Cape Cod Vacation

 

Cape Cod

Last year, for summer vacation, we did a fabulous tour of France. This year, we crossed the pond to do a tour of New England. More specifically, Cape Cod. Since I grew up not too far from the cape, or le cap, as we came to call it during our trip. (Cap Cabillaud doesn’t roll off the tongue quite the same way.) I was particularly excited that we chose this destination – well, I chose it – so I could eat the foods of my childhood, which happily haven’t changed all that much over the years.

Cape Cod

Even in California, where I lived most of my life, New England specialties don’t quite cross the country with the same savoir-faire. Soft-shelled clams, lobster rolls, deep-fried clam bellies and baked stuffed clams don’t taste the same unless you’re eating them on a salty seashore in New England. The good thing is that you don’t need to go to fancy restaurants to have them: the casual clam shacks, snack bars, and seafood stands that line the highways, routes, and coastlines, serve local seafood and specialties, which you can enjoy at communal picnic tables with other like-minded diners, and not have to worry about reservations, parking, etc…which makes for a pretty relaxed vacation.

Cape Cod

We’ve done the coasts of France and while fresh seafood is abundant at markets, and is infrequently sold at the ports, there aren’t stands where you can just pull up and have a fish sandwich or a bowl of steamers. Romain had told me a few years ago when we were staying on an island in Provence that locals didn’t really snack or dine on foods that way, so we were either eating in restaurants, and having multi-course meals, or choosing to make our own picnics, gathering what we could. Which in France, means cheese, charcuterie, bread and wine.

In Cape Cod, I rustled up some “local” specialities, and Romain was immediately hooked on Triscuits, especially the rye-caraway ones, and he was very sorry when I told him that they weren’t available in France. On the upside, there’s always wine, and drinking it is legal on the beaches. But we did okay with gin and tonics, Cape Cod potato chips and local tomatoes.

Cape Cod

When we weren’t on the beach, we were eating lobster rolls and clams, raw and cooked. In America, we call them all clams, which I had to explain because in France, each “clam” has its own unique name – praires, pétoncles, amandes, palourdes, clovisses, tellines, and even something called clams, which are a species under the umbrella of what we call, well…”clams,” in English. Am not sure what kind of clams clams are…but it was great slurping down plates of Littlenecks and Cherrystones, in spite of their appearance to some. (Not made any better by my use of a smartphone camera.)

Cape Cod

The French don’t really eat raw clams, but they are big fans of raw oysters. They have oysters on the Cape which are fine, but not as delicious as the sweet, meaty, briny clams that we had.

In addition to raw clams, another thing that I had to explain was that it’s not common in America to pull off to the side of the road and take a whizz, when I was looking for a rest stop on the highway up to the Cape. “Why not just pull over there?” my car-mate would say, pointing to one of the highway stop areas that are places to park and take a break from driving, with no facilities. I didn’t think the people and families in them would have appreciate a couple of guys sprinting out of the car and relieving themselves in the bushes, so I held it until we made it to an actual service area.

I also had to explain, which I just discovered myself, that you can now get health care service in a gas station rest stop…

Health care service center

Another cultural difference is that while some French beaches are naturiste (clothing-optional), or just topless, I had to explain to Romain that in America, it’s not common to change into your swimsuit on the beach. But at least I got him to use a towel to wrap around himself. Although from the looks of things, Americans aren’t as très prude as their across-the-Atlantic counterparts think we/they are.

Cape Cod

Alors…back to food. After downing plates of Wellfleet oysters and clams at Mac’s Shack, we headed over to Mac’s Seafood Market to pick up a couple of live lobsters for dinner along with an abundance local fruits and vegetables, including lots of corn on the cob (which joins his beloved Triscuits in the “hard to get” category, in France) to augment our picnics, along with a variety of smoked seafood. The young people working there were very friendly and I inquired about grilling the lobsters, which I’ve never done but had heard about. Lobsters are usually steamed or boiled in New England, and all the people working at the seafood market had never heard of such a thing, nor had any of the other customers.

(I thought it was amusing since I’ve had similar reactions in France when I’ve mentioned cooking oysters, such as grilling or deep-frying them, which elicits some stunned looks in response.)

Cape Cod

Since we were in Wellfleet, we stopped in at PB Boulangerie Bistro and had very good baguette. They had a beautiful ranges of breads, and we settled on a baguette to go with our lobster feast that night, which was especially crisp – a tough feat in the humidity of Cape Cod. Chapeau!

Cape Cod

At Mac’s, we’d also picked up a hefty bag of Salty Oats cookies, rounds of oatmeal cookies loaded with chocolate chips, nuts, and oats, topped with a flurry of sea salt. Each one was the size of an English muffin and while I can normally can polish off several cookies in one seating, these delicious disks were big enough to share.

Cape Cod

Cape Cod has two sides; the bay side and the Atlantic ocean. The latter is more lively, with bigger waves, occasional great white shark sightings (which I didn’t tell Romain about), and more people on the beaches.

Our first beach day was spent at Nauset beach on the Atlantic side, which was beautiful, but very crowded. We arrived to find ourselves waiting in a line of cars for about 45 minutes in the heat, roasting as we waited to get into the parking lot. Just to the right of where the line of cars (including ours) was waiting to get let into the lot, was a big patch of unused grass that could have held twenty or more cars.

There were two Frenchwoman in the car in front of us, and when we got out of our respective cars to ask the rangers how much longer the wait would be – nodding my head in the direction of the big patch of grass surrounded by a fence – I said, “If we were in France, that area would have been a maze of cars parked every which way,” which elicited a laugh in agreement by the Frenchwomen.

Cape Cod

We didn’t have an agenda and although I had scrawled out a few place to eat that looked interesting, after arrival, our sole objective (aside from eating as many lobster rolls as possible), was to get to the beach – and stay there. We ended up spending the rest of the time on the bay side beaches, which were smaller and calmer. The waves at Nauset beach were great, but the football-size, sharp rocks that lined the shore, which the waves threw me against a couple of times, forced me back to shore as I was concerned that I’d be spending the rest of my vacation in a cast.

In addition, where we stayed, we could walk to the beach. In the mornings and evenings, at low tide, you could walk out and wade in the ankle-deep water, beachcombing and checking out the sunsets. Most photographs of sunsets looks the same, but the one above was particularly spectacular and people on the Cape were talking about it for days afterward.

Cape Cod

Some days we had a fair amount of wind, which prompted me to have a revelation about beach umbrellas. I’d picked up a cheap one, figuring that it wouldn’t get that much use. But after a couple of gusty days spent holding down the umbrella so it wouldn’t fly away, I approached a group of women who were calmly sitting nearby under a parasol that refused to budge, even in the strongest gusts.

As I approached, I told them I had been admiring their umbrella, which made them laugh because they saw me staring. They told me they had bought it at a store elsewhere, but I went to Snow’s in Orleans, a great hardware and supply shop that is the model of what a local business should be. The clerks were friendly and super-informative, and although I walked out of there spending a little more than I had intended, by gosh, my new umbrella with the special anchor attachment would not move, no matter what kind of wind came along, and made the rest of the trip a lot more relaxing.

Cape Cod

(I ended up getting one that was from Rio, along with The Sand Anchor. The women at the store said they were both of best products they had in stock, and they were right! However they only had two umbrellas left and if I had my choice now, I would have gotten one that tilts. So will plan better in advance for next time.)

We met a few other terrific people on the beach who were there to relax, enjoy their friends, and spend time with their families, happy to pass an afternoon gazing over into the water for the afternoon.

We did have one clan set up right next to us on the beach, the father nicely asking if we minded if they set up close to us. We said, “Of course, welcome!” – but their daughter sat in a lounge chair a short distance away from them, talking loudly about a variety of topics that I suppose some might find interesting. At one point, she noted that they should be proud of her, spending her vacation with them instead of other people her age. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I might have reminded her that she should be proud of them for all they went through, raising a child to adulthood.

We were more interested in listening to the waves, and the sounds of people laughing and having a good time, so we quietly moved our things to another area without saying anything. Romain said as he was picking up the last of our stuff, she gave him the finger. He was fuming, muttering she was a connasse, but I said just to forget about it. I figure unpleasant people have unpleasant friends and their punishment is that they have to spend their time surrounded by the same kind of people. However it would have been entertaining to see someone on the receiving end of a French upbraiding – that’s for sure!

Cape Cod

One bad taste aside, we ate well the rest of the time. Our favorite lobster roll was at Arnold’s. In spite of the swarms of people this Cape Cod institution draws, they make a great lobster roll. (Above, with mayo.) And they also do a great job of feeding people efficiently and, once again, the young people working there were great and very friendly.

Cape Cod

However. Being from Connecticut, I’m used to warm lobster rolls with melted butter, rather than cold, with la sauce mayonnaise. With no apologies to anyone for my humble opinion (which is, of course, correct) it’s hard to beat a lobster roll packed with big, meaty chunks of warm lobster with a dousing of hot butter in a toasted, pull-apart bun. (Above, also from Arnold’s, on day #2.) I told Romain he had to try both. So while I took one for the team with the mayo version, just to be a good sport, it was buttery lobster rolls that took the top spot.

Cape Cod

Fried clam bellies are another Cape Cod treat and ours at PJ’s were good, and genereux. The onion rings at PJ’s were preferable to the famous ones at Arnold’s, and we were so happy to have a green salad after eating so many frites, chips, fried clams, and butter-soaked lobster.

Cape Cod

One treat that is not well-known outside of New England are soft-shell clams, also known as steamers. Unlike other clams – or whatever you call them where you live – steamers required an extra-vigorous purge and cleaning to get all the sand out. They’re served with hot broth to dip the clam in, once removed from their shells, to ensure there is no grit before a final dip in – yup – more hot butter. They taste better than they look. To me, they look just fine. But I grew up with them, which I can thank my parents for. (Although oddly, I wouldn’t eat lobster when I was growing up for no apparent reason, when it was $6.99/pound!)

Cape Cod

I also grew up with clam chowder. One day we woke to a violent storm that made the sky crackle and blew out a window screen where we were staying. So we went to the Friendly Fisherman where we had a cup of chowder with yet another lobster roll (with mayo), which wasn’t as copious as the ones are Arnold’s, and had me missing the butter-laden version, but picked up two 1 1/2-pound lobsters and a pound of steamers, which I boiled at home with corn-on-the-cob, which Romain needed no lesson in how to dunk in melted butter.

In spite of our best intentions, and a few other places we had thought about checking out to eat, it was hard to move once we had settled into where we were staying (and truthfully, I just wanted lobster, clams, and corn), plus the idea of getting a car and driving for a while wasn’t nearly as appealing as spending that time lounging under our new beach umbrella.

Cape Cod

However on the way home, we stopped at Pizza Barbone in Hyannis and had some of the best pizza of our lives. We both ordered soppressata – I convinced Romain to order the same thing, since I didn’t want to share – and our pizzas come out with perfectly blistered crusts, just the right amount of an outstanding tomato sauce that tasted like real tomatoes, not something sitting in a big pot all day, along with thinly sliced, spicy sausages.

Cape Cod

It made me wish that we ordered regular-sized pizzas, rather than the lunch-size ones that which we went with, because I really wanted to try the roasted cauliflower with raisins, bread crumbs and ricotta. It was excellent and I like when people are creative and generous with vegetables. Seafood, butter, and all that other stuff is fine, but I always crave vegetables. And each forkful of cauliflower made us happy to have pulled off the highway.

And, of course, we had dessert. The double-whammy of peanut butter mousse and peanut croquant on the chalkboard menu didn’t elicit the same excitement from my French partner (French people don’t share the same fondness for peanut butter as Americans, although Romain was trying to figure out how many boxes of Triscuits would fit in his suitcase on the way home), but the housemade vanilla gelato ice cream sandwich with toasted meringue, which didn’t sound so bad to me, either.

Cape Cod


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111 comments

  • August 10, 2015 3:29pm

    It all looks delicious. My mouth is watering….

  • Sharon
    August 10, 2015 4:15pm

    this is my first time commenting but I had to because we just came back from a week on the cape – and ate at all the same places! I wish we had run into you guys. We had the fried seafood platter at Arnold’s, which was a ridiculous assortment of fried goodies, and I also was craving a salad after that!

  • Sabina
    August 10, 2015 4:15pm

    David, so happy you enjoyed the Cape. We are year round residents and all the spots you named are some of our favorites. Next time you’re coming, let me know, we own a car service and will pick you up if you need a ride!

  • August 10, 2015 4:54pm

    There’s nowhere I can get a decent lobster roll where I live, so this post is torture to me. I cannot believe the amount of lobster meat on those rolls! It looks as if you could take away half the meat and still have a pretty substantial portion!!! It looks like heaven!

    Alas, a trip to the Cape is not in my future, but do you have any recommendations for good lobster rolls in NYC, David?

    • Parisbreakfast
      August 10, 2015 5:59pm

      Luke’s Lobster truck can be found in Union Square several days a week in front of Staples. Maine lobsters too and they have a shop as well.

    • August 10, 2015 8:53pm

      I recommend the excellent lobster rolls at Pearl Oyster Bar on Cornelia Street–the restaurant has been there for over 15 years.

  • August 10, 2015 5:04pm

    This is all so quintessentially New England and wonderful. It makes me miss my days working as a camp counselor nearby! Suffice to say Lobster in London just isn’t the same.
    Great post!

  • Susan B
    August 10, 2015 5:17pm

    Oh, this brings back timely memories of August on Cape Cod. My mother and I had our best bonding time seated at the kitchen table (glancing out the window from time to time at the salt marsh and the bay) cleaning lobster bodies (bought for $.25-.50 apiece at the fish market–they sold the claw and tail meat, but cleaning the bodies wasn’t worth the labor. We ate very well!

    By the way, I think you meant Nauset, not Naustic, Beach.

  • Adele
    August 10, 2015 5:20pm

    *Sigh* wish we could get to the Cape before the end of the summer. We’re hoping to get there just after Labor Day.

    Next time you’re at Arnold’s, try the fried lobster (sublime) and believe it or not, they make fantastic burgers, especially the 50’s burger with bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato.

    We have lobster rolls a few times each summer, at home, and there’s nothing better on a hot evening than freshly made lobster salad (just lobster meat and Hellman’s, thank you very much) and a buttered, grilled roll accompanied by homemade potato chips, just-picked corn on the cob and a glass or two of chilled Rose.

  • Charlotte K
    August 10, 2015 5:21pm

    On my way to Nantucket tomorrow by plane but will be taking ferry back to Hyannis on Sunday. Checking out Barbone before I get on the bus back to Boston.

    I love PJs! Alas I’m allergic to lobster so I just have to drool over those photos.

  • ruth
    August 10, 2015 5:22pm

    I also live on Cape Cod yearround and your blog takes me to Paris with you.
    Cape Cod eating with you…great fun too

  • Claire
    August 10, 2015 5:23pm

    IPhone camera or not, your pictures are stunning! The food pictures made my stomach actually growl! Even the one of the steamers (icky looking things). But the picture that most captured my heart is the second one – the one of the setting sun and the sailboat and not a human in sight. Did you and Romain do any sailing?

    What a lovely time you had on the Cape. Thanks for sharing!

  • Linda
    August 10, 2015 5:24pm

    This is almost too painful to read — all of my favorite summer foods that I can’t get in France. As a native New Englander, there is nothing to me that beats steamers, fried clams, Wellfleet oysters (my favorite anywhere) and a the topper, a true lobster roll. The versions popping up in Paris can’t match. Great tour. Thanks, David!

  • Christine
    August 10, 2015 5:28pm

    I’ve never had a lobster roll. Those look fabulous.

    Recently came back to Triscuits after a lengthy hiatus; there’s a cracked black pepper-olive oil version that is very tasty, especially with a tarragon tuna salad.

    Where does one purchase prune stuffed prunes in Paris? Have a friend visiting soon and hope he can pick up some for me.

  • Candace
    August 10, 2015 5:30pm

    Looks like an awesome (and toothsome) trip! I’m headed there this fall, and will have to look for s few of your recommendations.

  • Hillary
    August 10, 2015 5:30pm

    I have the same umbrella! (Mine’s blue.) While the umbrella itself is very sturdy (and I like that it’s completely opaque for better sun protection), I’ve found that the plastic moving parts on it have given out over time. The thing that holds the umbrella open snapped off (so I stick a clothespin in the hole to keep it propped open), and the thing that keeps the top half of the pole secured in the bottom half of the pole also broke off a bit inside the pole, so I need to use a giant metal clamp to keep the two pieces of the pole together. So, needless to say I don’t take it to the beach anymore – but it still sees some use on our deck where it’s less windy.

  • rhonda
    August 10, 2015 5:31pm

    David, you’ve hit all the high points of life and its culinary pleasures on the Outer Cape, but you missed one real problem: summer tourist traffic. Today, for example, the line stretches bumper to bumper from Eastham through Wellfleet, with no alternate route.
    Tourists, be warned.

  • Helen
    August 10, 2015 5:32pm

    A Monday morning in Idaho reading about New England’s fresh seafood and other goodies have me yearning for a Cape Cod visit of my own. I’ll trade all my fresh fruit and garden produce for those mouth-watering lobsters, clams and oysters. Great post!

  • August 10, 2015 5:36pm

    What a great trip. We did a similar one in June. I had too many lobster rolls. When I first came to the States I lived in New England for a couple of years. I remember having baked lobster covered with breadcrumbs and butter and I loved it.

  • Sharon
    August 10, 2015 5:39pm

    Of course the food looks fab, but I found the Triscuits funny, too! When we come back to Germany from our trips there, we always pack a box of Triscuits. Can’t get them here..

  • Ellen Jeffcott
    August 10, 2015 5:46pm

    Being raised a Bostonian, I was lusting after your “lobsta” in every form. I consoled myself with eating just caught dungeness crab from the waters of the Pacific Northwes! :)
    Love your blog.

  • Babs
    August 10, 2015 5:47pm

    I grew up in San Francisco and always said my last meal on earth if I have a choice would be dungeness crab, an its-it and a lovely sauvignon blanc (I can’t drink the California Chardonays anymore, sadly). I have lived near Boston for 30 years and have a cottage in Onset and now I think I would have to include a lobster roll and a very cold beer in that final dinner. My children grew up with Cape Cod memories and I don’t believe anyplace else can match them. So glad you had a lovely visit down cape.

  • Parisbreakfast
    August 10, 2015 6:00pm

    This is the most drool-worthy post ever. Maybe on the planet.
    Just Glorious!

  • Julie
    August 10, 2015 6:04pm

    I had to laugh when I saw the box of triscuits prominently displayed. My go to snack–rye triscuits and hummus. I use your hummus recipe from My Paris Kitchen!

  • Wendy
    August 10, 2015 6:08pm

    So enjoyed reading about your Cape vacation! Our family visits every fall, just before the oyster festival. We love Mac’s and PJs as well as PB for every type of treat, since we do not live in Paris and will not travel there any time soon. Gorgeous photos and delicious food!

  • Peggy Bilbro
    August 10, 2015 6:09pm

    What a tease you are David Lebovitz! All those pictures and descriptions of warm/cold lobster rolls with/without butter/mayo, all those clams and that glorious salad and that drooly dessert, but not a single recipe! Alas! You’ve failed me!

  • Janie
    August 10, 2015 6:11pm

    Hi David,
    I’m a fellow Californian transplanted to Boston (with a loose connection to Chez Panisse too) so let us know if you’re doing an appearance in Boston!
    Happy travels,
    Janie

  • Laurel
    August 10, 2015 6:12pm

    We just got back from the Cape on Saturday! Hope you ate at PB boulangerie because the food is outrageous. And the Wicked Oyster in Wellfleet, Blackfish in Truro, and Victor’s in Provincetown. Aside from lobsters from Macs. We must have crossed paths! A great vacation!

  • Tobie
    August 10, 2015 6:18pm

    This column made me very nostalgic.
    I grew up spending my summers on Block Island and eating all that good yummy food. I now live on the west coast and it’s just not the same!
    Even the corn here is not as good!

  • August 10, 2015 6:25pm

    I think you have died and gone to heaven!

  • August 10, 2015 6:29pm

    we spend a week on the cape with college friends who now own a place in Truro…..after eating lobster rolls all up and down the Cape, without doubt the BEST lobster roll is at Sesuit Harbor. We keep trying other places every year, too, just in case something has changed, but we’ve never been disappointed at Sesuit! And just in case you ever do the Maine thing….the only lobster roll to ever beat Sesuit is Red’s at Wiscassett in Maine! (You may have to wait in line for an hour or more there!)

  • Patty Kates
    August 10, 2015 6:32pm

    Even after 30 terrific years in Berkeley, California — I miss the bluefish we always had in New England. It is not sold in California.

  • Antonia
    August 10, 2015 6:32pm

    Triscuits. My husband (David) adores them. His favorites are Black Pepper and Sea Salt so I hope Romain got a variety pack to take home!

  • Mare
    August 10, 2015 6:36pm

    Great post and great photos! I used to live on the Cape when I was in high school. All the photos look delicious! (food) We spend most of our summers in Rhode Island which we really enjoy, but today you have me missing the Cape ! So glad you enjoyed your vacances!

  • Anne Wright
    August 10, 2015 6:56pm

    Wow! All of that looks delicious!!! I’m going to send this email to my son-in-law who is from CT and to his sister who lives there. We had the best vacation ever up in Maine several years ago and all of us had plenty of lobster! It’s one of my husband’s favorite foods. Thanks for the write-up and gorgeous pics!

  • Diane
    August 10, 2015 7:05pm

    David, your photos were beautiful; we all got the idea of mouth-watering freshness. I last visited the cape when it wasn’t really “the cape”. No seaside anything. This will be my next vacation spot. Thank you for sharing.

  • Susan
    August 10, 2015 7:12pm

    David, I first learned the words “food blog” from reading you when we lived in Paris in 2004-05. But I never expected that you’d land in our small town of Wellfleet MA. I’m glad you enjoyed it, but next time I recommend you skip la rentreé and come to Wellfleet in September. Still pleasant weather, the swimming is great, oysters are fine, and the crowds are mostly gone. Provincetown reverts back to its charming self, with still plenty of entertainment.—-Writing from Newfoundland, where some Wellfleetians escape the Cape in August.

  • Elle
    August 10, 2015 7:23pm

    Totalement d accord about (sweet) corn and triscuits !!! Reading in Normandy and nostalgic about college summers in Maine, you just made me change dinner plans.. I am going to the beach for dinner. I am on th Atlantic side do maybe if i squint while eating musels with sand between my toes…
    (Ps lobster shacks would be a fab invention here)

  • Elle
    August 10, 2015 7:24pm

    Totalement d accord about (sweet) corn and triscuits !!! Reading in Normandy and nostalgic about college summers in Maine, you just made me change dinner plans.. I am going to the beach for dinner. I am on the Atlantic side do maybe if i squint while eating mussels with sand between my toes…
    (Ps lobster shacks would be a fab invention here)

  • Sarah
    August 10, 2015 7:28pm

    David – I live on Cape Cod and am a huge fan of your books and blog, and also Pizza Barbone! I was delighted to read your take on Cape Cod and wanted to mention if you ever want to try grilling lobsters, I have a great recipe for Grilled Lobster with Decadent Champagne Butter in my recently published New England Open House Cookbook. I also have recipes for the dueling types of lobster rolls in the book and recently did a post on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sarahleahchase ) about being won over by Connecticut-style lobster rolls. Thanks for sharing your opinion on this worthy and wonderful topic!

  • Ginger Smith
    August 10, 2015 7:29pm

    Oh Wellfleet, such a beautiful place. I have to consol myself that I will not be able to visit there this summer. I have not been to PJ’s, but I have been to Mac’s and really enjoyed it. I even think I had their lobster roll, which, not having grown up in the east coast but the west coast, I will gladly eat in all varieties. Sounds like a very relaxing vacation.

  • Frances
    August 10, 2015 7:31pm

    I LOVE to read your articles…you really take the reader along with you. However, once again I am as hungry as “un cheval” (not sure that is correct ) and there are no lobster rolls in sight!

  • BelleD
    August 10, 2015 7:41pm

    Oh the CT-style lobster roll (my eyes are getting teary) are the best (sorry mayo). I use to go visit my BFF every year on the Connecticut shore and no trip would be complete without a lobster roll from Captain Catch in Milford which has the best lobster roll and only $11 (amazingly cheap considering they put almost a pound of lobster meat on a buttered roll). Alas, I won’t be able to go this year (or the next few years) due to a recent (& demanding, but cute) addition to my family. Being in San Francisco Bay Area, I so miss lobster rolls and whole bellies (fried whole belly clams).

  • CapeSunset105
    August 10, 2015 7:45pm

    Loved the recap! My son recently came out and did a “relive my childhood” tour too. I live in Wellfleet year round and own a rental house in Eastham. Very fun to have you here and follow your instagram. (I am from NY originally though and as my husband says “you can take the girl out of NY but…).
    So sorry about the obnoxious teenagers…I thought I was the only magnet for loud, inconsiderate beachgoers. So rude. Snow’s is very useful to us, like a trip back in time and, yup, a sand auger is mandatory here. Arnold’s does have a hot lobster roll option but maybe not in the jumbo. PB Boulangerie’s cranberry batard is my kryptonite…paleo be damned around one of those beauties (toasted and buttered for breakfast…sigh). I loved that Romain had the inflatables store in S. Wellfleet on his instagram… a stone’s throw from where I live and I suppose has made happy childhood memories for many over the years…as silly a visual spectacle as it is. Glad you had great weather. As I asked on instagram, please return the weather favor when I visit in late September for my honeymoon.

  • August 10, 2015 8:25pm
    David Lebovitz

    CapeSunset105: 99% of people are really nice and everyone else was lovely on the beach that we met, even one family with some rambunctious kids that advised: “You might not want to sit near us.” (They were fine.) It’s especially a shame when someone is from another country and they have to experience that. However as mentioned, everyone else we met up was great and that’s certainly not indicative of how most Americans (or anyone…) would act. I could not eat a jumbo lobster roll at Arnold’s but am glad they make both styles of rolls.

    Susan: I would have preferred to come during off-season, but French vacations land in August for most people so that’s when we have to take ours.

    Peggy: There is no need for a recipe for lobster roll. The simplest are the best. You take boiled or steamed lobster meat (a 1 1/2# lobster boils for 15-18 minutes), then put the meat in a pull-apart bun that has been buttered on both sides, and toasted in a skillet or on the grill, then pour melted butter over it.

    Babs and Ellen: Dungeness crab is excellent, which I ate for 30+ years. But you’re right; it’s not quite the same as lobster : )

    rhonda: Yes, summer traffic is an issue. We avoided most of it but one day we were driving from Eastham to Wellfleet and hit a patch of stopped cars that didn’t show much sign of moving, so turned around and went back.

    Christine: They have them at G. Detou.

    Sabina: Thanks!

    Linda: Steamers are so, so good, but if you didn’t grow up with them, you might not appreciate them like we do.

    Hillary: We love the umbrella, but yes, that part that holds the top up look prone to breaking. However it was so sturdy in the wind that we will do the same trick to keep it open, if necessary.

  • Pat
    August 10, 2015 8:40pm

    From Maine, now Evian. I am missing the fried onion rings, lobstah rolls @reds eats but oh..the triscuit thing!

  • Scargosun
    August 10, 2015 8:57pm

    I knew you were on the Cape when I saw the FB pics start popping up. As a visitor for 40 years I have to say I think you nailed the trip. ;) We stay on the bay side and love it but I was glad to see you got to see a good deal of both sides.

  • Cynthia Lambert
    August 10, 2015 9:20pm

    Glad you enjoyed our cape. Next time
    come to Falmouth and try the Barking
    Claw lobster roll from a cart. Owner Billy Swain does it your way.
    Bought lobsters today for $4.99lb.

  • Janet
    August 10, 2015 9:21pm

    Wow, those pics and descriptions make me want to leap into my car. I live just off the cape, in Wareham, and have been to most of those places. Love your blog and am enjoying reading and using your new cookbook.

  • Burndett Andres
    August 10, 2015 9:39pm

    Honeymooned at Wellfleet in 1968 and vacationed on Cape Cod every summer for 15 years thereafter. Ate at PJs every year the minute we arrived.

  • Kay
    August 10, 2015 10:04pm

    That food looks so delicious! Makes me want to vacation on the Cape.

    I want to tell you about some fabulous bread being made by Alambria Springs Farm in Central New York. It’s all sourdough, and you really need to try it when you’re next on the East Coast. I’ve never tasted anything like it. They have a web site.

  • KT
    August 10, 2015 10:14pm

    I grew up in Maine and now live in California. This post made me homesick and nostalgic, not to mention hungry (and I’m on a diet). I’m sure you get asked this question constantly, but how do you stay thin? I know this was a vacation indulgence, but eating is sort of your job, right?

  • August 10, 2015 10:16pm

    We spent last summer in Cape Cod and gorged ourselves on lobster, loved it so much that we spent a few weeks in Maine this year. I think I might just have tasted the best lobster of my life! Grew up in South Africa eating rock lobster but the Maine lobster with melted butter. Good Lord, it was amazing!

  • KT
    August 10, 2015 10:18pm

    PS I have not tried the CT lobster roll, I’m a mayonnaise lobster roll fan. I think it’s important to note that you should use Hellmans mayonnaise, not Miracle Whip or any other type.

  • Wendy
    August 10, 2015 10:29pm

    We were just down on the Cape as well and LOVE P.B. Boulangerie Bistro. We have rarely seen grilled lobster at restaurants in New England (live in Maine) but we do grill them at home at least a couple times a summer – they are so sweet and tender! Better than steamed lobster in my opinion!

  • Josephone
    August 10, 2015 10:40pm

    What was the price of your lobster rolls? We were in Maine and they are about $18.

    Some whole lobsters were $4.99 a #

  • jaclyn
    August 10, 2015 10:49pm

    This is a great recap on the Cape.

    As a Rhode Islander, we steer clear of the cape until about the end of September when the tourists start to peter out.

    Growing up, we ate lobster rolls both cold and warm. Cold lobster rolls with mayo were a lunch time or pre-dinner snack and warm lobster rolls with butter were more of a dinner meal.

    Although I realize you have a personal connection with the Cape, I do advise for people travelling from abroad to seriously consider Rhode Island for their New England beach vacations as we have all the same offerings with (a bit) less tourists and definitely MUCH less traffic than the Cape! Although, it still feels brutal as a local. :)

    • August 10, 2015 11:31pm
      David Lebovitz

      Rhode Island is pretty great and we were going to stop there on the way back to have dinner at Al Forno, but my friends who own it said the same storm we did and the power went out. But yes, it’s a great less-discovered place with marvelous beaches (and great food!)

  • Mary
    August 10, 2015 10:53pm

    So, how many boxes of Triscuits did Romain stuff into a suitcase?! Want to know for future reference…. ; )

  • penny mcconnel
    August 10, 2015 11:05pm

    Bless you a thousand times David. I have been trying to find that particular umbrella all summer to no avail. Now I know the name and will get it post haste. Those Wellfleet photos and memories really got me going. I have a bookstore in Vermont if you ever want to come see us. We love and sell your books!!

    • August 10, 2015 11:27pm
      David Lebovitz

      They make a few different models of umbrellas but what seems important (for wind issues) is the opening near the center, that not all umbrellas have, and the wind anchor was amazing. Thanks for your invite – I love Vermont (and the Cape), but it’s now back to work… : )

  • Kathy Linn
    August 10, 2015 11:13pm

    Your article couldn’t have been more timely! Headed for the Cape, plus Scituate the end of this week. Can’t wait to EAT!

  • Leslie Green
    August 10, 2015 11:39pm

    Just one word three times. Jealous, jealous, jealous

  • Ann
    August 10, 2015 11:40pm

    I just had lunch, but after seeing this post, I’m hungry again. (Though after all those photos of lobster rolls, fried seafood and creamy chowder, I also started to crave salad.)

  • Stephanie
    August 10, 2015 11:42pm

    You have just relived my childhood in this post. I grew up in New England eating all the foods you have so deliciously described. I have been in France for 8 years now, eating my way to true happiness, but this article made me miss American food for the first time. I totally forgot about fried clams and tartar sauce!

  • ragazza
    August 11, 2015 12:12am

    Oh man. I go to Boston at least twice a year because my brother and his family as well as my best friend live there. Looking at these photos, I’m thinking it’s not often enough! So hungry now.

  • August 11, 2015 12:27am

    I beg to differ! Cap Cabillaud sounds très élégant.

  • Michael Duffy
    August 11, 2015 12:43am

    Gosh, David. It seems that all you did on the Cape was eat! (Not that that’s a bad thing!) I, too, prefer a warm lobster roll with melted butter. The cold one, slathered with squishy mayonnaise, just isn’t the same. Looks like you had a great time. I’m jealous.

  • August 11, 2015 1:17am

    Wow, so all-American and yummy. The photos are great, and I think the Hadley china is a perfect plate for presentation of lobster! Thanks, David!

  • P Adams
    August 11, 2015 1:26am

    Glorious post. In the midst of all the fabulous scenery and amazing food photos, I also enjoyed the Triscuit shot. It’s a great reminder that one can enjoy the simple pleasures too.

  • Gabrielle
    August 11, 2015 1:52am

    Ay…I’ve been on the west coast for 13 years and I don’t get homesick for Mass. very often anymore, but you’ve gone and made it happen!

  • Mike
    August 11, 2015 2:26am

    I’m so glad Romain is fond of Cape Cod. Since your post on sardines, I’ve done “due diligence” and found ‘Wild Planet’ sardines – which are delightful on Triscuits. I hope you bring a few boxes back to Paris for cocktail time!

  • DonnaM
    August 11, 2015 2:41am

    David,

    Thanks for this post, I hope you and Romain make a visit to New England a summer tradition. I was raised in NH and currently live on the NH Seacoast. Like many of my New England neighbors, our summer vacations are spent in NE. Suffering through winters, we DO appreciate our summers. Of course there are the “tourists” to contend with…

    Yes, CT style Lobster rolls are the best! As far as I know, there is not a restaurant where I may order a lobst’a roll that is not dressed with mayonnaise in NH. I usually have to make my own using Jacque Pepin’s recipe as a base.

    • lyden
      August 11, 2015 7:28pm

      Donna M, Woodman’s in Litchfield was the only NH restaurant I knew of that would serve CT style lobster rolls (on request). Unfortunately, they closed in 2014. They haven’t ruled out a return to NH, though.

  • Debbie
    August 11, 2015 2:56am

    Waxing nostalgic on your beautiful post of beautiful Cape Cod. Many happy summers, were spent growing up there!

    Your post is providence as it was the nudge i needed to take my kids to see this little piece of heaven on earth.

    Thank you and happy you and Romain enjoyed your trip. I laughed when you wrote about Romain and his Triscuits…for me it was Cheese Nibs!

  • michelle
    August 11, 2015 3:29am

    The seafood is great at Arnolds, but the thought of their Almond Joy ice cream makes my knees buckle. I dream about the stuff. Not to mention, this entire article brings back fond memories of summers spent in the Cape. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amy -Hunting Valley, Ohio
    August 11, 2015 3:37am

    In my next life I want to come back as you. Thanks for sharing your vacation with me!

  • Kathy
    August 11, 2015 4:37am

    It’s KILLING me that you were THIS close to Boston and didn’t stop by!! We love you!

  • Patty
    August 11, 2015 5:14am

    Cape Cod has many virtues but Rhode Island has amazing historic sites — I especially recommend Slater’s Mill for any history nerds. It is a 10 on my scale.

    Now I live in California — Berkeley is paradise but the Atlantic is a nicer ocean than the Pacific.

  • ally
    August 11, 2015 5:22am

    Thank you for this great post! I’m from Massachusetts and live out west now. I don’t get back east too much but when I do I always make sure it’s in the summertime. You just can’t beat the fresh seafood and homemade ice cream!

  • Miss Louise
    August 11, 2015 5:42am

    I love it when you go on vacation.

  • August 11, 2015 11:06am

    This ranks with one of your best posts, and I love all of them! I also just got back from the cape, my first summer trip to Wellfleet. We enjoyed many of the same restaurants. I laughed at all of the lobster pictures. This winter, when I was in my January doldrums in my painting studio, I bought lobster, corn, and rolls, set up a large “picnic” on the floor of my studio and made a large painting of a summer lobster picnic! Just the thing to do this past winter–with all of the snow in New England, I was dreaming of lobsters and green grass.

  • carter
    August 11, 2015 12:08pm

    Good Morning David,
    Are you still on Cape Cod? I would like to show you the farm we own in Yarmouth Port. It’s been in my husband’s family since 1637. It’s a lovely spot. We have an old farm house on the property that we rent out part of the year. 32 acres of what the Cape use to look like before the monster houses appeared!
    I could show you around if you like. Arlene Carter

  • Valerie Long
    August 11, 2015 1:59pm

    Thanks, i love your post, i’m going to Cape Cod in september and i took notes of all the places you went to, this is going to be so helpful and i can’t wait now to have a lobster roll…..
    Merci Valerie

  • Margaret
    August 11, 2015 4:39pm

    I live in Chatham and find not know about Pizza Barbone. Headed to Hyannis for a movie and pizza this afternoon!

  • Al Mullery
    August 11, 2015 6:58pm

    “Clams” in France

    The “clams” I am able to obtain here in France are the same as the quahogs that are used to make chowder (in Rhode Island, where I grew up). Mercenaria mercenaria is the latin name. I was told, once, that they were brought over during the WWII landing on the beaches of Normandy (by troops from R.I., of course) and eventually thrived there.

  • August 11, 2015 7:43pm

    This post and your photos make me want to go on holiday in Cape Cod!

  • Sherrie
    August 11, 2015 9:30pm

    Having moved from Cape Cod to Boston late last year, I truly appreciated your blog. Memories. I will go back for vacation in a few weeks, and have added a couple of spots I never tried to my itinerary. Thanks!

  • meredith
    August 11, 2015 10:15pm

    Have the same umbrella. And while we go to North Carolina Beaches instead, my beach bag always has Triscuits and pimento cheese. Triscuits are a vacation thang. I’m sad for Romain that he cannot get them in France. But not too sad, since I can’t buy a decent loaf of bread in 46 out of 50 states and you can probably see 5 outstanding bakeries from your front door!

  • Benjamin
    August 12, 2015 12:59am

    Looks exquisite. I’ve always wondered if the French word, “connasse,” was related to the derogatory ethic slur in French Louisiana, of “coon ass,” for Acadians in Louisiana. Maybe so. Some Cajuns love it, others despise it.

  • August 12, 2015 2:56am

    Oh, you so made me miss my youth in Connecticut, too! Particularly the days when we’d pile into the station wagon and drive to Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island. Thank you for sharing your gorgeous pictures and adventures with us! Le sigh…

  • August 12, 2015 4:18pm

    All your photos look marvelous. Those steamers and lobsters look delish!

  • John
    August 12, 2015 5:31pm

    What was the name of the beach that you took the photos (several) of the boats at low tide, as well as the sunset?

    I was at the Cape a few weeks ago, and those scenes are very familiar to me!

    • August 12, 2015 6:53pm
      David Lebovitz

      I’m not sure of the name, but it was just north of First Encounter beach. It’s a lovely place, especially at low tide.

      • John
        August 13, 2015 12:09am

        Very nice! I was at Thumpertown Beach the last week in July, which is north of First Encounter – I have some great pictures of sunset (and perhaps the same boats) Great blog and pictures!!

      • Jane
        August 15, 2015 4:05am

        You know, First Encounter is so named because it was on this beach that the passengers of the Mayflower disembarked, “encountered” Native Americans and promptly got back on their ship. From there, they headed to Plymouth.

      • Lauren
        August 21, 2015 8:13pm

        Wow, David – I am pretty sure we were on that same beach (just past First Encounter, accessed by a path through the woods) at the same time! Those tides were nuts – I go to the Cape every summer, and I’ve never seen a beach lose so much ocean so fast.

  • Witloof
    August 12, 2015 7:54pm

    I’m reading this on the train back to NYC after a week in Maine. I was visiting friends who were happy to indulge my need for seafood and we visited every lobster shack in the area around Casco Bay. One happy discovery was lobster stew, which was a mixture of lobster meat and juice poured into half and half and served with oyster crackers.

    I have to change trains in Boston and am wondering if there is enough time for one more lobster roll during the layover.

  • Karen
    August 13, 2015 3:02am

    Happy to read that you has such a nice, food-filled, vacation in my neighborhood. I live down the road from Arnold’s and the Cape Cod National Seashore.

    You hit a few of my favorite places for food. The best clam chowder and lobster bisque are at Mac’s fish markets. For people who don’t know, littlenecks and cherrystones are just different sizes (and ages) of hard shell clams we call quahogs (pronounced quo-hogs). If you are in Eastham again and want really great food, you have to go to Local Break.

    Grilled lobster is really easy. Split a live lobster in half (most people are too squeamish for this). Put cut side down on oiled grill. Cook until done. Maybe 10 minutes or so. As you said, though, not that popular around here. Most people boil or steam and any fish market will steam them for you. Grilled oysters with gsrlic butter are great, too, but mostly people around here eat their oysters raw. We like to take them to the beach on ice (absolutely essential to keep them on ice if eating raw), along with some littlenecks, and a couple of oyster and clam knives. Wine for those who drink (though in a thermos because glass is not allowed on any of the beaches). Best thing to do in the late afternoon or for sunset at the bay.

    A couple of other must-dos when you visit the Cape: get a permit from the National Seashore and have a beach fire at the ocean at sunset. And take a hike at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Starting next week the diamondback terrapin nests we protect will be hatching. Something not to be missed.

  • Bill
    August 13, 2015 7:13pm

    We go to the Cape every summer. We always stop at the Market Basket in Bourne on our way in, to pick a bunch of $5.99 per pound lobsters. We always start our 1st night with a couple of these babies. We boil them up using a turkey fryer, which works great.

  • Peggy
    August 13, 2015 11:16pm

    The first photo with the lobster and corn on the M.A. Hadley plates brought a smile to my face. Growing up, my family ate every meal on Hadley dinnerware, designs of which are based on farm life. We each had our own design and mine was the pig. I had a pig mug, bowl, salad plate, and dinner plate. So many great mealtime memories.

    • Judi
      August 14, 2015 10:41pm

      We are renting a house for two weeks in Chatham Cape Cod (we’re one week in) so reading this post was brilliant!!! We have the same plates in the house we are renting and at first I thought maybe you stayed in the same one until I just discovered (thanks to Peggy) that M.A. Hadley plates (and egg cups, bowls, etc all in our kitchen) dinnerware is well known. Are they local to the Cape? They’re so cute. We are heading to the Wellfleet Drive In tonight and stopping by at Arnolds for lobster rolls thanks to your recommendation. Thank you David for a wonderful post.

  • Jane
    August 15, 2015 1:48am

    So loved following your Cape Cod travels!
    Cape summers have been a touchstone in the life of my extended family since before I was born. My sisters and I have loved sharing the tradition with our families as well.
    It’s a very special place that, as you said, has in so many ways, remained wonderfully unchanged since my childhood.
    I love following your Paris postings and always refer to them when I’m lucky enough to be there.
    What a delight to to know you were on CC and to know you appreciated it so.
    Thank you!

  • August 15, 2015 3:50pm

    @Katrina – as a NY’er in NYC whose “go to” food is a lobster roll, you cannot beat Luke’s Lobster – they have small shops scattered across the city. You can find rolls all over NYC but most are overpriced as you’re also paying for location. Luke’s are primarily rustic take-away shacks with a couple of seats if you want to eat in.

  • Scott Buchanan
    August 15, 2015 6:04pm

    Will there be a follow up to “My Paris Kitchen” and if so when(ish)
    Thanks

  • Pam
    August 17, 2015 6:41pm

    We often grill lobsters for Christmas Eve dinner–the most requested holiday dinner by my kids. They are the best and so easy and delicious.

  • Phil
    August 17, 2015 7:57pm

    My partner and I just spent a few days in Portland, ME for vacation. We went with the plan to consume as many lobsters as we could! I think we each had 6 in four days. The best lobster roll we had was at Eventide made with a brown butter vinaigrette.

  • Peg
    August 18, 2015 5:57pm

    David, stop! You’re making me homesick! I’m an East Coaster, too, transplanted to Wine Country (Sonoma): we didn’t make it back home this summer. Love me some lobsta – rolls, grilled. Steamed is our annual Christmas Eve dinner… festive & easy-peasy: just add parsley between the claws for the holiday touch, open up a bottle of bubbly and voila! It’s a celebration!
    BTW, depending on where you are on the East Coast, clams have different monikers: in South Jersey for example, “steamers” are hardshell cherrystone clams (mercenaria mercenaria) served with broth & lemon. “Little nicks” are my fave – the smallest, most tender – and, of course, the most expensive! (My brother actually put himself through college by clamdigging – and he made a tons more money than his sister did, who was “slinging hash” at local seafood restaurants.)
    Thanks for your ever-entertaining blog!

  • Sandra
    August 19, 2015 12:10pm

    If you really wanted to have the prop-uh New England lob-stuh rolls with the warm buttered rolls, then Emily and I could have taken you to the great Bills Seafood near her in Westbrook CT, right on the water. They have everything you mentioned and sit out over the water at picnic tables under umbrellas and all of which you desired and more! There is also the great Lenny and Joe’s as well, offering more shoreline delights in Westbrook. You went to the Cape, which is fine….but…

  • Suzanne
    August 27, 2015 4:53am

    It sounds like you had a great trip! We just came back from our own vacation. A weekend in P’town followed by a week on the Vineyard, traveling & living on our boat. You have to love summer in New England…

  • Kym
    September 2, 2015 3:52pm

    If you ever make it back to the States, head up to Red’s Eats on Route 1 in Wiscasset, Maine for a lobster roll. Best I’ve ever tasted! Comes with butter or mayo, but on the side.

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