Friday, September 15, 2017

My Healthy Snack at Far Land

Just one stuffed shell and some roasted Brussels sprouts made a perfect snack.
The other day I was vaguely hungry in the mid-afternoon hours, but since I had dinner plans with friends, I didn't want to eat too much. It was clearly time for a snack. 
Of course, the first thing I thought of was something a little sweet, perhaps a brownie, muffin, pastry or treat of some sort. I headed over to Far Land Provisions, at 150 Bradford Street, to see what I might find in their goody case that day. Cookies, muffins, torts, tarts, cakes, pies, turnovers, scones, lemon bars, raspberry pecan squares...
A variety of delightful baked goods of every description roll out of Far Land's oven every day, depending on what fresh fruits might be available, and, of course, the whim of the baker. There are always a dozen or two choices of mouthwatering delights to choose from.
So I was all set to indulge my sweet tooth, but when I walked through the door my eye fell upon the cold case of ready-to-eat entrées and side dishes at the deli counter.  That brought to mind Far Land's terrific roasted veggies, and it occurred to me that I could have a snack that would give me some vitamins, instead of heading right for something sweet. I walked over to see what was in the case that day.

Far Land's cold case typically offers at least twenty daily entrées and side dishes
like BBQ chicken, grilled flank steak, roasted veggies, cheese tortellini with pesto,
meatloaf, kale and chickpea salad, mashed potatoes, baked beans, mac & cheese...
I love the marinated, grilled flank steak, which I usually pair with roasted veggies, and maybe mashed potatoes for a nice supper.
The cheese tortellini with basil-pine nut pesto is no slouch, either. The Boston baked beans are excellent. So hard to decide.
I settled on roasted Brussels sprouts and a single stuffed shell, shown above, and had them warmed up so I could eat them there, in the cozy little dining area up front. This snack gave me a bunch of vitamins, minerals and Omega-3 in the sprouts, as well as protein and calcium from the pasta shell stuffed with a ricotta cheese blend, and the tomato sauce on top gave me a little lycopene. Not bad for a pretty healthy, quick snack.
If you've not yet made a meal from this deli case, you owe it to yourself to try it. You can choose how much of these foods you want, pair them any which way, and get them hot or cold, to eat there or take with you. The folks behind the counter are very accommodating, the prices are fair, and you don't have to cook. My snack was just right. It was exactly what I wanted, and it only cost me $4. How can you beat that?
It won't be long now until Far Land is once again serving up their hot sandwiches, and their very popular winter meals, too; something different every day, and there's always a tasty, satisfying, vegetarian option available as well.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the autumn season, and the maple chili roasted acorn squash. Yum!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pop + Dutch Earns a 'Best Bite' Award for Their Sensational Chef Salad Sandwich

TheYearRounder bestows a Best Bite award on the innovative
Chef Salad Sandwich, piled high at Pop + Dutch in PTown.
When I walked into Pop + Dutch (say Pop and Dutch) on a rare afternoon off a little while back, starving, I had no idea what I would order. Everything they offer in this eccentric little neighborhood market is top notch. with nearly everything made right there, fresh, from scratch.
They bake their own buttermilk biscuits, along with pies made from fresh, seasonal fruits, and whatever other pastry, goody or dessert that might strike them at any given moment. They roast their own veggies, turkey and beef, too, so all of this keeps the Pop + Dutch oven working at a pretty constant pace, cranking out something tasty all day long.
So they don’t bake all of their own bread, but they do make the focaccia for their Myrna Minkoff sandwich, named for an off-beat fictional character in John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces. The Agent Dale Cooper sandwich is 
house-made turkey breast, with cheddar, smashed avocado, mayo, pickled shallots, tomato and butter lettuce on 7-grain bread. It’s named after the quirky FBI agent who has a nefarious alter ego, and an inordinate fondness for cherry pie, in the outré 1989 TV series Twin Peaks. Beginning to see what I mean by “eccentric,” aren’t you? That's part of the fun of Pop + Dutch. A certain lightheartedness is likely to overtake you upon walking through the door.
Behold the radiant sandwich! (from Pop+Dutch Facebook page)
When I asked what I'd have for lunch that day, co-owner Rebecca first determined that there was, indeed, nothing I don't like. Vegan, vegetarian or whole hog, I'm in. After a moment's thought, she suggested I try the Chef Salad sandwich, and repaired to the kitchen to whip one up for me. Just like it sounds, it brings all of the elements of a chef's salad together in a sandwich.
Tender leaves of butter lettuce, slices of sweet, ripe tomato and hard-boiled egg are layered between Swiss cheese, cheddar, Black Forest ham, and turkey that tastes like Thanksgiving, because at Pop + Dutch, they roast it and carve it right in their own kitchen. Stack all of this on a big, fresh Iggy's brioche roll, add a little ranch mayo dressing, and you've got a dandy of a sandwich. A distinctive taste, along with the superb quality and the inventive use of the ingredients, earned this sandwich a Best Bite award from TheYearRounder, because it was easily the best thing I ate in PTown during that entire week.
Owners Sean and Rebecca refer lovingly to their little market as "a sandwich shop and pint-sized general store" in Provincetown's West End, at 147 Commercial Street, right at the foot of Conant Street. It's in the midst of a little cluster of charming galleries, gift shops and antiques.
As I mentioned, nearly everything in their deli section is made right in their own tiny kitchen, including an unusual, spicy pimento cheese, and jams made from whatever beautiful fresh fruits the seasons bring. Either one can go on a fresh biscuit, right out of the oven, for your breakfast. Get here early; the biscuits sell out.

Fresh produce, bread and dairy, coffee filters, specialty pastas,
olive oil, cookies, crackers, lube… All the basics are here for you.
They get beautiful produce from local farmers any time they can, and they use cage free eggs from farms where the hens are treated well. They treat their customers, and their employees, like treasured friends. In short, their ethics are intact. That's another reason why we love this little shop.
Besides their phenomenal sandwiches, salads, desserts, vegetarian and vegan choices, and gluten-free options, you'll also find basic groceries and a few sundries here as well. 
They stock a small but thoughtful assortment of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies, treats from local farmers when available, and Iggy's Bread, in Cambridge, brings fresh breads, croissants and sticky buns daily. Milk, eggs and other staples are here, along with a few basic housewares, like retro style enamelware plates, cups and coffee pots, just in case you find your condo a little lacking. And don't forget the lube.
Whether it's a great cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich you need, or just the coffee filters, you'll find them here. Pick up the Sunday paper and some fresh strawberries, or a can of fine Italian tomatoes and a good olive oil, or an award-winning sandwich to take with you to the beach.
If you've not yet discovered this little jewel of a shop, it's worth the stroll to the West End. You'll be happy you found Pop + Dutch.

Friday, September 8, 2017

30th Annual Swim for Life in Provincetown This Weekend


The first weekend after Labor Day always brings the annual Swim for Life to Provincetown Harbor. It's a challenging 1.4 mile swim, in open water, from the lighthouse on Long Point to the shores of the Boatslip Beach Club, on the edge of the harbor in Provincetown's West End neighborhood. Click to read about Swim for Life history. To date, the event has raised some $4 Million for AIDS, women's health and our community. It is perhaps the most joyous outpouring of love, energy and spirit in Provincetown every year. We invite you to join us!

The Celebration of Life is the year's most anticipated concert.
It is perhaps the most uplifting event in PTown every year.
Whether you are a swimmer, a volunteer, or a "cheerleader" on the beach, hooting, hollering and applauding the swimmers as they reach the shore, you'll want to be a part of this. Many people will participate by attending the lovely Celebration of Life on the night before the swim. This marvelous, free concert, produced by John Thomas, will take place at 8 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, at 236 Commercial Street, tonight, Friday, September 8th, 2017. Dozens of performers, singers, musicians and others will definitely raise the spirits of a packed house, so go early to get a seat. The UU is wheelchair accessible.

Swimmers and paddlers will assemble at Long Point Light
for the 11 AM start of Provincetown's annual Swim for Life.
The Swim will begin at 11 AM on Long Point, with boat rides provided to get swimmers to the starting point. Kayakers, paddle boarders and folks in boats will accompany the swimmers safely across the harbor. Click to find out about registering as a swimmer or a volunteer, which happens Saturday morning at the Boatslip. Whether you're a swimmer or are cheering them on, it's exhilarating.

The first swimmer reaches the Boatslip, greeted by a cheering
crowd. The Mermaid Brunch and awards follow on the deck.
The Mermaid Brunch, a free buffet catered by Far Land Provisions, will be held at the Boatslip from noon until 2 PM, with Zoë Lewis and friends entertaining. Around 1 PM, or whenever the last swimmer safely reaches the shore, Swim founder Jay Critchley will lead the awards ceremony for swimmers who have raised the most money in pledges or have participated in the most swims. This is another inspiring event giving all a feeling of community, even those who have joined us from other parts of the world. Many people return to PTown every year to participate in the Swim for Life.




It all started with 18 swimmers raising $6,000.
This photo shows Jay Critchley and Roger Beatty registering two unknown swimmers  at a makeshift desk on the beach in the first Swim, in 1988. 
This year we'll see over 150 volunteers making it happen, and more than 400 swimmers taking the plunge. Come and join us for some or all of these events and be a part of the 30th, the 2017 Swim for Life and Paddler Flotilla, September 8th and 9th in Provincetown!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The One and Many Voices of Jimmy James, in PTown Until September 3rd



The ever-glamorous Jimmy James returns to Provincetown
after an eight year absence. See him before Labor Day!
It’s been eight long years since Provincetown has been wowed by the one and many voices of Jimmy James, whose incomparable, dead on voice characterizations, ranging from current pop stars to divas from decades gone by, make him the consummate vocal impressionist of our time. He is peerless.
Performing live vocals for his legions of fans for more than 30 years, Jimmy keeps his show fresh and vibrant by continuously mastering the voices of new artists, each time creating a younger, modern show, without neglecting the fan favorites that have kept so many in his audience returning again and again. It’s as exciting to see which current pop goddess he’ll bring to the stage as it is to swoon once again to the definitive voices of the all-time greats, both male and female.
I happen to be one of those long-time fans, and was in the crowd at Sage the other night, eager to hear some of the best-loved stars of my own youth, and those I had gotten to know through Jimmy’s shows, TV appearances and CDs over the years. There were audible gasps heard in the audience as the unmistakable voice of Billie Holiday came out of Jimmy’s throat, and during the evening, little squeals of delight escaped throughout the crowd when listeners heard long gone, favorite stars as diverse as Elvis Presley and Judy Garland brought to life once again. These vocals were blended seamlessly with present-day artists like Lana Del Rey singing her hit Summertime Sadness. Boy George popped up as well, along with a great story about him that Jimmy delighted in telling to that night's packed house.

Jimmy becomes Cher on stage, in style, at Sage.
A big part of the huge success of Jimmy James is the fact that he totally inhabits his characters, having mastered facial expressions, mannerisms and other attributes unique to each one.
Simple costume elements and props, along with a few more elaborate ones, complete the illusion. Channeling Cher, for example, requires a tall, shimmering, beaded headdress à la designer Bob Mackie, who happened to be sitting next to me at Jimmy’s show that night! He was there with legendary singer Marilyn Maye, who had just come from her own performance at the Art House. Filmmaker John Waters was in the audience that night as well. No one wanted to miss the chance to see Jimmy James in an all too rare appearance in PTown.
Conversely, no costuming was needed when, by simply picking up a cocktail from a front row table, Jimmy skillfully slipped right into the very persona of Judy Garland, carrying on a conversation with the audience, which was equally as satisfying as his superb rendition of her singing voice. Get Jimmy's current CD after the show to hear him, as Judy, singing her quintessential hit Over The Rainbow, along with Cher, and many other stars, songs and styles of music you'll find on the disc. Jimmy will autograph it for you, too, if you’d like.

The right facial expression, along with a bulky pair of eyeglasses and a lit cigarette, brought famed screen actress Bette Davis to the stage, with hilarious results. Jimmy James is not a comic, per se, but he is incredibly funny as he joyfully portrays a number of characters from his wide repertoire, giving us show biz stories and tidbits told in the voices of various. All of that is blended together with jazz, blues, rock and pop from the world’s greatest singers and musicians. In fact, Jimmy had opened the show with the stunning voice of Dame Shirley Bassey, singing her 1997 hit History Repeating, using her original musical track, which had been given to him as a gift. 
Jimmy James as Bette Davis, who did make a record album, as a singer!
When Bassey’s manager, Alex Gifford, saw Jimmy James perform in New York, and met him after the show, he asked if Jimmy had ever considered doing Shirley Bassey’s voice. He later gave Jimmy that original musical track, and after the lengthy process of perfecting her voice and creating a brand new personality for the stage, Jimmy debuted his new show History Repeating, inspired by that worldwide hit. The song had been written for Bassey by the Propellerheads. It had made the Top 10 on Italian music charts, became number 10 on the US Dance Music Chart, and reached number 1 in the UK. And now Jimmy James sings, in Dame Shirley's voice, to that original music track.

It's fitting that Jimmy James makes his return to Provincetown by performing at the Sage Inn, up the walkway at 336 Commercial Street. This spot was the location of the famous Madeira Room at the Pilgrim House, the first hotel in Provincetown. It was a place where many well-known stars had polished their early careers. Lily Tomlin had performed there in 1967, on the same stage where Jimmy had made his Provincetown debut more than 30 years ago.
We thank the new owners of Sage for once again offering this historic spot as a performance space for fabulous entertainment. Tucked away off Commercial Street, up the footpath east of the Purple Feather as we find it today, the original Pilgrim House nurtured many entertainers at the beginnings of their careers, and hosted well-known entertainers of all stripes. Novices as well as big names played the Madeira Room before the original Pilgrim House burned down in 1990.
By the way, we look forward to the formal change back to the name Pilgrim House, in the works already, and to performances by the many great entertainers we can expect to see on this stage once again, in the near future. New owners of the property want to restore the inn to the illustrious performance venue we've missed so much in the last few years under previous management.

The androgynous look of Jimmy James helps him
easily slip between his male and female characters.
Before Jimmy's first Provincetown performances 31 years ago, he had spent two years lip-syncing in Atlantic City, performing with a small company of female impersonators called La Cage. He was not allowed to use his own superb singing voice. That would have proven quite awkward, since each of the other cast members performed by silently moving their lips in synchronization with the recorded music and vocal tracks of big stars. Jimmy couldn't show them up.
His emancipation from lip-syncing came in the summer of 1986, when he arrived n Provincetown to perform at the Pilgrim House, alongside the likes of Wayland Flowers and Madam, and many other performers who were, or would become, genuine stars.
Before long, performing in his own show, Jimmy's own stardom began to blossom. His career really took off when his appearances as Marilyn Monroe brought him national attention on popular television programs like Giraldo, and Donahue, and the Joan Rivers Show, and a host of others. Soon his impression of Marilyn was widely hailed as the best in the world, a reputation that persists, despite Jimmy's retirement of Marilyn from his show in 1997. In fact, in 2014, an African postage stamp honoring Marilyn Monroe was famously minted, having accidentally used an image of Jimmy James as Marilyn by mistake.
Through the years, Jimmy has become known around the world for his uncanny ability to transform his voice, but his global hit Fashionista, which made the Billboard Top 10, has made him famous for his own voice, and for his talent as a songwriter. YouTube users have created all sorts of videos related to the fashion industry, and a few other topics, set to the energetic beat of the song that pokes a little fun while paying homage to the fashion industry. Over 20 million people have viewed these videos. One of my favorites is a compilation showing models stumbling on the runway in a series of catwalk disasters. Visit www.jimmyjames.com to find more of the Fashionista videos, TV appearances, the Marilyn years, CDs, and original songs by Jimmy James.

Jimmy's last PTown performance of the season will be on Sunday, September 3rd, at 9 PM, so you’ll have to get to the Sage Inn before Labor Day to see his remarkable, thoroughly entertaining show. You won’t want to miss it.