Moving on through the tents, you're craving too many things. With no one to guide you, you decide to simply drift until something magical happens and you have food in your hands. Fifteen minutes later, you find yourself balancing a monster barbacoa cemita in one hand and an Indian-style vegan panini in the other. Victory!
You eat the thick strings of mozzarella from the cemita with your hands and attack the rest by plastic fork. The panini, stuffed with potato and spices, and topped with shredded carrots, cilantro, and a spicy chutney, goes quick. You watch people running for the ferry while your food coma wears off, then head back into Manhattan to catch your bus.
BUS: TWO HOURS, $45/ROUND TRIP
LODGING: INN AT ST. JOHN
Your hotel is supposed to be near the bus depot, so you decide to walk. Bad idea. You crisscross over the highway a few times, crawl through a hole in a chain-link fence by the railroad, dodge a beaver, and finally discover your lodgings nestled up against the county jail. For all that, the inn is pretty adorable, even if it does make you feel like you're in an early 19th-century boarding school.
Squid at Fore Street
You've heard good things aboutFORE STREET, and you're starving, so you don't hesitate when the bartender there places a basket of fresh-baked bread and a bowl heaped with soft Vermont butter front of you. The bread is still warm, and you sprinkle your portion with flaky sea salt and pepper.
The bartender serves up first a wood-grilled slice of foie gras with basil, honey-peach chutney, and toasted baguette, then a bowl of modest cioppino, swimming with squid, onions, and mushrooms. The foie is highlighted perfectly by the chutney: velvety, nutty, and indulgent. The squid, though, is a bit rubbery, without any of the cioppino flavor. Determined not to let your enthusiasm waver, you ask what neighborhood spots he can recommend.
You wind up down the road at the newly opened EVENTIDE OYSTER CO. The walls are painted neon shades of aquamarine, teal, and sea foam, and freshly shucked bivalves float by on trays, balanced on beds of seaweed stalks that look like deep-green lengths of knotted twine. You're working on your "Bubbly Mary," a strangely alluring combo of cava and Bloody Mary mix. Time for the mighty dozen.
For hometown solidarity you order Island Creeks, but let your server round out the group with two Maine varieties, Wild Belons and Winterpoint Selects, and Blackberry Points from good ol' PEI.
Oysters at Eventide
You start with the Duxbury megastars. That pop of brisk sea-breeze, with a high singing note of lemon, is familiar as your own hand. Winterpoint Selects are demure pearl drops the length of your thumb, with a delicate, but not timid flavor. Blackberry Points taste of the Atlantic, and the Wild Belons are like sassy little oceanic bitchslaps. Their brine is still spreading over your tongue as you get ready to leave.
Sensing your feverish lust for seafood, your server sends you to the sushi masters at MIYAKE. You admit to no one that you usually prefer a California roll over sashimi; now, you know it's time to convert.