This is the second part of a two-part series about my weekend trip to Martha’s Vineyard. The first half of the series is here: Autumn at Martha’s Vineyard.
Imagine . . .
A huge tent at which you have unlimited access to delectable bites from some of the best restaurants in and around Boston, artisanal jams and chocolates from local vendors, and all sorts of wine, beer, and spirits from all around the country.
On top of all that, multi-course wine dinners with different themes (opera anyone?), workshops about everything ranging from backpacking through Europe to wine + chocolate pairings, and gorgeous, gorgeous scenery all around.
It was a whirlwind weekend full of activity at the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival, which was held October 17-20 (just about peak foliage season here in Massachusetts!).
They could not have picked a better location at which to host the events: the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown.
The views from the hotel are magnificent. I loved the walk you can take out to the lighthouse and the beach. It’s such a quiet, peaceful stroll and I did it multiple times – often arriving early so I could wander around a bit.
Our day started early.
After catching the 8:15 AM ferry from Woods Hole, we arrived on the island right around 9AM. We found out it was too early to check into our hotel, so we headed straight for the Harbor View Hotel. There’s a restaurant right on the ground floor called Water Street, which has stunning views of the water and the lighthouse.
We met up with Rebecca from Foodie with Family and her husband Lindy, who were also in town for the festival. It was hard to pick what we wanted to eat (everything looked so good!), but we finally settled on the dishes you see below.
We all started with some Honeysuckle raw oysters, classic New England “briny” but also sweet and flavorful.
Rebecca and I chose the “Duck Trap” for our main course, which – contrary to what its name might imply – had absolutely no duck in it. Instead, it consisted of hickory smoked salmon, potato pancakes, topped with capers, pickled onions, and rainbow trout row. It was excellent.
Bryan got the “Legs and Eggs“, a playful and fancier interpretation of chicken and waffles with a poached egg. The fried chicken was fantastic (albeit a pretty small portion), and went very well with the waffle and velvety sauce from the runny poached egg. Lindy got “The Stack”, buttermilk pancakes with berries, which he thought was great.
After brunch we headed over to the very historic Edgartown Inn, a storied inn that has housed the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Daniel Webster, and John F. Kennedy. Built in 1798, the building itself definitely feels old (I could feel the steps creak as I walked up), yet it has a ton of character.
I loved our bright, airy room, which had a little deck outside facing the town street.
After a packed afternoon biking around Martha’s Vineyard, we headed back over to Water Street Restaurant at the Harbor View Hotel for the opening reception.
Rebecca and I met up with Marnely, a chef working in Martha’s Vineyard who also writes the blog Cooking with Books. Marnely was a gracious host who took super good care of us the entire weekend.
There was a lot of wine being poured. One of the favorites of the night was the Joseph Carr Cabernet Sauvignon. We each received two drink tickets. Since I’m a lightweight, Bryan used my second ticket and went back to get yet another glass of the Joseph Carr Cab.
There were all sorts of fun little appetizers being passed around, such as soba noodles on chopsticks (cute!), raw tuna with popcorn, and grilled octopus (a favorite!).
There were also baked oysters, several different types of cheese, and a gorgeous vegetable spread with heirloom carrots, Brussels sprouts, and grape tomatoes.
After the kick-off ended, Marnely recommended that we go to the brick cellar bar at Atria, one of the best known burger places on the island.
The burgers were excellent here. We ordered four to share. Though all the burgers were delicious, everyone’s favorite was the Pay Day, a decadent burger filled with black truffle aioli, arugula, forest mushrooms, red wine reduction, and seared foie gras ($26).
The Dante’s Inferno was a blackened burger with poblano pepper, pepper jack, jalapeño-tomato salsa, and avocado ($16). According to the menu, “the habanero pepper garnish is f’n hot…seriously…fair warning.”
Having no fear, Bryan popped the entire habanero in his mouth and proceeded to sweat profusely for 10 minutes afterwards.
“That was hot.”
He doesn’t regret it one bit, and actually enjoyed it.
We also tried the Fast Eddie, a fantastic burger with avocado, american cheese, sunny side up egg, and apple wood smoked bacon ($16).
We ordered both the truffle fries and ordinary fries, and actually preferred the ordinary fries, which were deliciously crispy and borderline addictive.
By the time we got home it was well past 10PM. Because we had been up since 7AM we quickly fell asleep.
The next morning we drove out to the town of Chilmark (all the way on the other side of the island), to meet Todd from Chilmark Coffee. Todd is a local, artisanal coffee roaster who showed us how he roasts his beans (in this tiny, tiny little shack in his backyard) and also how he taste tests different coffees.
We all went around smelling and then tasting a variety of different beans. I was surprised how little time it took to roast beans. We watched beans go from their native green state to a nicely toasted coffee brown state in just about 20 minutes.
At 10:15 we rushed back to Edgartown in order to make our 11AM Workshop called “Wine 101: the Secrets to Food & Wine Pairing.” It was hosted by winemaker Joseph Carr and chef Suvir Saran.
The two were hilarious and they really had great stage chemistry. Not only that, Suvir Saran is an extremely talented chef and the food he made for us was outstanding. It’s no surprise, considering that Dévi, where he worked as executive chef, is the only Indian restaurant ever to receive a Michelin star.
These are the pairings that we enjoyed:
1. Joseph Carr Chardonnay with Crab & Salmon Cakes with Spicy Cilantro Aioli
2. Joseph Carr Cabernet with Country Rabbit Terrine with Pistachios and Pernod
3. Joseph Carr Merlot with Braised Kid Shanks and Lentils
4. Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc was paired with Farro and Mushroom Burgers
The food and wine pairings were delicious, and the laughter and overall fun atmosphere made the whole workshop go by far too quickly.
In retrospect, Bryan said that was his favorite event of the entire weekend.
In the afternoon, we headed over to the main event – the Grand Tasting.
Housed under a huge tent, food and wine vendors set up stations where attendees could sample all sorts of things.
Instead of individual wineries each taking a tent, we saw several tables that featured several different types of wines. Of course, certain wineries also came to set up their own tents.
I liked how the food and wine vendors were nicely mixed throughout, which meant you could sample a bite, grab some wine, try another bite, and so on.
Most of the food vendors were local, which was a real treat. Effie’s, a family business operating out of Hyde Park, Massachusetts, makes the most amazing oakcakes and corncakes.
My personal favorite bite was from O Ya, a gorgeously thick slice of hamachi topped with Santa Barbara uni with a soy-yuzu sauce. It was fantastic. We also really liked the uni cream + ikura cones from the Harbor View Hotel. Scallops from Tremont 647 and bone marrow pasta from Craigie on Main were also super popular.
It was fun to see some familiar Bostonian faces, such as Tony Maws from Craigie on Main and Kirkland Tap & Trotter; and Tim Cushman, Nancy Cushman, and Alyssa DiPasquale from the O Ya family.
Tons of different wine choices.
Here’s Bryan trying some more wine from Joseph Carr, being poured by Joseph Carr himself!
There were also open chef demos going on throughout the day. Here is Suvir Saran again, teaching us how to make some classic Indian dishes (it smelled so good, but I didn’t get a chance to try the final product).
Finally, on Sunday morning, we went to the last event of the festival: a lovely brunch buffet at Water Street in the Harbor View Hotel.
You could order your own custom omelet, get roasted quail or beef from the carving station, or pick from a large assortment of many other really, really nice dishes. This was definitely not your typical “buffet” spread.
Offerings included things like eggs Benedict, a delicious red potato salad, and rack of lamb with red lentils. I was so excited to see a lobster tail, one of my favorite Italian pastries. Of course, there was also a gourmet salad bar, creamy red pepper soup, and lots and lots of pastries.
And then . . . that was it.
The weekend was over, and it was time to go back.
Back to reality.
It had been an amazingly fun weekend full of food, wine, lots of laughter, a chance to connect with old friends and make some new ones.
On the ferry back to Boston with Leah Mennies, food editor at Boston Magazine and Alyssa DiPasquales, manager and advanced sake professional at O Ya.
I would highly recommend coming to the island to this event. I like how it occurs during a weekend when the weather is still gorgeous yet the island is no longer teeming with people. It was beautiful, relaxing, and just really, really fun.
Thanks Martha’s Vineyard for such an amazing weekend!
Disclaimer: Our lodging and event tickets were provided by the organizers of the event. We paid for our own transportation and any additional food/restaurant costs. All opinions are my own
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