WILSON: New England culinary cruise: Part one

As some of you may already know, I recently retired from my most recent career position. Unfortunately, due to all the COVID-19 hub-bub, I am not sure of the exact moment of my retirement.

Mine was a very surreal transition from being a gainfully employed, contributing member of society, to becoming an old codger, living on a fixed-income and chasing stray dogs off my lawn. Like so many others, sometime around mid-March I was banished from my office and laboratory, forced to lounge around for several months and suddenly my direct-deposit paycheck morphed into a direct-deposit social security check.

It took a while, but I found the lounging around part of my routine to be quite satisfying. I have decided to make that a primary requirement for my next career choice.

One of the best perks of this retirement gig is being able to head off on a voyage without first having to ask my boss for permission. A very good friend (and his lovely wife) have vacationed on Cape Cod, in early September, for nearly two decades. For several of those years, they have invited me to join them. Alas, due to my profession, September vacations were an impossibility. This year changed all that.

Also, as most of you do not already know, I have been pursuing a vigorous dietary touring regimen, put in place by my very own personal culinary tour guide — who reluctantly agreed to take on the task of transforming me from a Wendy’s four-for-four cholesterol barbarian, into a connoisseur (in training) of fine dining. A daunting (and expensive) task.

When parts of Massachusetts (specifically Cape Cod) became loosely emancipated from their governor’s very strict lockdown requirements, my buddy called and excitedly extended his annual invitation. This time, I responded with an emphatic. “You bet!” Followed by a hesitant, “Can I bring my personal culinary tour guide?” I knew if I was going to the land of “chowdah” and “lobstah,” I was going to need professional help.

Quite fortuitously, my PCTG’s birthday just happens to fall in the middle of the planned adventure. Sooo…I hedged my bets by asking, “How would you like to have lobster for your birthday — on Cape Cod?”

The answer was an immediate (and emphatic), “You bet!”

Our base of operations was a scene from a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby movie, set in a picturesque New England resort. Imagine a stretch of look-alike, knotty pine, 1950s era cottages — perched along a 16-inch-wide brick walkway, above a miles-long seawall, looking out over Cape Cod Bay. Then envision sitting in an Adirondack chair, watching seals frolic in the surf and whales breaching in the distance — while Bing Crosby croons a song. Other than the Bing Crosby part, that was our exact experience.

A few miles beyond our cottage, near the outermost point on the Cape, sits one of the first settlements in the “New World.” In 1620, the pilgrims were headed to the Colony of Virginia, but strong winter seas forced them to take refuge in, what is now, Provincetown Harbor.

On a rise of land above the harbor, grew the historic and culturally eccentric seaside village of Provincetown. I am not an expert, but for my money, no trip to Cape Cod is complete without a visit to the unique atmosphere of “P-Town.”

A day-long excursion, in celebration of my PCTG’s birthday, began in P-Town. We then wandered down the shoreline along US-6 (the same US-6 that starts its journey at the outermost point of Cape Cod, travels through Nappanee, Indiana, and ends more than 3,000 miles away by the Pacific Ocean in Bishop, California). Our birthday travels took us from one quaint seaside fishing village to another harbor hugging hamlet.

Eventually, I piloted the airport rental land-yacht into the safe harbor of Wellfleet, where we found the highly recommended seafood restaurant, appropriately named, Moby Dick’s. Although birthday lobster was promised, my personal culinary tour guide instead chose to dine on scallops. I relied on my year of intensive (and expensive) culinary touring and ordered the swordfish. Together, we shared a half-a-dozen oysters on the half-shell (my PCTG had four and I had two — it wasn’t my birthday).

Wait a minute! What about the birthday lobster? Well…our adventure was not confined to just Cape Cod. Eventually, I aimed the land-yacht toward Maine. Check in next week and drool over some delicious Maine “lobstah,” served in hot “buttah.”

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