Good Taste

Our seasonal favorites will be here before you know it.

Fresh seafood from Home Port Restaurant. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

We’ve been getting warmer weather — up to an incredible 50° last week! Even though some of the ground is still covered in slush, we can finally start dreaming of spring and summer as a reality. We can start visualizing those afternoons with iced coffees while walking around town, and fantasizing about outdoor date nights at local restaurant patios. And to make your dreams come true, we’re providing our (soon to be reality) dream bucket list. Perfect whether you’re an Islander that’s a regular at most of these restaurants, or a recent washashore wanting to discover the culinary community on Martha’s Vineyard: This list will get you salivating for what’s to come.

The Atlantic — Lobster Arugula Salad

Oh, how we can’t wait to sit on the deck of the Atlantic and bask in the sunlight while sipping on a cool cocktail and eating their refreshing Lobster Arugula Salad. Tossed in a strawberry vinaigrette and sprinkled with cranberries, walnuts, and fresh lobster meat, it’s the perfect meal to welcome spring. (Reopening April 1)

Détente — Peach and Taleggio Salad

Another favorite salad of ours, but for this Peach and Taleggio salad, we’re going to have to wait for those plump, juicy summer peaches to ripen. This salad is a must-have at Détente, where the sweet peaches are topped with warm, melted Taleggio cheese and topped with greens. (Reopening in May)

Right Fork Diner — Crab Cake Sandwich

One of our favorite spots for lunch once the weather warms up, it’s the spot to watch the biplanes take off and land while enjoying this delicious Crab Cake Sandwich, made with sweet crabmeat and very few fillers for that true crab flavor. (Reopening May 15)

Lure Grill — Lobster Pot Pie

If you have reservations at the Lure restaurant at the Winnetu Resort, you definitely must take the water taxi out there. A 20-minute boat ride in the sunshine while having the best view of the harbor is just the way to start your dinner date. Make sure to try their Lobster Pot Pie, where creamy lobster filling meets light and airy puff pastry topping. (Lure reopening April 18, water-taxi service begins June 10)

Lookout Tavern — Sushi

Craving sushi on-Island? Head to Oak Bluffs and give the sushi at the Lookout Tavern a try! It’s fresh, and the combinations are delicious and impressive, just like you would find on the mainland. (Reopening April 2)

Beetlebung Lounge — Eastern Soup Tasting

We know, you can’t stand to think of another soup after such a long winter of warm soups and stews, but we promise you that this soup tasting, which includes Malaysian coconut laksa, Thai lobster bisque, and Indian dahl, will blow your winter taste buds away! Also one of our favorite restaurants for small plates and sharing with friends. (Reopening to be announced)

Home Port Restaurant — Fresh seafood

Yes, the trip up-Island is worth it. Yes, that view will make anything taste amazing. We can’t wait to order anything from the takeout window at the Home Port and bring it over to the beach. Digging our toes into the warm sand and watching the sunset while eating fresh seafood is what summer is all about. (Reopening in May)

The Port Hunter — Mexican Street Corn

Raise your hand if you anxiously await the harvest for Morning Glory’s summer corn: We sure do, and once the Port Hunter staff get their hands on that magnificent corn, they create their Mexican Street Corn: layers of queso fresco, fresh cilantro, and mayonnaise make this summer in a bite. (Reopening in May)

Back Door Donuts —- Bacon Maple Donut

Hey, we love being tourists for a day and making that endless line in Oak Bluffs for warm, decadent doughnuts like Back Door Donuts’ Bacon Maple Donut. Maybe this summer they’ll come up with an even more exciting flavor? Wait … what’s more exciting than a bacon doughnut!? (Reopening in April)

Tweet us at @GoodTasteMV and @nella22 and let us know what you’re excited to taste this upcoming spring and summer 2015!

What’s the difference?

Warm up with some hot chocolate, or hot cocoa, while the weather still warrants it. – Photo courtesy of

During these cold winter months, I’m going to bet, your hot beverage consumption has gone up. Whether it’s tea, hot chocolate, coffee, or hot cocoa — we’re drinking gallons more of it. Did you notice how I mentioned both hot chocolate and hot cocoa? It’s not a typo; they are two distinct things. These two recipes are not the same, and we’re going to dive into the world of their differences.

Legally, there is no difference, and brands can label their products interchangeably, but historically and methodically, there are definite distinctions.

Hot cocoa is a thin, chocolate-flavored drink that’s made with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. Some hot cocoa mixes have dried milk powder integrated, so they can also be made with hot water: Think Swiss Miss (even though the box says “hot chocolate,” hence my earlier point about labeling).

Unlike hot cocoa, however, hot chocolate (also referred to as sipping or drinking chocolate), is traditionally made from actual chocolate. Whether using a chopped chocolate bar, ground-up chocolate, or chocolate shavings, it results in a thicker beverage. Much richer than hot cocoa, due to the high fat content of chocolate, hot chocolate is a creamy, almost decadent beverage. Both hot cocoa and hot chocolate can be flavored in a variety of ways, such as with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or vanilla extract.

Hot Cocoa

Serves 2

2 cups milk

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

Simmer milk until hot and then quickly whisk in the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and cinnamon stick. Turn down heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until everything is dissolved and incorporated. Serve immediately.

Rich Hot Chocolate

Serves 2

2 cups milk

1 8 oz. chocolate bar, or ¾ cup chocolate chips

2 Tbsps. granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. cornstarch whisked into 2 Tbsps. hot water*

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

Simmer the milk until warm, and add the chocolate and sugar. Whisk until chocolate is melted, then quickly whisk in cornstarch mixture, vanilla, and cinnamon. Turn heat to high, and quickly bring to a boil. Serve immediately.

* Note: Adding cornstarch thickens the hot chocolate even more, making for a decadent winter treat!

On-Island, Mocha Motts makes a delicious hot cocoa with whipped cream; Black Dog Bakery creates its own housemade cocoa mix; and Espresso Love has a hot chocolate all its own, with Monin USA dark chocolate sauce and steamed milk. Go forth and conquer those hot chocolates and hot cocoas of the Island and beyond, before the snow melts and we’re back to craving the cold, refreshing goodness of a chocolate shock from Slice of Life.

Local restaurants satisfy Sunday-morning cravings.

A “Bozo on the Bus” from Black Dog Tavern. —Photo by Michael Cummo

If anything can get me through this winter, it’s going to brunch. Brunch is the one time it’s acceptable to have mimosas and bloody marys before noon on a Sunday. And for those of us who love to sleep in, we can can still wake up in time for our favorite weekend meal.

But where did brunch come from? Were breakfast and lunch not enough for us hungry people? Well, as is the case with many other food stories, historians can’t seem to agree on where or how it originated. Three of the most popular theories are: It was rooted in England’s hunt breakfasts of lush, endless courses; it derived from Catholics fasting before Mass, coming together for a big Sunday meal afterward; it started in New York City, considering the rich history of brunch items that were created there. But no matter where brunch comes from, I’m just happy it’s here.

Brunch is a great meal to connect with friends, come out of hibernation, and relax while having a great meal off-season. Wondering where you can congregate during these winter months? Check out our list of trusted brunch spots on-Island.

Park Corner Bistro in Oak Bluffs: Make your way to this Sunday brunch haunt, and start your meal with a freshly squeezed blood orange mimosa. People rave about almost everything on their menu. (Serving from 11 am – 2:30 pm)

Oysters complement a Water Street brunch at the Harbor View Hotel. – Photo by Eli Dagostino
Oysters complement a Water Street brunch at the Harbor View Hotel. – Photo by Eli Dagostino

Water Street at Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown: This is probably the only spot serving brunch 52 Sundays a year on the Vineyard; it’s a seasonally inspired brunch with everything from cheese platters to made-to-order omelets, prime rib, and more. (Serving from 10:30 am – 2:00 pm)

Lucky Hank’s in Edgartown: Back from a short winter break, they offer a variety of breakfast items like local cod cakes and eggs, crepes, and eggs Benedict, among other tasty offerings. (Serving from 8 am – 2:30 pm)

Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven: The latest brunch you could have if you’re still in bed at 3 pm (which is a separate story in itself). Classics like their Fishcake Supreme — poached eggs on a fish cake with Black Dog marinara — are bound to get you out of bed earlier! (Serving from 7:00 am – 4:00 pm; lunch items start at 11 am)

Little House Cafe in Vineyard Haven: This is the brunch for those of you too busy on Sunday morning: They serve it on Saturdays! Definitely the place to go for delicious pancakes served with Northern Lights Farm maple syrup, making it a sweet start to your weekend. (Saturday brunch served from 7:30 am – 11 am; restaurant reopens March 2)

Scottish Bakehouse in West Tisbury: If a burger for brunch is your thing, you can’t afford to miss out on “The Local,” featuring local farm-raised beef. Their breakfast burrito is also a must-try; order it with linguiça and sriracha if you like it hot. There’s not much seating in the winter months, but take it to go and you’ll be glad you did. (Serving 6:30 am – 5:30 pm)

7aFoods in West Tisbury: More of an early Sunday-morning breakfast option. Head up-Island for one of their famously delicious egg sandwiches on a homemade biscuit. It’s worth the drive, I promise. (Serving from 7 am – 11 am; restaurant reopens March 10)

State Road restaurant in West Tisbury: Their famous brunch pulls out all the stops. There are ricotta pancakes with blueberries, or their heavenly brioche French toast with maple-glazed apples, if you want something sweet. If savory is your thing, their Sunday hash changes weekly, but is consistently delicious. (Serving from 8 am – 2 pm; restaurant reopens at the end of March)

There you have it — two months of brunch options to get you through the rest of the off-season. It’s a great way to start a Sunday for anyone, unless you’re a chef — because after a busy Saturday night, no chef wants to get up early to create a lavish meal for several hours. So don’t be too fussy at brunch, and be ever so grateful for that bottomless cup of coffee.

Celebratory food options on-Island and at home.

Five-Minute Wonton Soup is packed with flavor, including ginger, cilantro, and soy sauce. – Photo by Liz Della Croce

2015, the Year of the Sheep, is upon us, per the Chinese zodiac. Years of the sheep include 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, and 2015. Known as calm and peaceful people, those born in the year of the sheep tend to be private, and prefer to not be the center of attention. They tend to be healthier, focusing on eating greens and less red meat than others. If you’re looking to celebrate the Chinese New Year, we’ve put together a short list of restaurants where you can celebrate deliciously!

First up, a popular favorite of locals and visitors alike, is Copper Wok Pan Asian House and Sushi Bar in Vineyard Haven. Start your meal with pork dumplings, either fried or steamed, and stuffed with spicy pork and vegetables, served with a bright citrus-soy ponzu sauce. If it’s a chilly winter day, we recommend a bowl of their hot and sour soup, packed with cabbage, bamboo, black mushrooms, bell peppers, and a splash of red vinegar. Not too hungry? This soup serves as a great entrée, since the portions are plentiful. To celebrate the Chinese New Year and keep with tradition, order the house special lo mein cooked with flavorful Chinese sausage, chicken, and shrimp. Eating noodles during this time is said to be good luck. Just make sure to keep the noodles long, to represent a lengthy life ahead!

For those craving Chinese food in Edgartown, you can head to the China House, a local staple, across the street from the Stop and Shop. Warm up with their egg drop soup or take advantage of their lunch specials, which offer a great deal for anyone looking to satisfy Asian food cravings.

Need another option? Peking Palace in Falmouth offers delivery to the Island via the Steamship Authority. For an extra $10, they will deliver your food all the way to Vineyard Haven Harbor. The logistics are as follows: Delivery is offered Monday through Friday, three times a day. Order with plenty of time in advance, an hour being the recommended time frame. Deliveries happen on the boats arriving at 2 pm, 3:15 pm, and 4:30 pm in Vineyard Haven. Now that’s a special delivery!

Thinking about tackling Chinese cookery at home? New York food blogger Brandy O’Neill of shares this Easy Beef and Vegetables Stir Fry recipe. Visit her website for more delicious inspiration!

Easy Beef and Vegetables Stir Fry takes 20 minutes to prepare and cook, making it a quick way to ring in the Chinese New Year. – Photo by Brandy O'Neill
Easy Beef and Vegetables Stir Fry takes 20 minutes to prepare and cook, making it a quick way to ring in the Chinese New Year. – Photo by Brandy O’Neill

Easy Beef and Vegetables Stir Fry

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes plus marinade time

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes


For marinade:

2 pounds sirloin beef tips, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. dark brown sugar

1 tsp. grated ginger

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

For sauce:

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp. flour

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 (12-oz.) bag frozen Asian vegetable blend (also called stir-fry blend)

For serving:

White or brown rice, steamed


In a medium-size mixing bowl add beef, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, water, dark brown sugar, ginger, baking soda, red pepper flakes, and sesame oil. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

After your meat has marinated and you’re ready to start cooking, mix your sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, dark brown sugar, and flour; set aside.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the beef (with all the marinade) and half of the sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the meat is no longer pink. While the meat is cooking, steam your vegetables until just warmed.

Once the meat is cooked, add in remaining sauce and steamed vegetables. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables are coated.

Once ready, remove from heat and serve over steamed rice.

Another favorite, wonton soup, is the perfect way to warm up on these cold winter nights. Food blogger Liz Della Croce of brings us a quick, five-minute wonton soup recipe that’s packed with flavor.

Five-Minute Wonton Soup

Serves: 4


6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

3 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 Tbsp. minced ginger

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

½ Tbsp. sambal oelek (chili paste)

16 frozen dumplings

2 cups sliced mushrooms

4 cups baby kale (or baby spinach)

8 oz. rice noodles, prepared according to package instructions

hoisin sauce (optional garnish)

fresh cilantro (optional garnish)


Bring chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, sesame oil, and sambal oelek to boil in a large soup pot, whisking occasionally.

Add frozen dumplings, mushrooms, and baby kale to the boiling broth, and simmer for 3 minutes, until dumplings are warmed through and kale is wilted.

Divide noodles between four bowls, and cover with equal parts of soup.

Garnish with a drizzle of hoisin sauce and fresh cilantro, if you wish.

The Ritz brings flavors of the Southwest to Oak Bluffs.

Chef Scottie Blue in The Ritz kitchen prepares tasty Southwestern inspired fare. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

Winter restaurant options on-Island are limited, and as someone who’s relatively new to the Island, and still adjusting to these cold winter days and nights, I’m often left craving a different type of food. Honestly (and don’t scoff at me for saying this), I’m tired of the endless bowls of clam chowder. My taste buds are worn out, and my waistline could use some relief from the creamy soups. That’s why when I ventured out to Oak Bluffs, where friends and true Texans Larkin and Jackie Stallings have bought The Ritz, I was excited to sample and taste Southern-inspired eats from The Ritz’s kitchen.

The Stallings bought The Ritz last July, and since then have become an integral part of the Oak Bluffs community. Maybe it’s because they own a bar, or maybe it’s because they’ve been coming to the Island for the past several decades; regardless, the locals have embraced them and their new venture. The Larkins intend to improve upon the popular Circuit Avenue bar’s infrastructure (they just put in a squeaky-clean beer system) and develop a bar menu that’s not only affordable, but delicious and made with fresh ingredients — which you can’t say about a lot of bar food.

Their resident chef is Scott Southworth, better known as Scottie Blue, who also cooks at Jimmy Seas during the summer. On the menu you’ll find their Texas Chili (which recently won third place in the best professional chili category at the Big Chili Contest), Chili Frito Pie, and a variety of soups of the day. Their truck-style tacos come with two tacos nestled between four warm corn tortillas and topped with fresh chopped onions and cilantro — like you’d find at any taco place in the Southwest. Housemade salsa, guacamole, and cool sour cream top them off. Don’t skip the quesadillas they offer — especially the shrimp one! Packed with fresh shrimp and cheese, it’s a steal at $9. Last, but definitely not least, are their burgers. Made with a special hamburger blend that Reliable Market makes exclusively for The Ritz, it’s a flavorful patty with the usual suspects, but they’ll top it off with Texas chili and cheese if you’d like. That, my friends, is just what my winter needed. The kitchen is open daily from 12 noon until 9 pm, and they also offer takeout if you give them a call at 508-693-9851. For other Southwestern inspired fare on-Island check out The Wharf on Monday nights, and Park Corner and The Newes from America on Tuesdays, for their taco and burrito nights, respectively.

Below is the recipe for Texas Truck-Style Carnitas: served at The Ritz and now you can make them at home. Hands down, a favorite — so simple, yet so full of flavor!

Truck-style tacos at The Ritz come with two tacos nestled between four warm corn tortillas and topped with fresh chopped onions and cilantro. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
Truck-style tacos at The Ritz come with two tacos nestled between four warm corn tortillas and topped with fresh chopped onions and cilantro. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

Texas Truck-Style Carnitas

Recipe courtesy of Jacqueline Stallings, co-owner of The Ritz

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes

1 cup of chicken broth

¼ cup lime juice (from about 2 to 3 limes)

4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp coarse salt, plus more to taste

to serve: corn tortillas, avocado slices, chopped cilantro, chopped onion


Place the pork in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot. Add chicken broth, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt, and enough water to cover the meat. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for two hours.

After two hours, bring heat to medium-high. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally while turning the pieces, for about 45 minutes, or until all of the liquid has evaporated, leaving only the rendered pork fat. Let it sizzle in this fat long enough to brown at the edges, turning pieces gently because they will be ready to fall apart.

Pork is done when lightly browned all around, even a little crispy on the edges (my favorite part!). Serve in chunks, with warm corn tortillas and freshly chopped cilantro, onion, and avocado.

Notes: The key to good carnitas is making sure you have enough fat on your cut of pork, otherwise they’ll just come out too dry. Fat is good! You can add your favorite salsas, play with juices and spices, during the two-hour simmering process. Some Texans like to add Dr Pepper instead of chicken broth. This basic recipe is a good place to start.

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


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


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!

Chef Tony Saccoccia of the Grill on Main in Edgartown shares his recipe for Louisiana-Style Fried Chicken Wings. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
Chef Tony Saccoccia of the Grill on Main in Edgartown shares his recipe for Louisiana-Style Fried Chicken Wings. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray

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


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!

The Newes from America’s Roquefort Stilettos make an easy and delicious Super Bowl snack. – Photo by Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
The Newes from America’s Roquefort Stilettos make an easy and delicious Super Bowl snack. – Photo by Elizabeth Cecil

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


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 or

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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).

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). and

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.

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.