Sunday, April 26, 2015

PTown's Public Art, Opus 1

In 1997, Provincetown artist, writer and humorist Jackson Lambert painted this wonderful mural
on an ugly little cinder block building on Freeman Street, behind the old public library.

Jackson Lambert's 1997 mosaic mural on Freeman Street includes a self-portrait of the artist at work on 
a painting of the very same mural, so he's a character in the mural, painting a canvas of the mural, while 
he is actually painting the mural, which stretches all around the building. Stop by and enjoy this clever bit of humor in a remarkable piece of public art.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tin Pan Alley Opening Party Tonight

Tin Pan Alley officially kicks off the 2015 season tonight, April 23rd.
'Tis the season, and restaurants all over Provincetown are making ready for the summer of 2015. Over the next several weeks "Opening Parties" will be held from one end of PTown to the other, in restaurants firing up their kitchens for the beginning of the new season.
These are events which are generally open to the public, where the whole town is invited to celebrate the coming season, taste a bit of the new menu as well as some old favorites, and socialize with neighbors and friends they might not have seen much during the winter.
Some restaurants offer a few tidbits, while others put on a lavish spread with banquet tables overflowing with delectable seafood, meats, side dishes, cheeses, fresh fruits, and of course, some of their house specialties. Typically at these opening parties, a cash bar is available as well, whatever the style of food might be. Each party is a little different from the next.
If you find yourself out and about this evening between 5 and 8 PM, squeeze your way into Tin Pan Alley. It's likely to be quite crowded. Have a taste of their food, perhaps a cocktail, and a visit with friends old and new. There's bound to be live music from a number of performers, too.
Tin Pan Alley's mussels brought me back again and again last
summer, for the absolute best mussel dish anywhere in town.
Last year, in their first season, Tin Pan Alley distinguished itself in a number of ways. The comfortable new dining room and the spacious new patio really showed off the view out over Provincetown's gorgeous harbor and beach. They also brought back wonderful, live music to the restaurant, and the food was very good.
The mussels, for example, were the best served in PTown; plump, tender, always perfectly cooked, and one of my favorite dishes all summer long, anywhere in town.
I hope to see them on the menu again at some point, even though there are promising new chefs in the kitchen, eager to show us a bit of themselves with something different.
The new menu for 2015 will change with the seasons, so I'm going to get there very soon to taste the venison meatballs, grilled lamb pops, and their handmade pappardelle with rabbit and veal Bolognese, for example, before the changing season and available local ingredients inspire new dishes.
For now, Tin Pan Alley, at 269 Commercial Street, will be opening Thursdays through Sundays, with the bar opening at 2:30 PM, and dinner starting at 5:30 PM. The kitchen will close at 9PM, with days and hours expanding as the season becomes busy. There will be live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 till 11 PM. Summer will also bring a lunch menu.
We wish them a good season, and we can help kick it off tonight, April 23rd, at the 2015 opening party at Tin Pan Alley.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Restaurants, Shops and Galleries Open as Provincetown's 2015 Season Begins

Linda and Nelson start their 26th PTown season at The Coffee Pot, at Lopes Square.
Besides the crocuses popping up, one of the surest signs of spring is the door opening at The Coffee Pot for each new Provincetown summer season. They always seem to be the first to offer something good to eat, and,
of course, lots of coffee choices, as tourists begin to wander up toward Commercial Street from the parking lot, usually hungry after their long drive to get to the very tip of Cape Cod.
Linda tells me The Coffee Pot got its start in 1989, spending their first season in Small's Court, just around the corner from their current location. The next spring they were able to move to the edge of Lopes Square, where they've expanded their business every season since, and won their share of awards over the years. They now offer a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu in the summer. Hours currently begin at 7 AM, but very shortly will move up to 6 AM, and then 5:30 AM for the rest of the season.
Besides our growing numbers of visitors, we also see Townies eager to get out and enjoy things they've missed while favorite restaurants, shops and galleries have been closed for the winter. And it's especially nice to get out of the house this spring, after that incredible winter kept many of us indoors far more than it usually does.
One of my favorite Provincetown breakfasts is The Coffee Pot's
famous Rescue Squad Special. It's like a three-egg omelet
on a big hoagie bun with cheese, 2 sausage patties and bacon.
Is it just me, or does it seem like there are suddenly many more businesses springing open than usual for this early in the season? I just took a spin on Commercial Street so I could tell you about spots that are now open, but it turns out there were far too many to mention in a single article, so we'll get to more of them over the next week or two.
Suffice it to say, there are plenty of things to do, and things to eat, on and off of Commercial Street.
The Lobster Pot is open, as is the Portuguese Bakery, Tin Pan AlleyTwisted PizzaVorelli's, Cafe Heaven, Spiritus… those are just a few.
And things just a few steps off of Commercial Street, like The Coffee Pot, are opening, too. Look for the spots that are found in little alleys or side streets. If you're new to town, don't miss the great things that are not always in plain sight, or right on Commercial Street, such as…
   • Box Lunch, an award winning sandwich shop, tucked away in a tiny alley across from the public library, at Commercial and Center streets.
   • Cafe Maria, returning with breakfast, lunch and ice cream, open daily at 7 AM. From Town Hall, at Commercial and Ryder streets, Maria is a few steps down the road, toward the pier, on the right.
   • One Love, serving terrific Jamaican food. Stroll down the footpath beneath that annoying digital time-and-temperature sign on Commercial Street for a great meal.
   • Kung Fu Dumplings, now open daily and offering much more than just the dumplings they began with last season. Find them on the other footpath, next to the Bank of America cash machine, and have a little Chinese food.
   • Ross' Grill, open Friday through Sunday for their Tapas and Raw Bar Happy Hour from 3 - 5 PM, and dinner from 5:30 till 9. Find them on the second floor of Whalers Wharf, overlooking magnificent Provincetown Harbor.
All the highlighted text above leads to websites or Facebook pages where you can look for current hours for all these spots, but some of the information may need a little updating, so it's a good idea to call before you go, since hours and days open are likely different than they'll be during the season. Vorelli's, for example, is open tomorrow for the Patriot Day holiday, but will be closed on other Mondays until the season really gets underway, and I'm not sure if they're serving dinner yet, but you can get one of the town's best burgers, or great lunch specials, as well as their famous Bloody Mary, made with their own, secret, amazing, infused vodka.
Heading out into the spectacular sand dunes surrounding PTown.
The folks at High Pointe Inn, in West Barnstable, have this photo
on their website. They're big fans of Arts Dune Tours.
You'll also find The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum are now open daily, from 9 AM till 5 PM at this time of year, and Art's Dune Tours are up and running again, with daily trips through Provincetown's stunning sand dunes.
So many art galleries are opening that it's hard to keep track, with some new ones in the mix, so more info on those will be coming soon, too. Just take a stroll down Commercial Street and you'll find plenty of different kinds of art. I also spotted a new gallery on Bradford Street. Remember to check those alleys and side streets, too. I can think of several galleries that are tucked away, off the beaten path, but you'll find them easily if you try.
So get out and do something fun, visit a few galleries, have something good to eat, and help kick of Provincetown's 2015 season.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Where Are We? - PTown Spring

Steam rises from this fresh-from-the-oven pizza in a Provincetown restaurant.
Where are we?
Look closely. You can see the steam rising off this pizza that has just come fresh out of the oven.
Over the last week or two, at least half a dozen venerable PTown eateries have reopened for the 2015 season, ranging from casual to more upscale dining.
Name the spot shown in this photo and win a prize from a great Provincetown restaurant. There are a number of ways to enter:
Send a text message or leave voice mail at 42423PTOWN (424 237-8696) or e-mail, or you can write to TheYearRounder at P. O. Box 1632, Provincetown, MA, 02657. Entry deadline is 2 AM on Wednesday, May 1st, 2015, with postmark determining timeliness of snail mail entries.
In your entry, include your answer and your first name, and either your phone, e-mail or mailing address. Don't worry, TheYearRounder will NEVER use your info for evil, nor pass it on to anyone. I just want you to get your prize. If more than one correct entry arrives on time, a winner will be randomly chosen from all timely entries, and, as usual, extra prizes may be awarded for absolutely no reason at all, so make sure you enter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

If It's April, This Must Be Spring

OK, it's warming up a little bit, in the 30s at night instead of the teens and twenties…
It hasn't snowed in over a week, so this must be Spring.
And just the other day I heard that first high-pitched squeal of a circular saw a few doors up the street, along with those first sharp pops of a nail gun coming from someone's roof, so it must be spring!

"Spring" is depicted in this painting by Charles W. Hawthorne,
progenitor of Provincetown's art movement back in 1899.
While looking on the Internet this afternoon to find a particular painting by Charles Hawthorne, I found several little caches of his work assembled by various folks who obviously loved and admired his paintings as much as I do. It looked like they had all gone to great trouble to dig up dozens of Hawthornes that I had never seen.
I dug a bit, too, and even found a Hawthorne on a Chinese web page. Altogether, I found more than a hundred of his works that were new to me, including the striking woman above, gathering flowers. Hawthorne named this painting "Spring."
I've decided I'm going to begin bringing more art into these pages, and Hawthorne's works will definitely figure prominently, as they should. I hope you'll enjoy it.
In the meantime, since we sometimes really don't have much of a spring season in Provincetown, (just instant summer after a protracted cold, rainy spell,) I'm going to enjoy the painting above when I need a bit of spring.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Move Over, Pucci, There's a New Wing in Provincetown, and a Best Bite!

When chefs Tom Pucci and Rob Anderson opened their new kitchen at The Canteen a couple of summers ago, they brought back those legendary Pucci Wings of days gone by, and the town rejoiced. Those amazing wings won TheYearRounder's Best Bite award that summer because they are unique, and, quite simply, the best Buffalo style chicken wings on the planet.
Now, skip forward a couple of years to the seasonal reopening of The Central House at the Crown & Anchor, at 247 Commercial Street.

The smoky chicken wings served at The Central House earn TheYearRounder's
Best Bite award for the Crown & Anchor, and Executive Chef Michele Ragussis.

Coming on the heels of the snowiest winter in recent PTown memory, Chef Michele Ragussis creates a cozy culinary oasis on Commercial Street as the town begins to thaw out, and she brings us an entirely different sort of wing. And, once more, the town rejoices.

With a flavor and character that is, again, unique, these smoked chicken wings will give Pucci's a run for their money. These are very different from Buffalo wings. Personally, I'll be eating them both, because the two recipes are so diverse, but I know I'll be unable to resist stopping in at The Crown for a wing fix, often. There's no reason not to, since these lip-smacking, smoky wings aren't fried, so they're a bit healthier for us, too.
To get all of that audacious flavor into these splendid chicken wings, Michele seasons them up with her special, mildly spicy blend of seasonings, and slides them into the oven to brown. Then, she finishes her wings by smoking them, right on the grill. You can't get this kind of flavor any other way.
She serves them with her chipotle bleu cheese sauce, which gives this dish's piquant flavors that final little kick, making this plate one you'll want to order again on your next visit. In fact, it's that robust flavor that makes this dish the winner of TheYearRounder's first Best Bite award of the 2015 season, and it's all I can do not to order them every time I walk into the joint. It takes real discipline on my part, folks, to order something different every time, wherever I might eat, so I can really discover the best of Provincetown, and share it all with you.
Right now, the Central House at The Crown & Anchor is open Thursday through Sunday, with an "all day" menu, so you can order these Smoky Wings for lunch or dinner. Great chefs generally like to change up their menus with the seasons, or even more often, but I'm hoping the Smoky Wings will become a staple, remaining on the menu. In any case, you'll want to get yourself to The Central House and taste these glorious Smoky Wings, found on the "small Plates" section of the menu, while you have the chance.
These wings also make a great accompaniment to a drink at the bar. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'll find myself at The Crown again soon, for another plate of wings. I'll ask award winning sommelier Peter Miscikoski to recommend one of his unique wines to go with them, and next week, I'll tell you about the wine he chose for me.
As the saying goes, it just doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

This Shocker Was in My E-mail This Morning...

I was shocked and amazed to see this ad for a meat-flavored lip balm for vegetarians in my e-mail this morning, from an online shop where I buy a few natural foods that I can't find in PTown. In fact, my stomach is still a little queasy. Abe's Market routinely offers samples of new and unusual products for $2 each, with free shipping, and I've tried quite a few odd new offerings this way, but what could they be thinking!?!

OK, they got me…
And a happy April Fool's Day to all of you, as well.
I'm used to seeing products I've never heard of in my e-mail a few times every week, so that's how they pulled me into this prank. They sell some great products, but this one is teetering on the edge of being truly disgusting. Well done!
By the way, did you read my blog post the other day announcing TheYearRounder's Annual April Fool's contest? (Click that link, or just scroll down this page to find it.) I might have made the questions too hard, especially for those who live out of town.

What the heck does this sign mean?
The contest asks you to identify a confusing Provincetown traffic sign found in a busy location, and win lunch for two at a PTown restaurant. A great many of last year's entries, including the two winners, came from folks who know Provincetown like the back of their hand, spend a lot of time here, but actually live in the "other" world, beyond our borders. Those folks would have a hard time saying where the silly sign in question is found, since it's only been up for a few months, I believe. So here's what we're going to do…
To enter the contest, just send your name (first name is fine) and phone number or e-mail address, in a text, voicemail or an e-mail to TheYearRounder, as follows: E-mail me at, or dial me at 42423 PTOWN to leave a voice mail or text. You can also send snail mail to TheYearRounder, P O Box 1632, Provincetown, MA, 02657. Just send in your entry by 2:13 AM on Sunday, April 5th, 2015. The postmark determines the time of arrival on all mail submissions.
There. It couldn't be easier. Go ahead and enter. Any comments on this sign will be rewarded. I've got a number of prizes just burning a hole in my pocket. And funny is always rewarded.
Click on April Fool's Ten Best Pranks! (according to YouTube fans) to get in the spirit, and then enter TheYearRounder's April Fool's contest.