I’ve been to a festival or two. There was the Yarmouth Clam Festival in Maine, the Dragonboat Festival in China, and Ladyfest in Oak Bluff. This was my first time at the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival, and man, oh man, was it one for the books.
When Señor Dowd here walked into that tent for Saturday’s grand tasting event, deep in the heart of Edgartown’s Winnetu resort, let’s just say he was overwhelmed. The sea of off-Island bodies doesn’t cut much ice with him, but far be it from him to let a little elbow-bumping ruin his good time.
Snagging my afternoon’s tasting glass, I peered around and saw cooking demonstrations, cutlery sales, raffles, and merch filled the tents with an air of excitement. Soon I came upon Phil Corrente and Sauska, a Hungarian winery. Corrente pleasantly asked what I would like to try, and I said I’d take his recommendation, which was a good idea because Corrente gave me the Kadarka, a striking and silky red made from a native Hungarian grape.
Next up was Brockmans gin. To be honest, I was on the fence about it — I mean their pamphlet calls their gin “unrivaled pleasure,” but I was pleasantly surprised when I found out how smooth it was. The fun part was getting to make my own cocktail. Brockmans set up a bar station with servers to help you mix and match different fruits, herbs, and syrups — and then you got to name your concoction. I’m what you might call an informally self-taught mixologist, so I asked one of the servers to help me out. I ended up with gin, raspberries, blueberries, simple syrup, and prosecco. I dubbed it the “Naughty Nellie” (said with an Austin Powers accent).
Further along, some familiar faces and logos popped up. There was Brae Ferguson and her delicious Martha’s Spiked in both spiked lemonade and cranberry limeade flavors. Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt teamed up with Sweet Bites to create a oh-so-local salted caramel. Kulture Club MV was serving up its artisanal raw kombucha, which came in a wide variety of flavors like cranberry hibiscus, strawberry lavender, peach basil, and pineapple ginger mint. Nomans made the trek from Oak Bluffs to hand out samples of their light and dark rums.
Now at this point I’d had a couple drinks, seen a couple things. I had a few wheels in my skypiece, and I knew I needed food. There was everything under the sun from steak tartare on a shrimp “chicharron” from Shojo in Boston to steak and cheese from Rare Steakhouse, also in Boston. Lobster ravioli, wild boar meatballs — jeez, Louise, did that one grab the cake — smoked bluefish pâté with California caviar in a cannoli, doughnuts, toffee, and hearty bone broth.
The festival was fun; you’re a real lobster if you don’t try this one. Walking around with good friends, titillating those taste buds with a punch to the palate, it’s a cure for the blues if there ever was one.