Galley Beach Restaurant’s Coastal Cuisine

A Nantucket sunset photographed from Galley Beach Restaurant. 

 

Pink sunset, Galley Beach, Nantucket
Pink sunset, Galley Beach, Nantucket

With the late afternoon upon us, it is time to explore the north eastern part of the intriguing sea and windswept isle named Nantucket.

The White Elephant Hotel, where we are staying, ferries us to Galley Beach, a typically beautiful spot on Nantucket.   We walk through perfect white sand to the Galley Beach Restaurant and are assigned our table before having a stroll along the beach.  David Silva’s (nearly) open air restaurant is an almost organic part of the environment. As the light is waning, clouds part and the most magnificent sunset unfolds before our us.  Luckily I snap a few photos before the pink sun completely disappears.

Nantucket Lighthouse on the west of the island
Nantucket Lighthouse on the west of the island

 

Galley Beach Restaurant began life as a clam shack on Cliffside Beach in 1958 and has been owned and run by the same family ever since.  The off white décor, with just a hint of nautical, is inviting and place appropriate.  The see-through plastic hanging coverings keep the wind out but let the light and sunshine in.  Comfy wicker type chairs and hurricane lamps top the tables.  Shell decorations and natural fabrics in the restaurant continue the outdoor feel.  Many people choose to eat outside if the weather is suitable but we decide to stay in as there is already an autumn chill in the air.

Dining Room at night ©GalleyBeachRestaurant
Dining Room at night ©GalleyBeachRestaurant

David Silva, the current owner, happens to be on hand to help us select a good wine.  My companion is having Filet Mignon but I am interested in trying the fresh coastal cuisine and so ordered the cod filet with leek puree.  We decide to try a white wine.  The Starry Night, 2010 Russian River Chardonnay is lovely and light (my companion’s choice) but when I try out the Bourgogne, I am sold straight away.  The 2011 Michelot is exquisite with a fragrant bouquet and full bodied flavour.

Neil Ferguson is executive chef and his menus are influenced by local flavours and seafood which  include European touches like truffle oil, foiegras and brioche.  His early training was in England but then he spent a year in Burgundy at Marc Meneau‘s three-Michelin star L’Esperance.  There was a further year at the three-Michelin star L’Arpege in Paris with Alain Passard, a mentor he holds in high regard.  These influences are evident in his cooking.

Fresh salad ©GalleyBeachRestaurant
Fresh salad ©GalleyBeachRestaurant

I dig into the rest of the meal in earnest, starting with a staple of this region, New England clam chowder.  Very creamy and incredibly delicious.  My companion’s Roasted Beet Root Salad was made up of Strachiatella cheese, orange segments, mache and lemon-fennel puree. Unique, fresh and tasty.

Cod Filet at Galley Beach Restaurant
Cod Filet – image Galley Beach Restaurant

By now the restaurant is full and buzzing.  Our main courses are just as good as the appetizers.  The Filet Mignon is exquisite and perfectly cooked.  My cod fillet is firm, fresh yet tender as well.  The leek puree and fingerling potatoes are a perfect accompaniment and the truffled vinagarette adds a bit of something extra in the dusky flavour department.

 

Strawberry Cheesecake at Galley Beach Restaurant
Strawberry Cheesecake at Galley Beach Restaurant

 

But perhaps my favourite dish of the night was the scrummy Strawberry Shortcake Crumble.  The rich shortcake was just the right size portion to end the meal and the fresh ice cream and gorgeous strawberries set it off beautifully. Decadent is the proper word to describe this treat.

Fine dining is all the rage on Nantucket and there are many eateries to choose from, but this tucked away gem needs to be tried.  It stands on its own as a gastronomic delight.

Click here for information about Galley Beach
Click here for further information about Nantucket and New England

Istanbul First Impression: Sights, Sounds and Colours

My first visit to Istanbul is a breath-taking experience. For all the right reasons.

Fountains in front of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Fountains in front of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Sailing up the Sea of Marmara in the early morning light, the verdant hills of the Sultanahmet start sliding into view.  I squint against the brightness and scan the horizon with intent.  Then it appears. The glistening dome of the Blue Mosque catches my eye and I experience a quick intake of breath.  Though it doesn’t look as blue as I imagined, it is a striking and awe-inspiring structure even from this distance.  Quickly, all sorts of minarets and spires come into sight reaching up beseechingly to the sky.  It is not long before the Golden Horn is before us spilling out into the sea.  More of the city appears as we get closer and closer to our dock.

Blue Mosque and Sultanahmet from the Sea of Marmara.
Hagia Sofia and Sultanahmet from the Sea of Marmara.

 

The European side of Istanbul is where the old town and historic buildings lie.  The Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque are virtually all within yards of each other with the Grand Bazaar less than a mile away.  The Sultanahmet attracts tourists by their thousands, if not millions.  I cannot wait to get my walking shoes on and explore this enchanting city.

 
On approach to the Golden Horn, an enormous Turkish flag.
On approach to the Golden Horn, an enormous Turkish flag.

 

The Bosphorus suspension bridge between Europe and Asia
The Bosphorus suspension bridge between Europe and Asia

And soon the incredible Bosphorus Suspension Bridge is in sight, with its striking design based on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  To think this one structure connects the European and Asian continents has captured the imagination of the world.

We disembark to start our Istanbul adventure. Strolling through the non-descript Karaköy neighbourhood with its office blocks and utilitarian shops, we soon reach the old Galata Bridge that spans the Golden Horn.  Water now comes into view and we begin to traverse the bridge.  Lining the edges are local fisherman – I look down and can clearly see dozens and dozens of jelly fish, their iridescent shapes spookily floating about in the clear water.

 

Fisherman on Galata Bridge © pymphotography
Fisherman on Galata Bridge © pymphotography

 

As soon as we are midway across, we notice stairs going down to another, lower level.  Just above the water is another section of the bridge.  Here there are restaurants and tea houses getting ready for their first customers.  We settle in and have a Turkish tea.

Emerging back up to the road level, we make our way past the buckets of bait and fishing lines towards the Eminönü section of town.  This bustling recreational zone near the water is full of families buying treats and walking along the promenade and enjoying the cool yet sunny morning.

Colourful goods for sale in Grand Bazaar
Colourful goods for sale in the Grand Bazaar

As we walk up the hill towards the Fatih district, we pass vast numbers of stationers and wedding invitation shops.  Soon signs appear to direct us to the Grand Bazaar.

Entrance to the Grand Bazaar
Entrance to the Grand Bazaar

I don’t think anything can quite prepare you for this incredible structure with its ancient warren of walkways and wonderful shops.  Building began in 1455 at the beginning of the reign of the Ottoman Empire after the defeat of Constantinople .  They say that the rituals around bartering began at the same time as the construction of the bazaar and are still thriving to this day.

Entrance to Grand Bazaar © panoramio.com
Entrance to Grand Bazaar © panoramio.com

We have arrived quite early, so the bazaar is bustling but not too busy.  I am amazed at how wide the main isle is the takes you through the centre of this shopping mecca.  The designs and décor above our heads are striking and colourful.  And, of course, there are dozens and dozens of pashmina, souvenir and jewellery shops. There are upmarket luggage, watch and leather outlets as well.  I even spot children’s toy shops and eateries offering Turkish snacks.

 

Pashminas in Kapali Carsi
Pashminas in Kapali Carsi

 

I will be buying pashminas today for various relatives who have asked for them.  I make my first attempt at bargaining, to the amusement of my husband.  There is astonishment from the vendor as I offer half of the price he is quoting.  I move on to the next shop as my husband is giggling at my efforts.  This does not stand me in good stead with the vendor.

Ceiling of the Grand Bazaar
Ceiling of the Grand Bazaar

 

We approach another shop and I am soon ushered inside by a friendly attendant. I quickly discover that there are many suitable shawls and scarves here.  Once hubby and I start discussing the various options for different people (with the salesman dutifully pulling out shawls for us to look at) I know my bartering position won’t be very strong.  I have shown too much interest!

But we happily part with our money on finding three pashminas which are just the colours needed.

It is soon time to have a bit of lunch.  I leave the bazaar not having experienced it thoroughly or having done nearly enough shopping.   But we soon discover a local restaurant that makes the best spicy lentil soup I have ever tasted.  The waiter seems very impressed when we attempt a few words in Turkish.  Everyone is pleased!

Turkish food.
Turkish food.

There will be another blog about our discoveries in Sultanahmet and also a previous cookery experience in Kuşadasi.  Watch this space!

I travelled on the ship Azamara Quest on an Eastern Mediterranean itinerary.