Nantucket. A beautiful little island paradise off of the coast of Massachusetts. Upon arriving, after taking the slow ferry from Hyannis, I was welcomed by my best friend, a cool ocean breeze and the smell of salty ocean air. I "moved" to Nantucket for the month of July in order to work but more importantly to get some time with my best friend before heading overseas. I worked as a nanny during the morning and early afternoon for a family friend and then in the afternoon, evenings and weekends I worked at a showroom for a company called Ellie Kai. I had no intention of working two jobs when I left for this trip but events played out that lead to me getting the second job at Ellie Kai and it was such an amazing experience. Just shows how you can make one set plan but end up going down a completely different path.
I had big plans for big adventures and island exploring but that didn't exactly play out, simply because both my friend and I worked essentially nonstop. That being said, though, that doesn't mean there wasn't some summer fun mixed in between the bundle.
The very first weekend I was there we started out the day by waking up at 4:50 for the sunrise. Quite the early wake up call but 120% worth it. The colors were gorgeous and there is just a very special zen feeling about watching the sunrise. The silence of everything is so peaceful and calming. All you are listening to is the quiet sounds of the waves gently crashing onto the beach and a few seagulls dropping their crabs into the sand for their breakfast. Watching the seagulls was actually really interesting to just see how they maneuvered around the beach and how they caught there prey, but I'm also weird and find in enjoyment in watching animals just doing what they do. But back to the sunrise. We climbed up on top of the lifeguard post and watched as the colors changed from dark to light. Not just change from dark to light but seeing how many colors of orange are even possible in just a short 15/20 minutes. As the sun really started to come up and rise from the water we saw a paddle boarder heading out towards the sunrise. It was such a surreal moment just because of how the lighting was and how perfect such a moment must be. Paddle boarding out in the crisp early morning air out towards the bright orange rising sun. It was a wonderful way to start the day (even though we slightly cheated by jumping back into bed for another hour of sleep before getting up to really start our day).
After our little post sunrise nap we went to the Sconset lighthouse but not before we headed to "The Hubb" for a refreshing smoothie. The lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on the island and it has been moved twice due to the island slowly eroding away. There is a lot of talk about how the island is slowly becoming smaller and smaller because of the waves slowly taking away bits and pieces of the edges. This of course makes sense with water levels rising and stronger and more powerful waves. The environment around us is definitely changing with every year that passes and one day (many many many years from now) there may not be a little island of Nantucket. Which is an extremely sad thought because of how beautiful this island is.
Following that we ended up taking a quick drive out to Surfside. Really it was just a joy ride to see more of the island and the Surfside beach itself. Crazy enough, later on in the summer a "big fish" was spotted which required everyone at the beach that day to stay out of the water. I thought it was quite funny that they decided to classify the situation as a "big fish" instead of just calling it what we all know it is. A shark. Yes, to everyones seeming surprised there are sharks in the waters surrounding Nantucket. It is always scary, though, when you hear about the different shark sightings and even shark attacks that occur up and down the coast, specifically in North Carolina and even more so Cape Code. I personally never saw any of the "big fish" but the family I nanny for mentioned one day that they are 99.99% sure that they saw a Great White in the ocean by the shore near their house out in Madaket. They were walking on the beach, enjoying the sunset and watching the seals swim around when all of a sudden they see a giant fin come up out of the water. Talk about a scary reality right there. I do wish I could have been there to see that, I've never experienced a free Great White outside of an aquarium environment.
Speaking of aquariums, I spent a very large portion of my time on Nantucket at the Maria Mitchell Aquarium on Washington Street. The little girl I nannied for is quite the little marine biologist dreamer. She's seven years old and is completely in love with all the little creatures of the ocean. After being dropped of we would venture together into town and the first thing we would do, almost every single day, was head to the aquarium. We could spend hours there learning about the little creatures they had swimming, sticking and crawling around in the different tanks. Bare in mind this "aquarium" is a tiny piece of property that has about 20 small fish tanks, one petting tank and one slightly larger tank. It's just a small little place that families can visit to learn a little about the creatures that can be caught in the waters surrounding the island. They have no exotic creatures, only ones that inhabit the local area. This is really neat because then the kids can go into the water while they are at the beach and find the same critters they just observed at the aquarium. At least that is what my little friend loved to do more than anything.
It really is a great place and the employees are really good at answering all of the children's questions and have a fun light attitude towards them. No one was ever cross or seemed like they really didn't want to be there all day answering the same questions and dealing with kids taking the poor animals in and out of the touch tank. It was always a good way to get the day started before we headed to Children's Beach, which was usually a part of our daily routine.
Children's Beach is a small beach essentially right at the outskirts of town. It is a combination of a small grassy area (for games and picnics), a playscape, a little beach and a small food shack. The place is crawling with nannies all day because of how it really caters to so many different needs for children. Many days were spent just staying at Children's Beach all day because of how you had so many different options for activities all in one place. The "beach", as I call it, is really more of a small area with some sand and then the harbor is what represents the ocean. But, with that being said, since it is a harbor and not a wave invading ocean, the water is really shallow and calm. Shallow and calm water leads to perfect critter finding. She would spend ours just dilly dallying around in the water finding shells, hermit crabs, spider crabs, mermaid scale, even shrimp and small fish. It got to the point that one evening I found a tiny little crab in my bag. Sadly the poor little guy had already headed off to heaven but it was such a perfect representation of how we would really spend our days out in the warm sun.
Now as lovely as it was to spend the day finding sea creatures and playing on the monkey bars, the best days were the ones that involved either sunrise or sunset. Nantucket has the most incredible, breath taking sunsets and sunrises, to the point where I don't think it would be possible to pick one or the other. I did only experience two sunrises (one I mentioned earlier) and one during one of my last few days on the island. Both were so incredibly different and magnificent in their own way. One woke up the island with clear skies and bright shades of orange, while the other was much more mellow and had 30 different shades of blue. So fascinating and so amazing to experience. I simply cannot wait to continue to experience more sunrises in as many different corners of the world that I can reach!
Now both sunrises were experienced on Jetties beach and most of the sunsets were experienced on Steps beach but I did get to experience one sunset out in Madaket. I'd seen the sunsets out in Madaket before from the earlier times I had visited the island but they were nothing like the one I was lucky enough to experience this July. I really don't even have words to describe what it was like to walk down the beach with my mother in hand (she came out to visit :) ) and phone snapping pictures trying to capture the moment. It was a breath taking pastel colored rainbow that filled the entire sky. The clouds were thinly spread throughout the sky which blended in with the colors of the evening sun setting. Completely and utterly breath taking. Everyone on Nantucket has their own opinion about where on the island has the best sunsets but of all the sunsets I've seen, nothing beats this one.
Now enough about playing in the sand and the sun rising and setting, and onto another amazing aspect of Nantucket. The food. Nantucket is very expensive place in essentially ever single aspect you could think of; so for two students who are spending their summer working on the island trying to save up, there wasn't much room to dilly dally with our money. Never the less we did give ourselves a treat every once in a while.
Caution: The food images and description below may cause excessive drooling and hunger. :)
If you find yourself on the island and want to get an amazing, super filling, well priced sandwich (which is a surprisingly hard combination to find) then there is only one place and one place only. "Something Natural" blew my mind. You can either customize your own sandwich or pick from one of their many options. There really are so many options that they cater to absolutely everyones needs and desires. You can choose either a half or whole sandwich and a "half" sandwich is huge, really the size of a regular sandwich. They bake their own fresh bread every single day and those options are endless as well. Whole wheat, oatmeal, rye, pumpernickel, herb, six grain, french and portuguese. It is some of the best whole wheat bread that I have ever tasted! Here's the best part, the sandwiches are very reasonably priced. All of the times I went I ended up getting the same thing, not very experimental but it was just the perfect sandwich! Veggie, sprout and avocado on whole wheat bread. Five dollars and seventy five cents. Absolutely mind blowing. The best sandwich I've ever gotten and probably the cheapest thing I was able to find on the island. Worth every single penny and it was big enough so that sometimes I just saved half of the "half" for later. Another little "good to know" fact; they open early in the morning, 8 o'clock I believe, which is perfect for getting fresh bread for the breakfast table or bringing sandwiches to the beach.
Another great lunch place that also offers great options for breakfast is "The Green". "The Green" is an organic cafe a little outside the center of town. If you lived in town it would be a decent bike ride but really not too bad, and a nice little bike ride before indulging in delicious breakfast is never a bad idea. My friend and I had the pleasure of visiting "The Green" a couple of times and I think it's fair to say we were blown away. The first time we got burritos, which was really a "create your own" type experience and they as well catered to everyones needs. There were so many options ranging from what protein you wanted (beans, chicken, beef, etc.) to the different veggies and toppings you wanted. It was a great protein packed lunch which tasted great and kept you filled and fueled. The next thing we tried was a breakfast bagel. Now, I really am not a bagel person and I never choose to eat this but wow. The absolute best breakfast bagel I have ever tasted. The fresh house made bagels were perfectly fluffy, not too thin and not too thick. The eggs were deliciously fluffy and super yummy and then I did get bacon (because a bacon egg and cheese breakfast bagel isn't a BEC without the bacon). Even the bacon was perfectly cooked and crispy. The place is filled with gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options as well, which really makes it a great place for all. There are fresh pressed juices and smoothies, salads, sandwiches, treats and so much more. All organic and made fresh.
Since I am in full swing of discussing all of the delicious carbs I consumed over my wonderful month in Nantucket I might as well finish it with a bang. My best friend found a job at a restaurant called "Ventuno", located on Federal Street. This turned out to be absolutely amazing because we ended up dining there twice. My last dinner on Nantucket was at this wonderful restaurant which was the perfect way to end the trip. It's an Italian restaurant that has great service, great food and a cozy atmosphere. I might even go so far as to say that it is my favorite Italian restaurant. Sad to say because now I am so incredibly far away from my favorite restaurant. It is very classic Italian in the sense that you order numerous different courses and then they are just smaller portions. Quite honestly I could make an entire post alone about all of the food we ate during those two dinners because of the amounts of food and the deliciousness of the food were out of this world. But, to highlight everything and attempted to not get to carried away I will quickly sum up the dishes we ordered. To start we shared chickpea fries and whole milk ricotta and island honey crostini. The combination of these two to start during our dinners (yes we got the same both times) was unbelievable. I had never tried chickpea fries (I really cannot emphasize enough how amazing these were) and I have never had better ricotta, it was so perfectly fluffy and full of flavor. I raved about these two dishes for days and still am.
During our first visit we went from these straight to our pastas because we got double portions instead of ordering a primi and secondi (the portions are ginormous). Differing from this, though, during my final dinner on Nantucket we ordered salads for in between the appetizers and pastas. One was a special summer salad with nectarines, prosciutto and radicciho lettuce, which also had the whole milk ricotta, and the other was a pesto arugula salad with tomatos, peppers, olives and fresh goat cheese. Absolutely amazing and a perfect transition from the crispy crostini and chickpea fries. Also, so beautifully presented, it wasn't just thrown together, it was presented as food art as I like to call it.
Now, for both visits my friend and I indulged in the delicious fresh house made pastas that "Ventuno" offered. Once again, just as I had been with all the other dishes we tasted, I was blown away. I did try two different pastas, mainly because they changed the menu but I could have easily chosen the same one I had the first time. This, though gave me the opportunity to try two taste exploding pastas. The first visit I devoured a fresh fettuccine with Bartlett Farm's sweet peas, green beans, parmesan and essentially thin sliced bacon bits (which I personally could have gone without). Nevertheless it was such a perfect pasta because it was simple in the sense that it wasn't overdone, just a few ingredients yet it was still so incredibly flavorful. I could simply eat that pasta every single night if I were given the opportunity. The second time around I ordered the pasta that actually replaced the previous pasta that I had the pleasure of tasting. Tagiolini verdi; favas, sweet peas, fresh garbanzo beans, asparagus and the restaurants own fresh pasta. If pasta could sweep me off my feet then either of these pasta could do the job. I have absolutely nothing but exuberant and positive things to say about the food at "Ventuno", and I haven't even mentioned the desserts.
Bomboloncini. Bittersweet chocolate doughnuts, coffee gelato and chocolate sauce. Need I say more. This dolci was mouth wateringly delicious and it was so good that even after all the food we had devoured we were able to eat this as well. Calling them doughnuts really doesn't do them justice, they are more like little round croissants filled with a warm delicious bittersweet chocolate. Dipping each bite in the coffee gelato was like fireworks of flavor exploding in your mouth. And yes we did get this both times we indulged in dinner here. We also tried the cheese plate and olive oil cake. The cheese plate was amazing and had such an excellent array of cheeses sided with perfect additions. As for the olive oil cake, I have never in my life tried olive oil cake or even heard of olive oil cake. It was sided with black raspberry gelato and Barttlett Farm's fresh strawberries, blue berries and of course island honey. The fluffiness of this olive oil cake with the coolness of the raspberry gelato and then adding fresh berries on top was simply delicious and a perfect summer dessert. Such an amazing experience and I couldn't possibly recommend eating dinner at "Ventuno" more, it truly is fantastic Italian food.
Now that I've spent an immense amount of time discussing food, you may start to understand the strong appreciate and love I have for both making it and trying new things but most importantly devouring it. Nantucket is filled with options of wonderful restaurants for breakfast, lunch or dinner but there are also so many little coffee shops and little sandwich shops. There's "The Handlebar" cafe on Washington street that has great coffee, a homey environment and even free wifi. As for smoothies I didn't get much of that out on the island due to the prices but I did occasionally enjoy "Cook's" Mermaid Magic smoothie. Which was really one of the best green smoothies I have ever had. A perfect combination of all the important and nutritional greens but also sweetened with apple, pineapple, ginger and honey.
Nantucket truly is an amazing place and I think that if anyone ever finds that the opportunity to visit the island arises they should take it. There is so much to see, explore and experience even on such a small island, which is really what is so fascinating. Nantucket can be categorized as a lot of the same, both with regard to the people who inhabit the island during the summer and how their attitude is but as much as I do agree with this, I also disagree. You have the opportunity to meet so many different people in an environment that is so populated during the months of June, July and August. There are so many opportunities to learn and experience new things no matter where you travel to in the world and you don't even need to travel half way around the world to do that. I do miss the orange and blue sunrises and the pastel sunsets and even the busy streets and crowded beaches. It is an island where there is a lot of noise and constant movement but it is also an incredibly tranquil place. I'm not sure if it's the sound of the seagulls or the waves crashing on the beach but I woke up every single day with a completely different outlook on life. I woke up with an appreciation of life.