Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bem-vindo ao Provincetown! It's PTown's Annual Portuguese Festival, Thru Sunday.

Portuguese flags and dancers in native costumes will be seen on PTown streets
during our 2017 Portuguese Festival and the 70th Annual Blessing of the Fleet.
Provincetown’s yearly Portuguese Festival, and the 70th annual Blessing of the Fleet, will be taking over PTown's streets and harbor from now until Sunday night. Ryder Street, next to Town Hall, will be closed to vehicle traffic as Portuguese Square once again colorfully comes to life.
A stage area is being assembled and cables stretched to accommodate singers, musicians and Portuguese dancers in native costume. Over the next several days and evenings this spot will host face painting, a puppet band, live samba music for dancing and many other events.

Squid stew with a crust of bread and oyster crackers goes great with a
sandwich of grilled linguica and a bit of mustard on a fresh Portuguese roll.
We’ll find Portuguese food, a lobster bake and a dinner party showcasing dishes from several great local restaurants, all under a giant tent at the Bas Relief park, with comedy and music turning up there as well.
There will be a band concert in front of Town Hall, as well as a concert of Fado music inside. We’ll have a parade on Commercial Street, along with the procession from St. Peter the Apostle Church to MacMillan Pier on Sunday for the Blessing of the Fleet, featuring marchers carrying banners honoring our local fishing vessels, both past and present.

In the 1960s,Provincwtown had a few hundred kids in school, and no shortage
of young Catholic boys to make a lengthy procession from the church to the
pier for the Blessing of the Fleet, which was also much larger in those days. 
On Sunday a special Fishermen’s Mass at the Catholic church will lead up to a sort of parade of boats in the harbor, where boats line up to proceed past the end of the pier, where the priest blesses each one for safety on the water and a bountiful fishing season. Anybody, in any kind of boat, is welcome to participate. Decorating your boat is encouraged, with recognition for the one judged to have the best decorations. That makes the procession of the boats being blessed more fun as well.

This postcard of the Blessing of the Fleet dates to about the 1940s.
Music, along with more Portuguese dancers, and, of course, much more Portuguese food will be found on the pier as well, and giant puppets are likely to be found wandering the streets at some point during the festival. All in all, more than 30 events are scheduled, with more than 20 of them absolutely free! There are events and games tailored to kids and families, and plenty for adults, too. And anyone with a stomach will find oodles of dinners, parties and food courts to satisfy any appetite.
Giant puppets are likely to turn up around town.
One of my favorite events is the Portuguese soup tasting, with the chance to try soups from many Outer Cape restaurants, and just $7 for all you'd care to eat. This event also includes entertainment by the Dory Bar Blues Band
The Fado concert and band concerts are always excellent. I hope to get to the lobster bake as well, and the food courts at the Bas Relief, behind Town Hall, and the Tasca cafe set up at the end of the pier.
Dancers in elaborate, traditional costumes will perform at Portuguese Square, on the pier, and will appear in the parade as well. Don't miss the chance to enjoy this splendid bit of Portuguese heritage. 
Get out and enjoy this wonderful time in Provincetown, celebrating the fishermen and other Portuguese settlers who brought their beautiful culture to this little New England fishing village.
Check out the full schedule of events for the 2017 festival and 70th Annual Blessing of the Fleet, below. I’ll update it if I find out new info about events slated for the Surf Club, which was damaged in the Memorial Day fire.

Thursday, June 22, 2017
5:00pm - 10:00pm
Seamen’s Bank Compartilhe Na Nossa Mesa or “Share Our Table”. A showcase of Provincetown’s best restaurants held under the Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square. Music by the New Beach Band. Reservations are required.

 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Dancing to the music of the New Beach Band under the Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square. Tickets at the door are $5.

Friday, June 23, 2017
12:00pm - 2:00pm
Capt. Manny Phillips Fishing Derby for Kids at MacMillan Pier. A Free event!

12:00pm - 3:00pm
Portuguese Soup Tasting the Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square. It features soup from fine restaurants in Provincetown, Truro & Wellfleet! Entertainment by the Dory Bar Blues Band at the Bas Relief. All you can eat for $7. Tickets at the door.

 12:00pm - 5:00pm
Face Painting in Portuguese Square. A Free event!

2:00pm - 4:00pm
Portuguese Writers & Poets read at the Harbor Lounge. Harbor Lounge is located at 359 Commercial street across from the Public Library. A free event!

2:30pm - 4:00pm
The Great Lobster Crate Race for kids of all ages at MacMillan Pier. A free event!

3:00pm - 6:00pm
Music & Dancing on stage in Portuguese Square. A free event!

5:00pm - 8:00pm
The Lobster Pot restaurant & Cape Tip Seafood presents the Lobster Bake in Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square Fest on Twin Lobsters and more for $30 plus a cash bar for oysters, clams and shrimp. Beer & Wine available too. No Reservations required. Brought to you by The Lobster Pot and Cape Tip Seafoods.

6:30pm - 7:30pm
Music for all ages with Rick Anthony on stage in Portuguese Square. A free event!

8:00pm - 10:00pm
Music for all ages with on stage in Portuguese Square. A free event!

9:00pm - 1:00am
Homecoming Get Together with the Old Jug Band at the Surf Club. A Free event!

Saturday, June 24, 2017
10:00am - 12:00pm
Motta Family Kids Games & Cookout at Motta Field. A great place for the whole family to enjoy fun and food. A free event!

10:30am - 2:00pm
Live Entertainment and Portuguese Dancers in Portuguese Square. Free!

11:30am - 7:30pm
Lions Club Portuguese Food Court in Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square. A feast of Portuguese food and more plus beer, wine and music. Food & Beverages are priced individually. No cover charge!

2:00pm - 3:00pm
Entertainment for kids of all ages by the Toe Jam Puppet Band. A favorite with the little ones! It’s on stage in Portuguese Square. A free event!

3:00pm - 5:00pm
Portuguese Festival Parade on Commercial Street. A highlight of the Festival with a fantastic group of Dancers, Musicians, Floats and more will start at the Harbor Hotel and travel through town to Franklin Street. Come early to get a good spot!

4:30pm - 5:30pm
Entertainment in Portuguese Square continues A Free event!

6:30pm - 7:30pm
Comedy by the Portuguese Kids in the Lions Club Portuguese Food Court under the Seamen’s Bank Tent at the Bas Relief near Portuguese Square. A free event!

7:30pm - 9:30pm
An early evening FADO concert at the Provincetown Town Hall. Courtesy of the Provincetown Banner, enjoy amazing performances of traditional Portuguese folk music! Contributions at the door are appreciated! Town Hall is a handicapped accessible building.

9:00pm - 12:30am
Cap off a great day with live SAMBA music under the stars! Join the fun and dance the night away in Portuguese Square. A free event!

Sunday, June 25, 2017
10:30am - 11:30am
Fishermen’s Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown. Celebrated by Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha S.D.V

11:30am - 12:30pm
Portuguese Dancers perform authentic routines wearing fabulous costumes in Lopes Square while you wait for the Procession. A free event!

12:00pm - 1:00pm
After Mass at St. Peter the Apostle Church a Procession leaves as a group for the short walk to MacMillan Pier for the 70th annual Blessing of the Fleet. They are bearing banners that honor the fishing fleet past & present.

12:00pm - 4:00pm
TASCA Portuguese Cafe on MacMillan Pier. Sample the taste of Portugal with a host of delicacies including a Beer & Wine cash bar!

1:00pm - 3:00pm
Follow up the Blessing with Portuguese Music and Dancers! They are performing out on MacMillan Pier. A free event!

1:00pm
70th Blessing Of The Fleet. Honoring a tradition in Provincetown, boats decked out in their finest parade before Bishop Edgar Da Cunha S.D.V. to receive their blessing. The fleet will be judged for their decorations too. A free event!

4:00pm - 5:00pm
Enjoy a Traditional Band Concert in front of Town Hall featuring St. Anthony’s Band from Cambridge, its a free event!

4:00pm - 7:00pm
Get Together and celebrate the last day of the Festival at the Surf Club at the foot of MacMillan Pier. Ed Sheridan and friends will be performing live. A free event!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dina Martina's Townie Night Previews Smart, Very Funny PTown Entertainment

A perennial favorite, though none can describe her show, Dina Martina entertains at the Crown & Anchor at 8:30.
Absolutely legendary comic savant Dina Martina is back for another summer series of performances in Provincetown, at the Crown & Anchor Cabaret Room. It’s not possible to adequately describe the performance, nor the style, of what seems to me to be the most brilliant comedic mind ever foisted on an unsuspecting public.
Many years ago, a friend and I sat wide-eyed, with jaws agape, through the entire performance of Dina Martina’s astonishing stage show, each of us as “first-timers.” It left us both truly speechless; unable to describe what we had just seen; our eyes wet with tears of laughter; stunned by several genuinely cringeworthy moments… and wanting more of all of it!
In the loosest possible terms, there will undoubtedly be a bit of “dance” and “music” and a little philosophy, too, along with uproariously funny video interspersed. Hair, makeup and wardrobe are all quite unfortunate, adding to the fun of this smart, indescribable, yet most memorable evening of entertainment.
Tonight is Townie Night, so if you live in PTown, get to The Crown quickly for your free ticket. If you’re unable to make it tonight, put this show on your list of mandatory summer amusement. It will be a true highlight in a season of great entertainment.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Provincetown First Responders Had a Busy Memorial Day Weekend With Three-Alarm Fire, and Rescue of 44 Hikers

Firefighters on the Lobster Pot's beach pump
water through the window of the Red Shack.
Photo by a capecodtoday.com reader

Memorial Day weekend turned out to be very busy for folks in Provincetown who are charged with looking after the safety of the public. These are not only police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel, but in PTown we also depend on the harbormaster and the US Coast Guard to keep us safe in an emergency in any of the huge bodies of water that surround us.
We actually have 21.3 miles of shoreline surrounding this little town of maybe 3,000 year-round residents, with a summer population of 30 to 60,000 on any given day of the week. Holidays like July 4th and Carnival Week, we’re told, can bump those numbers well over 80,000 residents and visitors.
It’s also a wooden town, with homes and apartments, restaurants, shops and galleries in very old buildings, some of them dating back to the middle of the 1700s. Many of these buildings stand only inches apart, making us even more vulnerable to the sort of fire that could literally destroy the town overnight. Just such a blaze occurred a week ago, on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

Ladder trucks shot water down onto the rooftops of four Lopes
Square restaurants. Photo by a capecodtoday.com reader.
Fire broke out during the dinner hour in the kitchen of the Red Shack, a busy takeout restaurant in the very heart of Provincetown, at Lopes Square. As in most spots in Provincetown, a fire in one building can spread to others in mere moments. 
This fire was in the very center of a single building occupied by several tenants. The Red Shack occupies a space in a very long, slender building. It sits smack in the middle of the structure, between three other restaurants, a large gift shop and a bit of office space. There are apartments adjacent as well.
When the fire was noticed, in the roof and ceiling of the Red Shack, a call to 911 brought firefighters within minutes. Provincetown, by the way, has the last all-volunteer fire department on Cape Cod. Fire Chief Michael Trovato began directing his crew before he even arrived on the scene. When he turned the corner at Standish Street, driving from Shank Painter Road, just a few blocks away, he could see that the fire was already through the roof of the building, so he called for working fire assignments, which immediately brought more local firefighters to the site. In moments, this blaze would send flames rising some 20 feet into the sky.
The Red Shack's roof was destroyed, while others fared much better. Firefighters
did a remarkable job of containing this fire, Photo by Orleans Fire Department.
A few minutes after his arrival on the scene, Chief Trovato put in a second alarm, which began mobilizing firefighters and equipment from other towns, heading to Provincetown to join the battle. Shortly after that, the chief called a third alarm, bringing more personnel and equipment to town, and moving fire fighting personnel from nearly every Cape Cod town to cover other stations left short-handed as their firefighters drove equipment to the tip of the Cape.
This was a three-alarm fire, which could have had disastrous results, yet the town actually suffered very little damage, given the possible outcome we might have had.
I took this photo from Lopes Square the day after the fire. Structural damage
may keep the Red Shack and Tatiana's from reopening till the autumn season,
while the Surf Club may open sooner. The Coffee Pot aims for July 4th or sooner.
The rapid response and skillful work of our fire department, along with the mutual aid of others who joined us, truly minimized the damage done by this very serious fire. Our police department expertly managed the safety of the dozens of thousands of people here for the first big holiday of the summer, while still allowing people on foot and in their cars to move through the center of town and go about enjoying themselves. We applaud the delicate balancing act pulled off that evening by the Provincetown Police.

So that was Saturday.

Then, on Sunday, just moments after PTown’s rising tide reached its peak at 1:43 PM, a 911 call came into the Provincetown Police Department, asking for help at the West End Breakwater.

The Provincetown Harbormaster's boat loads up with several of the
44 hikers stranded on the breakwater during am exceptionally high
tide over Memorial Day weekend. Photo by Provincetown Police. 
Several people were reported actually in the water. A number of parties of hikers had walked out onto the granite barrier that slows down the waves and tides coming into the wetlands in the far west end of Provincetown Harbor. On their walk out toward the spit of sand leading to the Long Point Light, 44 people had failed to notice the steadily rising tide that now had them trapped more than a mile from terra firma.
The high tide was approximately 11.7 feet that afternoon, splashing over the breakwater in spots, making it slippery and rather dangerous to walk on. There were likely spots where hikers couldn’t walk forward or back without getting wet. Had a few people slipped and fallen in, or did some of the hikers foolishly think they could swim back to the shoreline? With the water temperature around 52 degrees, it was imperative that anyone who might have ended up in the water get out of it as quickly as possible.
Provincetown Police and Fire Departments, along with our EMS & Rescue crews and the Provincetown Harbormaster all responded, as did the US Coast Guard and TowboatUS Provincetown. Flyer’s Boatyard sent their water shuttle to join the other vessels in quickly getting the hapless hikers back to safety. Five people required treatment by EMS personnel.
During an "average" high tide, even the low spots in the breakwater are still about
about three feet above the water level, so these fishermen had no trouble this day.
The hike along the breakwater and out onto Long Point is one of the most popular recreational activities in Provincetown, rewarding hikers with gorgeous, uncrowded beaches and a panoramic view of our busy waterfront and spectacular harbor.
There are, however, potential risks in taking this walk. For example, the extremely high tide that day was unexpected to most hikers, rising well above the average high tide line visible along the breakwater. The high tide the weekend before had been about two-and-a-half feet lower, at just 9.2 feet, so the casual observer might have had no clue to the possible danger at hand. A tide chart could have helped hikers avoid being caught off guard amidst the rise of very deep water.
This fisherman didn't know what to do when he realized he was
trapped by rising water. He must have been in a low spot. This
tide was three inches lower than Sunday's, stranding 44 hikers.
To help folks safely enjoy this marvelous walk and amazing view, I wrote about it in June of 2012. It’s probably time to review these tips for fun and safety on this walk, so here’s a link to my post Hike The West End Breakwater to Wood End Light. Be careful and have fun, and remember, no flip flops on the breakwater. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, at least for that part of the hike. And if your legs and feet aren’t used to walking in soft sand, a few gentle, thorough stretches of all these muscles after your hike, and again before bedtime, will help prevent sore muscles the next day, especially if you’ve walked barefoot in the sand for a fair distance. This walk, all the way to the lighthouse and back, will use a whole new set of muscles that you never knew you had.
Another way to get to Long Point Light is to catch the shuttle boat operated by Flyer’s Boatyard. Weather and demand permitting, the Long Point Shuttle is running daily, every two hours, from Flyer’s dock, at 131A Commercial Street. That’s actually down a little alley called Good Templar Place, between Joon restaurant and the Provincetown Antique Market. Flyer’s is behind the restaurant. Times and departure location will change for the summer season on June 23rd. I’ll write about this great way to get to Long Point in another week or two.
In the meantime, once again, we sincerely thank all the men and women who are PTown's First Responders: our police department, harbormaster and coast guard, as well as firefighters, rescue workers and emergency medical personnel in Provincetown and beyond, who work so diligently to keep us safe here at the tip of Cape Cod.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sisters in the Name of Love: A Benefit Performance Supporting Two Essential Provincetown Health Organizations

Sisters in the Name of Love is always one of the greatest romps of the year in PTown entertainment!
Since the late 1980s one of the most highly anticipated, "must see" PTown shows has been the annual fundraising extravaganza known as Sisters in the Name of Love. It's safe to say that every drag queen in town will be on stage at some point during the evening, whether professional, amateur, hobbyist or complete novice, and that's all part of the fun of this mammoth evening of entertainment.
Seasoned performers as well as those less familiar to us will entertain a packed house at the Crown & Anchor this Tuesday, June 6th, beginning at 8 PM. There may be singers, along with comics, musicians, you name it… any sort of entertainment at all may turn up, with a particular emphasis on comedy and drag. There will be lots of big hair, sequins and boas, not to mention attitude. These queens are here to wrench the cash out of your hands for a very good cause: the health, support and wellbeing of hundreds of clients who depend on a little help from the ASGCC and HOW.
The Aids Support Group of Cape Cod began as a little Provincetown organization, among the first in the US to address the AIDS crisis back in the 1980s. It has now been greatly expanded, depending largely on a dedicated league of volunteers, and currently serves clients throughout the entire Cape and Islands. They provide counseling and support; testing, prevention, screening and nutrition services; rides to medical appointments; assistance with housing and utilities, and a host of other services.
How is Helping Our Women, another volunteer-based organization that started with a handful of women responding to the lack of services available to a friend newly diagnosed with cancer in 1992. By 1993 they had raised the money to incorporate as a full-fledged nonprofit, opening a resource and referral center for women in Provincetown who were facing the illness. By 1994 they had expanded to offer services to local women with all types of chronic, life-threatening and/or debilitating illnesses, and now offer those services and many more to women in the towns of Truro, Wellfleet and Eastham, as well as in PTown. A small monthly stipend for complimenting therapies, alternative treatments, or even utility assistance is also available to women meeting income guidelines.


These are two wonderful organizations, depending largely on funding from contributions by the general public. This yearly benefit provides a good bit of their annual budgets, as well as rollicking entertainment for our community, so be there or be square! Doors open at 7 PM, so you'll want to come a little early for a good seat and a cocktail, or two, and a bit of socializing before the show. There's likely to be an auction or two at some point in the evening, perhaps for souvenirs of the show or sometimes for priceless memorabilia, so bring your checkbook along as well.
The suggested donation for admission is just $10 at the door, but you'll want to bring fistfuls of dollar bills as well. It's customary to tip drag queens for superior entertainment, and you'll certainly want to show your wild appreciation for the outrageous costumes, performances and personas of the evening. The entertainers, in turn, will donate all their tips - every last dollar. Every crumpled, beer-soaked, martini-dripping dollar will go to providing services to clients of HOW and the ASGCC. Lets hope they're still counting the cash the next morning. See you there!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Provincetown Memorial Day Fire Fund Benefit

Two Provincetown clubs are holding benefits tonight for workers displaced by the Memorial Day fire, to buy equipment for our remarkable fire department, and to help rebuild the four Lopes Square restaurants which were damaged or devastated by the three-alarm fire that sent black smoke into the sky over the center of town last Saturday evening.
Read the posters on this page for details.
First, visit The Underground Bar, down the flight of stairs you'll find at 293 Commercial Street, with music and entertainment getting underway at 9 PM.

Next, get to Velvet dance club, at 258 Commercial Street, tucked away between Town Hall and the big red stairway that leads to JD's. You'll have time to get to both parties, with each going until closing time at 1 AM.
With a fire of this magnitude striking at the very beginning of the summer season, dozens upon dozens of people suddenly have no income. Employers, their employees, and even suppliers for these businesses will be hurt by this loss of revenue.
Please help to ease the burden by attending these two events.
Provincetown has the last all-volunteer fire department on Cape Cod. These remarkable men and women have once again saved our bacon, by preventing a very serious fire from spreading to other buildings, wedged cheek-by-jowel into this densely packed, little wooden town.  We also thank roughly 50 firefighters from towns as far away as Chatham and Harwich for their assistance and the equipment they brought to quickly squelch the flames and prevent greater damage.
If you can't attend either of these events, or even if you make it to both of them, you can also make a donation to the online account that's been set up to receive contributions to benefit our fire department and the people who lost their incomes in this fire. I had never contributed to this sort of online fundraiser before a couple of nights ago, when I found that this process was quick and painless. It doesn't take more than a moment to make a real difference for folks who can use a little help.
Go to gofundme.com/provincetown-memorial-day-fire-fund to help out our neighbors. You know they would do the same for you!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Box Lunch Celebrates 40 Years Serving Hungry Cape Codders, 35 Years in PTown

This A-frame style sign lists just a few of the specialty
sandwiches, salads and soups offered by Box Lunch.
It was good to see recently that Box Lunch is open again, tucked away just off Commercial Street, down a wide, sloping, red brick walkway. It's right across from the Provincetown Public Library.
It's worth the effort to find this great little sandwich shop. Julie and her crew are among the friendliest folks in town. They truly do go out of their way to serve their customers in any way they can.
And the food is not only terrific, but it's different from any other sandwich shop or deli in town. Box Lunch is home of the Rollwich, a name that is copyrighted, to perfectly describe the roll-up style sandwiches invented in Wellfleet by a school teacher during summer break, back in 1977.
That's right… This spring Box Lunch is celebrating its 40th anniversary, making unique, delicious, rolled sandwiches that are easy to eat on the go. These have also proven to be some of Cape Cod's all-time favorite sandwiches, winning multiple awards from Cape Cod Life magazine and others.
There are four Box Lunch shops, from Provincetown to Eastham. Sandwiches start at just $5.49, with dozens to choose from, or you can come up with your own combination. Kids have a menu of their own, too, with a choice of six Kidwiches. Gluten free, vegetarian and vegan folks will also find plenty of choices.
Owen MacNutt created his sandwiches by rolling his fillings up tightly in big, round, thin discs of fresh Syrian flatbread. That way you can easily carry them with you, to the beach or on the bike trail, without the sandwich suffering in transit. These are easy to eat while you're working, or walking down the street, or through the forrest, without all the spilling and dripping that can tend to make a conventional sandwich too difficult and messy to eat while you're doing something else. You can eat a Box Lunch Rollwich with one hand, without all the filling falling out.

Julie told me about a customer who comes in every day for the Gilded Lobster,
above: Succulent lobster, melted Swiss, avocado and a bit of mayo. Perfection!
My first sandwich from Box Lunch was more than 25 years ago, at the original Wellfleett location, which is still run by Owen and his wife, Kathryn.
I remember I had a hard time choosing from their huge menu that day, but finally settled on Porky's Nightmare, made with ham, three melted cheeses, tomatoes, onions, mayo and Durkee's mustard vinaigrette. It was so good that I don't remember ever trying anything else in all these years. Turns out it's their number one seller. Except in Provincetown…
Here, the best-selling sandwich at Box Lunch is the Gilded Lobster, pictured above, which Julie got me to try a couple of days ago, on my first visit there this year. It's stuffed with plenty of fresh lobster, mild, melted Swiss cheese, avocado and a little mayo. I'm not normally a fan of Swiss cheese, but this inspired combination was really good!

This excellent version of a hearty tomato soup, made with fresh basil and
crumbled feta cheese, was one of three great soup choices offered on this day.
Another unusual thing about Box Lunch's PTown location is the tremendous number of salads they sell; far more than the Turo, Wellfleet or Eastham branches, and again, a gazillion choices.
I was there on a cold, drizzly day, so to warm up a bit, I had one of three soups offered that day. Clam chowder is always on the menu, with other favorites popping up on a daily basis. Each is made right there, in the tiny kitchen at Box Lunch, from scratch, just like everything else they make. That chilly day, I ordered the tomato/basil/feta soup, which was perfect on that blustery afternoon. Those bright flavors make me want more of this hearty potage as I am writing this.
Provincetown, by the way, was the second Box Lunch location to open, and celebrates its own 35th anniversary in PTown this year. After five years of hard work, with the popularity of MacNutt's Rollwiches steadily growing as more people discovered them, he opened a new Provincetown location in 1982, at the Pilgrim House complex. It later moved to the old Whalers Wharf, then it moved to its current location in 1998, when the Whalers Wharf burned to the ground. Oddly, the Pilgrim House had also gone up in flames in 1990, in a suspicious, four-alarm blaze. Happily, the third incarnation of Provincetown's Box Lunch has been thriving for nearly 20 years in its present spot.
Box Lunch does breakfast, too, for under $5. They open by 8 AM. Right now they stay open until late afternoon, and hours are bound to be extended as the summer season gets into full swing, so you'll be able to get a quick, tasty, inexpensive supper, not to mention a great breakfast or lunch.
The Provincetown location is nestled under the trees in a little courtyard, down that wide, red brick walkway at 353 Commercial Street. Choose the sunlight or shade with relaxed, comfortable outdoor seating at tables or benches, or you can take your food with you. If you're in a hurry, or dashing between jobs, you can call ahead at 508 487-6026 to have your order ready to pick up.
This spot is only a few steps off Commercial Street, but you could walk right by without seeing it. Look for their bright red, A-framed blackboard sign, shown above, to lead you to this unusual, award-winning little PTown eatery, popular for all the right reasons.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Visit Spindler's for Their 1922 Dinner Special Before it Ends

The 1922 dinner special at Spindler's starts with your
choice of soup or salad. This French onion soup was terrific,
topped with a blend of Swiss and Gouda cheeses.
I visited Spindler's the other night and ordered their 1922 special, which runs for about another week, but perhaps not much longer, so put this dinner bargain on your short list of things to do by May 15th. Squeeze it in one night while you still have the chance. Let me explain…
Spindler's has had a few things to celebrate during the last few months. First, the restaurant reached its first anniversary on December 29th. They had opened briefly at that unusual time of year in 2015 to give us a preview of what they'd offer when they would get into full swing, as we got into last summer, and they proved to be a worthy addition to PTown's lineup of great eateries.
The restaurant opened on that particular day because that was the anniversary of the British cargo ship Annie L. Spindler, running aground on Provincetown's shoreline in 1922, in the height of America's prohibition era, carrying about 600 cases of Canadian whiskey. Not much of the contraband was "recovered" or turned over to officials by scavengers along the beach that day, though there were many of them.
It seems, though, that a few hundred bottles were recovered by the authorities, and were then locked in a storage shed while the Coast Guard, Customs and the courts decided what to do with the liquor. When the decision was eventually made and officials finally opened the shed to carry out their duty,  they found that most of the whiskey had mysteriously disappeared. Although a house-to-house search was conducted, not a single bottle was found. Meanwhile, a particularly cheerful attitude seemed to have overtaken the town, and that good cheer lasted far beyond the time when officials gave up looking for the missing whiskey.
Spindler's, of course, was named for this ship, and the exuberance it brought to town, in a wreck that was fairly amusing rather than completely tragic. Read a bit more about the wreck of this ship, dubbed "the Rum Runner" by Provincetown folks in that day, for its numerous trips along the seaboard, carrying one sort of liquor or another. Read more in my December post celebrating Spindler's first anniversary. There you'll also find my review of the charcuterie offered at Spindler's. It's still the best I've found anywhere in Provincetown.
Seared scallops over wild mushroom risotto was the entrée on this
evening's 1922 special at Spindler"s, at the Waterford Inn.
Spindler's has also been celebrating their new status as a year-round restaurant, gaining approval from Town boards over the winter.
So, to celebrate their first anniversary, along with their new year-round license, and the anniversary of the Annie L. Spindler "arriving" on the back shore in 1922, Spindler's has been offering their 1922 special, which is different every day.
This is a three-course meal that starts with your choice of a salad or the featured soup, followed by a daily entrée chosen by the chef, inspired by the freshest and finest local ingredients to be found on any given day. A choice of desserts will follow, with the entire meal costing you just $19.22.
To startt my meal there last week I chose the soup, which was a lovely French onion on that particular night, with croutons made in-house, with a blend of Swiss and Gouda cheeses melted over the top. The light broth was quite tasty, and seasoned to bring out the sweetness of the onions.
The entrée served this night featured seared scallops served on a creamy mound of wild mushroom risotto, and topped with sautéed ramps; the cousins of green onions, available in the early spring. The dish was accented with roasted tomatoes. This was a satisfying plate that I would surely order again, given the chance.

I chose the very tasty strawberry/rhubarb tart for my dessert.
Desserts offered included various gelatos made in-house, and, of course, a decadent chocolate choice, which might normally have been what I would select, but when  I heard the waiter mention  the strawberry/rhubarb tart, I was a goner.

The crust was made with a short pastry, dense and crispy at the same time, without being heavy, and filled with a blend of rhubarb and strawberries that was just tart enough, and not overly sweet. It paired nicely with a scoop of smooth, vanilla bean gelato. A garnish of fresh strawberry and mint, with a doodle of strawberry coulis, finished the plate.
The 1922 special is different every day, always made from fresh, local ingredients, as the chef finds them. It's available from 5 till 6:30 PM Wednesday through Friday, and from 3 till 6:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday, but this special will be ending very shortly, so take advantage of this great offer while you can. Right now, Spindler's is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but that will change as they gear up to open daily all summer.
The menu will change a bit as seasonal ingredients become available. Also new on the property this summer will be a different sort of meal offered at the tiny building next to the first floor bar, where casual food will be available to eat there or to take out, and I'll be checking that spot out once the season gets rolling. Currently Spindler's winter brunch menu is available only on Sundays, but watch for that to change for the season, too, with daily Fun Brunches planned, to be added once the season is in full swing.
Every dish I've tasted here has been a winner, right down to the terrific bread served with your meal, accompanied by fresh butter from Vermont and honey from New England beekeepers, including hives in Truro and Wellfleet. The other night the chef served a delightful wildflower honey from New Hampshire.
Little details make Spindler's a delightful spot for a good meal, and they have guest rooms available as well, in an old sea captain's home that dates back to the mid 1800s. The Waterford Inn features that same attention to detail, with contemporary decor and amenities in a lovely, historic home. It's tucked away just off Commercial Street, right behind the restaurant, at 386 Commercial.
For information on the Waterford Inn, or Spindler's restaurant, dial 508 487- 6400, or visit the website at www.thewaterfordinn.com/spindlers.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

It's Not Spring in PTown Until My First Visit to The Coffee Pot

Linda and Nelson have been welcoming folks to The Coffee Pot, and to
Provincetown, for more than 24 years. They're genuinely glad to see you!
For 24 years or so, Linda and Nelson have been opening the doors of The Coffee Pot at 5:00 in the morning (in the height of the season) and doing it with smiling faces. Every day of the season they get out of bed in the pre-dawn hours and make their way to the most popular coffee shop in the heart of Provincetown, at Lopes Square, by the giant anchor.
Within a few moments they're sliding  trays of bagels, muffins, croissants and cinnamon buns into the ovens, and putting on the coffee, and soon the aroma of fresh baked goods is wafting out the door as local fishermen, carpenters, cops, and anyone else who's up at that time of day stop in to get their morning started. Nothing beats a really good cup of coffee and fresh baked goods, right out of the oven.
My first order of the season was their giant breakfast sandwich called the Rescue Squad, which I had been jonesing for all winter. It's made with three eggs, three strips of bacon, two sausage patties and two slices of cheese on a freshly baked sub roll that's been split open and toasted on the grill. It's an entire meal that you can take with you.
The patio at The Coffee Pot is a great place for a little fresh air with
your meal, and a little people watching at the edge of Lopes Square.
If you want a sit-down breakfast in the dining room or out on their patio, The Coffee Pot can also accommodate you. Get a plate of eggs and toast for just $5.99, or  add bacon, sausage or linguica (say leen•gwee•suh,) the slightly spicy, extremely tasty Portuguese sausage. The also make omelets, brioche French toast and other great breakfast plates, and the menu for lunch and supper is sizable and tempting as well. For example, they make some of the best French fries in PTown, perfect with a burger, burrito, Gyro, panini or their huge lobster roll, served hot or cold. (Try the lobster omelet, too.)
If for some unknown reason you've never visited The Coffee Pot, it's time to give them a whirl. Generous portions and reasonable prices, and those smiling faces behind the counter, make this one of the town's favorite eateries.

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.