Friday, August 27, 2010

Martha's Vineyard Report: Obamas Have A Day Outdoors, Dinner At Beach Plum Inn

Vacation 2010, Day 8
The economy was the entree on President Obama's very large plate on Friday, even during his vacation leisure time on Martha's Vineyard, where he was joined in the afternoon by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at Edgartown's Vineyard Golf Club. (Above: POTUS and Bloomberg on the greens)

"The President and Mayor Bloomberg took the opportunity to discuss plans for short- and long-term economic growth at a pivotal point in our recovery," said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.

According to the White House, Bloomberg was invited last week for the outing on the island greens, and discussing the ongoing Ground Zero mosque controversy didn't figure in. Vernon Jordan and WH trip director Marvin Nicholson completed the foursome. No word on who won the fifth presidential golf outing of the vacation. (Above: The President enjoying a chance to drive a motorized vehicle, something he doesn't get to in autos, as Chief Executive)

Dinner at Beach Plum Inn
The President had happier things than the economy and sand traps on his plate by evening: He squired First Lady Michelle Obama to dinner at the Beach Plum Inn in Menemsha. It was their third dinner outing of the ten-day vacation, and like their other restaurant choices, Beach Plum focuses on local and sustainably sourced food. That's standard procedure for most of the fine dining operations on island--including the dining operation inside the Obamas' 28.5-acre rental compound, according to an East Wing spokesperson, who announced that the First Family is enjoying local bounty while on vacation. (Above: The exterior of the restaurant)

The President and First Lady were acompanied by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, as they were for their other dinners at The Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs and State Road in West Tisbury. Alan and Sofia King, friends from Chicago, completed the party.

Beach Plum Inn is at the end of a long and winding sandy road, overhung with old-growth trees, and sits atop a cliff with a panoramic view of Menemsha harbor. It's in a converted house, and the interior is decorated with antique furniture and things like aged fishing creels and crabbing baskets. White table cloths, mismatched floral arrangements and low candles enhance the "seaside country charm" effect. Last summer, the Vineyard was ripe with rumors that Chelsea Clinton's engagement party would be held at Beach Plum, in the hydrangea-heavy outdoor garden (it, er, wasn't).

Ranked as the best eatery on Martha's Vineyard, offerings are new-modern regional American cuisine with appetizers such as Pan Roasted Soft Shell Crab with coconut risotto and lemongrass syrup ($14) and Steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels withwhipped cauliflower, haricot verts, and port wine syrup ($11). Entrees follow the same tone, and include Steamed Twin Local Lobsters with potatoes, vegetable du jour, and drawn butter ($39) and Chicken Lucarno, which is a roasted free range chicken breast with Peeky Toe crab and spinach gnocchi, gruyere mornay, and a chardonnay basil tomato sauce ($32). Like many other towns on the Vineyard, Menemsha, officially located in Chilmark, is dry, and so Beach Plum encourages guests to BYOB.

The historic fishing village of Menemsha shot to pop-culture fame in the 1970s when it was featured in the film Jaws. It's on the side of the island that has aggressively resisted modernity--and thus the intrusions of off islanders--by avoiding installing cell phone towers, and deeply regulating beach access. You essentially can't make a call with a cell phone,* and can't visit beaches without a pricey pass.

Let's Move Outside
In addition to golf, the economy, and dinner, the rest of President Obama's day was devoted to cycling. He joined Mrs. Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia for a six-mile morning bike ride through the 5,100 acre Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, which cuts through the center of the Vineyard. This year, unlike last year, the entire First Family wore cycling helmets; last summer's presidential lack of protective headgear got much attention in the media. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Sasha in action)

The President rode with Malia (above), and Mrs. Obama rode with Sasha. Pool reported the President's cycling attire as "mom jeans." Mrs. Obama's Let's Move Outside project encourages families to use state and federal conservation spaces for fitness activities, so the First Family was setting a national example as they enjoyed the Vineyard's natural charms.

Saturday is the last full day of the First Family's vacation; the President and First Lady depart the island on Sunday morning for New Orleans, where they'll mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Info: Beach Plum Inn is part of the Inns at Menemsha, and located at 50 Beach Plum Lane, Menemsha, Mass., 02552. Phone: (508) 645-9454.

It's been a busy--if relaxing-- vacation. The rundown:
Day 1: Sam Kass is on the Vineyard, too. POTUS recess appoints USDA food safety chief.
Day 2:
Literature and links for POTUS; an ice cream run for FLOTUS and girls; pool reports.
Day 3:
First Family has a picnic on a private beach.
Day 5: POTUS, FLOTUS & friends have dinner at The Sweet Life Cafe; POTUS plays basketball with Sam Kass.
DAY 6:
POTUS, FLOTUS & friends have dinner at State Road restaurant; FLOTUS lunches at The Boathouse. Back home in DC, White House announces Robin Schepper as Executive Director for Let's Move!.
DAY 7:
Vineyard homage for FLOTUS & Let's Move!; First Family has a late lunch at Nancy's restaurant.
DAY 8:
The First Family are Vineyard Locavores, WH says.

*Amusingly, ObFo's whining about lack of cell service on the Vineyard while covering Obama Vineyard Vacay 2009 warranted a blurb in the New York Times.

*Photos: Top two by Boston Herald; Beach Plum via their website; cycling photos by Getty