June 29, 2010

Lobster Country

They’re pretty patriotic about lobster in this part of the world.  We seem to be embracing the culture more and more each year and summertime for us is starting to revolve around trips up (or down…but, usually up) the coast to sample the offerings of various lobster bungalows, fish houses, or clam shacks. Recently, we made our way up to the top of Cape Ann for lunch and had some pretty tasty (“no nonsense, no celery”) lobster rolls at this place:

The Lobster Pool is located just North of the town of Rockport, on the rocky edge of picturesque Folly Cove. It isn’t fancy—you order your food at the counter (just past the pick-your-own-lobster tanks) and when your number is called, you can either sit at one of the tables inside or take your tray of fried/steamed creatures-from-the-sea out to one of the picnic tables on a small lawn overlooking the water.

As Rockport is a dry town, they have an open BYOS policy (Bring Your Own Spirits). We planned ahead and brought beer to enjoy with our lobster rolls, though, LSB was envious of the people at another picnic table who were sipping glasses of cold, crisp-looking white wine (JOOPS: Jealous Of Other People's Spirits).

After our lunch on a picnic table in the sun, we moved to a rustic wooden swing facing the sea and stared out at the boats, as well as, a couple of shockingly large raccoons climbing among the rocks across the cove.

It was a perfect New England afternoon--well, except maybe for the small red lobsters painted on the wood floor marking the way to (and eventually into) the restrooms.  I understood the point behind it, but I found it slightly unsettling--much like the giant raccoons crawling around in broad daylight.  My guess is that they were there for the lobster, too.  They should be able to find the restrooms.   

June 21, 2010

France vs. Delaware

Talloires, France (Olden Days)

I looked back at some of the more recent LC/sg posts and noticed something strange.  A few days in Delaware generated more content than almost a week in the idyllic French Alps.  Not that I'm knocking The First State ®, but this struck me as a bit unbalanced, considering the fact that this is what our France trip looked like:

Talloires, France (early June, 2010)

So, in an effort to restore the natural order of things and give France its due, I'll throw another French post in the mix--before Les Bleus are officially eliminated from the World Cup.
The French version is more like un petit sequoia

While it's hard to compare the two--a whole country oozing with Culture (and cheese) and a very small, flat state with bacon ice cream and lots of crabs--I did find one odd similarity.  

Both the state and the country seem to have a thing for chicken mascots. 

Footix the Rooster
The France 1998 World Cup Mascot

YoUDee (the Fightin' Blue Hen, I presume)

I have to say that Delaware's mascot looks a bit more intimidating than the perky Footix, especially with the huge blue index feather threatening the world at large.  Though, the French team did win the World Cup that year, and Delaware did not. 

June 11, 2010

Vive le Pomme de Terre (et le Fromage)!

We just recently returned from a few days in the Haute-Savoie, near France's borders with Switzerland and Italy.  The red spot below:

We stayed in Talloires, a perfect little town nestled in the Alps, on Lake Annecy.  We hiked up into the hills; visited tiny churches, grottos, and waterfalls; gazed up into the sky at multitudes of paragliders; took ferry rides around the lake; sat on our balcony overlooking the mountains and the water; and ate enormous quantities of cheese--washing it down with the white and rose wines of the region to help prevent the cheese from forming into a hard-to-digest rock in your stomach (at least that's what we were told by the locals). 

Last time, I was obsessed with the Tartiflette--layers of potatoes, sauce, cheese and lardons, baked until crisp on top and deliciously gooey in the middle.  This year, I discovered a new friend and somewhat obscure historical figure.  His name was Antoine-Augustin Parmentier and he, too, was a fan of the potato.  While I'm sure he loved a good tartiflette, another dish bears his name

I discovered the "parmentier" at a restaurant in Annecy.  I tried to order the menu du jour--a complete mystery due to my limited French restaurant vocabulary--but, apparently they had run out of whatever it was.  So, I ordered a parmentier from a list of several--each containing words I knew:  pommes de terre, reblochon, canard, lardon, champignon, etc.  A parmentier is similar to a tartiflette--in both raw ingredients and cooking methods.  It is made with potatoes and the ubiquitous cheese of the region: reblochon.  Parmentier consists of mashed potatoes, topped with a layer of something (shredded duck, minced pork, or other things I didn't understand), smothered in thick slices of cheese, then baked like a tartiflette.

Mine had minced mushrooms and shredded, smokey pork inside...I think.  It was delicious.  It goes on my short (but growing) list of French comfort food obsessions:  cassoulet, tartiflette, and, now, parmentier. 

Merci, Monsieur Parmentier.  Merci.   

June 08, 2010

Happy Funland!

Buy the ticket, take the ride

Have you ever questioned the accuracy of your childhood memories?  Were the images of youth warped by your adolescent imagination?  Did it really snow that much as a kid and were the snow forts you built as massive as you recall?  Was the Big Tree in the middle of the cornfield across the road as enormous as you thought at the time?  Was that BMX bike that you got for Christmas back in the early 80’s really that awesome? Were the jumps you made for it as huge and scary as you remember them to be?

Well, after our recent trip back into LSB’s childhood, we discovered that, yes, the waves crashing on Rehoboth Beach were actually pretty menacing looking. It wasn’t just the warped perspective of a much smaller, 1980s version of LSB. Okay, so we’re not talking tidal waves or anything, but even to an adult LSB, they were kind of scary.

Nostalgic blur

She has other memories of the place, too—many of them documented in photographs. Such as LSB on the boardwalk with a giant lollypop cotton candy (a personal favorite of mine) or LSB in a tiny boat at Funland.

Yay! Bumper Cars!

Amazingly enough, Funland is pretty much exactly as she remembered it from when she was a kid and her family would visit in the summer.  Apparently, Funland doesn’t change—and that’s a very good thing, because Funland is pretty great.

Funland may be responsible for happy childhood
memories, but it is not responsible for soiled clothing

The place is like how I imagine old Coney Island was, before it became old Coney Island and fell into disrepair. This place oozes nostalgia, even for someone like me who had never even been there before. Old timey ticket booths, classic carnival games, and precious amusement park rides like the tea cups, carousel, and the aforementioned tiny boats. There is even a haunted house that LSB remembered as being really scary (unfortunately, we never had the chance to test the validity of this memory, as the line to get in was too long). Perhaps the most incredible thing of all was that all of the rides, games, and amusements were not only fully-functional—they were shiny and clean!

Nostalgic prices, too.

So, in the end, Funland triumphed over Progress and I defeated LSB's family in the old-fashioned horse-racing game, heroically and romantically winning her a stuffed, gray horse in the process.  All is well with the world.