Pairings for 2020 Dining

by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier of Épernay

The current dining scene on Nantucket is like none we have ever seen before. One could have only dreamed of eating al fresco, under the beautiful stars that Maria Mitchell once gazed upon many moons ago.

For those who are still a little skeptical about being in socially distanced proximity to others while dining, the good news is that the restaurant community on Nantucket has options for all of your favorite meals that can easily be packed for curbside pick-up for you to enjoy at home or elsewhere.

BRUNCH, PLEASE

Why wait in line for a table at Black-Eyed Susan’s when you can have your brunch on the go? While you can’t go wrong by selecting any of Black-Eyed’s best brunch menu items, you would be remiss if you failed to order their delicious Pennsylvania Dutch Cakes with Jarlsberg Cheese. It’s brunch, right? That means it is totally acceptable to have dessert before noon. This is a great menu item to share, if you are into sharing in these different times – or you have an excuse to eat it all yourself if you “aren’t comfortable sharing” at the moment.

This unique stack of cakes is their house pancake specialty, slathered with syrup blended with sweet butter. You can do even better by adding real maple syrup, or make it the best with berries on top. There is much to celebrate here, so let’s add a bottle of sparkling wine to the equation.

Naveran Dama Cava is a gorgeous sparkling wine from Spain, made just like Champagne, where the second fermentation that creates the bubbles occurs in the bottle. However, this “grande dame” from the Iberian Peninsula is a fraction of the price of its counterpart from France. It is a blend of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Parellada, an indigenous Spanish grape varietal, all from organically grown vines. This is also considered a vegan wine. Perfect to accompany your brunch, or versatile enough for almost any meal!

HOW DO YOU DUNE?

The combination of fine dining in a sidewalk café setting just cannot be missed. Not only is this a great place for tourist people watching, you will also get a nourishing meal in a lovely atmosphere, indoors or out. Dune Restaurant and Bar is just your spot! Here you can enjoy a tasty Pan Roasted Alaskan Halibut served in a shallow bowl of Thai lemongrass broth with with sweet potatoes, bok choy, snap peas, edamame, shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, and basil. This meal has summer love written all over it. In addition to outdoor and indoor dining, Dune is also offering takeout for the 2020 season: order at dunenantucket.com

Summertime also equates to rosé drinking. Order from the selection at Dune or try Clos de L’Ours “L’Accent” Rosé from Côtes de Provence. This wine is what would be considered a “gastronimic” rosé that is best enjoyed with a scrumptious meal. This cuvée is made from a blend of five red grapes varietals: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. These organic vines are an average age of 50+ years, leading to a wine that has length and complexity on the finish.

CAN’T BE BEET

The small, local restaurant joints are always the hidden gems when it comes to finding value in neighborhood eateries. Sometimes they might not be easy to see, even when they are there right before your eyes. The Beet Nantucket, while known for their amazing salads and healthy food for breakfast and lunch, also serves a beetutiful dinner. You have the option to dine inside or in their quiet sidewalk nook tucked on the left side of the building, where you won’t have foot traffic parading through your repast. The Steak Frites is taken to another level with this 9 oz. grass fed, all natural, club cut ribeye steak, served with salsa verde + watercress and simply the best crinkle cut fries. While you think you can grill at home, you do not want to miss this level of grilled perfection.

The truth is, you need a fabulous red wine here to pair with your dinner that won’t overpower the accompaniments. Verdad Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles is your answer! This single vineyard wine hails from a Demeter Certified Biodynamic vineyard. They go beyond organic and envisions the farm as a self-contained and self-sustaining organism. This medium-full bodied red has balanced structure and a velvety texture on the palate. It shows layers of black plum and cassis fruit with savory overtones, along with hints of rose petals and classic cigar-box notes. This wine is also worth discovery not only because it is the perfect pairing, but also because it’s a worthy jewel in a sea of red wine from other more well-known regions of California.

BISTRO TO GO

Imagine… being able to enjoy a mouthwatering three-course meal for your next special occasion in the privacy of your own home and not having to clean the kitchen after. Your dream has come true with Bistro at Home, the unique concept created by Chefs Tim and Ruth Pitts, former longtime owners of Centre Street Bistro. Enjoy their classic creations by pre-ordering from their “favorite hits” menu posted at NantucketBistro. com for pick-up weekends at their kitchen. This is such an awesome experience, almost like having a personal chef in your own home without the hassle and headache of dirty dishes. The menu frequently changes. You can start with one of their signature salads or a delicious soup (last week was a chilled beet soup with creme fraiche, toasted sesame and ginger). Next, you must try the Seared Rare Tuna, served with cool peanut noodles, julienne vegetables, and a honey ginger lime glaze. Lastly, finish the evening with any one of their desserts: they’re all delicious!

You will need a fabulous wine to wash all this deliciousness down: Bedrock Wine Co. Riesling from Wirz Vineyard in Cienega Valley. First of all, don’t get your nose in a twist about Riesling. This is the most versatile wine grape in regard to pairing it with food due to the amount of acidity in the wine. This is what makes your meal go from wow to POW. Also, this is a wine made by a Master of Wine, so he must know what he is doing. This dry wine is full of character, with lime, white flowers, and bright saline notes to pair with all three of the dishes mentioned above. It comes from a single old-vine vineyard in the Central Coast of California. If there is a year to do things differently and start drinking Riesling, this would be the year.

Wherever your dining experiences may take you on Nantucket these days, please remember to be courteous and kind to those who are being of service to you. We are all in this together and enjoy being part of what could possibly become a new outdoor dining tradition on our fair isle. Cheers!