Cooking With Friends
When an early morning fog blankets Menemsha, the small fishing village on the island of Martha's Vineyard, if not for the smell of the ocean breeze, a lonely chime of a fog bell and the distant rumble of departing fishing boats, you would never know you're steps from the sea. It hangs heavy on the horizon and bleeds into the tall grass at the edge of the beach, blending with the weathered grey fishing shacks, their doors and windows popping with the freshly painted vibrant blues for the summer season. It will be hours before the day's first tourists arrive and the sun burns off the fog. They'll be lined up at The Galley for soft-serve ice cream, and our favorite fish market, Larsen's, for lobster rolls. Soon the quiet symphony of morning sounds will be replaced by car alarms and screaming kids. Until then, the morning is mine.
This old fishing village once boasted a vibrant whaling industry. Today it's better know for being home to several scenes from the movie "Jaws." In fact, the charming vacation shack we rented this week faces the beach where they filmed the opening scene. There's nothing fancy about this part of Martha's Vineyard. It's a great place to charter a fishing boat or stroll along the rocky beach. There's a bike ferry that takes you across the inlet to Lobsterville. And it has the most breathtaking sunsets on the island.
Jeff's family has been vacationing on Martha's Vineyard for generations. His childhood friends now come back with their kids to spend days at the beach and nights at other's beach homes for dinner parties. His friends Mickey and Kelly are the ultimate hosts, always curating a great mix of old friends and locals. Martha's Vineyard vacations are made for potlucks, with good friends coming together for tasty food, shared recipes and the stories that go along with them. I love learning about regional preparations and ingredients. One of the many gifts of this island is the fresh food, either plucked from your garden or the farmers market.. Our friend Polly brought us a bag of island corn to welcome us when we arrived. There was an impromptu dinner that night so after a lazy day on the beach I shucked it and cut the kernels off the cobb with a dull knife that seems to be the cutlery norm of any rental house. I grabbed some fresh peaches from the cases I'd sent my in-laws and ran across the street to a farm stand to buy some good olive oil, fresh fennel, green onions and basil. It was a quick toss of ingredients -- the olive oil, basil and some fennel went into a salad with the corn and peaches and the remaining fennel and green onions were reserved for the grill.
Between conversations with a book editor, bike ferry captain, raw food entrepreneur and writer I side-eyed the buffet to see how my salad fared alongside the platters and bowls of delicious food that everyone brought. Folks loaded their plates and ate, talked and laughed. They shared childhood stories, caught each other up on their lives and the lives of their kids and made plans to meet on the beach the next day. At the end of the evening, we rolled out of there full, happy and amazed at what a great job our hosts did at creating such a beautiful evening.
Summer Corn Salad
6 Ears fresh corn
3 Ripe peaches
2 handfuls of fresh basil chopped
1 Bulb fennel finely chopped
2 Handfuls of fennel fronds
2 T olive oil
Cut the end off each ear of corn to give yourself a flat surface. Place the flat end of the corn on the bottom of the bowl, hold the corn firmly with one hand and use a knife to cut the kernels in a downward motion off the cobb and into the bowl. Slice peaches cross wise, twist out the pit and cut the peaches into bite-size chunks. Toss in chopped basil, chopped fennel and fronds. Mix with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and carry to your party.