Sorry to be away for so long but A Capitol Contessa is back and better than ever! Most of my time away from the blog was spent in my lovely home state of Massachusetts where the food just keeps getting better and better. I basically set out to give myself mercury poisoning, eating seafood at pretty much every meal I could get. There just isn’t anything like a freshly shucked oyster right off the truck from Maine or perfectly cooked cod right out of the sea. Lots of family commitments kept me from doing a true post on any one of the cities or towns I visited but I wanted to share the highlights for all of you travelling to MA this summer or for folks that are local. Stops in Dennis on Cape Cod, Newburyport on the North Shore and of course Boston, have me itching to get back home more often.
The Ocean House – 425 Old Wharf Road – Seriously one of the more beautiful restaurants I have ever eaten in. Waterfront dining isn’t that hard to find on the Cape but fine dining is – I truly love the variety of clam shacks and oyster bars but if you want a nice night out it can be hard to find. The Ocean House is white table cloths, a serious wine list and beautifully done food but it’s not so fussy that you stop feeling like you are on vacation. I had some insane lobster ravioli there that must have had about a pound of lobster both inside and on top of the pasta. Delicious! Pro tip: order their espresso martini with dessert.
Skipper Chowder House – 152 South Shore Drive – I consider myself a bit of a clam chowder connoisseur and I would have to put the chowder at Skippers at least in the top 5 ever, if not number 1. Creamy, clamy, and chunky, it was everything I want in a chowder and more. The fried clam plate is also pretty terrific but be warned it’s a LOT of food! Skippers is a typical Cape style place right across from the beach with a good local craft beer selection on tap and a cute top floor bar. Get the chowder and you wont be disappointed.
Brine – 25 State Street – Brine is just what the doctor ordered for the seaside town of Newburyport. As much as I have always loved visiting, it was certainly lacking in upscale dining. Brine serves up carefully selected oysters and refined seafood dishes as well as chops for meat loving patrons. Definitely start with some oysters which are all expertly shucked by the staff (on Thursdays there is a buck a shuck deal). I love all the attention to detail at this place like house made ketchup and inventive plating.
Joppa Fine Foods – 50 Water Street – Stores like this make me a kid in a candy shop…where my version of candy is high quality olive oils, artisinal salumi and a collection of flavored salts! Joppa is a great store to buy local and handmade food ingredients and ideal for putting together a slamming picnic. They have prepared foods, a to die for cheese counter and delicious wine to throw into your basket.
Saltie Girl – 281 Dartmouth Street – If I could design a restaurant (ooooh I can dream) it would be Saltie Girl. Everything about this place is PERFECT. The beautiful fish scale tiles on the bar, the jute wrapped columns, the iced buckets attached to each table to keep wine crisp – I loved ALL OF IT. I took so many pictures it was starting to get obnoxious so I will only share a handful but please get yourself over to this place.
It is quite small and is first come first serve with seating at the bar and at several booths. However, the staff is so gracious and accommodating that its worth the wait (a nice glass of rose doesn’t hurt either).
The Saltie in Saltie Girl refers to a large selection they have of tinned seafood. If you think opening a can of sardines doesn’t constitute creating a meal think again. These are not just any canned fish – these are the best of the best imported from around the world, that are served with carefully selected accompaniments. The really knowledgeable staff will walk you through that menu, the raw bar and any other questions you may have. Want something hot and more substantial? Why not lobster and waffles or a really amazing looking burger? All meals end with an adorable check presentation and an awesome haute version of a wetnap (excuse the video quality – my sister in law and I were a bottle of vino deep at this point).
Last but not least I have to give a shout out to the Boston Public Market – this place isn’t new and isn’t new to me but during my visit they finally transitioned to being open 7 days a week. Also every time I go there are more and more vendors open so if you haven’t been since it first opened I highly recommend you stop in again. You all know how much time I spend in Union Market back in DC – well this is the Boston version and I hate to say it…but I prefer it!
Lots of food stands to buy food right on the spot mixed with terrific grocers and other food artisans to get super fresh ingredients from all over New England. I stopped in and bought fresh parsley and garlic pasta at Nella Pasta, a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers for my mom at Stow Greenhouses, some local beer at Hopsters Alley and of course a small cone of moose tracks at Crescent Ridge as a snack. The perfect way to spend an afternoon in Boston. Hope all of you living in the Bay State or those heading there get to try some of these spots. GO SOX!