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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.
News from the High Pointe Inn, a Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast: This morning at breakfast a guest asked me where to play miniature golf on Cape Cod. That question is a sure sign that the season has begun here on Cape Cod. Not just the summer season, but the season for reliving our youth and remembering the simple pleasure of living in the moment. Like mini-golf.
Mini-golf is but one way to pass a lazy summer afternoon or evening. And it’s not just the kids who enjoy a challenging course. Many adults simply cannot pass up the temptation of a revolving waterwheel and tilting at windmills.
My days of mini-golf were pretty demure compared to the tricked-out courses of today. And there are no shortage of courses to choose from on the Cape. Route 28 from West Harwich through Dennis and Yarmouth could easily be renamed mini-golf alley. A long stretch of courses line the road. There’s Pirate’s Cove in South Yarmouth with its distinctive pirate ship sunk in a lagoon, numerous pirate statues, a shark, and brand new water cannons. And nearby, Wild Animal Lagoon features a newly installed four-seat airplane on its course in West Yarmouth.
Skull Island Adventure Golf in Bass River boasts, what else, a giant skull as its centerpiece, along with cascading waterfalls, alligator infested waters, a haunted treasure cave, and a Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. The course at Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar in Eastham, offers miniature hand-crafted, scaled replicas of lower Cape Cod’s historical landmarks in an effort to make history fun. What could be more fun than fried clams and mini-golf? Cape Escape, a nautical 18-hole adventure course in Orleans, touts an amply stocked Japanese koi pond, fishing boats and waterfalls, plus a fog machine to amp up the atmosphere.
But perhaps my favorite, and one of the oldest on Cape Cod, is Sandwich Mini-Golf, which started about a half century ago along Route 6A. Originally opened with just nine holes, over the years the owner hand-built 18 more holes to expand the operation to a 36-hole course, including nine hand-built bridges.
Elsewhere on the Cape you’ll find Harbor Lights Mini-Golf in Brewster, Harbor Glen Miniature Golf and Weatherdeck Restaurant in Harwich, Holiday Hill Miniature Golf in Dennisport, Cataumet Light Mini Golf in Cataumet, Sand ‘n’ Surf in Buzzards Bay, Popponesset Mini Golf in Mashpee, Putters Paradise in West Yarmouth, West Main Mini Golf in Hyannis, Poit’s Lighthouse Mini Golf in Eastham, Cape Cod Miniature Golf in Hyannis, Wellfleet Mini Golf , and Cape Cod Storyland Golf, also in Hyannis.
Certainly there is no shortage of options to choose from when the mini-golf mood strikes. So break out your nine iron and loosen up your swing. Let the season begin. Fore….
Culinary tourism is one of the current “hot” things to do when visiting a new destination. With the trend towards “farm to table” the traveling public has developed a penchant for exploring farms, farmstands, microbreweries, and unique purveyors of locally grown products whenever they visit a new place. Cape Cod has warmly embraced this trend, I’m happy to say, and hence there is no shortage of great places to explore during your stay at our bed and breakfast inn if you want to have an authentic culinary experience.
Rich and I did a culinary tour on a recent visit to Vermont. Our travels took us to a maple farm where we learned the maple sugaring process; Cabot Creamery to see cheese being made; Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream to tour the factory where the makers of Cherries Garcia got their start; and to Stave Puzzles where devious artisans create unique and challenging wooden jigsaw puzzles. It was a blast. We’re still talking about it weeks later, entertaining our guests with stories of “sugaring off” and other trivia gained on our culinary adventure.
So it seems perfectly fitting that we should offer our version of “Culinary Cape Cod”. Here among the beaches and scrub pine is a veritable gold mine of home grown producers and beverage purveyors who are as eager to share their wares with guests as guests are to learn about, and perhaps sample, them.
So let us begin by quenching our thirst:
Cape Cod Beer, 1336 Phinney’s Lane, Hyannis, (508) 790-4200. Guided tours available Tuesdays at 11:00 AM and Saturdays at 1:00PM year round. Self-guided tours available during regular retail hours: Monday-Friday, 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM; Saturday, 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Closed Sundays.
Truro Vineyards, 11 Shore Road (Route 6A), North Truro, (508) 487-6200. Open for tours and tastings. Weekends in April, November-December; 7 days a week May-October. Noon to 5:00 PM
Cape Cod Winery and Vineyard, 681 Sandwich Road, East Falmouth, (508) 457-5592. Open for tastings. Weekends spring and fall; Wednesday through Sunday in July and August. 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
In the mood for a jam session?:
Chatham Jam and Jelly Shop, 10 Vineyard Avenue, West Chatham, (508) 945-3052. Tastings encouraged. Retail shop open in the summer Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Open weekends in the winter, spring, and fall. Call to confirm.
Green Briar Jam Kitchen, 6 Discovery Hill Road, East Sandwich, (508) 888-6870. Open mid-April through December, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Saturday; and 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM on Sunday. January to mid-April, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday. Jam making workshops offered March through October. Call for schedule.
Herbal, Medicinal, and Botanical Remedies:
Cedar Spring Herb Farm, 159 Long Pond Drive, Harwich. (508) 430-HERB. Herb specialty shop offering organic herbal products, organically grown culinary, medicinal and decorative plants, and related botanical products. Open May 15 to November 15, Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Winter hours by appointment.
Cape Cod Lavender Farm, Island Pond Road, Harwich. (508) 432-8397. Visit this 12-acre farm when the lavender is in bloom, typically late June through July. Lavender plants and products for sale in the gift shop.
Atlantic Spice Company, 2 Shore Road, North Truro. (800) 316-7965. Offering quality culinary herbs and spices, teas, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, seeds, botanicals, essential oils, spice blends, potpourri ingredients and fragrance oils at wholesale prices. Open Monday through Friday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Saturday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM; and
Sunday: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Down on the Farm:
Coonamessett Farm, 277 Hatchville Road, East Falmouth. (508) 563-2560. Pick your own berries, herbs, and vegetables. Feed the chickens. Visit alpacas, sheep, donkeys, ducks, guinea hens and turkeys. Farm stand open weekends in April, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Sunday, May through September, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and in the fall, Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. On-site café serving soup, sandwiches, salads and baked goods. Farm stand and gift shop. In season: Jamaica grill and buffet night every Wednesday, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM; Friday night farm dinners from 5:00 to 8:00 PM; and special Saturday night buffets. Call for details.
Food for Thought:
Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory, 100 Breeds Hill Road, Hyannis. (888) 881-CHIP (2447). Self-guided tours offered Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Gustare Oils & Vinegars, 425 Main Street, Chatham. (508) 945-4505. Sample imported extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world. Open Friday through Sunday, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
“What are the absolute “must sees” and “must dos” when visiting Cape Cod?” Often asked this question by our Inn guests, we decided to put together our list of the top things to see and do here. It wasn’t easy. Surrounded by miles of sandy beaches and gorgeous coastline, dotted with picturesque villages, and blessed with countless quality museums, Cape Cod is a destination that offers endless opportunity for the explorer and serenity seeker alike.
Of course some activities are seasonal, but the season is long on Cape Cod. So here are some of our favorites, all of which we recommend to our guests when asked, and all of which we have done ourselves, many more than once. Of course, the list could be twice as long as it is, but this will give you a starting place at least, to help you plan your stay.
An exhibition of the works of Norman Rockwell, one of this country’s preeminent illustrators, opened this past weekend at the Heritage Museum and Gardens, just a 10 minute drive from our little bed and breakfast inn on Cape Cod. Entitled, Norman Rockwell: Beyond the Easel, the exhibit includes some of the artist’s most notable works, as well as an in-depth look at the photography that inspired him and the processes he used to create them.
Rockwell, a prolific artist, is perhaps best known for his cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post. Over a span of nearly 50 years (1916-1963), he eventually amassed more than 300 cover illustrations for the Post depicting the American family and lifestyle.
Featuring more than 150 original pieces, the exhibit will be on display through September 3, 2012. In addition to his artwork, this show includes many of his photographs, which the artist used as a compositional aid. Complimented by a lecture series, the exhibit is showcasing two perspectives: the photos and related illustrations, plus works the artist completed for the health care industry that focus on the doctor and patient relationship.
Heritage Musuem and Gardens is located at 67 Grove Street in Sandwich, MA. Open 7 days a week from 10:00AM to 5:00 PM and Wednesday evenings in July and August until 8:00 PM. Cost of admission is $15.00 for adults. For more information, call (508) 888-3300 or visit their website.