Good Taste

0
“I wanted to create a space that nourished people with food, but also soothed their soul," said Natalie Grewar of her new coffee shop and creperie.

At this point in my life, I’m comfortable enough with my nerdiness to confess that when I was in college, I sort of liked writing papers. While my friends worked on group projects, or rehearsed presentations, I was scribing 15-page papers on the delay between perception and reality in “Heart of Darkness,” or the role of the coyote as a trickster figure in both Native American literature and Looney Toons. Fascinating, right?

Nat's Nook has cozy indoor seating and free WiFi.

Nat’s Nook has cozy indoor seating and free WiFi. — Michael Cummo

But it wasn’t the actual coursework I enjoyed. It was the coffee. For hours at a time, I would post up in the corner of some cozy little coffee shop downtown with my laptop and a dark roast coffee. When I’d worked up a sufficient caffeine buzz, I’d clear my head amongst the wordless chatter and whir of espresso machines, and I’d type up literary analyses that only an undergraduate English major could admire. There was a strange comfort in it. I never thought I’d miss it, but when I graduated, I did.

Until this week, when I walked into Nat’s Nook, the new coffee shop and creperie in Vineyard Haven. Not only did a crepe sound delicious, but the aroma of coffee and the warm atmosphere made me want to hang out in the corner — or better yet the outdoor courtyard — and read a book (there’s a book exchange). Maybe I’d even write an article ahead of deadline (free WiFi).

Nat's Nook: now open in Vineyard Haven.

Nat’s Nook: now open in Vineyard Haven. — Michael Cummo

Turns out that’s exactly the vibe owner Natalie Grewal was going for. “I wanted to encourage people to sit and not feel rushed out,” she said. “I wanted to create a space that nourished people with food, but also soothed their soul.”

Originally from British Columbia, Ms. Grewal first fell in love with the idea of a coffee shop while working at Garcia’s (now 7a Foods) as a college student seven summers ago. “I just loved it, the people, the regulars, and the atmosphere,” she said.

When the Vineyard Haven space, just off Main Street, went up for sale, Ms. Grewal decided to realize her dream of opening her own coffee shop. It needed some work, and was a little off the beaten path, but with some help from her fiancé, she has truly made the space her own.

“It’s part of the charm,” Ms. Grewal said of the setback location.

Nat's Nook owner Natalie Grewal has been busy cooking up crepes in Vineyard Haven.

Nat’s Nook owner Natalie Grewal has been busy cooking up crepes in Vineyard Haven. — Michael Cummo

But to draw customers off Main Street, down the alley that leads to the Nook, Ms. Grewal knew she would have to do something special. “I always wanted to do a coffee shop, but crepes came about as a way to differentiate from everything else in Vineyard Haven,” she said.

The idea wasn’t as half-baked as it might sound. Ms. Grewal has been practicing the art of the crepe at home for years, and the result is a fluffy yet crisp enclosure for any meal of the day. Eggs? Sure. Meat? Done. Nutella? Obviously. She even does gluten-free crepes, if that’s your thing.

She says the crepe menu is a mix of ingredients she loves. “The Greek is my favorite, or the avocado, tomato, goat cheese. I wanted to do a mix of meat and veggie, something for everybody. I wanted to draw both locals and people who are only here for a day.”

In addition to crepes, there’s fresh baked goods, an iced tea bar, and all sorts of coffee. The coffee! Here’s the thing about the coffee. (You might have guessed I’m a coffee snob. You might also have guessed that I’ve had several cups of coffee just now). The coffee at Nat’s Nook is from Rao’s.

That might not mean anything to you, but Rao’s Coffee Roasting Company is based out of Amherst, also home to my alma mater, UMass. I can’t tell you how many regurgitations of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” I BS’d there. It was a place with a wonderful, hip yet homey vibe, and a killer Sicilian Roast.

“I’ve always really loved their coffee, it’s really strong, which I love,” Ms. Grewal told me, and I wholeheartedly agreed. Just seeing the little blue and yellow Rao’s cups on her counter filled me with nostalgia for a place where I used to feel at home.

“Because I’m not from here, and home is so far away, I’m always searching for places where I feel like I’m at home,” Ms. Grewal said. “There’s always something missing when I go to places on the Island, sometimes there’s great coffee, but the atmosphere isn’t my favorite. I just wanted to create a space that where you can feel at home and feel good.”

Mission accomplished, Natalie. At least for one other post-college washashore.

Nat’s Nook is now open at 38 Main St, Vineyard Haven from 7 am to 5 pm. 508-338-2340. natsnookmv.com.

0
Scott Jones and Kell Hicklin, owners of Lambert's Cove, with a few new members of their family.

Imagine waking up on a summer morning to the clucks of chickens and the bleats of baby goats, walking through sunlit gardens to the chicken coop, collecting freshly laid eggs, and delivering them to the kitchen, where they are prepared into an omelet, with fresh herbs and veggies, just for you. It’s not some dream of your great Aunt Mabel’s farm in West Virginia, it’s now a reality at the recently renamed Lambert’s Cove Inn, Farm, and Restaurant in West Tisbury.

Nathan Gould, harvesting herbs from one of the Harborview's 11 gardens.

Nathan Gould, harvesting herbs from one of the Harborview’s 11 gardens. — Eli Dagostino

Capitalizing on the farm-to-table dining trent, Lambert’s Cove Inn proprietors Scott Jones and Kell Hicklin have taken advantage of their spacious seven and a half West Tisbury acres, and converted as much as possible into farm and garden space. Their property now includes an herb garden, several greens and vegetable beds, a coop of 50 chickens, and two (unbelievably cute and friendly) baby goats, Eva and Zsa Zsa, who are expected to start producing milk for cheese next year.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while,” Mr. Jones said of the endeavor. “We’ve just been looking for someone to help us.” When they hired chef James McDonough, formerly of the Beach Plum Inn, to take over the kitchen last season, the pieces fell into place. Mr. McDonough brought in Chris Riger as a farm and garden manager, and got planting. “We let the kitchen dictate what we planted, based on James’s menu for each season,” Mr. Jones said.

Now, the chickens are producing 35 to 40 eggs daily. Herbs and spinach have popped up, and other produce such as micro-greens, tomatoes, and berries are growing swiftly. Kitchen waste is composted and cycled back into the gardens. A greenhouse is in the works to get a head start for next season. “Anything you see on the menu that can be grown here is being grown here,” Mr. Jones said. “What we can’t produce, we buy from local farms.”

Lambert's Cove's two baby goats will start producing milk and cheese next year.

Lambert’s Cove’s two baby goats will start producing milk and cheese next year. — Kelsey Perrett

“It’s been incredible having fresh eggs, the baby spinach, the herbs,” Mr. McDonough said. “I can’t wait for the strawberries.” And the best part is: “it’s just getting going.”

In other farm-to-table news, 7a Foods has moved their farm from Aquinnah, closer to their sandwich shop and bakery in West Tisbury. “We’re starting from square one,” chef and owner Daniel Sauer said. “I’m still assessing the space and the soil, and it will probably be a while before we get anything in the ground.” That doesn’t mean 7a won’t be offering fresh and local foods this summer. Right now they are offering an Island Grown Salad featuring lettuce and cherry tomatoes from Thimble Farm, bok-choy from North Tabor, hard-boiled eggs from The Grey Barn, and radishes and herbs from Morning Glory. One dollar of every salad sold benefits Island Grown Schools.

Chef Chris Fischer has been bringing products from the five acres of Beetlebung Farm to the table at The Beach Plum Inn and Restaurant for years. The most recent harvest to make it to the menu is wild asparagus. Mr. Fischer has also started offering weekly recipe baskets: featuring Beetlebung Farm’s latest produce and other local ingredients with preparation instructions designed by the chef himself. Next week, it’s Beetlebung Farm leg of lamb marinated in Mermaid Farm yogurt, chickpea and herb salad, collard greens, and a spinach salad. So, if you don’t feel like putting pants on, you can bring the farm to your home table. The recipe serves four, though, so for the sake of your company, please reconsider those pants.

Mary Kenworth, owner of State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury, says their 3,000 square feet of gardens are delivering herbs and greens already. “Last night, I had the swordfish with our Swiss chard and romesco sauce,” Ms. Kenworth said. “It was delicious.” Her kitchen staff oversees the planting and harvesting of the three gardens on the West Tisbury property, but “it really is a team effort.” Using food from their own garden “speaks to our mission,” she said. “That’s using what’s most local, travels the least distance, requires the least processing, and tastes the freshest. It doesn’t get any fresher than than coming up from our own soil.”

At the Scottish Bakehouse in Vineyard Haven, garden manager Zephir Plume is working hard to keep their garden producing for the long haul. Ms. Plume says she has been harvesting Russian red baby kale for the last month, and turnips will turn up this week. The chefs at the Bakehouse are preparing the kale underneath a pesto chicken with mozzarella and tomato salad. “A lot of what we grow is ingredients they either use regularly in the kitchen, or that can be canned,” she said. “I know our chef is very excited about the cherry peppers. We have about 200 plants, and she has very big plans for them.” Also look out for rhubarb, strawberries, and blueberries later this season.

Henry’s Bar and Water Street at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown are reaping the bounty from the 11 raised garden beds started last season by Harbor View’s Executive Chef Nathan Gould and Jennie Slossberg of Garden Angels. Several types of edible flowers and herbs are growing, along with fennel, four types of heirloom tomatoes, a few breeds of chile peppers, parsnips, carrots, spring peas, and a full bed of strawberries.

Chef Gould says right now, he is primarily taking advantage of the “fun clipping greens,” the flowers, herbs, and other garnishes that add flare to a salad. He is looking forward to “having summer in full effect” when the tomatoes and strawberries flourish. Mr. Gould says the tomatoes make a delicious jam to serve with a cheese plate, while strawberries, which coincide with striped bass season, pair well with a crudo or sashimi with smoked salt and olive oil. “It’s exciting for any chef to try their hand in gardening,” he said. “It provides day-to-day inspiration, and allows for creativity in the menu, based on what’s growing.”

0
The Oak Bluffs Harbor is stirring to life after Memorial Day weekend with new restaurants and menu additions.

Last week, I helped edit a cool time-lapse video by Dick Iacovello, showing the Oak Bluffs harbor fill in with boats bound for Memorial Day fun. The traffic wasn’t quite heavy enough to indicate true summertime, but it was evident that something was starting to happen, the first notions of summer in Oak Bluffs bubbling up from some still very cold water. In the evening shots of the video, some friendly little lights beamed Gatsby-like across the water, reminding me that the restaurants lining the harbor had opened up, in the words of my Editor in Chief, “like tasty little clams.” So on Saturday night, I went to visit these old food-flames and find out what’s new.

Coop de Ville

The most noticeable addition to the harborfront this year is the conversion of Dinghy Dogs to a colorful food window called The Shuck Shack, owned by its neighbors at Coop de Ville. The raw bar and snack shack will have eight outdoor seats, and — take note ladies — will be run by a “handsome man named Jack,” according to manager Susie Radcliffe.

Ms. Radcliffe says specials this summer at Coop’s will include $1 littlenecks all summer, Monday lobster rolls, Tuesday “lobster fests,” and Thursday “dockside clambakes.” Coop de Ville will amp up their impressive selection of more than 100 beers with promotional events and 8 to 12 beers on tap at all times.

They are also proud to announce the new “Shuck Shack Extra Pale Ale,” made specially for Coop’s by Offshore Ale Co. Coop’s is also a hotspot for viewing the World Cup, which starts June 12. They will air coverage on three different screens, so soccer (fútbol) fans can watch in the open air. “We love being right on the water, in the sunshine where the boats dock,” Ms. Radcliffe said. “It’s a beautiful view.”

Lobsterville

The Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA, on tap at Lobsterville.

The Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA, on tap at Lobsterville. — Kelsey Perrett

“We’re starting off slow,” said manager Leslie Graham of the Lobsterville Bar and Grille, but she promises to add exciting new menu items throughout the summer. One of the newest additions is swordfish bites with a pineapple mango salsa. A tenderloin bruschetta on a tower of garlic toast is also planned, as well as a grilled artichoke and romaine salad, and lobster or crabmeat stuffed avocados on salad. Lobsterville will stay true to its name this summer, with its signature lobster-stuffed meals including grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and burgers. “We try to use anything fresh we can,” said Ms. Graham of the ingredients used in the summer menu.

On tap, Ms. Graham favors a “really nice” Allagash White Ale, a “very refreshing” Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, Sam Adams Summer, and the Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA, because “it has a really cool tap handle with a skull and crossbones.” Ms. Graham also hopes to book Island Thunder for musical performances this summer. “It’s just always buzzing,” she said of the harbor. “The water, the boats, the people, the sunsets — it’s a fun atmosphere with lots of activity.”

Nancy’s Restaurant and Snack Bar

Nancy’s, on the corner of the harbor, will stick with their menu of “standard seafood” this summer, said manager Steve Ansara, but there are a few new items hitting the harbor. For lunch, additions include a steak tip sandwich with arugula, braised onions, and tomato garlic aioli; and a pulled smoked chicken sandwich with roasted poblano slaw, onion strings, and Hoisin BBQ sauce. They have also returned the fish tacos, which Mr. Ansara called “a huge hit.”

For dinner, Nancy’s is introducing a seafood pasta with truffle cream sauce, a veggie risotto, steak tips, and a half roasted chicken with New England style gravy. Down at the snack bar, they will serve up all the old favorites plus new housemade chicken wings. The entire restaurant will feature Bad Martha’s Brewery beer this summer. On tap now: the Vineyard Summer Ale and the Island IPA. “It’s just the epicenter of Oak Bluffs,” Mr. Ansara said of the harbor. “There are two or three different styles of dining at Nancy’s depending on what you’re in the mood for, and they’re all great for people watching.”

There are a few other restaurants on the harbor readying for summer, including Fishbones Cafe, which was recently purchased by Lookout Tavern owner Michael Santoro. The crew at Fishbones isn’t ready to announce their opening quite yet, but they promise it is coming “very, very soon.” Stay tuned for Harbor Happenings, Part 2.

6
"King" Paul Domitrovich and Kathy "Lola" Domitrovich, proud owners (once again) of Lola's Southern Seafood.

Well, I’m not the world’s most passionate girl, but I do feel very enthusiastically about the way a Sunday morning should be spent. Some people go to church, I eat breakfast. The easiness of a Sunday morning, the internationally recognized day of rest, warrants a big, homestyle meal. There’s just something about a Sunday that makes it okay to eat a deep fried waffle. With a hunk of fried chicken. And half a watermelon. And two more plates worth of southern style brunch.

The staff at Lola's named this crispy Yellowtail Snapper with mango corn salsa "Pharrell" because he looked so happy sitting up on his plate.

The staff at Lola’s named this crispy Yellowtail Snapper with mango corn salsa “Pharrell” because he looked so happy sitting up on his plate. — Lola's Southern Seafood

So I’m happy to welcome Lola’s Southern Seafood back to its old home at the Island Inn in Oak Bluffs, where owner Kathy Lola Domitrovich and her husband, Paul, are serving dinner five nights a week and brunch on Sundays.

The past two summers, the restaurant was Hooked, owned by Christian and Greer Thornton of Atria. So where has Lola been all this time? In Florida, soaking up the rays and working as a restaurant consultant. “We really thought this time we were going to retire,” Ms. Domitrovich said.

But when the Thorntons decided not to return for a third season, the Domitroviches, who still owned the property, opted to bring back the old Lola’s. “We still have a lot of spirit,” Ms. Domitrovich said, on coming out of retirement. “When I’m not Lola, I’m kind of bored.”

The buffet style brunch at Lola's has everything from scrambled eggs and bacon to jambalaya and collard greens.

The buffet style brunch at Lola’s has everything from scrambled eggs and bacon to jambalaya and collard greens. — Lola's Southern Seafood

Ms. Domitrovich brought back a little of Florida back with her, in executive chef Chad Ford and sous chef Mark VanSchaick. Both men have cooked on islands in the Caribbean, and they bring a tropical flare to Lola’s Cajun-inspired menu.

“I was so tired of the same old tuna, swordfish, ribs, and chicken,” Ms. Domitrovich said. “This year, I’m going to put my money into good chefs and let them fly.” She told Mr. Ford and Mr. VanSchaick to “make it young, make it hip, twist it up, but people are still going to look for the Lola’s experience.”

And people have come looking. Out of the woodwork, actually, to see if the rumors of Lola’s reopening are true. “They’re just flipping out,” Ms. Domitrovich said of her customers. “It’s like we created this monster that we can only run.”

The new chefs at Lola's: Executive Chef Chad Ford and Sous Chef Mark VanSchaick.

The new chefs at Lola’s: Executive Chef Chad Ford and Sous Chef Mark VanSchaick. — Kelsey Perrett

Watching the customers come in to brunch on a Sunday morning is like witnessing a family reunion. “Thank God you’re back,” I heard on more than one occasion, as the old friends hug Ms. Domitrovich and shake Mr. Domitrovich’s hand. “We don’t have a restaurant,” Ms. Domitrovich said. “It’s more like coming to someone’s house.”

The social media response to the reopening has been overwhelming as well. The restaurant’s Facebook wall hosts comment such as: “The Vineyard is not the Vineyard without Lola’s,” “I was there from day one and will always be there,” and “Lola’s is back…YEAHHH!”

There are a few changes since Lola’s was last open in 2011. Mainly, the interior design, altered under Hooked’s ownership, and Mediterranean before that. The dining room is airy, light, and clean. “It looks very different,” Ms. Domitrovich said, “but it’s fabulous for weddings. I’m booking more weddings than I ever did.”

Still, Ms. Domitrovich wanted to add a bit of color, some New Orleans flare, to the place. The mural that once greeted Lola’s customers is still there, but currently hidden. “If we do expose it, we want to uncloak it with a big Lola thunder,” Ms. Domitrovich said.

In the meantime, she’s decorated the bar and dancefloor with New Orleans style art and old instruments. She started with two of Mr. Domitrovich’s old accordions. Soon, friends were digging up old guitars, trumpets, and flutes from their basements and closets. “It’s starting to look more like Lola’s,” she said.

The front dining area and the back bar will feature two distinct menus. Ms. Domitrovich says the back will harbor a more casual, local pub vibe, while the front will be more formal. Ms. Domitrovich plans to add an outdoor raw bar too, to complement the outdoor games area carried over from Hooked.

Old Lola’s standbys such as the mussels and grilled calamari will still be on the menu, but Ms. Domitrovich already has some new favorites. One creation is Mr. Ford’s stuffed lobster recipe from the Dominican Republic. He takes everything out except the claw meat, tempura fries it, tosses it in a “bangbang” sauce with a mango corn salsa, then reintroduces it to the lobster on a bed of rice with pecans and bok-choy.

Mr. Ford is also serving up a dish from Key West: yellow snapper, complete with head and bones, sitting up on a plate. “The meat just flakes off,” said Ms. Domitrovich. “It’s a really beautiful dish, so exciting looking.”

And of course, the elaborate all-you-can-eat brunch has returned for Sundays from 10:30 am to 1 pm. “Sunday brunch is right back to where it was. It’s such a local summer thing,” she said. When the brunch resumed on Mother’s Day Weekend, Ms. Domitrovich welcomed back customers that had been coming to eat there every Sunday for 20 years.

Lola’s also hosted the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s prom last weekend. Ms. Domitrovich was surprised to see some familiar faces all grown up. “The kids I employed here or who got married here 20 years ago have their own kids now. Those kids are starting to work for me,” Ms. Domitrovich said. “It’s come full circle. It’s very comforting to see.”

Overall, Ms. Domitrovich is happy with her decision to return from Florida. “It’s cold, I still have my coat on, but it’s nice to see all my old friends.”

It seems fitting to welcome Lola’s back this week, as it also marks the return of the Good Taste column in the MV Times. I’m psyched to take on this project. I’d also like to apologize for all the references to the song “Lola.” Ms. Domitrovich bears no resemblance to the cross-dressing love interest of Kink’s fame. They asked me to make the column young and hip, so of course I revolved my lede around a song from 1970. But the song simply would not stop playing on my broken internal record player. And who am I to turn down The Kinks on vinyl?

Send me your dining news and questions to kelsey@mvtimes.com.

For more information on Lola’s Southern Seafood, call 508-693-6093, visit lolasmv.com, or search Lola’s Martha’s Vineyard on Facebook.

2
Islanders are ready for the summer spots to open, such as Faith's Seafood Shack in Aquinnah.

Kaylea-MooreIt’s finally spring, though the weather doesn’t quite feel like it. For me, this time of year is about scrambling to finish the projects and accomplish the things I had planned to do over the winter. The sunshine filled days that last until seven o’clock get me excited about the summer and motivate me to stop procrastinating and finish spring cleaning. They also get me excited about my favorite restaurants opening for the season.

A Dirty Banana from Donovan's Reef at Nancy's in Oak Bluffs is a sign of summer.

A Dirty Banana from Donovan’s Reef at Nancy’s in Oak Bluffs is a sign of summer. — Photo by Kaylea Moore

April 1 is right around the corner, and so are the openings of many seasonal establishments, such as The Lampost in Oak Bluffs, with its inaugural April Fool’s Day opening. Expect to see a facelift to the façade of the Circuit Avenue institution, with the addition of patio seating and windows.

Atlantic Fish and Chop House in Edgartown will reopen on Wednesday, April 2, with the addition of a new street-side outdoor cafe section, as well as a completely private dining room that seats 12.

Chesca’s Restaurant in Edgartown celebrates its 20th season this year and opens its doors on Thursday, April 10. Be on the lookout for celebratory specials.

Coop deVille will open on April 18, and Petey says he’ll be stocking at least 100 beers this summer. And The Red Cat Kitchen at Ken ‘n’ Beck in Oak Bluffs opens Tuesday, April 15.

One of my favorite spring traditions is eating my first slice of Gio’s pizza of the season, which will happen on Thursday, April 24, when Giordano’s takeout opens.

What places are you excited about? Here’s what some Islanders had to say:

Duck confit salad from State Road Restaurant, which opens for the season on March 27.

Duck confit salad from State Road Restaurant, which opens for the season on March 27. — Photo by Kaylea Moore

“I’m really excited about most recently State Road Restaurant reopening this Thursday [March 27], and then after that The Lookout [opens April 3]. That’s a sign of the summer. The Lookout is always good because of the location, seafood, and sushi. I’m also excited for The Port Hunter to open [opens May 15]. I’m really excited about local food being served, it’s a sign of spring and summer,” says Sarah Soushek of Vineyard Haven.

“A place that I am really excited about this summer is definitely l’etoile [opens April 24]. Their desserts are really good, they’re not overdone, and the prices are right. I like the bar menu too,” says Denis Toomey of Edgartown. “I also like The Lookout, sushi is always good, and I like eating outside on the deck, seeing the boats coming in. It’s always nice to get seafood right on the water down-Island. The outdoor seating and quickness of The Net Result is always pretty good. You walk in and order, and in three minutes it comes out. I like how much they give you on the fish and chips. They give you two big solid pieces of fish, and also the fries are pretty good. Also The Port Hunter rocks.”

“I can’t wait for Faith’s Seafood Shack to open: sushi, fro yo, and really good coffee. I also long for 7a [opens April 1]. I want to sit in the sun with my coffee, see my friends, and eat my Liz Lemon sandwich. Cannot wait,” says Aretha Brown of Chilmark.

“I’m excited about being on the harbor in Oak Bluffs and just being outside more, because it’s been very cold and I’ve been hibernating,” says Elyse Madeiras of Oak Bluffs. “I like to go to Donovan’s [Reef] to visit him. I love being on the beach with friends. We always manage to go to Norton Point to cookout. The best is when everyone starts to go fishing, and we grill on the porch at my house, and quahogs, quahogs, quahogs. Quahogs for days, that’s my candy. I do miss The Lookout a lot, but definitely look forward to spending time on the harbor in Oak Bluffs, people watching and seeing everybody outside.”

Word on the street is that there will be a few surprises this summer with new restaurants opening and changes in ownership. Stay tuned for updates.

It's almost time for a Lookout Lemonade.

It’s almost time for a Lookout Lemonade. — Photo by Kaylea Moore

Noteworthy

Chef Chris Fischer of Beach Plum Inn & Food, Chef Dan Sauer of 7a Foods, and Bennett Coffey and Kyleen Keenan of Not Your Sugar Mamas are being recognized by StarChefs.com as coastal New England rising stars. They will be honored at the Rising Stars Gala on Tuesday, April 15, at the Providence Biltmore Hotel, where they will showcase their signature dishes. Tickets start at $95. For more information, visit starchefs.com.

Last call

Sadly, this will be my last article for Good Taste. It’s been a fun ride. Thank you to all who have been so encouraging, helpful, and supportive. Keep cooking, and be sure to support Island restaurants and local food.

0
Too cold to grill outside? Some grill in their wood stoves.

Kaylea-MooreIt is March on Martha’s Vineyard, the awkward month that yields snow yet is the gateway to spring, the month that plays host to daylight savings and the vernal equinox. This time of year confuses me: one day I’m scraping the snow off of my car and the next I’m driving with my sunroof open. This confusion extends to other aspects of Island living. Constant questions flow through my head, such as what time does the library open? Is the dump closed on Tuesday? Arbitrary hours of operation continuously haunt me while I try to open locked doors and peer into dark establishments wondering why they are closed on Monday. Some restaurants have taken a brief hiatus; while others such as Copper Wok in Vineyard Haven will have its grand opening this weekend (check out their Facebook page for opening party information).

March is full of random holidays and national days that celebrate things like potato chips, clams on the half shell, and peanut butter lovers’. March is also national frozen food month, so be on the lookout for coupons for your favorite frozen treats. But above all, March is the month to make your own fun. Why not find an excuse to celebrate and host a party. I love throwing dinner parties, and I think that they are way more fun when there is a theme involved.

Here is some inspiration to make the month of March a little more exciting.

Keep celebrating Fat Tuesday this weekend with a Mardi Gras party. Bring the French Quarter to your house with purple, green, and gold beads and feathery masks. Create a menu full of Cajun and Creole flavors featuring dishes like gumbo or étouffée, beignets, po’boys, muffuletta, and a king cake (don’t forget the baby). Sip on Sazeracs or Hurricanes and play some zydeco and your favorite brass band music.

Make your friends do some of the work by throwing a potluck party. It’s always fun to choose a country or region and have guests bring a dish they’ve created inspired by that location. Another fun way to host a potluck party is through a cooking contest. During past holidays my family would decide on a dish and have everyone take their best go at it. For the pizza competition, my father’s shrimp pesto pizza still reigns supreme.

Last year, on a ski trip I went on, there was some serious competition in the kitchen. The first night was a meatball contest, where people brought meatballs already made and everyone voted on which they liked best. Another night was devoted to the game “Stir Crazy” where two teams battled it out in the kitchens to create an Asian inspired appetizer, entrée, and side dish with pre-selected ingredients and no recipes. For your own “Iron Chef” or “Chopped” experience, have guests bring random ingredients and collaboratively make a meal together or divide into teams and throw down.

Expand your wine knowledge by having a wine tasting party. Invite guests to bring a bottle of red or white wine, depending on which varietals you want to try. Put bottles into brown paper lunch bags and fasten using a rubber band or twine. Judge the wine based on its characteristics, and try to determine its value, region, and varietal.

Plan your next party around a game night featuring poker, Monopoly, or good old-fashioned charades and create no-mess finger foods that are easy to pop in your mouth between turns (you don’t want sticky cards). Or whip up some Super Bowl inspired snacks to watch during a March Madness game.

Keep dinner parties simple by creating one pot meals such as pasta, risotto, or jambalaya or throw something in the slow cooker like pulled pork. I love serving dishes that are interactive, that guests can participate in creating such as personal pizzas or tacos and chili that can be doctored with toppings of choice. The same topping bar idea holds true for dessert, where build-your-own ice cream sundaes are always a crowd pleaser (make sure to have chocolate chip cookies or brownies on hand).

It’s always fun to celebrate a food or ingredient and make it the center of attention at a dinner party. I have attended parties that have celebrated crabs, oysters, lobster, scallops, and bacon. Choose something that is in season or that is fun to cook with and create a menu that highlights the ingredient in each dish that you serve.

Themes can focus on food or on cooking methods. Recently, a friend fired up his wood stove for some winter grilling of New York strip steaks. It was a fun conversation piece and warm spot for people to congregate. Try your hand at an outdoor smoker or just in time for St. Patrick’s Day fix your friends a boiled dinner to serve with green beer.

Parties don’t have to be limited to evenings. One of my favorite parties to host when living in Boston was a Sunday brunch. I would do most of the cooking the night before and serve items such as stratas or frittatas, muffins, roasted vegetables, prosciutto, fruit, mimosas, and bloody Marys. Most of my friends lived walking distance from my house and it was always a fun way to start off the day.

We shouldn’t need excuses to get together during the winter and spend time with friends. Get out of the house, plan a party, attend a party, or check out a restaurant you haven’t been to. Make haste, summer will be here before we know it.

On that note, Dairy Queen in Edgartown opens Tuesday, March 11.

1
Josh Aronie, chef, framed by the door of The Food Truck in front of the Chilmark Store.

The Food Truck, operated by Josh Aronie, formerly of the Menemsha Café in Chilmark and Café Moxie in Vineyard Haven, celebrates its one-month anniversary this week. Parked in front of the Chilmark General Store, you can’t miss this mobile hotspot on State Road in Chilmark, serving food from 10:30 am to 2 pm, Mondays through Fridays.

Most of the menu items are $10 and under, and they change daily. Past offerings have included chili, chicken tacos, meatloaf sandwich, pulled pork, chili dogs, lemon rosemary French fries, and soups such as mushroom, kale, and carrot ginger. Don’t miss out on the fresh baked cookies and coffee from the Chilmark Coffee Company.

This past Monday I visited the truck, enjoyed a falafel salad, and asked Mr. Aronie a few questions.

The Food Truck is open rain, snow, or shine. "We've been open throughout everything," Josh Aronie said.

The Food Truck is open rain, snow, or shine. “We’ve been open throughout everything,” Josh Aronie said. — Photo by Chuck Sullivan

What has been your most memorable day so far?

I think it was the day that we had to close the windows half way because the snow and rain were coming in, snowflakes sizes of golf balls were coming in through the window. It was probably one of the most memorable. We’ve been open throughout everything. We are a little like the post office only we are getting it done.

How late in the season will you be open and what are your plans after you close?

Right now this is pretty much just until the middle of April, and then I haven’t really made my decision on what I’m doing going beyond that.

How do you come up with items you are going to serve? Does it change daily?

We always have the breakfast burrito [made with local eggs], the falafel [served as a wrap or salad], and the chicken sandwich, and then we try to put in one or two fluctuating sandwiches or specials. Today we have the veg wrap and American chop suey. With the American chop suey we kept getting requests for it so we thought, let’s just do it, we’ll see how it goes. We know that some of the guys up here that work in the town like it. It’s actually sold pretty well today. And the veg wrap always sells well. We just go by the feel of people.

How is cooking in a food truck different than your experience cooking in a restaurant kitchen?

It’s kind of nice because it is tight and limited and you can’t do as much, so you kind of get to focus a little more, but it’s definitely limiting at times. We are far from our home base, so when we are out of food, we are out of food, we don’t have an option.

Have you run out before?

We’ve run out of a few things here and there, but we usually try to over pack. There have been days when we didn’t expect to do as many people as we did, and it’s really hard to predict how many people will show up.

A falafel salad, a regular offering at The Food Truck.

A falafel salad, a regular offering at The Food Truck. — Photo By Kaylea Moore

What is the most popular item on the menu?

The chicken sandwich is definitely the number one seller, though the falafel is pretty close, but I would say definitely the chicken sandwich, we probably do somewhere around 40 a day.

Can people call ahead for big orders?

Yes, or even for single orders. The phone number is designed more for texting than calling. We are hoping that they will see the menu online or through Twitter or whatever and order ahead of time. It helps us to be prepared especially when a lot of the construction workers are up here and they don’t have the time to be waiting around, so we try to go as fast as we can.

Any new specials on the horizon?

We’ve been using some of the old standbys that we had from the Menemsha Café. We will probably do a sausage sub and a steak and cheese. We are going to do a burger tomorrow [this past Tuesday]. We are playing it by ear, we are going by how much we sell. If we’re sold out of something, then we need to make something new tomorrow.

Are you having a good time doing it?

Yeah, it’s fun.

Visit The Food Truck Facebook page or follow them on twitter @thefoodtruckmv for the daily menu. To order ahead, call or text: 508-560-5581. The Food Truck is cash only.

1
Chocolate mascarpone tart with pistachios in olive oil from "The A.O.C. Cookbook."

SS_Kaylea Moore-webI have always eaten copious amounts of cake during the month of February. As a child, I may have been on a permanent sugar high for 28-29 days in a row. February kicks off with my mother’s and brother’s birthdays two days apart, which equaled cake for a week, with all of the leftovers. Valentine’s Day usually brought some sort of confection: cupcakes, chocolates, or a combination of both. One week later, my birthday resulted in two cakes, one to be eaten with my family and one for my usually themed party. Classmates’ and friends’ birthdays brought more cake into my belly. I would consume it right until last day of the month, at my friend Catie’s birthday, who was born on leap year.

Some say that cakes are served at special occasions because they represent the pinnacle of culinary talent, and only the best should be served during a celebration. Traditionally, cakes were made from ingredients that were expensive and difficult to obtain, (such as sugar and spices) and could only be afforded once or twice a year. They have long been associated with ceremonial occasions such as weddings and birthdays, and have become an integral component of these rituals. To this day, my mother insists that you eat cake and blow out candles on your birthday.

With my big day quickly approaching, I have received multiple phone calls from my parents asking what kind of cake I want. It got me thinking about the cakes that I have eaten and made over the years, and which I enjoyed the most.

Buying Cakes

There was the Nickelodeon green slime cake that my friend Alison had at one of her birthdays: whipped cream sandwiched between yellow cake, topped with vanilla pudding dyed green with food coloring. October meant a Dairy Queen ice cream cake at Erin’s party, a favorite of mine, with the chocolate cookie crumbs and gel icing. In high school, Eleni would get a strawberry white chocolate cake from M.V. Gourmet Café & Bakery in Oak Bluffs, topped with glistening strawberries and white chocolate stalagmites, a tradition that still exists today.

Over the years I have eaten my fair share of Black Dog Bakery creations, including their trademark “Triple Chocolate Mousse” majesty of white, milk, and dark chocolate mousse, whipped cream and chocolate ganache. Or the “Black-Out” Cake: dense chocolate cake with fudge and chocolate frosting, topped with chocolate cake cubes and powdered sugar. And, of course, their moist, dense traditional birthday cakes enveloped by rich buttercream.

Many birthday meals have ended with confections from Cakes by Liz. Past favorites include white cake with hazelnut crunch filling and a raspberry frangipane tart. Last year I remember drooling over Leslie Hewson’s pineapple upside down cake at a co-worker’s birthday. I have heard great things about the custom made cakes from Scottish Bakehouse — I’m excited to try their pumpkin cake with caramel cream cheese frosting and their pineapple cake with coconut frosting.

Bake your cake and eat it too

I love the challenge of baking a cake, and I’m not talking about with help from Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker. Here is a peek into the process of mastering the art of cake making (or at least my adventures along the way):

bouche de noel.jpgIn culinary school, we were asked to make a buche de noel, the classic French rolled cake decorated to resemble a Yule log. I remember it taking forever, baking the chocolate genoise sponge cake, melting the chocolate with hot cream for the ganache, whipping the coffee Swiss buttercream, making and assembling the meringue mushrooms, and decorating the cake. But it was so much fun to make, reminiscent of arts and crafts as a youngster.

Chocolate Macadamia Cream Satin.JPGThis Christmas, I decided to try and conquer a cake that I have wanted to make for 20 years. I flipped to the back of my parents’ dog-eared, stained copy of “Mrs. Field’s Cookie Book.” There it was — the chocolate macadamia cream satin cake — what I’d considered the most magical of desserts as a child. The labor-intensive recipe took all day to make and was a disappointment to me, after spending years of fawning over the glossy photo, but at least my parents liked it.

The thing with making a cake is it’s not just one or two steps. You usually have to bake the cake, let it cool, make the filling and frosting, assemble, then frost and decorate it, and sometimes, refrigerate it for multiple hours.

In one of my articles from last year, Liz Kane of Cakes by Liz gave great advice to home cooks looking to make the perfect cake. She said, “don’t try to make a cake and ice it all in the same day. Putting it in the freezer for a couple of days adds moisture.” Then you frost it.

Unfortunately, I have yet to take Ms. Kane’s advice. I spend the whole day slaving in the kitchen over a recipe I swear said took one hour to make, but doesn’t account for letting the cake cool or refrigerating the filling for two hours.

This happened to me again, two weeks ago. My mother is obsessed with mascarpone cheese, so for her birthday I decided to make her a chocolate mascarpone tart with pistachios in olive oil, a recipe from “The A.O.C. Cookbook.” The four-page recipe should have been an indicator that I needed more than the time that I allocated, but it didn’t look too difficult.

Another tip: read the recipe and ingredients carefully before you make it. I didn’t account for how long it would take to roll out the dough, form it in the tart pan, bake, and cool it. Or the amount of time it took to unwrap and chop bars of chocolate and shell almost a cup of pistachios.

Chocolate mascarpone tart.JPGThe tart was a bit weepy; it should have had a few more hours to set in the refrigerator, but I was at the birthday candles’ beck and call. It ended up being a new and interesting dessert that my mother said she enjoyed, and that’s what mattered.

So for you amateur cake makers, learn from my mistakes. Make sure to read and re-read the recipe and make the cake the day before. If it is a disaster, at least you’ll have time to run to one of our great Island bakeries for some reinforcements.

Layer cake tips

Cakes tend to dome when you bake them, so after they have cooled, make them level by cutting off the tops with a serrated knife. This will prevent a lopsided cake. When the cakes have been leveled, and the cut side of the bottom cake is topped with filling, invert the cakes on top of each other — so that the cut sides are facing each other — and brush off any loose crumbs. Next is a thin coat of icing called a crumb coat. Use an offset spatula to apply a small amount of icing all over the cake, to lock in the crumbs. Freeze the cake until the icing is set and then frost with remaining icing. This will leave you with a smooth surface.

0
Susie Middleton of Green Island Farm in West Tisbury has a new book, "Fresh From the Farm."

SS_Kaylea Moore-webDuring the winter we yearn for bursting cherry tomatoes, snappy green beans, sweet golden kernels of corn, and earthy fingerling potatoes. Our minds and appetites are filled with the not-too-distant memories of crisp apples and wrinkled squash and we look forward to the future arrival of vibrant peas and syrupy strawberries. One flip through Susie Middleton’s new cookbook, “Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories,”gets you in the mood for foods from any season.

Part cookbook, part memoir, “Fresh from the Farm” chronicles the adventures in farming and cooking that Ms. Middleton shares with her partner, Roy Riley, his daughter Libby, and their rescue black Lab named Farmer, as well as the parade of various critters and creatures along the way. The book is full of seasonal recipes highlighting fresh local food all year long and features breakfast items, soups, salads, veggie centric sides, hearty main dishes, and desserts.

This is the third book for Ms. Middleton, who moved to Martha’s Vineyard in January 2008 after living in Connecticut for 11 years and acting as editor-in-chief of Fine Cooking Magazine (she is now editor at large for the magazine). Ms. Middleton had previously visited the Island in the summer and fall, and when she decided to go on sabbatical she knew exactly where she wanted to be.

Ms. Middleton's colorful of deviled eggs.

Ms. Middleton’s colorful of deviled eggs. — Photo by Alexandra Grablewski

“Something just resonated with me, in terms of the natural beauty and peace of the Island,” she said. “I really don’t know why I came here in the middle of the winter, but I really needed to decompress. So I came here to relax and start writing.” Her first cookbook, “Fast, Fresh & Green,” dedicated to preparing vegetables using easy cooking techniques to develop complex flavors, was born that winter on the Island.

Like most wash-a-shores who decide to brave the offseason, Ms. Middleton was hooked; she had found a place to put down roots. She was introduced to farmers and people involved with the local food system on the Island. “I had this longing to connect better to the source of my food,” she said. “I got out here and was in awe of what people were doing to support local food.” And that’s when the transformation began.

First it was with a tiny vegetable garden, then she met a boy named Roy, actually a man, who is a builder and carpenter, and they decided to rent a plot at Native Earth Teaching Farm in Chilmark to use as a market garden. Next came a 19th century farmhouse, and a little farm stand built by Roy using salvaged materials. Fifty chickens arrived, and a bigger market garden was planted. Then came 200 laying hens, followed by 300 more, a hoop house, and tilled fields ready to be sown. Green Island Farm was open for business.

“The Fresh & Green Table,” Ms. Middleton’s second cookbook, moved vegetables to the center of the plate, making them the main attraction of the meal. In “Fresh from the Farm,” vegetables still play a starring role, but they are supported by meat and fish.

“Vegetables are so versatile and incredibly fun to cook with,” she said. “For me they are more creative than meat is. While I like meat, I think vegetables are beautiful, the colors, the textures, the flavors. I try to bring my enthusiasm for them and I try to create vegetable dishes that everybody is going to like.”

Ms. Middleton and Mr. Riley pride themselves on their award-winning blue ribbon green beans, cherry tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, lettuce and salad mixes, as well as baby bok choy, peas, and playful veggie varieties like fairy tale eggplant. And of course their eggs, which they sell at their farm stand 365 days a year, and which are also available at Up-Island Cronig’s.

 

Gingery strawberry rhubarb crisp, made by Ms. Middleton.

Gingery strawberry rhubarb crisp, made by Ms. Middleton. — Photo by Alexandra Grablewski

“One day you wake up and your fantasy has become reality, and you are more surprised than anyone at what you’ve managed to pull off,” she writes in the introduction to “Fresh from the Farm.” Her journey and transition from writer and trained chef, to market gardener and then to farmer, is told in a story that borders the recipes and photos of the farm and her food, photos taken by herself and photographer Alexandra Grablewski. Cooks’ tips are scattered throughout the pages, teaching the reader how to boil eggs and what to substitute for ingredients they may not have on hand.

The 125 accessible recipes have been tested by a home cook as well as a professional chef, using both fresh vegetables off the farm and those found in the grocery store. The recipes feature food harvested from the farm, focusing on eggs, berries, and vegetables.

“My recipes are detailed but designed to work; people will want to cook them again,” Ms. Middleton said. “There are still some trademark-Susie really killer vegetable focused dishes, but it also has a really good meatloaf, French toast with berry syrup, a roasted tomato rustic tart, and all kinds of fun stuff.”

Deciding what to write for the book was easy. “I think cookbooks have to be personal, there has to be something really close to your heart, that you’re either living or doing well that’s different,” she said. “We’re living this incredible story, creating this small farm out of nothing, having a total blast doing it — and it’s becoming our lives.”

Ms. Middleton will speak about her new cookbook on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 3 pm at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven. Enjoy an author’s talk, cooking demonstration, drinks, and a tasting of recipes from her cookbook.

Green Island Farm is located down a dirt road directly across from the new Ag Hall on State Road in West Tisbury. Look for the chalkboard sign. The farm stand is open seven days a week from 8 am to 7 pm.

Visit sixburnersue.com for more information on Susie Middleton and Green Island Farm.

 

Susie’s favorites

Favorite recipes from “Fresh from the Farm”: The farmhouse French toast with backyard berry syrup. It means a lot to me that every Sunday Libby asks for that and we sit at our little table in our tight kitchen after chores and eat it. It’s family time, I love the fact that I’m able to make recipes that Libby asks for and enjoys and that we get to share at the table together as a family.

A little more complicated but also really delicious is the Summer Veggie-Palooza Paella. A good friend of mine is married to a Spaniard, and she taught me to make authentic paella. It’s so fun and so delicious. She came up to the farm with her kids and made it and Roy fell in love with it. I decided for the book to honor that great memory, of Sarah making it for us and plunking it down in the middle of the table and everyone sharing from the pan which is the tradition with paella.

Favorite cooking technique: Roasting really concentrates the flavor of vegetables. Caramelizing brings out subtle flavors. It’s a great way to preserve vegetables. Roasted tomatoes are my favorite.

Favorite ingredient: Other than garlic, fresh ginger, and lemon and lime zest for perking up a vegetable dish. I’m really big on using a little acid on most vegetables, caramelizing them and hitting them with vinegar or lemon juice. It’s the sweet tart thing.

Favorite kitchen tool: Circulon non-stick stir frying pan. It has a bowl shape with surface area that can brown and steam at the same time. If you cut vegetables small, you can make delicious dishes quickly with only a little oil and high heat. It’s good for grain dishes like fried rice. I also love my Kyocera ceramic knife.

Favorite cookbook: I grew up on “The Joy of Cooking” and “The Silver Palate Cookbook,” but I love British cookbooks right now, they are doing really cool things with vegetables. “River Cottage Veg” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, “Tender” by Nigel Slater, and “Plenty”by Yotam Ottolenghi are a few favorites.

 

Roasted Beet "Jewels" made with cranberries, toasted pecans, and balsamic butter.

Roasted Beet “Jewels” made with cranberries, toasted pecans, and balsamic butter. — Photo by Alexandra Grablewski

Recipe: Roasted Beet “Jewels” with Cranberries, Toasted Pecans, and Balsamic Butter

Serves 4

This easy and delicious side dish is a great way to introduce people to roasted beets — or beets in general. You’ll love it, too, because the small-diced beets cook in only 25 minutes — no boiling or long, slow roasting here. This is also the kind of dish that’s as nice in winter as it is in summer. If you can find golden beets, use a mix of colors here. Or you can also substitute carrots for half of the beets.

Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, 2014, from Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories (The Taunton Press)

1 1/2 pounds beets (preferably half red and half golden), topped and tailed but not peeled

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

1 tbs orange juice

1 tbs seedless red raspberry jam

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and chilled

1/4 cup very finely chopped dried cranberries

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

small fresh parsley or mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Heat the oven to 450°F. Cover two heavy-duty sheet pans with parchment paper. Keeping the red and golden beets separate (if using both colors), cut them into medium-small dice (no more than about ½ inch). Put each color in a bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Transfer each bowl of beets to separate sheet pans and spread in one layer. Roast until the veggies are tender and shrunken, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Put the orange juice, raspberry jam, and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir or whisk continuously until the jam is completely melted and the sauce is slightly more viscous (it may be steaming, but it should not boil), about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the cold butter. Swirl the pan until the butter is melted and the sauce is slightly creamy. Add the cranberries and thyme and stir. Pour and scrape the balsamic butter with the cranberries over the roasted beets and mix and toss gently. Add most of the pecans and stir gently again. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining nuts and herb leaves (if using).

0
Oysters, oysters, oysters will tempt tasters at Wednesday's benefit for the M.V. Shellfish Group and the Edgartown Growers Assoc. at the Harbor View Hotel.

SS_Kaylea Moore-webFebruary is one of those months when people don’t want to leave their house. They hunker down with stocked fridges and pantries and catch up on past seasons of hit T.V. shows, bestselling books, and Oscar-nominated movies.

People claim that there’s nothing to do on Martha’s Vineyard in the winter, that it’s too cold to go outside, that the light dusting of snow prohibits them from driving for the rest of the day. But the reason why a lot of us choose to live here is because we like being part of our small Island community. During the winter, various organizations and groups make sure there are plenty of activities to keep Island living vibrant. There are also numerous fundraisers and benefits that count on the support of the community.

Make February the month to try something new. Check out all the Island has to offer, and be on the lookout for community events centered around the Olympics, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, or Black History Month. Here is just a selection of what’s happening in the next week.

Local Farmer’s Brunch

This Sunday, Feb. 9, from 10 am to 1 pm, join Island farmers over brunch at the Chilmark Community Center to hear tales about the joys and challenges of raising food on Martha’s Vineyard. This intimate event, hosted by Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard, will feature local ingredients paired with stories from local farmers. All you can eat offerings include organic buckwheat waffles, greens, frittata from Island eggs, Mermaid Farm yogurt, Massachusetts apple crisp, and Chilmark Coffee. The feast of local food will be served from 10 to 10:45 am.

Featured farmers who will share their stories include Jim Athearn of Morning Glory Farm and Liz Packer of SBS, who will speak on family farming; Richard Andre of Cleveland Farm who will talk about poultry processing and slaughtering; and Mike Holtham of Menemsha Fish House who will address the farmers of the sea.

This is a zero waste event, so make sure to bring your own plate, mug, utensils, and napkin. The cost for the brunch is $12 per person, $10 if you are a Slow Food member. To purchase tickets in advance, visit slowfoodmarthasvineyard.org.

Calling all oyster lovers

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, head to the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown at 6 pm for Romancing the Oyster, a benefit for the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group and the Edgartown Growers Association.

Executive chef Nathan Gould will create oyster inspired dishes highlighting this treasure from the waters of Martha’s Vineyard. There will be a buffet as well as passed hors d’oeuvres and for the purists, more than five raw bars. Meet your local growers and help support the shellfish industry on the Island. The cost is $45 per person and $80 per couple. Tickets are available at romancingtheoyster.brownpapertickets.com.

Valentine’s Day staycations

Many restaurants and hotels are offering special menus and overnight packages for Valentine’s Day. Here is just a selection:

Visit Water Street at The Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown for a three-course dinner and overnight stay on Friday, Feb. 14. The indulgent menu, created by executive chef Nathan Gould, features a choice of appetizers, entrées, and desserts with ingredients ranging from oysters and sous-vide local lobster, to porcini-dusted petit rib eye and pan roasted pork tenderloin. For dessert, make the tough choice between the pastry chef’s “tasting for two” of chocolate macaroons, mousse, and truffles; or the tasting of sorbets and chocolates. Dinner is $48 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Those wanting to make a night of it can reserve a guest room starting $179, which includes Valentine’s Day dinner for two. For more information, call 508-627-3761.

Stay the night at the Hob Knob in Edgartown on Valentine’s Day and enjoy a three-course dinner. The menu features celery root veloute, local bay scallops and saffron, surf and turf of petite prime filet with exotic mushroom ragout, Menemsha lobster ravioli, and warm chocolate cake with strawberry gelato and almond brittle.

Seatings begin at 6 pm. The cost for dinner is $75 per person, excluding liquor, tax, and gratuity. Or make it an overnight affair. Purchase a room for the night and for an additional $150 per couple, enjoy dinner for two, and welcome amenities including six roses, a split of Champagne, and oysters on the half shell. For reservations, call 508-627-9510. For more information, visit hobknob.com.