Artisanal Martha’s Vineyard a foodie’s delight

Locally made sweets available at Cronig's Market include Vineyard Delights Baklava. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The local food movement has a younger, sophisticated sister named “artisanal” and she is sweeping the Vineyard. Because the demand for handmade, small batch, authentic, and painstakingly crafted edibles is high, you’ll notice more and more goods that are crafted here on the Vineyard by your neighbors at stores around the Island.

This is by no means a comprehensive listing of locally made foods, so be sure to visit Cronig’s, Soigne, Alley’s, Morning Glory, Edgartown Meat and Fish, 7a Foods, Eden, Tisbury Farm Market, Vineyard Grocer, Fiddlehead Farm, and the West Tisbury Farmers’ Markets to discover new products by familiar artisans.

In the deli section at down-Island Cronig’s there is a table filled with locally made baked goods. There you can find Simply Decadent Cakes by Liz mini loaves of cranberry bread as well as Little Rock Farm’s pies such as strawberry rhubarb and very berry, and of course, their famed granola.

Vineyard Delights Baklava is a Greek pastry made with layers of phyllo dough, a sugary spiced nut mixture, and sweetened with a syrup consisting of honey, lemon, and cinnamon. Find the homemade pasteries, made by Georgia Thoutsis of Oak Bluffs, at the artisanal-local table near the deli at Cronig’s and at Farm Neck Cafe in Oak Bluffs. “This family recipe has been passed down through generations and has been made in our Island kitchens for the past 70 years,” Ms. Thoutsis said. For more information, email

April Knight of West Tisbury has taken her aunt’s celebrated caramel apple cake recipe, tweaked it slightly to make it her own, and is now sharing it with the rest of us. Aunt Simone’s Apple Cake has only natural ingredients and it has all the flavors that something decadent should. It’s buttery, salty, sweet, and ultimately delicious (never mind addicting). Ms. Knight sells her apple cupcakes at the Chilmark Flea Market off North Road on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm. You will find her at the Aunt Simone’s Apple Cake booth with her helper, her 12-year-old son Matteus. I’m looking forward to visiting Matteus and Ms. Knight at this years Ag Fair August 16 through 18 where they will serve fresh baked caramel apple cake with vanilla ice cream. Visit the website, for more information and to order cakes.

For the ultimate artisanal experience, enjoy Aunt Simone’s Apple Cake with a cold-brewed iced Chilmark Coffee. Todd Christy is roasting away in Chilmark and he has recently introduced his cold brew line. Coffee is roasted to perfection then steeped in Chilmark water at 48 degrees for 24 hours. Look for it by the bottle at Saltwater Cafe, 7a Foods, Fiddlehead Farm, Morning Glory Farm, and Beetlebung Farm Stand.

Do you put milk in your coffee? Keep the trend going…The Grey Barn in Chilmark is selling their skim, whole, and buttermilk at shops all over the Island (raw is available only at the farm). Usages for milk are pretty obvious. But when I saw the adorable little bottles of buttermilk with the green top for sale at Alley’s Farm Stand, I had to have it, even if I didn’t know what I would do with it (hopefully not allow it to go bad in my fridge and then use the bottle as a vase). Luckily, my friend Sarah Waldman of recently posted a recipe for avocado buttermilk dressing. It works as a salad dressing, sandwich spread, and veggie dip — and it is delicious.

Bennett Coffey of Edgartown has been making raw chocolate and selling it around the Island for a little over a year now. A few weeks ago, she and business partner Kyleen Keenan opened the doors to their very own chocolate factory, Not Your Sugar Mamas. You can get their not-sinfully delicious chocolate bars and treats such as raw chocolate covered cranberries and drinks like the Dandy Blend iced mocha latte (they also serve Chilmark Coffee) in the Tisbury Marketplace (next to Rocco’s Pizza) daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

Mermaid Farm‘s whole milk yogurt turned this non-yogurt fan into someone who can eat it, in some form, just about daily. It is so creamy and delicious it makes the perfect base for a smoothie and is also delicious with a swirl of maple syrup or, better yet, Middle Road honey, which can be purchased roadside in Chilmark, blueberries, and something crunchy like pepitas, nuts, or granola. Pick some up at the farm stand on Middle Road in Chilmark or look for it at stores around the Island. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for their feta cheese, which is delicious in salads, sandwiches, or sliced with some pita bread. For an incredible treat, look for Mermaid Farm at the West Tisbury Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to 12 noon and try a mango lassi made with their own yogurt and organic mangoes!

Cherilla Brown is a familiar face at Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury, but when she isn’t there she is mixing up her sea salt creations. The original By the Sea Salt blend, kosher salt and herbs, is delicious on everything from meat and fish to veggies and eggs. Jose Can you Sea? is a tangier version of the original with a lemony taste and a bit of spice. Get it from the creator herself at Alley’s, online at and around the Island.

Karen Colombo started making ice cream at home 10 years ago. She developed her own recipes using all-natural ingredients and whole foods like coffee beans, ginger root, and real strawberries (as opposed to flavoring). Now she works out of a small commercial space and produces Favorite Brand Ice Cream. The name doesn’t lie. It is literally the favorite brand of many Island ice-cream lovers. Look for flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, and ginger at Cronig’s, Fiddlehead Market, and Black Sheep.

Buttermilk Avocado Dressing

1 ripe avocado, scooped out
1 cup full fat buttermilk, shaken
1/4 yellow onion
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
salt & pepper

If you have a powerful blender just toss it all in and blend until creamy. If you are worried about the onion and garlic breaking down, chop those up first.