Talking SCHOP! Harlem to Oak Bluffs, Part I

Kysha Harris | 8/29/2013, 10:53 a.m. | Updated on 8/29/2013, 10:53 a.m.
August is that month! The month where everything slows down. You can’t get anyone on the phone; the streets are ...
Harlem to Oak Bluffs

August is that month! The month where everything slows down. You can’t get anyone on the phone; the streets are a little emptier than usual and your email inbox is filled with “on vacation” auto-responses. Where is everyone?! They have retreated to an island, a cabin, a house, a beach, a mountain, near and far, to rest, reflect and fortify for all of the “back to (insert here)” in September.

I am working on being one of these August people. It hasn’t consistently happened, but after this year’s retreat to Martha’s Vineyard, I want to make it an annual pilgrimage. Thanks to my good friends Katrina, Mark, Nigel and Luke and my family Sylvia and Quinn for hosting an animated, fun, food-filled vacation.

As per usual, for me a trip to Martha’s Vineyard starts with an eight-hour door-to-door trains-buses-ferry trip. It’s time that you just have to chalk up to shaking off the city and preparing your mind to relax. I reward myself with some quahog “chowdah” before the ferry. It sets the palate for the bounty of the island.

Katrina picked me up with a cone of her summer 2013 ice cream flavor, mocha chip … half eaten. No rest for the weary, we were headed home to drop off my bags and go to State Beach for a lobster boil with Harlem friends and neighbors.

Gingham tablecloth-lined picnic tables dotted the beach while the chef prepared clam chowder, lobsters, sausage, mussels, clams, potatoes, corn and coleslaw. The adults mingled with cocktails and the kids frolicked in the water while the sun began to set. As soon as the dinner bell rang, the bibs came out and a signature Martha’s Vineyard moment was made.

My cousin Quinn came to snatch me up and we made off for a single gal night in town. We started at Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company for our fave, slightly dirty martinis and, of course, some chowder. Locals tell me that proper chowder is not the thick, stew-like version we know. This version was thin but hearty. The fried sage on top really intrigues the palate.

The next morning, slightly hungover (my cousin can haaang), the rain descended on the island, but Katrina was planning to have guests for lunch. After a late lox and bagels breakfast, we got down to menu planning and cooking with our new favorite cocktail in hand—cucumber basil gin and tonic! On the menu: sautéed corn with bacon, panini and pizza made on prepared Indian naan bread with salamis, roasted pepper, onion and provolone—a great menu for this coming holiday weekend!

Thank goodness the sun returned the next day because Katrina was raring to head to Morning Glory Farm (home of my favorite banana bread) to get coffee and to have me try a Monkey Bar: banana bread with coconut and chocolate chips. We were early so we waited not-so patiently (checking every five minutes) on the porch with muffins and coffee to tide us over. Alas, it wasn’t to be on that day, but ultimately worth the wait later in the week.

Our next and final stop of the day was to Norton Farm to pick up some produce for the Harlem neighbors dinner Mark and Katrina were hosting. On the menu: grilled Italian sausage with peppers and onion, sautéed corn, caprese (tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil) and green salads, burgers and dogs and our improved signature gin cocktail. Whether in Harlem or Oak Bluffs, we know how to get down!

Coming up in part II of “Harlem to Oak Bluffs”: the second annual Grits Cook-Off, breakfast at Biscuits, Fiddlehead Farm, lobster and shrimp fried rice, the Bulls Eye at Artcliff Diner and battle lobster roll!

Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook or chat with her on Instant Messenger at AskSCHOP, Monday-Friday, 6-8 p.m. For even more recipes, tips and food musings subscribe to her blog at