Updated: Tuesday, June 21, 2:40 pm.
For those lucky enough to secure tickets to Thursday night’s 31st annual Taste of the Vineyard Gourmet Stroll, admittance to the lawns of the Dr. Daniel Fisher House in Edgartown felt just as prestigious and exhilarating as gaining entrance to the Wonka Factory. The treats awaiting inside, from local and visiting vendors, were every bit as delicious.
The highly anticipated event, held as an annual fundraiser for the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, features tables from restaurants, caterers, and beer and wine distributors. The 900 hot tickets for the event went on sale on May 23 at midnight, and sold out by 9 am. “While we could have sold more, we want to maintain the quality of the experience,” Chris Scott, president of the Preservation Trust, told The Times. “It’s full enough as it is!”
Those 900 hungry patrons wove through the labyrinth of food and drink, greeting old friends and sampling the creative offerings. Especially popular items included the Lighthouse Grill’s miniature lobster tacos. “We brought 800 of these last year, and they were a huge hit,” Marnique Allen, food and beverage director for the Harbor View Hotel, said. “We wouldn’t normally bring the same thing, but they were so popular we came back with 1,000.”
Kitchen Porch catering stood apart from the sea of tables with their festive booth, decorated with greenery like a summer glade. Their theme was “Duck, Duck, Goose,” named for the duck fat crackers they were serving, topped with smoked duck breast and gooseberry.
Chefs could be spotted working hard behind the scenes, but all were in good spirits. “The best part is seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces,” Nico Ceron of the Atlantic said. “Especially when they are trying something from our table.” The Atlantic’s steak tartare on taro crackers was certainly smile-worthy, even through a full mouth.
Though the food and beverage offerings take center stage at the Taste, Vineyard style was in full swing, with attendees dressed to the nines in cocktail attire that ran the spectrum from elegant to eccentric. Scott Hannah was the self-proclaimed winner of the fashion contest in his Pac-Man suit, patterned in mazes and ghosts from the popular arcade game. “I saw it online, and I knew Taste was the only event where I could pull it off,” Mr. Hannah said.
Other Islanders turned to local businesses for their wardrobe. “I found my dress at Chicken Alley Thrift Store,” Lindsay Webster of West Tisbury said. “I got lucky!”
Overall, the crowd felt lucky just to be there. “It’s such a great locally based event,” Ms. Webster said. “It’s one of the few events of the summer you can go to and it’s all Island people and Island businesses. To me, it’s the kickoff of the season.”
Mr. Scott reported that between Thursday’s Gourmet Stroll and the Saturday’s exclusive Patrons’ Stroll, the Preservation Trust raised $250,000. “The Trust maintains 25 historic properties which require constant repairs and restoration due to their very active roles in the island community,” he said. Funds raised at Taste of the Vineyard will be used for several of those properties, including a restoration of the Carnegie Library building, painting the Old Whaling Church, and maintenance at Alley’s General Store and the Flying Horses Carousel.
“We were so pleased with both events,” Mr. Scott said. “This year marked the 31st anniversary of the Gourmet Stroll, and it shows no signs of slowing down. The restaurants and caterers did such wonderful presentations of their signature offerings, and we had great comments from people throughout the evening. The Trust is grateful to the many people who support this event and help us maintain the Island’s landmarks for all to enjoy.”