After enjoying our stay on Cape Cod and traveling the northern route 6A from Sandwich, MA to Provincetown, we wondered why we didn't just plan to stay right there in that idyllic setting.
There was so much to see and do. The small towns were picture perfect, the temperatures so pleasant, the salty air so fresh, and antique stores lined up all along the Cape (not that I would inflict antique stores on my son...)
So we packed up our suitcases, made the big swing around the beautiful city of Boston, and climbed our way up to our next destination...the peaceful and quiet classic New England harbor town...
|Emerson Inn-by-the-Sea in Rockport, Maine|
So far, I've been following the recommendations of Karen Brown. She is my favorite go-to source for B&B/Inn recommendations in the U.S. as well as Europe.
I had been looking over her description of The Emerson-by-the-Sea in Rockport, Massachusetts and knew it would be a fit for me. I didn't want to miss out on this classic Inn, with its beautiful perch and long porch filled with rocking chairs, right on the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
We wound our way along Route 128, passing through Salem, home of the 1700's witch trials. Riley just finished doing umpteen literary review essays (good grief) of The Crucible written by Arthur Miller so it was intriguing to see the location for this true and tragic story in our American history.
Glimpses of coastal scenery could be briefly caught through the thick trees and it felt as if we were driving to the very edge of the coast...and we were! Rockport is on the tip of Cape Ann and The Emerson Inn-by-the-Sea is the area's only classic historic inn...and what a gem.
The Emerson Inn has 36 lovely rooms. They do a good job keeping the look beautifully historic but tucking in the modern amenities that we all enjoy.
The Inn was originally a tavern and was located in Pigeon Cove. After a raid on the town that destroyed all of the alcoholic spirits in Rockport, it was turned into an Inn.
The location became the go-to vacation spot for families from Boston and New York City. More rooms were added as well as a dining room. Ralph Waldo Emerson loved the area and continued to bring his family to vacation to the area! We thought this was especially intriguing since Riley is studying the Romantics and the Transcendentalists of the 1800's.
When we arrived at The Emerson-by-the-Sea, we were greeted by the delightful warm-hearted concierge, Beaux Landry. I had spoken to him on the phone and he was nothing short of charming and sweet.
We chatted a bit at the Inn and I marveled at his heavy accent. He said that his family was from Nova Scotia. I commented that his name is a typical "cajun" name commonly heard in southern Louisiana. We put 2-and-2 together and realized that our heritages were connected.
Many families from France, living in Nova Scotia, and refusing to wage war for the country due to their beliefs, were ousted. They migrated all along the coastal areas and all the way down to southern Louisiana.
I loved The Emerson. The mood, the light, the colors, and the spectacular view from our bedroom. Beau knew that we were coming and that I might write a review. He put us in a room that, when sitting up in bed, the sweeping view included the Atlantic Ocean and the beautiful lawn and pool of the Inn. What a sight for tired morning eyes!
I gasped when I sat up in the huge four poster mahagony wood carved bed in the morning and the entire sky was tinged with soft pinks and oranges. Truly a spectacular view. Thank you Beau...with your charming accent! And thank you to the Emerson Inn-by-the-Sea for taking care of us so well!
|Morning Sunrise down on Rockport Harbor (Maine)|
I was yearning for one of my early morning sunrise jaunts. The air was so cool I had to grab a jacket. I grabbed my bag and camera. The wide heavy wood planked floors squeaked so wonderfully and the Inn was so quiet and calm.
I literally felt like time had slipped backwards to an era when the only light came from gas lamps and the impending sunrise.
I slipped into our little car and wound my way down the peaceful sleepy streets of Rockport right down to the tiny little harbor.
I realized that there were 3 of us awake at that hour...the seagulls, a lobsterman, and myself.
The seagulls were swooping down all over the harbor...I believe, possibly in happy anticipation of the departure of the lobstermen. Perhaps they knew that meant a future breakfast snatch when they return from their first haul of crustaceans?
They were calling out from the rooftops perhaps saying. "To your boats fishermen...breakfast awaits!" I don't know. Maybe I'm a little too fond of the world of Beatrix Potter.
|Rockport Harbor, Maine|
As I was sitting in the early morning quiet on some huge rocks and enjoying the rise of the sun over the Atlantic, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
The fisherman was slowly climbing down a ladder to a row of tied up dingy boats bobbing along the edge of the stacked rocks. He slipped into one of the boats, picked up his paddle and quietly treaded his way to one of the larger boats anchored in the middle of the harbor.
After arranging his items for the day, he turned on the deep throated motor and it hummed slowly and steadily out of the bay for the first morning lobster run.
It was so hushed down at the harbor. The fisherman was so quiet and the seagulls, calling out loudly, were the only sounds to be heard.
I felt privileged at that moment to witness the still of the morning along a small harbor town along the East coast and to catch a glimpse of an ancient seafaring trade that has been around for centuries...lobster fishing.
I was thankful that I climbed out of that super warm and comfortable, huge antique bed so early in the morning. Dealing with the humidity of Texas in August is tough and the delight in breathing in the salty ocean air and wear a warm snuggly jacket was such a treat!
I was ready to head back, take a warm bath (jacuzzi tubs in the rooms) and then go downstairs to enjoy a hearty breakfast at the Inn.
Breakfast at the Emerson was delicious. Riley was pleased with the attractive buffet spread laid out in the pleasant dining room.
Several sets of french doors opened out onto a screened patio that had an enchanting and sweeping view of the ocean.
|Botton Right: Morning view from bed of the ocean|
I was especially fond of the dark black and brown wall paper with the pheasant birds because they matched so closely the fabric on my own dining room chairs at home.
Again, the lighting was kept soft, the breakfast options, from the french toast, eggs florentine, sausages and roasted potatoes, to the fruit spread with yogurts and granola to the fresh morning pastries and scones, were satisfying and filling.
So again, with a fond attachment to The Emerson Inn, just like my fond attachment of the northern route of Cape Cod, we reluctantly packed our suitcases, in order to trundle onward and climb higher along the beautiful coastal route and into maritime regions of Maine.
The farther we travelled into Maine, the more we saw signs for "blueberries" off the road. With blueberry season long over in the south, I hoped that we would be treated to these wonderful berries Maine is known for...and we certainly would be...
We made our way back to Route 128, cut across land on Route 133 and put ourselves back on Route 1A. We wandered along this tiny coastal route (however, views of the ocean are limited), drove up to the charming seaside towns of Ogunquit, Yarmouth, and little Wicasett, with its famous "Red's Eats", until we decided we needed to stop for a rest and a bite to eat.
We were admiring the quaint little harbor area of Round Pound Harbor when we noticed a cute seafood restaurant, The Anchor Inn, situated right next to it.
The restaurant seemed more like a local mom and pop-type eatery as opposed to a tourist stop so we decided to sit down outside overlooking the water and enjoy another seafood lunch.
It ended up being one of our favorite meals. I decided to go for my first lobster of the trip and Riley had really delicious whole bellied clams. We sampled an oyster appetizer and some lobster chowder and sat back contentedly watching the activity in the little harbor.
It was so much fun to crack into the lobster. I know that sounds inhumane but I do come from the land of piles of crawfish trays plopped down right before you steaming with little lobster-like crustaceans. I've been hardened.
Plunking the lobster meat into the generous bowl of melted butter is rather surreal. How often do we dunk our food into that much real butter?
|The Anchor Inn in Round Pond, Maine|
Several families were getting ready to head out on their boats. The little ones scampered all over the rocks squealing with delight and playing carefree as the parents arranged their supplies.
I thoroughly enjoyed this stop. The lobster chowder was thin, not overly creamy, flavored beautifully, and filled with chunks of lobster meat. This little Round Pond Harbor is a circular enclave that opens up into the Muscongus Sound.
We had a nice quiet meal, happy to be out of slow moving traffic along the windy curvy 1A for awhile.
|Top Left: Maine's Gifford's Ice Cream|
Bottom Right: Rosehips, wild all over Maine coast
Later that afternoon, we stopped for an ice cream break. What a discovery we made! We stopped at a little place with picnic tables out front called Harbor Ice Cream near New Harbor, Maine.
Here, we were introduced to a Maine brand of ice cream called "Gifford's". Absolutely delicious is all I can say. Gifford's has flavors like:
~Fly Fishing Fudge (sampled this one...deeeelish)
~Maine Lobster Tracks
~Maine Maple Walnut
We didn't expect that the flavors would be so delicious and varied and laughed at how they accurately reflected what one thinks of when visiting the beautiful state of Maine.
|Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Bristol Maine|
After passing through and admiring the charming town of New Harbor, we ended up at our second viewing of a lighthouse on the trip...The Pemaquid Lighthouse.
The Pemaquid Lighthouse is perched right on the sea and huge imposing boulders of granite extend way out into the ocean. The name “Pemaquid” is said to have had its origins in an Abenaki Indian word for “situated far out".
|Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Maine|
The point, at the entrance to Muscongus Bay to the east and Johns Bay to the west, was the scene of many shipwrecks through the centuries, including the 1635 wreck of the British ship Angel Gabriel.
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse became the first lighthouse to ever appear on American currency in 2003, when its image appeared on the official Maine quarter. Fun fact for a 16 year old who has a pretty nice coin collection!
What was certainly on my mind when returning to Texas? Preparing a delicious lobster for Patrick, who was left at home to toil on his exciting and ambitious project which will have it launch debut in September.
I really wanted him to taste the flavors that we experienced and capture a little taste of the coast of Maine.
Fortunately, we have a fabulous selection of seafood ourselves, down here on the Gulf Coast. Interestingly, the Asian market is the place that has the best seafood selection that I have found.
I headed out there after my Saturday Morning market run with the intent of coming back with a large bag of lobsters.
Returning from the farmer's market brimming with a basket of vegetables for the week and a huge bag of fresh lobsters from the Asian market, I couldn't wait to get into my kitchen and create a delicious seafood meal for our Sunday supper.
I made a cilantro butter with a touch of lime zest and habanero sauce. After removing the claws, and cutting the lobster in half (lengthwise), I brushed the halves with olive oil and generously salt and peppered them.
The zucchini were piled everywhere at the market this weekend. I planned on making a zucchini egg drop soup for the week and I knew I could roast them in the oven for a quick side dish, so I came back loaded down with quite a few zucchinis for the week.
Looking for something else to have with our lobster, I decided that little cupcake sized zucchini shallot gruyère frittatas would be nice.
I didn't want to miss out on the last of the summer corn and since we were grilling the lobster, I thought some buttery grilled tarragon flavored corn would be delicious.
This would be a marvelous Labor Day meal for this weekend. But, those who play...must pay. Actually, we indulged in this meal today (Sunday) because we will be hard AT work on our Labor Day holiday.
Our schedule is a bit off from the normal U.S. calendar...but for us, that is quite the norm it seems. We'll be plunging ahead with a full course load tomorrow, working through a few weekends coming up...but all in hopes of an October Fall getaway to see Patrick's family, and to give him a nice break from his busy schedule.
No weekend here is complete without a little something sweet. Patrick is our resident cookie maker and he perks with delight when I feature one of his cookie creations here on 'thyme'.
These are his "Chocolate Chip/Banana" cookies. They are moist, cake-y without being dry, and just simply delicious. He has a knack for just throwing ingredients together and coming out with another soft and creamy batch of cookies.
I had to poke him several times to write down the ingredients and directions for these yummy cookies. Whereas, I have a tendency to follow recipes to the "T", he loves to add a dash of this and a spoon of that.
I don't know why, but now that we're off to a busy school year, I am itching to get into the kitchen and inspired by so many recipes (now that my time is more limited). Perhaps it is the promise of an end to the blistering temperatures down here and a welcome relief of the cool winds that will soon blow southward.
Next stop on the "Coastal Road Trip 2013"...the truly delightful (and my favorite of all) Bar Harbor, Maine. I found a last minute jewel of a B&B that I cannot wait to share here on 'thyme'.
Grilled Lobster with Cilantro Lime Butter:
(from Saveur's May 27, 2011 edition)
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp. minced cilantro
4 Fresno or Holland chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 lime, zested and quartered
2 2-lb. live lobsters
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. In a small bowl, stir together butter, cilantro, chiles, and lime zest; set aside. Remove the large claws from each lobster and set aside. Using heavy duty scissors, cut along the backside of the lobster from the tail all the way up to the top. Using a heavy cleaver, split each lobster in half lengthwise through its head and tail. Scoop out and discard the yellow-green innards and cut off all the tiny little small claws (discard). Transfer the lobster halves, shell side down, to a baking sheet; crack the lobster claws (so they will cook inside) and transfer them to the baking sheet. Drizzle lobster halves and claws with oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, heat a 12" cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat.) Place lobster halves (flesh side down) and claws on grill and cook for 5 minutes. Turn over lobster halves and claws and spread each with some of the cilantro–chile butter; continue cooking until cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Serve with lime wedges.
Muffin-Sized Zucchini, Shallot, and Gruyère Frittatas
(adapted from the french blog "Manger")
(makes about 10 small flans)
2 large zucchini, sliced in half-rondelles (I used my vegetable slicer/mandolin and set the cut for 1/8")
5 eggs (I used 6, just because I like them really egg-y)
4 tbsp cornstarch (maïzana in France)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
A handful of chopped mint
150 g (about 3/4 cup) grated cheese (Emmental or Gruyère)
2 shallots (or one large one), finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
½ tsp nutmeg
Salt & black pepper
Preheat oven 180°C/ 350 F
Slice zucchini thinly in half rondelles. Slice shallots and garlic finely. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and fry shallots, garlic and zucchini for a few minutes, until slightly golden.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and cornstarch, then sprinkle grated cheese, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Combine zucchini/shallots/garlic, lemon juice and sliced mint – stir gently.
Pour mixture into a muffin pan. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, until slightly golden on top.
Patrick's "Chocolate/Banana" Cookies:
(coming soon...I have to go poke him again)