Daily Archives: June 4, 2008

Company of the Cauldron

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Nantucket Comedy Festival Update

Save the date for the first Nantucket Comedy Festival, July 28 through August 2, featuring a Tribute/Roast of Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, to be hosted by both Peter and Bobby Farrelly and N Magazine Bill Ferrall. The Festival was founded by Bonnie Block Levison and Kevin Flynn.

Gypsy will host a cocktail reception on Wednesday night the 30th, before Women’s Night at Rose & Crown.

Kevin will be co-hosting on PlumTV’s “Morning, Noon, and Night Show” with Kate Brosnan during the week of the Festival.

The Children’s Program will include performances for children, and a week-long comedy workshop and show in the parking lot of the Dreamland, underwritten by a generous grant from the Nantucket Golf Club through Tommy Bressette, and facilitated by Patty Roggeveen of the Dreamland Foundation.

Kevin Flynn, Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller, and Peter Farrelly

Who’s behind the Festival. On the Board of Directors are Kevin Flynn, President and Artistic Director; Bonnie Levison, Vice President; Tim Braine, Bill Ferrall, Michael Kopko, Franklin and Linda Levy, Chris Mazilli, Judy Seinfeld, and Karen Watkins.

The Board of Advisors are George Alexandro, Kate Brosnan, John Campeau, Gene Mahon, Caroline Reilly, Amy Stiller, Kim Vazquez, Peter Weisman, Thomas Wertimer, and Eric Wynne.

Patron passes are now available online. The Patron Passes include tickets to all 3 nights of Big Tent Events at Jetties Beach. Night one (Thursday) is the “Tribute to Anne and Jerry”. Friday night is “A Night of Political Comedy”. And Saturday night is the “New York/Boston Comedy Smackdown.” The passes include the pre-show cocktail receptions each night, a Saturday night Patron party with celebrities at a private Brant Point home, and Festival merchandise.

Tickets for individual events will be available at the end of June.

Sponsorships are still available. Contact Eric Wynne for details.

The Gallery at Four India



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New Book by Nantucket’s Connor Gifford

Island resident Connor Gifford has written a book called “America According to Connor Gifford, with Victoria Harris”, to be released in June locally, and on July 4th weekend nationally by Hargrave Press. Connor will be speaking about the book at the Atheneum on Friday June 6 at 7 pm, followed by book signing.

Tim Russert calls the 168 page book “a distinctive American perspective by a unique young man.” Nathaniel Philbrick says, “Connor Gifford has written my kind of history … fun and inspiration.” And Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara call it a “must read!”

From the cover: “At a time when 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with our country’s direction, along comes Connor Gifford, an amazing young man from Nantucket who has Down Syndrome, to make sense of our past and offer hope for the future.”

Spanning 400 years of American history, the book is illustrated with 58 of Connor’s original drawings. “This is history as it has never been written before,” says NPR’s Vern Laux. “Lively and uplifting!” Key themes include civil rights, women’s rights, why wars begin, religious freedom and individual responsibility.

Oran Mor

Nantucket Restaurant Review: El Rincon

A new restaurant in town? Ethnic food at a reasonable price? Appetizer, entré; and dessert for about $20? That’s what I’d been hearing. So I gathered up my Mahon About Town staff and several expert taster friends and wine people and off we went.

El Rincon has moved into the former Black Angus Grille on Old South Road. The food is Salvadoran and Mexican, with a few American dishes like a BLT for the non-adventurous. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we chose dinner on a Monday at the end of April, maybe a month after they’d opened, time enough to get the kinks out I thought. El Rincon is awaiting their beer and wine license from Boston, so it’s BYOB until then. You may want to call ahead for an update on the bar situation.

With me were: ‘Sconset Market proprietor Mark Donato with a bit of time on his hands before his Nantucket Wine Festival responsibilities; no longer at Provisions, Beth English has just launched her currentVintage retail vintage clothing slash wine store where Juice Guys used to be on Easy Street; Susan Callan, part of the Wine Fest team; Nancy Bean, Wine Festival Operations and Administrator Vi-Voo Gonzalez, Virna, that is; and Amanda Morgan and Mai Linh Norton, writers and photographers for Mahon About Town, and that night transcribers of the culinary observations and the piffle of the evening. Wine guru and Festival founder Denis Toner was out of town, or he and Susan Toner would have been our ninth and tenth.

Mark and Susan brought a selection of appropriate wines, perhaps purloined from the cellar of Denis while he was away, but more likely from their own sterling collections.

My attention went right to the menu line that said $2. When was the last time you saw that on a menu north of the border? I wanted to order 20 of those $2 apps to take home right then, but others dissuaded me of that.

For apertivos, we ordered the Tamales, Enchiladas, Pupusas, and Pasteles, all generous portions for, I’ll say it again, $2 to $3. (Not homemade) chips and salsa arrived at the table to tide us over.

Mark started us off with a French white burgundy, a St. Aubin Premier Cru 2002. Salud.

The Pasteles were “delicious – surprisingly so”, a stuffed freshly fried crisp tortilla shaped like a Jamaican patty, with a side of a green chili dipping sauce and a lightly pickled cabbage slaw. “The sauce has perfect spice. It’s orange and coleslaw-ish.” Mai Linh thought it fresh, handmade artesian Central American cuisine. Sounds as if she’s been traveling lately, doesn’t it.

Served with a mild red hot sauce, the Pupusas, a traditional Salvadoran dish found on nearly every urban street corner, appeared to be flat pancakes, but are filled with cheese and lorocco, the bud of the national flower of El Salvador, grown only in summer.

The Tamales, cut into sashimi size pieces, had a noticeable homemade corn flavor of masa flour, and were subtly spiced with Spanish paprika and filled with carrots and meaty chicken. Light and tasty with a soft exterior, though some thought too much tamale. “The real deal” for a Salvadoran dish.

The open-faced homemade crispy Enchiladas were topped with generous portions of either coarsely diced grilled steak or chicken, with cilantro, tomato, and onion. It’s not what you think of when you think of a Mexican enchilada, though it is customary south of the Yucatan. This was judged best of the apps.

The Shrimp Ceviche was served in a red wine glass with freshly fried tortilla chips, perfectly cooked chunks of fresh shrimp, avocado, tomato, and cilantro with light lime juice. Just right for a light summer luncheon.

Summing up round one, Amanda thought perfect spice and flavor, Virna said it was all about the flavor, a great alternative to ACK cuisine, and the trick was in the orange sauce with everything, thought Nancy.

What does El Rincon mean? Chef and owner Marcos Tejada told us that literally it means ‘corner’, but referring to a restaurant, it means a quaint, small, intimate spot.

Our servers were Sandra, Juana, and Yessenia. Before ordering our entrees (Platos Tipicos), we asked them what was their favorite dish. Sandra liked the Plato Montanero with beef, bacon, egg, and fried plantano. Yessenia favored the Fajitas Mixtas, with beef, chicken, and shrimp.

Mark ordered in English spiked with a Spanish accent until someone, and for the sake of a better story, let’s say it was Beth English, pointed out that accented English is no easier to understand than the King’s English to someone who doesn’t speak English. “That was my bad tortilla talking”, said Mark. “I’ll be fluent by midnight.”

Whilst awaiting the main course, Mark and Susan transitioned us with a rosé, which, though not always the case, tonight was a good bridge from white to red. A Monkey Bay 2005 from New Zealand. Talk turned to travel. “When traveling, always learn ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the native tongue.” “You cannot pretend to speak English when you are English.” “Always travel with an open mind and heart.” “There are advantages to traveling with money and to traveling with just a backpack.” Nancy used to sell boxer shorts on the docks of San Tropez, hitching rides on the world’s most beautiful yachts. Someone else traveled from Paris to Amsterdam and back by semi-truck.

Here come the entrees.

Mark had already opened the Sterling Vintner’s Collection Pinot Noir, the 2003 Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2004 Nell Cab Shiraz, and ready to drink they were.

The plates were large and full, covering more healthy food groups than I generally eat in a day. On all plates were beans, rice and salad. The refried beans, frijoles, start as dry pink beans, then blended with garlic and salt. Virna loved the short grain white rice – plump, good color, on the salty side. A chopped iceberg lettuce with radish, pickled beet, and cucumber was there when you needed to refresh the palate. On both ends of the table were the handmade tortillas, kept warm in foil as is traditional in El Salvador. Mark thought “we have enough food to feed El Salvador.”

The Carne Asada is a heavily marinated and grilled steak with a strong cumin accent, judged the second best meal of the night. The steak was tender, though a bit small, but the price was right ($15).

Chicken Fajitas ($15) were made with a boned chicken marinated in, perhaps, the same sauce as the grilled steak – the chicken grilled, then served with sweet orange, red peppers, thinly sliced onions, with a prevailing cumin flavor complimenting the entire dish. Mai Linh liked this one better than the steak.

The Plato Montanero ($16) is described as beef and pork, but when you see pork on this menu, read bacon, big thick-cut slices with rind. This dish was judged inferior to the others, the beef a bit tough and the bacon, though tasty, a part time job to chew.

Susan said the Higado Encebollado ($12), the liver and onions, is for people who already like liver and onions. For the Lengua (tongue) Taco ($13), she felt the pieces were too small to get the full the tongue flavor.

The Camarones a mi Rinconcito was the winning dish, and based on the name, also the specialty of the house. The shrimp were lightly cooked with tails on, mixed with asparagus, green onions and spinach, and in one person’s opinion, a “noble hybrid of a healthy Asian stir fry and a Central American shrimp taco without the shell”.

Chuleta de Cerdo, pork chops, were good but not memorable.

After dinner, we asked chef and owner Marcos Tejada to come out of the kitchen and join us to answer a few questions. Marcos has worked in Nantucket kitchens for eighteen years, first for island families, then as breakfast chef at Black Eyed Susan’s, The Jared Coffin House, Summer House, Harbor House, Fog Island, and the Chanticleer. The staff here at El Rincon is primarily Salvadoran, though bartender Ronald Rodriguez, who worked the Chanticleer bar before this, is Costa Rican.

Que es la musica aqui? Salsa, merengue, combia, ranchera. Great background music.

Marcos says that everything is popular, but mostly the Camarones a mi Rinconcito and the Carne Asada. He uses Spanish paprika because it’s not as spicy as other brands of paprika. The fresh corn tortilla is typical of El Salvador, though a bit thicker. They’re made 30 minutes before dinner to be as fresh as possible. “We are known for our tortillas. Day, night, morning – we always have tortillas.”

We all would have liked the lights turned way down, the clear plastic covering the white tablecloths removed, some plants and a few candles added. But El Rincon is a find, and I suggest you find it soon. Dinner for eight with appetizers, entrees and desserts all around was $181. Marcos has paid his dues on this island, and he and his family and staff deserve great success. The restaurant is authentic Salvadoran cuisine, and if for just a night, you can feel as if you’ve left the island and are intrepidly exploring foreign countries and cuisine to a Central American soundtrack.

El Rincon, 17 Old South Road. 508-332-4749. Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 am to 10 pm year round, with take-out. No credit cards.

A slightly abridged form of this piece appears in the Late Spring issue of N Magazine.

Yack

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Save the Date for June 08

The social calendar is filling up quickly. Here’s a list of the major events for June – mark your calendars now. For details of any event, go to the Arts & Social Calendar.

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters 28th Annual Iron Teams Relay: Sunday, June 1, 8:00 am.
  • Heng-Jin Park Concert: Sunday, June 8, 5:00 pm, Coffin School.
  • Chamber 10K Survivor Challenge: Thursday, June 12, 6:00 pm at Faregrounds Restaurant.
  • Art Baron and the Duke’s Men Concert: Saturday, June 14, 8:00 pm, High School Auditorium.
  • Dreamcatcher Dinner and Auction, Sunday, June 15, 6:00 pm, Nantucket Yacht Club.
  • Nantucket Film Festival, Thursday through Sunday, June 19 – 22.
  • Shakespeare in the Garden Fundraiser: Thursday, June 26, 5:30 pm at the home of Beverly Hall.
  • Blooming Bids for Kids Fundraiser: Thursday, June 26, at 6:00 pm at Cisco Brewery.

Nantucket Aviation Career Camp



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Nantucket Community Announcements

N Magazine has been selected by the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce to receive a ‘Build a Better Mousetrap Award’ from Cape Cod SCORE at its annual awards breakfast to be held Tuesday, June 5 at Old Yarmouth Inn. The awards this year will go to sixteen small businesses that have survived the critical first five years of operation and appear to be headed for long-term success.

Tables are still available for the NAN Spring Flea Market & Bazaar, Sunday, June 15, from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm at Key Post Corner. Donations of clothing, furniture, artwork, etc. also accepted. 508-228-3955.

Tickets are still available for the Chamber of Commerce 10K Survivor Challenge on Thursday, June 12, at the Faregrounds Restaurant. $10,000 in prize money will be determined by a process of elimination with every 25th ticket drawn winning an exciting door prize. When ten names are left to be drawn, these survivors have the opportunity to split $10,000 ten ways if totally agreed upon by all ten. If not a unanimous decision, names will be eliminated until the remaining survivors agree to split or go for the full $10,000. Proceeds from this event will benefit the NICC scholarship funds for Nantucket students! For more information call the Chamber at 508-228-3643. Tickets are $100 each and are now available at the Chamber office, upstairs at Zero Main Street. No more than 250 tickets will be sold and you need not be present to win. You do not need to be a Chamber member.