Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Born This Day in 1785, Naturalist John James Audubon Revered Nature

John James Audubon was a ridiculously handsome man, as seen in this portrait by John Syme, found
in the collection of the White House Historical Association. His artwork of wildlife, particularly of birds,
has contributed greatly to the study, conservation and appreciation of countless species over the years.
On April 26, 1785, John James Audubon was born under the name Jean Rabin, the illegitimate son of French plantation owner Captain Jean Audubon and his Creole servant Jeanne Rabin, in Les Cayes, in what is now called Haiti. He was raised in France in a style befitting the son of a wealthy merchant, affording him plenty of leisure time in which to explore the world around him while studying art, music and natural history. There he was also given a new name: Jean-Jacques Fougère Audubon.
At a young age, his utter fascination with the natural world around him led to a particular interest in birds. Eventually, his fine artistic ability and his passion to portray every species of  bird that he could find would lead him into a career for which he turned out to have been uniquely talented.
When war broke out between France and England in 1803, Audubon was 18 years old. To keep his son from being conscripted into the army of Emperor Napoleon, his father sent Jean-Jacques to his estate in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It was on this journey that the young man renamed himself, becoming John James Audubon. Living on his father's Pennsylvania estate, John conducted his first scientific studies, and would go on to become a sort of self-taught scientist.
Audubon painting of the Roseate Spoonbill
In the meantime he met and married Lucy Bakewell and the two moved to Kentucky and started a family. Audubon tried his hand at business as well. Failing in several ventures, he was briefly jailed for debts he owed.
Next, he headed south to study and draw birds, finally settling with his family in New Orleans, eking out a living on Lucy’s income as a governess and the little money Audubon himself made by painting portraits on the street and giving art lessons.
He continued building his credentials as an artist and a naturalist, and eventually he had completed more than 400 artworks, with the desire to publish them. His work was far and away the best of any artist portraying birds, with a much more natural appearance to his drawings and paintings than anyone else could manage. Yet, in two years traveling the country, he found no one willing to publish his work.
Audubon's Northern Hare (winter)
In the mid-1820s he set sail for the United Kingdom, where he hoped to find a publisher, or at least to find engravers skillful enough to properly reproduce his work, which he was able to exhibit to great acclaim both in Scotland and in England. While his artistic skills captivated the public, people were also fascinated by his stories of American frontier Life.
These very successful exhibitions finally lead to the first publication of his true masterpiece, Birds of America, which depicted every bird known in this country at the time. This four-volume tour de force, for which he became most well known, was followed by other related volumes, and eventually lead to works on other sorts of wildlife.
The Cape Cod National Seashore annually hosts roughly 370 species of migrating birds, with about 80 of those species nesting and raising their young here during the spring and summer months. Beech Forest and Hatches Harbor are good spots to observe many varieties of birds in their natural habitats, with our streets and neighborhoods providing plentiful sightings as well. Provincetown is a veritable birdwatcher’s paradise.
Even when a part of a spring day is rainy, the birds quickly pop out again between clouds blowing along overhead. Try to get out between the raindrops today and spot a few birds, and give a nod of thanks to John James Audubon, born on this day in 1785. His life’s work in depicting the natural world has immeasurably enriched us.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Moby Dick Marathon Begins Today at Provincetown Public Library

This picture depicts the final chase of Moby Dick
from the book History of the Sperm Whale, 1839.
Beginning this afternoon, Provincetown Public Library is hosting a three-day marathon reading of Herman Melville’s epic novel Moby Dick, with some 120 participants either reading aloud, or dressing in period costumes and performing brief scenes from the book, while listeners take in an hour or two of the story, or attend the entire event and hear the book read from cover to cover. The complete novel of more than 600 pages will be read aloud over a period of 24 hours, spread over three days: 2 to 8 PM Friday, 10 AM to 10 PM Saturday, and on Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
The event will begin with Melville’s great-great grandson, Peter Gansevoort Whittemore, reading the first few pages, which include one of the most famous opening lines ever written: “Call me Ishmael.” Other whaling towns such as New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Mystic, Connecticut will also host readings of the novel.
Among more than 70 American whaling ports, Provincetown ranked number five in number of vessels with 160 outfitted here, and number three in voyages undertaken, with 902 launched between 1820 and 1920, when our whaling era ended. By the middle 1800s, Provincetown had become a thriving whaling port, and at one time was said to have been second only to New Bedford, making us arguably one of the wealthiest towns per capita in Massachusetts in those days.

Attend this reading Friday, April 21st through Sunday, April 23rd
Melville was inspired to write his whaling adventure, by the way, when he heard the story of the Nantucket whaling ship Essex, attacked and sunk by an angry sperm whale in 1820, with a handful of the crew surviving by resorting to cannibalism in order to stay alive during three months adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Whaling was a very dangerous way to make a living, and a substantial number of ships were lost at sea without a trace, though it was likely quite rare for a vengeful whale to attack and actually sink a ship! Still, we have no way to know what happened to the many whaling vessels that simply never returned to their home ports.
The story of Moby Dick follows whaling Captain Ahab on his obsessive quest for revenge on the villainous white whale that had destroyed his ship, and had cost the captain a leg. Melville's saga is considered one of the greatest adventure stories of all time. Get Thee to the library, at 356 Commercial Street, for at least part of this marvelous community event, or for the entire reading, which is free and open to the public. Contributions to the library are welcome, of course, but are not required.
Get out of the house and enjoy a bit of classic literature, delivered to us in this most unusual way. Our thanks to the library, and to the legion of readers and actors who will volunteer their time to bring life to this classic story.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Another Best Bite Award for The Canteen, Now Open Year-round in Provincetown

Kristen brings my breakfast, warming the room
with her characteristic charm and genuine smile. 
It' been great to have The Canteen, at 225 Commercial Street, open all winter. This offbeat little spot (in the most joyous meaning of offbeat) brought our extremely varied native population and what seems like a growing number of winter visitors together for great food and good fun in their Holiday Market event these past two winters.
I was delighted to find them open this winter beyond the festivities of food and drink, music, theater, handmade crafts and gifts of their expanding winter celebration modeled on European holiday festivals.
These folks are actively working to build community in this little spot in the heart of Provincetown, and they are attracting many more year-round visitors as well. They're also providing year-round jobs, with 15 employees in the winter and some 60 workers from around the world in the summertime.
Kristen, seen above, lights up the room with her smile, and her friendly, thoughtful service contributes to the ambience of this homey little counter-service café. She is here with her boyfriend, up-and-coming writer Tom Macher, who is enjoying his second fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center, and is currently finishing a book which has already been sold to Scribner. Congratulations! The two will be here until May, with hopes of returning.

The Canteen wins TheYearRounder's Best Bite award for
this huge, wonderful Classic Breakfast Sandwich, just $5.50!
On a recent cold and stormy day I found The Canteen warm and cozy, and filled with a mix of visitors, Townies, and local people from neighboring towns who had sought out a welcoming spot for a good meal and a little atmosphere. As some were having lunch, I wanted to try the Classic Breakfast Sandwich, which turned out to be a big, tasty bargain, and I promptly bestowed upon it TheYearRounder's Best Bite award.
That designation goes to a meal or dish of outstanding taste or value, and often both, found in a PTown restaurant, clam shack, deli, pizza joint, gelato shop, or any other sort of eatery offering something quite exceptional. In fact, The Canteen won two Best Bite awards on my very first visit there, on their opening day in 2013.
On this blustery day I had ordered at the counter and settled in at a table, listening to Van Morrison's Into the Mystic, completing the perfect, mellow atmosphere for folks reading the newspaper or chatting with friends. Soon Kristen brought out my breakfast. It was a  huge, huge grilled ciabatta with cheddar cheese, slow-roasted tomatoes, 2 eggs over easy (or served omelet-style, if you'd like,) topped with two big, thick slices of applewood smoked bacon, for just $5.50. This is one of the greatest meal deals anywhere in town. That rustic, crusty bread and those slow-roasted tomatoes make this big, satisfying sandwich my new breakfast craving.
love a nice, beefy cup of coffee, but I can only have it just once in a while, so when I do order a cup, it has to be great. The Stumptown coffee served at The Canteen hits the spot, with a robust flavor and body, but exceptionally smooth, without a hint of bitterness.

Julia and Mary both love The Canteen's Matzo Ball Soup.
Julia and Mary were in town this day for lunch. These two PTown expatriates, each now living in Wellfleet, often come into Provincetown together for a meal at The Canteen. Today it's Matzo Ball soup, which they'll likely follow with the Crispy Brussels Sprouts, and maybe another favorite or two…


All of these folks appeared to be visitors, here to spend a winter day
or two shopping, eating and seeking out things to do in our off-season.
Even with snow on the ground this past winter, the warmer days found the front patio at the Canteen packed with people eager to enjoy a little al fresco dining. Plenty of sunshine, fresh air and good food rewarded those who were fearless enough to venture to Provincetown on a winter's day.
The more businesses that are open in the off-season, the more folks come to spend time here. We salute The Canteen for working so hard at becoming part of the solution in Provincetown's efforts to bolster our year-round community!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool's Contest, 2017 - Souvenirs That Got PTown History Wrong

This souvenir plate likely sold quite well in the early 1900s,
but it got a bit of Provincetown's history wrong.
Many and various sorts of Provincetown souvenirs have been produced over the years, and many of these items depict our colorful history in one way or another, but a number of them have gotten several little bits of our history wrong.
This lovely plate, likely produced around the 1920s, shows several vignettes of well-known Provincetown sights of the day, such as the Pilgrim Monument, the steamship Dorothy Bradford arriving from Boston, and the building thought by many to be the  oldest remaining house in Provincetown. It's found at 72 Commercial Street.
In about 1746 the house was built by ship's carpenter Seth Nickerson, mainly using timbers and planks he had recovered from shipwrecks over the years. The beehive-shaped brick oven at the rear of the main fireplace dates this house before 1750. More "oldest house" claims are argued for other buildings, but this one was promoted as such, and was opened to the public by its resident owners somewhere in the early 1900s.
This souvenir plate was manufactured by W. Adams & Sons, Tunstall, England, and imported for F. H. Dearborn, who owned a shop near the center of town, selling souvenirs, newspapers and periodicals at 277 Commercial Street. The points of interest depicted on the plate seem to be from photos of well-known Provincetown landmarks, including the "Oldest House."

This image is definitely not the home known as the oldest house in Provincetown.

But look closer…
What's wrong with this picture?
A photo erroneously labeled as the oldest house was used in several postcards over a period of years, and also made its way onto this souvenir plate.


"Details" have been painted into the original black-and-white photograph
of this house, long ago mistakenly labeled as PTown's oldest house.

Here are two versions of this photo, each made into a popular postcard, with a number of artistic embellishments, such as the slightly-too-perfect clouds added in the photo to the left. The flower garden was also painted in.



In this incarnation, the artist "improved" the photo by trimming the trees and
shrubs a little, refurbishing the roof, and giving the house a red brick chimney.
This edition featured an embossed version of the photo, again enhanced by an artist, and pressed into the card leaving the image slightly raised. It made a lovely postcard, but the description was still wrong.
Several things in this photo tell us that this is not the West End building known as the oldest remaining house in town. Whoever can name the most clues to this mistaken identity will win a great Provincetown prize. Just point out as many discrepancies as you can find between this house and 72 Commercial Street.
Click on any photo above to enlarge it for more detail, and list every reason you can spot why this can't be the oldest house. E-mail your list to theyearrounder@gmail.com, or text your answers to 424•237•8696 (that's 424•23P•TOWN, if that's easier to remember, to leave your answers by voice mail, but by entering that way you'll lose a minute-and-a-half of your life listening to my message about my fabulous guided tour of Provincetown before you can leave your answers.)
You can also enter by good old US mail. Send entries to TheYearRounder (all one word,) at P O Box 1632, Provincetown, MA 02657.
Entries must be in my hand, or cell phone, or e-mail, by 12' O'clock Noon on April 28th, 2017. In case of a tie for greatest number of reasons why this photo is not Provincetown's "Oldest House," or for any other dispute, a panel of three level-headed citizens, as determined by ME, will resolve the issue by coin toss, random selection, prettiest handwriting, sexiest telephone voice, or any other senseless criteria they may choose, and by entering, we all agree that their ruling is infallible and FINAL.
And, as usual, I reserve the right to award an extra prize or two for no reason whatsoever, to one or more entries chosen at random from all entries received by the deadline. So, you don't even have to be right to win a prize, but you do have to enter.
Good luck, and happy April Fool's Day to one and all. And for a good giggle, click this link to see my all time favorite April Fools prank, perpetrated a few years back by the BBC.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Bit of History Lies Beneath Fanizzi's Restaurant, Once Again Open Daily

Fanizzi's "Fresh Fried Sea Scallop Plate" is served for lunch or dinner.
We're so happy to have Fanizzi's up and running again after their recent 6-week closing for structural repairs to this cherished waterfront building, which literally sits right on top of Provincetown Harbor. Welcome back!
537-539 Commercial Street, where Fanizzi's restaurant and parking area sit today, was the location of a fishing empire known as Whorf's Wharf, built by Thomas Rider Whorf, Jr. in 1850, and later run by his son, Phillip A. Whorf.
These Whorfs shared an ancestor, generations apart, with the artists John, Carol and Nancy Whorf, though they were not direct descendants.
At one time this busy pier stretched 400 feet into the harbor, serving its own fleet of 16 boats engaged in various types of fishing, while shipping some of the catch to markets as far away as Chicago. 130 men were employed in the operation.
There was a windmill on the property, presumably part of a saltworks where seawater was pumped to a system of trays and troughs. The water was evaporated to produce the salt used in drying and preserving much of the fish caught by Whorf's fleet.
This 1890s photo shows busy Whorf's Wharf, employing some 130 fishermen, salt
workers, sailmakers and others in serving and operating 16 boats. The old
sail loft very likely became Fanizzi's Restaurant by the Sea, as we know it today.
The wharf also had its own sail loft for fabricating and repairing the many sails for its sizable fleet, and Fanizzi's building is almost certainly that old sail loft, still sitting on pilings at the edge of the beach.
The recent repairs, including new pilings installed beneath the restaurant, should ensure many more years of life for this historic building dating back to the height of Provincetown's great whaling and fishing era, often called the Golden Age of Sail.
Sitting in Fanizzi's dining room, above those pilings, with the waves and tides lapping below, is one of the great pleasures of dining in Provincetown. And the view! Cape Cod Bay winds along the distant shoreline of Truro, and becomes Provincetown Harbor as it reaches the tip of the Cape and the lighthouse at Long Point. Our picturesque beaches stretch both east, with a view of Beach Point, and west, offering a striking view of the Pilgrim Monument, and often a golden glow as the sun is setting. These and other stunning sights are easily seen from your table. That superb, 180 degree view of the harbor is unparalleled. There's even a view from the bar.
Fanizzi's Friday Night Fish Fry is a large serving of local cod with fries, slaw,
dinner rolls and salad, all for $13.99. Go early, before this great bargain sells out.
On my most recent lunchtime visit to Fanizzi's, I felt more like having a "dinner" sort of meal, so I ordered from a selection of entrées that started at just $8.99 for Eggplant Parmigiana baked in homemade marinara sauce and a blanket of cheese, served over campanile pasta. Fanizzi's is quite well-known for good food at very reasonable prices. Big, juicy, eight-ounce Angus burgers start at $10.99, while 16 sandwiches, specialties and wraps start at $9.99. There are daily lunch and dinner specials, too.
The meal I chose that day was among half-a-dozen seafood entrées on the lunch menu. I had the  fried scallops, shown in the photo above. This was a generous serving of ten plump, fresh, local sea scallops, lightly battered and quickly fried until just golden brown, served with Fanizzi's great French fries and their unique coleslaw. I believe the very light dressing on the coleslaw starts with a bit of rice wine vinegar instead of a mayonnaise-based sauce. It's fresh flavors give it just a hint of sweetness, and it's probably my favorite coleslaw in town.
Visit Fanizzi's at 539 Commercial Street, now open again every day, serving lunch from 11:30 AM till 3:45 PM, with dinner served from 4 PM till closing. Five Early Bird dinner specials are available from 4:30 to 6 PM for just $15.99. Catch their Friday Night Fish Fry for $13.99, and don't forget Sunday Brunch, 10 AM till 2 PM, serving all you'd care to eat for $14.95, $8.95 for kids. But be sure to save a little room for one of their mammoth-sized, homemade desserts!
We welcome back Fanizzi's Restaurant by the Sea, and their thoughtful, friendly staff.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Extreme Cold Snap Recalls Provincetown's Brutal Winter of 1918

This 1918 photo of Robert Lewis was taken by his father, Captain William Lewis,
on the tidal flats at the foot of Cook Street. The ice stood 10 feet, two inches high.
This bitter cold snap combined with strong, steady winds has given us two or three days of piercingly cold temperatures, with wind chill temps dropping into the subzero range. This is the sort of weather where being outdoors for more than a few moments can be dangerous.
Thankfully, today's temperature rose well into the twenties while winds were dropping to 20 mph or lower, and we'll be into warmer weather in a couple of days. Whew!
A few years back I wrote about an extended, bitter cold snap nearly 100 years ago, perhaps the most trying stretch of winter weather Provincetown has seen. Around this time in 1918 PTowners were enduring cruel winds in subfreezing temperatures, and most were truly struggling to keep warm.
In eight days of extreme cold the town had exhausted its entire supply of coal, the main fuel used for heating in those days, and the coal barges attempting to make deliveries were unable to navigate through the thick, treacherous ice floes that we're choking the harbor. The extraordinary cold had formed  chunks of ice more than ten feet tall along the coastline,, and strong, steady winds kept the ice pushed into the harbor. At each low tide there were giant ice floes resting on the tidal flats. The Advocate, Provincetown's weekly newspaper at the time, said “Taken all together it was the most disagreeable eight days endured by the community within recollection.” 
Even though the weather began to turn a tiny bit warmer, those enormous chunks of harbor ice would take a long time to melt, and in the meantime, no ships could get in or out of Provincetown Harbor. The paper reported that “With the exception of a mere handful of days, ice has continued to form in day or night almost constantly on the shore of Cape Cod bay since early in January."
On Valentine's day a large ice floe drifting near the mouth of the harbor was driven toward the shoreline at 571 Commercial Street, where the old fish shack at the end of Lewis Wharf had been converted to a theater for the Provincetown Players. The force of tons of ice pushing against the pilings of the old wharf threatened to destroy the magical spot where the career of unknown playwright Eugene O'Neill had been launched two years earlier. Although the structure survived this onslaught, it was indeed ice in the harbor that demolished the wharf in the winter of 1921.
In the photo above we can see ten-foot, two-inch thick chunks of ice that clogged the harbor in that dreadful winter of 1918, resting on the flats at low tide, creating tremendous physical hardships for townsfolk and wreaking havoc on their economy as well. Not only were fuel barges turned away by the ice, but the fishing fleet was kept ashore for more than 30 days as well. The harbor was simply unnavigable.
When a northeast wind finally breached the ice and began pushing it, little by little, toward Truro, the harbor once again became passable, but the exceptional cold and a frozen harbor had made January through early March of 1918 the most brutal winter in Provincetown's memory.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Tonight's Hot Ticket in Provincetown - The 24 Hour Theater Festival!

The 24 Hour Theater Festival plays tonight only at the Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford Street, 7:30 PM
This is short notice to get you to attend a performance this evening, but the whole point of this remarkable annual event is short notice. Last night, 8 ten-minute plays, none of which had yet been written, were chosen to be performed on stage tonight at the Provincetown Theater, on Bradford Street.
Overnight, eight groups of people would write, stage, direct, act in, rehearse and produce a complete, ten-minute play, to be performed tonight at 7:30 PM. Each group may have members with varying levels of experience in theater. For example, some of the actors may never have performed on stage before tonight's production.
This event is great fun, with 8 short plays that will likely range from humor to pathos, from satire to earnest introspection, bringing to the stage everything you'd want from a night at the theater, in ten-minute stretches, each completely different from the last.
Tickets are just $13.50 whether you buy yours at the box office, at 238 Bradford Street, or get tickets online. Phone 508 487-7487 for more information on this remarkable, creative, PTown winter event.
Get out of the house and be among the humans. Go a little early and have a glass of wine in the cozy theater lounge before the show. I hope to see all of you at this unique, fun, one-night-only event.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Dig a Pail of Clams on PTown's Tidal Flats

A man digs clams on tidal flats near West End Parking Lot, with Coast Guard pier in
background. Cap'n Jack's Wharf and Provincetown Inn mark harvesting boundaries.
Digging for shellfish has long been a New England tradition, dating back about 4,500 years, though the Pilgrims and early settlers were too afraid to eat very much of it.
These settlers knew that local native tribes ate a lot of shellfish, but they had become ill after trying a bit of it themselves.
Wampanoag and other Native tribes of the New England area had been eating clams and other mollusks for thousands of years, and at some point began carving the shells into decorative wampum beads. Eventually, European settlers affixed a specific value to such beads, and wampum became a kind of currency used in trade. I'll write more about all of that in a future post, but today I want to get you out to dig your own clams for a bowl of chowder or a plate of linguine that you'll really enjoy, having harvested the seafood yourself from the abundant shellfish beds of Provincetown's tidal flats.
Ocean and her son Richard harvested clams from the beach at the
West End Parking Lot, authorized for clamming through March.
Not long ago, I was parked next to the boat ramp at the West End Parking Lot, where I often stop for a while to watch the tiny waves ripple in along the quiet beach that edges its way around Provincetown Harbor.
In the summertime the waterfront is packed with all sorts of boats coming and going at all hours, offering lots to see, but in the off-season a visit to this spot is more about just taking the time to really observe the wildlife you might notice, and watching the sky and water turn colors with the weather or the time of day.
As the light begins to dim, which happens in the late afternoon at this time of the year, from this West End spot on the harbor you can see the beams begin blinking from three lighthouses, spanning the entire harbor, including the white flashing of the Highland light in North Truro. Race Point Light, in Provincetown's northwest corner, can't be seen from this vantage point, but in the center of the harbor the green glow of the Long Point Lighthouse winks on and off in a regular pattern, with Wood End Light taking its time between short red bursts in the Far West End. The colored lights marking the breakwater, green on its east end and red on the west, further syncopate the rhythm of Provincetown Harbor, even on a quiet, off-season night.
Since I was there on a Friday afternoon at low tide, before sundown, I got to watch a few folks walking out amongst the puddles of the tidal flats, carrying clam rakes and pails, and pausing here and there to dig up the sand for the bounty hiding below in patches, where a few tiny bubbles made by clams nestled below the surface gave them away.

17 palm-sized clams are plenty for Ocean and Richard's dinner.
I met Ocean and her son, Richard, as they walked back up to their pickup truck in the parking lot after they'd finished digging clams for supper. They carried a clam rake, of course, and a bucket holding a fair number of three-and-four-inch hard-shelled clams covered with a few inches of sea water.
These were more than enough quahogs (say "co•hogs," from the 18th century Algonquian word for round, hard-shelled clams) to make a nice dinner for these two, who have recently returned to Provincetown after an absence of more than twenty years. They'd had to move away when Richard was a young boy, and are now very happy to be back. And they were happy to be out on the flats that afternoon, gathering juicy, meaty, Provincetown clams for a great meal.
Residents, as well as non-resident property owners, can visit the Town Clerk's office to obtain a recreational shellfishing permit for $15 for the season, which generally runs from mid-November through March each year. Non-residents will pay a $50 fee. The permit is free for seniors aged 65 and older. A sheet of shellfishing regulations will accompany your permit. Informative pamphlets on shellfishing are available at the Harbor Master's office, open every day, out on MacMillan Pier.
The permit allows the holder to gather clams and oysters of adult size from any officially designated shellfishing area on either a Sunday or Friday of each week of the season, with a maximum harvest of one ten-quart pail or a one-peck basket, once each week. Harvesting areas are rotated frequently to preserve breeding stock and prevent over-use of any area, while rules for minimum sizes for any mollusks taken serve the same goal, helping to sustain this very popular community resource.
The area east of the West End Breakwater was just opened to harvesting once again, adding another acre or two to this year's public shellfishing grounds. A few oysters can be found along the breakwater, but make sure that any you take are at least three inches long, which will help to allow breeding stock to grow in this area. If scallops become plentiful enough to allow for harvesting, an area will be designated for their collection. Mussels can be taken at any time of year, with no permit required.
Equipment needed for clamming is simple and easily available. I bought my knee-high rubber boots at Marine Specialties. They may also have clamming tools in stock, and ask for a tide chart as well, or check the newspaper or internet for low tides occurring during daylight hours on Fridays and Sundays. You can also visit the hardware stores for equipment like rakes and pails. You'll want a hat, good gloves, and a jacket that keeps the wind at bay. The breeze can be pretty stiff out on the tidal flats, even on a warmer day, and especially if you get wet, so dress in layers, and unbutton a bit if you get too warm.
Some 500 baskets of quahogs have already been taken from the West End this year, so it's now taking a bit more effort to fill a pail with clams, which must be a minimum of one inch thick to be harvested. A shellfish gauge is available for purchase at Town Hall, along with your permit, and you must carry it with you when when harvesting.
Delicate, soft-shelled steamers are abundant at Hatches Harbor.
For digging soft-shell clams, with a minimum size limit of two inches, head to Hatch's Harbor. This tiny, natural harbor lies between Race Point and Herring Cove, which many old-timers still refer to as New Beach. It has steamers in abundance in the sandy patches near the marsh, according to the mid-season shellfish update just issued by Shellfish Constable Steve Wisbauer.
His notice also mentioned smaller quahogs found in the deeper pools nearby. Be sure to have your shellfish sizing gauge with you, and make certain you don't run off with any juveniles that should be left to reach maturity before they're harvested. Also, be sure to report your "take" to the constable so the town can keep tabs on the total annual harvest.
There's a third area open for the shellfish harvest this winter, in the part of the harbor that lies between Allerton Street and the Truro town line. That's roughly from the brick facade of 627 Commercial Street, still known to many as Mailer's house, to the Holiday Shores condos out on Beach Point. Constable Wisbauer's update mentioned the most productive area there, which is only accessible during the most extreme low tides, when the farthest sandbars are exposed. This remote area can yield quahogs of all sizes, and even very large surf clams, all found in abundance there, if your timing and the tides are right.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

On Monday, Fanizzi's Will Close Until March for Needed Structural Work

We'll miss Fanizzi's while the restaurant closes
till March for necessary structural renovations.
After this Sunday, January 22nd, Fanizzi's Restaurant by the Sea will close for about 6 weeks for tricky structural repairs designed to stop the building from very slowly sinking into Provincetown Harbor. With a bit of luck, they hope to reopen in time for the first weekend in March, on Friday, the 3rd.
New pylons need to be pounded into the surf and sand beneath the structure, with steel beams added to hold the weight of the building. That means dismantling the entire kitchen and cutting away the whole floor to get to the space beneath it. Yikes! What a job.
I was just there last weekend, for their famous Sunday Brunch. You'll have one more chance to enjoy this favorite PTown meal before they close for renovations. 

This buffet offered oodles of fresh fruit, a couple of dozen types of breakfast pastries, muffins, bagels and croissants, along with yogurt and granola. I found French toast served with maple syrup, along with sausage and bacon, of course. Naturally, there were eggs done in several ways. They came scrambled, baked into a frittata, or served as eggs Benedict, with perfectly poached eggs and an extra creamy hollandaise sauce. Potato dishes included chunky home fries and a tasty corned beef hash. 

Fanizzi's mussels are a brunch favorite, steamed in
white wine, butter, garlic, tomatoes and fresh herbs.
Certainly, a good brunch always includes foods that are more "dinner" oriented as well. Among those were a pasta dish, different every Sunday, this one served with vegetables and a creamy sort of Alfredo sauce. There were mildly spicy "fingers" of boneless chicken breast, as well as plump, fresh mussels steamed in white wine, garlic and herbs. Fanizzi's lovely salad of mixed field greens was also among the choices in this boundless lineup.
My favorite dish may have been the little breakfast burritos, made with beef sirloin, seasoned rice and veggies. I'd never tasted these before and really liked them. Fanizzi's huge brunch buffet array offers so many choices that I've actually never been able to try them all. 
Brunch runs Sundays from 10 AM to 2 PM, with the bartender ready to add a festive Mimosa or Fanizzi's renowned Bloody Mary to your brunch, or anything else you might choose from their full bar. Their regular lunch menu is also available from 11:30 till 3:45, as it is every day of the week. Dinner starts daily at 4 PM, and Early Bird Specials can be ordered from 4:30 until 6 PM.
So this weekend you can have Fanizzi's lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch, but you'll have to wait for these folks to return from hiatus before you can get in on their extremely popular Friday Night Fish Fry again. It was jam-packed last night before this temporary closing, many of those folks being Friday night regulars.
Of course, one of the best things about eating at Fanizzi's, besides their huge, absolutely legendary homemade desserts, is that jaw-dropping view of spectacular Provincetown Harbor. This place is literally right on the water, with Long Point and its lighthouse in the distance, and sunsets frequently lighting up the late afternoon sky. Get there today or tomorrow, before they close the doors for six weeks. We'll certainly miss this place, and their terrific staff, until they open again in March.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Far Land's Townie Winter Meals Make a Great Lunch or Dinner


Far Land's Yankee Pot Roast is among their best-loved Townie
Winter Meals. This plate, from my archive of  favorite dishes, was
served with green beans, mashed potatoes and Far Land's trademark
tomato gravy. Today it will be served with roasted red potatoes.
It's lunchtime in Provincetown, and I'm starving. I can't think of anything I'd rather have than Far Land's Yankee Pot Roast, which happens to be today's Townie Winter Meal special. These popular homestyle meals offer generous servings at affordable prices, and have been such a hit that folks began asking for them at lunchtime, not just for the dinner hour.
Far Land was happy to oblige. These scrumptious, hearty meals are now available from 11:30 AM till 3 PM, served hot to eat in or take out, with a different style of food featured each day. Other meals this week have been spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, and BBQ boneless chicken thighs, served with steamed broccoli and Far Land's famous baked macaroni and cheese.
Far Land often puts a sign out front to point out
specials or to let you know about something new.
These great meals are available throughout the winter, with a different offering every weekday. For those who still might prefer to have them at suppertime, you may want to call in early at 508 487-0045 for an order to go, or "reserve" a meal to eat in, since they've been known to sell out.
There's usually a vegetarian option available, too, and you can always choose your favorite entrées and side dishes from their prepared foods case and have a plate heated up to eat it there, or have it packed to take with you, hot or cold. Visit farlandprovisions.com to find the list of weekly specials, or get on their mailing list to keep up with their current offerings.
Watch for a sign out front that may pop up to tell you about various specials or something new, like hot sandwiches offered through the winter, too, or a Sunday breakfast special. More about those soon...
And don't forget about Far Land's fabulous bakery case, brimming with fresh baked pies cakes, scones, brownies, bars, cookies and endless other goodies from their own kitchen, with a daily dessert special offered, too.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Impending Storm Cancels Today's Community Luncheon at Saint Mary's



Saturday lunches at Saint Mary's always include live music. Here Wellfleet's
John Best on guitar and Jean Sagara on fiddle are joined by Provincetown
musician April Baxter, playing her traditional Irish drum, the bodhran. All sing.
The Church of Saint Mary of the Harbor has announced that its first Community Luncheon of 2017, scheduled at noon today, Jan 7, will be cancelled due to the impending snow storm. Barring further inclement weather, the first lunch of the season will be held next Saturday, January 14th, continuing weekly at 12 PM each Saturday through February.

This chicken dish, made with colorful peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and
celery is a perennial favorite, even bringing back out-of-towners from Yarmouth.
Folks look forward to savoring Priscilla Jacket's Tandoori Chicken every year.

For many years now, Saint Mary's has held a series of off-season get-togethers each Saturday in January and February, when the holidays are over and the snow is usually beginning to fly, and spirits may begin to flag a bit among PTown's tiny population of  year-round residents. Many of us become rather reclusive at this time of year, and these great meals and live music can help to get us out of the house to socialize a bit, enjoy the company of our neighbors and meet new friends.
Desserts are made by the volunteers, who help out in the kitchen, serve the
meals at your table and clean up afterwards. Thank you!
After lunch people linger over a cup of coffee and trays of desserts, usually bite-sized brownies, bars and squares of cake, each one cut small enough that you can sample several while enjoying the music and the conversation around your table. And you simply can't beat the view of Provincetown Harbor from Saint Mary's, situated right on the beach at 517 Commercial Street, in the East End.
These saturday social hours are great fun for all, and, of course, everyone is invited.
I hope to find you all at a few of these luncheons over the winter.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Polar Bear Plunge in Provincetown Harbor Raises Funds for ASGCC Programs Throughout the Cape and Islands

115 people donned swimsuits for the Polar Bear Plunge in Provincetown Harbor on New Year's Day, captured
in this video by David A. Cox of droningprovincetown.com. Click the first link below to watch this film.

The Polar Bear Plunge has become part of Provincetown's First Light celebration, leading 115 very brave souls to run into the 45 degree waters of Provincetown Harbor for a momentary swim in this New Year's Day fundraiser for the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod. Serving clients for well over 30 years, the ASGCC works to assure that comfort, care, housing and a variety of vital services are available in every corner of Cape Cod and the Islands to individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS.
As in a number of other locations around the world, where folks will jump into a freezing cold river, lake, ocean or stream in a New Year's Day ritual, Provincetown has seen a number of folks take an icy holiday dip in various waters surrounding our town. But this year, the folks at Harbor Lounge, Yolk by 8 Dyer, and the 8 Dyer Hotel, had an idea…

Some of these "Polar Bears" dressed in hats or costumes.
They wanted to create a New Year's tradition that could raise money every winter for a number of local nonprofit organizations, so they decided they would launch, coordinate, orchestrate and promote the Polar Bear Plunge, and they chose the ASGCC to be the recipient of the money raised through this first officially organized fundraiser. We thank them for sponsoring this wonderful event.

Trampolina Glenellen, dancing with her trident, was a great cheerleader.
Participants began assembling on the beach at the Johnson Street parking lot around noon on Sunday, with a few hundred spectators gathering to cheer them on.
DJ Chris Racine was on hand, spinning tunes to get the crowd dancing.
At about 1 o'clock, when the tide was high, the signal was given and the swimmers ran into the calm but frigid water in Provincetown Harbor, most for mere moments, and then they turned and ran back out again just as quickly, each having happily paid a $45 registration fee for the privilege.

Put the Polar Bear Plunge on your First Light calendar for next year, register
early, and get the next commemorative T-shirt, celebrating your daring feat.
A party at Harbor Lounge followed the swim, where folks thawed out with cocktails and chili, and those who had registered early enough, by Dec 15th, got this year's official T-shirt.
All evidence shows that the whole affair was a great success, with a record number of swimmers taking the plunge while spectators gathered on the beach, on the decks at Pepe"s Wharf, and on the pier at Harbor Lounge, to get a good view of the fun and festivities.
Again, our thanks to 8 Dyer Hotel, Yolk by 8 Dyer and Harbor Lounge for sponsoring this terrific event. We encourage everyone to put the plunge on their calendars for New Year's Day 2018, register early, and support a local nonprofit while enjoying a fun afternoon and sharing in a growing Provincetown New Year's tradition.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Tin Pan Alley's Closing Party is Tonight, Benefitting Provincetown's Soup Kitchen

Support SKIP,  the Soup Kitchen In Provincetown, at this buffet style feast where the chef will
just keep cooking, and sending food out to the dining room, until all the food is gone!
Tonight at 5:30 PM, food of any and all descriptions will begin rolling out of the kitchen at Tin Pan Alley, destined for a brief moment on a long buffet table set up in the dining room, before every last morsel of food in the kitchen is eaten up in a benefit for Provincetown's remarkable Soup Kitchen. Folks will be milling around, conversing with friends, enjoying all they care to eat as the chef simply cooks and cooks and cooks until al the food in the restaurant is gone.
For a donation of $25 per person, we'll all be feasting on any or all of the fish, fowl, beef, soups, salads or any other dishes the chef might come up with as coolers and pantry are literally emptied, right down to the bare shelves. As one of the town's favorite restaurants prepares to close for the season, their generous donation of the proceeds from this event will help to support an important community resource.
In the average winter season in Provincetown, SKIP (the Soup Kitchen In Provincetown) serves more than 10,000 hot, hearty meals to folks from Provincetown and beyond. This year, the number of meals, served at SKIP each weekday from November through April, is rising. Lack of employment opportunities, coupled with the outrageous rents charged by many landlords, results in more people helping to make ends meet by having some, or all, of their lunches at the Soup Kitchen.
Located at the United Methodist Church on Shank Painter Road, SKIP is also simply a welcoming place for people seeking community, and the chance to socialize at a time of year that can be a bit bleak for many of us. All are welcome, whatever the reason they come for lunch. No questions are asked. Housing outreach and assistance are also available as a state housing expert shares SKIP's office there on Thursdays.
From upscale delights to home style comfort foods, Tin Pan Alley serves some
of PTown's best meals, complete with live music in a welcoming atmosphere.
So turn out tonight at Tin Pan Alley, across from Town Hall, for one last great meal before they fold up for the winter.
If you've been very good, eaten all your vegetables, and played well with others all year, you might be lucky enough to taste TPA's wonderful seared scallops, or maybe a steak from a grass fed cow, or their lovely roasted local chicken.
Chef Raul likes to spice things up a bit as well, so I'm always eager to try any unusual dish he might whip up. You know, though, one of my real favorites here is Jack's own recipe for turkey meatloaf, made with a little dried fruit and a few surprises mixed in, and one of the greatest comfort foods ever. That's a meal many of us miss when the place closes for the season.
Tin Pan Alley has also brought back the "supper club" aesthetic to Provincetown, offering live music just about every night of the week, and tonight will be no exception. There will be entertainment, of course, beginning at 6 PM.
Come and enjoy Tin Pan Alley's closing party, do a little good for the community at the same time, and wish all of the friends you'll find there a happy and prosperous new year.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Provincetown's 2nd Annual "First Light" Celebration Rings In 2017!

Happy New Year!

It's out with the old and in with the new as First Light Provincetown continues to herald the coming year with celebrations of music, food, art and community here at the very tip of Cape Cod. Be sure to get to a harbor beach by dusk to enjoy the fireworks that will cap the festivities. I wish us all a joyous new year, and may we all survive and prosper!



Fireworks photo courtesy of noppasinw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Thank you!

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Bonfire at Herring Cove is Quietly Exhilarating, Even in December

Dressed for the occasion, you can still enjoy a bonfire with a
winter sunset on spectacular Herring Cove Beach, in Provincetown.
That warmish winter weather we've been having lately has been attracting folks to Herring Cove for a bonfire at sunset, despite the ever-present breeze along the shoreline. This always puts a smile on my face.
This little band of hardy souls typically piles out of a couple of vehicles about an hour before sunset, dressed to suit the bracing weather in hats, gloves and parkas, with a blanket or two to wrap up in if they need to.
While the water and clouds begin changing colors, a couple of folks carry a wood box, along with a few tools and various impedimenta, to the sandy shore, and someone begins setting up beach chairs while a couple of others dig a little fire pit and coax a tiny flame and a bit of kindling into a small but satisfying blaze.
A stroll on the water's edge, a conversation and a laugh around the fireside, and gazing alternately between the flickering firelight and a glorious sunset… What better way to end a wintery afternoon in Provincetown?

If you decide to try this yourself some evening, it takes just a bit of planning. Remember to leave the beach exactly as you found it, and don't forget to get your bonfire permit and rules from the park ranger ahead of time. Bon lumière!