World class wines from France. Fresh oysters from Duxbury. Black bass caught off the coast of Nantucket. Superb salmon flown straight from Scotland. Fine cuts of lamb from Colorado. Black truffles ordered from Paris. All prepared and served by highly regarded chefs and sommeliers in an elegant Nantucket home on a lovely summer evening.
These were just some of the attractions for a “Great Wines in A Grand House” dinner held last summer as a premiere 2011 Nantucket Wine Festival event. The evening was a star-studded extravaganza created by well-known chef, Robert Sisca of Boston’s award-winning Bistro du Midi, several French winemakers, and a Nantucket couple who shared their historic home with 18 lucky guests. Read more…
With Memorial Day right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking of light and easy meals created with fresh natural ingredients. We asked Cape Cod Life’s staff to share their favorite salad recipes to give you a head start on great summer salads!
As I mentioned last week, I’m going to be posting bits and pieces that, due to space constraints, didn’t make it into the 2012 Annual Guide. In this outtake, Todd Marcus, brewmaster at Cape Cod Beer, talks about how he cleaned draught lines to get his foot in the door, the brewery’s community-first ethos, and why I shouldn’t have tossed my plastic cup in the trash after a beer tasting.
I usually say I was gathering intelligence along the way (while I was working for Hyannisport Brewing Company). I even went so far as to work part-time for another local business that was involved in draught line cleaning so I could get into these bars and restaurants on the Cape, talk to the managers and bartenders, learn about their draught systems, what worked and didn’t work, what they liked in the beers that were on tap and what they didn’t like. It allowed me some nice ins later on, after Hyannisport Brewing Company closed, when I would say, “Remember when I was here to clean your draught lines and said that I was thinking about opening a brewery some day? Well, here it is, here’s my beer. What do you think?”
Cape Cod Beer started with Red and IPA. Originally, you could only get the IPA if you had the Red on tap. Having the Red and IPA together meant that if a customer tried the IPA and didn’t like it, but they were still somebody who was interested in trying a craft beer, that they’d try the Red and they’d be happy and satisfied with it. To this day, Cape Cod Red still accounts for more than half of our sales.
Recycling is huge for us—it’s a major part of who we are. We typically put out about one big black bag of trash from the brewery every week. Just about everything else from here gets recycled—all of our plastics, all of our metals. To be perfectly honest, I’m going to go pick up that plastic cup you threw in the trash on the way in here and I’m going to put it in the recycling bin. It’s not your fault. It’s just one of the things I’m going to do.
People know that if they’re going to drink our beer, that money they spent is going to stay here on Cape Cod. I’m going to get my paycheck and I’m going to go to the local hardware store, the local jeweler, the local optician. What comes around goes around.
If you look at our brewery’s retail shop—the books, the candles, the coffee, all that stuff—75 cents of every dollar we spent on retail items last year went to someone on Cape Cod. Now, nobody on Cape Cod is combing cotton to make a T-shirt obviously, but at the very least we’re using local screenprinters, local embroiderers, and as many locally sourced items as we can. We’re a great tourist destination, and we’re trying to help these cottage industries by giving them an outlet. We want to say, “We appreciate what you’re doing, trying to live here and enjoy what Cape Cod has to offer, and that you’re trying to make a living doing what you love as well.” Hopefully, as a result, those people are drinking Cape Cod Beer.
Many of us wish we could develop a new skill—such as learning to cook like a veritable gourmet chef. And we’re in luck: The Regatta of Cotuit offers just such a cooking class series taught by its chef-owner Weldon Fizell.
For the last six years, John Clift has worked as beverage director and sommelier at Atria Restaurant in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, where he manages a wine list that includes up to 300 selections. He’s also the wine buyer for Great Harbor Gourmet & Spirits in Edgartown. Clift earned a sommelier certificate from the International Wine Academy of Roma eight years ago and studied wines from around the world as well as wine production. Each October, when Atria closes for the season, Clift spends four months traveling to wine-producing regions around the world to fuel his passion and seek out unique wines from small producers. He has an abundance of knowledge to share and inspires diners who ask him for wine advice.
How did you develop an interest in wine?
After I graduated from college in Charleston, South Carolina, I worked in restaurants. I had no experience with wine and never really drank wine. I was working in a French restaurant and the first glass of wine I had at work was a Champalou Vouvray from the Loire Valley in France. It was different than anything I’d ever had and I just loved it. I loved the way people could sit down and drink wine and talk about food, politics, and life. Within six months of working in the restaurant, I was writing the wine list.
Tell us how you persuade a diner to try a wine.
We have a lot of return customers who trust me and know that I’ve tasted all the wines and stand behind any wine from $30 to $300. For customers I don’t know, I find out what they like and try to feel them out financially. I don’t want to offer someone a $150 wine when they want to spend $50.
Give us a few tips on how to pick a wine if you’re presented with an encyclopedia-sized wine list.
People should ask to talk to the wine director, sommelier, or someone else who is informed. The person involved with the list takes a lot of pride and is passionate about it. It’s amazing how you’ll get steered to a wine you would have never tasted because a sommelier or wine director explained something about the wine, their relationship with the wine maker, when they first tasted it, or why they put it on the list. Even if you want a $30 wine, it’s okay to ask for the sommelier’s advice.
Do you think the perception about sommeliers being arrogant has changed?
I hope so. It’s something I’ve always strived to change because there’s a stigma and snootiness about sommeliers in the industry. It’s really important to make yourself accessible to a person dining in the restaurant. There are a lot of younger people who are now passionate about wine and who may be intimidated by a list of 200 wines. I want people to ask for me to come over to the table, and I want to make them feel comfortable talking to me.
Tell us about a few new wine trends.
Italian wines have come back—especially wines from Southern Italy, like Sicily and Sardinia. They’re well priced, mostly $10 to $15 a bottle. We’ve see more and more wines from Eastern Europe, like Bulgaria and Moldova. They have really old vines and they make big, deep cabernets and syrahs that you can buy for $10 a bottle. There are also Napa cabernet producers who have a lot of wines in reserve. They are placing other labels on the bottles—so not to compromise their brand—and selling these for less. One is Provenance Vineyards. They have a ton of 2007 fruit and are selling their cabernet as Uppercut for half the price. These are wines to look for.
Corazon del Mar is a creative fiesta jazzing up Nantucket’s dining scene, especially in the off-season. This Latin kitchen and Tequileria specializes in entrees with flair in a hot spot offering relaxed dining ambiance and a fun atmosphere. We started off with zippy Margaritas followed by warm tortilla chips served with excellent guacamole ($11)—recommended by our helpful waitress. In the salsa-colored Tequileria bar and cafe, we enjoyed chef-recommended Warm Stuffed Medjool Dates ($7.50) and our favorite appetizer of the night, fresh Nantucket Fluke Teradito marinated in lemon and Yuzu juice–so so good. Next we chowed down on a Lobster & Shrimp Ceviche Tostada ($18) stuffed with local lobster and Key West shrimp. The Ceviche is a specialty here, spiced up with Corazon’s special green chili crack sauce. Next we enjoyed Grilled Baby Octopus Stew ($15), tender octopus bits in delicate ham broth with fresh chick peas and marinated tomatoes, perfectly complemented by our entree of three Tecate-Battered Baja Codfish Tacos ($23) with Jicama cabbage and a chipolte cole slaw of pickled carrots, Chipolta mayo, and avocado salsa with beans and red rice—tender fish, perfectly spiced sauce and slaw—just superb. On a cool island night, Corazon del Mar was a soul-warming culinary delight.—Susan Dewey
27 South Water Street, Nantucket, 508 228-0815,
Stroll up to the take-out window at Porky’s Barbeque and Grill at Sandy Neck Beach and you’ll find a menu of hamburgers, hotdogs, ice cream, and other comfort food for beach bums. But more importantly, you’ll find some of the meanest barbeque pulled pork and beef brisket on the Cape. The family-run restaurant uses their secret barbeque seasoning recipe, developed over 18 years, to marinate the succulent, smoky, slow-cooked pork and beef, giving it an irresistible taste—at first subtle sweetness, then a bite of spiciness, then finishing off sweet again. And this is all before dousing it with Porky’s three special sauces—the sweet, the tangy, or the spicy chipotle. Try the BBQ beef brisket sandwich, a mound of black angus beef chopped into tender cuts and mounded on a roll ($7) with a side of homemade baked beans or Cole slaw ($1.75 each). Just place your order, carry your food-filled tray over to a picnic table, and enjoy the perfect no-frills beachside feast. At their main restaurant location in Hyannis, Porky’s has an extensive selection of hearty, southern-style favorites like mac n’ cheese and shepherds pie that are sure to curb a craving The meat is smoking and the sauces are simmering—it’s time to take a taste of some sweet and spicy Southern barbeque while looking out to the Cape beach!—Jill Jansson
Sandy Neck Road, East Sandwich, (508) 375-9200. Open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily during the summer.
12 Thornton Drive, Hyannis, (508) 775-4227. Serving breakfast and lunch Monday-Saturday and dinner Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
It’s the faces, the sudden faces. You see them as you wade through the crowds at the Wellfleet OysterFest. Some you know, most you don’t, but there’s a commonality. It’s that look of ballpark expectation: big eyes, easy smiles. “You see everyone,” says Elspeth Hay, a Wellfleet-based writer and author of the popular culinary blog Diary of a Locavore. “Everyone’s there, in the street, both days. I love that.”
Let’s face it: Our language has given pork a pretty bad rap. If you eat too much and feel sick, you are “pigging out.” Corrupt politicians are known for their “pork belly” deals. If you live in a messy place, it’s called a “pigsty.” We raise our ire at road hogs and male chauvinist pigs. And then there’s The Bible’s famous “Cast not your pearls before swine.”
Don’t be fooled by the simple exterior of the Ocean House in Dennisport. A fancy meal awaits—leave your car with the valet and enjoy an unforgettable evening. On a recent visit with a table overlooking Nantucket Sound and Friday night’s musical entertainment in full swing, a great start to our meal was the New Age Bento Box. This tasty appetizer offers something for everyone—five mini servings vary each night. Shiso fried oysters, tagliatelle pasta, hoisin grilled lobster tail, heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella salad, and grilled bison sliders put our hungry stomachs at ease as the entrees were prepared. The menu is full of mouthwatering selections. The two-pound roasted lobster was extraordinary, and its four unique dipping sauces added an unusual kick. The grilled swordfish over jade rice and baby bok choy was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. From the elegant interior design and waterfront view right down to the last bite of dessert, an evening at the Ocean House should be added to any discerning Cape Codder’s dining-to-do-list.—Emma Haselton Read more…
Many of the participants at Ken Mason’s wine seminar at the Hyannis Yacht Club arrived as skeptics. It wasn’t that they doubted the quality of the bottles they were about to sample—a flight from the highly rated Sonoma producer Ferrari-Carano. It was that they were going to sip the wines from expensive glasses made by Riedel, a famous Austrian crystal glassware company that pioneered the idea of making individual stemware for specific varietals. By contrast, some of the folks who attend Mason’s wine seminars, which he holds at various Cape restaurants, insisted that they could drink wine out of a grape jelly jar and the taste wouldn’t be any different. Mason thought otherwise.
Mason, who lives in Harwich, is a manager at Classic Wine Imports, a wine importer based in Norwood, Massachusetts, that also represents Riedel. Mason holds glass tastings on the Cape twice a year to demonstrate how Riedel glasses open up the nuances of the grape compared to all-purpose glasses. “Not only do the shapes of the bowl of Riedels enhance the aromas, the lip on the glass also directs wine to certain parts of your palate,” says Mason. For instance, he says, “The glass for chardonnay has a larger bowl and the glass’s lip directs the wine to the front of your palate. The riesling glass is tulip-shaped and the rim is bent out because riesling tends to be acidic. The glass directs the wine to parts of your palate that smooth the acidity.” For more tannic wines, like Bordeaux or Cabernet, glasses with narrow bowls are better vessels.
The prices of the Riedels can be steep: their best hand blown stems in the Sommeliers series can sell for $60 to more than $100 each. However, crystal, machine-made Riedels (the Vinum and Overture series) sell for about $15 a stem and offer different the same benefits as their pricier counterparts, like a large-bowled glass for Pinot Noir with a tapered rim to trap the wine’s more delicate aroma’s and flavors. “For the wine connoisseur, the Riedel glasses takes wine appreciation to the next level,” says John Kenney, the wine buyer for Harwich East Liquors in East Harwich. “You can step up your wine appreciation and identify more characteristics in a wine, but can you justify the cost?”
If the price of Riedel glasses is a bit out of reach, there are other reasonably priced glassware options on the shelves, like those from Schott Zwiesel. There isn’t the range of varietal specific glasses in this brand, but there are a few choices and the glasses have thin lips (best for tasting wine) and good-sized bowls for red wines and ones with large and narrower bowls for whites—and cost about $10 each. Schott Zwiesel wineglasses have an added benefit: they’re made from titanium and zirconium, so they’re resistant to chipping and breaking, especially in the dishwasher. Their larger size makes them good for swirling wine and getting a waft of the aroma.
At the Hyannis Yacht Club seminar, tasters found that the Riedel glasses allowed them to really appreciate the aromas and flavors in the wine. By the end, Mason says, the skeptics were convinced that the glasses made a difference. It turns out that it takes more than a jelly jar to get the most out of your wine.