Dishing: Finds

Cool culinary things for your kitchen or your belly.

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Gordon Moore

Gordon Moore credits a childhood spent fishing, hunting, sailing, and surfing on Martha’s Vineyard as the inspiration behind his ceramic designs. Moore creates detailed images drawn from nature on vases, mugs, and other pottery pieces. His designs — created through either an inlaying or a scratching technique — often echo Asian art in their quiet simplicity and reverence for form.

A school of hundreds of tiny fish form a wave pattern around a shapely pot; black and white egrets fly across the top of a tall vase; a mug features a colorful image of a blue heron poking his beak into fish-filled water, which reflects back the bird’s image.

“My inspiration comes from a couple of different places,” says Moore, who earned a B.A. in the history of art and architecture from Brown and a B.F.A. in animation from RISD before returning to the Island during the beginning of the pandemic, in March, 2020.

“I’ve always had an interest in forms becoming abstract or turning into patterns and repetitions of form,” he says. “As an animator, I’ve always been fascinated with repetition and how it creates movement.”

Perhaps the most interesting example of repetitive images found in Moore’s work is an elaborate design featuring birds whose images create an Escher-esque patchwork that can be viewed simultaneously as either black birds on a white background or — photonegatively — as white birds on a black background.

That design, which shows up on a variety of Moore’s pieces, is created using a process called sgraffito (“to scratch” in Italian). The technique involves applying a dark, glazed layer and then, when dry, the glaze is scratched away to reveal the natural color of the clay beneath.

Another technique that Moore employs comes from East Asia. The traditional inlaying process involves carving into the clay surface and then adding carefully cut pieces of colored clay into the recessed areas to create a design. The intricate art form appeals to Moore. “I first started experimenting with it when I was studying art history,” he says. “I found the technique so difficult and so humbling. It became a new obsession.”

Moore says he owes his appreciation for high-quality materials and simple glaze combinations to a mentor — local ceramist Micah Thanhauser of Merry Farm Pottery. Moore works for Thanhauser as a studio assistant in exchange for materials and studio time. This past summer, the ceramicist and two of his family members opened the Moore Family Gallery in HartHaven, Oak Bluffs. The gallery features Moore’s ceramics, along with paintings by his father Andrew Moore and his sister Hannah Moore. Each artist has an individual style, although all three incorporate the natural world in their work.

Alley’s

The good news is Alley’s General Store is open again after a six-month closure. The even better news is that the new owners — Michael and April Levandowski of LeRoux home goods store in Vineyard Haven — are working hard to get the store fully stocked and back up to offering the full general store experience.

“When the trust asked us to take over operations, we realized that we needed to close down to address a number of structural, electrical, plumbing, and mold issues,” says Michael. “As we got going, the bigger the project grew. When we could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, we fast-tracked it to get it open as quickly as possible.”

The Levandowskis took over the business when the Vineyard Trust, which owns and maintains the historic building, realized that the landmark store was not sustainable for an organization with no retail expertise. The LeRoux owners, who have 40-plus years of experience in Vineyard retail, decided to take on the ambitious project in order to save the 150-year-old business.

“We were really concerned about what would happen if someone didn’t step up and do this,” Michael says. “The community involvement is what really drew us in. It’s a cornerstone of West Tisbury, with a great history. We knew we could get in there and apply some modern practices so that it would be a viable business.”

Michael promises that any changes will not substantially affect the overall nature of the store. However, the Levandowskis plan to provide more practical items like groceries, hardware, and housewares, and focus less on things like clothing, perfumes, and boutique-type goods. That being said, the store will continue to feature some of the most popular offerings, like penny candy, fresh-brewed coffee, and a children’s section.

Among the improvements the Levandowskis are considering are the reopening of the summer house and the addition of a garden and patio to the space between the two buildings.

“We want to provide a genuine service to the up-Island community, while still retaining the business model,” says Michael. He and his wife are looking to find a happy medium between the original “necessities” nature of the store and what it had become in more recent years.

“This area, with the library, the Grange, and the Field Gallery is really the West Tisbury town center,” says Michael. “We want to keep the store going and, of course, continue to offer a place for people to meet and socialize.” According to Michael, the regulars have already returned, and have staked out their spots on the front porch.

MV the Dressing

Are you pining away for the farm-fresh options offered by Oak Bluffs’ MV Salads, now that the popular Circuit Ave. restaurant has closed for the season? Well, you can still purchase MV Salad’s all-natural, preservative-free MV the Dressing online, and create your own combination of greens, grains, protein, and veggies.

The dressing, based on owner Susanna Herlitz-Ferguson’s special recipe, actually predated the restaurant. While still enjoying a successful design career, she concocted an herb- and spice-infused vinaigrette that became so popular among her friends that she was constantly being asked to reproduce it for dinners and get-togethers.

When Herlitz-Ferguson’s four children were all grown and out of the house, and she started spending more time on the Vineyard, she wanted to explore a completely new venture — something that would challenge her and offer a very different career path. And so MV Salads was born. For two years, signage on the shuttered storefront served as a tease to Islanders eagerly awaiting a health-conscious eating option similar to those offered in urban areas. While Herlitz-Ferguson navigated the complicated, often frustrating, process of opening a new business on the Island, she took her dressing to the public. During Tivoli Day in 2018, she and her staff offered free dipping samples, and the response was enthusiastic. MV Salads opened for business in the spring of 2019.

The signature dressing (made fresh onsite daily during the summer) is the only option at MV Salads, although a Green Goddess and a Spicy variation are created for some of the salads with a few additions. Herlitz-Ferguson has found that the blend, which includes two types of oil, coriander leaves, scallions, and turmeric, serves as the perfect accompaniment to the wide variety of ingredients that the restaurant features in its signature salads — from maple-glazed bacon, lobster, and feta to roasted cauliflower, watermelon, fennel, and grapes. “It doesn’t overpower the flavors, but complements just about anything,” she says.

MV the Dressing is available to purchase through the MV Salads website. Each eight-ounce bottle includes a little recipe card with instructions for making your own Green Goddess or Spicy version. Visit mvsalads.com.

Winston’s

Looking to grab a quick, inexpensive meal on the go? Winston’s Kitchen, located next to Our Market in Oak Bluffs, offers a huge menu, featuring far more than the usual sandwich and snack takeout options. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Winston’s, which opened just this past summer, offers the expected — standard subs and sandwiches, as well as some very interesting dinner options. On the regular menu (Winston’s has daily specials as well) you’ll find Jerk Chicken and Pork, Thai Chili Salmon, Stewed Lamb and Chicken Marsala, as well as fan favorite Fried Chicken — all priced under $20 for a complete meal.

You might be surprised to find such an eclectic variety in a takeout joint. But Winston Christie, who co-owns the restaurant along with his wife Lisa Christie, has a unique background. Born and raised in Jamaica, he’s worked at a variety of cooking jobs on the Vineyard, including most recently as a chef at Chesca’s, where he honed his skills in Italian and New American cuisine.

The Christies make the perfect team. They both have years of experience in Vineyard restaurants — Winston in the kitchen, Lisa in the front of the house. Although they had no definite plans to take off on their own venture at this point, when the space that formerly housed the bait and tackle shop opened up, the couple decided that the location was perfect — plenty of parking and just shy of downtown Oak Bluffs traffic.

So far the takeout spot has been very well received, with customers grabbing food to take to the beach or enjoy while sitting on a bench along the harbor. Favorites, according to Lisa, include the Italian and the steak and cheese sub and the Jerk Chicken. She notes that they have a hard time keeping the Fried Cheese Curds in stock, while the chive mashed potatoes have become almost legendary.

Popular morning options include the breakfast sandwich on your choice of Cape Cod bagel (arriving fresh on the Patriot boat every morning) and the Chicken Fajita Wrap made with eggs, spinach, peppers, onions, Swiss cheese, and black bean salsa on a spinach wrap.

Want to try something different for lunch? How about the Philly Steak Dog — a steak hot dog smothered in onions and peppers — the Tzatziki Salmon Sandwich, or a BBQ Mushroom sandwich with hummus, avocado, spinach, and more? You can always go the more traditional sandwich route with a bursting-at-the-seams Pastrami and Cheese or Eggplant Parmigiana.

Winston’s will stay open year-round, serving from 7 am to 8 pm. “We want to be a part of the Oak Bluffs community,” Lisa says. “We know how outrageous the prices can get. We want to keep it affordable and be year-round to attract the locals.”

 

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