Beer, beer, and cheese
Though I have plenty of favorite restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard about which I could write (and will write) long stories rhapsodizing about every perfect bite on the menu, lately I’ve been happy with all the smaller plates and snacks I’ve been enjoying with friends at different places.
My best friend came up to visit me from Philly for a long weekend, and we were in a grazing mood. She’s a landscape architect, and wanted to check out Donaroma’s and, conveniently, she also likes beer. So after shopping for plants, we sat down at Bad Martha for a beer. She had the IPA and I had the Martha’s Vineyard Ale, and we liked them so much we decided to have two more, and figured we’d best eat something.
There isn’t a huge menu at the brewery, but you don’t need much when the beer is this good. (Beer is considered to be nutritious, by the way. Ask the monks in Belgium who supposedly invented it to get them through their fasts.) Choices include pretzels and nuts, a Charcuterie Plate that we didn’t order, but which looked lovely on someone else’s table (the menu describes it as consisting of “Calabrese salami, prosciutto, Tasso Pork, and a local smoked bluefish pate; served alongside fresh ciabatta bread, an array of Parmesan/thyme seasoned lavash crackers and a specially made spicy beer mustard from the Scottish Bake House, spreadable hot pepper relish, dried apricots, and Kalamata olives.”) And all garnished with edible flowers from Morning Glory Farm.
There’s also a Veggie Plate, with many of the same ingredients, but (you guessed it!) fresh local vegetables instead of meats.
Since we were already way down the road of not sticking to our diets, we opted for the cheese plate. It was so generous that we figured we’d have lots to take home and eat over a planned game of Scrabble. That didn’t happen (the Scrabble did, the leftovers didn’t), because of this:
“Four varieties of cheese: a Mountain Gouda, Cave-aged Cheddar, goat cheese and a locally produced Eidolon from Grey Barn Farm.” Along with ciabatta, lavash, Bakehouse beer mustard (see above) and accompanied by candied almonds, dried cherries, local herbs, and more edible Morning Glory flowers.
We had such a hard time figuring out which cheese/fruit/flower/cracker combination we liked that we ended up eating it all, and inspired the table next to us to order one, too.
Sometimes, the simplest things are the best: beer, cheese, and best friends.
Bad Martha Brewing, 270 Main Street, Edgartown; badmarthabeer.com.
Wine and radishes (and butter)
After one very long day of laying out Martha’s Vineyard Arts & Ideas Magazine, art director Tara Kenney and I needed sustenance. We wandered over to Beach Road Restaurant, and sat down at the bar. Within about 15 seconds, Caitlin the bartender had poured us white wine, and slid a plate of … radishes over to us. The radishes — “French breakfast radishes from Morning Glory Farm” — she announced at our delighted gasps, were accompanied by a generous bowl of whipped butter (more delighted gasps) sprinkled with rocky sea salt, the brainchild of Chef Randy Rucker. Of course!
Good to know: If what you’re looking for is a way to basically convey butter to your mouth, well — why not use a radish? They’re gluten-free and possibly calorie-neutral, leaving permission for more butter, and wine.
On another stroll to Beach Road, this time in the days after they began pouring drinks with, among other things, bourbon in them, a friend and I encountered an oyster special. Between 5 and 6 pm, Beach Road will sell you as many oysters as you can eat for a dollar apiece. We had 36 between us, along with more radishes (this time the butter was flavored with “dried scallop roe”).
Perfect summer-evening snacks.
Beach Road, 79 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven; beachroadmv.com.
One day soon, I will write a whole story about the burgers at Fat Ronnie’s in Oak Bluffs — they are among my Vineyard favorites: the Junior is small and diner-burger-like, with uneven edges (I believe this makes for the best ratio of crispy edge to juicy center). But for now, as this is a column about snacks, I will weigh in only on their french fries.
My daughter and I decided to treat ourselves after a long day of spring cleaning and sorting, and agreed on Fat Ronnie’s for burgers and fries. Maybe because we had poured so much sweat that day, it seemed we needed to replenish our salt makeup. The fries at Fat Ronnie’s are perfect for that. They come wrapped in a cone, and for some reason, that makes them feel extra treaty. Or maybe just convenient: You could carry them up Circuit Avenue, easily snacking while walking. They are the perfect size — again, like the burgers, with just enough crispy surface area, absolutely NO undercooked raw center (I hate that), golden, and lightly salted.
I’ll definitely be eating more radishes to make room for more of these.
Fat Ronnie’s Burger Bar, 7 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs, 508-693-6600.
How about a pot of chicken liver mousse with that whiskey?
After a frustrating Friday afternoon in Falmouth, attempting to accomplish errands only doable off-Island, my friend Louisa and I rolled into Oak Bluffs on the boat and walked up to 20 by Nine for something to nibble on.
First of all, you have to like a bar that serves only whiskey, wine, and beer. We ordered some fun drinks made with bourbon, the ingredients of which I regret to report that I did not write down. Then we ordered a “Mason Jar” filled with chicken liver mousse, with onions roasted in port, rosemary, sea salt, and a tasty jam. Then we ordered another mason jar with “housemade ricotta, bacon jam, blistered tomatoes, and basil.” They were each only $11, and served with little crispy crackers and tiny rounds of bread.
They were so satisfying that I ordered more to eat over that game of Scrabble with my Philly friend (since we’d eaten all the Bad Martha cheese).
20 by Nine, 16 Kennebec Ave., Oak Bluffs. 20bynine.com/mv.