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Volume 40 Issue 1 • April 22 - May 5, 2010 now in our 40th season
In This Issue

American Seasons - Keeping Things Fresh

CrispsAmerican Seasons has served regional seasonal cuisine since the restaurant opened 23 years ago—long before the term locavore was coined and before “think local” was a national mantra.  This year, American Seasons has put heart and soul into using locally grown and raised ingredients, making changes to the menu to take full advantage of the very freshest possible ingredients.

“We work with the island farms—Pumpkin Pond Farm, Nantucket Native, Bartlett’s Farm...They have great products, and they give us their grow lists...”   Finding it difficult to fit these locally-grown organic products into pre-defined regions, the LaScolas have changed the format of their dinner menu.  Instead of dividing the dishes by areas of the USA, the menu now follows a more traditional format of Appetizers, Entrees, and, new for 2010, Sides that include classics like Creamed Spinach with Parmesan and Cheddar Cheese Grits with Green Onion Gravy.

“To have these great local products and not be able to use them because of a menu format was ridiculous,” LaScola commented, “so we evolved.”  Using the fresh farm harvests also means that Chef LaScola will be changing the menu more frequently:  “some things will be on the menu for only two weeks—that’s their peak season.”  Even some of their meats are locally raised.  LaScola is waiting for locally farmed lambs due to arrive any day now.

Dining Room

The American Seasons Bistro Menu has also evolved.  These “small plate” offerings served in the bar have been popular since their introduction several years ago.  For this season, the selection has doubled and guests can choose from fifteen different dishes, each just $6.  Many pair well with a side dish from the dinner menu to make a light meal.

Outdoor Lounge

Despite the changes, Chef LaScola, twice a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for Best Chef: Northeast, is still serving up dishes that feature classic American flavors and preparations with sophisticated flair.  The talent and technique that has made American Seasons a top favorite on Nantucket and earned the chef wide-spread respect is still very much a part of the experience.

Bar

American Seasons has added even more excitement to their always intriguing wine list.  There’s a reason this restaurant has been honored with the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 1996!  This is the place to come if you like to try bottles that are not commonly offered in restaurants in the Northeast.  You'll find selections from leading small production wineries across the Americas.  Many of these wines were discovered by the LaScolas during their off-season travels, and they love being able to share their great finds with patrons.  For 2010, they have established two new ways to share:  a nightly Wine Special and a Glass Pour Program.  The Glass Pour Program is the perfect way to try a wine without committing to an entire bottle:  you can order it by the glass or by the half-bottle.  They will be rotating in some great finds during the season, with pricing by the glass ranging from $8 to $22.  Even the exceptionally graceful Far Niente Chardonnay will be available to sample.  Check the mirror in the main dining room to see what is being offered.

The American Seasons menus are not the only aspect of this restaurant that has evolved.  The harvest murals have been redone by original artist Kevin Paulson and the tables that were originally hand-painted by Johanna Kane have also been freshened up.  The entire dining room is brighter, but still retains the familiar cozy ambiance that patrons love.

click on images for larger view
Charcuterie

Chef LaScola does much of his own butchering, smoking, brining, curing, and drying to produce a superb array of house-made Charcuterie.  His platter can be ordered for one or to share—either way it’s a feast!  The heavily laden sharing platter we sampled included eleven different meats along with pickles, rhubarb mustard, and pickled vegetables.  All very good, with the sweet-spicy Beef Cheek Pastrami, the Pork Rillette, the rich Foie Gras and Duck Leg Confit Paté and the Mortadella with Pistachios of particular note. (Suggested pairing: Pork Slap Farmhouse Ale)

In between courses, our expert server, Gail, presented us with house-made Chicharrones (see photo above) crackly, salty, smoky, finger food with a light puffed texture that is not the least bit greasy.  We can see that it would be far too easy to eat far too many of these!  The tasty snack is served with a chili relish that is more sweet than spicy. 

Day Boat Scallops

Back on the menu for a well-deserved encore is the Seared Day Boat Scallops.  The trio of sweet shellfish are perfectly seared with golden crusts and just-warm centers.  They’re served on a smooth cauliflower puree surrounded by a sweet, rich, and toasty mix of browned butter and vinaigrette with almond slivers, plumped golden raisins, and capers, flavored with a bit of dijon and sherry vinegar.  (Suggested pairing: Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label )

Crispy Manchester Farms Quail

Chef LaScola manages to make quail meltingly tender and at the same time delightfully crispy in his Crispy Manchester Farms Quail appetizer.  A good soaking in buttermilk is one of the secrets to making the fowl tender, and a dusting of seasoned flour before frying provides the crunch.  Sliced kumquats add a tasty tang and a drizzle of honey with black pepper compliments with a gentle sweetness.  (Suggested pairing: Margerum Pinot Gris 2008 )

Petite Greens and Baby Beet Salad

Vermont Goat Cheese and white and green spears of asparagus provide deep flavor and a fresh crispness to the beautifully composed Petite Greens and Baby Beet Salad.  The real showstopper to this appetizer is the crispy poached duck egg.  This warm addition is tucked alongside the salad.  It has a coating of nicely browned panko surrounding the perfectly cooked white and still-runny yolk, its orangey flow blending deliciously with the greens and the beets.  (Suggested pairing: Craggy Range Marlbourough Dry Reisling )

Pan-Seared Pork Belly

Nightly specials, if successful, often turn up on a later version of the dinner menu:  we think the Pan-Seared Pork Belly is sure to be added.  The thick cut of pork belly, glistening with goodness, is topped with a tiny, perfect sunny-side up quail egg—bacon and eggs for dinner, yum!  Nestled alongside is a single sweet pea ravioli, and a warm tarragon and orange vinaigrette cuts the richness to finish the dish.  (Suggested pairing: Lucia Pinot Noir 2006 Santa Rita )

Grilled Sirloin Veal Chop

We feel the same way in spades about the entree special we savored!  Grilled Sirloin Veal Chop...somehow the name doesn’t do it justice, it sounds too plain and this entree is anything but!  The huge chop is grilled just so:  the edges have a tasty char and the meat by the bone is rare.  The tender, succulent meat is adorned with sauteed sweetbreads, tender gnocchi, English peas that pop with freshness when you bite them, steamed baby turnips, bluefoot mushrooms, and tightly curled fiddleheads.  A roasted lemon au jus is drizzled overtop, adding hints of citrus and deep veal flavor.  (Suggested pairing: Pax Cuvee Moriah 2004)

Gilled Berkshire Pork Loin

Another hearty springtime choice is the Grilled Berkshire Pork Loin with Braised Pork Cheek.  The impressively thick loin is tender and succulent, and the rich cheeks come apart with a fork touch.  “Drunken plums” besotted with Jack Daniels are a highlight of the dish, which is rounded out with cheddar cheese grits, fiddleheads and spring vegetables in a mustard jus.  (Suggested pairing: McCrea Vineyards Cuvee New Orelans 2003)

Glazed Organic Salmon

Seafood lovers will adore the Glazed Organic Salmon.  LaScola’s pairing of smoky chili and honey to glaze the fresh fish is nothing short of inspired.  The salmon holds its own with the spicy-sweet flavors, and a luxurious smoky crayfish butter adds a mellowness that smooths out the glaze.  The salmon is served on two slices of green tomato, cornmeal dusted and fried.   (Suggested pairing: Peay Vineyards Sonoma Pinot Noir 2005)

Oven Roasted Halibut
We also highly recommend the Oven Roasted Halibut.  Thick enough to be seared till golden brown top and bottom yet stay moist and flaky within, the halibut is perched on fingering potatoes, ham cracklin’s, and lovely morel mushrooms.  Two sheets of crisp  bacon and lemon confit are the crowning glories.  (Suggested pairing: Blackbird Rose 2007)
Caramel and Almond Cake

Desserts at American Seasons are another adventure.  Pastry Chef Natasha Misanko returns this season with some new treats (don’t worry, you can still order the Flying Elvis, for now at least!).  Our table favorite, hands-down, is her Caramel and Almond Cake.  Warm and moist and sinfully rich, the individual cakes is studded with slivers of almond and drenched with caramel.  A scoop of strategically placed brown butter ice cream melts luciously down over the cake.

Rasberry and Rhubarb Crisp

Also very tasty are the Raspberry and Rhubarb Crisp with hazelnut streusel and buttermilk-black pepper ice cream ...

Spring Lemon Curd Tart ... and the Spring Lemon Curd Tart with coconut crust and blackberry-champagne sorbet. 
Misanko's Cookie Platter If you’ve eaten too well (a real risk here with the good size portions), consider ordering Misanko’s Cookie Platter to share.  We enjoyed White & Dark Chocolate Cashew Cookies, Apricot Ginger Biscotti, and Chocolate Shortbread Sandwich Cookie with a side of Banana Paper Tuilles.  A glass of Heinz port is the idea accompaniment.

American Seasons 

American Seasons

www.AmericanSeasons.com •  80 Centre Street  •  508-228-7111
reservations suggested  •  casually elegant, comfortably relaxed
Dinner Menu and Bar Menu served from 5:30 p.m.
entree prices range from $25.00 to $30.00 • Small Plates $6
All-Americas wine list and full bar
Amex, Visa, MasterCard accepted  •  no children’s menu 
Outdoor Lounge  •  open April – December

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