Bluffs, stop by Offshore Ale and check out their daily soup special, always a fantastic lunch option. Offshore’s annual promotion of “Buy 5 lunches, get the 6th free” runs now through May 2015.

In Vineyard Haven, try the hot and sour soup at Copper Wok when you’re craving mainland Asian flavors. This soup is extremely hearty, and although the broth is light, it’s packed with cabbage, bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, bell peppers, and a hint of Chinese vinegar to balance it all out. Another don’t-miss spot in Vineyard Haven is Tisberry, the frozen-yogurt shop, which also serves up a variety of daily specials of fresh soups, including but not limited to Southwestern vegetable and chicken, sweet Italian sausage, mulligatawny, ginger carrot artichoke, pasta fagioli, and sweet corn chowder.

Up-Island, try the lobster bisque at Larsen’s Fish Market when all you need is a creamy, luscious soup packed with fresh, sweet lobster meat. Be careful: This one is addictive. Even if you live down-Island, this bisque will have you making the trek to Menemsha more than once a week.

Whether you decide to try some of the local offerings or are inspired to try making your own soups at home, you’ve got a bounty of seasonal produce to choose from at local farms and markets. North Tabor Farm has harvested some gorgeous sweet potatoes, and Morning Glory Farm always has vibrant cooking greens, perfect for soups and stews.

Soup-making tips and tricks

  • Create a “stock bucket”: When cooking, save the ends and scraps of vegetables in a bucket in your fridge. By the end of the week, you’ll have enough to throw in a pot, cover with water, and simmer to make homemade vegetable stock. If you’re saving bones from a roast chicken to make chicken stock, freeze the bones until you have enough to make stock.
  • Taste and season as you go, but remember that the more you reduce your soup, the saltier it will become, so check your salt toward the end. Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt adds great depth of flavor to any soup.
  • Bust out that slow cooker! It’s perfect for throwing in stock and vegetables, as well as whatever protein you’ve got; it will do the cooking for you.
  • Living a dairy-free lifestyle, but craving a creamy soup? Use puréed potatoes (regular or sweet potatoes) or whisk in a slurry (cornstarch and water) to add a creamy texture.
  • Always make a double batch of soup — it freezes nicely, and provides you with meals when you’re not up for cooking.

It's time to trade in iced coffee for a warm pumpkin spice latte, full of fall flavor. —Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

Once the boot-wearing, coat-wrapping, scarf-using weather descends on the Island, our iced coffees of the summer turn into warm caffeinated beverages to get us through the cooler part of the year. Every September, Starbucks unveils their annual Pumpkin Spice Latte. This year, some people were sipping on their PSLs by August 25. A bit early, don’t you think? But now that October is here, it’s chilly enough for all of us to jump on the PSL wagon.

Whether you’re a cappuccino fan or a chai latte addict, I’d like to introduce you to the homemade version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Since Starbucks popularized the drink, it’s become a cult favorite among the young and old, the rich and poor. For me, it’s a love/hate relationship. I love the flavors and nostalgia a PSL evokes, but I hate the artificial ingredients in most store-bought versions. With the local, real-foods recipe below, you can make as much Pumpkin Spice Lattes as you’d like!

Start by securing a local pumpkin at Morning Glory Farm, and don’t forget that their annual Pumpkin Festival is on October 18, from 11 am-3 pm. The day includes fun and games for all ages, pony rides, hayrides, farm tour, hay maze, pumpkin carving and decorating, face painting, raffles, tee-shirts, and fabulous farm food.

Before leaving Morning Glory, grab a bag of freshly roasted Chilmark Coffee from their farm stand. Todd Christy at Chilmark Coffee strives to roast the best coffee beans available to him, so his coffee is a great choice for this latte. If possible, grind the beans yourself the day you’re making this drink. Freshly ground beans have a stronger flavor and aroma than week-old ground beans.

Head up-Island to The Grey Barn and grab some of their fantastic certified organic, raw milk from grass-fed cows. If you’re going to make the best Pumpkin Spice Latte, you might as well be using the best milk.

Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe

Recipe makes 1 latte; makes enough syrup for about 10 lattes

For the spiced pumpkin puree (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1 Morning Glory Farm pumpkin, roasted with the seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

For the pumpkin syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup maple or agave syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups spiced pumpkin puree

For the Pumpkin Spice Latte:

  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin spice syrup
  • 2 shots of Chilmark Coffee espresso
  • 1 cup The Grey Barn Raw Milk
  • Whipped cream, to taste

To make the spiced pumpkin puree, puree the roasted pumpkin flesh with the spices, using a blender. Whisk in the spices.

To make the pumpkin syrup: over low heat in a small saucepan, melt the condensed milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and kosher salt together until it slowly simmers.

To make the latte: over medium heat in a small saucepan, whisk together the syrup, espresso, and milk until hot. Serve in a large mug and top with whipped cream.

It's pumpkin time at Morning Glory Farm's annual Pumpkin Festival. —Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
It’s pumpkin time at Morning Glory Farm’s annual Pumpkin Festival. —Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

No time to make your own latte? Stop by the following local coffee shops for more Pumpkin Spice Latte love:

  • Espresso Love, 17 Church Street, Edgartown (Small: $4.80)
  • Mocha Mott’s, 10 Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs or 15 Main Street, Vineyard Haven (Small: $3.70)
  • Edgartown Meat and Fish Market, 240 Vineyard Haven Rd., Edgartown (Small: $3.89)

Pizza at the Beach Plum is wood fired in their new oven. —Photo by Gabrielle Herman

There are a lot of amazing things about pizza — gooey cheese, herby sauces, crispy-chewy dough — and there are a lot of amazing places to grab a slice on this Island. But sometimes pizza is about more than quick and easy takeout. Pizza is best shared with friends, but even better when shared with a community. Almost everyone loves pizza. And there’s something beautifully symbolic about dividing a circle into shareable wedges — especially when the community pitches in to build the pizza oven. This fall, get a taste of that collaborative spirit at one of these up-Island pizza parties:

The Beach Plum Restaurant

In partnership with Island Grown Schools, the Beach Plum restaurant in Menemsha will host Thursday-night pizza nights from 5 pm to 9 pm until they close on Oct. 19.

“The Beach Plum is excited to introduce the community to its beautiful new wood oven,” Elana Carlson of the Beach Plum wrote in a press release. Construction of the oven started at the beginning of the summer, with help from craftspeople in the community. Beach Plum chef Chris Fischer and intern Miles Cornwall poured the foundation; Allan Klein and Andy Magdanz sourced, assembled, and set the oven, and mason John Maloney laid the brick and built the façade.

The Beach Plum collaborated with Island Grown Schools for several fundraising dinners this summer. For the 250-person IGS event in June, local students experienced the behind-the-scenes of the restaurant world, helping with hosting, waiting tables, and even managing the restaurant.

This fall, students are harvesting with Beach Plum staff at a different farm each week. Last Tuesday students harvested vegetables at Beetlebung Farm with the Chilmark Garden Club. Those vegetables were served on top of pizzas the next night.

The restaurant offers a limited menu on pizza nights. Last week included vegetable sides, a kale salad, two entrées, and dessert. Pizza choices will vary. Last week guests enjoyed a pork, nettles, fennel, and chili pie, a long-cooked greens, scallion, garlic, and sheep cheese pie, and a tomato, panna, and arugula pie. The Beach Plum is a BYOB establishment.

Pizza to-go orders can be placed calling: 508-645-9454. The Beach Plum is open Thursday, Friday, and Sunday through Oct. 19. For more information, visit beachplumrestaurant.com.

Orange Peel Bakery

Most Wednesday nights from 5 pm to 8 pm, the Orange Peel Bakery in Aquinnah has the outdoor wood oven fired up for make-your-own-pizza night. Orange Peel provides about 60 balls of homemade dough, plus sauce and cheese. Guests bring their own toppings to share on a pizza assembly line, and BYOB. The suggested donation is $10. “Anything goes” as a pizza topping, according to Orange Peel’s web site. “Consider olives, peppers, pineapples, pepperoni, feta cheese, onions, herbs, quahogs, mushrooms, duck, chicken, asparagus, and pesto.” Because it takes place outdoors, pizza night is always weather-permitting. In November, pizza night will move to Saturday nights. For updates, find the Orange Peel Bakery on Facebook, or visit orangepeelbakery.com.

Chilmark Community Church

After a summer hiatus, pizza nights have returned to the Chilmark Community Church, every Tuesday at 6 pm through Nov. 25. The tradition is to come for pizza and bring a potluck dessert to share. Afterward, adults have a Bananagrams tournament while kids are free to run and play games outside. It’s a nice break from both the TV and the dinner, and all are welcome. Free. For more information, call 508-645-3100.

Longtime fan of Hopps Farm beer Bob Gusa with restaurant and retail operations manager Jessie Holtham. — Photo by Siobhan Beasley

Offshore Ale Co. celebrated the annual release of the Hopps Farm Road Pale Ale on tap at its Oak Bluffs brewery and alehouse on Tuesday, Sept. 23. While Eric Johnson and Jeremy Berlin played their Tuesday-night live jazz set, customers enjoyed food specials paired with the Pale Ale. “This much-anticipated beer draws a local following,” said Jessie Holtham, restaurant and retail operations manager at Offshore.

Jon-Hartzband_Grand-Tapping.JPG
Jon Hartzband manned the bar for the busy grand tapping.

The Hopps Farm Road Pale Ale is brewed annually each fall with locally grown hops, primarily from the West Tisbury road of its namesake. “Regular customers Alan Northcott and Ken Rusczyk began a hobby of growing hops on their Island properties five years ago,” Ms. Holtham said. “They offered their hops to Offshore Ale Co. who graciously accepted.” A core group of volunteers — mostly friends of Mr. Northcott, Mr. Rusczyk, and Offshore staff — carry out the harvesting each year. The hops are grown on tall trellises and poles. When the poles are brought down, the hop vines are slipped off and onto a large table where the volunteers pluck the hop cones and gather them in baskets.

Grand-Tapping-above.JPG
Offshore drew a full house to celebrate the release of Hopps Farm Road Pale Ale on Tuesday.

Offshore has been brewing the Hopps Farm Road with contributions from Island growers for five years now. “It’s a pale ale, but a little light on the malt flavor to really let the fresh hop character come through,” Neil Atkins, head brewer at Offshore, said. This year, he brewed 10 barrels — 310 gallons — of Hopps Farm.

“Moderately spicy foods will pair well with this Pale Ale,” Ms. Holtham said. “And locally grown foods will complement the locally grown hops.” On Tuesday, special pairings included local blackback flounder from Menemsha Fish House and local acorn squash from Norton Farm.

The "Rasputin's Revenge" pancakes from the Black Dog. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Before you bite into your next breakfast, do you know where it’s been? I’m not talking about your cook’s loose interpretation of the five-second rule. Nor am I suggesting that your food once shook hands with a molecule of gluten (for shame!) and didn’t wash. I won’t even discuss the farm whence your eggs came, and whether or not that farmer’s neighbor allowed the chickens to play in his yard. I’m talking about the metaphorical “been.” The big been. As in, does your meal have a history, a backstory, a name worthy of something other than “eggs and bacon”? If you’re eating at an Island restaurant, the Magic 8 Ball says: “Outlook good.”

Sure, there’re plenty of restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard where you can order eggs and bacon. Or two eggs and two strips of bacon, and so forth in various numerical increments. But this is a land of artists, and writers, and creative types who shun the straightforward. At many Island restaurants, you may have to read the fine print to know just what it is you’re ordering. There are a lot of geographical locations on the menu: Chops and Beaches and Katamas (which almost always have avocado — whether or not there’s a reason for that, Magic 8 Ball says: “Better not tell you now”).

The menu names get even weirder, but if you want to know why, the 8 Ball won’t tell you. Yes, there is a limit to everything, even omniscience. You’ll have to ask the cooks.

Biscuits in Oak Bluffs generally favors the straightforward menu items, until you scroll down and reach “The Stormin’ Norman” omelette. Owner Chris Arcudi says he named the menu item after a hyperactive childhood friend. “He was always storming around, so I called him Stormin’ Norman. I wanted to name a dish after him, and it has all the things he likes: bacon, ham, sausage, and onion.” ($7.99.*)

The Art Cliff Diner in Vineyard Haven has a few quirky names on its menu, but most of them are coded to the ingredients inside. The Smokin’ in the Shower, for instance, is a toasted bagel with smoked (get it?) salmon, red onion, tomato, cream cheese, capers, and a shower of lemon. ($10.50.)

Some menu items on the Vineyard have been around so long that the staff can’t remember exactly why they are called what they are called. Nadine Barrett, a server at Linda Jean’s, can confirm that the “Jacob” was named after one of the cook’s kids “back in the day when Linda Jean’s first opened. He would come in here and eat home fries with onion, tomato, broccoli, spinach and cheddar cheese all the time.” ($7.99.) The “Sampson” (two pancakes, two eggs & two sausage patties, $9.99) she wasn’t so sure about, but she believes it was the name of someone’s pet. “We’ve had a lot of menu items named after beloved animals and pets,” she said.

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“Bozo on the Bus”: poached eggs over French toast at the Black Dog. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Jeffrey Hefflin, fondly known by his staff as “Heff,” has been a cook at the Black Dog Tavern since 1986. He can remember the stories behind most of the menu items because he named them himself. After a stint in the military, Heff came to the Island to teach, but found himself drawn instead to a little shack called the Black Dog. “I saw the last of the old hippie days here. Back in the day we used to have stereo wars over Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix vs. punk rock.” Those days live on in the “Are You Experienced?” omelette with asparagus, mushrooms, and cheese. (Grass and shrooms are kitchenspeak for asparagus and mushrooms, respectively.) “They’d never let us play that type of music now,” Heff says, but he still gets to have an awful lot of fun with the menu. Here are a few of his favorites:

  • Bozo on the Bus: The “bus” in this breakfast is the French toast, which provides a sort of vessel for the poached eggs. The “bozo” used to be a customer’s name, but the customer — who definitely can’t be named now — complained and demanded to have his name taken off the menu. Heff obliged, and the next day “the so-and-so on the bus was off the menu, and the Bozo on the Bus was on.” ($9.)
  • Candy Ghost in the Big House: “Our friend got sent to Framingham for driving without a license too many times. It’s two poached eggs surrounded by four walls of French toast.”
  • Charley on the Fence: “Charley was a cook here one summer, and he was a little out of control. He crashed three cars that summer, and one was up on a fence. He’s since cleaned up his act, but he was rather infamous that summer.” (Omelette with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and melted cheese, $9.)

Wait, I’m sensing a theme here, Heff. Just how do you get your name on the Black Dog breakfast menu? “It’s usually something you’re not real proud of,” he admits. The menu is a way to immortalize the stories surrounding Black Dog customers and staff, a way to make sure what happens on Martha’s Vineyard stays — forever commemorated — on Martha’s Vineyard. Then sometimes, they just paint a funny picture.

  • Vlad Surfing the Net: “Back when the Iron Curtain fell, we had a bunch of Czechs come to the Island. Some of them worked here and some were our friends. Vlad was all into the Internet, he was just amazed by it. We couldn’t get him off the computer. I think that item was originally called Vlad has a Techno Party.” (Scrambled eggs with bacon, tomato, onion, and cheese, $8.)
  • Rasputin’s Revenge: “We had this dishwasher that looked just like Rasputin. Long hair, crazy, wild eyes. Every day he would eat strawberry chocolate chip pancakes. Dishwashers are either young kids, foreigners, or people that could have gotten a degree from MIT, but they dropped out. They’ve always got something a little wacky in their head.” (Small $6, large $8.)
The Black Dog's "Happy Heff": scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese. —Photo by Michael Cummo
The Black Dog’s “Happy Heff”: scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Heff himself has made the breakfast menu hall of fame, twice, for his love/hate relationship with the morning shift.

  • Happy Heff: “They switched me to doing breakfast. I didn’t want to get up that early. I was doing lunch or dinner and I liked it because I wanted to go out at night. The happy Heff was kind of a play on my rather grumpy mood in the morning. It worked out well though, I’d much rather get up early and work now.” (Scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese, $8.)
  • Crabby Heff: “They’re the same thing. The only difference is it has fresh crab in it.”

The next time you come across a funky name on a breakfast menu, don’t pass it over in favor of a list of ingredients. Ask your waiter. You might hear a funny story. And if you’re ordering from any of the above restaurants, you’ll surely get a breakfast that lives up to its name.

*Some menu items are specials, and their prices and contents are subject to change.

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