Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New England Island Vacation Part 2 - Nantucket!

How do you know that you had a blast during your vacation? Mine is pretty simple -- after a great vacation, I experience this withdrawal period because I’m still in awe from all the delicious food and shopping that I enjoyed during the trip. The urge to go back is so strong that even as soon as I get home, I already find myself browsing for available hotels at wherever I just came from. This is exactly how I felt about our recent trip to Nantucket.

Nantucket Port | Massachusetts | Chichi Mary Blog

Nantucket is another New England island, located in the southern part of Massachusetts. It’s pretty and very charming.  Compared to Martha’s Vineyard, it’s only about half the size. For some, it’s often compared to Malibu. It is known as one of the premier destinations in the U.S. and is accessible through plane or ferry. Coming from Cape Cod, it’s also a bit further compared to Martha’s Vineyard. By sea, the slow ferry takes two hours, while the fast (and more expensive) ferry cuts this down to an hour and change. But the long travel is all worth it -- and you can definitely feel the excitement of all the passengers on board the ferry with you.

Brant Pont Lighthouse | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog
Brant Point Light - the most photographed lighthouse in Nantucket.  This is the first lighthouse that greets you as the ferry approaches the island.

Nantucket | Whaling | Chichi Mary Blog
Nantucket was known as the center of global oil business between 1750 and 1850.  Nantucket whalers were masters of hunting Spermaceti whales, whose oils are used to light lamps during that time.  (Read more at PBS.org)

Nantucket is definitely a great place to do people watching, and I can say that most people here whether locals or tourists have their own sense of style. It’s common to hear the term, “Nantucket snob” or as my husband says people want to "See and be seen”.  Beautiful sceneries, impressive restaurants and mostly fashion conscious people walking around the town center make both your eyes and stomach full and satisfied. Nantucket never fails to impress me and because of our recent trip, I fell in love with this place all over again. I love it simply because of these three things:

It is a charming town

Gray shingled homes, white crushed stone driveways, brick stone sidewalks, manicured fences and colorful flowers are in great abundance at Nantucket.  The thing about Nantucket is that there’s a lot of charming cottages that are equally impressive as the mansions.  Passing by the alleys are just simply mesmerizing, making me utter in a grateful whisper that I am in a beautiful island.  Of course, beaches are accessible and you have tons of options. But for families, Children’s Beach is a great visit.  It has a playground and a stage, where kids can play non-stop.

Nantucket| Flower Gardens | Chichi Mary Blog
In Nantucket, beautiful driveways and yards like this are the rule, not the exception.

Siasconset | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog
For an extra dose of charm, we went back to the town of Siasconset, where cottages are mostly covered by flowers.

This is a very charming spot, where the lucky homeowner has a separate cliff-side yard overlooking the Atlantic and the beautiful houses below. 

Playground | Siasconset | Chichi Mary Blog
Beautiful kids playground near the beach at Siasconset that reminds me of similar designs of playgrounds that can be seen in England.

Nantucket Sidewalks | Chichi Mary Blog
Mary in her Tartaleta dress enjoying the sight of beautiful flowers while walking in town.

During my first visit to Nantucket a few years ago, I remember having an impression that you can see people walking around the town in their beach style outfits during daytime and then when the clock hits 6 pm, people are all dressed up for parties or dinners. It's definitely great to see that nothing changed, and that the atmosphere is just as lively!

Nantucket is a shopping haven

For me, Nantucket is a shopping haven. Clothing made of woven fabrics like linens, cotton silks, and cashmere are not difficult to find in the town’s specialty boutiques. The preservation committee takes pride when it comes to supporting small businesses with the exception of one Ralph Lauren Store and Jack Wills boutique in the town center. But in general, boutiques have great selections of merchandise that offers mostly premium clothing. Not to mention some of the good quality Italian shoes found in good shops, if you just know how to hunt. These days, it is harder to experience and enjoy this kind of shopping given the popularity of fast fashion and chain stores.  That's why I feel spoiled with great options in Nantucket.

Cobblestones | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog
Cobblestone roads at the town center.

Boutiques | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog
Posh boutiques at the town center.

Nantucket is a food destination

It might be a bit expensive compared to other New England towns but the food scene can be compared to other major cities in the U.S. Admittedly, food is at a premium because of the additional cost to ship ingredients to the island, but we take solace in the fact that you get delicious food. From simple take out stores that sell all natural juices and pies to high end restaurants, you can simply enjoy gourmet food depending on your budget. Truffle fries seem to be common in almost all restaurants.  Here are some of our favorites:

Lola 41

We loved the Lola Burger and its foie gras sauce during our last trip but it moved to a new location so we opted to go to Lola 41 during our recent trip.  Lola 41 also offers the Lola Burger which is paired with gravy fries (similar to poutine)/truffle fries and of course, the foie gras sauce.  The burger is so good that when we think about Nantucket, the Lola Burger is one of the first things that come to mind.

Lola 41 | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog
We took this picture near sunset. One thing we noticed that seemed to be common in Nantucket especially for the more in-demand places is that you show up very early to place your reservation for sometime later that night.  So there's a long line around 4 in the afternoon and then things die down afterwards until the place actually opens.  Unfortunately for people arriving at that time, no more tables will be available for the rest of the night.

Dining Room | Lola 41 | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog

Lola Burger, Truffle Fries, Australian Lamb Chops | Chichi Mary Blog
Lola Burger with gravy fries, our favorite truffle fries and Australian lamb chops.  Mac n' cheese for Mary was also good but we missed taking a picture of it.

Black Eyed Susans

One of the most popular restaurants in Nantucket.  It's known for its pancakes but unfortunately, we were able to come there during dinner.  There was a very long wait that even when we tried to call at 3 pm to make a reservation, there was no longer an opening and reservation could only be done the same day in person.  We were able to make a reservation for a 9:30 pm dinner which was quite inconvenient if you have kids with you, but people told my husband the wait was worth it.

Black Eyed Susans | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog
A pregnant woman and her daughter waiting for their table at 9:30 pm ;)  

Dinner | Black Eyed Susans | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog
Cuban picadillo of wagyu beef for appetizer, house smoked pork belly and monk fish, and linguine with clams.

Long story short, the food was really good but for me personally it doesn't compensate for the long wait. My husband really loved his braised pork belly and monkfish, but he agreed that the hype was just too much.  This wasn't like Au Pied de Cuchon in Montreal where we waited patiently for our 11:30pm reservation just for the joy of eating roasted pig's head with foie gras again (with Mary sleeping in her stroller).  Oh well, can't win 'em all... Hopefully, the line was just because of the 4th of July weekend and next time it will be shorter.

Nativ Made Nantucket

This take out place is located in the port area so it can be easily seen if you take the ferry. I love their freshly pressed juices and pies or what they call pasties. Pasties according to Nativ Made website originated in Cornwall, England.  These are light and flaky baked pastries with meat and vegetable filling.  For me, pasty is  similar to a Jamaican patty but it comes in different flavors like cheese steak, buffalo chicken, ham and cheese, and Greek style.  The pasty is so good that I decided to hoard before we took the ferry on the way home.  Tip:  Since I've been back to this store multiple times, the owner told me that they sell the pasty at 50% off from 7-8 pm.  I think it's a great deal, as these aren't exactly cheap.  My husband keeps on joking about golden pasties...

Nativ Made | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog
Mary waiting for another steak and cheese pie.

Juice Bar

Another institution in Nantucket that my daughter loves. They sell smoothies and ice cream but the great thing about this store is that they bake their own waffle cones. The smell of the freshly baked waffle cones tantalizes your nose even if you're just passing by the store. Tip:  Go to this shop at around lunch time or in the afternoon because there is a short line compared to evenings where the lines can be very long because of all the party-goers.

Juice Bar | Nantucket | Chichi Mary Blog
The short line which just goes outside the store.  When we passed by on the way to dinner, the line was snaking around the block.  People love those waffle cones.

Tartaleta Dress | Nantucket | Juice Bar | Chichi Mary Blog
Patiently waiting for her turn at the Juice Bar.  Mary in her Tartaleta Lime & Peach Floral dress.

Nantucket Pharmacy

It's the oldest pharmacy in Nantucket and it also has a soda fountain shop inside.  It's great to pamper yourself with milk shake and rootbeer floats after a long walk in the town center. And don't underestimate this old pharmacy because it contains great merchandise from all natural Crabtree and Evelyn's nail polish to Mario Badescu's skin line. Yes, you will not feel deprived with options when you're in this island.

Nantucket Pharmacy | Chichi Mary Blog

Soda Fountain Shop | Nantucket Pharmacy | Chichi Mary Blog

Nantucket is a really, really great place to visit!  It may be expensive or even snobbish for some but if you're looking for beautiful scenery, great shopping, and good food, it should be in your bucket list. And for me, I'm glad we chose to go back this year!



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