Sunday, August 18, 2013

The countdown to Labor Day & Hello Maine!

And so we are in the home stretch of summer, only two weeks removed from September and Labor Day. We all know summer always flies by too quickly. July seems to take it's time but it is only an illusion. To combat this the family and I always take the last week of August into Labor Day for our summer vacation. Somehow the realization that it is time for our vacation helps ease the pain that summer is almost over.

Thanks to Sandy the NYC Board of Ed cancelled our winter break. The upside is that we banked the vacation time and for the first time we are taking the last TWO weeks of August for our vacation. That is how you take Sandy's bitter lemons and make Lemonade.

This year's vacation destination is Maine and New Brunswick. Peace, quite and lobster. Today is Day 1 and we already have 300 miles and a nice stop in Portsmouth, NH, under our belt. (Beautiful town Portsmouth. Worth a visit.) Something magical happens when you enter Maine. The feel and smell of the air changes. Seafood spots and lobster shacks start popping up every quarter mile on Route 1. You can feel yourself slow down.You are in Vacationland. *

*(For some inexplicable reason they don't use that slogan anymore)

After 300 miles in the car we are wiped. A swim in the hotel pool revives me and the little one enough that we want to get something to eat. A quick survey of the plentiful seafood options and we settle on Fisherman's Catch in Wells. It is off Route 1, near the water.  It is a classic lobster shack without being overly kitsch. We arrive and the place is packed, 30 minute wait.  It is late so we opt for take out. The staff is great and friendly and we have our food in 10 minutes. We book back to the hotel, sit down and eat. It is perfect.

Lobster Stew

Crab Roll


It would have been great to go out on the town and eat but we will have plenty of time for that. We are happy right where we are: In our  hotel room, the four of us together, watching Big Bang Theory on TV and eating "take out". Of course it helps that "take out" in Maine means fresh, plentiful and delicious lobster, crab and clams. Ahhh Maine. Ahhh, vacation. Ahhh, summer.

House label Root Beer

 Fisherman's Catch -  134 Harbor Road, Wells, ME  -

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This moment.

The calendar has turned to August. I am sure there are many people who are already issuing the annual lament "where has summer gone?" For me, this is the magic moment.  I find people always think July is nice and August is awful but the reverse is true. If you don't believe me step outside. It is a perfect summer day. Remember the heat of July? We are in the second half of summer (June doesn't really count). You still have time to make it a memorable one. Here are a few of my favorite things to do right now. Consider these suggestions and prompts. Batter up.

Get drink.

"Carondelet" -Beefeater Gin, Lime, Lemon, Blossom Honey, Vanilla, Sea Salt -  Maison Premiere

"USS Bomber" - Rum, Coconut Syrup, Lemon, Curacao, Peychauds - Maison Premiere
The back garden at Maison Premiere

Find an outdoor spot. Get some friends. Sit and have a drink. It seems simple. When was the last time you pulled that off? One of my favorite spots is Maison Premiere in Williamsburg. Maison Premiere was designed to invoke the hotel cocktail bars and oyster houses of New Orleans, Paris and New York of a bygone era. The circular bar is wonderful, but a seat in the back garden is a special treat. MP has top notch cocktails and a excellent array of wine, beer and spirits. It also has the best oysters and oyster selection in all of New York. It is worth a trip on the L Train. If you can't make it out there don't sweat it. Grab one, or a few, of your favorite people and hit that outdoor spot you love or have been wanting to try. No time like the present.

Hit the Greenmarket.


Summer bounty

The euphoria of the first wave of spring and summer at the Greenmarket is hard to beat. Rhubarb, strawberries and ramps signal that winter is finally over. As exciting and delicious as those first signs of summer are, right now is my favorite time of year at the Greenmarket. First and foremost, the tomatoes are in. They are field grown, ripe and bursting with juice and flavor. From red beef steaks to yellow cherries to crazy looking heirlooms I cannot get enough. It is also stone fruit season. Peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots are overflowing the stands. Throw in the first batches of melons and berries still going strong and there is no doubt this is the moment for fruit lovers.

Of course there are peppers, greens and more. Nature times this perfectly for the days when we don't want to turn on the stove. Stock up, grab a baguette and some cheese, and you have the ultimate summer dinner that you will be dreaming about in January.

Eat some clams.

Clams on the half shell - Harvey Cedars Clam Bar

I love oysters. I love mussels. But my true loves are clams. This is the moment for clams. They are coming out of harbors and bays up and down the East Coast. I don't care if you like them on the half shell, steamed, sauteed, Casino or fried. Just go get some.

See an outdoor show.

The Specials - Pier 26 - Hudson River Park

The city is bursting with outdoor shows. Summer Stage, Celebrate Brooklyn, Pier 26. Lincoln Center., the list is endless. The same goes for just about everywhere in the country right now. It does not have to be Lolapalooza. It can be a quartet in the garden at your local museum. Just find one and go. There is nothing more wonderful than being outdoors on a beautiful summer night listening to music.

Eat Ice Cream. Preferably for lunch. 

Durham, CT

Java Chip in a pretzel cone (yes, a pretzel cone!) at Skipper Dipper, LBI, Jersey Shore.

Banana Boat - Skipper Dipper, LBI

Yeah, this is a no-brainer. But do it. Take a walk after dinner. Get some ice cream. No matter where you are, there is a great ice cream spot. Big Gay Ice Cream in NYC, Durham Dari Serv in Durham, CT, Skipper Dipper on LBI. This past Sunday I had ice cream for lunch. And not just any ice cream. For the first time in at least twenty years I had a banana boat. And I ate the whole thing. Summer.

LBI, Jersey Shore

As any fan of Game of Thrones knows (or anyone from Maine will tell you) winter is coming. So check your summer to do list. The time is right and the weather is right. Get out there and enjoy.