At night, I dream of scallops, bay scallops, resting - nay, levitating! – over a smooth parsnip puree, dotted with perfectly roasted brussels sprouts and accompanied by that crisp, magical flavor enhancer, bacon. In the throes of REM sleep, I swirl my fantasy fork through this heavenly dish like a magic wand, summoning the perfectly balanced bite, and as I move this eagerly anticipated amuse bouche to my… bouche, I taste nothing but the cold dark night and the shock of having bitten my tongue.
I am awake. And Café Moxie is still closed. No fried chicken. No pan baked falafel.
In the morning, I will make some kind of tea – which will never measure up to my Little House Café Macha green tea latte, served with sparkling cross-counter repartee from Geneva or Betsy or Paulina—my “super best island friends” as I jokingly call them, since I know maybe seven island peeps total.
We arrived in Vineyard Haven in January, just after the holidays, my husband, my son and I, meal-skipping sugar-crashers all. As former city folk accustomed to a United Nations of restaurant options in a four block radius, we got savvy to the off-season offerings real fast and learned on the fly where we could go to get our eats on.
We collected menus. We jotted down hours. We found out yelp.com doesn’t have an “off-season” clue. When Net Result closed for a reprieve, we made a field trip out of our up island jaunts to the Menemsha Fish Market. And then, just when we had all the off-season hours, afternoon breaks, and rotating nights off down to an exact science, all of a sudden, all at once, everybody took a break!
The MV off-season restaurant scene is a bit like an Agatha Christie murder mystery when you’re a recent wash ashore. Just when you think you’re comfortable with the landscape, it changes in an instant and “WHAM!” a restaurant closes for a hiatus, for cleaning, for a trip to Miami. (Does everyone go to Miami when they leave the island? Is it Falmouth or Miami? Are those the 2 choices?)
Meanwhile, the clueless newbies – we’ll call them, “Anna, Mike & Sam” – are sent scrambling like the silly turkeys who wander aimlessly in the roads.
As we drove by the Scottish Bakehouse today I stared longingly out the window, like a sad puppy. “Only two more days,” my husband offered in a cheerful tone.
Two more days. Gluten free cheese cake!
Of course there’s plenty of food to buy. We’ve even started our own in-house “island grown” challenge, trying to take maximum advantage of the MV-indigenous foods and products available, and my husband is seriously learning his way around the fancy-ass gas stove in our off-season rental house.
Still—and I know this will sound spoiled—I kind of got to liking having my island food island made by island cooks while I sussed out the island scene. While the food might be decent at home, it’s tough to meet new people while my husband explores the gastronomic possibilities of kale. (So much kale!)
My stomach and I are social. And not a little lazy. (There, I said it.) I miss Danielle’s baked goods. The pulled pork. I want a latte with hemp milk. Yeah. I do. And I want Nonna’s meatballs. And Little House fish tacos. And I want to stop mumbling “oooh, smoothies!” like Homer Simpson every time I drive by the smoothie shop on Main St., when I know it is a genuine fact of life that they are closed and have been every day since I arrived.
Clearly being on an island makes me hungry. And a tad desperate. How desperate?
I’ve considered following Josh Aronie to his home, and pulling a passive-protest for food in his kitchen, but I’m pretty sure Officer Day and Officer Sylvia would be collecting me before the first course. Beside's, Josh is probably in Miami anyway.