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Nantucket Book Festival News 3.5.14

The 2014 Nantucket Book Festival, June 20-22, has announced a partial line-up of authors who will participate in this year’s festival.

Alice Hoffman : Author of novels, young adult novels, and children’s books, best known for Practical Magic (1995). Latest novel The Dovekeepers (2011). Alice also wrote the screenplay for Independence Day (1983) 

Jodi Picoult: Author of 20 books, the latest being The Storyteller (2013)

Katrina Kenison: Author of literary memoir and nonfiction. Her latest book isMagical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment , (2013)

Daniel Menaker: Writer and fiction editor at The New Yorker. His latest book is My Mistake – A Memoir. (2013)

Ben Mezrich: Ben is best know for Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions(2008)

Kevin Powers: Best known for his first novel The Yellow Birds, for which he won numerous awards including finalist for the National Book Award in fiction.

Dani Shapiro: Author of five novels and magazien writer for the New Yorker and others. Her best selling memoirs were Slow Motion and Devotion, and her latest book, Still Writing (2013).

George Pelecanos: A writer of detective fiction and television, and a film and television producer. His Lates book was The Double (2013).

Ben Fountain: Fiction writer, winner of PEN/Heningway award for Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories and many others 

As in past Nantucket Book Festivals, there will be a variety of free events throughout the weekend, featuring speakers and panels of wonderful writers from all aspects of literature.

Highlights will include:
~ The opening night presentation of the PEN/Faulkner writing contest winner at the Unitarian Church, Friday evening June 20th.
~ Sunday afternoon wrap party and pig roast at Cisco Brewers with the authors and the Nantucket Book Partners’ author autograph mobile. 
~ The popular Authors in Bars will return in 2014.

More to come as we get it.

Nantucket’s “Wash-Ashores”

Editor’s note: The demographics of Nantucket have changed considerably since I arrived here for the first time in 1969. This spring, I attended a lecture at the Nantucket Historical Association’s Food For Thought Series at which Peter Morrison presented his analysis of the changes. I was so impressed at the clarity and importance of his work that I asked him if he could adapt the presentation for Mahon About Town. Here is the first in a series of graphical snapshots of a changing Nantucket.


Nantucket’s “Wash-Ashores”


One becomes a Nantucketer either through the lottery of birth or by choice. It’s a distinction with particular relevance for Nantucket, which attracts so many seasonal residents and temporary workers each year. This annual conveyor belt of people carries a select few whose fond attachments will eventually trigger a decision to make Nantucket their home.

How is this demographic amalgam remaking our community? The 2010 Census provides numerous insights into Nantucket’s changing demography. In this issue and those to follow, I’ll highlight how Nantucket’s Wash-Ashores are transforming our community.

This week’s focus: Nantucketers’ off-island origins. Nantucket is evolving into an immigrant entry port. The Island is very much a microcosm of demographic changes underway nationally.

Census 2010 counted 10,172 full-time Nantucket residents – persons who claim Nantucket as their “usual place of residence.” By the Census Bureau’s most recent (2008) measure, 15% of us are foreign-born, nearly double the 8% in 2000 (see chart 1 above – “More Foreign-Born Nantucketers”).

Islanders hailing from Caribbean and Central American origins account for about one in 10 of Nantucket’s foreign-born residents. Topping the list: roughly 400 Jamaicans and 400 Costa Ricans. Others include the 150 Eastern Europeans (mostly Bulgarians), plus about a dozen Nantucketers from each of the following origins: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, New Zealand, South Africa, and Vietnam.

Most foreign-born newcomers settling on Nantucket are not (yet) citizens, but their decision to put down roots here as a resident signals a clear intent.

Peter A. Morrison tracks demographic trends nationwide and here on Nantucket. Retired from RAND Corporation in California, he has been regular seasonal visitor since 1985 and settled on Nantucket in 2005. Peter serves on Nantucket’s Finance Committee and Energy Study Committee and as a director of the Nantucket Shellfish Association.

Nantucket’s Ethnic Mosaic

Nantucket’s Ethnic Mosaic

Peter Morrison

Nantucket’s full-time residents (those claiming Nantucket as their “usual place of residence”) numbered 10,172 as of April 2010–just a few hundred more than lived here in 2000. The vast majority of that increase reflects the arrival of hundreds of persons of Hispanic origin who’ve settled here in the past decade, broadening the racial and ethnic mosaic that characterizes our resident population. Here are some details (see chart below):

~ Nantucket’s full-time resident population includes 959 persons of Hispanic descent, more than quadruple the number a decade earlier.

~ Asian full-time residents number 118, double the number in 2000.

~ The number of African-Americans appears to be slightly lower, partly because more African-Americans report themselves under multiracial racial categories rather than exclusively African-American.

~ Indeed that multiracial category emerges as a more prominent one among youthful Nantucketers.

The student body in Nantucket’s public school system reflects the Island’s expanding Hispanic population. Hispanics’ share of NPS enrollments has risen from barely 3% in 2000 to an all-time high of around 13% (see chart).

Nantucket’s future is creeping in on tiny feet!

Peter A. Morrison tracks demographic trends nationwide and here on Nantucket. Retired from RAND Corporation in California, he has been regular seasonal visitor since 1985 and settled on Nantucket in 2005. Peter serves on Nantucket’s Finance Committee and Energy Study Committee and as a director of the Nantucket Shellfish Association.

Cru Oyster Bar


The Cru Oyster Bar will open this May at the end of Straight Wharf in the former location of The Ropewalk, with Jane Stoddard, Carlos Hidalgo and Erin Zircher as owners.

The idea for the three to collaborate and open Cru evolved from a shared vision to create something new and unique on the island by combining their different experiences and strengths.

I sat down with Jane and Carlos recently to find out more. My first question was what kind of a restaurant would Cru be. Their answer: “fresh and pristine seafood with a new take on New England classics, an upscale clam shack, gorgeous and casual.” The Cru press release calls it “casually elegant cuisine in a visually stunning waterfront location overlooking Nantucket harbor.”

As one of the few island waterfront locations, Jane and Carlos want to complement rather than compete with other waterfront restaurants, and will offer something new without redundancy. Cru will cultivate a lively nighttime bar scene, with Saturday and Sunday brunch.

Jane explained. “We were initially drawn to the name for the French meaning “raw”, and with our desire to have a strong wine program, the wine connotations of “premier” quality also spoke to us. The wine reference to “first growth” was also appealing because it’s our first project together. The play on the word ‘crew’ has also been fun to watch evolve.”


Erin, Jane, and Carlos

Jane Stoddard initially moved to Nantucket to work with Grace Grossman, and eventually took a job with Juice Guys Care, the non-profit arm of Nantucket Nectars, where she played an integral role in essential island fundraisers such as the Ozone Surf Classic, Iron Teams Relay, and Circus Flora.

After Juice Guys, Jane served as the development director for the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club for more than three years, responsible for public relations, fundraising, event planning and promoting the benefits that the club provided to the island.

From 2008-2011, Jane worked with Angela and Seth Raynor as the general manager and director of operations for the Boarding House, Pearl, and Corazon del Mar.

Carlos Hidalgo had frequently visited Nantucket for many years, moving here in the spring 2010 to work as the manager of The Boarding House and The Pearl, which he did through the end of 2011.

Before he came to the island and at the age of 24, Carlos owned and ran the multiple award-winning Bomboa in Boston from 1999 to 2006. Some of the awards Bomboa received included the Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” from 2000-2005, Food and Wine’s Top 10 New Chefs in 2001, and Bon Appetit’s Best Latin Restaurant in the Country 2001. People Magazine named it Boston’s “sizzling dinner spot to go and to be seen” in 2001, and the Food Network named it Best Cocktails in America in 2000.

The wine director and sommelier will be Jenny Benzie, also formerly at The Pearl. Jenny is the owner of Pour Sip Savor, “an assemblage of sommelier services in Palm Beach, Nantucket and Beyond”, with a “free wine tasting guide so you can sip like a pro.” Pour Sip Savor also offers social tastings, corporate wine events, wine brand ambassadors, wine cellar and collection management, wine program development, service hospitality training, and a wine newsletter. Jenny is based in Palm Beach in the off-season.

Carlos wants the place to feel like an old yacht with driftwood, mahogany, brass and teak. The physical layout will remain basically the same, but with most of the furnishings changing.

The first room will feature a larger bar than in the past, a raw bar, and communal tables.

The middle room will showcase the broad wine selection, and will include a fireplace and new bathrooms.

The actual bar in the “back bar” will be slightly smaller than last year, with two U-shaped banquettes filling the space on the left when you walk into the room.

Susan Stacy and Jim Gauthier from Boston’s design firm of Gauthier Stacy are the designers for the project – Stacy was the interior designer of the Great Harbor Yacht Club. BPC Architecture is the on-island architect team. The renovation work is being done by Jay Hanley’s Blue Star Construction.


Erin Zircher, chef de cuisine for 8 years at The Boarding House, is Cru’s executive chef, and as a partner in the restaurant, is excited to be opening her own place. Jane describes Erin’s style as “Mediterranean combined with a French bistro palette, with a fresh take on New England classics”.

A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Erin’s culinary skills have been featured in the Wine Spectator, Zagat’s, Fodor’s, Rachel Ray, Nantucket Today, The Cooking Channel and

The Cru menu will highlight fresh local produce and pristine seafood. Signature dishes will include local summer flounder meunière and a Provencal-inspired seafood stew with Nantucket striped bass, saffron and Pernod.

To give you a feel for what the menu is likely to include, other items expected to be offered, subject to change of course, are:
~ A large selection of oysters featuring at least 12 varieties from east and west coasts
~ Seafood towers of oysters, clams, shrimp and other seasonal seafood
~ New England clam chowder with house-made oyster crackers
~ Local lobster rolls served either warmed and buttered or chilled with herb mayo on house-made brioche rolls
~ Cape Cod mussels steamed with Muscadet and lemon thyme, served with hand-cut frites
~ Native grilled lobster with spicy sausages, Chatham littlenecks, local potatoes and sweet corn salsa verde
~ Black angus sirloin with roasted fingerling potatoes, Pumpkin Pond Farm arugula and béarnaise.

The wine list will be broad in varietals, countries and price points, with a substantial champagne list to compliment the seafood focus. And, of course, there will be hand-crafted speciality cocktails.


Cru should be open by May 10, in time for the Nantucket Wine Festival, and will close in mid-October, then open again for Stroll. The restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and will be open all afternoon serving most items on the menu, including takeout, from 11am to 11pm.


Nantucket Restaurant News 3.21.12

Bartlett’s Farm has applied for an annual license to sell wine and beer for off-site consumption.

I contacted John Bartlett to get an idea of what he’s planning out there:

We will offer wine and beer as an additional offering and are not removing
any products to make room for them.

We have approximately 7,500 square feet
of total retail area in the farm stand. We will dedicate approximately 90 square
feet of existing retail space for the sale of wine and malt beverages for
off-site consumption.

Exactly what we’ll carry is still in the works, but we want to have a nice small selection of domestic and imported wines and beers that complement the food we’re growing and cooking. We’re thinking around 12 whites, 12 reds, and a couple of sparkling in a median price range.

Our focus will be more on the wine, but there are some great craft beers out
there that people love with food so we want to serve that customer as well. We’d love to carry Cisco products.

I see this as an extension of our
existing business and also a service to our customers. My staff is really
enthusiastic about me moving forward with this and I’m working closely with
my Head Chef, Neil Hudson to put it all together.

If the Selectmen approve the license, the application will then go to the State for approval. I hope to have the license in hand by June 1st.

Co-owners Chris Morris and Michelle St. Martin, formerly of Arno’s at 41 Main, have applied to the Board of Selectmen to operate The Pit Stop year round at the Trading Post on Nobadeer Farm Road.

Michelle and Chris plan to offer “family style barbeque, southern fried chicken and all the fixin’s available by take-out or ready to go items in the hot box. Bulk delivery and on site catering is also available. Breakfast sandwiches will be served daily in the hot box starting at 7 am.”

Expected to open in April, The Pit Stop will be open daily from 7 am to 8 pm, closed on Sundays.

The Trading Post is still serving takeout Thai food on weekends, presumably until The Pit Stop takes over.

Tess Anderson, owner of The Hub, has applied to the Selectmen to provide take-out light food and beverages at The Hub, including coffee, cappucinno, lattés, muffins and light pastries, cookies and fruit. All else will remain the same at The Hub.

Pazzo has applied to the Selectmen for an entertainment license for live instrumental music (guitar, saxophone, and keyboard) and a vocalist, as well as a dj.

Stiller & Meara on Thanksgiving

Stiller & Meara on Thanksgiving:

Nantucket Boys & Girls Club Summer Groove 9

Hazlegrove 3

Tresses and the Day Spa

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Sarah Leah Chase: Nantucket Serendipity 5 – Stirring the Pot


Sarah Leah Chase


Many a good cook will tell you that using top-notch ingredients makes for the most successful and memorable recipes. While such probably goes without saying, I also believe that the batterie de cuisine – or everyday utensils used for preparing meals – can greatly increase the enjoyment and dispel any drudgery inherent in cooking when they too are of the same caliber as the ingredients. In my own kitchen, I always keep a coveted old Nantucket lightship basket filled with commonly used utensils next to my stove, and the newest and current darlings of that basket are an array of exquisitely handcrafted wooden spoons from the Nantucket Looms.

I have no idea why it has taken so long for these superb spoons, marketed as Jonathan’s Wild Cherry Spoons, to catch my eye and blissfully elevate my pot stirring, as Looms’ owner Liz Winship says she has been stocking these beautiful American-made spoons in the store for almost 30 years, practically as long as Jonathan has been in business. The seeds for Jonathan’s business were sown one day many years ago when he forgot to pack a spoon in his lunch bag while working as an apprentice for a furniture maker. He resourcefully fashioned a spoon from a piece of scrap wood and proceeded to eat his lunch.

In 1978, Jonathan found himself working in a canoe-seat factory in Maine. As if that were not in and of itself depressing enough, Jonathan got laid off and set up a home workshop in his garage, where the temperature often hovered at a toasty 20 degrees below zero! Since it was far too frigid for glue to set up on any multi-faceted works, he once again turned to making single piece objects – i.e. wooden spoons. After trading many of these spoons for food in order to survive, Jonathan found a sales representative to launch his spoon business. A move back to his home state of Pennsylvania in 1979 brought warmer temperatures, a good supply of native hardwoods, and ultimate success.

Today, Jonathan’s shop in rural Kempton, Pennsylvania employs ten people who craft an ever-growing line of hand-carved wooden utensils for baking, cooking, and serving everything from Chinese food to salads. The Lazy Spoon, with its innovative notched handle allowing for perching on a pot’s edge, is one of the bestsellers and a prime example of how Jonathan excels at integrating tactile and aesthetic qualities with utility and purpose. A personal favorite of mine is the Ordinary Spoon, described by Jonathan as “a simple spoon for extraordinary cooking and eating.” He is absolutely right! The latest additions to the line are called MoonSpoons and these smaller spoons designed for salt cellars, honey pots, and serving hors d’oeuvres sport charming and decorative stargazing silhouettes intricately carved into the graceful handles by Jonathan’s wife Julia.

Spring cooking through April’s inevitable showers with Jonathan’s Spoons will no doubt lift the spirits of any island cook. I am also certain the spoons would make a truly appreciated hostess gift and most welcome change from the perfunctory, last minute bottle of wine. Jonathan’s spoons, spreaders, tongs, and salad servers are all on display inside the Nantucket Looms at their new location on Main Street and range in price from seven to twenty dollars.

Serendipity was conceived by Sarah Leah Chase as an occasional blog-like addition to Mahon About Town to shed positive and enthusiastic light on culinary pleasures and surprises encountered during day-to-day, off-season island living. Sarah is a cookbook writer, culinary consultant, and longtime columnist for the Inquirer & Mirror. Sarah’s previous columns on Mahon About Town can be found here.