Martha's Vineyard Food and Wine Festival

Staff Writer
A celebration of food at New England's most treasured little island
Patricia Stagich

Martha's Vineyard Food and Wine Festival is a four-day-long celebration of food and wine.

After a quick flight from Newark, N.J., we arrived in Boston for the connecting flight to the Vineyard via Cape Air. Our stay for the weekend was at the historic Harbor View Hotel, located in the heart of Edgartown, Mass. Built in 1891, overlooking Martha's Vineyard's Edgartown Lighthouse and Harbor and Chappaquiddick ("Chappy" for the locals), the Harbor View Hotel is quaint and cozy.

Click here to see the Martha's Vineyard Food and Wine Festival (Slideshow)

The kickoff festivities began Thursday evening with Vineyard Gazette's "Fresh off the Farm" event at Ag Hall in West Tisbury. It was a special farm-to-table tasting, with everything made by local chefs using island-grown ingredients. This year’s beneficiary, Island Grown Schools, is an organization that impacts almost 2,300 school-aged children on Martha's Vineyard and has installed learning gardens at every public school and six island preschools. Island Grown Schools hopes to create a healthier community that supports local agriculture.

The Sommelier Slam! was first on our list for Friday. Food and wine enthusiasts enjoyed sipping fine wines from around the world and tasting extraordinary cuisine from chef Michael Brisson of  l'etoile Restaurant, an intimate, contemporary fresh restaurant that's within walking distance from the Harbor View. Four tastings with wine were presided over by the team of Joseph Carr, a Napa Valley vintner; Dominick Purnomo, chef and sommelier of Yono's & dp An American Brasserie; and Dan Michaud of Ruby Wine, Inc

The opening reception was held at the Harbor View hotel. Executive chef Nathan Gould and his team provided incredible morsels that intrigued every sense, including oysters, ahi tuna with popcorn, baby octopus on a skewer, and chocolate caviar.

With just a little spare time on our hands before diving into our Saturday schedule, we headed out to the other end of the island to Menemsha, an enjoyable 30-minute drive. Everyone we spoke to urged us to visit Larsen's Fish Market, selling fresh fish, steamed lobsters, and soup. You can sit out on the dock and watch the fishing boats in the harbor, or catch some local fishermen having lunch. It's a quintessential vineyard experience not to be missed. Luckily, we arrived the day before they were about to close for the season!

Chocolate and wine? Dark chocolate and red wine is a classic pairing. With so many wine-growing regions and styles of winemaking in the world, the possibilities for delicious and interesting pairings are endless. Taza Chocolate held the next event at Eleven North, a restaurant and bar located in downtown Edgartown. Wine and chocolate pairing party, anyone? Pairings are great ice-breakers and conversation starters!

The weekend-long event culminated with an elegant and popular Grand Tasting, tented in beautiful downtown Edgartown. Presenting chefs were Nathan Gould, executive chef of Water Street Restaurant who gave a live cooking demo; Andy Husbands, executive chef and owner of Tremont 647; Suvir Saran, a Top Chef Masters alum; as well as Tony Maws of Craigie on Main and Tim Cushman of O Ya in Boston.

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To get a deeper look at some of the highlights of the festival, click through our slideshow of some of the top events, bites, and chefs!