The One Hungry Pickle Guide to Lisbon–What To See

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SONY DSCI spent last week in Lisbon, Portugal, which, to put it plainly, was a dream. The tiled buildings, ethereal (and seemingly un-capturable) light, magnificent cobblestone streets and sea views would have been enough to entrance me, but add to that great hospitality, relative affordability and wonderful food and I was totally sold.

Without further ado, here’s a list (in no particular order), of the places, sights, and experiences I most enjoyed in Lisbon. Where to Eat and Where to Shop to come!

1.Pena National Palace in SintraSONY DSCSONY DSCI was completely taken with this magnificent multi-colored palace located just 30 minutes outside the city. Tiled walls abound, of course, in addition to yellow turrets and crazy sculptures and shapes everywhere. It was built in the 19th century at the direction of King Ferdinand II in the romantic style, but has both Moorish and Manueline influences–also there’s a real awesome courtyard. Why don’t I live here? The views are sensational, and the town of Sintra itself is charming (if touristy.)SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSC

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2.The tiled walls and cobblestones—duh!SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC
They are everywhere in Lisbon, so you can’t miss them. But make sure to pay attention to all the different varieties, shapes and colors both on the buildings and beneath your feet. Also, there’s a lot of very interesting street art, so keep an eye out!SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

3.Jardim do São Pedro de Alcantara SONY DSC The whole area of Principe Real is a glorious place to stroll—great shops and even better views. We posted up at this expansive park to take in the views—right before a group of rambunctious Italian tourist teens showed up and I had to immediately vacate. Keep going up and head to the Jardim do Príncipe Real where you can see a huge, very old tree and the rest of the botanical garden.

4.Praça do ComercioSONY DSCJust a beautiful sight to behold—and so many lovely streets right around there.

5.Museu AntonianoSONY DSC Just go. It’s a quick walk through and gorgeously curated.

6.San Jerónimo MonestarySONY DSC We went at night and were so taken by the architecture. I can’t vouch for the inside, but…I mean…look at that! Plus there were no people and crowds are gross.SONY DSC

7. Lastly, if you’re in Lisbon before August 2nd, don’t miss the incredible Sebastião Salgado exhibit at the Galeria do Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional. His work is breathtaking.Salgado2 salgado 1

[Salgado photos courtesy of Unicos & Olhares]

….stay tuned for eats and shops in Lisboa!SONY DSC

Braving Boston

IMG_8651Quentin & I spent the past week in snow-deluged Boston, visiting my parents, who just returned from India, thus skipping the lion’s share of this awful winter. Due to a flight delay and massive amounts of snow, my elaborate Vday dinner was spent in the company of just my boyfriend and father sans my mother, kind of a shame, although none of us really care about the holiday. I did, however, have big plans for cooking and baking, and made:

Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin from a recent Bon Appetit which was really delicious although sadly my tarte tatin’s dont always end up turning out as magnificent as the picture (read: they never do) But the herby caramel and roasted veggies were lovely and perfect for eating snug and warm. IMG_8616Ingredients
SERVINGS: 4
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled, sliced into ½” rounds [INSTEAD OF POTATO I USED BEETS]
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, sliced into ½” rounds
2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into ½” rounds [ I USED MULTI COLORED CARROTS!]
1 medium parsnip, peeled, sliced into ½” rounds
1 small red onion, sliced into ½” rounds
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 disk All-Butter Pie Dough [*I USED PUFF PASTRY INSTEAD. PIE DOUGH UNNECESSARILY STRESSES ME OUT AND THIS WAS ALREADY COMPLICATED ENOUGH!)
All-purpose flour (for surface)

Preparation
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°. Toss potato, sweet potato, carrots, parsnip, and onion with oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper and arrange vegetables in a single layer. Roast until golden around the edges and tender, 30–35 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile [WHILE VEG ARE COOLING] cook sugar and 2 Tbsp. water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is amber-colored, 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar and a pinch of salt, swirling pan to combine. Quickly pour caramel into a 9”-diameter pie pan; tilt and rotate pan to evenly coat bottom with caramel. Scatter rosemary and sage over top.
Arrange potatoes, carrots, and parsnips snugly in a single layer on top of caramel, using smaller carrot and parsnip pieces to fill in any holes. Scatter onion rings and crumble goat cheese over vegetables.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12” round. Drape over vegetables, tucking edges into pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until crust looks dry, about 20 minutes; reduce heat to 350° and bake until crust is golden brown, 15–20 minutes.
Let tart cool 5 minutes before inverting carefully onto a large plate.
DO AHEAD: Vegetables can be roasted 4 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature.

IMG_8653A Cioppino-style Fish Stew

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 garlic cloves, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup packed sliced fennel [FORGOT TO GET IT, WHOOPS!]
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound cleaned squid, bodies sliced into 1/2-inch rings, tentacles halved lengthwise if large
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups seafood stock or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
  • 1 pound littleneck clams, soaked in water for 1 hour
  • 1/2 pound medium tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded [I SKIPPED THE MUSSELS AND DID EXTRA HALIBUT]
  • 1/2 pound skinless flaky white fish such as bass, halibut, hake, or cod, cut into 1-inch pieces

IMG_8646Mince 2 of the garlic cloves. In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, fennel, celery, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and red-pepper flakes. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add squid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squid is opaque and tender and the released juices reduce, 15 to 20 minutes. Add tomato paste and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add wine, raise heat to medium-high, and cook until cooking liquid is reduced by half, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, bay leaves, clam juice, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, 30 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the butter, 1 tablespoon parsley, lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together. Cut remaining garlic clove in half and rub the cut sides on the toasts. Spread the flavored butter on the toasts.

When ready to serve, heat the pot to medium and add clams, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and mussels. Arrange the fish on top of the stew, cover, and simmer until shellfish opens and fish and shrimp are firm and opaque, about 5 minutes more. Discard bay leaves and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons parsley.

Serve cioppino immediately in large soup bowls with gremolata toasts alongside.

Sacher Torte
I’d been dying to make this Viennese cake with jam and chocolate. Luckily, I’m not providing a photo, because mine was not the best specimen. It was alright, but let’s leave it at that.

On one of our rare jaunts outdoors, we ate at Catalyst, a nearby restaurant on MIT’s Cambridge campus. Our lunch was very flavorful and beautifully prepared, and I huddled with this hot toddy as I stared at the mounds of snow through the large windows. We had a winter salad and chickpea fritters among other treats:IMG_8626

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We also had some great crawfish hushpuppies, fried chicken, and grits at State Park. Due to a somewhat rowdy night I sadly don’t have any photos, but I highly recommend it!

On Tuesday night, we spent the evening with our friends at Asta and had the insanely imaginative five course tasting menu. From exploding poprocks in a parsnip intermezzo to a dish of apples, horseradish and lardo, our tongues and minds were entranced with every bite. Sadly I didn’t snap a picture of one of my favorite courses: bright, toothsome Brussels sprouts with a Marmite-butter sauce. I’m still thinking about it. I just found out yesterday that Alex, the chef at Asta, was nominated for a James Beard award—Congrats Asta and head over there, Bostonians!

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Celery with black garlic gnocchi and crispy chicken skin

Spaghetti Squash with Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Spaghetti Squash with Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Crazy parsnip poprock cacao nib amazingness

Crazy parsnip poprock cacao nib amazingness

Catalyst
300 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 576-3000
http://www.catalystrestaurant.com

Asta
47 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
(617) 585-9575
http://www.astaboston.com

State Park
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 848-4355
http://www.statepark.is

Winters in Rangoon…

DSC_0133 Apologies for the silence (and Austin Powers reference above) and here’s to a new year of gorging myself day in and day out! Quentin and I spent the last two and a half weeks on a whirlwind trip through Burma (Myanmar) and India. Needless to say, much Asian food consumption ensued. First, I’ll regale you with tales of the fascinating adventures in Myanmar.DSC_0219

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We stayed in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the acting (though no longer official) capital of Myanmar. Quentin’s sister lives there at the moment, and showed us an absolutely fabulous time. I fell in love with Yangon—the calming Buddhist sensibilities, fascinating street life, and magnificent (and plentiful!) gold pagodas—I vowed to return and explore more of the country as soon as possible.DSC_0135

Burmese food is an interesting mix of South East and South Asian food (think rice noodles side by side with spiced curries.) Street food is ubiquitous, with communal cauldrons of bubbling soup, meat both grilled and freshly butchered, fresh sugarcane juice presses, and immaculately peeled fruits sold on seemingly every corner downtown.

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We were also lucky enough to visit a local grocery store—one of my favorite things to do anywhere—where we came upon many very colorfully-named products: [I just want to make it clear, the spicy lobster pringles were nothing short of amazing and should be exported here immediately]

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Due to some pretty wild food poisoning in Yangon, I didn’t get to experience as much of the local culinary scene as I would have liked—and was chiefly disappointed not to visit Port Autonomy, a super-hip pop up restaurant, part of a group of happenings in Yangon. I was, however, largely cured by a delicious homemade rice porridge made by Nwe Nwe, Quentin’s sister’s lovely housekeeper. She cooked the rice until soupy, and served it with cilantro, lime, and flash fried shallots. I accessorized with a bit of soy sauce, and behold: the ultimate panacea.(null)

I did, however, still get to try some fabulous local delicacies at a cool new spot called Rangoon Tea House which serves traditional foods in a chic, modern atmosphere.DSC_0222DSC_0232Mohinga, a classic Burmese dish, is a brothy fish soup with rice noodles, most often consumed as a breakfast dish. It has a pleasantly sour taste, reminding me of pho, and I particularly enjoyed the accoutrements—especially the crunchy corn fritter seen at left.

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This is a chicken curry, served with a variety of pickled and preserved condiments. The top part of the tray had an exceedingly pungent preserved fish which was a bit intense, even for seasoned and adventurous eaters like me and Quentin.DSC_0229

We got two salads: Tea Leaf and Pennywort (a soft leaf). Tea Leaf salad is also very common in Burma and I really loved the freshness of the cuisine—something that is often sadly lacking in Indian eats. And also…fresh coconut water AND a tea matrix on the back of the menu!
DSC_0230DSC_0223DSC_0227Myanmar, Burma, no matter your old or new name, I’m coming back for you as soon as I can!

Places to Visit 
1. The Shwedagon Pagoda 
This enormous gold temple/collection of temples in Yangon is an absolute must-see. It was built to store 6 hairs from Buddha’s head, and is absolutely magnificent and impossible to miss. Go at dusk when it’s not too hot, or else your feet will burn (you have to be barefoot to step inside.)                                                  2. Bogyoke Aun Sang Market This indoor stalled market is a wonderful place to buy gifts and the like. Unfortunately, the jade is procured in horrifying work conditions, but it is plentiful here. Longyis (the traditional Burmese garment) are also available here in a multitude of colors. Go upstairs and visit the Naga Shop for amazing textiles.                   3. The Secretariat and surrounding area The old colonial buildings are wonderful to stroll around and look at.

Places To Eat
1. Gekko
37th Street, Yangon, Myanmar
http://gekkoyangon.com/
This pan-Asian restaurant in a historic downtown building has a lot of delicious izakaya (skewered) offerings. The spicy Korean beef noodles and octopus salad are particularly tasty. Get a table upstairs if you can.
2. Port Autonomy
Lanthit Jetty, Oo Pa st, Seik Khan Tsp
http://ts1yangon.com/port-autonomy/
Helmed by famed Bangkok Chef Kevin Ching, this pop up restaurant serves uber-satisfying fusion cuisine (think Soft-Shell Crab Melts and Hot Fried Chicken with “Burmese Buffalo Sauce”) in an iron bunker-style space right on the water. I couldn’t have been more disappointed to miss this one.
3. Rangoon Tea House 
https://www.facebook.com/RangoonTeaHouse
77 Pansodan Rd, (Lower Block), First Floor, Kyauktada Township Yangon,Myanmar
This new fun restaurant features traditional Burmese dishes served in a lovely, light atmosphere. Definitely try the Mohinga, a traditional brothy fish soup, with a fresh coconut juice on the side!

Old Bay and Messy Fingernails

IMG_7445When Quentin and I decided to take a walk down to DC’s waterfront “Maine Avenue Fish Market”, I didn’t envision that just a few hours hence we’d be having our first very own crab steam (I recently learned that “crab boil” is not the appropriate term, but let’s face it “crab steam” sounds pretty silly) complete with Old Bay (a pungent spice mix of mustard powder, paprika, celery salt, red pepper flakes, and a host of other ingredients) and cocktail shrimp.

Photo courtesy of leitesculinaria.comThe market was a sight to behold, with huge counters of fresh fish and shellfish everywhere you looked, and a salty, non-fishy scent wafting from the nearby water. Seemingly unaware of their impending fate in a deathly brew of boiling water and Old Bay, that classic Maryland seasoning, blue crabs fearlessly scuttled around, their claws pinching the sellers at every given opportunity.IMG_7446 IMG_7447 IMG_7452 IMG_7450

We settled for a half pound of large shrimp and a dozen bright blue crabbies.

We went for the classic preparations; I boiled the shrimp in a mixture of cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, pepper and a touch of garlic powder (right) while Quentin tackled the crabs, expertly steaming them in  a combination of water and a can of ever-classy Bud Light and sprinkling them liberally with the Old Bay (left).  I served the shrimp with the classic combo of cocktail sauce and lemon wedges, and we watched as the crabs turned a reddish ochre hue.

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With some side  accoutrements and plenty of cold white wine, we laid out newspaper on the balcony, munched happily on lots of succulent crab, and thoroughly encrusted our faces and fingernails with plenty of Old Bay.

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Seafood Purchased from:

Jesse Taylor Seafood
1100 Maine Ave SW #2 Washington, DC 20024
(202) 554-4173

Old Bay photograph courtesy of http://www.leitesculinaria.com, Cocktail Sauce photograph courtesy of http://www.cavegirlcuisine.com

Cortina d’Ampezzo

IMG_6443A week ago, I returned from the Italian Alpine town of Cortina d’Ampezzo with improved skiing skills–I now proudly count myself among the ranks of advanced beginners–and a cache of taste memories I’ll treasure far longer than it’ll take me to descend double black slopes. (Okay, that might be a minor exaggeration.)IMG_6489

Aside from my daily jaunts with skiing master instructor Fabio (banish those assumptions immediately—he was an older gentleman with three children and a penchant for not laughing at my nervous altitude-induced jokes), I spent a lot of time eating at some of the fantastic establishments located all around this ritzy, mountainous area.

Located in Italy’s Veneto region, Cortina possesses an interesting and distinct cuisine. As a mountain town, the winter fare is unsurprisingly hearty and comprised of significant amounts of venison and other game in addition to hearty meats, like this “stinco”–or enormous veal shank: IMG_6463and tongue: IMG_6475, earthy varieties of local mushrooms, and a distinctly Germanic influence. The pastas were out of this world, and I was lucky to sample many previously unfamiliar varieties—no small feat for a self-professed pasta connoisseur.

Some of my favorite typical dishes and ingredients included deer with mirtillo (fresh forest blueberries),  paccheri (a large, cannelloni style noodle). This is a terrible photograph of an incredible paccheri alla vodka: IMG_6462finferle (small local chanterelle mushrooms), pictured here in this incredible paccheri that was filled with mushroom creamIMG_6472 casunziei or casumziei ampezzani—the spelling apparently varies (beet and poppyseed ravioli) (here are two different restaurant’s preparations of the dish:)IMG_6507IMG_6468and Treviso radicchio: Guanciale (pork jowl) was also plentiful, and the two are pictured here in this gnocchi, which resembled no gnocchi I had tried before:IMG_6508 as were multiple varieties of delicious, raw artichoke salad. here’s one covered in shaved parmesan with thinly sliced pears:IMG_6509

The restaurant scene in Cortina is absolutely fantastic—not a shocker considering the flocks of well-heeled Europeans (and a few Americans!) that frequent the area, sporting head-to-toe fur and tans that could rival many a Long Island teenager. Establishments range from rustic and traditional to immersion circulator-employing and Michelin starred, but across the board we were extremely impressed. One particularly enjoyable aspect of dining in Cortina is the preponderance of “rifugi”—old mountain huts located on the slopes which serve hungry skiers high class cuisine.

My favorite places:

Il Meloncino al Caminetto—Located right on the mountain, this rifugio is a magnificent spot for lunch—nestled inside the Alps–, although dinner is worth the trip too. We spent a sun-soaked afternoon chowing down on incredible food (and returned in the evening too!) *the above paccheri alla vodka, veal and this wondrous pasta with sweetbreads, fava beans and guanciale are all from here as is the view in the top photo!IMG_6439

Da Aurelio—The chef here means serious business-employing a range of modernist culinary techniques including steeping oil in local pine:IMG_6476at this mountain range restaurant. The ingredients and inspiration are all local, while the cooking methods are new and exciting. Here is some delicious octopus from Da Aurelio: 
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El Zoco—This is a true homey, rustic Cortina restaurant. The grilled meats are particularly fabulous, as are the sausages.

Baita pie Tofana—We had a sumptuous lunch and some pink bread: IMG_6505at this Michelin starred ski-in, ski-out rifugio. The gnocchi and the round beet ravioli were from here!

Verona: 
On our way back to Milan, before returning to the freezing Northeast, we stopped for an afternoon in fair Verona
IMG_6536IMG_6515where we had a terrific lunch at “Antica Torretta“: IMG_6529IMG_6530

 

 

Big Sur(ely)

DSC_0014This past weekend, my brother, his wife and I flew out to California’s Big Sur to surprise my other brother for a big birthday this month. Big Sur is a spectacular region between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the coastline views are among the most magnificent I’ve ever seen. Big Sur has always enjoyed a following among those with an  artistic sensibility, or basically anyone that has a pair of eyes. The vibe is extremely relaxed and the scenery is, well, totally glorious. Everything was seamlessly planned by my brother’s boyfriend and we had a fantastic time. Before I tantalize with photos from our trip, here’s a list of my particular favorites among the places we ate.DSC_0006Deetjens
DSC_0002Nestled in forests inland from the coast; Deetjens is the quintessential Big Sur locale—quirky, comprised largely out of wood, and with a simple, welcoming atmosphere. The inn has a few rooms available, but we came for breakfast which was held in the most charming room; packed to the brim with old school knicknacks and warmed by a crackling fire. The huevos rancheros were a solid standard with especially good corn tortillas, and my family really enjoyed their various eggs Benedict varieties (they’re known for their Hollandaise, apparently.) A table order of Buttermilk, Blueberry pancakes fortified us for some walking as did some strong coffee. Super low-key, and not to be missed.

Post Ranch InnDSC_0025 DSC_0024Entering Post Ranch Inn, it’s not hard to see why it’s been named one of the top resort destinations domestically and internationally. While it retains a rustic Big Sur-esque charm, it is unequivocally luxurious; with expansive grounds and a number of gorgeous (from the outside—we didn’t venture inside, alas) cottages to rent. The restaurant [name] is breathtaking—stuck into the mountains, with floor to ceiling windows and a glorious deck—all showcasing the Pacific ocean. It’s an utterly unbelievable place; with food that could almost compare with the setting. For lunch, we had a $45 prix fixe menu with a selection of choices. I went for the steak tartare, a mindbendingly delicious cioppino with Spot Prawns, black cod and squid ink toast slathered with Sea urchin butter (I know.) To finish up it was a warm chocolate cake with pumpkin ice cream, and another round of celebratory drinks.photo 2photo 1

Big Sur Bakery
What I had thought to be simply a bakery (having visited on a previous trip) actually serves a wonderful dinner. We were all leaning towards lighter fare, after a three-course, cocktail lunch which may, in fact, have been a dream. The emphasis was truly on fresh, local vegetables here—and many salads were ordered, in addition to a terrific medley of roasted carrots and a dish of farro with stewed kale. It all sounds very health food-y, and while they have a bevy of more substantial options on the menu, it’s just what our somewhat over-indulged crew required. Also of note: they have a heavenly ham and cheese croissant that cannot be missed.

The Roadhouse                                                                                                      Located just across the street from our lovely accommodation (Glen Oakes Motor Lodge) was this unassuming dining room, which served up simple comfort food with a Southern twang. While the meal didn’t make me re-think my existence, it was very tasty—especially a hearty red bean and rice dish. Crunchy kale salad was very good as well, and we set off ready for a hike in the dreamy Point Lobos State Reserve:

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A day in Vacationland

DSC_0117This past weekend my family and I took a day trip to Southern Maine for an afternoon of sunshine and lots of lobster. Our first stop was Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier in Kittery, Maine. This local’s joint serves up fresh lobster (from one to four pounds) and other wonderful seafood in a quaint waterfront setting. DSC_0136The restaurant seems to be a staple, with diners bringing their own side dishes, alcohol and even tablecloths. We picked up some local IPA beers, a bottle of wine, and dug in to a multi-course shellfish feast in a lovely picturesque locale.

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Peel-and-Eat Shrimp and some local OystersDSC_0081_2Lobsters (and chicken?) for Sale

DSC_0088Fresh for the eatingDSC_0095Rapidly accumulated detritus…

DSC_0097 Our chosen tippleDSC_0103Steamed Clams. We soon learned that the clam water is the key to a non-gritty bite. And, of course, butter is the key to everything.DSC_0110Some of the best fries I’ve had in recent memory. Hot and crunchy, with no greasy feeling or aftertaste. DSC_0118Lobster Roll. While the meat was tasty–sweet and fresh, I realized that I prefer the mayo-celery lobster roll variety.

DSC_0116Hot summer sunshine, drawn butter and tender lobster meat. Dare I say more?DSC_0121

Going…DSC_0130

Going…DSC_0132 GONE!DSC_0137

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And, of course, some ice cream!