02 April 2007

Savoring Nantucket Scallops!

Scallop: - a shell of any of various marine bivalve mollusks of the family Pectinidae, with circular or fan- shaped shell valves.

It is this edible flesh of these mollusks that has become the quest for many guests who ask Century House innkeeper Gerry, “Where can I get Nantucket scallops for dinner?” So famous is this sweet, delicate treat – a taste so unlike any scallop in the world (there are over 400 varieties) and sadly the answer is usually “nowhere” as the Commercial Scalloping season is November 1-March 31, when the Century House is closed.

However, in October of each year there is a special opportunity for recreational scalloping and the Century House may offer an adventure in scalloping to celebrate in 2007, so stay tuned...

As for the process, using push rakes or dip nets (dredges if commercial permits) along the harbor while wading, diving or snorkeling, the scalloper painstakingly gathers the scallops into the container. Now imagine a bushel of these gems – shells intact – going off to the “shucking shack” where one deftly splices the shell to abstract the “flesh”. Innkeeperette JeanE did this one fine October day with her sister Joanne - who’s Harbor Front Cottage was once used in the early 1900’as a shucking shack- and discovered that the bushel’s yield was minuscule!!!! Enough for a dinner for two at best.. No wonder scallops are so dear!

With the yield of approximately 117,000 bushels harvested in 1980-81 reduced to 5,500 in 2005 and Season 2006 predicted to be lower than previous year, one questions the impact of environmental changes on our coveted Nantucket scallop and Scalloper. And we need to remember that the commercial venture is held in bitter cold, raw, barren winter weather so watch for the “easy living” alternative in October, 2007!!

Discover the Beauty of Nantucket's Coffin Park

Someone once said that "those who wonder are never lost." In the truest sense, the wanderers are explorers without a map. They are the ones who live by no one's rules or blueprints; but love the unknown. They live to explore and discover. On Nantucket they might get lost and stumble across any one of its many treasured possessions.

One of the Nantucket's newest gems is COFFIN PARK, just minutes from Century House on Cliff Road and conveniently located next to one of our favorite picnic eateries, Something Natural!!! Nantucket cleared out this premiere site the Winter of 2005. A semi-swampy parcel of land owned by the Town of Nantucket, was overgrown with thickets, shrubbery and vines. Today, the elevated wooden walkways provide idyllic pathways to explore intimate flowerbeds, shrubberies and privet hedges – all indigenous to Nantucket--- or simply to enjoy a picnic feast on the secluded lawns.

This serene spot, only a stone’s throw from Century House provides just one more discovery for the curious island wanderer. Explore the park and discover many indigenous plants. Look...find...wander and wonder on Nantucket Island! picture courtesy of the Nantucket Land Council.

Nantucket Cranberries Galore!

Fall on Nantucket is a time to "Toast the Cranberry," so named because of its pink blossoms that resemble the head of a crane. The berry was first cultivated in the United States in 1816 on Cape Cod where it flourished when cultivated under growing conditions similar to those found in the wild-including an acid, peat soil; a surface layer of sand that is frequently replenished-shifting in the seabreezes.

Cranberries have been grown on Nantucket since 1857 and is an important part of the Island’s economy until the mid 1940’s - in fact the Island's 234 acre bog off Milestone Road was the largest contiguous natural cranberry bog in the world until 1959.

The berries were individually handpicked until the early 1900’s when the wooden cranberry scoop was developed. Since the mid 1940’s, growers have used an assortment of mechanical pickers, and it is this process that visitors to the Island can observe during the October harvest. Savor the joy and fascination upon learning of this colorful production! October guests will enjoy the extra cranberry treats Gerry incorporates in the fare during this festive time of year.

Century House toasts the cranberry every fall!