Serendipitous: Blueberry Crème Brûlée
This seems implausible and a little too fantastic to be believed: I go to an island, I find a kitchen store, in the store I find a book, and inside the book is a message telling me where to go for dinner tonight. It is dusk on Nantucket, the end of an almost perfect day: sunshine and blue skies with no wind. It’s not just any day though; it’s the 4th of July (1988) and my son, Greg, and I are here on a day trip to explore the island. To top off this picture-perfect holiday, we are cruising in a taxi to the far Eastern end of the island, headed to the Sconset Café for an early dinner before we have to catch the ferry back to Hyannis.
I didn’t really know anything about this restaurant until this morning when, browsing through a now closed kitchen store called “The Complete Kitchen” (no matter where I am, I always find a kitchen store—oh, and also a book store), I see a sign that catches my eye: “Cookbooks by Local Chefs”. As I pick up one of the books, a little pink spiral-bound book with seashells on the front, I instantly recognize the name of the chef, Pamela McKinstry, as the creator of the Morning Glory Muffin which happened right here on Nantucket when the chef owned an earlier restaurant by the same name. I am intrigued because I have been a fan since seeing her muffin recipe printed in Gourmet a few years earlier. When I open the book and start reading “About the Author” on the first page, I realize that she currently has a “village café” on the island called the Sconset Café and I tell Greg then and there that this is where we are going to have dinner tonight if it is open. I add “if it is open” because it is July 4th.
With much anticipation, we arrive at the restaurant, which is covered in weathered gray shingles, reminding us that we might be near a beach. Everything about it adds to the description of what a “village café” should be. It is casual and friendly; the people inside are very welcoming. And then there’s the food; it’s all very fresh and delicious. We are having a great dinner, chatting about everything we did earlier in the day. We are just talking about how lucky we are to find this place when the dessert arrives. It is Blueberry Créme Brûlée. I notice the rich deep color of the caramelized sugar on top. The caramel is not burnt nor is it too light; it is a perfect color that matches the day and the dinner. Plump blueberries are visible through the sugar and are giving off their purple juices. As we take our spoons and crack the tops, we are both mesmerized by the creamy cold custard underneath that mixes with the squish of blueberries and the crunch of caramel as you taste it. As my son put it in an email “it just seemed like a moment in time, you and me and crème brûlée”.