By Remy Tumin
For taste buds craving something new, there are a slew of options across the Vineyard. Jerk chicken from a food truck, artisanal cheese and smoked meats in Edgartown and healthy smoothies in Vineyard Haven are just a few of the choices that weren’t here last summer.
Irie Bites, a food truck operated by Melody Cunningham and Peter Simon, will be parked in Vineyard Haven this summer, so shoppers and visitors can cure their hunger with savory Jamaican jerk chicken.
The name is a play on the Jamaican word irieites — I respect I eternal — a colloquial term describing a person at inner peace with herself.
“I’ve always wanted to do something fun, something with Caribbean food on the Island,” Ms. Cunningham said this week, on her way to Boston with Mr. Simon for a first-time food truck association meeting. “I’m so excited.”
Ms. Cunningham plans to serve chicken, kabobs, wraps, salads, patties, smoothies and festival (fried sweet dough) starting in mid-June. The truck will also serve Peter Tosh Coffee, aptly named Pick Myself Up.
And if jerk chicken seems too heavy on a hot summer day, Blissed-Out, a smoothie shop, also on Main street, is offering “lunch in a cup.”
Some of the smoothies are variations on flavors familiar in refreshments other than smoothies, such as peanut butter and jelly, creamsicle, carrot cake and cookies and cream. There are also green smoothies with names like Green Revolution, Green Life and Green Samurai.
“We started this because we wanted a place to eat good, healthy and organic food,” owner Fred Natusch said behind the smoothie bar this week. “We studied our butts off for the past year and it’s amazing what we learned about food. Now we have to share our knowledge.”
Blissed-Out also offers a karma board for community postings, a gift shop downstairs, kale chips and dairy-free desserts.
Up-Island another new food enterprise is on deck: 7a Farm of Aquinnah opened a counter-service café in the space that formerly housed Back Alley’s. Owners Daniel Sauer and Wenonah Madison-Sauer serve homemade Island grown food, much of it produced on their farm.
Back down-Island in Edgartown, a hint of Paris has swept in, and Vineyarders don’t have to go very far for a gourmet picnic this summer.
Kate and Gates Rickard opened a second location of Rickard’s Bakery in Edgartown.
The North Summer street bakery sells buttery croissants and creamy lattés from a large copper and brass cappuccino maker, while Edith Piaf sings in the background. Breads, lunch and more importantly dessert are also available — the pastries are made daily and tempt customers from rounded display cases and cake stands.
Directly across the street, Mark Venette opened Black Sheep Charcuterie after noticing a vacant food purveyor niche in downtown Edgartown — the cocktail party.
“There’s a cocktail party any day of the week, and when people are on vacation they want one or two big meals but the rest of the time they just want to graze their way through their stay,” Mr. Venette said at his store this week.
“I have a weakness for blue cheese so [the inventory] tends to be heavy on blue cheese, but there are some really great aged goat cheeses, too,” he said.
Many of the cheeses are from small artisanal farms across the United States; traditional European cheeses are also sold. And there’s no shortage of crackers, with at least 20 different varieties in stock.
Mr. Venette recommends the Vermont smoked and cured pepperoni (best he’s ever had) and Rogue Creamery smoky blue cheese. Black Sheep also sells olives, tapenade, olive oil, petits fours, cruffles (chocolate covered brownies), ice cream and caviar.
“There will always be something available for sample, and whatever you want to sample in the case, even if it’s not out, you can just ask and we’ll get it out for you,” he said.
Black Sheep turns into Trio at night, where flights of wine will be paired with the meats and cheese.
For the fudge-loving crowd, Murdick’s Fudge in Edgartown is expanding to include a café next door at its North Water street location. Early risers can enjoy breakfast sandwiches and coffee starting at 5:30 a.m., or for those craving something sweeter, Murdick’s has its own take on the cinnamon bun — with fudge inside. Sandwiches and other pastries are also available.
Manager Michael McCourt said it was the first café for the Murdick’s franchise, which started on Mackinac Island in Michigan.
“We’re going to pride ourselves on good, fast service and great food,” Mr. McCourt said. “We’ve done fudge since 1887 . . . and it’s exciting if this [additional offering] takes off.”
Near the entrance to town on Upper Main street, Edgartown Meat and Fish has transformed the former Hollywood Video space in the Triangle into a gourmet country market.
“We’ve created a one-stop shop for the Edgartown and Martha’s Vineyard vacationer,” owner Sean Ready said. “We have everything for dinner ready to go.”
Steak and chicken kabobs marinated in a house mix of garlic and mustard seeds, bagels and cream cheese, flavored burger patties, fresh fish, Vermont cheese, sushi, produce, wine and beer are flying off the shelves, said Mr. Ready, who moved here this winter with his father, John, from Vermont. The Readys have two similar markets there and felt the Vineyard was a perfect place to expand.
Customers can either take deli sandwiches to go or eat in, surrounded by long stretches of display cases and bushel baskets of fresh vegetables. You would never know video cassettes used to line the walls.
“A lot of it is packaged up and ready to go on the grill, the day is long enough to have to worry about dinner,” Mr. Ready said. “We’ve had a great reception. I keep hearing [from customers], ‘I feel like I’m off-Island.’ I didn’t believe it until I’d heard it for the fifth time.”