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RELAXING ON BLOCK ISLAND

“There’s nothing to do but walk on the beach, meet some interesting people and enjoy good food on this New England holiday.  Perfect…”
By Bob Payne
Photography by Walter P. Calahan


On Block Island, the honeybees never cross the 12-mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean that separates them fro the Rhode Island mainland.  The Nature Conservancy has named the island one of the “12 last great places I the Western Hemisphere,”  I felt no more inclined than the bees to rush off in search of whatever else it is that makes life sweet.   “It’s a place that speaks to people,” says Chris Littlefield, whose family arrived about 330 years ago when the island was settled.  “It inspires them with an appreciation for the environment that I like to think they take with them.”

The road out of Old Harbor, the island’s main village, led us happily downhill and then painfully uphill to see the view from Mohegan Bluffs.  We were admiring the view when we overheard another cyclist talking about three young chefs he reckoned were among the best on the island.  Two were David Silverberg and Robert Tierney of Eli’s, where we had seen a line out the door every time we rode by in the evening.  The other was Chef Edward Moon of the Atlantic Inn.  Despite believing that restaurant dishes should be on the menu for only a short time, he had apparently met with nothing but opposition whenever he tried to stop serving his Monkfish Rumaki.

While the atmosphere at Eli’s was frenetic, Edward Moon, at the Atlantic Inn, presided over a candlelit dining room that exuded serenity.  When you sat down at the table, the staff assumed the table would be yours longer than some third-world governments are in power.

My first course was the justly famous monkfish rumaki - sautéed medallions of fish on a bed of wilted radicchio and bacon, topped with Littlefield Bee Farm Block Island Honey and mustard cream.  That was followed by black sesame - crusted salmon,  the chocolate crème brûlée with toasted almonds and a sweet raspberry sauce for dessert.

The monkfish, Moon said, was the only dish that remained from his original menu at the start of the season.  “I think cooking is an evolutionary process,” he said. “The first week or two of preparing a dish is discovery.  Weeks three and four you are in the groove.  And by weeks five and six, interest usually starts to fizzle.” 

But after trying the monkfish, I, too, lobbied for it to stay on the menu-it seemed fitting that it was to be my culinary memory of Block Island.