Wednesday, July 30, 2014

PTown's Best Lobster Roll, Chapter Two

As I mentioned in chapter one of this series, choosing the best lobster roll from all of the dozens available in Provincetown is quite subjective, and depends on individual tastes. So I'll continue to describe them, and you can see which ones look and sound the best to you as we make our way around the town.
This week's chapter on lobster rolls is written entirely at The Red Shack, a little walk-up counter service joint at Lopes Square. It has no seating of its own, but you can usually find a seat on the benches that surround the square, or sometimes I'll carry my meal to the far end of the municipal parking lot adjacent to Lopes Square, and find a spot beneath the trees on the benches that span the width of a tiny town park that runs right along the edge of Provincetown Harbor, stretching between MacMillan Pier and Fishermen's Wharf. I'll watch all the whale watch boats, the ferries, and the Long Point Shuttle coming in and out of the harbor while I enjoy my meal sitting right at the edge of the water, with a seagull or two waiting to see if I drop anything.
Each of the lobster rolls in this week's chapter comes from The Red Shack, serving it five different ways, each one having 4 ounces of choice lobster meat, mostly the claws and knuckles. Each sandwich sells for $13.95, and each is served on a large Portuguese roll, made daily at the Portuguese bakery, right around the corner at 299 Commercial Street. That's a great spot to stop for a little dessert after your lobster roll, too.

We'll start with The Red Shack's Classic Lobster Roll, simply lobster dressed in a just a little mayo, with a bit of chopped scallion, served with leafy green lettuce and sliced tomatoes.

Next is The Connecticut, served hot with just the naked lobster, drizzled with melted butter on a toasted bun, plain and simple, one of their best selling lobster rolls.

The Californian has a bit of mayo and crumbled bacon mixed in with the lobster, served on leafy lettuce and sliced tomato, and topped with sliced avocado.

The Moroccan has a bit of mild, yellow curry and a touch of mint mixed in with the mayo, along with a few chopped scallions and a bit of pineapple. This one's served on a toasted bun, and a tasty way to have your lobster if you're a bit adventurous.

The Mexican has a mild salsa and a bit of cilantro along with leafy green lettuce and sliced tomatoes. It's just a bit of spice, and different from any other lobster roll in town.

The Red Shack is open daily in season for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and they sell a lot of lobster rolls, with some choices that are very different from others in town, so stop in and give them a whirl.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Film Screening Thursday Benefits the Matthew Shepard Foundation

This Thursday the Provincetown Film Society will present a special screening of Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, a new documentary commemorating the 15th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming freshman who was kidnapped by two homophobic men he had met in a Laramie, Wyoming, bar. Matt was tortured, tied to a fence and left to die in one of the nations most notorious hate crimes on record. This vicious crime created headlines worldwide, and the universal condemnation of this horrendous act of violence started a crucial dialogue about hate crimes and intolerance toward LGBT people, leading to the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009.
This important 89 minute film, touring nationwide in theatrical and festival screenings. will be shown in Provincetown one night only, at 7 PM on Thursday, July 31, 2014, at the Waters Edge Cinema, on the second floor of Whalers Wharf, at 237 Commercial Street. The film will be followed by an audience Q&A with Matt’s parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, and director Michele Josue. The Q&A will be moderated by the Rev. Christie Hardwick, a local minister of the Centers for Spiritual Living. Tickets are $12, with all proceeds benefitting the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Get tickets online or at the Cinema box office.
Director Michele Josue was a 19-year-old film school student at Emerson College in Boston when she learned of the murder of her dear friend in Laramie. She says that before he “became ‘Matthew Shepard’—his identity forever tied to unspeakable violence and hate—he was just Matt, a normal kid who happened to be gay, with a loving family and supportive friends. He was real. And I think it’s important that the world knows that.”

Watch the trailer for '"Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine", and see the film this Thursday night at Waters Edge Cinema.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Are You Kidding Me!?! (part 1)

My favorite restaurant lost my business on this slice of cake.
Some time ago I had dinner at my favorite restaurant at the time, and when I looked at the dessert menu, I didn't remember the desserts all being $10, so it seemed like they might have gone up a bit from the previous summer, and nothing really caught my interest, but the waiter mentioned that the owner had spent some time in the kitchen that day making three cakes as dessert specials, so I decided to try the lemon cake with toasted coconut. It had a nice texture but didn't really have much lemon flavor. It came garnished with a few fresh berries, which turned out to be my favorite part of a dessert that was pleasant enough, but there was nothing remarkable about it.
The remarkable part came when the bill arrived. They charged me 12 bucks for a slice of cake! Are you kidding me!?! You can see from the size of a single strawberry sliced up, along with two raspberries and a few blueberries, that this was not a large slice of cake, and as I mentioned, there was nothing remotely special about it, besides the price. It was white flour and sugar, with not enough lemon in it to call it a lemon cake, and the toasted coconut had come from a bag.
I'll show you 50 desserts in PTown that require a lot of work to make, with recipes full of exotic and costly ingredients, with price tags from $7 to $10. There weren't $12 worth of ingredients in the whole cake, which sold for somewhere between $144 and $192, if you do the math, and prep time was under an hour spent mixing the batter, sliding the tins into the oven and frosting the cake after it had cooled off. This restaurant didn't charge a price based on ingredients, preparation time and overhead… They charged what they thought they could get away with.
This is price gouging, pure and simple, and it cost them about $1080 when I took their share of my business elsewhere over the summer after they robbed me on this night, and a few thousand dollars in recommendations I no longer gave them.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

PTown's Best Lobster Roll, Chapter One

There's some pretty stiff competition for best lobster roll in Provincetown, with some surprising differences between some of them, and the title of "best" is pretty subjective.
It may take four or five installments to taste our way around the town on a quest for the best. We'll start our odyssey with five of them, each served with a side dish, and three of these are among the largest lobster rolls in PTown. Here we go…

Pepe's serves a tasty, BIG lobster roll and excellent fries.
The lobster roll at Pepe's Wharf
is nearly the biggest in town, weighing in at 5 1/2 ounces of choice lobster meat, mostly the claws and knuckles, dressed in a tiny bit of lemon aioli and just a hint of Old Bay seasoning, and it's delicious, with a slightly different flavor than any other in town. No lettuce, just a sprig of parsley, on a roll that's been toasted a bit in the oven.
It's served with a lemon wedge and a mound of fries that have been barely dusted in a bit of flour, making them extra crispy on the outside with insides that kind of melt in your mouth. They're finished with a sprinkle of kosher salt, and are some of the best fries in PTown.
This plate filled me up, which doesn't always happen with the average lobster roll, which generally has 4 ounces of lobster, so at $21, this is a strong contender for the title of best lobster roll, at a good price for a filling meal. Open seasonally for lunch and dinner at 371 Commercial Street, Pepe's Wharf has table service indoors and out, on two decks right at the edge of magnificent Provincetown Harbor.

The Canteen's lobster roll on brioche bun, with slaw and pickle.
The Canteen makes their lobster roll with 4 ounces of impeccably fresh lobster meat mixed with a little mayo and a bit of chopped celery, served on a brioche roll, sprinkled with fresh chives snipped from their garden. It's served alongside their herby Asian slaw and a house made pickle spear. They'll also serve it hot, just the naked lobster meat drizzled with butter.
You can taste how fresh the lobster is. At the height of the summer, The Canteen has been known to have live lobsters delivered to them twice a day, steaming and shucking a batch in time to keep up with demand for this popular plate, which will cost you $18.99. Many folks name this one as their favorite lobster roll. Read my first blog about The Canteen on their opening day last year. The Canteen is a walk-up, counter service restaurant with seating indoors and out, with a new deck looking out over the harbor, open seasonally 11 AM till about 11 PM daily at 225 Commercial Street.

Mac's lobster roll has the barest little bit of dressing so far.
Mac's makes their cold lobster roll with 4 ounces of hand picked lobster dressed with barely any lemon aioli, a little shallot and a little celery. It's served on a crisp lettuce leaf in a hot dog style brioche roll, which you can have toasted or not. This is one of the least dressed lobster rolls found in Provincetown, and sooo fresh. It comes with a lemon wedge, a pickle spear, and a pile of their medium-thin, crispy fries for $19, and it filled me up.

At $27, this is still not the costliest lobster roll in PTown.
Mac's also makes a hot version of their lobster roll, with a whopping 6 ounces of lobster sautéed in garlic butter with lemon and parsley. It comes with that huge pile of fries and will set you back $27, not quite the most expensive lobster roll in town.
Mac's has a firm policy of buying as much of their seafood as possible from small, independent, local fishermen who each practice sustainable methods of harvesting the catch, so they're likely to spend a little more to bring you seafood of this quality and conscience.
Mac's is found at 85 Shank Painter Road, with table service indoors and out, and a busy takeout window as well. I got each of these orders to go. Mac's has plenty of free parking, open daily for lunch and dinner all summer.

Vorelli's great lobster roll is big, and a bargain at $18.95.
Vorelli's makes their excellent lobster roll with 5 ounces of lobster chunks tossed with a lemon infused mayo. It's served on crisp lettuce leaves in a big fluffy roll that's been toasted in the oven, with a pickle spear and a bag of chips for $18.95.
This sandwich has 25% more lobster than the average 4 ounce serving, and somehow more flavor than others I've tried. The texture of the bun is also part of the reason that this is among my favorite lobster rolls in PTown. Vorelli's is located in a charming, historic building at 226 Commercial Street, open daily for lunch and dinner in season.

So there's the first chapter in our search for PTown's best Lobster roll. Next week we'll visit The Red Shack, which serves lobster rolls five different ways. Call TheYearRounder at 424•23P•TOWN, or e-mail me at with your favorites, so I can try each one for future chapters. Soon we'll also make the rounds for PTown's best breakfast sandwiches, so call, textl or e-mail with your faves.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

An Afternoon at Captain Jack's Wharf

An artist paints the scene at Captain Jack's Wharf as kayakers prepare
for the launch into Provincetown Harbor from this popular Town Landing. 
Town Landings are found all along PTown's Commercial Street, providing public access to the beach on the edge of Provincetown Harbor. This spot is among the most popular of them all, at Captain Jack's Wharf in the West End of town.
Folks are often found here sunbathing or swimming on a summer's day, or picnicking at the edge of the water, or launching a kayak or raft and paddling out to Long Point. The kayaks of all the nearby neighbors are piled against the hedge, and on this day I found a couple of men dragging their little craft out of the heap and loading their gear into the hull, getting ready for an afternoon getaway into the harbor.
Meanwhile, a woman is painting one of PTown's most famous waterfront scenes. For years artists and photographers have been capturing a bit of the history of our early fishing fleet as well as that of one of our most illustrious summer visitors, who turned out to be one of the nations most well-known writers.
This little string of old fishing shacks and trap sheds has been a popular accommodation for visitors for years, operating these days as small condominiums rented out over the summer. One of these shacks was also rented long ago to Tennesse Williams, who spent many of the summers of the 1940s in Provincetown.
Although many disagree on exactly which of Williams' plays might have been written at various spots he occupied over those summers, we know that several parts of The Glass Menagerie, one of his best-known plays, were written, rewritten, and re-rewritten over a few of those summers, and many say that the play was finally finished during the summer he spent at Captain Jack's Wharf.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sail Aboard a Tall Ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, While She's in Provincetown

Today's Kalmar Nyckel under full sail.
You have just about another week to get out on the water aboard a remarkable tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel. This ship is a recreation of the 141 foot full-rigged Dutch pinnace built in 1625. The city of Kalmar, Sweden, purchased the ship in 1628 as its contribution to the Royal Swedish Navy, and when the Swedish government decided to establish a trading colony in the New World, the Kalmar Nyckel was chosen to make the voyage, arriving in the area we know today as Wilmington, Deleware, in 1638. Fort Christina was built and a trading colony was established under the leadership of Peter Minuit.
This recreation of that historic ship was launched in 1997, and it now visits Provincetown for a couple of weeks each summer as it sails along the eastern seaboard visiting a number of ports before it returns home to Deleware in the autumn. Visit their website at for more information on this remarkable ship and the colorful history of the original Kalmar Nyckel.
While in Provincetown, this beautiful tall ship makes two sails daily (except Saturdays and Wednesdays) with a trip in the morning and one in the afternoon. The trip is about a three hour voyage around Provincetown Harbor, out into Cape Cod Bay, and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Passengers are invited to learn to listen for specific commands from the captain and to help to pull the ropes and raise the sails, if they'd care to. Many will try their hand at it, while other passengers are content to let others do all the work while they simply enjoy the trip.
Something new this year is the Pirate Sail, on specific trips, where the crew dresses in pirate garb, and guests are encouraged to dress up as well. Adults will enjoy a history talk, and kids will hear a pirate story and have a chance to help raise the Jolly Roger. See the sail and tour schedule of the Kalmar Nyckel to book a sail. Their last trips from PTown for this year will be on Sunday, July 27th. Adult fares are $60, kids 17 and under are $40. That may sound a bit pricey, but I've taken the trip and found it to be such a remarkable experience that I want to do it again. I might take the Pirate Sail this time...
At the very least, you'll want to walk down to the far end of MacMillan Pier and have a good look at this splendid tall ship. Its quite impressive, and I highly recommend going for a sail. When will you get another chance to get out on the water on a tall ship?
Bon voyage!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mmmm! PTown Farmers Market...

I had these gorgeous fresh black raspberries for lunch last Saturday,
from one of the stalls at Provincetown's fabulous Farmers Market.
Provincetown has a Farmers Market next to its Town Hall every Saturday from 11 AM till 4 PM, from May through November, and perhaps beyond.
Find not only this beautiful, fresh local produce and fresh-cut flowers, but some unexpected items, as well as treats made from other farm-fresh articles, too. You'll often even find meats and seafood.
You'll routinely find things like honey from local beekeepers, jams, crafts like sachets made from flowers and herbs grown without any pesticides or poisons, and many other things that are better for us than typical supermarket foods, and things that are grown in a way that's better for the planet, as well.
A reviewer on yelp raved over an expensive balsamic vinegar, saying it was absolutely worth every penny. Another reviewer there suggested people taking the ferry back home to Boston should shop here and support these small farmers while saving money over city prices for beautiful produce.
I can still taste the strawberries I bought from one of these farmers last summer, and a couple of times I've even had freshly shucked oysters for my lunch, as a shell fisherman shucked each oyster just for me from a crate of ice in the back of his pickup truck. It just doesn't get any fresher than that.
You never know what you'll find at our Farmers Market, but there's always a variety of things that may be unexpected, as well as impeccably fresh, beautiful fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs from nearby small farmers, women and men who have tenderly grown these things with love and care. Show them some support, and be a bit healthier, too, when you choose things from these wonderful, small independent farmers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Now for the High Tides...

This tide easily exceeds the average high tide line, and it's still rolling in.
My last post showed an extremely low tide that allowed folks to walk across the tidal flats all the way out to the spit of sand that becomes Long Point. This photo shows the voluminous high tide the next afternoon, and there were more to follow.
In fact, from now through September, we're likely to have many more  of these tremendous high tides during the full moon as it continues to orbit 31,000 miles closer to the earth than at any other time of the year. I've studied up a bit on all this moon and tide stuff in the last couple of days…
It seems that the moon orbits the earth in a kind of ellipse rather than a perfect circle, with the earth situated slightly off center, just a bit closer to one side of that giant oval shape the moon makes as it travels around us. That means that the moon is actually orbiting closer to the earth from July through September than it does at any other time of the year. It's called the perigee, when the moon is in the part of its orbit that brings it closest to the earth. That's why the moon looks so much larger right now than it does during the winter, when it's at its farthest from the earth, during its apogee phase.
I made it to the Far West End of Provincetown Harbor for this photo a bit before the real peak of the high tide this day, so the water actually rose a bit higher than shown in this photo. Read my June 16th, 2012 blog about hiking the breakwater to the Wood End Light, where you'll find links to a tide chart and a bit of information about the lighthouse, as well as the American Lighthouse Foundation. Unfortunately, the VISA card program cited there, benefitting the ALF, has ended, so that link is no longer valid. But you'll find info on getting to the Far West End and tips to keep you safe on your hike, as this trip can be a little tricky in spots, and may be rather strenuous for most of us.
One day soon I'll write about hiking out to the Long Point Light, at the very tip of Cape Cod. After all, I can't write about this area every day (although I actually could write about it every day, for at least two weeks or more…)
Enjoy your hike, and please, be careful. Or you could simply sit on the benches and watch the water change colors all afternoon, or watch the artists who flock to this spot nearly every summer day to paint the wetlands before they disappear beneath the high tides.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Very Low Tides Make for a Great Walk on the West End Tidal Flats

With the full moon comes not only a few days of quite high tides, but also some exceptionally low tides as well. I don't pretend to know how all that moon and tide stuff works, but I've noticed that a very low tide and a very high tide seem to go hand in hand. Whenever I see a very low tide it seems to be pretty well guaranteed to be followed by a high tide that exceeds the average high tide mark, that dark strip that runs the length of the breakwater in the West End.
When the tide is this low you can easily walk across the tidal flats along the left side of the breakwater all the way out to that little spit of sand that leads out to Long Point, the very tip of Cape Cod. It's a little less strenuous, perhaps, than walking out on the breakwater, where you sometimes end up having to hop from one rock to the next, although you'll use a different set of muscles walking barefoot in the wet sand that squishes up between your toes. It's a good idea to do a few gentle stretches of your legs and feet before and after you take this walk, and again before you go to bed, particularly if you're not used to this sort of walking. And you might want to take a small pail along for interesting shells and other treasures you'll likely find along the way.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Comic Eddie Sarfaty Returns to PTown

Eddie Sarfaty is a master of the one-liner, at the P. O. Cabaret thru July 20th
Eddie Sarfaty is a very funny stand-up comic and a writer as well. I first met him several years ago when he was making regular appearances in PTown, sometimes spending most of the summer here. He's been so busy that we haven't seen him much recently, so I was really happy some time ago to find him on Comedy Central's Premium Blend, and I recorded the show so I could watch him again whenever I needed to laugh out loud.
Eddie has done numerous TV shows such as The Today Show, has entertained on cruise ships, and appeared at colleges around the country. He's been featured in many comedy festivals, including Montreal's annual comedy event Just For Laughs, a very prestigious celebration which draws audiences totaling about two million people every summer.
Eddie is on the faculty of The Theater Lab in Washington, DC, and also at New York University, where he teaches courses in stand-up and in comedy writing. His collection of humorous essays, Mental: Funny in the Head, is now in its third printing. His essays have been published in the anthologies Best Gay Stories 2013, and Love, Christopher Street, among others. The Huffington Post called him "a comedic genius" when they published a bit of his work. Click this link to see Eddie's brilliant riff on gay marriage.
See Eddie in his limited engagement at the Post Office Cabaret, at 303 Commercial Street, nightly except Monday at 7:30 PM, through July 20th. For tickets, stop in at the
P. O. Cabaret box office, open from 2 PM till 10 PM, or call them at 508 487-0006. Have dinner at the Post Office Café before the show and get priority seating in the first few rows of the cabaret, right upstairs. Just mention it to your server.
It's great to have Eddie back in town. Be sure and catch him, while you can.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Beautiful Provincetown Night Gives Way to Arthur, Flooding PTown Streets

The humidity in the air on this lovely Provincetown night made a glowing ellipse around the crescent moon as it slowly descended behind the trees.
The following day was July 4th, which brought a series of torrential downpours throughout the afternoon and evening and on into the night as Hurricane Arthur, by then reduced to tropical storm status, walloped PTown on its way north along the eastern seaboard.
As the storm blew out of town on great gusts of wind early on the following morning, every last trace of humidity had been removed from the air. It had all been deposited in the Court Street Lake.

I got here ten minutes too late to get a photo of someone who was navigating their way down Court Street in a yellow rubber raft. Did anyone else get that picture?

Overnight, Arthur converted John Fay's garage into waterfront property.

Cars driving through 14 inches of water created a tide that washed fallen tree branches, twigs and other storm debris onto the "shoreline" along the sides of Court Street.
The lake lasted for two days as the overwhelmed storm drain system struggled with all that rainwater, along with more water being pumped toward the drain by neighbors on Winthrop Street, contending with several inches of water in their yards and basements.
Once again, Provincetown got lucky. As the strength of Arthur weakened we were spared from major damage or loss of life, and merely had to put up with a bit of inconvenience.