The best way to get to know a place may be through its food. The best way to get to know Nantucket, however, is through Michael Fahey, owner of Fahey & Fromagerie on Pleasant Street, Nantucket Town. Both Fahey the man and Fahey the store have spent the past five years providing Massachusetts' former whaling island with wines, cheeses, baked goods and prepared and packaged foods of a quality and variety that you might expect in a city of 8 million but that comes as a surprise on an island of 9,000.
Before the 40-year-old Fahey bought the half-century-old penny-candy store, at one time owned by an elderly Portuguese gent, he had been getting acquainted with Nantucket as the sommelier of the restaurant at the Wauwinet, the island's celebrated inn, for which, over six years, he won every wine award going. You don't get very far in Fahey's SUV before some neighbor flags him down to ask if he can recommend Burgundies for a supper party or whether the Colston Bassett Stilton is peaking or if there's any of Colleen's focaccia left. Or maybe just to chat. They all know him because he not only tends the wine lists of Nantucket's most talked-about restaurants but also builds and augments private cellars, runs classes, hosts wine dinners and, in the off-season, travels to France, Italy, New Zealand and Australia in pursuit of the vine, often with a small group along for the ride.
Today--early summer "on island," as they say here--I'm along for the ride. We're doing the delivery rounds, which will take us on a tour of Nantucket's increasingly vital dining scene, with a little sightseeing between stops.