Yesterday afternoon, I skipped out of work a bit early so James and I could venture out to Rockport for the afternoon. It was a beautiful afternoon; the weather was warm, but not sweltering, the humidity was practically gone, and school was back in session, so there weren't a lot of tourists. Neither of us had been to Rockport since we were kids, so it was fun to go back and see what we remembered. I remembered nothing. James remembered a lot, but it had changed a bit since his last visit, so there were some new things to look at.
Our afternoon was amazingly uneventful. Approximately 75% of all the shops in Rockport are art galleries. I don't have anything against galleries, but it got a little ridiculous after a while, and we weren't in the market for any sailboat paintings. Luckily, there weren't any shops that drew me in (except the really fabulous food store where I bought Italian blood orange juice and miso powder), so I wasn't tempted to waste my money on shore-town trinkets like I usually do.
The main reason for our journey was that James' first significant food memory happened in Rockport. His parents and grandmother used to take him and his siblings there when they were little, and they always went to The Fudgery (a bakery/fudge factory... haha). The first time they ever went there, they asked him what he wanted, and he was mesmerized by these gargantuan pastries called Elephant Ears (there's a blog write-up on The Fudgery here). After tasting and immediately loving it, he said, "I'm going to go home and make these." So, the next day, he searched through all of his mom's cookbooks to find a recipe, made them, and hasn't stopped cooking since. For a professional chef, it's a pretty significant memory, so I was happy that he got to go back there and experience it again.
Here are some pictures I took along the way (minus, of course, the Elephant Ears, because I suck at life and don't realize the significance of events until after they've passed):
james totally made fun of me for taking this picture of mailboxes, but it happens to be one of my favorites. So there.
We only ended up spending about two hours there, then we took the back roads through Essex and Ipswich to get to Newburyport. I didn't take any photos of Newburyport, for which I'm now kicking myself, but this is what it looks like:
image from here.
Newburyport has been a regular fixture in my life since childhood, and it's the perfect place to go when you want ocean, good restaurants, shops, and history. It's picturesque, quaint, beautiful, yadda, yadda, yadda, and I love it. Anyway, we went to Michael's Harborside to have dinner, and almost immediately left when we realized how much the place has gone down-hill (we ordered an appetizer so as not to cause a scene). It was dirty, and the menu had been downgraded to grossly overpriced fried seafood platters and boring appetizers. It's such a shame, too, because it's one of the only restaurants in the area that has a deck over the harbor. Discouraged, but laughing about it, we went to Mission Oak Grill, which was a pleasant surprise. I had the best Tuna Tartar that I've possibly ever had, and I highly recommend it. I also had wasabi crusted, seared tuna with a jasmine rice cake and seaweed salad for dinner (I was on a tuna kick), while James had porcini dusted scallops with a rock shrimp and ham risotto and broccolini.
Most of the time, James and I exude lameness and don't really go anywhere outside of our usual hot spots (aka home), so this was definitely a nice change. I wish that it had been a bit cooler, since I tend to appreciate things much more when the temperature is below 70 degrees, but all in all, it was a much needed respite from our daily grind.