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Eating on Martha's Vineyard

March-May 2010 078-resized-600

Fall is digging in its heels here on Martha’s Vineyard. The weather has cooled, pumpkins abound, and many stores and restaurants have started to cut back their hours. One of my favorite island past times is still going strong for a couple more weeks, though. According to many, the best restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard is on the back docks at Larsen’s in Menemsha. They have no crystal or linens, and service is limited to someone yelling your name out of the back window. Sometimes it’s even a little buggy and smelly; but they have an abundance of fresh air, delicious fresh seafood that tastes twice as good when eaten with the fingers, delightful people to meet and get to know, stunning sunsets, and always a certain amount of “entertainment”.

For instance, one evening this summer, a friend and I patiently watched, for 15 or 20 minutes, a young man with an impressive camera arrange and then rearrange his lobster dinner on the edge of the dock until he got just the shot he was looking for. When he noticed our interest in his activities, he explained he was a freelance photographer who would shoot food photos and send them into culinary publications in hopes they would buy his work.

Another afternoon, a group of Karate enthusiasts, all decked out in their white robes and black belts, lined up single file on the dock, their lobsters placed in front of them, and asked me to take a group picture. It was great.

Most recently, with the Derby winding down, a very confident man unfolded a chair on the edge of the dock right in front of us and cast his line out into the harbor. His wife and travelling companions explained that a few years ago this fisherman had caught a record-breaking bass from that very spot and was determined that it could happen again. This time, not only didn’t he hook anything, but every time he would cast out his line, an equally determined seagull would swoop down and steal his bait right off it. He had a lot of fun though, and so did we.

Although the sunsets are bigger and longer and more vibrantly glorious than ever, it is getting a bit chilly on the Menemsha docks.  Last week, my steamers were cold before I could finish them, but it didn’t dampen the experience, and I will be faithful to Larsen’s until the door is closed and locked, then count the days until next spring when they unlock and the thought of fresh lobster and steamers beckons me to the docks again.

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

Chocolate eggs by sister72

Chocolate.  The mere word conjures up all manner of sensations: images, scents – even moods.  But most of all tastes.  It is part of our diet and part of our culture.  Consider the phrases that have entered the vox populi:

When the going gets tough, the tough get chocolate.
Chocolate: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.
Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.
All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!

It’s bad for your waistline but a good source of anti-oxidants. And it tastes like heaven.  We rationalize and take the oh-so-good with the bad.

So what does all this have to do with Martha’s Vineyard?  Well, MV is a chocolate lover’s dream, with several places to go to meet one’s Recommended Daily Allowance of Brown Gold.  (Sorry, but the white stuff simply isn’t chocolate.)  Below, find a brief compendium of chocolate oriented destinations:

In Edgartown, the Ice Cream and Candy Bazaar reigns, partly for its selection of yummy chocolate treats but also for its location: right on the harbor.  (See my post from July for a paean to that place.)  Added bonuses are the ice cream and fun penny candy… none of which costs a penny. This is the Vineyard, after all!

Oak Bluffs holds a treasure in Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium.  One of four locations – the others being Falmouth, Northampton, MA and Bar Harbor – this place has a huge variety of chocolate and chocolate-covered delights, from truffles to turtles.  My daughter swears by the chocolate-covered gummy bears.  I’ll take her word for it since I am not gummiverous.  Ice cream is offered at the Circuit Avenue location as well.  That alone is worth the trip.

Finally, there’s Chilmark Chocolates.  As the name would suggest, this is a chocolate store.  No ice cream, no drinks, no penny candy, no web site, no scenic seating area, no room to move.  This place is all about the chocolate.  Period.  But it doesn’t need anything else.  The delicacies are all hand made or hand-dipped and they are all delicious.

One thing I love about Chilmark Chocolates is that they know we need them more than they need us.  They make that clear through a variety of means:  First of all, they are never open.  OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one.  They are only open a few days a week, a few hours a day.  And they invariably close during the busiest week of the summer! (A side effect of the limited availability is the often unlimited lines.)  Second, their location up island is relatively remote compared to the likes of Circuit Ave., Upper Main Street, or Five Corners.  Finally, the store is really just a short corridor. Walk in one side and out the other.  There is nowhere else to go.

But there is nowhere else you need to go, because along that corridor is a glass enclosed display of the finest chocolate treats you are likely to find anywhere.  And they are surprisingly reasonably priced.

Finally, know that when you patronize Chilmark Chocolates, you are supporting a business that was created to (and still does) employ disabled workers.  What could be better than buying and eating the world’s best chocolate as your good deed for the day?

 

Where do you get your chocolate fix?

Photo by sister72

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown
Grass-by-Sporkist
Grass by Sporkist

Fall is the opposite of spring. Nowhere have I seen the contrast of the two as obvious as on Martha’s Vineyard. In April, we see a world coming slowly and ambitiously to life. I’m not just talking about the overnight sensation of your brown lawn suddenly showing little patches of lime green.  I liken what happens here to ants coming back out of the ground. Suddenly, workmen on ladders are taking plywood down from windows and sprucing up storefronts, and shopkeepers are dusting and sweeping and carting in new merchandise. Seasonal homeowners, fed up with winter, venture back to open up musty houses in hopes that it will hasten the advent of summer. And if we’re lucky enough to get some sunny weekends, brave souls in shorts, but still wearing layers of sweatshirts, descend on the towns to get a jump on the new season. Those of us who live here have fun taking note of the local merchants who move to new venues, thinking the change will bring them a better season than the last. The most positive sign that things are on the upswing is the first time the ferry pulls into Oak Bluffs since last fall. Hope is definitely in the air.

Ah, but I am a fall person. I’ve never bought the theory that it’s a time when everything dies or goes to sleep. There’s a tingle in the air that makes this time of year at least as promising as spring. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know how I feel about the colors of fall, the long shadows, and the unique quality of the light of October and November. Driving my daily commute from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, I can barely keep my eyes on the road the marsh grasses on the pond are such a delicious palette of ochres, rusts, greens, and lavenders. And the road, as it takes you toward the Triangle is dappled with sunlight filtering through the tunnel of the tree limbs overhead. You have to beware of deer, fooled by the autumn light into thinking it’s evening, running out in front of you here.

The whole experience is spring in reverse. One by one, we watch the seasonal stores and restaurants locking their doors and posting, “Thank you for a great season” signs in their windows. Now is the time to take advantage of fabulous sales. No department stores with specially brought in sale merchandise here. What you get is dramatically marked down prices on all the unique items you were eyeing in August. Bring your holiday gift list.

You’ll find that activities and entertainment don’t disappear when we roll up the beaches. In fact, there is no better time than an autumn day for a long walk on a beach that was closed to all but town residents in the summer. We still have theater right through the holidays. We have concerts and dance parties, complete with pre-party lessons. Nature walks and kayaking are breathtaking events. Restaurants have specials and two-for-one nights (more on those specials soon). And local bay scallops are in season!

Where we island people made note of location changes in the spring, we now take joy in counting the restaurants that are staying open for the off season. This year, there are several special new ones;  State Road in West Tisbury, Deon’s in Oak Bluffs, The Atlanticin Edgartown, and The Mediterranean in its new Oak Bluffs location. Come enjoy dining with the locals who venture out to dine after the throngs have dispersed. You’ll find some of us may be a bit quirky, but in general, we’re a very nice lot and enjoy talking to the visitors who, like us, appreciate our island at this special time of year.

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

van

So, if you’ve been following this blog you will have read CJ’s reviews of eating on a budget on MV – she did well but I think I might have found the ultimate eat out on a budget spot – The take out van at the Artcliff Diner!!!!!

Anyone who loves breakfast food knows that the Artcliff does a stellar job on breakfast and an awesome lunch and now they have expanded into dinner fare. OK, it’s burgers and dogs but Artcliff style!  With twinkle lights strung in the trees around the picnic benches and good tunes blaring out of the van it is a uniquely Vineyard experience – gourmet take out that’s affordable.

Hamburger, cheeseburger, pig sandwich, spicy pork taco and, my personal favorite, the lamb burger (with feta and caramelized vidalia onions) make up the burger menu.  In this girl’s humble opinion a great burger is simple but rare – good bun? Check.  Good meat? Check.  Right amount of seasoning? Check!!  My husband will assure you, I am not easy to please when it comes to burgers and there are very few places where I will eat one when we are out (I reason with him that  it’s because the ones he makes at home are so good but it doesn’t help when we are out and I am cranky because of ANOTHER sub-par burger experience-grrr).  The Artcliff has all my points covered, and all for under $8.

Then we get to the amazing Dog menu – 5 options – a Snappy Dog, a Bikini Weenie, a Green Monster, BLT & Cheese Whizz and a Hellish Relish Dog are all available and huge! A falafel offers a veggie spin and there’s something to please most right there.

Add some hand cut fries (if you are lucky the truffle fries with parmesan will be on the specials) and a soda and we successfully ate for $21 for 2 of us (we share the fries – 1 portion is enough for 2 people).

Desserts are another must do here! Nutella or Apple Cinnamon Donuts are fried up while you wait and served with a generous drizzle of either Chocolate syrup or caramel sauce.  At just $5 it seems rude to leave them behind and again, one portion will feed two, unless you are really hungry!

Now only serving on weekends from 5-midnight through the end of October (weather and business permitting) it is a gem that you must discover, if not this year then definitely next summer.

Image courtesy of Joanne Sardini.

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

lobster-picnicThis post is the fourth and last in a series of posts that highlight some of the less expensive options for eating out on Martha’s Vineyard.  We (meaning the Vineyard) have gotten a lot of national and even world wide press lately, thanks to the First Family’s visit last week.  A lot of the press wrongly implies that this is a very “high end”, expensive place to vacation.  I have to agree that it CAN be, but you can vacation here at any price point.  If you missed the posts on eating out on a budget in EdgartownOak Bluffs, andVineyard Haven please check them out and add your favorite eateries to the comments.  I know there are other great Martha’s Vineyard restaurants that I’ve missed!  Now, it’s time to turn our focus to the beautiful scenery and delicious food options found “up-island”.

First, I should probably elaborate on the Island jargon.  Down-island is the term used to refer to the more populated and accessible towns of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven.  I use the term “up-island” to refer to everything else – i.e. the beautiful, smaller, and more remote areas of West Tisbury, Chilmark, Menemsha, and Aquinnah.  Officially, I suppose West Tisbury is more “mid-island”, but you get the idea!  Please keep in mind that once you have left the “down island” areas, there are less options and consequently slightly more expensive.  That being said there are definitely a few take-out style restaurants that I feel the need to highlight for your up-island enjoyment.

If you are looking for a place to stop along the way to “break up” the ride up-island, there are 2 great options along State Rd. for a quick coffee and pastry.  The Scottish Bake House and Fellas (across from the W.Tisbury Firehouse) are both popular stops with locals and known for their yummy offerings.  Fellas also has great sandwiches, so if you are in the neighborhood around lunchtime or planning ahead for a picnic you should keep them in mind!  If you find yourself driving up the West Tisbury Rd. instead, Garcias Bakery (behind Alley’s General Store) also has a great selection of sandwiches and is a convenient stop along the way.

Any trip “up island” should include a visit to Aquinnah to view the beautiful Gay Head clay cliffs & lighthouse.  If you crave nourishment while there, plan to stop by Dream Catcher for the most reasonably priced sandwiches and quick friendly service.

The quaint fishing village of Menemsha is a fashionable spot to go for beach picnics and a beautiful sunset.  Luckily, the small village has several options for great seafood take out (always less expensive than eating in).  As you enter Menemsha, you will see the popularHomeport restaurant on the water.  They offer a take out menu that includes the full selection of items for a New England clambake…  lobster, stuffed quahogs, clam chowder, corn on the cobb… you get the idea!  If you prefer your seafood fried, there is a fry shack on the way to the beach called The Bite that is the place to stop.  I have heard from several different sources that they have the “best fried clams on the island”.  As you wander down to the beach area, you will see Larsons Fish market on the harbor.  Since 1969, the Larson family has been serving fresh seafood (frequently right off the boat) and offering take-out seafood cooked to order (not to mention awesome clam chowder).   You can grab your favorite delicacies and enjoy them while sitting on the pier watching the fishing boats come and go.  It just doesn’t get any more “quintessential New England”!  One word of caution… if you don’t like seafood, you may have to go hungry!

Well those are my top recommendations for affordable dining up-island…   do you have an up-island favorite that I missed?

Image courtesy of tuppus.

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown