Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sal's Place Opening Party - What a Spread!

Nate and Anthony offer us a traditional sweet Italian sausage in a homemade
tomato sauce, and crostini featuring tender beef on crispy, toasted bread. 
Sal's Place, on the edge of the Harbor at 99 Commercial Street, held their annual party for the official opening of the 2013 summer season last week. The entire town is always invited to enjoy this lovely waterfront deck looking out over the absolute majesty of Provincetown Harbor while the waitstaff circulates through the crowd offering tastes from Sal's menu.
At the same time, guests make their way around a huge banquet table of crusty breads, cheeses, cold cuts, exotic tomato varieties, smoked salmon and all kinds of delectables.
Folks served themselves from the bountiful buffet of hot foods. 
Still more food was found in a buffet of hot dishes that included the vibrant colors of fresh green beans and peppers, followed by several delicious pasta dishes, mussels simmered in wine and herbs, and a stuffed flounder that people are still talking about. Mushroom caps stuffed with a mixture of parmigiana cheese, breadcrumbs and herbs were also a big hit with the crowd.
A number of revelers made themselves comfortable in Sal's Tuscany Wine Room, a cozy space dedicated to the celebration of wines, with some two-dozen choices to be sampled by the glass. Beer and cocktails are served as well. There's also a special menu of lighter fare available, and wine bar manager John Foley will be happy to suggest wines to pair with different dishes. This is also a great spot to sit and enjoy an espresso with friends, although you may not be able to resist the lure of the fresh cannoli with your coffee, nor Lora's legendary chocolate mousse pie, made with a Callebaut chocolate cookie crust and filled with what might well be the best chocolate mousse you'll ever taste. Other sweet treats are served at Sal's as well. Outside of the imported Italian gelato and sorbettto., just about everything else you'll find here is made from scratch, right on the premises.
Trampolina was on hand to welcome Townies to the celebration.
This year marks the 51st anniversary of this wonderful waterfront restaurant, now owned by Lora and Alexander Papetsas, with Alexander running the kitchen, and Lora ready to welcome you on arrival. General Manager Tony Zampella is on hand as well to help keep things running smoothly in this very popular restaurant in PTown's quiet West End. The wine bar and espresso lounge open at 4:30 PM, and dinner is served from 5:30 till 10 PM nightly. Reserve a table by visiting Sal's Place online 24 hours in advance, or phone them at 508 487-1279. We welcome back this wonderful neighborhood restaurant for the 2013 summer season in Provincetown.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

PTown Memorial Day Seems a Success Despite the Weather

This group of 40 traveled to Provincetown from all over the US for
their own annual Memorial Day "Pride Run" on Commercial Street.
Despite cloudy skies, drizzling rain and temperatures much lower than usual for Memorial Day weekend, Provincetown had a good-sized crowd of visitors in good spirits. People put up with occasional rain and a bit of a windchill factor and braved the stroll down breezy Commercial Street to pick up a new sweatshirt, jacket, poncho or umbrella, and continued finding pursuits other than beach activities. Others huddled indoors by a fireplace, waiting out the chilly weather. The storm clouds finally parted on Memorial Day afternoon, the last day of most peoples' three-day-weekend here, and the streets were filled with folks sporting shorts and tank tops and other summer clothing that had languished at the bottom of the suitcase since their arrival here.
As the sun began to shine steadily, a dozen or more kayaks were instantly put into the water, the first ones I'd seen this season, and the whole town took on the look of summer, with throngs of people on the streets shopping and sampling fried dough, clam rolls, shucked oysters and chowder. It finally felt like the summer was off and running. Street performers turned out in large numbers, a lot of them being new to Provincetown, while just a few of our summer regulars made an appearance.
The group pictured above started a tradition for this long weekend several years ago with a handful of friends coming to PTown to make their own symbolic "Pride Run" along Commercial Street. Over the years the group has grown, this year numbering 40 young women, along with the occasional odd gentleman, who have come to celebrate in a town where they are free to be themselves. Welcome to Provincetown, everyone!

Monday, May 27, 2013

PTown Photo Ops Abound. Enter TheYearRounder's Photo Contest!

Twilight brings the Pilgrim Monument to life as the lights come on.
If you just keep a camera handy, you can shoot some really great photographs all around Provincetown, with very little equipment, and with very little effort. When I started writing this blog I started carrying a camera with me every day. My cell phone camera (not the greatest because it is now several years old and woefully low on pixels) had to do for a few weeks until I could do a little quick research and get something a little beefier on eBay. I always buy technology at least a couple of generations back from whatever the current model is, because I seldom need all the bells and whistles found on the latest versions of cameras, computers, phones or whatever, and I usually need to save a bit of money on these items as well.
I most often will shop online, since the closest big-box electronics stores or discount centers are 54 miles or more from Provincetown, and I gave up driving a car and churning out all that polution years ago. Shopping online also lets me buy something used or refurbished rather than new, which cuts down on resources used in manufacturing, and all that packaging used for new products, and saves the fuel used to ship truckloads of new merchandise all around the country each year, as I recently wrote in a column about reusing and recycling household items.
Get a good camera inexpensively and carry it with you, and you can get great photos yourself. I wanted something digital with a lot of zoom and a good-sized screen so I could see what I was shooting, something to counteract jiggling the camera on those big zoom shots, and automatic operation with the ability to adjust settings manually as well. I wanted a camera that used batteries that I could recharge so I didn't have the guilt of tossing out hundreds of batteries over the years, but ones that I could also find at the drugstore in a pinch, and my "new" camera had to be small enough to carry around town with me wherever I went.
I picked a couple of models that had all these features, looked up user reviews on Amazon, and from there I chose the camera model I wanted to shop for on eBay. I got a great deal on a used one, $88 including shipping, and I've been really amazed at the photos I've been getting with my Canon Powershot SX120 IS. The photo above, and most of the photos I've put on this blog, have been taken with this camera, and I really couldn't be happier with my choice.
So as I was walking along Commercial Street toward the center of town one evening, just as the twilight was about to give way to the night sky and the lights kicked on at the Pilgrim Monument, I saw this image rising above the rooftops a bit west of Town Hall. I got out my trusty camera and managed to get a couple of shots before the light changed. This photo turned out really well, with a lot of detail in the granite blocks of the monument, and the sky not yet dark.
Send me your digital photos in jpg or gif format and I'll post the best of them here. Even a cheap "throwaway" camera can capture a great photo. Just don't forget to recycle the camera when you're done instead of throwing it away, which most developers will do for you, and then scan the photos into digital files to enter them in this contest. Email address and contact info is shown above. By entering this contest you grant your permission to have your photos published on TheYearRounder's Guide to Provincetown, with proper credit listing your name. Tell us a little about your photos, too. Only jpg or gif images can be entered. Photos shot on film can be converted to digital files at Provincetown Copy Canter, above Ross' Grill in the Whalers Wharf, at 237 Commercial Street, or at the Mail Spot, in the lane that leads to Sage, at 336 Commercial Street.
The best original photos taken somewhere in Provincetown, and received digitally by noon on Labor Day, September 2, 2013, will win prizes from local shops and restaurants. TheYearRounder's selections will be final. Happy shooting!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Entertainment in Provincetown for Memorial Day Weekend, 2013

Memorial Day kicks off our summer season in a number of ways. New businesses hustle to get up and running for the holiday weekend crowds, most restaurants go to a seven-days-a-week schedule, the price for a night in a guesthouse rises, and favorite entertainers return to Provincetown stages, booking two to four-day engagements. This year's dates are from Friday, May 24th to Monday, May 27th. Here's a quick rundown on comics, singers, musicians, drag performers and others appearing in Provincetown over Memorial Day weekend, starting tonight:
Poppy Champlin, at the P.O.
Friday thru Monday. 

Comic Poppy Champlin is a perennial Provincetown favorite with a very quick wit and a lot of audience interaction. Raucus, a bit bawdy, and very funny, Poppy likes it with a little spice, and her audience eats it up. Get tickets for Poppy here, or get in line at least a half-hour before the show. Poppy appears Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 PM and Monday at 2:30 PM at the Post Office Cabaret, at 303 Commercial Street. Have a relaxed meal before the show at the Post Office Cafe and forget about waiting in line. Diners get reserved seats in the first few rows of the theater, right upstairs. Let your server know if you're seeing the show.

Suzanne Westenhoefer,
at the P.O. Fri thru Mon

Suzanne Westenhoefer broke major ground many years ago when she became the first openly gay comedian ever to appear on network television. She finds the funny in little things we've all experienced, and at the same time gives us a remarkably candid glimpse into her own trials and struggles, with hilarious results. Get tickets for Suzanne Westenhoefer here, or get to the Post Office Cabaret early. Diners, as always, get priority seating for shows without waiting in line. Make sure your server knows you will be attending the show. It's best to get your tickets beforehand. Suzanne appears Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9 PM and Monday at 4 PM/.

Melissa Ferrick, at the Art
House Saturday and Sunday

Singer-songwriter Melissa, Ferrick, with over 150 songs to her credit and an incredibly dedicated fan base, returns to the Art House for two nights only, Saturday and Sunday at 9 PM. Ferrick's music is deeply personal, plumbing the depth of emotions between the pain of a failed relationship and the rising joys of a new one, and her recent songs are better than ever. Get tickets for Melissa Ferrick here, or at the Art House box office, at 214 Commercial Street. While you’re there check out the menu at Blondie’s, now there as well, along with a full bar. Drinks can be taken into the show. 

Judy Gold, at the Art
House Saturday and Sunday

Also appearing at the Art House is Emmy Award winner Judy Gold, known for numerous appearances on TV, her two hit shows off-Broadway, and her very funny stand-up comedy appearances all around the country. She’s been seen on ABC, TBS, A & E, LOGO and other networks both as an actor and a comedian, and her HBO stand-up comedy special won a Cable Ace Award. Her two Emmy Awards are as writer and producer on the Rosie O’Donnell Show. She’ll be at the Art House Saturday and Sunday at 7 PM. Get tickets for judy Gold here or at the box office.

Kate Clinton, at the Crown & Anchor
Saturday and Sunday
Kate Clinton is an unapologetic news junkie with an exceptional mind and an instantaneous wit, and she’ll have the crowds roaring with laughter Saturday and Sunday at 7 PM at the Crown & Anchor, at 247 Commercial Street. Clinton is a columnist, TV commentator, author, and an actor on stage, film and television. She is topical, political and extremely comical as she observes the workings (and the non-workings) of our Federal government and other folks catching her attention. Get tickets at the box office, or more info at 508 487-1430. Have dinner before the show at the Crown’s Central House restaurant and get priority seating for the show, avoiding the wait in line for seating.

Miss Richfield 1981 at the
Crown and Anchor Sat and Sun
Miss Richfield 1981 is not your mother's drag show... The comic genius of Russ King is embodied in a character whose bio centers around her win in a midwestern beauty pageant some 3 decades ago. Miss Richfield 1981 has made  numerous television appearances and performed to sold out crowds all around the country. Her act is among the funniest things ever to land in Provincetown, with hair, makeup and wardrobe that could easily have been created by Earl Scheib., another legendary figure from the 80s. Catch this unforgettable show at the Crown & Anchor at 8 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Ticket info at 508 487-1430 or at the box office, 247 Commercial Street.

All The Kings Men, at the Crown & Anchor Fri, Sat and Sun
Boston-based comedy, theater and dance troupe All The Kings Men have played to standing ovations at sold-out performances from Los Angeles to London, gleefully stepping over the boundary line between the sexes with an average of thirty or so gender-bending characters in each show. They've won numerous awards for their sketches, vignettes and characters whose stories range from the poignant to the preposterous. The troupe appears at the Crown & Anchor Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 PM.

Illusions, at the Crown Sat and Sun
Illusions is probably the longest-running drag show in Provincetown, and you'll see why if you catch them this weekend at the Crown & Anchor, Saturday and Sunday at 10 PM. Female impersonation is the name of the game, and these dazzling beauties pull it off in a remarkable way with all the glamour and style of classic drag. The cast this year includes Billie Jean, of course, one of the original cast members, along with Tisch De Williams, Jonathan Williams and Anita Cocktail, all flawless performers who will leave you spellbound with their performing artistry, with some good laughs thrown into the mix as well. Each will be dressed to the nines in sequins and boas, with several changes from one dazzling costume to the next. Tickets at the box office.

Bobby Wetherbee, at the Crown Saturday
Also performing in PTown this weekend, you'll find Bobby Wetherbee playing and singing Broadway hits, standards, and classic show tunes in his popular piano bar and sing-along. Bobby was named by Cape Cod Life magazine under the category of Best Piano Bar on the Outer Cape.  Find him at the Central House, at the Crown & Anchor complex at 247 Commercial Street, starting at 9:30 PM on Saturday, with no cover charge. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

El Mundo Brings Mexican Flavors to Provincetown

Ben offers us a taste of the deep-fried calamari and the pulled pork enchilada.
El Mundo, starting their 3rd season here, brings their take on Mexican cuisine to PTown, and I am personally grateful. I stopped in the other night for their opening party where well-wishers were treated to tastes from all corners of El Mundo's menu, like tortilla chips with a spicy black bean & chipotle dip, pulled pork enchiladas (the mole gives it just a little sweetness) and their very tasty barbecued shrimp on a skewer. There was a cheviche made with squid and octopus. Their wonderful green chili enchilada (vegetarian, stuffed with jack cheese, spinach, corn-off-the-cob and poblano chilies) is one of my favorite dishes here, and I was happy to find it at the party as well. The crispy, lightly battered calamari was especially good. I hope it turns up as a special periodically because it isn't on the regular menu.
I'll be here often this summer for favorite seafood dishes like the fish tacos and the shrimp and goat cheese burrito. as well as more traditional choices like Carnitas (slow roasted pork,) soft or crispy tacos, black beans, rice and a variety of homemade salsas and hot sauces. Their Smokey Chipotle and their Red Hot Mama (habañero) sauces are now available to take home, too, to help us get through the long winters when El Mundo closes up for the season.
My favorite dish from their 1st season wasn't on the menu last year, and I lobbied hard to get it back. Bea tells me the fabulous pan-fried oysters will indeed be back on the menu this year. With a unique flavor, a little spice and a bit of a crunch, there's nothing like them anywhere else in Provincetown.
El Mundo has a full bar serving several Mexican beers, craft beers and specialty cocktails, including a dozen different margaritas. They stock 22 different tequilas, including four aged varieties, so they take their margaritas pretty seriously. And even dessert is done with a Mexican twist. The Pot du Creme is a dense, smooth sort of dark chocolate mousse with a bit of chili to give it a little kick. Delish!
El Mundo has two dining rooms, one with a water view and one with a view of bustling Commercial Street. Outdoor seating looks out over the beach and the harbor. Service is good, the staff is friendly and the atmosphere is relaxed. Prices are reasonable, too. Last August I wrote about the lunch special in a blog post about inexpensive, great food in Provincetown. Click on this link to read that post and to find three great meals for under $35 for the day. I hope they bring their lunch special back this summer. Last year it won TheYearRounder's Best Bite award for outstanding value for a great meal.
You'll find El Mundo at 269 Commercial Street, right across from Town Hall. We miss them over the winter, and we're happy to welcome back Bea and Shelby and the gang for their 3rd season.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This PTown Trail Dates Back to 1873

The Old Colony Nature Pathway follows the old railroad right-of way used when
trains finally began steaming all the way down the Cape to Provincetown in 1873.
Where Harry Kemp Way meets Howland Street you'll find a conservation, public park and recreation area with a nature trail that will lead you out through the woods toward the water tank found on Mount Gilboa.
The combined efforts of a number of local people and PTown organizations led to the establishment of this beautiful public recreation spot back in 1995. The trail follows the old railroad bed established by the  Old Colony Railroad when train travel to Provincetown finally became possible. Railroad service from Boston to Hyannis began around the middle 1850s, but it was many more years before trains would run all the way to the tip of the Cape.
Our thanks to those who worked to preserve this wild space.
On July 23rd, 1873, a brass band heralded the arrival of the first trainload of dignitaries to make the journey. Before the advent of new railroad service to Provincetown, visitors had to rumble here by stagecoach, no mean feat given the long, rough ride from Boston. With the new railroad in place, it also became much quicker, easier and cheaper for Provincetown's fishermen to ship seafood, even to distant markets. At one time, our fishing fleet provided the majority of all frozen fish consumed in the midwest. Passenger service stopped in 1938, but freight cars still made the trip until 1960, when the railroad tracks in the area of North Eastham were abandoned.
Wildlife abounds on this trail, with all kinds of birds and plant life flourishing along the former railroad bed. At this time of year you'll find the lady slippers beginning to bloom along the edges of the trail. Whether you walk it's full length or just a short distance on this path, you're in for a lovely stroll through this beautiful conservation area.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What's New? - The Canteen Opens to Great Acclaim, Already a Best Bite

Tom, Tyler, James, Rob and Loic welcome you to The Canteen,
at 225 Commercial Street, serving perfect summer food in a beachy atmosphere.
I stopped in at 225 Commercial Street yesterday to wish good luck to the folks at The Canteen on their opening day, and to taste a bit of their menu, but I wasn't prepared for all of the delightful surprises I found there. Their evolving menu is thoughtful, innovative, fairly priced, and everything I tasted was extraordinary, all made from scratch. This little shack is destined to become one of the great eateries of Provincetown. And this is the first time a new restaurant has earned a Best Bite award (two of them, actually) from TheYearRounder on their opening day. If I'd had enough room to taste more of their food, I have a feeling they might have gotten a couple of more Best Bites as well.
TheYearRounder names a Best Bite whenever an outstanding taste or value (and often both) surface in a PTown restaurant, deli, bar, gelato shop or wherever it might be. Type Best Bite into the search bar above, or click on Best Bite in the "Key Words" section in the column to the right to find more of such award-winners.
The Canteen's Best Bite awards are for the very best in food and drink that I found all week long in Provincetown: Pucci Wings, which the entire town has been jonesing for ever since Pucci's Harborside Restaurant closed many years ago, and The Canteen's rhubarb soda, made from scratch by chef Rob Anderson. Rob was a journalist and food writer for the Boston Globe when he and partner Loic Rossignon bought the building a couple of years ago, and Rob decided to shift careers, giving up journalism for culinary school. He seems to have been born for this job, bringing a genuine delight in fresh flavors and ingredients to this new kitchen. For example, he makes a syrup from fresh rhubarb to create the restaurant's own soda, with the most unusual, refreshing and delightful flavor, hence the Best Bite nod.
Veteran chef Tom Pucci is also in the kitchen, and his legendary chicken wings are a great addition to this menu of summer foods, with a texture and flavor unmatched by any who have tried to duplicate them. He's also brought back the Hollywood sandwich, a Pucci's favorite, and we eagerly look forward to seeing more of Tom's influence as this collaborative menu created by talented chefs expands with the summer season.
The menu centers around favorite beach shack foods like clam chowder and seafood made with classic techniques, but perfected with a few little tweaks to traditional recipes. Their chowder, for example, isn't made with the usual quahogs, but instead uses fresh littlenecks, leeks and herbs from their own garden. The chives in my chowder were snipped fresh that morning. Everything is made from scratch, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farms just a few miles from here.
Some menu items spring from traditional foods that are still unknown in much of the world. Bánh Mì sandwiches herald from Vietnam and are usually made with pickled daikon, cucumber, jalapeño and fresh cilantro, and traditionally are filled with ham and a bit of liver pâté, but instead The Canteen uses fresh cod. That's just one thing I want to taste the next time I'm there, which will likely be tomorrow. 
New PTown resident Corey loves The Canteen's
kale and linguica sandwich, as you can see.

Others would be the Mexican grilled corn, and surely the kale and linguica sandwich, rated "two thumbs up" by Corey, in PTown for his first season and pictured here on a break from his job at Kiss and Makeup, at 357 Commercial Street. "I give it both thumbs up," Corey said, "because it's so good. They make the linguica right here." He'll likely be a frequent  customer for lunch, and for dinner as well when the restaurant's hours expand after Memorial Day. They also plan to do late nights during the height of the season, breakfast will start soon as well, and the blackboard lists a number of dishes we can look forward to as the menu grows with the season.
They will likely do a good bit of takeout business, with the food rolling out of the kitchen pretty quickly.  And even though you'll order your food at the counter, and service is quite swift, this is in no way your typical fast food restaurant. There are real chefs in the kitchen turning out some remarkable food. New also is a beer and wine license and indoor as well as outdoor seating, for those who want to take their time with a good meal.
I can't wait to return for vegan and vegetarian choices, a lobster roll served hot or cold, and the BBQ pulled pork sandwich, thanks to their own smoker. I want more of their lemon rosemary ice for dessert, too.  I'll let you know what I taste on my next visit there.
Rob emphasizes that this has been a real team effort, with this entire small staff performing Herculean tasks to make their opening day such a roaring success, and we happily welcome a great new restaurant to Provincetown.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

This Week's Hot Ticket - The Outer Cape Chorale's Spring Concert, Friday Through Sunday, in Provincetown and Orleans

The Outer Cape Chorale offers free concerts Friday, Saturday and Sunday in PTown and Orleans.
From Bach to The Beatles, from Gilbert & Sullivan to Joni Mitchell, the Outer Cape Chorale has been delighting Cape Cod audiences with some of the world's best-loved music since its inception in 2002. Conductor and Musical Director Jon Arterton gathered a group of friends together that winter and hatched the idea for a true community chorus, bringing together both trained singers and those who had never sung a note, creating a unique, truly remarkable choir that currently numbers some 140 voices from towns all over the Cape.
The Chamber Singers are a group of roughly twenty members of the chorus who will also perform several numbers in this concert featuring contemporary works by living American composers. The Outer Cape Chorale has been joined by pianist John Thomas and many other musicians over the years, performing for standing-room-only crowds all over Cape Cod. In fact, many choir members and musicians must travel to Provincetown from their homes in all corners of the Cape several times, for rehearsals as well as performances, making each of these concerts a true labor of love.
To make their music accessible to as many people as possible, the group will perform free of charge at Town Hall in Provincetown at 7 PM on Friday and Saturday, and at Nauset Middle School in Orleans at 3 PM on Sunday. To learn more about the chorus, to join their email list, or to make a contribution, click on this link to The Outer Cape Chorale.
This concert is always one of the most highly anticipated events of the spring, and it is definitely not to be missed. You'll want to arrive a few minutes early to make sure you get a seat.  See you there!