Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Where Are All The Birds?

This Great Blue Heron is one of very few seen in the wetlands this summer. Autumn often brings them in greater numbers, but we haven't spotted many yet.
Some white herons, (Eastern Great Egrets) were seen earlier in the summer, but birds are a little sparse in the area this year.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Most Amazing Moon of 2015 Will Rise Over Provincetown This Weekend

Sunday's full moon will be a harvest moon, a perigee, the year's largest supermoon, and a total eclipse.
This Sunday the full moon will rise at 6:20 PM, about 10 minutes before the sun sets. It will be a harvest moon, and a perigee moon, meaning that the day the full moon rises, it will also appear closer to the earth than at any other time of the year. That gives it the appearance of the biggest moon of the year. Now, add in the fact that there will be a full lunar eclipse that night, and you'll begin to realize the true magnitude of this momentous occasion. When will be the next time all of that will be visible from North American shores, and occurring on a clear night?
Astronomer Bob Berman explains further on the website of The Old Farmer's Almanac. He titled his article Mega-Harvest-Blood Moon Total Eclipse. The moon rising over Provincetown harbor is likely to be a reddish, sort of golden color, and likely to appear even more colorful when it rises on the following night, about 40 minutes later, after the sky is darker.
Anywhere along the harbor beaches you should find a good spot to watch the rising moon, once the sun sets, and later, Sunday's eclipse will be at its height between 10:11 PM and 11:24 PM, Eastern Time. Watch for exceptionally high tides for a few days, too, with Wednesay's tide hitting around 11.6 feet at 1:41 PM.
A very high tide seems always to be followed by an extremely low one, so Tuesday and Wednesday sunrises on the tidal flats should be great for beachcombing, and may also bring some exceptional photo opportunities, around 6:30 AM.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

John Dough's Screamin' Scallop is a Surprising Provincetown Best Bite

J D's Screamin' Scallop, available at Saki, too, is a Best Bite.
The other night I stumbled onto one of Provincetown's greatest seafood treats, in quite an unexpected spot. I tried the Screamin' Scallop at John Dough's, upstairs at 258 Commercial Street. This $7 appetizer is a pretty, delicious, innovative seafood dish that I regret not finding much earlier in the season.
It's the creation of manager Johnny Chase, who's been associated here for about 20 of the last 21 years of this casual eatery overlooking the hustle and bustle of Commercial Street. He took a season off somewhere between the time it was the Euro Island Grill and its more recent incarnation as a bar, pizza and burger joint, frequently referred to simply as J D's. Who knew they had a great raw bar?
This dish gets its name through the way it is prepared. A big, plump sea scallop is freshly shucked and sliced horizontally into silver dollar sized "coins" lightly torched under a flame, drizzled with casino butter, and served in a giant scallop shell nestled in a bed of fresh salad greens. I found it so tasty I had to ask Johnny what gave it that very unusual flavor that I couldn't put my finger (or tastebuds) on.
It turns out Johnny's recipe for casino butter has a secret ingredient I wouldn't have thought of in a million years. Besides the melted butter, minced garlic, onion and finely chopped sweet bell peppers of mixed colors, it has a touch of Grand Marnier, the orange flavored, cognac-based liqueur that will go down in history as one of the greatest inventions of the French.
This was the best thing I tasted in Provincetown this week, earning TheYearRounder's Best Bite award. You can also order this dish at Saki, sharing the second floor here, and part of their kitchen, with JD. I've got to have another of these before the season is gone.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Dozens of Whales Visit PTown Shores

Spouts from these whales disappeared quickly on this breezy PTown afternoon.
Where are all these whales coming from?
This spouting whale, remarkably close to the coast at half-tide, was among a pod of seven or eight found quite close to the shoreline along Race Point Beach a couple of days ago.
Whales were spotted from the overlook at the Province Lands Visitor Center, with its stunning view out over Race Point Beach, when the Provincetown Trolley Tour stopped there to talk about marine wildlife, rum runners and the old shipwreck days.
When their tour guide on this trip spotted a whale spouting in the distance, it turned into a bonus whale watch for the Trolley's passengers, who watched excitedly as some six to eight whales, continuously spouting, ventured sometimes within 50 yards of the shoreline. A few fins and flukes were spotted, but most often seen on this day was the spouting, as several whales repeatedly surfaced for a breath of air.
For nearly three weeks whales have frequently put on a show in Provincetown waters, on almost a daily basis, spouting off both Herring Cove and Race Point beaches. They've been seen on several days, anywhere between 11 AM and 4 PM, to the delight of folks enjoying a day at the beach. On one particular day, passengers got to see whales spouting on nearly every tour of the Provincetown Trolley. On this glorious day, with superb visibility, it was hard to tell just how many whales were moving back and forth along the length of the beach, spouting one after another.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

PTown's Wild Mushroom Season Begins

This visitor from New York gathers Provincetown mushrooms with her family.
'Tis the season for gathering the wild mushrooms found on the outskirts of Provincetown, near Beach Forest, and on the edges of the sand dunes.
People can be found carrying buckets, bags and baskets along the sides of Province Lands Road and in other spots out in the Cape Cod National Seashore, looking for these treasures that may be in short supply this year. I haven't spotted more than one or two mushrooms myself, but I haven't  had the chance to talk with anyone who's been out gathering these delectable morsels yet this year.
Of course, you have to make sure you know the edible ones from the poisonous ones if you intend to go out picking them. You can find out about identifying them by reading my Gathering Provincetown's Wild Mushrooms post from last season. It contains links to great resources to help you hunt safely for these delicious treasures.
 "X" marks just a few of the spots where mushrooms have been found out in the
Province Lands, northwest of the center of Provincetown. Click map to enlarge.
An "X" on this map shows a spot where mushrooms have been found, but, of course, there are no guarantees.
These are certainly not the only spots to look for mushrooms, either. A family of three was seen out walking on the edge of Province Lands Road on Wednesday, each carrying an identical bucket filled nearly to the top with good-sized mushrooms.
If you go out foraging, be sure to cut your mushrooms off at the bottom of the stem rather than pulling them out of the ground. That way the remaining bit of the stalk can grow more mushrooms for someone else to find later on. Happy hunting!

Friday, September 11, 2015

It's PTown's 28th Annual Swim for Life!

The 28th annual Swim for Life is this Saturday, September 12th, 2015
Some 400 swimmers will take the plunge at 11:00 tomorrow morning, swimming 1.4 miles across magnificent Provincetown Harbor from Long Point to the beach at the Boatslip Resort in PTown's West End. Paddlers in kayaks and canoes will begin making their way across the harbor as well, while others in swimming pools will begin swimming laps equivalent to the distance across the harbor.
All of these folks have taken pledges, and will be raising money for local organizations that assist people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as women with chronic and life threatening illnesses, and a number of other community agencies serving Provincetown and Cape Cod. The first Swim for Life, in the summer of 1988, involved 18 swimmers, raising $6,000. To date, The Swim has raised some $3 million for health and wellness services on the Outer Cape.
Jay Critchley and Roger Beatty register two
unknown swimmers at the first Swim for Life in 1988.
The event evolved over the years to include people who are "harborly challenged" but who still want to participate, doing so by swimming laps in local pools, while folks in kayaks paddle across the harbor, guiding and assisting swimmers, if needed. Swimmers are aided and looked after by myriad volunteers ensuring their safety and wellbeing during the event, with others working at dozens of jobs that pull this huge event together.
150 volunteers perform countless tasks like registering swimmers, transporting them to Long Point, providing moral support, giving first aid, cheering on swimmers as they near the finish line, serving food at the Mermaid Brunch, and providing splendid entertainment for the swimmers and supporters alike, both at the party after the swim and at the Celebration of Life at the U. U. Meetinghouse on the Friday night before The Swim.
It's not too late to get involved yourself, whether you'd like to swim, volunteer, make a pledge or contribution, or cheer on the swimmers as they near the finish line at the Boatslip. On Saturday you'll want to applaud and cheer for the swimmers and paddlers as they reach the shore, then enjoy the food and entertainment at the Mermaid Brunch, and the awards for swimmers, paddlers, fundraisers and volunteers.
The annual Celebration of Life concert on Friday night kicks off The Swim.
You'll certainly want to attend the annual Celebration of Life, considered by many to be the concert of the year, tonight, at the Universalist Unitarian Meeting House, at 236 Commercial Street.
This wonderful, free event brings dozens of performers to entertain and inspire us with music, song and the spoken word.
I'll see you at the
U. U. tonight at 8 PM, and at the Boatslip tomorrow, at 161 Commercial Street, to cheer on the swimmers who begin their odyssey out on Long Point at 11AM, followed by the Mermaid Brunch on the Boatslip deck from noon till 2 PM, with the awards, beginning about 1 PM, or whenever the last swimmer makes it safely to the shore. All events are free of charge and open to the public. Come and join us!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Farewell to the Summer of 2015

Once again, on the Tuesday morning after Labor Day, people walking out of their doors onto Commercial Street hear a lilting "Aaahhhhh," that collective sigh of relief signifying the end of the craziness of another summer season in Provincetown.
Morning on Commercial Street becomes calm, almost serene, and although there are still a few thousand visitors in town, it's a mellower crowd, far less dramatic, and we begin to feel like we're getting our town back.

Throngs of revelers at yesterday's annual Pink Party, celebrating an end to all of the stresses of having dozens of thousands of people crowded into our tiny town, pack the porch and garden of the White Wind Inn with Townies gleefully ushering out another bustling summer season.
Smiling, nearly ecstatic faces in a sea of pink tell us that we've survived yet another PTown summer!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Best Dessert Ever? Taste this 'Best Bite' Before the Summer is Gone

The lemon curd cheesecake parfait with blueberry compote at
Devon's Food Bar is in stiff competition for Best Dessert Ever.
This creamy lemon curd cheesecake parfait, with a wild Maine blueberry compote, whipped cream and a toasted graham cracker crumble, is the best dessert I've had all summer, and that makes it a Best Bite. Find it at Devon's Food Bar, at 31 Bradford Street, in PTown's West End.
Chef Melissa Ettinger thought up this euphoric delight one afternoon as a dessert du jour at this little culinary hotspot at the corner of Bradford and Pleasant Streets, but everyone who tasted it insisted that it be given a permanent home on the nightly dessert menu, and I haven't been able to make myself order anything else since. That smooth, lemony tartness is perfectly accented by the fruity sweetness of those plump, wild blueberries.
I've been wanting to try the flan with fresh berries, but I'll have to order it to start my next meal there, because I already know I'll be unable to resist the parfait for dessert. There are also a few other things on the menu I want to get to before they wind down for the summer, in about three weeks.
This is the time of year when you get a last chance to squeeze in some of the things you've wanted to see, do or taste before they are gone with the season. I went out the other night to see two shows that I realized were ending in just a few more days, and had dinner with a friend at a restaurant I've been trying to get to all summer. Next on my list is an actual day off, spent at the beach.
Don't let the summer get away from you. Go for a swim at the breakwater, see a couple of shows, get out for a memorable meal or two, and taste this sublime dessert before this glorious summer is gone.