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Posts Tagged ‘pizza’

mystic seaport ct

Earlier this month, the hubs and I took off for a much-needed weekend getaway. His birthday is in early May, and it seemed like forever since our quick trip to Florida in mid-March.

We’ve been through southern Connecticut many times on our train rides to NYC, but had never spent any time there – so we decided to hop down to Mystic (as in pizza) for a long weekend.

In spite of some truly crazy spring rainstorms, it was delightful. (As were these tulips, spotted outside a shop in downtown Mystic.)

tulips mystic ct

We arrived on a windy, rainy Friday afternoon, checked into our Airbnb apartment and ate lunch at the S&P Oyster Company, down by the water. The views were a bit obscured by the weather, but the clam chowder was delicious.

After lunch, we drove over to nearby Westerly, R.I., where we spent most of our time at the Savoy Bookshop & Cafe. (If you know me, you are not shocked by this one bit.)

savoy bookshop westerly rhode island

I browsed the stacks while J curled up and read for a while, and later (after wandering around in the rain) we came back for an afternoon snack.

The rain had (mostly) stopped by dinnertime, and we ate at the other pizza place in Mystic – not the one from the movie, but Pizzetta, down on Water Street. Both the spinach-artichoke dip and the pizza were fresh and delicious. (The after-dinner excitement: several of the server girls shrieking because a frog had found its way onto the back stairs!)

Saturday began with pastries from Sift (yum) and brought more wandering, including a long browse at Bank Square Books, which is owned by the same folks who run the Savoy. I could have stayed for hours: it is well-stocked, pleasantly arranged and full of unexpected corners.

bank square books mystic ct window

Our Airbnb hostess, Melissa, had told us about M Bar, a hip little restaurant in a converted gas station, a short walk from downtown Mystic. We had dinner there on Saturday night and I loved every bite: avocado mash with pita chips, veggie lasagna with white sauce, and the best fries I’ve had in quite some time – with house-made ketchup. (Plus lovely wine, a great ambiance and a handsome date.)

jer m bar mystic ct

The sun finally came out on Sunday, so we drove over to Gillette Castle, though we were disappointed to learn it was still closed for the season. (J really wanted to climb it, and I was curious to go inside.) We had to content ourselves with wandering around the site, and marveling at the exterior.

gillette castle exterior ct

After that, we headed to yet another bookstore: the rambling, overstuffed Book Barn in Niantic. It boasts a fairy garden, a “haunted” mystery shed, several annexes of various kinds, and – I kid you not – a hobbit hole.

hobbit hole book barn niantic ct

More to the point, it is positively overflowing with used books, and we ended up with a bulging bag of them: fiction and mysteries for me, history and other nonfiction for J. My favorite kind of vacation shopping.

In between our wanderings, we spent a lot of time at the apartment: sleeping late, going to bed early, curling up with good books. I spent hours on the wicker sofa by the window, under a white afghan, sipping tea and reading a couple of YA novels I loved. It was restorative in the best way: walking and resting, exploring and eating, just being together.

We capped off our trip with brunch at Rise (which J kept mistakenly calling “Shine”) on Monday morning, and headed home, refreshed.

jer pancakes rise mystic ct

Mystic, you are enchanting. (And restful.) We’ll be back.

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marthas vineyard map ma

Recently, the hubs and I hopped on the ferry for a weekend on Martha’s Vineyard. We’d heard a lot about this lovely island off the coast of Massachusetts, but we’d never been there. And – I am happy to report – it was an utter delight.

We drove down to Woods Hole (slightly over an hour from our house) and caught the ferry, which takes about half an hour and afforded us these beautiful views.

ferry view martha's vineyard ma

After landing in Vineyard Haven, we grabbed a late lunch at Waterside Market, which included this delicious clam chowder.

clam chowder martha's vineyard waterside market

The hubs had found us a cottage to rent (via Airbnb), about a ten-minute walk from the center of town.

little lobster azaleas mv

It was clean, quiet, spacious and lovely. (Also: there were resident wild turkeys.)

little lobster cottage martha's vineyard

We spent Friday afternoon strolling Vineyard Haven, which (of course) included a visit to Bunch of Grapes Bookstore. (I want a clock like this.)

time to read clock mv

bunch of grapes bookstore marthas vineyard ma

We also popped into Mocha Mott’s for a snack, and found several kitchen treasures at LeRoux. But the greatest triumph of the afternoon was Island Music, where I bought J a birthday ukulele.

jer ukulele

That evening, we walked down to the Black Dog Tavern for dinner.

black dog tavern vineyard haven marthas vineyard

A wonderful evening: hot, fresh bread; delicious fish and chips; harbor views; and all kinds of cool nautical memorabilia.

katie black dog tavern mv

After sleeping in the next morning, we ate the (delicious) bagels our host had left for us, and caught the bus over to the next town, Oak Bluffs. (The island bus system runs between all the towns, and we found it reliable, clean and affordable.)

oak bluffs harbor martha's vineyard

We had lunch at the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company – my second bowl of clam chowder in 24 hours. (Delicious.)

A friend had told us about the famous gingerbread cottages, so we spent a while wandering around among them.

gingerbread cottages martha's vineyard

They began life as tents, then tiny shacks, built by Methodists who came over to the Vineyard for summer camp meetings. The open-air tabernacle is still there, but the cottages have evolved into candy-colored charmers.

gingerbread cottages

After all that walking, we treated ourselves to ice cream from Ben and Bill’s. We did not try the lobster ice cream (yuck!) – but the mint chip (mine) and strawberry (J’s) were delicious.

jer ice cream mv

Later, we rode the bus down to Edgartown, which was mostly still closed up for the season – though the harbor there is also lovely.

edgartown harbor mv

Dinner that night was delicious takeout pizza from Wolf’s Den in Vineyard Haven. Then we walked back to the Black Dog for pie á la mode. As you do.

Sunday dawned grey and chilly, but it was perfect weather for brunch at the Art Cliff Diner.

scone art cliff diner martha's vineyard

Now that is a SCONE. We split it, so we could have room for our main dishes. Mine was the Green Monster: a concoction of eggs, spinach, cheese, salsa and fried tortillas. Yum.

green monster brunch mv

Such a lovely weekend – quiet, peaceful, delicious. A perfect getaway with my favorite guy.

jer katie mv ferry

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I wait all year for the weather to warm up and the evenings to lighten, for the fresh tomatoes, zucchini, berries and stone fruits to appear at the grocery stores and the farmer’s markets. I have a deep love for autumn in New England, and spring, once it finally arrives, brings its own delicate, luscious beauty.

But summer is the season of abundance here – utterly bountiful and all too brief. We are luxuriating in it, savoring it, swimming in the golden light pouring through the windows from before breakfast until well after dinner.

summer dinner table

In the winter I make comforting, substantial dishes: enchiladas and manicotti in deep casserole dishes, pots of soup stirred and simmered on the stove. But in the summer, the cooking is easy, quick and light, starring whatever fresh produce I’ve recently brought home.

I eat a handful of berries with my breakfast, tuck a nectarine into my bag for an afternoon snack. We make fruit salad with whatever’s on hand (the only rule: no melons). I alternate between my two favorite summer teas: blackberry sage and ginger peach. They both taste like long-ago mornings at the coffee shop, a hot mug held between my hands on the speckled green counter, the aroma from the day’s first pot of coffee filling the air.

The dinner rotation these days is simple. Some nights I boil a pot of water, throw in some pasta, toss it with tomatoes and zucchini or spinach or bell pepper, grating Parmesan on top or stirring in a swirl of creamy ricotta. We love pasta year-round, but in the summer you barely have to fuss with whatever’s going in it.

pasta dinner patio lemonade summer

On slightly cooler nights we dare to turn on the oven, pulling out the pizza stone J gave me for Christmas, topping a store-bought crust with creamy rounds of mozzarella and bright slices of tomato and vegetables. J opens a package of crumbly goat cheese and dabs it around the edge with his fingers. I grind a bit of pepper on top. We pop it in the oven for 10 minutes, long enough for the mozzarella to melt and the goat cheese to turn slightly crispy.

Some nights, I whip up Jenny Rosenstrach’s yogurt-honey-garlic-lemon marinade, and we stick a few chicken pieces in it overnight. Cooked on the stove and then shredded, it is perfect with warm sheets of naan, topped with sliced baby tomatoes and a generous dollop of hummus. I slice a bell pepper into crisp ribbons and pile them on a plate; we dip them into the hummus too.

And every week, there is some variation on Burrito Night. We make rice in the rice cooker and J chops the chicken, then coats it in chili powder and black pepper. I slice and mash a few avocados with lemon juice and store-bought salsas for guacamole, and then we try not to eat it all while waiting for the chicken and rice to finish.

We carry everything out to the patio, and we drink lemonade and eat chips and burn our mouths with the spiciness. If we are sick of burritos or simply out of chicken, we make zucchini quesadillas, grating the zucchini into a heap and sauteing it with cumin and chili powder.

If we have a bit more time and inclination, we chop chicken and a pile of vegetables to make a curry. Our two favorites: Mango Chicken Curry from Shauna Niequist’s new book Bread and Wine, and an old recipe from Real Simple, featuring jalapenos and peaches. Simple, spicy, still starring fresh produce, and delicious.

What are you cooking this summer?

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