Monday, September 7, 2009

Steph's Visit: Day Ten

Alas, the final day of Steph's visit had arrived and, despite all the awesome times and amazing food, it seemed to come a bit too soon... as the end of vacation always does, I suppose. The trip ended much as it had begun: with a bit of spontaneity. Looking at a map of Massachusetts and seeing the town of Gloucester on the coast north of Boston, we hit the food boards and found recommendations for a place in Gloucester called "Lobsta Land." We were both instantly too amused by the name not to go, so off we went...
When we arrived at Lobsta Land, we saw that they not only had the New England Haddock Chowder (which several people on the interweb claimed was the best soup on the planet) and New England Clam Chowder (which we had to get to compare with our beloved Captain Parker's), but they also had a Lobster Chowder. Thus, Chowder Fest became inevitable. We ordered a bowl of each to share and compare (pardon the sunlight jacking up my beauty shot...):
The fish chowder (front) was sort of surprisingly amazing, since it didn't sound like something I would generally order on purpose. Not the best soup on the face of the planet, but I can definitely see why people love it. The clam chowder (back left) was really nice, if not as much my style as Captain Parker's is. It's a thinner style of chowder (which I always prefer to gummy, flour-laden chowders) but I like the thyme-y accents in the Parker's chowder and the slightly thicker (while still nice and creamy) consistency. Still, this chowder was overflowing with clams and was definitely something I would eat again on purpose. The lobster chowder, though, was the clear winner. It was amazingly delicate, made with a lovely lobster stock, and loaded with chunks of sweet, buttery lobster. Totally awesome. I'm not even going to talk about the lame, bread-crumb-filled crab cake (below) that we accidentally ordered, except to say that the strength of Lobsta Land (aside from its awesome name) is clearly in the chowders...
From here we drove out to see a castle which, for unknown (to me) and surely arbitrary reasons, exists on the shore of Cape Ann. The view was absolutely breathtaking (aided by the gorgeous day), and many pictures were taken.
We drove on a bit further to see the coast out by where the rich people who don't live in castles live
then drove back towards Waltham to get started cooking a Thai food feast. On the way we made a quick stop at the Lexington Battle Green so that Steph could claim the day-trip was educational as well as beautiful... and increasing the symmetry between this day and Day One, both of which now featured spontaneous trips, chowder, and big famous rocks:
(I personally think our rock in Lexington is way awesomer than Plymouth's stupid historically-significant rock...) Unfortunately, our brilliant cooking plans hit a bit of a snag because we are very very stupid... We started with Crab Rangoon (a Steph-and-Emmo classic):
and our best-ever batch of Tom Kha Goong (which the picture really doesn't do justice to, since most of the yumminess is at the bottom of the bowl under the super-delicious broth):
and then... we were full. After torturing Pedro with duck-roasting smells the day before and curry-making smells today, there was no chance of eating another bite... (We decided to enjoy the curry for lunch the next day before I drove Steph to the airport, but had the exact same appetizers with the exact same result. It's almost like we're deeply, deeply stupid...) Nonetheless, here's what the curry broth looked like while simmering (I like to simmer the carcass in the broth to infuse it with ducky goodness while not over-cooking the meat from the roasted duck, which is later added just to warm through...)
and on my plate for dinner Monday night... all by my lonesome. Sorry, Steph!
There you have it. Ten days, the vast majority of which were thoroughly awesome (and the rest of which provided much-needed recovery time from the thoroughly awesome ones...). It was great to have one of my favorite people from back "home" come see my new city, even if she didn't let me convince her to move out here... Good times...

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