29 May 2018

Wine and Dine on Nantucket

In his captivating memoir, “A Moveable Feast,” about his time in Paris, author Ernest Hemingway says this about his experience with food and wine. “As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” If Mr. Hemingway had been under the tent at The White Elephant at last weeks Wine Festival Gala he might have penned similar ruminations.
The annual festival celebrating and honoring international wineries, winemakers and purveyors is in its 21st season. What began as a humble gathering of a few small vintners, has exploded into a global affair which now includes not only world-class wine, but also restaurants, chefs and culinary experts, with the name being expanded to Nantucket Wine and Food Festival. There may be no better way to kick off the summer season than by inviting a few thousand of the Grey Lady’s closest friends to a long weekend “dinner party” with wine and fancy food on every menu.
There are a number of parties, dinners, symposiums and tastings throughout the weekend, but the flagship event that really gets the party started is the Gala on Thursday evening. Everyone trades their winter flannels for party clothes and gathers for an evening of sipping the good juice and nibbling lite bites that include everything from pork belly to tuna crudo, fois gras mouse and mussel stew. Hemingway would be thrilled that the oysters appear in abundance and a variety of preparations.
Although the wine and food steal the show, there is an underlying and unspoken reason people clamor for the gala experience. It’s the first opportunity of the summer season to gather with friends and neighbors, welcome home summer residents and guests and meet the stars who produce the wine and spectacular cuisine. It’s particularly heartwarming to see so many local restaurants showcasing their talents and 5-star dishes. It’s equally impressive to see at least one long-time summer family, the Donelan’s, soaring to popularity and success with their award-winning wines (my favorite is the Cuvee Christine Syrah which pairs beautifully with a rib roast I might add!)
If you missed this year’s festival, make plans now to attend next year. In the meantime, don’t miss the extraordinary menu items in virtually every island restaurant this summer. The local chefs have raised the bar on exceptional fare and their wine lists and pairing options are equally notable. Or, you can grab a bottle or two of the good stuff at Epernay, Brix or Nantucket Wine and Spirits and invite a few friends to your own dining table. Prepare a tasting menu using local fish and produce. Share favorite recipes, newly discovered wines and lots of laughter. Then raise a glass to the island that brings us all together for the food, festivals and friendship.
Make plans.
Shellie Dunlap
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