July 15, 2015

Nantucket - Flower Boxes, Boats & Smoked Bluefish Pâté

As Charles M. Schulz of Peanuts, famously quotes, "Happiness is…"
And for me, happiness is ANY time I can go to Nantucket! I feel like I'm home there almost more than in my own house. And it's not about the cute shops, although there is great shopping. And it's not about the yummy restaurants, although omg, is there good food on the island. And it's certainly not about the scene and who's on or off-island. There's just something about the feel, the light and the ocean all combined that grabbed me at age seventeen when I first visited on my boyfriend's (now husband) parents' yacht, and never let go.
Two of my three salty kids helped my husband bring our mighty Seyon up the coast from Palm Beach without me. We were late getting started due to my daughter's college graduation and other craziness, and then because of my real job, (I know, being an adult stinks sometimes), I had to stay home. But when the crew got to New Bedford, MA and my kids offered to switch places with me so I could swing over to Nantucket for a few days, I couldn't pack my bags fast enough. So after switching places, we made our way saying "hi" to the people we passed along the way.
Surprisingly, Buzzards Bay, which I notoriously hate passing through, was kind to us and we got to enjoy seeing great homes like this, instead of grabbing the hand rails while being tossed around.
To get to Nantucket Sound, you have to go through Woods Hole. I love Woods Hole and spent a summer term there during college studying at WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) working on a project. I had A LOT of fun. As you can see, going through the cut is tricky because of the strong current!
LOVE this little cottage ON the sea, and not by it!
All sorts of marine activity was going on, from fishing, to car ferries, to the high speed ferry leaving Nantucket as we were arriving. Clearly the captain of the high speed ferry didn't get the "No Wake" memo! Thanks a lot buddy!

But then, like an oasis, my island (yes, I can claim it, at least for this blog, ha ha) came into view. (cue angels)

 Doesn't this look like a painting?
Because we arrived before the "season" began on June 21st, we got a great rate at the Nantucket Boat Basin. The minute after the season begins, watch out, because the rates skyrocket!
Still kind of in "delivery mode", without her canvas on the top deck, Seyon snuggled into her slip at the very end of the dock. I was just so happy to be there!
 And if you've never been to Nantucket, the Boat Basin is surrounded by these adorable Wharf Cottages, where I once spent a perfect anniversary weekend.
Each wharf cottage has a funny name and a completely different planting scheme for their window boxes. It's unbelievably quaint and inspiring.
The bikes are lined up and ready for the taking to explore all around.
First stop, Main Street and the flower boxes of the famed restaurant, The Club Car. So simple and yet so pretty!
Spotted! Outside the Lilly Pulitzer store, the LILLY JEEP! Someday I'll have one, I know!
Another store all bedecked in glorious flowers!
And then there are the hydrangeas! Nantucket and hydrangeas go together like peas and carrots! (just like Forrest Gump might say)
So, to get around the island and explore a little, we rented this snazzy coral red Jeep. Yee haw!
We drove out to the other side of the island to the Wauwinet. This amazing inn that sits at the head of Nantucket Harbor and has a great restaurant, Toppers. We decided to hang out on the lawn and have some bloodies and lunch.
It was really tough, but someone had to do it.
It was so serene, we could have dozed off, but our time was short and we had places to go!
One last gander to soak it all in - sigh…
Back in town, we poked around. I've always loved this sign but wonder if the painter forgot the "she" in the "thar ___ blows". What do you think?
 More flowers and I was surprised at the number of "help wanted" signs I saw around the island.
 Why can't every traffic circle have one of these?
Pick a combo, any combo…
 Bartlett's Farm is an institution on Nantucket. Not only do they sell the best produce, but they also sell cut flower arrangements and potted plants. 
They have a big farm open to visitors, but still set up on Main Street for the town shoppers.
 There are so many churches on Nantucket, considering the size of the population. I did flowers for a wedding there once but it was at another, equally beautiful church. And I'm happy to say, that couple now has two gorgeous kids!
 This beautiful (and skinny, damn her! :) bride got out of her white Rolls with her mom, in shocking pink, right behind. I guess the MOB neutral dress thing is no longer!
All the flowers were simple and a pretty white.
Then it was off to get some wine for cocktail hour. The cutest little shop, Table No. 1, right on the wharf, had just what we needed. Oh, and it was also next to  Peter England Nantucket so a striped sweater may have fallen into my bag along with the wine!
 Back onboard, my husband and I enjoyed our yummy cheese and sea salt crackers with our vino before we headed out for dinner.
 Sunset and CRU (the old Rope Walk restaurant)
was our ultimate destination. We had to get some oysters for my oyster-loving hubby. (I can't stand their texture unless they're fried and covered with cheese like in New Orleans. Now those are good!)
 Mega-yachts were arriving daily for the "season". But this one already had some activity aboard...
I mean, doesn't everybody have their elliptical on their upper deck?
But first things first, we had to stop at Straight Wharf, home of the BEST smoked bluefish pâté, and delicious Dark & Stormys to pre-game before our dinner! 
And then on to CRU for the oysters.

Here's the recipe for the smoked bluefish pâté courtesy of Straight Wharf themselves. Yummy!
 Once home, I gathered all the ingredients. This is so easy!
 Put an 8 ounce block of softened cream cheese in a small bowl.
 Add to it, one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
 Then add one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice,
 plus one tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley.
 Finely mince 1/2 of a medium red onion.
 This looks about right. Then add 4-6 dashes of hot sauce. (I forgot to take a picture of this step, but I trust you can figure it out! :)
 Then chop 1/4 cup of chives,
  but only put half in the bowl and save the rest to top the whole mixture at the end.
 Then mix well using the tines of your fork,
 so you have a nice, creamy consistency.
 Next up, the smoked bluefish. The recipe calls for 1/2 pound skinless, boneless smoked bluefish. I used a little less than 1/2 pound since I like a hair less fishy flavor, but either way is fine. Even though I live on the coast, my fish market sells frozen filets. There's not a lot of daily demand that they'd need it to be fresh, plus these are already cut from the fish without any bones. It can't get much easier. But if you're like my friend, Peter, who smokes his own bluefish on Nantucket, you're in for a real treat when he makes his pâté.  
 I peeled the skin off,
 and then flaked the fish using the tines of my fork. It's kind of like shredding beef but the fish is more delicate so you have to be gentle. I used the fork in one hand, and then my finger to hold the filet in my other.
 And when I was done, I had a fluffy pile of bluefish.
 I carefully folded the bluefish into my cream cheese mixture, making sure it was combined. I didn't want to smash it all together though.
And voila! A simple, yummy appetizer to enjoy back home and remember my time in Nantucket. 
I can't wait to return!

Here's the recipe!
Serves 12

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs chopped parsley
1/2 medium red onion, finely minced
4-6 dashes of hot sauce
1/4 cup minced chives
1/2 pound (or a little less) skinless, boneless, smoked bluefish, flaked
Melba toast or salted rosemary crackers for serving

In a bowl, blend the cream cheese with the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, parsley, onion, hot sauce and half of the chives. Fold the smoked bluefish into the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle the remaining chives on top and serve with toasts.

This can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days.