September 01, 2014

Work turns to play (and good food) for five days in Cape Cod

Uncle Tim's Bridge in Wellfleet.

As I described in my last post about clearing out and selling our beloved house in Madison, we were working dawn to dark sorting boxes, rummaging through the basement and attic, and generally making hard choices about what to toss, what to sell and what to keep. But, two weeks into our agenda, we were scheduled to fly to Boston, then drive to Cape Cod to attend the wedding of a close friend's son. As the departure date loomed, I felt like I'd made a big mistake taking five days off for some — gasp — fun. Once we arrived, though, I have to say, I knew we had made the right choice.


The wedding was in Wellfleet, and we stayed in South Wellfleet — such a peaceful, tranquil place. It didn't take very long to forget about Madison and sink right into the beachy mood. Who can be stressed out when they are on a beach?

Stressed-out on a beach?

An ocean beach on a warm summer day. What can I add to that? A sand sculpture, maybe? No, I didn't build it — I was just an admirer.

The event itself wasn't on the beach. It was held outside, in town at a lovely old hotel, under a canopy, in perfect weather. The wedding was so much fun — the ceremony was beautiful, the toasts offered to the bride and groom by family and friends were incredible — the stories shared so heartfelt and spellbinding, it was obvious that Forrest and Katie were destined to be together forever.

My dear friend, Helene, with son Forest and new d-i-l Katie in the background.


But let's get right to the subject my vegan foodie friends are waiting for — the food. I admit I was a little skeptical about what we would be eating. The return card with the invitation had a place to check off whether we wanted meat, seafood or vegetarian food, and I gamely wrote "vegan," not knowing what to expect. Based on past experience, I was expecting lukewarm pasta and a salad, and I was OK with that. I just wanted to be there no matter what. I didn't say anything about being gluten-free because I didn't want to cause any trouble, and was OK with the idea of eating a salad.

Luscious grilled squash, potato and corn.

The first course was clam chowder, and there were no vegetarian or vegan options. We sat there exchanging glances while our omnivore table mates yummed it up. You know how it is sometimes. Oh well. Then the tables were individually called up to the buffet and we got a HUGE surprise — giant plates heaped with gorgeous, perfectly grilled veggies served next to a large square of polenta enhanced with caramelized onions. The vegan entrees, I might add, were in their own buffet server, separate from the non-veg items. I had made considerable progress on my plate before I remembered to take out my phone and snap a few photos. I should have brought my camera.

Crazy delicious grilled polenta and charred red pepper.

Everything was exquisite — my kind of food, exactly. Everything was perfectly cooked and seasoned; I've never had such an amazing polenta dish. I was so stuffed and happy I didn't even care that the vegans were not offered dessert. I don't think I could have eaten dessert without exploding.


In order to work through the food stupor, I danced hard and long, pausing just long enough to capture a bit of the fun for posterity.


The woman in the white jacket you see whooping it up in the above photos is Helene's 90-something-year-old aunt. Way to go, Aunt Honey.

We hiked a path through the forest to the beach.

The day after the wedding we took a little excursion to Provincetown, stopping on the way to explore the National Seashore.
The entire Atlantic Ocean coastline of Cape Cod was preserved as the CCNSP by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Provincetown is surrounded by the sea on three sides at the tip of Cape Cod, and two thirds of the town’s natural resources are managed by the Cape Cod National Seashore Park (CCNS). From Long Point to the town line, the Cape Cod National Seashore provides miles of federally protected and preserved seashore, ponds, and woods. The CCNS is run by the National Park Service with the dual goal of protecting precious, ecologically fragile land, while allowing the public to enjoy its incredible resources. Opportunities abound for swimming, picnicking, beach walking, dune hiking, biking, bird watching, and viewing Provincetown’s famous sunsets (Provincetown is one of the few places on the East Coast where it’s possible to see the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean) are all possible at little to no cost. (Quoted from the Tourism Office of Provincetown Web site.)
Typical charming buildings in Provincetown.

After spending time at the beach, we headed into P-town, where we hadn't been in so many years I couldn't recognize it. It was still reeking with charm, but very crowded and bustling — so many people, galleries, shops, activity. After being there for a while, visiting cool galleries and shops, we realized that what we were truly seeking was tranquility, and decided to grab lunch and head back to Wellfleet.


The place that looked best to us was the 141 Market — a natural foods store with a by-the pound hot bar and tables. There were separate areas for vegan and non-vegan food, and we were able to find a delicious selection of items.


Later in the afternoon we hung out with our friends on a beach in Wellfleet, then made plans for dinner. We were supposed to gather at my friend's vacation rental and have dinner there with her family and friends. Unfortunately, our plans and communications got scrambled, and we were unable to find her address or reach anyone by phone. We finally gave up and went out to dinner at Karoo Kafe, a charming restaurant in Eastham serving South African cuisine. I think I had Cape Malay Stew with tofu, which was delicious. The menu was clearly marked with vegan as well as gluten-free items, and the waitress was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Just as our food arrived, my phone rang with a distraught Helene wondering where we were. We straightened everything out, ate our delicious food, and headed to the house for more merriment.

It looks like I failed to take any more photos on Cape Cod so you'll just have to believe me that we continued having a fabulous time for one more day, and enjoyed a wonderful cookout at the beach house the next night. An excellent time was had by all.

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24 comments:

  1. What a nice trip, all the moreso since it rescued you from cleaning out the house!
    Wellfleet and Provincetown are both very beautiful, but I was last there before going vegetarian and I just remember alot of seafood. Glad you were able to eat at the wedding! Did you bring any snacks with you, in case?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There is a lot of seafood on Cape Cod, and not much vegan fare, but good vegan food CAN be found if you know where to look. I didn't bring food to the wedding figuring there would probably be a salad (there wasn't!) and I was stuffed with delectable food. Lucky me.

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  2. No wonder you don't have time for MoFo this year! Yikes - that sounds like a lot of work and a lot of heartbreak. I'm sorry you had to let your Madison home go and that your tenants were so rotten. I'm glad you guys were able to relax and enjoy your vacation and the wedding. That is a fantastic vegetable plate! See, it doesn't take that much to keep us happy. No need to create a whole separate dish for the vegans - we're quite happy with tasty veggies!

    I've never been to Provincetown or Cape Cod at all. Our travels have taken us to so many places, but nowhere near that area yet. It looks beautiful!

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    1. You know, the tenants were OK until the last few months after the freeze, but we were burned out on maintaining the house from so far away. The previous tenants had caused a lot of damage and this year just put us over the top.

      Yes to veggies! And Cape Cod.

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  3. The Cape is one of my favorite places on earth! So glad you had a nice time and enjoyed some good food. Karoo Kafe is terrific!

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    1. I would go to the Cape all the time if I lived closer. And, yes, Karoo was a wonderful find.

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  4. You definitely deserved some fun after everything that came before. I know what you mean about weddings - you'd do anything to be there, and you kind of ignore the bad food because the event is so special. When you get a good meal too, I feel like high giving the kitchen!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Oh, I agree we deserved a little holiday. And yes, I don't usually spend too much time thinking about the food at weddings, but the food at the wedding in Cape Cod definitely deserved a shout-out. It was catered by a restaurant and I wish I could remember the name.

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  5. I recall you talking about all the craziness with the house and the tenants. I am so glad you guys didn't back out of going. One door closes and celebration welcomed you, with good food, and good peeps :) I came over here to see what you were doing for MoFo, I am just watching from the sidelines this year too.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, we made the painful break with our Madison house, and are no longer landlords. We're not cut out for landlording — too wimpy.

      As for mofo, I was just too busy with all the house stuff, traveling, and now my son's wedding. In fact, right now I should be baking a cake.

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  6. Wow, I never go out to eat when in Wellfleet, but now I'll just have to do it next time!

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    1. Well, I think you should check out Karoo — really nice place with good food.

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  7. What a beautiful locale! Looks and sounds like you really enjoyed yourself especially after all the landlord troubles. I've been to weddings where there wasn't much for vegans. Glad to see your plate looks delicious, I would have been happy with grilled veggies too. :-)

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    1. We really needed those few days of relaxation. The wedding food was delicious and abundant — I really want to try making the polenta squares but just haven't had time.

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  8. Looks like the food was good. I also found that for weddings, they tend to skip the starter for vegans and just serve a main meal. Although I did go to one wedding where they even made a separate portion of the cake vegan just for my partner and I. We were thrilled because it was so unexpected that they even thought of this. Then for after dinner cocktail, they served us veggie burgers. They were fab. But I have also been to places where I've been starving and just watching people around me eat.

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    1. The food was great, though no starter or dessert. I've had a lot of sad food at weddings while other guests had heaped plates — barely warm, barely edible pasta, a mushroom with rice, and the like. It really is a treat when someone makes delicious food for EVERYONE!

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  9. Indeed we go to weddings and various gatherings for the people, not the food. But why do people think vegans don't eat dessert? When will they get the memo? I always have room.

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    1. Haha! I know you're a "dessert first!" person, and I agree with you that dessert is important. Honestly, I don't think I could have shoved in one more bite — I didn't even finish what was on my plate, though I surely wanted to. But as with the missing first course, the missing dessert might be considered an oversight. Even a simple fruit cup would have sufficed — or some vegan ice cream from a carton. Still, I was so excited by the main course, and the company, I just didn't care enough to dwell on what was missing.

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  10. I see I'm not the only one who hasn't been blogging. Hope you're ok! I've always wanted to go to the Cape Cod area. I'm sort of glad that vegan desserts aren't more readily available. I had to step into a mainstream doughnut shop the other day to get a coffee gift card for someone, and it smelled so good I knew I would have ordered a dozen if they had been vegan. :0 Happy Holidays!

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    1. I'm OK, Jenny, thanks for asking. It's just been one time-consuming life event after another coupled with blogger fatigue. I may or may not return to blogging — we'll see. I still have a few things I'm supposed to review and I feel guilty about that.

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  11. Hi there! Just found your blog and I'm glad I did ;-)

    Wonderful pictures and food! I have never been to Cape Cod, but I would love to visit. It seems like a beautiful place and sounds like you had a great time. I also have to try polenta, looks delicious!

    Thank you for sharing. I hope you have a happy New Year :-)

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  12. Andrea, say it isn't so! I just read your reply to Jenny. Don't stop blogging...ever. I love you, my Seattle friend. But, honestly, I understand if you have to stop, just stay in touch - you have my e-mail. Happy New Year. :-)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Well, I love you, too, and every time I see a mention of Sacramento, I think of you and how I'd look you up if I ever visited there. We'll just have to see what the New Year brings for blogging. In any case, Happy New Year!

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