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So summer 2012 has arrived. It blasted in this week with record temperatures and paved the way for sequels yesterday and today. Now twelve long weeks of sultry days followed by equally balmy nights await us. This is the season for lying on the beach and splashing in the waves. Time to put away the “to do” list and get out your beach shoes. Another endless summer stretches before us.
When I was a kid the nearest beach was an hour’s drive from home and another state away. Consequently, we didn’t get a whole lot of opportunities to go to the beach for the day. So when an chance did arise, it was cause for celebration. Today, I can be on the nearest beach in 4 minutes or less, depending on the traffic.
Sandy Neck beach stretches for miles along Cape Cod Bay and its shimmering sands wink at us in the distance. Rich and I often stroll along the beach in the late afternoon looking for sea glass and hoping to find some other treasure to take home and share with our guests. Driftwood, sand dollars, stray lobster buoys and an assortment of flotsam and jetsam tossed from the ocean decorate the yard and garden of our Inn.
But Sandy Neck is not the only beach we frequent. When it comes to finding the ultimate stretch of sand on Cape Cod, choice is the operative word. While we as residents can purchase a beach sticker to access all of the beaches in Barnstable, visitors must pay a daily parking fee or, for longer stays, buy a week-long pass at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center located at 141 Bassett Lane in Hyannis. Here, in no particular order, are some of the choices here in the mid-Cape area:
Rich and I have been innkeeping for a long time now, first in the mountains of New Hampshire and now here at our little B&B on Cape Cod. We love what we do and we strongly believe that we offer our guests something that a larger hotel or motel can’t possibly match. That is, in a nutshell, personalized service and intimate knowledge of the Cape: the best clam shacks, scenic drives, lighthouse tours, hikes, beaches, ice cream, pizza, sunset view, fishing holes, and restaurants for a romantic dinner. If you tell us what would make your stay perfect, we’ll find a way to make it happen.
Our “never stayed at a B&B before” guests are always amazed at all the extra touches we provide throughout the Inn itself and in the individual guest rooms. For us, it’s all about the details. So from the warmed mugs for coffee at breakfast to complimentary after-dinner drinks from the cordials bar in the evening and everything in between, our goal is to have it available for our guests before they even know they want or need it.
It amazes me that our “first time at an Inn guests” are so blown away by the experience. I chalk it up to too many stays at non-descript motels or big box hotels. While those properties serve their purpose, if you are looking for something unique or distinctive, if you want an authentic experience when you travel, a bed and breakfast inn is the ideal choice.
Why, you might ask? What makes a bed and breakfast inn stand out from among all the accommodation choices on Cape Cod or anywhere you might travel? Quite simply, it’s the innkeepers themselves. Innkeepers are a special breed. They come from myriad life experiences with a desire for one thing, really: to live and work in their destination of choice. And that, my friends, is why we choose to stay at B&Bs whenever possible. Because the innkeepers have a love affair with not only what they are doing, but where they are doing it and with whom. And they want to share that with their guests.
Rich and I chose Cape Cod. Why? Because we love it here. It’s the pride of place reflected in the lovely tended gardens along Route 6A, the smiles of the people you pass walking on the beach, the light in the evening sky, and the smell of freshly mown grass. It’s lobster a la everything and fried anything. It’s concerts and theater, festivals and parades, moors and marshlands, and sunsets and starry nights. It’s Cape Cod, a place like no other, fragile and beautiful, bold and beguiling.
We’ve spent a lifetime traveling here and we plan to make the most of it. So if you find yourself asking “What to expect when you are expecting a B&B on Cape Cod?” the answer is simple: it‘s the innkeepers. If they love what they do, love where they live, then likely they’d like nothing more than to see a smile of satisfaction on the face of a guest who sought their advice on what to do or where to eat during their stay and followed it. They are fully invested in your good time.
Where else can you get that kind of dedication?
Memorial Day weekend on Cape Cod was lovely. Picture perfect. And the guests at our Inn enjoyed all kinds of outdoor activities, including riding the bike trails, taking the fast ferry to Nantucket for the day, and cavorting on the lovely beaches of the National Seashore. We heard all about it at breakfast on the deck in the morning, including the fabulous meals they enjoyed at some of our spectacular local restaurants. It made our mouths water.
So on a rare quiet night at the Inn this week, Rich and I took the opportunity to revisit the Regatta of Cotuit, an intimate restaurant located in an historic 200-year-old Federal mansion along Route 28, midway between Falmouth and Hyannis. Its most recent chef/owner, Weldon Fizell, is a graduate of Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute and a veteran of the restaurant industry, having amassed an impressive resume that includes working with a Michelin chef and serving as executive chef of both the distinguished Chatham Bars Inn and the storied Hyannis Port Club.
We sat in the Tap Room, which features an extensive bar, warm wood floor, and intimate candlelit tables. Several smaller dining rooms with white-clothed tables were equally attractive, but we chose the Tap Room for its relaxed atmosphere and subtle charm. The wait staff was friendly and attentive, a delicate balance to achieve, but executed with aplomb.
Martinis were in order, carefully selected from an extensive menu, and delivered perfectly chilled. I chose the baby iceberg wedge to start, which was dressed with Great Hill bleu cheese dressing, sweet cranberries, smoky bacon and crispy onions. My husband, the carnivore, selected the pork belly appetizer, as he is on a mission to try this trendy cut of meat in all its iterations. This version did not disappoint. I think “melts in you mouth” was the description he gave after his first and final bites.
For an entrée I went with the jumbo dayboat scallops, which came seared to a golden brown and accompanied by sautéed asparagus and a basil and angel hair pasta flan. The flan was delightfully light and the herb beurre blanc over the scallops exquisitely rich, with a perfect balance of flavors. Rich opted for the slow roasted crispy lacquered half duck with a ginger scallion pancake, sautéed Asian vegetables and finished with a raspberry ginger glaze. Though not his favorite preparation of duck, it was right up there near the top.
For dessert we were convinced to have the special of the day, a fresh berry trifle. Served in a parfait glass, we fought over each and every bite, it was so good.
For those with a lighter appetite or budget, the Regatta offers a Tap Room menu that features a pizzetta of the evening, decadent burger, Tap Room salad, and a shrimp pad thai that almost got my vote that evening. I will definitely have to go back to try it.
The Regatta serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 PM until close in season; Wednesday through Saturday in the winter. Thursday night is jazz night in the Tap Room.