Provincetown Art Association & Museum (PAAM), meeting with Executive Director Christine McCarthy, President Jim Bakker (of James R. Bakker Antiques) and PAAM Development Director Sheila McGuinness. Art is an integral part of Provincetown, which is home to the oldest, continuous art colony in the country. Back in 1899, Charles Webster Hawthorne, a famous artist, came to Provincetown and founded the Cape Cod School of Art (CCSA) at Land's End.
--Constitution and By-laws Provincetown Art Association & Museum
Berta Walker Gallery. This was an interesting visit as Berta was quite a character, as well as very knowledgeable about the history of artists in Provincetown. The artists she displays essentially all come from Provincetown and there is a wide diversity in styles and mediums. The fascinating piece above was done by Elspeth Halvorsen, who creates "box constructions." This one is called "The Whole World Is Watching" and deals with 9/11.
--Agnes Edwards, Cape Cod: New and Old
Art's Dune Tours, which has been family owned and operated since 1946. You have several different options, such as a one hour Daily Tour ($27) or two hour Sunset Tour ($43). Each vehicle holds 6-8 passengers, and the driver gives you an ongoing history and nature lesson as you drive through the dunes.
Tea Dance. Historically, a tea dance has its roots in France and England, and often was an early evening dance, often accompanied by tea and pastries. In the U.S., tea dances have become more casual, and in Provincetown, during the summer, they hold a daily Tea Dance at the Boatslip Resort. This is primarily an outside dance party and on the night we were supposed to go, it rained so very few people showed up for the party. On a normal night, this place would have been packed with people.
Crown & Anchor, a hotel, restaurant and entertainment complex. The restaurant, Central House at the Crown, provided us a good meal and then we went to a drag show at the Crown Cabaret and saw Dina Martina. I certainly didn't know what to expect, except that it would be a comedy. And it is somewhat hard to describe the show, a combination of jokes, songs, video and more. It was twisted, bizarre and extremely funny. The humor is going to appeal to most audiences and I would recommend that you check out another Dina show. You are sure to laugh plenty. Afterwards, we sat at the Piano Bar, sipping cocktails and enjoying our final evening in Provincetown.
Provincetown Tourism Office for showing us the wonders of Provincetown.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Saturday, June 29, 2013
This year, Fodor's placed Provincetown on its list of the 10 Best Small Towns in America while
the Smithsonian listed it as #10 of their Best Small Towns To Visit. Provincetown is garnering much deserved praise. I have previously discussed some of the reasons why I find Provincetown compelling and am back to provide even more reasons.
On our media trip, one of our first meetings was at the Provincetown Town Hall, where we learned a bit about the history of Provincetown, as well as about some of its sights, attractions, cultural aspects, and more. The town hall, which has the largest auditorium in the town, used to be located near the Pilgrim Monument, however, in 1877, the building was hit by lightning and burnt to the ground. In 1886, the new town hall, at its current location, was dedicated and has underwent some recent renovations.
Marmillion + Co., a public relations firm, provided an intriguing overview of Provincetown. Obviously, as he works in public relations, you have to carefully consider his words, to separate the truth from the hype. After dealing with many PR people over the years, I have attained a good level of discernment as to what they tell me. With Val, I spent some time outside of this meeting talking with him, and it was clear that his passion for Provincetown is true. He seemed very honest and forthright, so I felt that much of what he said was authentic.
Val stated that Provincetown is a place where diversity is celebrated and promoted, that it is a town where it is not about how much you own, but it is about what you enjoy. It is a "created village" that is not hamstrung by "can't do." It is a progressive, liberal town that values freedom of expression and offers no apologies for its positions. Curiosity is important and each day is unpredictable. The showing of emotion is accepted and not suppressed. It is quaint, a town of pets and bicycles, of art and theater, of eco-tourism and a strong GLBT community.
Health & Environmental Affairs, discussed eco-tourism and poetically stated that Provincetown was "a floating sandbar in the middle of the ocean." The town sits on a sand bar, which is about 5000 years old, and has 21 miles of coastal shore line to explore. In the dune region, there are twenty dunes which are at least 100 feet in height. There are also 9 state recognized freshwater ponds, though Provincetown gets its fresh water from Truro. There is plenty of wildlife in the Provincetown region, a great place for birdwatchers. Go swimming, sit on the beach, hike through the dines, go bird watching, rent a kayak. If you want a more active, outdoor vacation, then you can consider Provincetown. Brian also mentioned that the largest environmental problem facing the town is handling waste water, trying to prevent it from flowing into the ocean, but that they are doing a very good job of handling this issue.
Town Clerk, who discussed the issue of same sex marriage. As Doug teared up while discussing this issue, it was clear how important it was to him, how proud he was of Massachusetts for leading the way on this matter of equality. With the recent Supreme Court decision on DOMA, this can be expected to become even more important. Back in 2003, there were only about 20 weddings held in Provincetown. In 2004, after Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage, there were 900 weddings held in Provincetown, more than any other Massachusetts community. Currently, about 350-400 marriages are conducted there each year, a significant economic boom to the town. People come from all over the country to come here to be married.
Pilgrim Monument and Museum where our tour was conducted by John McDonagh, the Pilgrim Monument Executive Director. Construction of the monument, to honor the Pilgrims’ landing in Provincetown, began in 1907 and President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone. It was completed in 1910, and was dedicated by President William Howard Taft. The monument is 252 feet and 7.5 inches tall and is one of the first sights you see as you approach Provincetown by the ferry. Through 116 steps and 60 ramps, you can walk to the top of the monument for a great view.
Whale Watch excursion on one of the Dolphin Fleet boats. This company originated whale watching on East Coast and they run excursions, three to four hours in length, from April through October, from three to twelve trips per day. The basic cost for an Adult ticket is $44 and Children's tickets, aged 5-12, cost $29. Aboard, there is a galley where you can get food and drink.
Provincetown has long been a favorite spot for artists or all types. For example, a number of writers have lived or worked in Provincetown, including Norman Mailer, John Dos Passos, Harry Kemp, Stanley Kunitz, Michael Cunningham, Wendy Kesselman, Paula Vogel and John Guare. Some of them spent their time in the isolated dune shacks, gaining privacy and quiet so that they could work. During some of my free time, I was even able to do some writing on the next Tipsy Sensei novel.
Friday, June 28, 2013
Overall, I enjoyed plenty of delicious food in Provincetown, at high end restaurants as well as small cafes. Many of these places would be welcome additions to the culinary scene of Boston. Besides the food, I was pleasantly surprised by the wine lists, which were far more diverse and interesting than I expected. In fact, they were more diverse and interesting than some Boston restaurants I have visited. Wine prices were also generally lower than what you find in Boston. Though I only scratched the surface of the culinary world in Provincetown, I was impressed by what I found and want to explore it more, maybe at the Food & Wine Festival in October.
Harbor Lounge, located on Commercial Street and facing the ocean. A small lounge, I still was pleased at the diversity of wines available by the glass. They have a full bar and I chose to drink a Dark n' Stormy, with Goslings Black Seal Rum. We received a large platter of cheeses, meats, dips, crackers, grapes and more. Fresh, high quality and tasty, this was a pleasant way to start off our evening. With a great view, this is a nice spot to stop by for a cocktail or glass of wine.
The Mews Restaurant & Cafe, which is co-owned by Ron Robin, who we met during dinner. Known as Rockin' Ron, he also works as a radio personality on Dunes 102.3 FM. The original location of the restaurant, in 1964, was discovered to have once been a stable, and the old English word for stable is "mews," hence the restaurant's name. In 1993, the restaurant was moved to its current location.
The upstairs area is for the bar and cafe, while the downstairs is the main dining area, though the downstairs is really at street level and you have a great view of the beach. All of the art and stained glass windows in the restaurant were created by local artists. Local carpenters also designed the tables and benches. The dining room has a cool and casual vibe, a homey place which will appeal to couples, families and groups.
The wine list is interesting, though I was especially impressed with their vodka list, which contains over 260 selections from all over the world. Who would have thought you would find such a vodka selection in Provincetown? I enjoyed a couple of vodkas, including a Chopin Rye and Belvedere Rye, which I had never tasted before. I could come here dozens of times, just to taste through the intriguing vodka list.
Executive Chef Laurence DeFreitas has worked for The Mews for 24 years and Ron mentioned that the chef seeks to create "flavorful food," and not "vanilla" cuisine. Despite his lengthy position at the restaurant, Chef DeFreitas is not dwelling in the past and his menu remains fresh and interesting, often relying on fresh and local ingredients. A number of the dishes have an Asian flair to them. The menu is divided into Starters ($10-$16), Salads ($9-$14) and Mains ($22-$35). Begin with a Starter like a Wild Boar Naan Pizza or a Tuna Sushi Tempura and move onto a Main like Mongolian Style Grilled Lamb Chops or Pork Vindaloo.
I continued with The Wedge ($10) a salad of baby romaine, topped by cracked black pepper & Parmesan vinaigrette strewn with pancetta crumbles. Fresh romaine with lots of salty pancetta and a very pleasant vinaigrette. Simple but tasty.
Patio American Grill & Cocktail Bar, which is also located on Commercial Street. It serves plenty of seafood dishes, New England cuisine, and sandwiches. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a wide range of cocktails and wines. I enjoyed a glass of Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose with my lunch.
The Purple Feather Cafe & Treatery, where you can find lunch, gelato, desserts, chocolate and more. It is owned and operated by Peter and Ann Okun, year round residents, and Ann has about 25 years of chocolate making experience. The Purple Feather has gone beyond just chocolate, selling a wide range of enticing sweets.
Ptown Parties, and they did an excellent job in arranging the event, as well as providing plenty of delicious food. For example, they had blankets for everyone, in fact two per person, so that you had one blanket to lay down atop the sand and another to wrap around yourself if you were chilly.
cost of such a clambake is roughly $62.50 per person, with an added cost for the staff, dependent on the number of people at the clambake. There are plenty of extras you can order as well. In addition, they have a more budget option, for only $47.50 per person. For this type of event, and the quality of the food, I think the prices are reasonable. We had plenty of delicious food, and the setting and experience are quite memorable. If you want a true New England experience, then you have to have a beach side clambake.
Cafe Heaven, which turned out to be an excellent choice. It is a small, casual spot, with windows looking out on Commercial Street. Their breakfast menu has plenty of the usual offerings, with some of their own more unique items, from homemade English muffins to linguica. Everything is reasonably priced too.
The recommendations for Cafe Heaven were spot on, and I add my own hearty recommendation for this restaurant.
Lucky Dog Ptown, which primarily sells gourmet hot dogs and lobster rolls. They sell ten different hot dogs, the the hot dogs are made from their own special recipe. You can get your dog ($4.95-$10.95) topped with items like chili, mac n' cheese, slaw, bacon, baked beans and more. There are six different lobster rolls ($15.95-$19.95), made with simple mayo or butter, or topped by items like bacon or mac n' cheese. You'll also find a few other sandwiches, from pulled pork to sausage, as well as sides, such as baked beans, potato salad and chili.
Provincetown Portuguese Bakery, which not only is a bakery but also serves breakfast and lunch. With Tibor Bago as the main chef, the bakery sells a variety of appealing Portuguese pastries, breads and more, and they all look enticing. I had to order the Malassada, a type of Portuguese donut which resembles fried dough, and it was well worth it, especially if they are still warm. It is far better than a carnival fried dough, being lightly sweet with a great, flaky pastry. This is a must stop if you visit Provincetown!