Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mid-Tour Vacation on Nantucket

We’ve finished our marathon (for the week) and are revelling in our spare time in Nantucket. The island is beautiful and the people fantastic.

Veronica and Leah arrived late on Monday, exhausted from their trip, to join Jim and Katy and rest soundly at “The Shack”. Chef Seth and his wife Angela opened the doors to their family beach house in Cisco on the southwest end of the island - hardly a “shack”. Jim and Katy were already fairly settled, having been there two days visiting and planning with the folks at Bartlett’s Farm, dining at Seth and Angela’s restaurant The Pearl and working with Coastal Living for an upcoming feature article (due out September 2008).

Jim and Leah were both up early on Tuesday morning as neither of them are capable of sleeping in. They took the bikes into town to find some coffee, tea and Jim’s New York Times newspaper – morning necessities. Veronica and Katy woke up later, just as Jim and Leah were returning, and we all decided it would be valuable to dunk into the ocean before heading down to the farm for the day. Jim grabbed a surf board out of Seth’s collection in the shed and caught a couple of one-foot waves while the girls paddled around. “This sure doesn’t feel like tour!” Katy exclaimed. “We’d never get to go swimming before the dinner in past years.”

After the quick dip, we grabbed the bikes, jeep and trailer and headed down the road to Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm, conveniently only a couple of miles away. Jim and Katy had been there the day before, discussing logistics with Jill and Larry, including where the table would go. Of course an additional 30 minutes of walking around was required to clear up apparent miscommunications on welcome area vs. table locations. Eventually all parties agreed that though it would be easier to have the entire dinner in the flower fields, the dinner would be held half a mile away in a corn field: after their appetizers and beer, the guests would enjoy a hay wagon ride to table. Perfect.

The rest of the afternoon was routine setting up the welcome area and table, fetching ice, water and wine; although slightly unusual since the welcome area and table were so far apart and Leah and Veronica barely saw Katy for the entire setup time. Guests started arriving at a bit after 3:30 to begin enjoying Skip Bennet’s Island Creek Oysters, Lowell Whiteford’s grilled littlenecks, Neil Cocker’s mussels, Bill Sandole’s blue fish pate and some Cisco brews from down the road. Quite the lineup!

Now Angela had warned us in the weeks prior to the dinner that we might be expecting a few extra guests to show up at the dinner sans reservations. Apparently more people had been talking about attending the dinner than were on our list and it would be typical island mentality for people to just show up should they decide an Outstanding in the Field dinner would be a fun event for the evening. Well, let’s just say that more than a few extra people showed and Leah and the set up team had to frantically add some last minute settings to the table.

It was approaching 6 o’clock by the time the hay wagon was loaded up and the guests trucked over to the - now extended - table between the corn rows. Seth Raynor and his kitchen crew had little daylight to prepare this wonderful menu and ended up grilling the swordfish – still to perfection – by candle- and lantern-light. The wine, provided by Lolonis Vineyard in Medocino, flowed along with the meal, which included Erin’s antipasti assortment, a delicious lobster & corn chowder, savory ratatouille a perfect finale of pound cake with peach compote and ice cream. Again, see the full menu here. At the table, Ted Jennison regaled the guests with tales of his swordfish hunt on the high seas, off New Bedford while Lowell Whiteford described his delicate method of harvesting clams.

The night was picturesque, with the table perfectly hidden in the corn rows and delaying the guests’ sighting of the full moon as it rose high into the sky, casting a beautiful light over the happily chatting table. After Seth, Angela, Erin and the team came out to say goodnight to the table, some guests lingered in the field under the moonlight while others were keen to catch the hay wagon back to the parking lot and avoid the possiblity of getting lost in the corn.

Another success and now we’re looking forward to enjoying the island for a couple of days before heading back to the mainland.

Special thanks again to Jill, Larry and John at Bartlett’s, Katy’s brothers Khris and Stefan, Deborah, of course Angela, Seth, Erin and their crew and all of the wonderful people who joined us at the table!

Be sure to check out the Plum TV site for some video and photo footage of the dinner.

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