*Image provided by Cooking with Books
Meet Marnely, a culinary professional creating original, mouth-watering recipes from her home base on Martha's Vineyard, and working with clients like Sabra and Cabot Cheese. She also writes about food and travel on her blog, Cooking with Books. We talked to Marnely about what makes Martha's Vineyard a fabulous place to eat and explore:
What events/festivals on Martha's Vineyard do you look forward to each year?
In May, the MV Wine Festival is a must not miss event. Over 500 wineries hand curated by the wine festival founder are brought to MV and you get a chance to chat with wine makers and winery owners, while tasting their wine. The Taste of the Vineyard in June is a crazy fun event - almost all of the local island restaurants are showcased and are serving up their best foods - plus tons of New England brands of booze and drinks as well are serving it up! To end the season, the MV Food and Wine Festival is the perfect way to end October on a high note, with chefs from all over Boston and New England, workshops, and more.
What are some off-the-beaten path recommendations for travelers?
I'd recommend exploring all over - it's a small island! There are bike paths all over and renting a bike for the day goes for about $30, so it's a great way to get a workout in and explore all at the same time. Up-island, enjoy the stillness of nature even in the high season and down-island discover some great shopping in most of the towns.
What is the #1 reason you would give to travelers on Cape Cod to take the ferry over to Martha's Vineyard for the day?
The food! Take the ferry over and you won't be disappointed. The food on Martha's Vineyard is amazingly fresh thanks to our local fishermen, oyster farmers, and produce growers. The amount of farms is incredible and those farms make their products available - if you don't want to eat out, you can always stop by a local farm and pick up fresh local meats, vegetables, and condiments made right on island. Heck, you can even start your morning with a fresh cup of locally roasted Chilmark Coffee!
What are the top must-try restaurants on the island?
Oh so many. Seriously, each town has their own wealth of restaurants and food shops. Off the top of my head, these are some of my favorite restaurants on island: Henry's Hotel Bar at the Harbor View Hotel (great view of Edgartown Harbor!), The Newes from America Pub at the Kelley House Inn (total comfort food in a pub environment) Detente (unpretentious fine dining) , Atria (amazing burgers), Bangkok Cuisine (if you're craving delicious Thai food), The Port Hunter (farm to table recipes), The Home Port (best sunset on island!), State Road Restaurant (locally sourced ingredients), The Atlantic (best lobster mac & cheese)...and many more!
Are there any Martha's Vineyard food specialties you recommend?
Grace Church serves the best lobster rolls on island, so make sure to try those. Most restaurants serve local oysters, slurp a dozen of them and rejoice in their sweet brine! Oh and definitely have several bowls of New England Clam Chowder - every restaurant has their own take, but all of them are delicious!
Just a short ferry ride from Wood's Hole, on Cape Cod, is the summer paradise of Martha's Vineyard. If you're staying on the Cape for a while, why not take your bicycles and backpacks, board the ferry for the Vineyard and get away from it all for a weekend? While summertime is perfect the shoulder seasons of spring and fall provide a solitude that is often lacking on Cape.
Cycle vs. Drive
You can take your car on the ferry to Martha's Vineyard, but a bicycle might be better. You'll save a bundle on the ferry as the fare for a regular car, round trip, is $85.00 but a bike is only $8.00. Parking can be a serious challenge on the island, especially in the busy summer months, and the backroads beyond the villages are perfect by bicycle. There are some designated bike paths, but the secondary roads are paved and comfortable for cyclists. Drivers on the Vineyard are used to bicycles in traffic and you'll find them courteous and willing to share the road. Bicycles are easy to rent on the island, just look near the ferry docks in either village. You can pick up a bike map at the Chamber of Commerce in Vineyard Haven, on Beach Road.
**Note: If you take your own bike on the ferry, DO NOT trust the bike stands on the boat, if the boat pitches and your bike falls over you can bend that front wheel beyond repair. Trust us, we know. If that DOES happen, there are bike mechanics just off the ferry who seem all too familiar with this repair.
Where to Stay
Weekend rentals are easy to find, with over 1600 available through FlipKey alone. Summer is the peak season for vacationers on the Vineyard, so you can expect to pay more June-September and should plan to make reservations as far in advance as possible. The village of Oak Bluff is especially quaint, and will have easy access to plenty of shops and fun restaurants to suit any taste. But if you prefer quiet, look for a beach house, perhaps on Chappaquiddick, a secluded island that was recently separated from Martha's Vineyard during a storm in 2007. Don't miss the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge if you want quiet communion with nature.
Don't Miss Out!
No weekend on the Vineyard would be complete without a ride on the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluff, one of the oldest carousels in the country; dating back to 1870. At just $2.00 a ticket it's a cheap trip back in time for the young or the young at heart.
If you're a movie buff then you will want to pay your respects at John Belushi's grave site. His body was moved in 1983 to keep fans from desecrating the site. The memorial stone is still there.
The Gingerbread Cottages in Oak Bluff are darling and an interesting architectural attraction on the island. If you're on a bike, you'll get the best view as traffic won't push you on past too quickly! There are more than 300 cottages painted in rainbow hues.
The Martha's Vineyard Museum, in Edgartown, is worth an afternoon if you have it. Chock-full of history and cultural information about the island, it will help you develop an appreciation for the hardy souls who've called the island home for centuries.
Hungry? It might be cliche, but have lunch at the Black Dog Tavern, in Vineyard Haven, anyway. Just don't buy a sweatshirt, or you're marked as a tourist for sure! (Oh go ahead, buy the shirt!) Their food is legendary and you'll find locals and off-islanders alike in the dining room. Be sure to ask to sit by a window, the view of the harbor is lovely.
Of course there are beaches, lighthouses and the clay cliffs to see too, the more time you have to explore, the more places you'll discover that you love!
Author bio: A dynamic mother-daughter duo of travel writers, Jenn & Hannah are in their fourth year of an open ended world tour. Their partners in crime are Dad & 3 brothers and together they are http://www.edventureproject.com
Perhaps it's the swimsuit issues of fashion magazines that have already started to grace newspaper stands, or maybe it's that glimmer of warmth in the air, the suggestion that maybe the days of scarves and sweaters are on their way out, but with Memorial Day quickly approaching, my thoughts tend to turn to the beach. I'll be spending all of August, like so many, tanning and swimming in the ocean, but it's a little too early for that now; nevertheless, the beach is what I'm thinking of, and there's at least one I can be sure is perhaps even more beautiful at this time of year: while there are dozens of gorgeous beaches all over the United States, for some reason, Memorial Day immediately reminds me of New England.
There's something about the beaches that dot the shoreline of Massachusetts that capture the essence of what it is to be just on the edge of spring and summer. For just a moment, after the bone-chilling winters so cold that you can't imagine standing outside for more than ten minutes, much less taking a leisurely walk along the shore, and just before the scorching, humid days of summer, there's a perfect moment when the beaches are still cool enough to need a light sweater, and the waves lapping the shore feel like they're just for you.
The island of Martha's Vineyard, immortalized in too many films to count for its allure of a mysterious lost paradise, is just one of those places. The town of Aquinnah, formerly Gay Head, is the perfect place to visit now, before it's flooded with summer beach-goers in just a few short weeks, and a solitary walk along the Vineyard's coastline wouldn't be complete without a visit to the town of Aquinnah.
Aquinnah's cliffs are made of clay and are nearly orange in color; they stand out even more against the waves. I love to take a walk alongside them when they're tranquil and empty; it's the perfect way to quietly allow spring to end and summer to begin.
That being said, it's still chilly enough in Massachusetts that a bowl of this local specialty -- creamy New England chowder with local seafood -- is more than welcome upon returning home. Classic recipes put clams center stage, and while purists may disagree, I firmly support the idea that you don't need to feel limited by the traditional name of the soup. The Vineyard has dozens of local fishmongers selling local, fresh fish and seafood; I like Menemsha Fish Market (formerly Poole's) in Chilmark, which has low prices and some of the freshest products in a friendly, family-run store. Ask the knowledgeable salespeople behind the counter what's fresh, and throw whatever you like into this chowder: mussels, clams, shrimp, squid, even denser white fish will stand up well. Traditional versions use more cream; feel free to add more if you like, but I find that just a touch of it allows the fish to speak for itself, and when it's this fresh, there's no reason to make it any other way.
New England Seafood Chowder
3.5 ounces bacon, diced
1 onion, minced
2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk, warmed
3 cups clam juice or fish stock, warmed
2-3 potatoes, diced
10 ounces fresh seafood (mussels, clams, shrimp, fish) Note: 10 ounces is the yield weight; if using shellfish in the shell, you will need more. Let the vendor know the yield weight, and they'll be happy to help you.
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
4-5 Tbsp. heavy cream
Heat about a half-inch of water over high heat in a heavy-bottomed stock pot with a lid. Add the bacon and allow it to start to render its fat. Add the onion and salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until both the bacon and onion are browned. The bottom of the pan will be covered in brown bits.
Remove the pan from the flame and add the butter and flour. Stir vigorously to combine and lift some of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Place the pan back over the flame and reduce to medium-low. When the flour has cooked for about a minute or two, slowly begin to add the milk, stirring all the while. It should thicken up nearly immediately, but if it doesn't continue stirring until it does. Add the clam juice and potatoes, and stir to combine. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked but still firm.
You have two choices with regards to how to prepare the seafood. Firstly, you can cook it directly in the soup, leaving it in the shells, which turns the soup into more of a seafood stew. You can also cook the seafood separately and shell it, adding the individual pieces of seafood to the stew once they've already been cooked. Either way, pick over the shelled seafood like mussels and clams, discarding any that are already opened or have broken shells. Rinse them well and debeard the mussels and devein the shrimp if necessary. Clams and white fish take the longest to cook through at about 10 minutes, while mussels take about 5, and shrimp and squid no more than 2. Add the seafood accordingly, so that the stew will have cooked in total 30 minutes from the time you added the potatoes, or cook the seafood separately and add to the stew, removing it from the heat immediately.
Once the seafood has been cooked and added to the stew, remove the pot from the heat and add the thyme, pepper and cream, as well as more salt to taste. Serve with Boston brown bread.
Author Bio:Emily Monaco is native New Yorker, living and writing in Paris since 2007. She loves discovering new places and, of course, their local cuisines! Read about her adventures in food and travel at tomatokumato.com or follow her on Twitter at @emiglia
Many folks visit Martha's Vineyard during August and September and, each month offers different attractions and qualities. If you're thinking of planning a visit to the Vineyard this month or next, here are some thoughts to help with your planning.
August is a great month to visit the Vineyard because the weather and the water temperatures are generally at the warmest of the year. President Obama has scheduled two vacations on the Vineyard during August in past years and is expected once again during this month this year.
The Top Gun Marlin & Tuna Shoot-Out Tournament and the 12-Metre Edgartown Regatta are two events held during August. If you are an offshore fisherman, you can register for the marlin and tuna tournament at the Wesley Hotel in Oak Bluffs. Viewing the regatta race can be quite thrilling and may be a unique experience to try to be a part of.
Flying Horses Oak BluffsVisiting the Vineyard in September comes with the benefit of reduced prices on lodging and fewer crowds and lines at the favored attractions. The majority of Martha’s Vineyard hotels, inns and rentals reduce their rates after Labor Day because many people are in the "back to school" and "summer is over" mode. However, the weather can still be quite nice and sunny days in the 70's are possible. Although you might not dare to swim at the beaches, the charm of the Vineyard scenery is still fun to enjoy in jeans and a sweatshirt. There will be less traffic and fewer waits at restaurants and shops during this time.
The West Tisbury Farmer's Market is a popular event during September. The Grange Hall in West Tisbury is the venue and showcase for fresh produce, unique flowers and great home cooking. This fits into the "quintessential New England Fall activities" category and is sure to please folks young and old.
Of course, any time of year is a great time for taking in the sights in downtown Oak Bluffs. Stroll down Circuit Ave and browse through the charming shops. There are many options for coffee, snacks, lunch and dinner. Mad Martha’s is a favorite spot for ice cream and Murdick’s Fudge has fresh fudge made daily. The Flying Horses Carousel is a landmark attraction and is the nation's oldest operating platform carousel. The rides are a huge bargain, about $2 per ride, and if a rider gets the special brass ring they get a free ride.
August and September are great months to visit Martha’s Vineyard and we hope these ideas help you plan your visit to the island.
Author bio: Scott Garrity runs marthas-vineyard-vacation-tips.com. Visit his site to see large photos and read about other tips for a Martha’s Vineyard vacation.
The Obama’s are expected to spend part of August warming their feet in the sands of Martha’s Vineyard, thus adding their name to the legacy of Commander-in-Chief’s who’ve basked in the peaceful refuge of the Vineyard’s shores.
Currently, the Obama’s don’t have any vacation properties to call their own. Rather, the First Family is speculated to go the rental route once again, opting to rent a home in the Vineyard’s Oak Bluffs. The presidential family frequently enjoys the perks of renting a vacation home; changing locations each time they want to kick their feet up. While they are choosing to return to the Vineyard this summer, for their winter vacation, they rented a home on Oahu Island in Hawaii, where President Obama grew up.
The Obama’s aren’t the first presidential family to discover the joys of Martha’s Vineyard vacation rentals. President Clinton and his family retreated to the beautiful island 6 times during his 8 years in office. Each time the family indulged in the luxury of renting a vacation home on the island without worrying about maintaining their privacy. The Vineyard is one of the few places where the locals recognize the importance of relaxation and give the famous their space. This is particularly appealing to President Obama who claims the best part of vacation is being able to “wander around in shorts and not have to shave in the morning and no one talks about it. (Doyle).”
Martha’s Vineyard is not only a great destination for privacy, it offers plenty of activities for the kiddos as well. Sasha (8) and Malia (11) can take a ride on the Vineyard’s Flying Horses Carousel, a 125 year old hand painted carousel, while the Mr. and Mrs. can stop in to Mocha Mott’s for a taste of the homemade coffee blend, “Mochabama.” And of course the whole family (including Bo, the dog!) can enjoy a walk along the Aquinnah cliffs and experience the breathtaking sunset.
Take a page from Obama's book and check out a vacation rental for your next trip!
Doyle, Leonard. "Barack Obama to Spend Holidays in Martha's Vineyard". Washington: telegraph.co.uk, n.d.
A vacation spot fit for the President - it’s no wonder Martha’s Vineyard was named a Best East Coast Beach Destination by FlipKey. This island’s old-fashioned charm, scenic coastlines and historical attractions have kept Presidents, as well as many other vacationers, coming back year after year.
There are miles of coast line to explore on Martha’s Vineyard- including the orange clay Aquinnah's cliffs, the secluded beaches of Chappaquiddick, the choppy waters of South Beach and the many lighthouses. You can even jump off of the bridge from the movie Jaws at State Beach! And when you need a break from the water, there is plenty else to do. Oak Bluff is a must visit while “on island.” This quaint little town is home to the Flying Horses Carousel as well as the famous Gingerbread Cottages. Grab a metal ring each go-around on the carousel, and if you end up with the brass ring you win a free ride! Then grab a slice of pizza across the street at Giordano’s and walk around to see over 300 homes intricately painted in rainbow colors.
While you’re there, try to catch a performance by a cappella group Vineyard Sound- they perform in a different town on the island each night. There is also a multitude of shops and restaurants to explore; my favorites include Murdick’s Fudge and Mad Martha’s ice cream.
If you want to be close to the action- we recommend staying in a town like Oak Bluff of Edgartown. For a more secluded getaway, take the short ferry across the harbor to Chappaquiddick. Martha’s Vineyard also makes a great day trip if you are vacationing on Cape Cod! And if you don’t want to bring your car over to the island by ferry, you can easily rent and explore Martha’s Vineyard via bicycle.
When you think of coastal getaways in New England, the first island that comes to anyone's mind is Martha's Vineyard, located south of Cape Cod off the coast of Massachusetts. Even though “The Vineyard” is the place to be during the summer months, there are plenty of things to do and see during the off-season as well. That's why FlipKey rates it as the top New England getaway.
During the late spring, summer and early autumn months, the island is bustling with visitors relaxing on its beaches, visiting lighthouses, shopping at local stores and savoring amazing seafood caught earlier that day off the shore.
Searching for something that is truly unique? Martha's Vineyard is home to the Island Alpaca Company. The amazing marine life that calls Martha's Vineyard home is no secret, but not too many people know that you are able to find alpaca that are indigenous to South America right in New England!
For those who want to experience Martha's Vineyard and connect with the locals without vying with hoards of tourists, there's still a lot to do on the vineyard during the off season months. During the winter holidays, don't miss the Gingerbread Cottages in Oak Bluff. Built in the mid-1800s and passed down through families, these colorful cottages will put you in the holiday spirit with their colorful exteriors and lavish designs.
New England is known for rough winters and people will still hike, ski, skate and sled on the island. Once the cold has crept into your bones, move indoors and curl up in front of a roaring fire or pamper yourself at local spas for a truly relaxing experience. Martha's Vineyard also boasts great little pubs that serve amazing New England clam chowder and French onion soup as well as heartier fare that will stick to your ribs, warms you up and keeps you going. And if it is any consolation, Martha's Vineyard is usually about 8-12 degrees warmer than the city of Boston; which could make a nice day trip.
With so many things to do on Martha's Vineyard for all ages, at any time of the year, it is obvious why the vineyard tops New England getaways on FlipKey!
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