Best Of Nantucket 2011

By Cathy Huyghe

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We've said it before and we'll say it again. The Nantucket Wine Festival is THE place to kick off the summer season of wine. Now that it's come and gone, we can put on our hindsight-is-20-20 sunglasses and review the Festival's best highlights. Last weekend's highlights, fortunately, will be there all summer long. Consider this your hit list for the island.

meatloaf sandwich
The meatloaf sandwich pictured here can be had at American Seasons on Nantucket

KIDS MENU AT AMERICAN SEASONS. This secret is so hidden that it literally doesn't exist. American Seasons restaurant, with arguably the best chef on an island of very, very good chefs, does not have a kids' menu. But take some kids in there, and they will not be "cooked down to." No chicken fingers with French fries here. The kitchen will prepare anything from their menu in a plain-ish, kid-friendly style — Wild King salmon, say, but cooked all the way through and minimally seasoned — that wind up being so pure that they may just make the adults at the table jealous.

Website:
http://www.americanseasons.com/

FRANZ HILL VINEYARD WINE AT CURRENTVINTAGE. Price inflation is the immediate effect for most wines that receive a 90+ rating from uber-critic Robert Parker. Except if your wine is Zinfandel from Franz Hill Vineyard in Napa— despite a stellar score of 93 from Parker for their 2005 vintage, this Zin stays at a very earth-bound price of $30 a bottle. Production is extremely, extremely limited but currentVintage on Easy Street has a direct line to the producer. Find it there. Show it off. Whether you tell your guests what a bargain it is is completely up to you.

Websites:
http://www.currentvintage.com/
http://www.franzhillvineyard.com/index.html

BEST NANTUCKET STORY. The tagline for Donelan wines is "Wine is a Journey Not a Destination." For founder Joe Donelan, that journey's gone from college at Holy Cross in Worcester to supplying paper for LL Bean catalogs in Maine to trailing one of Nantucket's greatest sommeliers around the world. Donelan is old-school (he hand-writes some 3000 thank you notes every year) which, in addition to some incredible winemaking, add up to a super-high ratio of customer loyalty. Today Donelan splits his time between his vineyards in California and a kitted-out (for wine lovers, that is) home close to his roots on Nantucket. Look for his wines in shops and restaurants on the island and all over Massachusetts.

Website:
http://www.donelanwines.com/index2.html

BEST BOOKSTORE. There are two, actually— Nantucket Bookworks and Mitchell's Book Corner. Both are excellent because both are oozing with personality. These are not corporations. These are people. They have literally read the books and will gladly share their opinions. But even if you don't actually engage in conversation with anyone working in the shops, you'll feel invited to browse until you find Just The Right Book for your Nantucket getaway.

Websites:
http://www.mitchellsbookcorner.com
http://www.nantucketbookworks.com/

BEST GUEST SERVICE. It's the high season now and Nantucket's service in dustry has officially shifted into gear. The standard-bearer for guest service is, hands down, the White Elephant hotel and residences. Sure there are the things they offer every guest, like van service to the ferries or into town or to a partner restaurant. But come to them with a particular request or problem and they kick it into overdrive. They take it personal. Call it Humane Hospitality. Or just call it whatever it takes to get you one heck of a restful night's sleep.

Website:
http://www.whiteelephanthotel.com/

MUST-DO ACTIVITIES. Rent a bike, or bring your own. Take a Pilates workshop. Visit the Whaling Museum. Take a walking tour with the Nantucket Preservation Trust. Try ice cream flavors you've never had before. Cake batter, anyone?

Websites:
http://www.nantucketpreservation.org/index.html
http://www.easyridersbikerentals.com/
http://www.nha.org/sites/
http://nantucketicecream.com/

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