Celebrating its eighth year, the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival, spotlighted the bounty of Martha’s Vineyard. Our local seafood, farms, and talent, paired with amazing wine and craft spirits.
This event seemed to boast even more events than usual. And events hosted in really amazing places, like The Outermost Inn, Thimble Farm, l’etoile, The Beach Plum, Detente, The Port Hunter, Lighthouse Grill, and more.
Having events in locations spread out across the Island really enabled festival goers to see and experience so much more of the different personalities of the towns.
The festival also consisted of larger signature events that reoccur, small batch experiences, and dinner pop-ups, which could very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity — to be seized when offered.
Kuddos For Crudo (Small Batch Experience)
With so many delicious sounding events, it was a challenge to create my #MVFOODANDWINE itinerary, but I was able to narrow it down to my top three, in addition to the Grand Tasting at Meyhew, and of course, Fresh Off the Farm at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury.
With such a selection of fresh seafood, why not venture into the world of crudo? I’m not very brave with raw seafood and meat at home, but at l’etoile, with the creations of the talented chef, Michael Brisson, it is game on.
Crudo, Fresh Off the Boat was a must. Dan Michaud of Ruby Wines, chose six wines in the Sauvignon Blanc family, to be paired with seafood from Menemsha Fish House, prepared by Michael.
In the beautiful outside space at l’etoile, we were presented with our wines and crud0 dishes.
First up, Longpoint Oysters, which I was not familiar with. I thought I knew about most Island oysters, but it’s good to learn something new. Of course the oyster was beautifully prepared and paired so well with a Cape Pointe Sav Blanc from South Africa. With the warmer weather, it’s nice to be getting away from the more grapefruit profiles of this grape variety.
Then a beautiful trio of yellowfin tuna, fluke and scallop. It was here that the magic happened for me. The scallop was so perfect, a little acidic, the pop of flavor with the fish eggs and the most delicious wine, La Roncaia “Eclisse” from Friuli, Italy.
John dove into the nuances of this wine and the people who make it, learning about the countryside, the labor, the beauty of this perfect glass of wine that worked so well with the crudo. Enjoying amazing food that is not the usual, learning — really learning — about the wines you’re drinking is an amazing experience.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get more interesting, Mike Holtham from Menemsha Fish House comes. We then learn a little about all the seafood we’ve been lucky to eat. That the fluke was just that, a fluke. Fishermen had a small window reopen for catching fluke, and we were able to capitalize on it.
Celebrating local flavor and local talent with well paired wines, was an excellent experience. And for me, I knew some of the things going into the event, but I can only imagine how much more special it was for others.
Into The Frying Pan (Small Batch Experience)
It’s true, I am fan of salty, friend seafood. A good fish and chips or fried clams is like food for the soul sometimes. Imagine my delight when I read about Crispy and Salty. A four plate event celebrating bubbles and fried seafood.
The Island’s own, chef Michael Rottman, came out of retirement for this one. He now works at Menemsha Fish House, along with Mike Holtham, and his knowledge of local seafood and cooking is extensive.
This event was made for me, fried little neck clams with cilantro and lime started us off. Paired with two Bruts, the Gosset Grande Reserve taking the win for me. I could have eaten at least a pint of these lightly fried little guys.
Next a bay scallop with a bacon fritter and bacon from the Grey Barn, always a classic, but Mikey’s had a twist. The flavor, the beautiful bacon, perfection. Oh and the Andre Jacquart “Premier Cru” Brut Rose was the best of the event. My girlfriend and I are still talking about it.
Then onto fish and chips with champagne tempura batter and root veggie chips, and then last but not least, something quite different, crispy fried fish skins. Yes, that was our fourth plate and was actually quite good. I was a little hesitant but Mikey worked his wonders and I can say that I like fried fish skin. It’s good to try new things.
While chef was preparing our guilty pleasures, the lovely and well versed in bubbly, Ariel Arce from New York’s Birds & Bubbles which is known for its champagne and fried chicken, was giving us the history of the sparkling treats we were enjoying.
I really enjoyed the local food and beverage selections for Crispy and Salty. I hope Mikey comes out of retirement for a “pop-up” here and there again. I do know he also makes mean Vineyard fried oysters.
Up In Smoke, Up-Island (Pop-Up Dinner)
The final event of the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival, truly offered a unique experience. Guests made their way to the furthest end of the Island — The Outermost Inn, located in Aquinnah, for the A Wood-Fired Feast, Up-Island Style.
Here, guests were greeted by breathtaking views and some of the most beautiful local food. The food was being prepared right in front of guests over a fire by the Island’s chef/farmer Chris Fischer and Gloucester’s Nico Monday of The Market and Short & Main. Nico and Chris have been friends for over a decade and love collaborating whenever possible!
Paired with beautiful wines, I feel in love with Coho, guests were treated to grilled lamb, a beautiful Paella ragu made with end of Summer tomatoes, local sausage and chicken and more.
There were also local squid – seasoned and grilled to perfection, then served on bread for a unique seafood bruschetta. Food was bountiful as was conversation.
Guests stood around a roaring fire savoring wine, noshing on the freshest, local bites, enjoying conversation with their neighbors and enjoying the intimacy of the event. You could really dig into the food and wine. Also being able to access such phenomenal chefs and watch their every move is exciting, especially since the food is so scrumptious.
This is one of those events where you begin as a guest and leave as friends. Even wine festival co-planner, Nevette Previd was able to enjoy the fruits of her labor, and enjoy a glass of wine and bite to eat. After all, it was a very success festival, where local food and purveyors were paired with some of the best wine and spirits on the market.
For me, it was educational and a great time to celebrate Fall and the Island’s bounty with friends. I can’t wait to see what next year’s Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine festival has to offer.
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